Zero Footprint
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We absolutely can reduce the ecological footprint of humanity all the way down to zero!
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Why 100% renewables? Because it is inevitable : Renew Economy

The transition from fossil fuels to renewables is inevitable. Fossil fuels are finite, but will be dumped before they are exhausted on the basis of cost.
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Excellent article.  I would quote the whole thing, so go read it instead.

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California High-Speed Rail To Have Net Zero Emissions

California High-Speed Rail To Have Net Zero Emissions | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

“Our commitment is to make positive environmental contributions from day one,” said Authority CEO Jeff Morales. “High-speed rail will transform the state’s transportation system while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and providing environmental benefits for years to come.”

 

The system is to run on 100% clean energy. “To estimate GHG emissions associated with the electricity purchased by the Authority for traction power, which is the power needed to propel the train along the rails, and facilities operations, the Authority assumed a mix of 20 percent solar, 30 percent wind, 45 percent geothermal, and 5 percent biogas (methane capture).” Thus the GHG emission reduction is calculated in terms of the number of passengers that choose to ride the high-speed rail system rather than use a car or airplane.

 

The CO2 produced during construction is to be offset by a tree planting program. Only recycled concrete and steel is to be used and contractors will be required to divert 75% of their non-hazardous waste from landfills.

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Daniel LaLiberte's comment, July 16, 2013 11:32 PM
Elon Musk has been hinting at an idea he calls the Hyperloop — a ground-based transportation technology that would get people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in under half an hour, for less than 1/10 the cost of California’s $69 billion plan. http://www.kurzweilai.net/is-this-elon-musks-secret-design-for-a-high-speed-underground-train
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Consumption Dwarfs Population as Main Environmental Threat, by Fred Pearce: Yale Environment 360

Consumption Dwarfs Population as Main Environmental Threat, by Fred Pearce: Yale Environment 360 | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
It's overconsumption, not population growth, that is the fundamental problem: By almost any measure, a small portion of the world's people — those in the affluent, developed world — use up most of the Earth's resources and produce most of its greenhouse gas emissions.


This is a terribly convenient argument — “over-consumers” in rich countries can blame “over-breeders” in distant lands for the state of the planet. But what are the facts?


The United States always gets singled out. But for good reason: It is the world’s largest consumer. Americans take the greatest share of most of the world’s major commodities: corn, coffee, copper, lead, zinc, aluminum, rubber, oil seeds, oil, and natural gas. For many others, Americans are the largest per-capita consumers. In “super-size-me” land, Americans gobble up more than 120 kilograms of meat a year per person, compared to just 6 kilos in India, for instance.


Just five countries are likely to produce most of the world’s population growth in the coming decades: India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Ethiopia. The carbon emissions of one American today are equivalent to those of four Chinese, 20 Indians, or 250 Ethiopians.


Even if we could today achieve zero population growth, that would barely touch the climate problem — where we need to cut emissions by 50 to 80 percent by mid-century. Given existing income inequalities, it is inescapable that overconsumption by the rich few is the key problem, rather than overpopulation of the poor many.


In any event, it strikes me as the height of hubris to downgrade the culpability of the rich world’s environmental footprint because generations of poor people not yet born might one day get to be as rich and destructive as us. Overpopulation is not driving environmental destruction at the global level; overconsumption is. Every time we talk about too many babies in Africa or India, we are denying that simple fact.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

I've been arguing persistently against the nonsense claims of overpopulation alarmists.  Fred Pearce makes the clear comparison in this article with overconsumption, the far greater underlying cause of our environmental problems, but I would clarify one point: it is not precisely "overconsumption" but non-sustainable consumption that is the true cause.  It is critical to understand that any level of consumption could be made sustainable, or not.  To make consumption sustainable, it must be based on 100% renewable energy and 100% recycling of all resources.  And once we get to this goal of Zero Footprint, both population and consumption could grow enormously and still remain sustainable.

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9. Richard Alley - Perspectives on Limits to Growth: World on the Edge

"My (I hope well educated) opinion: We can get to a sustainable world of 10 billion smiling people.... if we really want to."

 

"We can double our energy, and we can do it in a sustainable way."

 

We rely heavily on energy use, dominated by finite fossil fuels. We have high scientific confidence, based on solid physics, that burning most of the remaining fossil-fuel resource and releasing the carbon dioxide will cause large and long-lasting climate changes. Studies of societal and economic impacts typically indicate that such large climate changes will make life notably more difficult for future generations, and a measured response starting soon is economically favorable. Uncertainties are substantial, but with larger or faster climate changes more likely than smaller or slower ones. Fortunately, sustainable energy resources are abundant, and extensive use can be achieved with existing technologies or logical extensions thereof, allowing the economically optimal shift away from fossil fuels.


 

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Richard Alley focuses mostly on making it clear that we are in serious trouble if we continue on our current path, due to climate change caused by our carbon dioxide emissions, but he is largely optimistic about how we can technically and economically solve these problems in a few decades.

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Roadmap for 100% renewables: How the Greens would get there : Renew Economy

Greens plan to fast-track Australia to 100% renewables – 90% by 2030 – would boost the RET, beef up the CEFC and redesign the grid.

 

We are in a global warming emergency. If we are a society that cares about leaving a safe climate for our children, and if Australia is to contribute fairly to the challenge of limiting global warming to two degrees, emissions from the electricity sector must ultimately fall to zero. Nuclear energy is too dangerous and too slow to build and carbon capture and storage is not ready and very unlikely to ever prove cost-competitive. A 100% reliance on renewable energy is therefore necessary and inevitable, it is just a question of when.

 

A goal of 100% renewable energy is achievable. The argument that renewable energy is ‘intermittent’ and therefore unreliable has always been a gross over-simplification peddled by those with a vested interest in slowing investment in renewable energy. Some types of renewable energy have variable output, such as solar PV and wind, but many others such as hydro, geothermal, biomass and solar thermal with storage can be dispatched reliably.

 

It will be much cheaper to anticipate a 100% renewable future and build appropriately sized grid infrastructure to support it, than to continue with incremental additions to generation and grid capacity. For example, some of the scenarios in the AEMO 100% renewable energy study project significant geothermal generation in the Cooper Basin. It would be an expensive mistake to build a low capacity transmission line to any new renewable energy zone if ultimately a high capacity line proved desirable to exploit the full potential.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

We do need to plan on achieving 100% renewable energy.  Necessary and inevitable, indeed!

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100% Renewable Energy And Beyond!

100% Renewable Energy And Beyond! | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

While many countries still discuss whether or not a 100% renewable energy system – or “just” a 100% renewable electricity supply – is even theoretically possible, Germans seem no longer bothered by such unscientific doubts. To make matters “worse,” some of them (including myself) are even convinced that a transition to a 100% renewable energy system can and should be accomplished within only a few decades’ time.

 

[...]

The list of 100–200% renewable counties is longer, and the still rather long list of counties below 10% will get shorter in the coming years.

 

Here’s what we know: The advances of renewable energy technology and the growing understanding among local governments/business leaders creates a very fertile basis for a new wave of rapid renewable energy growth.

 

[...]

Many regions across Germany have already declared their own 100% renewable electricity and even 100% renewable energy ambitions. They organize, hold conferences, and share their experiences in order to develop their individual road maps. Additionally, more and more regional utilities, and even some of the “former” nuclear and coal giants, have begun to transform their business models from primitive energy providers to modern managers of energy flows.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

We all need to be thinking "big picture" and long term and making plans further into the future.

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Seattle Adopts Bold Climate Action Plan, Aims To Be Carbon Neutral By 2050

Seattle Adopts Bold Climate Action Plan, Aims To Be Carbon Neutral By 2050 | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
The Seattle City Council unanimously passed a far-reaching Climate Action Plan Monday, with the ultimate goal of reaching zero net emissions by 2050.

 

The ambitious plan, crafted by city officials and community members, provides a long-term vision for reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions while building vibrant, prosperous communities.

 

Specifically, the plan focuses on three areas where Seattle can benefit the most from improvements: transportation and land use, building energy and solid waste.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

2050?  Better than nothing, but not bold enough, not aggressive enough, not soon enough.  Should be considered a low bar and expect to do better.

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Renewable Energy Investments Shift to Developing Nations

Renewable Energy Investments Shift to Developing Nations | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
Renewable energy investments are shifting to developing nations as countries from Morocco to Chile pursue power sources that wean them off fossil fuel imports, two studies promoted by the United Nations said.

 

The gap on renewables spending between richer and developing countries shrank to 18 percent last year from 250 percent in 2007, marking a “dramatic change” in investment patterns, the statement said. Two-thirds of the 138 nations that now have clean-energy targets are in the developing world.


“The uptake of renewable energies continues worldwide as countries, companies and communities seize the linkages between low-carbon green economies and a future of energy access and security,” UN Environment Program Executive Director Achim Steiner said in the statement. “More and more countries are set to take the renewable energy stage,” he said, citing “the logic and the rationale of embracing a green development path.”


Total global investment in renewables fell to $244 billion in 2012 from $279 billion in 2011, due in part to a drop in the cost of solar and wind technologies, according to the reports. Solar photovoltaic installations rose to a record 30.5 gigawatts. Wind also hit a new annual record, with 48.4 gigawatts put in place.


“It is encouraging that renewable energy investment has exceeded $200 billion for the third successive year, that emerging economies are playing a larger and larger part, and that the cost-competitiveness of solar and wind power is improving all the time,” said New Energy Finance Chief Executive Officer Michael Liebreich. “What remains daunting is that the world has hardly scratched the surface. CO2 emissions are still on a firm upward  trend and there was still nearly $150 billion of net investment in new fossil-fuel generating assets in 2012.”


(More complete quotes at http://treealerts.org/home-global/2013/06/report-renewables-keep-growing-but-are-held-back-by-uncertain-policies/ ;)

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

It is very important that developing countries NOT follow in our footsteps that led to the dominance of fossil fuels.  And the numbers we should really focus on are not the amount of money invested but the total use of fossil fuels which lead directly to CO2 emissions.

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Cool Planet Nears Commercial Production of Carbon Negative Biofuel

Cool Planet Nears Commercial Production of Carbon Negative Biofuel | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
California based Cool Planet Energy has just announced almost $30 million in funding toward a goal of $100 million to build its first commercial facility for producing low cost biofuel that is not just carbon neutral, it's carbon negative.

 

Yes, that’s what Cool Planet has promised: it will produce bio-gasoline at a cost of under $1.50 per gallon without government subsidy, along with a biochar coproduct that will increase crop yields while capturing carbon from the atmosphere.

 

One interesting aspect of Cool Planet’s strategy is its focus on commercializing modular, transportable micro-biorefineries which can be located at or near biofuel croplands, which should help reduce carbon emissions related to feedstock transportation. 

 

Cool Planet has its sights set higher, into carbon-negative territory.  The key to that goal is the production of biochar during Cool Planet’s refining process. Biochar refers to black carbon produced from biomass (or fossil fuels, too). When burned as fuel it adds carbon back to the atmosphere, but when used as a soil enhancer it captures carbon. As an extra bonus it renders marginal soil more fertile and improves its ability to absorb water, which could mean that biochar would enable more previously non-arable land to be put into production for biofuel crops.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

This is a win-win for consumers and nature, everyone wins except for the oil industry, unless they jump in to operate it and stop pumping oil wells.

 

The addition of biochar to improve soil should allow us to reclaim desertifying lands as well, getting more land back in active production of CO2 capturing plants.  It should NOT be used to compete with food production.

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The Carbon Negative Revolution: Jason Aramburu at TEDxMission

As the world's population skyrockets, reduction of CO2 emissions becomes vital for human survival. However, inconvenient lifestyle changes (conservation, energy efficiency etc) have proven difficult or impossible to implement. How can we leverage technologies, both ancient and new, to make our lives better and fight climate change? Jason Aramburu is a cleantech entrepreneur and researcher currently working with Biochar as a means of developing innovative and low-cost solutions to these challenges.

 

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Wish he hadn't started the description with "As the world's population skyrockets" because population growth is actually declining, and is projected to reach 0 in a few decades.  Moreover, it is the poorest half of the population that is still growing even while they are having fewer children, but they are only responsible for 7% of the carbon footprint. We do need to help them develop while avoiding adding to the mess we have created.

 

One more important thing about population: Once we reach the goal of a per capita carbon footprint that is negative, and we will get there, the sooner the better, then it won't matter how many people we have, and in fact, more people would make the total footprint all the more negative, and we will be able to clean up the mess that much faster.

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Cradle2Cradle | Reggs

From: http://www.c2ccertified.org/about/what_is_cradle_to_cradle


Co-founder Dr. Michael Braungart points out that mankind strives to make a positive impact both economically and socially, but when it comes to the environment, we strive for “zero.” Zero is not a terribly inspiring goal, which may explain why collectively we don’t seem to be in a hurry to get there.

 

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Good intro to the concept.  But I think it is misleading to suggest that population growth is the problem, even though it also points out that the real problem is non-sustainable industrial practices that are competing to satisfy the demands for products by the population.  Blaming the population for what is done on our behalf is the wrong way of looking at it.

 

I also agree that "zero" is not enough, but not as a marketing spin on the same solution.  Zero Footprint is the goal professed here, but we need to go further, to achieve a negative footprint and a positive impact, to repair the centuries of environmental damage that has accumlated.

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Mind Your Metaphors: Words Have Power

Mind Your Metaphors: Words Have Power | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
The problem is, if we conceive of our challenge as squeezing within the limits of a finite planet, our imaginations stay locked inside an unecological worldview of separateness and lack -- precisely the thinking that got us into this mess.

 

It's true, of course, that for all practical purposes our planet and atmosphere are made up of a limited number of atoms. But their configurations are essentially infinite. By conjuring up a fixed and static reality, the "finite-limits frame" draws us away from the deeper reality of our world -- that of interconnection and dynamism offering stunning possibility, if we learn to align with nature's rules.

 

Think of music.  Yes, there are just eighty-eight keys on the piano. But if we instruct ourselves to focus primarily on this limit, we won't get very far in creating beautiful sound. It is the possible variations we play on these eighty-eight keys that are important. And they are virtually endless.

 

A further drawback of the "hitting the limits" frame is that for the most part finitude does not explain much of today's suffering. True, there is a finite amount of forests we can destroy or water we can pollute without killing ourselves and other species, along with finite land area, finite rare minerals, and on and on.

 

But let's not be confused. Even as 868 million people suffer long-term, extreme undernourishment -- and many more experience food insecurity -- the supply of food is not only sufficient for all but continues to increase: now at about 2,800 calories for each of us each day. Plus, ecological farming could increase production, and it stores more carbon than chemical farming. And energy? We've barely begun to tap renewable sources.

 

So, today's deprivation in food and energy is not the result of the earth's "limits." The root lies in rules concentrating wealth and power: Income of less than two percent of the world's people is as great as that of the bottom 77 percent.

 

From "Limits" to Alignment with Nature

Through an ecological lens, however, we can move toward defining the problem as mal-alignment with nature. So we stop calling ours a "growth economy" and start naming it the "waste and destruction" economy. From there, we can get focused on remaking the ground rules of our economies to align with nature's generative power.

 

We can tap the commonly understood truth that it's a whole lot easier to swim (or float!) with the current than fight against it. This is alignment. Moving with nature's flow of energy is suggested in metaphors like "cradle to cradle" and "zero-waste" and "biomimicry" in design, for example. Nature is no longer a threat, nor a too-skimpy source of stuff. Nature is a wondrous teacher.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

'So we stop calling ours a "growth economy" and start naming it the "waste and destruction" economy.' Very well said.

 

I have been arguing a similar point, that "growth" doesn't just mean increased consumption of non-renewable resources. It also can mean growing smarter and wiser; it means growing more efficient by using fewer resources more effectively. We do value these things, but just not enough to factor them into our measure of economic activity. We actually have infinite growth potential in these directions, because there is no end of how much we can learn about the world, how much we can creatively innovate better ways of aligning and integrating our civilization with nature.

 

And meanwhile, finite non-renewable resources need to be valued much more for NOT using them, or at least not wasting them.

 

Zero Footprint doesn't mean no growth.  It means truly sustainable growth. 

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Toward a generative economy

Toward a generative economy | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

What kind of economy is consistent with living inside a living being? This question is being answered in experiments across the globe, from community forests in Mexico to "industrial symbiosis" in Denmark.


You don’t start with the corporation and ask how to redesign it. You start with life, with human life and the life of the planet, and ask, how do we generate the conditions for life’s flourishing?


“A thing is right when it enhances the stability and beauty of the total ecosystem. It is wrong when it damages it.”[i] The sustainability of the larger system comes first. Everything else must fit itself within that frame.


In the short run, profit-maximizing companies can help in a rapid transition to a greener economy. But that transition might represent a brief moment in time. If civilization and planetary ecosystems are still functioning well 50 years from now (not a small if), what about the next 50 years? And the next 100 or 1,000 years beyond that? What kind of economy will be suited for ongoing life inside the living earth? Will it be an economy dominated by massive corporations intent on earnings growth? That doesn’t seem likely. In the long view, the question turns itself about: Can we sustain a low-growth or no-growth economy indefinitely without changing dominant ownership designs? 

 

That seems unlikely. Probably impossible. How do we make the turn? What are the alternatives to extractive design, that seeking of endless extraction of financial wealth? Can we design economic architectures that are self-organized around serving the needs of life?

 


Via Flora Moon
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

It is possible to have a sustainable growing economy without being exploitive and without extracting more and more non-renewable resources.  Competition and profits and large corporations are not incompatible with sustainability, but we have to impose rules such that ALL costs are paid with zero externalities.  It is an illusion to think that economic growth requires exploitation of resources and people. The economy could still grow as we increase the efficiency of everything we do, and increase our knowledge about the world and learn how to more effectively integrate our maturing society with the life of the world.  As we shift our values to what is truly of long-term value, monetary profits may not matter as much, and mutual benefits matter more.

 

And we do have thousands of times more renewable energy available to us than all the energy we currently use, enough to clean up our huge mess and keep on cleaning up everything else we do.  

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Daniel LaLiberte's comment, June 4, 2013 1:37 PM
Related comment posted elsewhere: Economic growth that doesn't depend on increasing consumption of resources is possible. Instead of using more resources, it would use the same resources more efficiently, with 100% recycling of all resources powered by 100% renewable energy. Absolutely possible and necessary.
Daniel LaLiberte's comment, June 4, 2013 1:40 PM
And a response to someone who didn't understand:

Yes, the economy is integral to our relationship with nature. I never said we would use no energy; rather I said we should use 100% renewable energy, and there is thousands of times more renewable energy available to us than all the energy we currently use. That will fuel the extra effort to recycle 100% of our material resources. We can create structures above and below ground level that increase the effective arable land for growing our food, etc. A relatively stable population would make sense, but once we figure out how to *eliminate* our negative effects on nature, we could probably grow the population, if we want.

Yes, I am talking about economic growth that can grow infinitely by growing the stuff of real value, our knowledge of the world, the things we create, improving the quality of life for everyone. Why is that not economically valued? It is a lot of work. It has a relatively small value now, but we have been valuing the wrong stuff.
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Can city farms feed a hungry world?

Can city farms feed a hungry world? | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

There will be billions more hungry people in 2050. Growing our food on vertical farms or under radical new lighting systems may be key to ensuring they have enough to eat.

 

Mankind’s awareness of our food supplies has been heightened by massive crop failures due to millennial level floods, protracted droughts, and numerous food-borne disease outbreaks caused by microbes such as salmonella, E. coli strain 0157, toxoplasma and listeria. Consumers the world over now demand to know where their food comes from and how it is produced.

 

As a species, we need to know whether modern farming is sustainable and compatible with the rest of the natural world, or is it causing irreparable damage to the environment that will eventually turn today’s serious problem of today into a food crisis of epic proportions in the near future?

 

If trends in urbanisation continue at their current rates, cities could evolve into places where intolerable numbers of people may have to live, and who are forced to live well below the poverty limit, threatening to overwhelm sanitation systems and housing. Food and drinking water would be even scarcer than in many of today’s developing cities.

 

But this doesn’t have to happen. Most urban centres are experiencing a re-birth of their direct connections to agriculture. Within just the past 10 years, an increasing interest in city farming has been paralleled by the creation of the slow food and locallly sourced, or "locavore" movements, a foundation for the rise of urban farming initiatives.

 

Included in the mix of successful city-based agricultural projects are rooftop gardens, rooftop greenhouses (both low tech and hydroponic), above-ground planting beds, the use of empty lots as farmland, and vertical farms that occupy tall buildings and abandoned warehouses. Collectively, these examples show the validity of growing food in the city. Not only could be they be carried out efficiently – such as rooftop greenhouses giving much higher yields than outdoor farms – but they could also operate without the pollution associated with outdoor farming.

 

Urban agriculture has the potential to become so pervasive within our cities that by the year 2050 they may be able to provide its citizens with up to 50% of the food they consume. In doing so, ecosystems that were fragmented in favour of farmland could be allowed to regain most of their ecological functions, creating a much healthier planet for all creatures great and small. 

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

The goal for producing enough food for the people living in urban areas should be 100%.  The same is true for renewable energy and recycling of all resources.  That way the urban areas can scale as large as needed to accommodate all the people living there.

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Alliance Launches 100% Renewable Energy Goal | CleanTechies Blog

Alliance Launches 100% Renewable Energy Goal | CleanTechies Blog | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

The Global Alliance for 100% Renewable Energy recently called on European leaders to make firmer commitments to make a transition to renewable energy.

 

“The benefits of powering a society entirely with renewable sources reach far beyond the environmental and climate change advantages. The decentralized nature of the change literally means power to the people. There is major added value to our democracies,” said Anna Leidreiter of the World Future Council. 


Prof. Eicke R. Weber, Director of the Fraunhofer ISE, said already there are communities showcasing that 100% renewable energy is feasible. “There is a growing movement among local and regional governments to meet 100% of their energy needs with renewable sources. Most of these communities are in Europe, but there are some on other continents as well. Global Alliance for 100% Renewable Energy aims to expand this movement by establishing an international network of 100% renewable energy regions.”

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Functional Ecosystems as the Engine of the Green Economy

Functional Ecosystems as the Engine of the Green Economy | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Studying the Earth’s ecosystems is fascinating and can show us the way to sustainability if we are willing to act on the evidence before our eyes. When we consciously observe nature – the tides, atmosphere, movement of clouds, river systems, microbial communities, living soils, plants and animals – evolutionary logic is revealed. Nature is always adapting to changing conditions and seeking equilibrium. Everything has a purpose, nothing is lost, nothing is wasted, and nothing is extraneous. We know that the Earth’s naturally functioning ecosystems are the basis of life on Earth, providing air, water, soil fertility, raw materials and energy. It is also clear that the global economy does not recognise that the production and consumption of all goods and services depends entirely on the ongoing functionality of these ecosystems, and, as a result, fails to value it correctly.


Lester R. Brown, founder of the Earth Policy Institute and author of Plan B 4.0, recently said, “We must go beyond lifestyle changes and change the system, or civilisation will end”. In the face of such urgency, many of the assumptions that our civilisation has grown up with are thrown into question. Even the founder of that bastion of capitalist thought, the Davos World Economic Forum, Professor Klaus Schwab, recently declared: “Capitalism, in its current form, no longer fits the world around us”.


In order to survive and become sustainable we need to devise a system where instead of personal gain, the intention of all human effort is aligned with nature. Where is it set in stone that human work must be self-serving? Aren’t the great achievements that humans have made based on our ability to work together?


Functional ecosystems can be shown to be more valuable than production and consumption. A pathway to sustainability appears if, instead of the economy being based on production and consumption of goods and services, it were based on ecosystem function. This would mean a fundamental transformation of human society. This development trajectory can be seen to address all of our most pressing problems. In an economy based on ecological function it would be economically disastrous to pollute. A functional economy would mean that conservation is not considered an expensive luxury, but the way to preserve wealth. It would also mean that restoration of degraded lands would be recognised as a means to increase wealth. Sequestering carbon would be a matter of course rather than an afterthought. A functional ecosystem-based economy would be much more fairly distributed, because those responsible for maintaining that function – currently those who suffer worst from the degradation inflicted by consumer capitalism – would be compensated for restoring and maintaining ecosystem functions.


The path that values ecosystem function as the basis of life and wealth is the one that leads to sustainability, less conflict, and ultimately, survival for the human race.


Via Flora Moon
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Either this so-called civilization will merely end, or it will be rebuilt on a new foundation, one that properly values the Earth's ecosystems that we are integrally a part of.  But the result of making this fundamental change will not just be our survival, because this new direction also leads us toward truly sustainable prosperity for all humanity and all life.  

 

This change is already well underway, and momentum is growing, so the real questions are:  How long will it take?  Who will suffer in the meantime?What's slowing us down?  When will we get there?  

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degrowth economy and ecology's comment, July 5, 2013 5:00 AM
The question is if we capitalize the functionning of ecosystems as a financial values (as UN and government are requesting and promoting) we are undermining the concept of comments....We do not have this right, narure belong to th earth as we.
Daniel LaLiberte's comment, July 5, 2013 11:08 AM
Karim, I believe the true value of the functioning ecosystems is much closer to infinity than 0. We get more out of it by adding to it rather than taking from it. We do have a responsibility to undo the damage we have done, not just let nature recover on its own.
degrowth economy and ecology's comment, July 10, 2013 3:29 AM
Totally agree...the tragedy of the commons (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/162/3859/1243.full)
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Global carbon emissions and sinks since 1750

Global carbon emissions and sinks since 1750 | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Using data for all sources and sinks of human carbon emissions over the last 262 years this post highlights just how hard the oceans, plants and soils are working to slow the growth of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations.


Together ocean and plants sinks have absorbed 56% of human carbon emissions since 1750.  Without these sinks working overtime atmospheric carbon concentrations would already be well over 500 parts per million (ppm).  In the case of the ocean acidification in particular this has not come without a cost.


Despite the fact that sinks are absorbing more CO2 the atmospheric concentration is growing at a faster rate than ever.  In the decade from 2000-2009 the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide grew at an average rate of 2.0 ppm/yr, higher than any previous decade measured.  To reduce this growth rate global carbon emissions need to decline.  To stop concentrations growing at all would require an immediate reduction in carbon emissions by 55-60%, followed by further reductions in time.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

This graph should make it clear why it is not enough to merely eliminate our current carbon emissions, but we must go further to reverse the effects of prior accumulated emissions.

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Philippines Makes 100% Renewable Energy In 10 Years Plan

Philippines Makes 100% Renewable Energy In 10 Years Plan | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

“The Philippines is already a leader in geothermal and hydropower,” said Ochs. “But it’s essential now to chart a future that is socially, economically and environmentally sustainable and addresses the key challenge of providing affordable and reliable energy access for all Filipinos. With our Sustainable Energy Roadmap approach, Worldwatch will help to expand access to energy, address social needs, and advance economic development while protecting local environments and a stable global climate.”


To develop a Sustainable Energy Roadmap, Worldwatch analyzes an area’s potential for energy efficiency gains and undertakes detailed GIS mapping of local renewable energy resources, including biomass, solar, and wind. The Institute also produces an infrastructure inventory that assesses solutions for grid renovation and energy storage. In addition to technical analysis, the Roadmaps explore the socioeconomic impacts of diverse energy pathways, including the potential for sustainable energy development to create jobs and reduce electricity and healthcare costs. Worldwatch’s Roadmaps can be applied anywhere—in industrialized and developing countries—and at multiple levels of political organization, from the municipal to the regional.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Each country needs to make plans for how to achieve the 100% renewable energy goal.

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Swedish Foundation sees fees on raw materials can create circular economy | A Very Beautiful Place

Swedish Foundation sees fees on raw materials can create circular economy | A Very Beautiful Place | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Just released, the latest version of the Swedish Sustainable Economy Foundation’s White paper presents in detail how nations can usher in the zero emission, no waste society using a special fee mechanism on raw materials.

 

 

 People get worried that we should reduce consumerism, as our way of life is driving resource use and emissions. Just reducing will collapse the economy. Instead, the Foundation proposes fees on introduction of raw materials into the economy.  These fees are raised until the consumption and emission of materials ceases. But the money is redirected into  the economy – paid out equally to all taxpayers. This ensures people have money to buy what they need.

 The circular economy can be ushered this way: substances that are not biological of origin ( iron, other metals,  mined substances etc) cost to enter the system, and the price is raised until they do not leave it. Biological nutrients circulate too, but enter and leave the economy without burdening recipient or reducing ecological maturity of the source. At the same time, money to enable these transactions circulates freely in the opposite direction.
Via Flora Moon
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

This is a brilliantly simple way to account for the cost of consuming non-renewable resources, thus strongly encouraging their reduction, and increasing the value of recycling. And it does it in a fair way that rewards all people equally, especially those who choose to consume less of the non-renewable resources.

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Daniel LaLiberte's comment, June 23, 2013 11:34 AM
They also deal with emissions: "An emission fee is placed on introduction of a potentially polluting substance into the commercial system, preferably at import or extraction. The fee is raised until the substance is under control." Putting fees on emissions is necessary because cheaper sources of the same resource would otherwise tend to be exploited first. E.g. fossil fuels are easier to exploit than CO2 emissions. We could simply raise the fee on the resources until it is cheaper to recycle the emissions, but for some "waste", it may be hard to find any buyer at any price.
AP Macro's curator insight, September 6, 2013 12:21 PM

If Sweden uses more alternative resources that could boost their economy, that would be good for those who invested in buying the USD/SEK.

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TEDxRainier - Amory Lovins - Reinventing Fire

Amory Lovins shows how the U.S. (for starters) can run a 2.6x-bigger 2050 economy with no oil, coal, or nuclear energy, $5 trillion cheaper, with no Act of Congress, led by business for profit.

 

Oil is becoming uncompetive even at low prices before it becomes unavailable even at high prices.

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Going Carbon Neutral: What It Means and How To Do It | PlanetSave

Going Carbon Neutral: What It Means and How To Do It | PlanetSave | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Most people do not realize it, but they can do something right now to improve the environment by going “Carbon Neutral.” Going carbon neutral means that you produce almost no carbon emissions through your day-to-day activities. You then completely clear your carbon debt by purchasing carbon offsets. This means you have no carbon footprint and you are not contributing to the problems of carbon pollution in our atmosphere.

 

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Individual actions are great, but collective actions are much more important.  By purchasing carbon offsets you are effectively funding other people to contribute even more to solving the problem, so your positive footprint is balanced by other people's negative footprint.  

 

Producing more renewable energy than you need, more than 100%, means other people can use the extra.  It is much easier to do that sort of thing collectively.  Recycling 100% of our waste requires the whole production industry to be oriented around making that easier to do.

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The Vertical Farm

http://www.verticalfarm.com By the year 2050, nearly 80% of the earth's population will reside in urban centers. Applying the most conservative estimates to current demographic trends, the human population will increase by about 3 billion people during the interim. An estimated 109 hectares of new land (about 20% more land than is represented by the country of Brazil) will be needed to grow enough food to feed them, if traditional farming practices continue as they are practiced today. At present, throughout the world, over 80% of the land that is suitable for raising crops is in use (sources: FAO and NASA). Historically, some 15% of that has been laid waste by poor management practices. What can be done to avoid this impending disaster?

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

The additional 2-3 billion people (leveling off at about 9-10 billion) will mostly be in Africa, and they won't necessarily need vertical farms.  But the rest of us will because we need to return most of our farm land to the wild, and as he says, most of us will be living in cities much more effiently than in rural areas.

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The World We Want for Our Children

The Cradle to Cradle Certified Program guides designers and manufacturers in the making of safe and healthy things for our world, with the aim of transforming product manufacturing into a positive force for society, economies, and the planet.



"Reuse everything, and throw away nothing."


"...products that aren't just less bad, but are actually more good."

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Cradle To Cradle Co-founder Launches Design Collaborative | EarthTechling

Cradle To Cradle Co-founder Launches Design Collaborative | EarthTechling | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
Teaching companies to view waste as a resource rather than a cost of doing business will be no easy task, but William McDonough is up to the task.

 

The closed loop of recycling can only exist if things are designed to be recycled. The new initiative, to be called “the Waste Management McDonough Sustainable Innovation Collaborative” will assist industries in thinking about recyclability before the product or packaging is created, instead of after.


Among the initiative’s chief goals will be to design product and packaging for recyclability as well as reduced impact on ecological and human health.


"Every single company and community has some interaction with or contribution to the waste stream that we generate, and therefore they all have a stake in seeking to transform that system and optimize resource use."

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Is a High Renewables Future Really Possible? (Part 1)

Is a High Renewables Future Really Possible? (Part 1) | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

In recent weeks and months, there’s been much to celebrate about renewable energy and the electricity system—wind and solar in particular are continually breaking records for installed capacity and actual generation. But amidst the celebratory fanfare there’s also been an undercurrent of skepticism—skepticism that a high renewables future could be here soon, or is even possible at all.


Renewables’ track record shows that they continue to outpace skeptics’ expectations. “People thought that maybe renewables would get to two percent. When they did that, people said maybe five percent. Then 10 percent,” says Hutch Hutchinson, managing director at RMI. “Renewables have been fighting and scratching the entire way. Now, there’s good analytical evidence that with some creativity and customary levels of reinvestment in our energy system, we can get to a high renewables future.”


Rocky Mountain Institute’s own 2011 analysis, Reinventing Fire, similarly highlighted how the U.S. could be powered by 80 percent renewables in the future, largely through wind and solar with smaller contributions from energy storage, hydro, biomass, and geothermal.


Renewable energy now enjoys the majority of power generation investment globally, and such investment is only expected to grow. Through 2020 to 2030, Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates renewable energy investment will reach $400–$460 billion. Many others predict $500 billion by 2020, and some estimates suggest as high as $1 trillion annually.


“Renewable energy futures are no longer a matter of technology—we have all the technologies we need—and are no longer a matter of economics either,” says REN21’s Martinot. “We’re just not making the cost comparisons in the right way. It’s our way of thinking and our power industry structure that makes renewable energy seem more expensive, not the technology itself.” That power industry structure includes hefty and durable fossil fuel subsidies, which amount to $1.9 trillion per year or more, according to a report from the International Monetary Fund earlier this year. Those fossil fuel subsidies far outweighed the smaller and more transient subsidies offered to renewables, according to the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2012.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

If we get to 80% renewable energy, why not push on to 100%?  What would slow us down?  We would need to store energy to use it when and where renewable sources are not available, but better storage is coming as well.  

 

Compare the current public *subsidies* of fossil fuels of almost $2 trillion per year with the much smaller investment in renewable energy, estimated to maybe grow to $1 trillion per year by 2020.  Clearly we should, at the very least, shift those subsidies to renewables, thus tripling the rate of investment.  

 

100% renewable energy is absolutely possible, and absolutely necessary.  We must shut down the entire fossil fuel industry as soon as possible, as fast as feasible.  

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