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New Business Priorities

Who are we?
Where are we?
What is the context?

Three numbers establish a context:
1.5, 2 billion, and 3 times.

Those numbers confirm that business as usual will not continue, that water will be the new oil, and that the world faces difficult social problems that can be very personal.

What does this mean for you?
You need a strategy.
All strategies are based on our projections of the future.
If the future you project is based on the past you know, your strategy will be weak. We can be sure business as usual will not continue. We also know that people everywhere want to live. What must we do to enable people to live?
Peter Senge: Will your grandchildren be able to live?

Royal Society: People and the planet report

Rapid and widespread changes in the world's human population, coupled with unprecedented levels of consumption present profound challenges to human health and wellbeing, and the natural environment. This report gives an overview of how global population and consumption are linked, and the implications for a finite planet.

Key recommendations include:

The international community must bring the 1.3 billion people living on less than $1.25 per day out of absolute poverty, and reduce the inequality that persists in the world today. This will require focused efforts in key policy areas including economic development, education, family planning and health.

The most developed and the emerging economies must stabilise and then reduce material consumption levels through: dramatic improvements in resource use efficiency, including: reducing waste; investment in sustainable resources, technologies and infrastructures; and systematically decoupling economic activity from environmental impact.

Reproductive health and voluntary family planning programmes urgently require political leadership and financial commitment, both nationally and internationally. This is needed to continue the downward trajectory of fertility rates, especially in countries where the un-met need for contraception is high.

Population and the environment should not be considered as two separate issues. Demographic changes, and the influences on them, should be factored into economic and environmental debate and planning at international meetings, such as the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development and subsequent meetings.

(More) Original story here.

26 April 2012


Building a Sustainable Future Requires More than Science

Schwarze Pumpe, a pilot thermal power plant south of Berlin that captures and stores carbon emissions, a method whose effectiveness experts doubt. Credit: Vattenfall

Contrary to popular belief, humans have failed to address the earth’s worsening emergencies of climate change, species’ extinction and resource overconsumption not because of a lack of information, but because of a lack of imagination, social scientists and artists say.

At a conference for the American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) here in Vancouver, British Columbia, experts argued that the path to a truly sustainable future is through the muddy waters of emotions, values, ethics, and most importantly, imagination.

Humans’ perceptions of reality are filtered by personal experiences and values, said David Maggs, a concert pianist and PhD student at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia (UBC).

As a result, the education and communication paradigm of “if we only knew better, we’d do better” is not working, Maggs told attendees at the world’s largest general science meeting. “We don’t live in the real world, but live only in the world we imagine.”

“We live in our heads. We live in storyland,” agreed John Robinson of UBC’s Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability.

“When we talk about sustainability we are talking about the future, how things could be. This is the landscape of imagination,” Robinson told IPS. “If we can’t imagine a better world we won’t get it.”

(More) Original story here.

By Sustainable Land Development Initiative | By Stephen Leahy, March 2nd, 2012


The Shop That Ben Built

It brought me great hope that the most popular house ever built on TV’s Grand Designs programme was Ben Law’s woodland home. This seems to me the epitome of bioregional living: borrowing to meet your needs from thelocal natural environment. While searching for images to cheer up my book I found out that he has also built a beautiful shop call Lodsworth Larder. Like the growth in farmers’ markets, the popularity of this shop, which I hope is stocked with local produce, indicates that the self-reliant communities built on strong local identities that a bioregional economy would entail are appealing, even to those who find out about them from the internet.

(More) Original story here.

8 April 2012


16 Reasons To Move Away From California

The American Dream
Once upon a time, millions upon millions of young people dreamed of moving to California. Nearly endless sunshine, pristine beaches and a booming economy made it seem like paradise to many. But now those days are long gone. Unemployment is rampant, home prices have fallen like a rock, violent crime and gang activity are on the rise, local governments all over California are facing horrible financial problems, millions of illegal immigrants have poured into the state, traffic around the big cities is nightmarish and tax rates are absolutely outrageous. Plus there is the constant threat that your home could be destroyed by an earthquake, a wildfire or a mudslide. In recent years, hordes of hard working families have decided that they have had enough and have decided to move away from California. In fact, since the year 2000 more than 1.6 million peoplehave moved away from the state of California.

There are still a few pockets of the state that are still very beautiful and that have been sheltered from the economic nightmare that is sweeping the rest of the state.

But in general, most cities in California are rapidly becoming giant hellholes.

Without a doubt, the “California Dream” has now become a “California Nightmare” for most residents of the state.

(More) Original story here.

By Lou Scatigna on April 19th, 2012


America’s dream unravels

As other nations rise, the US is in relative economic decline – and the country’s political system is making things worse

It feels like you are entering a parallel universe. In reality it is just a few short steps down a plank into the neon-lit floating world of a casino ship. The location is Lake Michigan. The town is Gary, Indiana. And the host is the Majestic Star Casino. "Welcome to Majestic Star," says a croupier. And to post-industrial America, she might add.

Many cities and towns across America have been shattered by the demise of mass employment in manufacturing over the last generation. Few have been hit as hard as Gary – once a thriving hub of steel production, and birthplace of the late Michael Jackson, one of the most successful pop stars in history. Some places, such as Pittsburgh, have become showcases of urban reinvention, partly by making the most of the strong medical legacy left by the departing generation of well-paid union workers (whose "Cadillac" healthcare packages spawned a robust hospital system).

By Edward Luce, March 30, 2012


Seven Problems a Recovery Won’t Fix

The Big Grinning Kahunas that run the world don’t agree on much these days, except one thing: the urgent, vital need for "recovery." On both sides of an increasingly fractious political divide, there’s a common belief underlying the debates: what we really need is more stimulus, spending, cutting, slashing, or [insert big idea here], and the economy will "recover" ” hey, presto!! ” and pop roaring back into life.

Hence, like many, you’re probably waiting for this so-called mysteriously reluctant non-recovering "recovery" ” the one that always seems just around the corner, but when the corner’s turned, has automagically disappeared yet again. (Want fries with that latest global "soft patch"?)

by Umair Haque, Wednesday June 8, 2011


How Do You Plan To Change The World?

"Greatness arises not from what you do externally, but from what you dare internally."

You hear people all the time saying that they want to change the world, that they want to have a big impact in the world and of course, I think it’s amazing and all of us should think this way, but saying and doing there are two different things.

Sometimes I feel like we want to change the whole world, but not ourselves, and not how we treat those close to us, because that’s how you actually start changing the world. You start with yourself, and then you continue with those around you, and the influence you will have on them, it will later expand on those around themŽ and little by little will manage to change the world.

February 12, 2012


Building a Sustainable Future Requires More than Science

Contrary to popular belief, humans have failed to address the earth’s worsening emergencies of climate change, species’ extinction and resource overconsumption not because of a lack of information, but because of a lack of imagination, social scientists and artists say.

At a conference for the American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) here in Vancouver, British Columbia, experts argued that the path to a truly sustainable future is through the muddy waters of emotions, values, ethics, and most importantly, imagination.

Humans’ perceptions of reality are filtered by personal experiences and values, said David Maggs, a concert pianist and PhD student at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia (UBC).

As a result, the education and communication paradigm of "if we only knew better, we’d do better" is not working, Maggs told attendees at the world’s largest general science meeting. "We don’t live in the real world, but live only in the world we imagine."

"We live in our heads. We live in storyland," agreed John Robinson of UBC’s Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability.

"When we talk about sustainability we are talking about the future, how things could be. This is the landscape of imagination," Robinson told IPS. "If we can’t imagine a better world we won’t get it."

By Stephen Leahy, March 2nd, 2012


Predictions bring focus home

In tough times, our home focus is stronger than ever. This was brought home to me in Hobart earlier this month when a softly spoken Canadian named Nicole Foss held listeners spellbound as she mapped out her vision of where our current global financial difficulties are taking us.

Foss, who writes under the name Stoneleigh on the blogsite The Automatic Earth, has a background in biology, pollution control, finance and international law a pretty clear pointer to a mind that ranges far and wide. In that respect at least, she didn’t disappoint her two Tasmanian audiences.

27 March, 2012


Lifestyle Design and Your Ideal World

The answer to the question, “What do you really want?” tends to trip a lot of us up.

In this post I’ll help you get closer to your own answer to that question, using three different perspectives. If you’ve never done much in the way of lifestyle design before, the end of the year is a good time to start thinking about it. Monday is also a good day to start the week off well, so while we’re looking at long-term well-being, try to find at least one or two ideas here that will help you this week.

November 10, 2008


Radical plan to create new Midlands city on green belt land to cope with population growth

[U.K.] A new city could be built in the Midlands alongside the controversial High Speed 2 rail line as part of a drive to tackle the country’s housing shortage.

The transport project’s chief engineer said up to 100,000 homes could be built on green belt land.

Details emerged as ministers prepare to launch a radical National Planning Policy Framework to simplify planning laws and boost economic growth.

25 March 2012


The Shadow of Depression

BERKELEY “ Four times in the past century, a large chunk of the industrial world has fallen into deep and long depressions characterized by persistent high unemployment: the United States in the 1930’s, industrialized Western Europe in the 1930’s, Western Europe again in the 1980’s, and Japan in the 1990’s. Two of these downturns “ Western Europe in the 1980’s and Japan in the 1990’s “ cast a long and dark shadow on future economic performance.

In both cases, if either Europe or Japan returned “ or, indeed, ever returns “ to something like the pre-downturn trend of economic growth, it took (or will take) decades. In a third case, Europe at the end of the 1930’s, we do not know what would have happened had Europe not become a battlefield following Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland.

Mar. 29, 2012