Steady State Cyclist Tours Canada

I’ve been biking to work more and it got me thinking of bike touring – long distance traveling on a bike. I decided that I would make it a goal to do an extended bike tour next summer (the Seattle to Portland Classic plus three more days down the coast and back) to prepare me for the ultimate goal of a cross country bike trip.

No sooner did I start thinking of the practicality of this journey and deciding I should use it as an opportunity to promote the steady state economy, as well as hopefully pick up some sponsors (maybe a brewery or two?), than I get an email about Jordan’s cross-Canada journey promoting the steady state economy!

You can hear more about his trip at his blog, but I’ll be sure to talk about it along the way as well. What an truly exciting trip! This is taken directly from the press release: (links and emphasis added)

Riding a bike is all about balance.  The same is true of a world economy that can endure, one that is more than a series of bubbles-and-pops.  Jordan Poppenk will bring those two concepts together in a cross-Canada cycling tour to raise awareness about the concept of the steady state economy.

The world’s financial authorities are preparing to meet in Toronto to discuss how to get the global economy growing again. But Jordan Poppenk wants them to talk about how to stop the world economy from growing again, and he’s cycling across Canada to get their attention.

Poppenk is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Toronto and an environmental journalist. He wants Canadians to know about new ideas emerging from the world’s economics departments, how they mesh with modern ecological challenges, and why it’s essential we rethink the current program of boosting GDP every year. He’s cycling 6,500 km to help get the idea out there.

A steady state economy aims for stable population and stable consumption of energy and materials at sustainable levels. Such an economy favors development (getting better) rather than growth (getting bigger).

“The steady state concept is about reaching some balance with what nature can provide, and within those limits, we can have a very vibrant, exciting and worthwhile economy,” says Peter Victor, an ecological economist at York University.  Dr. Victor’s model of the Canadian economy demonstrates how the nation can prosper with a steady state economy, as documented in his book, Managing Without Growth.

Poppenk adds, “Whether or not you believe in human-induced climate change, other signs of the severe strain on ecosystems from our already overwhelming economic activity are everywhere. Growth is not helping most people anyway; Canada’s economic output has doubled since 1982, but 80% of Canadians have seen no improvement in their inflation-adjusted incomes.”

Poppenk is teaming up with the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE) to communicate how a steady state economy could be desirable and to spark discussion about transitioning from growth to sustainability. He departs from Vancouver today and he hopes to reach Halifax on September 1.

Information, updates and photographic materials are available on Poppenk’s blog: Steady State Cyclist.

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!

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.

A Steady Stater Dinner

A Great, Sustainable Meal
A Great, Sustainable Meal

I’m approaching another year older (hopefully wiser) and was taken out to a surprise location for dinner by my partner. She did her research and found a great place near us that represents what I envision life in a steady state economy to be like: focused more on the local economy, a greater sense of community, and more time to enjoy living our lives with less of an impact on the environment.

Sutra is a vegetarian restaurant in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle, nestled amongst the many former-homes-turned-businesses along 45th street. A beautiful, intimate space awaits up to 35 guests for a dinner seating serving four community-style courses. Seasonal food from Forged and Found Edibles, Full Circle Farm, and other local food suppliers are masterfully combined into delicious meals.

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Your Water Footprint & The Coming Water Crisis

Water is Scarce
Water is Scarce

You leave them everywhere you walk, but recently the term “footprint” has being used to describe your impact upon the planet in broader terms than the impression of your feet. The most common one tossed around these days is our Carbon Footprint (see global climate change). A more recently developed spin on the footprint term is the Water Footprint: how much water you consume through your actions (directly and indirectly).

Of course you use water in your day-to-day life: you take a shower, drink water, water your lawn, et cetera. There is another way we use water: through the consumption of goods. The food we eat takes water to grow (a lot more than you might think). The clothes we wear come from crops that require water. Even the cars we drive require water-intensive processes to create them. Everything we do creates a ripple through the world and we can often take massive amounts of the most basic resource needed for survival on Earth: fresh water.

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Bike to Work: Save The Planet

May is the official Bike to Work Month. Here in Seattle the Cascade Bike Club, in partnership with Group Health and a few other organizations, sponsor the Bike to Work Challenge. I have been riding into work as often as my legs and weather allow (it’s been especially rainy this May, thank you Global Warming!).

It seems obvious that biking to work is a great way to stay in shape, as well as reduce your carbon footprint. Half way through this month the Group Health Bike to Work Challenge participants have already racked up nearly 600,000 miles on their peddles! That’s the equivalent to saving roughly 300 tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere due to car commuting!

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Newest Steady Stater

The Newest Steady Stater
The Newest Steady Stater

I couldn’t be happier to write that this weekend my partner and I welcomed our son Liam Thomas into the world! We made it home yesterday from the hospital and are adjusting to our new life together. I will likely be out of the posting arena for a short bit, but fear not! I have a few in-process already on topics including community, steady-stater lifestyle, and sustainable scale. 

Let’s work to make all our children’s future a sustainable, healthy one! I know Liam would appreciate it.