Saturday, July 31, 2010
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Can we turn the another way? Can we turn a system, that seems to now have involved everyone in this planet, to something else? And then how? To build small highly advance sustainable cities is possible, and so also self-sufficient "ecovillages". But 6,7 billions people do need to live like this..! We need plans which we can adapt everywhere. The ecocity is not about technology, even if energy- saving window panels and solars are some of the building construction parts.
Instead, the ecocity is about human being and our primary needs, which are often forgotten in the citylife where the functions (mail delivery, fire stations, productions of industries, public transportation and etc) are more of priority. Primary needs such as a building to live in, fresh food, water security, health care and transportation, is the picture of a living in a city in a developed country (and so as some argue, put "eco" before all this and it turn to an ecocity). But other primary needs, such as happieness, calmness, beauty, curiosity and understanding, those things which distict us from being robots or autonomous animals or even just plants, should be prioritized.
- accessibility for everyone
- public space for everyday life
- minimized land consumption
- balanced of mixed use
- new balance of concentration and decentralization
- qualified density
- concentrating development at suitable site
- network of urban quarters
- human scale and urbanity
- integrated into the surrounding region
- short distances
- power station of renewable energies
- health, safety and well-being
- cultural and social diversity
- balance with nature
- contributing to closed water cycle
- for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport
- integrated green areas
- reduction, re-use and recycling of waste
- bio climatic comfort
- integrated in global communication networks
- city built and managed with the inhabitants
Thursday, July 22, 2010
- Lewis Mumford, The City In History from 1961(found in Another Beginning, 1978 by Richard Register)
Monday, July 19, 2010
And I admit that I destroyed more.. A lot of ticks in the garden.. so if you don't have bugs who eats them, another (easier) way is to mow the grass. Garden is not so big, but grass left to the wild from last fall is high! And it's not just ticks there; grasshoppers, butterflies, green lacewings (Neuroptera, or net-winged insects, same order as the cool 'ant lion') and other insects with wings, had to move to another place. Grass was cut with an electric trimmer when the gasoline driven lawnmowers "Klippo" didn't want to start (I didn't know the right jerk, now I know..), so no gasoline used, but a lot of electricity and I think that the trimmer saved some more lives than Klippo because of the spinning rope and not a metall blade, but I don't know.
And if that was not enough...
So here I was, in the middle of the nature- just destroying it! One day, trying to build up a forest, another day take it away.. Well, its just the way of life.. and no one wants to use it if the summer place is in a mess. At least, I thought out there, I didn't have to go to the gym! (and gyms needs a lot of resources.. heating to the buildings, plastics for tools, electricity to make all the tools, transportation for the tools, etc..).
Well, neighbors came and told me that it was nice (they could finally use the pathway next to our house), so my hope is that someone in my family wants to go there and use it, because I have to stay with my grandma.
That was the story of acknowledgment.. and it was fun!
Sunday, July 11, 2010
And I'm lucky to live on an island with a store of organic gods in the other end.
Friday, July 09, 2010
Music by Philip Glass. Composer to music in the film KOYAANISQATSI -life out of balance, POWAQQATSI -life in transformation and NAQOYQATSI -life as war (links to trailers in youtube). A short documentary with director and composer can also be seen there. Homepage with a little more information about the films here and about Philip Glass here.
The end of the current world order
Immanuel Wallerstein is known for his "one world-system" theory, and mean that such as first world or third world is unnecessary to talk about. He argues that there have been many historical world systems that has held together politically and economically. The most common are small empires that have been led by an emperor who has been at the core of society; all neces came from the the areas around. He also means that all systems have a beginning and an end, as the contradictions and weaknesses tend to be larger with time.
In the late 1400 in late Middle Ages, the capitalism world system began, which differs from the previous systems with no single "emperor" who rule from the center. The system is driven by the economy. The system is divided into center and periphery, where the center exploits the periphery. The system is constantly expanding and need new workers and new customers. Marx's thesis on the absolute exploitation is true everywhere when the system has meant less happiness, less wealth and less freedom for the majority of the population on earth.
Wallerstein argues that in former times, it was easy to attract people to the cities because of the jobs, now there are not many places left that can be "fooled" - not given resonable salaries. In order to keep the dangerous classes, the workers under control, the Liberals offered a reform program with three points: voting rights, welfare and national identity. This could give the people the feeling of belonging and create a calm environment, where they do not demand their freedom and full equality. States tames the dangerous classes, through repression and concessions. The system are important for ideologies that convinces the masses to be reasonably patient. He also believes that in recent times, the system could spread, taking resources, emit pollutants, but nowadays such spaces are running low.
The main idea of capitalism is the expanding phenomena, but we live in a world with boundaries, then, capitalism has an end. Capitalists invest their profits in their business instead of spending it on luxury goods or other non-productive goods, so capitalism is in itself expantivt; an increase of resources and production is a must for it to work.
The limits that holds back an ever expantiv grow, thus capitalism as a system are:
- Organic, which is perhaps the most significant, since they can be destroyed and never come back again. Wallerstein writes "to the end, there is no more to pollute the rivers, or trees to fell without serious consequences for the health of the biosphere. This is a situation we find ourselves in after 500 years of such activity
- Reduced availability of cheap labor
- The greater the gap between rich and poor, the more ports in the interlayer, the interlayer drain on profits
- The greater the gap between rich and poor parts of the world, the greater migration to areas with better welfare, resulting in a increasing stess on the system's higher level
Main point is that capitalism is not sustainable. Boundaries are something that the capitalist society does not want but which are on earth, therefor the system must think again. To have a sustainable business is to have a business in the future. The free society, with individuals who do as they feel like to, at the expense of others, will soon backfire.
A change is in the detail. People with capital will fight but this will repel. Wallerstein argues that many theories will be presented and in the confusion, we will not know what is right and wrong. But capitalism has an end and so Liberalism. What comes after this world order that we know, is up to all of us to fight for.
-van Staveren, The values of economics, 2001:202
Thursday, July 08, 2010
*An environmental problems, is that a disturbance of the natural balance found in nature?
How to define an environmental problem is very complicated. Simply said, environmental problem arises when people decide so, especially that kind of environmental problems that affect not only nature but also negatively affects humans. For example it is a problem that the fishes are poisoned, because we would like to eat them if they weren't poisoned, but is it an environmental problem when the sea eagle is poisoned?
Or is it the way to go there, all fish are contaminated by the environmental problem, because poisoned fishes has a cause from which they were poisoned but still, the bird at the top of the chain was also affected but it didn't affect human.
The issue is complex because it rise such things as; why should the eagle be protected? But something in most people is saying that we want to keep all the organisms that exist as naturally as possible. Therefore, a poisoned eagle is also seen as a result of an environmental problem but is it the problem?
The actual outcome or the action in itself which define what and when the environmental problem starts to be a problem, is a different dilemma; is it so that the use of too much manure is the environmental problem or is it the eutrophication or algal blooms like the result, is the environmental problem, or why not: it only become an environmental problem when we can't fish for any longer because of eutrophication.
The Baltic Sea is a difficult example, eutrophication from human activities around the sea has put the over a limit, eutrophication is now so strong that it reinforces itself. If people around the sea stopped its emissions the sea would continue the process by it selves anyhow. Can we then say that the Baltic Sea is an environmental problem, or is it a disorder? Disruptions could happen at volcanoes, floods and storms, and kills entire populations. But these disorders are called natural, although they also affect humans, it is not man's fault.
Environmental problems are caused by man and can be called cultural because it is a result of our culture, of our way of life. Environmental problems tend generally to be called global, with some major problems that everyone knows; acidification, eutrophication, ozone depletion and global warming which is both a cause and effect in local and global level. Local problems are normally toxic and acute, easily to see. Some environmental problems comes slowly, and are defuse. Agriculture is one of the main source, when the global population increases. This include both the acidification, eutrophication and greenhouse gas emissions and can also include extinction of species and desertification, and thus climate change. Agriculture can therefore be seen as one of the largest global insidious environmental problem.
Is the definition important for what an environmental problem acually is? Or is it the question about the question that is the importance Why? See also the post; the complexity of environmental problems.
When tall vegetation is removed and replaced with vegetation with shallow roots, such as arable land or grazing, land becomes more volatile. Drainage of wetlands may have the same effect. McCully (2001) argues that agriculture has caused that the sediments to the water has risen from 7 million tonnes to 45 billion tons. The removal of wetlands is also a loss of the natural purification of water. McCully gives some other examples; approximately 90% of the wetlands of the Rheine in Germany has been drained and used as farmland, half of U.S's wetlands have transformed to agriculture land, and in the Mississippi River area, the figure is as high as 75%. Removal of the wetlands trees along river, means a greater risk of flooding when trees no longer stand as a barrier, both on site and areas downstream (McCully, 2001).
Problems with salt accumulation of arable land means that science tries to breed plants that are more salt tolerant. If the field plants have a higher salt tolerance and is doing better, it means that the surrounding nature can be negatively affected if the saline water spreads over larger areas. The vegetation along the field is disadvantaged and when the water retention properties of the soil deteriorates, it becomes even more difficult to get water to stay on the field.
Reduction of groundwater is a major problem in many areas where the withdrawal is larger than the replenishment. The ecological problem is that the natural springs, wetlands, streams and lakes may be reduced, and it means that large areas would be adversely affected by reduced water (Cunningham, 2005).
Cities are growing, which demands more water as well as numerous new industries. One cubic meter of water in China's industries provide more jobs and approximately 70 times more economic value than the same quantity in agriculture (Postel 2000). Postel argues that the redistribution of water between agriculture and cities may have the power to rule the world's ability to feed themselves. Many farmers may in a soon future give up the farm and sell groundwater to the city's industry and consumers. Some factories have purchased or rented rice paddies to get access to the water.
Dams built for irrigation, may stop the water to areas located downstream. Redistribution of water to crops often leads that the downstream areas are affected. It can also lead to conflict between countries, who have the legal right to the water?
Then the dam in Narmada Bargi was built, 81 000 hectare of agricultural and forest land was inundated to provide water for the 440 000 hectare of agricultural land. After seven years in operation the dam gave only water to 12 000 hectares of farmland (McCully, 2001). Dams gives many people hope of improvement and can lead to huge disappointment and dramatic conflicts. Construction dust can also have disastrous consequences if they break. Several such incidents have occurred with flooding and construction. The actual dam can be viewed as a danger to society therefore, when people live in anxiety.
In order to reduce water loss, more efficient technologies can be used. Drip irrigation consists of a network of perforated plastic tubing that is placed at or below ground level which allows the water to go where it should-to the plants roots. Water efficiency is as much as 95% compared with 50-70% of ditches or flooding, and yields can increase by 20-90% (Postel, 2000).
Department of Water Resources in California operated a network of more than one hundred automatic weather stations in key agricultural areas, each station calculates how much water will evaporate. You can then adjust irrigation accordingly.
By moving the responsibility of irrigation systems from the central government to local peasant cooperatives or other private organizations, the hope is to cut subsidies and transfer the responsibility to improve irrigation performance, when those who use the water hopefully will be using systems that are then sustainable in the long run (Postel, 2000).
Everything requires that farmers switch to methods that works. Some of these have been used already a long time, as terrace farming and agroforestry. The terrace farming water is collected on a small field, soil erosion are prevented by embankments. In agroforestry tree roots help to maintain loose soil for other crops. Rice cultivation is also an old example of keeping the resources, the soil of the rice is flooded naturally. In organic farming with supply by plant materials, compost (green manure), gives a better humus in the soil which makes the water stay longer (McCully, 2001). Distillation of salt water is a different view, but at present time there is no viable method because they are all energy consuming. One can imagine that it is possible to develop technology based on energy from solar or wind power, but we are not there right now (McCully, 2001).
Cunningham, Cunningham, Environmental Science- A global concern. The McGraw-Hill Companies, 2005
McCully. P Silenced Rivers: The Ecology and Politics of Large Dams. Zed books, London, 2001
Postel, S., Konstbevattnat jordbruk i omvandling. Tillståndet i världen 2000 (Author of Pillar of sand: can the irrigation miracle last?)
Thomas. D.S.G., Middleton N.J., Salinization: New perspectives on a major desertification issue. In The Human Impact Reader, Wiley-Blackwell (Andrew Goudie, 1997)
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
Today the 68th day of the huge exibition in Shanghai, Expo 2010 which runs until october this year. The theme "Better City- Better Life", has five central theme pavilions exploring different aspects of urban development; Urban Footprints, Urban Planet, Urban Dwellers, Urban Beings, and Urban Dreams. One of the most popular house to visit is the Spain pavilion with over 2 million visitors until now. The house is made from hand-weaved wicker basket structure supported by the steel framework inside. The basket structure cover the whole building like a fur for an animal, in black and brown. Shape is organic, like a small hill with curves. Spain pavilion contains three exhibition halls which will take visitors through the time and space of the development of the cities in Spain with the theme of "From the City of Our Parents to the City of Our Children". Here is also the much argued big baby doll.
Another building, another place; The Monte Rosa's new hut in the Swiss alpine area. This house with 90% self-suficient energy supply and most water need taken by melt water in the spring is a so called ecological building. The process to build Monte Rosa can be seen in the movie above and by clicking at the link, you can see how they built the new hut with help from helicopters. Result is a icon bulding for alpine people, with panorama view over the mountains in altitude of 2,883 metres and you have to walk to visit.
Three examples of how buildings can look like. Three different examples of how we affect when we build new buildings (or exibitions for buildings). Three different examples of how the life there would look like.
Friday, July 02, 2010
I'm thinking about things like eat up your food, don't through trash in nature, take the bus to work, use less water when you do the dishes, how high temperature you have and how much and which washing powder you use when you do the laundry, in one hand and where to buy your food and what kind of food you can find there, who you meet and how often you can go to nature, in the other. Those two parts of environmental behavior can either be seen as something bother the individual, it is about your actions, time and wills or the society should fix it with structures to make it easier for individuals.
In the individual level, do you think it would be easy to tell those people who don't, to eat up the food, because of climate change (or any other environmental issue..)? (eat up your food because of povertry, we all know). Do we need to scare people to handle environmental issues (you will die from climate change, 50 years or so) or is the best argument just the answer- "its just the way it is". (Compare it to the child who do not want to brush their teeth, parent can either say; "you can lose your teeth if you don't, they will fall out, or they can say "its just the way it is- brush your teeth". The different lays in the decision-taking. Is it the kid or the parent who are responsible for the kids teeth-brushing?. I don't mean in the end, just in the decision)? Does the individual take the responsible for the environment or the state? Is it a choice we- the individuals- can do something about? Is it a small revolutions we do if we choice to do something about climate change, because we don't want to die in 50 years (or our kids do) or is it more revolutionary to say "no, I don't want to", maybe more a revolt both to the parents in the tooth brushing example and to the future in the climate change/environment example. So is environmental behavior, just common sense? I.e, the argument where we scare "you will loose your teeth if you dont" is just unnessasary.
The discussion above have been here many times before. Is it up to individuals to be consern and do something about it, or is it society? If society would build an environment where we don't have to think about it too much, it would be easier for everyone. Or put in another way; why do people do as they do today?
If society, the village or the city, the neighbourhood or a structure took resposible for how people acually feel in that part, it could give much more of a good result to environmental issues than if individuals do something in a society which works in another direction. More nature, more meetings with people, a slower street where peoples attention is focused outside their minds instead of just in their minds. We can't change that human being react different with different environment or surroundings (to not confuse the two words), different depending on the "feeling" of that place (those kind of feelings we do play a lot on in other contexts, the nightclub is something different from the workplace or the restaurant etc). With another surroundings for people, people can start to behave different.
I think, therefore, to change peoples actions and wills about environmental issues we need to take attention from environment and instead take a closer look at the human. How and why do we do things?
I think... to do that, we need to have more of nature closer to people, to see what we have to be careful with. People also have to have a responsibility how things works around them. Bottom-up, top-down, a mixture of them or something built up of complex structures its not a easy job, but it has to be done AND the human behavior needs to have the attention in the work with sustainable development.