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Taking Action On Climate And Clean Energy In 2012:

A Menu Of Effective And Feasible Solutions
Last year threw into stark relief America's interlinked economic, energy security, and climate crises.

On the economic front Americans called out those lawmakers who work relentlessly to build an economy that works for the wealthy few rather than for all of us, but faced determined resistance from conservatives bent on preserving the status quo. At the same time our nation's debilitating dependence on fossil fuels and the damages caused by climate disruption became ever more obvious. Yet here too conservative resistance was implacable. Backed by climate-science deniers and opponents of clean energy-generously funded by their industry backers-conservatives ramped up their campaign of disinformation about dirty energy to push their pollution-promoting policy advocacy work in Washington and around the nation.

The result: seemingly insurmountable gridlock.

And yet 2011 also was a year of historic clean energy investments. The United States passed China to become the global leader among nations in clean energy investment, and new data revealed the startling growth of several clean energy sectors in years of sluggish growth for the overall economy. These trends are further evidence of how our economic, energy, and climate crises offer enormous opportunity to build a clean energy economy that makes America more secure, competitive, and equitable. By transitioning our energy infrastructure from capital-intensive, risky, and often highly polluting energy sources to clean, labor-intensive energy sources we can create many new jobs, grow our middle class, ensure greater energy security, and protect our nation and planet from the predictable ravages of unchecked climate change.

In fact, as we argue in this paper, we can take steps today that will get us on the path toward achieving three critical goals:
Producing more clean energy to grow the economy
Reducing pollution while saving energy and dollars
Building more resilient and balanced economies and communities
These goals remain achievable even in today's gridlocked political environment.

(More) Original story here.

by Jason Walsh and Kate Gordon on Apr 26, 2012

Guerilla gardening

We need more of this, everywhere!
Guerrilla Grafters Bring Forbidden Fruit Back To City Trees

A group of fruit fans in the San Francisco Bay Area is secretly grafting fruit-bearing tree limbs onto fruitless trees

Spring means cherry, pear and apple blossoms. But in many metropolitan areas, urban foresters ensure those flowering fruit trees don’t bear fruit to keep fallen fruit from being trampled into slippery sidewalk jelly.

But a group of fruit fans in the San Francisco Bay Area is secretly grafting fruit-bearing tree limbs onto those fruitless trees.

I visited the "crime scene" one recent day, but I can’t tell you where it is because I was with the "criminals."

"If we say where it is, they could come after me," says Tara Hui, a fruit tree grafter. She’s talking about city officials, who manage the trees and say it’s illegal to have fruit trees on sidewalks.

So let’s just say we’re in some Bay Area city in a working-class neighborhood, at a line of pear trees that bear no pears.

Hui and two assistants pull out a knife, reach into a plastic bag filled with twigs no bigger than your pinkie, and cut from a fruit bearing pear tree. She says it’s an Asian pear, and that she’s grafting it onto a flowering pear tree.

They whittle a wedge into one end of their twig, then cut a groove into a similar-sized twig on the city tree. They join the two, like tongue and groove carpenters. And when their grafted twig eventually grows into a branch.

"There will be a much better looking tree that actually will provide fruit for people that come by," Hui says.

Hui’s motives to break the law are straightforward.

"We don’t have a supermarket and we have very few produce stores [here]," she says. "What better to alleviate scarcity of healthy produce in an impoverished area than to grow them yourself and to have it available for free."

(More) Original story here.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

America the Possible

A new politics for a new dream
Authors Note:
The case for the transformation of today’s American capitalism into something truly sustaining for people and planet rests on two related propositions:

1. System failure. Today’s system of political economy and its principal product, economic growth, destroy the environment, and not in a minor way but in a way that profoundly threatens the planet. Equally, they are not delivering economic and social well-being. People will therefore increasingly demand solutions, but the current system will not be able to deliver credible answers and so will lose legitimacy. Dissatisfaction will multiply. Meanwhile, America’s political economy will be severely stressed by multiple pressures, general overload, and buffeting events at home and abroad, including scarcities and rising prices. Having lost resiliency and coping capacity, it will be highly vulnerable to crises that will open the door to major change.

2. A better world. The affluent societies have reached the point where, as John Maynard Keynes forecast, the economic problem has been solved; the long era of ceaseless striving to overcome hardship and deprivation should be over; there is enough to go around if it were shared. But this prospect and other hopeful possibilities contrast sharply with everyday reality, so people are increasingly fed up and are seeking and building something more meaningful. A positive alternative to the current order is coming into view, taking shape on the horizon. People and groups are busily planting the seeds of change through a host of alternative arrangements scattered across the landscape, principally at the local level, and are identifying still more directions for upgrading to a new operating system. We can imagine now the articulation of a new American Dream and a new explanatory narrative, the appearance around the country of new and attractive models, and the projection of a powerful set of new ideas and policy proposals confirming that the path to a better world does indeed exist.

These two developments will raise consciousness, inspire hope, open the door to deep change, and help launch a powerful movement that can transform the current system.

America the Possible: A Manifesto, Part I by James Gustave Speth

America the Possible: A Manifesto, Part II by James Gustave Speth

Published in the March/April 2012 issue of Orion magazine

Van Jones Explains Why Everything That Is Good For The Environment Is A Job

Green jobs pioneer Van Jones has a must-read new book, Rebuild the Dream. It’s already hit #11 on Amazon’s best-seller list, testament to the power of his message and leadership. I’ve had a chance to read the book and strongly recommend it. Jones is as eloquent writing as he is speaking. He talks about life inside the White House, explains why he resigned, and looks at what went right — and wrong — with Obama’s presidency. Finally, he offers his blueprint for recapturing the American Dream. This excerpt explains his view of the clean energy economy — JR.

Joe Romm, Apr 3, 2012

How To Move When You Don’t Know Where to Go

I am a fervent advocate of the "Act/Reflect" cycle of career and professional development. And I know that failure to deal with both sides of this equation is one of your surest routes to stuck. Yesterday I stumbled across this article on the Harvard Business Review Blog on what to do when you don’t know what to do. Boy, did it resonate!

    Learning Cycle
  • Start with desire.
  • Take a smart step as quickly as you can toward your goal.
  • Reflect and build on what you have learned from taking that step.
  • Repeat.

Career change is all about dealing with career uncertainty. We know we want something different, but we aren’t sure what is going to happen if we pursue it. The future is a scary thing and standing still feels safer than moving if we aren’t sure what will happen next.

Here’s one thing I know for sure about standing still though. You don’t actually get anywhere when you do that. If life is a journey (and I think it is), then standing still is the best way for you to miss what your life has to offer. At the end, all you’ll be able to say is that you stood your ground.

By Michelle Martin, March 30, 2012

www link Powered by Wordpress - From the Net2 Blog

"As someone who just launched their first WordPress website, I’ll just come out and say this without hesitation. WordPress is impressive! If you are looking to do-it-yourself (DIY) and build a small business website, an online portfolio of your work, a blog dedicated to your dog or just trying to impress family and friends with your web talent, you need not look much further." www link [From Net2 Blog]

Part of building a thriving world is in identifying a useful technology like WordPress and training millions of people to use it. That will spread new knowledge both widely and deeply into the conmmunity. Any community will progress as quickly or as slowly as the ability of most of us to LEARN. The transfer of knowledge, the learning of new skills, paid or unpaid is the way of a thriving community will develop.

We learn by what we do. Take a tool like WordPress and do something with it.

Employment - Betting on the little guy

Unemployment in the EU is making many politicians sit up straight. The jobless rate rose to a seasonally-adjusted 10.7 percent in January “ up seven-tenths from the same month last year. As expected, EU leaders have made job creation one of their biggest priorities. The big question is how to stimulate employment in a diversified economy. Brussels believes it has the answer in small and medium-sized enterprises.

March 27, 2012

The Hidden World of Modern Slavery

Here’s a startling statistic. According to a 2010 article in the Harvard Gazette, an estimated 12 million people around the world are enslaved in one form or another. To put that in perspective, that number totals the entire metropolitan area of Los Angeles. Out of those, over 1.3 million are engaged in prostitution within the world’s sex trade. A recent feature on CNN estimated that almost 1 in 7 people in the West African country of Mauritania live their lives in slavery. In fact, Mauritania didn’t even make slavery illegal till 2007.

10 min video part of a promotion.

28 March, 2012

Sovereignty of the people or democracy for the few?

Democratic government denotes a system in which the decision about leadership is in the hands of the people. Random House’s English dictionary defines democracy as; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.

What we mean by the concept of justice is less obvious, and may vary significantly depending upon the context in which the term is used. However, when discussing just societies, we basically mean what’s known in political science as “distributive justice.” A just society ensures that its people are free from oppression; that all citizens have equal access to available resources, the same basic rights, and that no person without due cause may be excluded from that which these rights guarantee.

Therefore, justice and democracy presuppose one another in a fundamental way: a society in which the ultimate power can be said to be vested in the people, cannot lack the basic equality which guarantees every human being the same rights, the same influence and the same opportunities.

March 29, 2012

Spain’s Unbearable Pain

Another week, another bout of social unrest in a Euro peripheral nation, if the fourth largest econony in the area (Spain) can even be called that. Yesterday’s action saw more than a million people take to the streets in protest, while several million actually participated in the 24-hour general strike (about 77% of union workers), resulting in 176 arrests and a 104 injuries. It is estimated that 91% of all large business employees took part in the strike and/or occupied the streets. The Spanish politicians, of course, tried to downplay the rate of participation and claimed victory because the strike wasn’t as bad as the last big one in 2010, but those claims merely reveal how their desperation is taking on a ridiculously childish quality at this point.

MARCH 30, 2012

Words matter: a politician tells the truth

"The land we call our home, the land owned by this sweet funny brave people is being transformed, as is the rest of the planet. And yes, since the late eighties I have been an unapologetic believer in the grim reality that human activity is changing the earth’s climate." [Australian Senator, Bob Carr]

Words matter in politics. And the absence of words matters. As the scientific evidence for climate change continues to mount and consolidate we should expect clarion calls from political leaders. They owe it to us. I grew up during World War II and even as a child I was aware of the way the words of Churchill matched the enormity of the conflict with fascism. The challenge of climate change is different, but of no less moment. Bob Carr’s bluntness is to be applauded.