Monday, June 28, 2010

Empathy is the Invisible Hand

A hopeful video from RSAnimate based on a talk by Jeremy Rifkin about the empathetic civilization:

Stay going. 

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Eye of the Wind

We’re on vacation visiting family in Vancouver, British Columbia and had the rare treat to go to the top of a wind turbine on Grouse Mountain.  The 1.5 megawatt turbine provides about 25% of the electricity the mountain needs to operate, and it makes a beautiful, powerful statement on the top of this urban ski mountain.

But the owners of Grouse have taken it one step further, and installed a custom-built, glassed in viewing pod at the top of the turbine – The Eye of the Wind – the world’s first elevator-accessible viewPOD.  For $25, you take an elevator to the top and take in spectacular views of the city, ocean, and surrounding mountains. 

The thrill of some slight vertigo along with the chance to learn all about wind power and see the area from a really unique perspective makes it well worth the price of admission.  One section of the floor is see-through glass, and demands some courage and faith-in-engineering to step on. 

Each pane of the glass wall has some fun-facts about how the turbine works and the local area.  A flatscreen provides real-time data about wind speed, electricity generation, carbon avoided, etc. (unfortunately the wind wasn’t blowing at a sustained rate of over 9 km/hr while we were there, so the blades weren’t turning, and they’re still addressing the final hurdles before they can tie in to the grid).  

Grouse rents out the pod for corporate functions and the like, and have done a great job of maximizing the value of their wind turbine.   The turbine was built by Leitwind out of Italy, a division of the company that builds some of their chairlifts, and the pod was custom built using components from 10 different countries.

While the folks back home in Massachusetts, have been arguing over the impacts on tourism of the Cape Wind project, this project pushed ahead and has shown that turbines themselves can be a revenue-generating tourist attraction.  I’d sign up right away for a boat tour through the first offshore wind farm in the US – not only to see those beautiful turbines up close, but to be a part of history, experiencing the early steps of creating a safe, independent, clean energy system. 

Stay going. 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Life After Growth

How do we get smarter, not bigger?  How do we promote the growth of value, not the growth of stuff?  How do we increase well-being without increasing consumption?

This 20 minute video gives a good run through some of the attempts going on out there - degrowth, happiness indices, GDP alternatives, transition towns, post-carbon lifestyles, local production, etc.

Stay going. 

Monday, June 07, 2010

UAE's Ecological Footprint

WWF has developed a great quick video about the Ecological Footprint of the United Arab Emirates - among the highest in the world (the US of course is right up there as well).  The Ecological Footprint concept is a great way to measure and communicate the ecological impact of an individual's, organization's, or nation's activities.  It translates these impacts into area measurements, and shows that in total, we are using resources faster than the Earth's biogeochemical systems can regenerate them - about 25% faster since the late '80s.  At this point that means we'd need to about 1.4 Earth's to support our current global economy - and of course we only have one.  The Living Planet Report from WWF and the Global Footprint Network dives into all of this in a really accessible way.

At the same time, we're reducing the planet's biocapacity, and thus it's ability to generate resources and assimilate waste.  It's scary stuff.  But hats off to the UAE for engaging with WWF and the Global Footprint Network to educate its population and look for ways to create better, and ultimately sustainable, systems:

Stay going.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

The Hive Grand (re)Opening Show...

A quick announcement for Cape Ann locals & visitors who will be around this coming Saturday - come out, support local arts, and help build and strengthen the social fabric at the Grand (re)Opening of The Hive at it's new location on Main St. in Gloucester: 

Saturday June 12th from 6-9pm

Come on down to help us celebrate new work & our new location (@Art Haven) on Main Street in Gloucester. If you like what we are doing, spread the word and help us build community through creativity. Local food and beverage provided by Alchemy and Cape Ann brewing. After party across the street at Alchemy.

180 B Main St. Gloucester, MA 01930

Connect with us on on facebook.

Stay going. 

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Oil, Security & $100 Million Per Day

We're on the train home from a town hall meeting hosted by Operation Free - a coalition of veterans and defense organizations advocating for energy independence, a cap on carbon, and green jobs - all of which will promote our national security.

We heard from veterans from the Army, Air Force, and Marines, including a retired general.  The connection between energy security, climate disruption and national security has been clear for a long time, but it's incredibly powerful to hear it from vets who have experienced some of the worst symptoms of our unsustainable energy system first hand.

It was also incredibly powerful to hear it from them as they stood in Faneuil Hall meeting hall under portraits of founding fathers and patriots.

The numbers were also compelling - we spend $1 billion on oil per day - we send $100 million to Iran every day.  We are literally funding both sides of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  And the solutions are readily at hand.  The American Power Act could cut those figures by 40%.  What's more, doing so will drive innovation and investment, and create jobs - 200,000 annually according to a non-partisian study from the Peterson Institute for International Economics (pdf) - just what we need to complete the economic recovery - and that's not even accounting for "potential employment benefits of increased US competitiveness in clean energy exports, unlocking profitable investment opportunities in energy efficiency, and spillover from clean energy innovation into other sectors is not quantified in this analysis." -- which is where the lion's share of new economic and employment opportunities will come from!!

This is a long overdue move that is good for America in every way.  The Senate has said they will vote on it in July, and unfortunately, we can be sure that the massive disinformation campaign waged by vested-interests will play on the fears of citizens in these tight economic times, and try to play this up as a tax, an economic drag, and a partisan issue.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  And groups like Operation Free, that are moving beyond partisan politics, are critical to ensuring that the American Power Act gets passed.  Here in Massachusetts we need to do our part to let our new Senator Scott Brown know what an important leadership opportunity this is and how important it is to us. 

Stay going. 

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

New Videos from Operation Free on Why We Must Pass the American Power Act

Two new videos from Operation Free, the Truman National Security Project, Republicans for Environmental Protection, and Veterans Green Jobs help bring home the message of why we need to pass the American Power Act this year.

On the subject of APA, here's another good rationale from David Roberts at Grist on why we need to get this passed this year.  For those of you near Boston, come show your support tomorrow, Thursday, June 3rd, at 7 pm in Faneuil Hall.

Stay going.