My Climate Solution

We Hold the Future in Our Hands

You may have noticed that in spite of all my posts about climate change I have been silent on the subject during these past weeks. Whilst the Copenhagen Climate Conference has been filling the media, blogs and my spare time I have decided to keep my blog free of yet another Copenhagen report. If you would like to learn about the (mostly) disappointing results of the conference I suggest you go elsewhere.

The alternative for me is to discuss solutions instead of pointing fingers. This is a pivotal time in the history of our species – not our nation or group of nations, the whole world – all of humanity is at stake here. Time is short for positive action.

There are so many solutions out there – many that will work, many that will not. We should be conservative and aim for strong goals with multiple redundancies. It would be rash to place all our eggs in one basket. The worst thing that happens if we are over conservative in our efforts is we have less climate change harm and a more sustainable society. The worst thing that happens if we are not conservative enough is (besides wasted efforts) runaway climate destabilization that kills millions, threatens billions more and irreversibly alters the very face of human society on Earth (not to mention the planet itself).

I have done some research, as much as I can, and written about possible solutions for adverting climate destabilization. Ultimately I can talk all I want about what needs to be done, but by this point you have probably heard more than a few ideas of solutions. In truth, what our governments do is incredibly important if we want to transform our societies into sustainable versions. However, the people are likely to do the changes and prepare for the shift regardless of the talking heads in the state house.

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Battle of the Sachses

This post is by guest blogger Angela Tam, a fellow steady stater, the author of Sustainable Building in Hong Kong and Progress. Progress? Angela also maintains the blog Sustainable Living Hong Kong.

Remember the Make Poverty History campaign of 2005? Idealistic youngsters wearing the T-shirt and rubber wristbands poured through the streets of London, Edinburgh and elsewhere, urging world leaders to forgive Third World debt, led by the likes of Bono, the rock star who’s multiplied his music earnings goodness knows how many folds through canny investments.

The idea of “making poverty history” seems great doesn’t it? How can we hope to see social justice when there are millions of people in the world making less than a dollar a day? Now, the whole issue of poverty and social justice is in the spotlight again due to climate change.

There is no doubt the poor will suffer much much more than the rich because of climate change. While the rich can afford higher prices, horde goods and obtain the best medical treatment, the poor will suffer hunger, drought, disease and the effects of increasingly frequent and devastating weather events.

This seems so obvious that when someone with all the right credentials comes up with an idea for “alleviating poverty”, he instantly wins widespread support. But what exactly is “poverty”? Is it possible that we have been fooled into fighting shadows?

This is where we have what I call “The Battle of the Sachses”.

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Making The Right Kind of Impact This Season

The holidays are a sacred time of year for many over this small blue world. We each have our own traditions, songs, celebrations and gatherings. One thing we all share is a connection with one another during the end of the year and the start of a new one. In the last 50-plus years this community-gathering, family-focused yule-time has been distorted by conspicuous consumption and environmental destruction.

Less and less a season of humanity, the final few months of the year are a season of consumption. But why complain about it when you can actually do something? By taking individual action to simplify your holiday season you are leading by example and often influence those around you more than you know. This season focusing on creating no environmental impact can actually result in focusing more of your time and energy on family, community, health, happiness and simplicity.

The Happy, Simple Holiday

In our neck of the woods we celebrate Christmas. Traditionally my family has done the big tree, wrapped gifts, and taken a flight to visit distant relatives. Since college I have significantly reduced my holiday-impact and now with my own family we are trying something different as well. We’re starting our son’s first holiday by creating meaningful, positive-impact traditions.

This year instead of buying a dying tree that will be thrown in the trash, we are buying a living tree to plant after the holiday. This year we are staying home and sleeping in. This year we are giving the gift of experiences to each other (us parents are going in on a gym membership to improve our health and well-being). This holiday season we are simplifying our expenses to reduce waste: wasted money, wasted time, wasted gifts. This year we’re really excited for the holiday because of it all!

The No Impact Man Screening

Why don’t you do something to make a more meaningful, environmentally and socially responsible holiday season? Find a community screening of the No Impact Man documentary near you. If you live in the Seattle area, please come join our screening! We’re hosting a special viewing of the film at the Greenwood Senior Center this Friday, December 18th at 7pm. Following the film there will be discussion on simplifying the holiday season.

For more information visit the eventbrite site for more information. I also wrote a post about this earlier. If you come to the Seattle screening (admission is free) be sure to bring $5 or 3 cans of food to be entered in the raffle for one of the pre-release DVDs or books!

The Money Fix

Debt-money creates competition and scarcity
Debt-money creates competition and scarcity

Money. We use it everyday yet our concept of it is limited. When we talk about money, we talk in terms of what it does, not what it is. Despite our ignorance of money it rules most of our lives. I recently finished a great documentary about money that I would like to share with you. “The Money Fix” goes into the detail of money and describes how our system creates money out of thin air, embeds each of us with a “scarcity complex” and incites competition instead of cooperation.

I described in a previous post how money is created by banks out of thin air. We exist in a debt-money system, using bank account ledgers more often than paper money. The way I had previously explained the concept of money creation the banks create money out of thin air through interest on debt. “The Money Fix” describes this differently. The money of the loan is created – all of it, be it $500 or $5 million – while the interest is “earned” money. When the loan is paid back the created money is canceled by the payment on the principle. But where does the interest come from? More debt.

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Top Ten Steady State Posts of 2009

I’ve been super busy lately, but I have not lost the urge to write. I have some 7 posts in draft, but that has become the usual in the last couple months. Since we’ve crossed a bit of a milestone, and Steady State Revolution is one year old, I wanted to highlight some of the better posts from the last year.

This is a list of the top ten posts in the last year, chosen by me but with influence from feedback as well. For those of you that are new to this blog or haven’t checked out the archives yet I hope this list is helpful for you!

2009 Top Ten Posts

  1. The Creation of Money and the Illusion of Wealth – The banks we give our money to and rely on for loans are the very ones contributing to continued inflation. In fact, they create money out of thin air in order to gain a profit. This illusion of wealth (the creation of money instead of real wealth) will be the downfall of our society if we’re not to careful.
  2. Local Currency and Bartering – Money is a part of our daily life. However,any of us m rarely think about where our money goes when we make a purchase. When we buy from a large chain often our money feeds a wealthy few far away. When we buy locally, with currency that supports only local businesses, we in turn support our local economy. Each dollar spent locally is four times as beneficial than a dollar spent in a global owned business. In a sustainable future a flourishing local economy is the more reliable and logical choice over a unstable global one.
  3. Sustainable Scale – In order to create a sustainable way of life we must realize that the economy on Earth must also be sustainable. This requires us to create a sustainable scale.
  4. Fair Distribution: Ending the Wealth Gap – In order to create a sustainable world we must acknowledge the fact that continued growth does not solve one of the most severe problems: inequality. The top 20% of the world’s wealthy receive 74% of the yearly wealth, while the bottom fifth receives only 2% of the yearly wealth. This disparity must be addressed if we are ever to succeed in eliminating poverty or creating a stable, sustainable society.
  5. Carfree Day Leading to a Carfree Lifestyle? – On Worldwide Carfree Day I made an adjustment to my commute that resulted in a few bus transfers and a longer trip, but a much happier one all around. Since then I have cut the car out of most of my commuting. Free yourself from your mobile prison!
  6. Why Emissions Must Be Cut Now, Not Later – The concept is simple, the rate of emissions doesn’t matter as much as the total amount of emissions. Think about it this way: we’re in a race towards the apocalypse and the US is in the lead. Not because the US has the fastest car, but because we had the largest head start.
  7. Earth Demands a Steady State Economy –  Our planet is finite and as such cannot support a continued increase in resource consumption. If we wish to continue being supported by this planet we must acknowledge it’s limits.
  8. Carrying Capacity Reached: The Need for Population Stability – One of the three large issues confronting a sustainable way of life is continued population growth. Obviously, this growth is more disruptive when it comes from developed nations because we make, per capita, the greatest impact. But nonetheless, we can only support so many people on this planet, and only so many at a given level of affluence. In order to maintain certain standards of living in the future we must control the growth of our population and provide sustainable limits to our numbers and our consumption.
  9. Uneconomic Growth – Growth is commonly referred to in the neoclassical economics as “economic growth.” However, this implies that it is providing benefit when in fact we’re no longer benefiting from a growing economy. We have past the point where the benefits outweigh the costs and our growth is now uneconomic.
  10. Post Growth Reading List – This is a list of books and articles relating to the sustainable, post-growth economics. Both an introductory list and an advanced list are presented. This is a favorite of a few people.