Journal: Latest Greatest on Sustainable Energy

03 Environmental Degradation, Collaboration Zones, Communities of Practice, Key Players, Policies
Author's PDF of Full Cover Story
Author's PDF of Full Cover Story
Author's Briefing
Author's Briefing

This article by two young scholars is a very good one, very provocative and persuasive.  It lacks reference to other giants that have gone before, but stands as the best effort we have seen since WIRED did its own cover story on alternative and renewable energies in 2001, coming out the very week that Dick Cheney was meeting secretly with Enron and Exxon to discuss the elective war on Iraq.  Also available from the lead author:

Online interactive version (link)

More detailed analysis (pdf)

E&ES article on ranking energy solutions to global warming, air pollution, and energy security (link)

Report on matching hourly and peak demand by combining different renewables (pdf)

October 30, 2009 Presentation (pdf)

Return to mark Jacobson’s Home Page

Phi Beta Iota: We are often irritated by the young who represent their triumphant ideas as if arrived at by immaculate conception.  No discussion of this topic is credible without reference to, at a minimum, Buckminster Fuller, Herman Daly, and Paul Hawken, among many others.  Below are just three books among the many we have received pertaining to sustainable design, zero waste, and green to gold, and the most recent book to put all of this into proper perspective.

Review: Critical Path

Review: Ecological Economics: Principles And Applications

Review: Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution

Review: The Resilient Earth–Science, Global Warming and the Future of Humanity

Event Report: 9 Sep 09 GMU N Va Economic Liberty Series

Budgets & Funding, Civil Society, Cultural Intelligence, Ethics, Policies, Reform, True Cost Meme
Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

Mr. Rockwell is a very gracious and well-spoken person.  He delivered a prepared speech that will be posted online by the Ludwig von Mises Institute at some point.  Our bottom line up front: the hard-core Libertarians are a one-trick-pony with an obsessive focus on one thing and one thing only: all against the State.  Sadly, despite a great deal of hand waving about Austrian economists, there is not much in the way of economic reflection visible, and the gentlemen was specifically unable to address a question about a natural alliance between the Libertarians armed with scarcity-centered Austrian economics, and the Greens, armed with Ecological Economics, Natural Capitalism, and “true cost” accounting; nor was he able to engage with a subsequent question on a natural alliance with those interested in Evolutionary Living.

Mr. Rockwell, who served as Chief of Staff to Congressman Ron Paul and is now Chairman of the Ludwig von Mises Institute at a time when it is experiencing extraordinary growth and drawing a great deal of attention, sought to do several things with his planned remarks:

Continue reading “Event Report: 9 Sep 09 GMU N Va Economic Liberty Series”

Tom Atlee Reflects, Paul Hawken’s Commencement Address

Collective Intelligence, Earth Intelligence, Non-Governmental

PHI BETA IOTA NOTE:  The Co-Intelligence Insittute is one of the Righteous Sites, but it is the ONLY Righteous Site whose gentle fund-raising we specifically endorse.  There is no better investment for a given dollar than in supporting Tom Atlee’s inspirational work.  PLEASE consider a donation of any amount, $40 is suggested.  Robert Steele just gave $250 and usually gives around $1000 a year.  Tom Atlee the people’s secretary of collective beneficial intelligence.

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Tom Atlee
Tom Atlee

Dear friends,

Paul Hawken is author of a number of remarkable books whose titles  alone contribute to our thinking — titles like SEVEN TOMORROWS, THE  ECOLOGY OF COMMERCE, NATURAL CAPITALISM and BLESSED UNREST.  Several
years ago he founded a vast, remarkable, interactive database of, by,  and for change agents — WISER Earth http://wiserearth.org.  He has a  uniquely potent clarity about what is happening in the world, what is
needed, and who can do the job (surprise: It’s us!).  His passionate  clarity was called forth recently in a commencement address he gave  in Portland, Oregon (see below).

I sometimes suggest that things are getting better and better and  worse and worse faster and faster.  Paul mirrors these thoughts:   “When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my  answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is  happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand  data.  But if you meet the people who are working to restore this  earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you  haven’t got a pulse.”

He identifies a biological fact that provides perhaps the most  important guidance for our individual lives and the conscious  evolution of civilization:  “Life creates the conditions that are  conducive to life.”

Wait a minute… “Life creates the conditions that are conducive to  life.”  That’s a Really Big Idea.  It goes by really fast, but it  covers a LOT of ground.

Someday take this idea for a walk and see how many ways you can think  of that we do (or don’t) “create conditions that are conducive to  life”.  Then ponder all the ways we COULD create such conditions more  wisely, for more of life.  Then perhaps reflect on what this  biological reality tells us about who and how we are in the world:
To the extent we “create conditions that are conducive to life”, we  are alive, we are serving life, we are part of Life and the way Life  is unfolding on this planet — a newly conscious part of the way Life  has been evolving here for four billion years…

That takes me to the importance of system-level change — initiatives  that seek to transform our cultural stories, institutions and  practices… that create wiser measures of success, health and  value… that develop forms of power, organization, and decision- making that tap into the best of who we are when we are most alive  and connected, individually and collectively.  Think about how  profoundly such changes impact the conditions that are conducive to  life — in our own lives and in the natural world.  System conditions  are the cultural equivalent of climate:  They influence everything at  once.

Hawken goes on to say that “Working for the earth is not a way to get  rich, it is a way to be rich.”  He wonders, “What we would do if the  stars only came out once every thousand years.”  And imagines that  “No one would sleep that night.”  Then he suggests we are living in  the midst of such a miraculous moment: “This extraordinary time when  we are globally aware of each other and the multiple dangers that  threaten civilization has never happened, not in a thousand years,  not in ten thousand years.”

And he suggests that we — embodied in the hundreds of new college  graduates sitting before him — wake up to “the most amazing,  challenging, stupefying challenge ever bequested to any generation.”   He invites all of us to grab this most amazing opportunity and run  with it.

He invites a new “generation” to generate what’s needed to create the  world anew.

Blessings on the Journey.

Coheartedly,
Tom

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Paul Hawken
Paul Hawken

Click on the photograph to go to the commencement address.

Review: Blessed Unrest–How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming

5 Star, Democracy, Environment (Solutions), Information Society, Intelligence (Collective & Quantum)

Blessed UnrestPleasantly Brief for a Magnum Opus–Opens the Door to the Future, May 30, 2007

Paul Hawken

Edit of 16 Apr 08 to add five more links.

I ordered this book last December after hearing Paul Hawkin brief on the World Index of Social and Environmental Responsibility (WISER), and before receiving the book, heard him speak again in Seattle on how governments and corporations are stealing the future (our challenge) while the Internet and WISER specifically are bringing all of together to put down the destructive minorities–he called this the Earth’s immune system, and has a chapter in the book about it.

This book could have been a 750-page “big book” but the author has made it blessedly concise. You can join WISER and see everything else there.

He tells us that Lincoln was the first President to sign legislation to protect nature, and Theodore Roosevelt the first to create a wildlife preserve.

He puts the creationists down while providing a marvelous review of the path from Emerson to Thoreau to Gandhi to Martin Luther King. Truly a wonderful tour of the horizons of our pioneers for good intentions and respect for nature.

He directly connects environmental advocacy with advocacy for social justice.

He considers the 1990’s rather than the 1970’s to have been our age of awakening, and points out that today we have 1000 times more people than 7,000 years ago, and each person is using 100 to 1000 times more energy than their ancestors.

He teaches us that the Luddites have been terribly mis-represented; that they were not against technology, but rather in favor of full employment and dignity for every person. Lionel Tiger, in Manufacture of Evil: Ethics, Evolution, and the Industrial System, makes the large case against the industrial era for destroying kinship, trust, and human dignity, See my list on transpartisan books for the healing works.

He does not repeat anything from Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution or The Ecology of Commerce. This is a completely new work, and one could call it a “call to action” for all of us, as well as directions for joining the largest movement on the planet, all for one and one for all (WISER).

We learn that Rockefeller treated renewable energy as a competitor and was ruthless against it. I still cannot comprehend why the CEO of Exxon is oblivious to the value of going green with all his ill-gotten profits from the past few years of insanity. Exxon is portrayed in this book as the greatest of all miscreants, spending tens of millions each year to bury the truth and spawn lies. I know for a fact that the CEO of Exxon is aware of all the knowledge available to him, and has chosen to isolate himself from reality and stick to the traditions of the past. He will go down with his ship when we all start boycotting Exxon as I have begun to do.

The very few repeated themes from past works focus on how business had always created value but never been held accountable for the true cost of what they produce, since they are so clever as well as duplicitous in legalizing the externalization of most of their costs (not talking small business here, just the 10% mega-business element that scorns humanity).

The author calls for third party objective science that is neither politicized nor fanaticized by religious zealots. I agree, and my several books tell us how to do this, I will mention only two: The New Craft of Intelligence: Personal, Public, & Political–Citizen’s Action Handbook for Fighting Terrorism, Genocide, Disease, Toxic Bombs, & Corruption and THE SMART NATION ACT: Public Intelligence in the Public Interest.

The author discusses the direct relationship between climate change and poverty, disease, and environmental degradation, the top three high-level threats that the secret intelligence community refuses to focus on.

The author contributes to the growing literature on how the USA has been an aggressor Nation, and in the case of Mexico, specifically provoked the war that led to the Treaty of Guadalupe–Mexico has fought back asymmetrically ever since, and it can be safely said that they have taken back their lost land while multiple Administrations have condoned illegal immigration.

We learn that Rosa Parks was trained in civil disobedience prior to her momentous stand. We are reminded by the author that Thoreau said that if just one man withdraws his support from an unjust government, it is the beginning of a cycle that will grow.

The author gives us an absolutely superb chapter on the deep knowledge of indigenous peoples, and one can but weep at the genocide, not just of peoples, as I had understood it up to know, but of hundreds of years of acquired knowledge about how to live within nature. He points out that languages, like species, are disappearing, and every lost language, like every lost species, sharply reduces our access to useful knowledge.

I could go on, but the book is a real gem, and merits a complete and careful reading. The author ends with four time frames, the timeframes of commerce, of culture, of governance, and of nature, and tells us about blessed unrest as the Nation’s immune system. If Silent Spring was the first call to action, this book is not just a renewed call to action, but a roadmap as well.

A 112 page annex on Wiser Earth is essential supporting documentation.

See also:
A Power Governments Cannot Suppress
The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People
The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism
Running On Empty: How The Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It
Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace

Review: Seven Tomorrows

5 Star, Change & Innovation, Environment (Solutions), Future, Survival & Sustainment, True Cost & Toxicity, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution

Amazon Pag
Amazon Pag

Published in 1982, Relevant Today and Proven with Time,

December 13, 2006
Paul Hawken
I am finding that many of the books from the 1970’s and 1980’s that focused on Limits to Growth, the global reach of multinational corporations, the dangers of centralized financial power, are all becoming accutely relevant now. They were a quarter century before the mainstream, and are now ready to be accepted and acted on by at least 80 million in the USA alone.

This is such a book. It focuses on five “driving trends”: energy, climate, food, the economy, and values. The latter is especially important, as we discover that our failure to adapt our educational systems, and our failure to *have* national values, insisting on government being “neutral,” has actually made us hollow and vulnerable.

The set the stage by listing key factors that today are much more worse: diverse social values, a turbulent world devoid of the stabilizing influence of the Cold War, slow energy growth, burdensome debt (who could have imagined what Bush-Cheney would do), an aging population, slowing economic growth, a social legacy of distrust (which also increases the costs of doing business), no end to crime (now $2 trillion a year, which along with $2 trillion in waste, makes the remaining $5 trillion in legal economics seem much devalued), continuing environmental degradation, rising level of disease and related costs, and deterioration of soil (meaning topsoil, which pesticides have now poisoned).

The authors had no way of knowing in 1982 that in 2006 the High Level Threat Panel of the United Nations would identify the ten global threats as poverty, infectuous disease, environmental degradation, inter-state conflict, civil war, genocide, other atrocities, proliferation, terrorism, and transnational crime. For the cost of this book in 1982, we could have saved a quarter century of loss had the adults at the time been willing to listen.

In the manner made so internationally respected by Peter Schwartz, who is one of the three authors, the book then posits a positive, middle of the road, and negative future for each of the five driving trends, and from that combination, then derives the seven scenarios that are ours to choose from:

1) The Official Future
2) The Center Holds
3) Mature Calm
4) Chronic Breakdown
5) Apocalyptic Transformation
6) Beginnings of Sorrow
7) Living Within Our Means

Each is discussed in detail, including tables showing specific countries likely to prosper or decline, and specific occupations likely to be in demand or face extinction.

The book ends with a discussion of cultural economics and why values matter, and provides at the end three tables of values as the authors anticipated they would be among a Right Wing, a Left Wing, and a Transformation Alternative. The latter, contrary to my expectations, is not a balanced reasoned transpartisan value system, but one that romanticizes some aspects and ignores other (e.g. crime and national-level threats including poverty).

The author first posit an emphasis on decentralization (today I use the word localization) and also address the dangers of moving so far in favor of individualism that the good of the group is lost sight of.

The bibliography is as fine a list of important books from the decade preceeding the publication of this book as to be worthy of study on its own merits.

I put the book down lamenting how ill-suited our current systems of governance and business are to the need for listening to reasonable people who can actually forecast the future and warn us of the dire consequences. Peak Oil was well known in 1974-1979, but because of the values in place, the Senate and the oil companies felt they could ignore the problem and deceive the majority of the people–the many who did not read or think about such matters, postponing the day of reckoning, which is today, and dramatically reducing our flexibility while increasing the cost to future generations of the remedial measures.

This book is still relevant, and indeed all the more enjoyable in the context of the two latest books by Paul Hawkins and friends, and the forthcoming book “Blessed Unrest.” I was fortunate to buy this book from a third party through Amazon, and am quite pleased to have it for its current value as well as its tangible demonstration that we did indeed have smart people a quarter century ago who knew exactly where we would end up if we continue with “the official story” of endless growth without regard to the “natural capital” of the planet.

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Review: Natural Capitalism–Creating the Next Industrial Revolution

6 Star Top 10%, Capitalism (Good & Bad), Economics, Future, Nature, Diet, Memetics, Design, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution

Amazon Page
Amazon Page

The One Book That Can Save Capitalism & The Planet,

December 12, 2006
Paul Hawken
Edit of 19 Jan 08 to add links.

This book is pro-business, pro-market, and pro-life. It outlines how profits can be made by going green and getting in touch with the actual cost of goods and services. It demonstrates how efficiencies can produce a 71% per year after tax Return on Investment (ROI).

On page 261, the following quote summarizes the intellectual victory that this book represents over economic fundamentalism: “That theology treats living things as dead, nature as a nuisance, several billion years’ design experience as casually discard able, and the future as worthless.”

The three authors are “originals” whose genius dates back to the 1980’s, and I am finding that the books written in the 1970’s and 1980’s were a quarter-century before their time of acceptance, and now pressing urgent and relevant.

They advocate a shift from a production economy that disregards the actual costs of goods, toward a service economy in which durability, ease of repair, and the elimination of waste transforms commerce so that we have sustainable profit, not short-term destructive profit.

The basic premise of the book is that in the next 100 years the population will double while available natural resources will drop by one half to three quarters.

The authors are damningly trenchant when they point out that we have taken just 300 years to consume 3.8 billion years of natural capital by turning scarce resources into permanent waste.

I am at one with these authors when they suggest that labor is now abundant–I for one believe that national leaders must demand full employment and cease substituting technology, which requires natural capital, for human capital. We need to reverse the process and restore full employment, community-based resource allocation.

In the course of two days with this book, I pulled 21 key ideas that I list here in tribute to these authors and their work:

1) Cars can generate electricity during the 90% of the time they are parked, and this will allow the replacement of ALL coal and nuclear plants

2) We waste 1 million pounds per person per year in the USA

3) Authors are saving business, not fighting business

4) Two trillion out of nine trillion in the total economy per year is waste of no value, including time spent in automobile gridlock

5) Real-time feedback is the number one resource saver

6) Biological processes create Kevlar strength silk (spiders) and walls (oysters)–we should emulate them instead of continuing our toxic ways.

7) Green buildings increase human productivity while reducing waste

8) Continuous education of designers and engineers is the single best investment for continually updating our ability to eliminate waste

9) Point to point air travel in smaller more numerous aircraft is a much more efficient alterative to the hub systems

10) We must end our perverse subsidies of wasteful agricultural, energy, forestry, fishery and other harmful practices by publicizing the foolish budget allocations

11) We should tax pollution and waste rather than income

12) Agricultural residues can be used to make paper, which can be recycled and substituted (e.g. electronic). We must end junk mail and unneeded packaging that outlasts its contents.

13) Restore localized agriculture, deep sustainable farming that does not deplete topsoil, get smart on water and fuel consumption.

14) Get a national water policy and water education, recover all rain (which can meet all of Africa’s needs), use gray water; get a grip on toilets to include separate capture of urine and feces.

15) Protect the climate

16) Conserving energy is cheaper, faster, better than trying to produce more

17) Canceling or updating antiquated laws long overdue (for example, giving away billions of gold based on 1800 laws, for pennies)

18) Adjust prices to reflect external costs

19) Implement no fault insurance purchased at the pump

20) Create information feedback loops at all levels

21) Need systemic approach (what I call the ten threats, twelve policies, eight challengers) to avoid unintended spill-over consequences

22) The market cannot do it all. We need government.

Above all intelligence and information can make this happen. Simply labeling switches allows localized awareness and individual actions to save energy. The lack of accurate and up to date information is the largest correctible deficiency

I put this book down hoping that I might one day be able to take the secret intelligence budget of $60 billion a year, cut it by two thirds, and apply one third of that budget to implementing this book’s ideas, and one third to creating a new form of global education that is continuous, free, online, in every language, and equally balanced between structured human teaching, interactive social networking, and self-paced online learning through serious games.

There is plenty of money and plenty of brainpower to save our planet and our quality of life while elevating the five billion poor, what we lack is inspired political transpartisan leadership, and a model, perhaps a model to be created in British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon.

I want to be part of this “big push” and am in awe of these authors and the big ideas they represent.

My top ten green to gold books:
The Limits to Growth
Seven Tomorrows
Silent Spring
Ecological Economics: Principles And Applications
High Noon 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them
The Future of Life
Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, Third Edition
Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage
Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things

I would also point with enormous respect to books on green chemistry, beneficial bacteria, sustainable design, and what I think of as the “home rule” literature: an end to corporate personality, localized agriculture, localized credit (e.g. Interra Project), and an end to absentee landlords and mega farms that produce indigestible corn for cattle whose waste gets into our spinach, and for fuel (one tank of ethanol consumes enough corn to feed an individual for an entire year).

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Review: The Ecology of Commerce–A Declaration of Sustainability

6 Star Top 10%, Best Practices in Management, Complexity & Resilience, Economics, Environment (Solutions), Intelligence (Commercial), Nature, Diet, Memetics, Design, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution

Amazon Page
Amazon Page

Foundation Reference for Future of Business Without Waste,

December 8, 2006
Paul Hawken
This is easily one of the top ten books on the pragmatic reality of what Herman Daly calls “ecological economics” (see my list of Environmental Security).

The author excels at painting a holistic view of the realities that are not being addressed by the media or by scholars in anything other than piecemeal fashion.

The bottom line: what we are doing now in the face of accelerating decay (changes and losses that used to take 10,000 years now take three years) is the equivalent of “trying to bail out the Titanic with teaspoons.” On page 21-22 the author states that we are using 10,000 days of energy creation every day, or 27 years of energy each day.

This is a practical book. In brief, we can monetize the costs of the decay, we can show people the *real* cost of each product and in this way inspire both boycotts (of wasteful products) and boycotts (Jim Turner’s term) of solar energy and long-lasting repairable products.

The author appears to be both pro-business and very wise in seeing that the cannot save the environment by destroying business, but rather must save business so it can save the environment–we must help business understand that doing more with less is what they must do to survive.

The author includes a recurring theme from the literature, that diversity is an option generator, and hence one of the most precious aspects of life on Earth. Diversity is the ultimate source of wealth, and anything that reduces diversity is impoverishing the planet and mankind. In a magnificent turn of phrase, the author states that the loss of a species is the loss of a biological library.

At its root this book is about missing information, needed information, about the urgency of making all inputs, processes, and outputs from corporate production transparent. He quotes Vaclav Havel on page 54 as saying that this is an information challenge, a challenge of too much (or too little) information and not enough actionable intelligence supporting sustainable sensible outcomes.

This is also a financial problem that has not been monetized properly. Although E. O. Wilson takes a crack at the strategic or gross costs of saving the Earth in his book “The Future of Life,” this author looks at the retail level and describes the waste inherent in our military system. He reminds me of Derek Leebaert’s “The 50 Year Wound” when he notes that the US and the USSR spent over 10 trillion dollars on the Cold War, enough to completely re-make the entire infrastructure of Earth, including all schools. As I myself like to note, for the half trillion we have spent on the war against Iraq, we could instead have given a free $50 cell phone to each of the 5 billion poor people, and changed the planet forever.

The author is compelling in pointing out that conservation alone would save more energy than drilling in Alaska, and that President Reagan not rolled back gasoline mileage expectations, we would today be free of any dependency of Middle Eastern energy.

A good part of the book focuses on the need to eliminate waste, what some call “cradle to cradle” (waste must be fully absorbed of other pieces of the system), and where waste cannot be eliminated, to include the cost of its storage in the price of the product, requiring producers of products to take them back (e.g. refrigerators).

I am inspired by the author’s view that not only is technology NOT a complete solution, but that full employment is possible if we REDUCE our excessive acquisition of technology that not only replaces humans, but also consumes energy and produces pollution.

This is an extraordinarily clever and useful book that fully integrates discussions of feedback loops and especially of financial and legal feedback loops that are now misrepresentative. One example the author uses is the GATT demand that there be no discrimination of “like” products based on methods of production. This is code for blocking labor laws by imposing high tariffs on products made by slaves or under sweatshop conditions.

I completely agree with one of the author’s most important opinions, that we must end corporate claims of “personality” and the rights of a person. This has had two pernicious effects, the first allowing corporations to dominate the public debate; and the second of exempting managers from legal liability and transparency.

The book emphasized the restoration of human and natural capital as vital foundations for evaluating investments–this would dramatically reduce the financial criteria’s dominance and emphasis on short-term returns that do not reflect the cost of natural resources and lost jobs to the future and the community.

Distressingly but importantly, the author notes that a major component of the cost of goods is in advertising, where corporations spend more on advertising than the government spends on all secondary schools, and on packaging, much of which is designed to last vastly longer than the contents.

I especially liked the author’s suggestion that insurance costs be included in the price of homes and of gasoline, essentially making universal insurance affordable for all. I also liked his idea for indexing Nations by their sustainability, i.e. Most Sustainable Nation (MSN).

The author ends with a restatement of his three fundamentals:

1) End waste
2) Shift to renewable power (solar and hydro)
3) Create accountability and feedback

Although this book was published in 1993 and the author has now published “Natural Capital” (next on my reading list), I did not discover it until recently and am now very enthused about the author’s newest project, the World Index of Social and Environmental Responsibility (WISER). I am certain in my heart that a bottom up Earth Intelligence Network is forming, and that end-user voluntary labor–social networks–are going to place enough information in the hands of individuals to restore participatory democracy and moral communal capitalism. This author is extraordinary in his understanding and his ability to teach adults about reality and the future.

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