Thursday, September 20, 2012

Irreplaceable Real Estate: What is Plan B?

Climate change is the most serious peril that has faced humanity in its long history. However, we are faced with more than climate change, there is peak oil and an out of control population, as well as concerns for water and food security in the years to come.

As I keep repeating “failing to plan is planning to fail”.

Humanity is today, to use an American term, playing in the major leagues. We are in a sink or swim situation. If we can keep the planet habitable by mitigating and adapting to the changing climate, switching to alternative sources of energy such as solar, wind, geothermal, wave, ocean thermal and nuclear, sequester CO2 and provide the population with adequate supplies of water and food and bring the population under control, humanity may survive .

Warfare and conflict will also need to become a thing of the past as climate change and energy may well exacerbate conflict situations. With a 9.5 billion global population by 2050 ensuring that everyone has adequate food and water could be problematic.

There is however, no ‘Plan B’ if we fail to resolve all the problems facing us.

When playing in this major leagues club there is no time out, there is no one that is going to offer help, let alone rescue us. Look around, the neighbourhood is somewhat sparsely populated and there are no other worlds on which humanity can survive. Even if there were other habitable worlds nearby they would in all probability belong to someone else.

There are, in all likelihood, other intelligent races out there somewhere, however in the major leagues one survives on ones own. As a young civilisation it is up to us to solve all our problems, to make peace among ourselves, to bring the population under control, to implement the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), to bring equality to all peoples. We must solve our own problems. As a young race we are as children, and as such we may not be able to solve our own problems. But solve them we must.

If we are able to solve the situation facing us and make it to adulthood, in the galactic meaning of the world, we may then be introduced to the neighbours.

If we do not make it to adulthood we will be just another minor statistic, a failure, a insignificant footnote in the universal history book. Nick Robson, Editor. © 2011



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Monday, September 17, 2012

How to give peace a chance with Gross Peaceful Product (GPP)

Research for the NATO Science Programme by blindspotter proposes a simple change to international accounting conventions so that economic competition becomes a powerful 'weapon' for greater security and lower weapons costs.

This is the fourth of a set of Seven Policy Switches for Global Security. Global security (all facets of security everywhere) may be achievable by making all the switches soon enough.

A short web address for this page is

Your comments are very welcome below. If you're interested in any of these topics please join my group designing and inspiring fast global change - Fixing systems not symptoms! You can also support my continuing work on whole systems change bydonating.


James Greyson (blindspotter)

"No matter what political reasons are given for war, the underlying reason is always economic." A. J. P. Taylor

1. Security Means Global Security


Security in the modern world means far more than military security and radical new non-combative solutions are needed to cope with new security challenges. This was highlighted by Professor Sir Brian Heap (2009), former UK Representative on the NATO Science Committee on the occasion of NATO’s 60th anniversary: “security includes non-military threats arising from incompetent governance, corruption, organised crime, insecure borders, ethnic and religious conflict, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, shortage of natural resources and, of course, terrorism.” Traditional narrow concepts of security are obsolete. The future security of individuals, regions and nations requires a broad ‘global security’ vision that encompasses rapid effective solutions to all major economic, social and ecological challenges.

See more from section 1 which is the intro to Seven Policy Switches for Global Security ... More


Arctic expert predicts final collapse of sea ice within four years

One of the world's leading ice experts has predicted the final collapse of Arctic sea ice in summer months within four years.

In what he calls a "global disaster" now unfolding in northern latitudes as the sea area that freezes and melts each year shrinks to its lowest extentever recorded, Prof Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University calls for "urgent" consideration of new ideas to reduce global temperatures.

In an email to the Guardian he says: "Climate change is no longer something we can aim to do something about in a few decades' time, and that we must not only urgently reduce CO2 emissions but must urgently examine other ways of slowing global warming, such as the variousgeoengineering ideas that have been put forward."

These include reflecting the sun's rays back into space, making clouds whiter and seeding the ocean with minerals to absorb more CO2.

Wadhams has spent many years collecting ice thickness data from submarines passing below the arctic ocean. He predicted the imminent break-up of sea ice in summer months in 2007, when the previous lowest extent of 4.17 million square kilometres was set. This year, it has unexpectedly plunged a further 500,000 sq km to less than 3.5m sq km. "I have been predicting [the collapse of sea ice in summer months] for many years. The main cause is simply global warming: as the climate has warmed there has been less ice growth during the winter and more ice melt during the summer.

"At first this didn't [get] noticed; the summer ice limits slowly shrank back, at a rate which suggested that the ice would last another 50 years or so. But in the end the summer melt overtook the winter growth such that the entire ice sheet melts or breaks up during the summer months.

"This collapse, I predicted would occur in 2015-16 at which time the summer Arctic (August to September) would become ice-free. The final collapse towards that state is now happening and will probably be complete by those dates".

Wadhams says the implications are "terrible". "The positives are increased possibility of Arctic transport, increased access to Arctic offshore oil and gas resources. The main negative is an acceleration of global warming." More


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Growth Is the Problem

The ceaseless expansion of economic exploitation, the engine of global capitalism, has come to an end. The futile and myopic effort to resurrect this expansion—a fallacy embraced by most economists—means that we respond to illusion rather than reality. We invest our efforts into bringing back what is gone forever.

This strange twilight moment, in which our experts and systems managers squander resources in attempting to re-create an expanding economic system that is moribund, will inevitably lead to systems collapse. The steady depletion of natural resources, especially fossil fuels, along with the accelerated pace of climate change, will combine with crippling levels of personal and national debt to thrust us into a global depression that will dwarf any in the history of capitalism. And very few of us are prepared.

“Our solution is our problem,” Richard Heinberg, the author of “The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality,” told me when I reached him by phone in California. “Its name is growth. But growth has become uneconomic. We are worse off because of growth. To achieve growth now means mounting debt, more pollution, an accelerated loss of biodiversity and the continued destabilization of the climate. But we are addicted to growth. If there is no growth there are insufficient tax revenues and jobs. If there is no growth existing debt levels become unsustainable. The elites see the current economic crisis as a temporary impediment. They are desperately trying to fix it. But this crisis signals an irreversible change for civilization itself. We cannot prevent it. We can only decide whether we will adapt to it or not."

Heinberg, a senior fellow at the Post Carbon Institute, argues that we cannot grasp the real state of the global economy by the usual metrics—GDP, unemployment, housing, durable goods, national deficits, personal income and consumer spending—although even these measures point to severe and chronic problems. Rather, he says, we have to examine the structural flaws that sit like time bombs embedded within the economic edifice. U.S. household debt enabled the expansion of consumer spending during the boom years, he says, but consumer debt cannot continue to grow as house prices decline to realistic levels. Toxic assets litter the portfolios of the major banks, presaging another global financial meltdown. The Earth’s natural resources are being exhausted. And climate change, with its extreme weather conditions, is beginning to exact a heavy economic toll on countries, including the United States, through the destruction brought about by droughts, floods, wildfires and loss of crop yields.

Heinberg also highlights what he calls “the highly dysfunctional U.S. political system,” which is paralyzed and hostage to corporate power. It is unable to respond rationally to the crisis or solve “even the most trivial of problems.”

“The government at this point exacerbates nearly every crisis the nation faces,” he said. “Policy decisions do not emerge from deliberations between the public and elected leaders. They arise from unaccountable government agencies and private interest groups. The Republican Party has taken leave of reality. It exists in a hermetically sealed ideasphere where climate change is a hoax and economic problems can be solved by cutting spending and taxes. The Democrats, meanwhile, offer no realistic strategy for coping with the economic unraveling or climate change."

The collision course is set. It is now only a matter of time and our personal response. More



Saturday, September 15, 2012

Without nuclear, the battle against global warming is as good as lost

A madness is taking hold. In the same week as Arctic ice cover is recorded at its lowest ever extent, two major countries decide to reduce or eliminate their use of the only proven source of low-carbon power that can be deployed at sufficient scale to tackle our climate crisis.

Japan plans to phase out nuclear entirely by 2030, its prime minister announced today. The French president has just revealed a plan to dramatically reduce the country's reliance on nuclear, which currently gives France some of the cleanest electricity in the world.

Let me be very clear. Without nuclear, the battle against global warming is as good as lost. Even many greens now admit this in private moments. We are already witnessing the first signs of the collapse in the biosphere this entails – with the Arctic in full-scale meltdown, more solar radiation is being captured by the dark ocean surface, and the weather systems of the entire northern hemisphere are being thrown into chaos. With nuclear, there is a chance that global warming this century can be limited to 2C; without nuclear, I would guess we are heading for 4C or above. That will devastate ecosystems and societies worldwide on a scale which is unimaginable.

Given the trauma the Japanese people have suffered since the earthquake and tsunami of 11 March 2011, it is understandable that major questions are asked of domestic politicians. But we must never forget that Fukushima has killed no one. More people in Japan recently died from an E coli outbreak due to eating contaminated pickles. Scientists also agree there will never be an observable cancer increase in the Japanese population attributable to Fukushima.

But in response to the nuclear shutdown, oil and gas imports to Japan have doubled, and carbon dioxide emissions soared by more than 60m tonnes. Any environmentalist who celebrates this outcome is not worthy of the name.

Japan is already backing away from its own climate change targets. As a participant in the UN climate negotiations last year, I watched this happen. Under the 2009 Copenhagen accord, Japan pledged to reduce CO2 emissions by 25% by 2020. The plan was to increase nuclear to half of national electricity in order to facilitate the carbon cuts, supported by an increase in renewables to 20% by 2030. To reach the same targets without nuclear is impossible; wind and solar combined meet barely 1% of electricity production today in Japan, and there is no way they can be deployed at sufficient scale to meet the gap. So the climate targets will be dropped, as Japan re-carbonises its economy.

It is nothing short of insane that politicians around the world, under pressure from populations subjected to decades of anti-nuclear fearmongering by people who call themselves greens, are raising our collective risk of catastrophic climate change in order to eliminate the safest power source ever invented. More


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Strengthening the Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development (IFSD)

Strengthening the Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development (IFSD)

UNITAR E-Learning Course

5 November – 14 December 2012

Dear Colleagues,

The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) is pleased to announce the delivery of the e-learning course, “Strengthening the Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development”, which will take place from 5 November – 14 December 2012. Participants will learn about the current institutional architecture concerned with sustainable development, emerging policy issues requiring an effective institutional response, and political challenges to advance reform as reflected in the negotiations leading up to, and during the Rio+20 Conference.

Please feel free to disseminate information about this course through your networks, and do not hesitate to contact us ( should you need any further information.


The UNITAR Environmental Governance Programme Team


Since the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, the institutional framework to address environment and sustainable development challenges has witnessed a steady growth in the number of institutions and agreements, with more than 500 multilateral environmental agreements currently in existence. Yet the continuing deterioration in the natural resource base and ecosystems, global climate change and persistent poverty raise doubts about the capacity of the institutional framework to address these challenges. The 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) reaffirmed the need to strengthen the institutional framework for sustainable development (IFDS) and initiated specific action to foster more effective and coherent institutional responses.

Target Groups

The course targets groups and individuals that are interested in obtaining a general understanding about the theme of international sustainable development governance and latest developments. They include:

• Civil servants in national Ministries, provincial departments and local authorities

• Diplomats from Permanent Missions and Ministries of Foreign Affairs

• Environmental managers in private sector and civil society organizations

• Faculty, researchers and students

• Interested citizens

Learning Objectives

Participants will learn about the strengths and weaknesses of the current institutional architecture concerned with sustainable development, key emerging policy issues requiring an effective institutional response, and the political challenges to advance reform as reflected in the negotiations leading up to, and during the Rio+20 Conference.

After completing the course, participants will be able to:

• Explain sustainable development challenges demanding effective international institutions

• Outline key milestones of developing and reforming international institutions concerned with sustainable development

• Chart and analyze the current international IFSD

• Recognize linkages between international, national and sub-national sustainable development governance

• Analyze key policy issues relevant for the Rio+20 negotiations and beyond

• Assess options to strengthen the institutional framework for sustainable development


The course pedagogy is adapted to professionals in full-time work. Participants are provided with the opportunity to learn through various experiences: absorb (read); do (activity); interact (socialize); and reflect (relate to one’s own reality). The total number of learning hours is 40 over a 6 week period. During weeks 1-5 the reading of an e-book is complemented by a range of learning activities and experiences that include interactive exercises, discussion forums, and an applied case study. Week 6 is reserved for wrap-up and completing course assignments.

Course Fee and Registration

The course participation fee is 600 USD. A small number of full/partial fellowships are available for participants from developing countries working in the public sector, academia or non-profit organizations. Priority for fellowships will be given to applicants from Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

Register at:

For details please contact the UNITAR Environmental Governance Programme at:

Registration Deadline: 28 October 2012.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Home: Our Survival Depends On Changing The Way We Live

We are living in exceptional times. Scientists tell us that we have 10 years to change the way we live, avert the depletion of natural resources and the catastrophic evolution of the Earth's climate. The stakes are high for us and our children. Everyone should take part in the effort, and HOME has been conceived to take a message of mobilization out to every human being. For this purpose, HOME needs to be free. A patron, the PPR Group, made this possible. EuropaCorp, the distributor, also pledged not to make any profit because Home is a non-profit film. HOME has been made for you : share it! And act for the planet. Yann Arthus-Bertrand HOME official website PPR is proud to support HOME http HOME is a carbon offset movie More information about the Planet http

Sunday, September 9, 2012

African farmers must do more to beat climate change -study

OSLO, Sept 7 (Reuters) - African farmers are finding new ways to cope with droughts, erosion and other ravages of climate change but need to develop even more techniques to thrive in an increasingly uncertain environment, scientists said on Friday.

Smallholders have started to plant more drought-resistant and faster-growing crops to keep the harvests coming in, according to a survey of 700 households in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania.

"The good news is that a lot of farmers are making changes," said Patti Kristjanson, who heads a programme on climate change, agriculture and food security at the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi and led the study.

"So it's not all doom and gloom ... but much more needs to be done," she told Reuters.

Farmers, backed by researchers and international donors, needed to find better ways to store rain water, increase the use of manure and bring in hardier crops like sweet potatoes, she said.

In the past decade, 55 percent of households surveyed said they had taken up faster-growing crop varieties, mainly of maize, and 56 percent had adopted at least one drought-tolerant variety, according to the findings in the journal Food Security.


Fifty percent of the households were planting trees on their farms - helping to combat erosion, increase water and soil quality and bring in new crops like nuts.

Half of the farmers had introduced inter-cropping - planting alternate rows of, for instance of beans and maize, in the same field and then swapping the rows next season. Beans fix nitrogen in the soil, helping reduce the need for fertilisers.

But Friday's study found just a quarter of farmers were using manure or compost - avoiding the use of more expensive fertilisers. And only 10 percent were storing water, it added.

The study said that global warming, leading to erosion, less reliable rainfall and changes in the length of growing seasons, was adding to other stresses for farmers worldwide such as price spikes and a rising population. More


Monday, September 3, 2012

Young Greeks Self Reliant Island Society

On the slopes of Mount Telaithrion on the island of Evia, a group of young Greeks have left the busy city and created a self-reliant rural community.

Their goal is to eat only the organic produce they grow themselves, to free themselves from the national electricity grid, and to exchange what they grow or make instead of using money.

The project, whose ultimate goal is to create a school for sustainable living, was the idea of four Athenians who met online back in 2008 and bonded over their dissatisfaction with the daily grind of city life.

In their second year of living permanently on a forested patch of land next to the village of Aghios, 80 percent of the food they eat now comes from their two herb and vegetable gardens and the fruit they pick off the trees.

The group, almost all of whom follow a strict vegetarian diet, sleep communally in yurts - portable, tent-like dwellings made of tarp often seen in Central Asia.

Whatever is left over from their gardens, they exchange in the village for the supplies they cannot produce.

32-year-old co-founder Apostolos Sianos quit a well-paying job as a web site designer in Athens to help start the community, which is called 'Free and Real.' [Apostolos Sianos, Co-Founder of 'Free and Real']:

"The crisis or the austerity measures doesn't actually affect you because you create your life and your future everyday, it has nothing to do with the outside circle. It may (have) affected us, but only in a good way because more and more people are willing to be self-sufficient and sustainable, so they contact us, and more and more people after the crisis want to get involved."

The group actively use social media, and last year over one hundred people from Greece and abroad asked about joining or collaborating in some way.

Dionysis Papanikolaou, for example, gave up a lucrative academic career to be closer to nature and far from the heavy atmosphere of the financial crisis in Greece. [Dionysis Papanikolaou, Group Member]:

"If you keep on reading news, watching TV and the crisis, the crisis, the crisis, even subconsciously you say the crisis! Here, there is no crisis. I mean, it makes no difference."

The group take pride in being self-sufficient.

[Panagiotis Kantas, Co-Founder of 'Free and Real']:

"The reality of life is just outside your door. When you have to warm yourself up you actually have to go out in the wood and gather wood, fire wood, and bring it home to actually warm yourself up."

They currently organize seminars on organic farming and have drawn up the plans for a large school on sustainable living to be constructed later this summer, and for which they raised money on a crowdfunding site on the internet.

[Panagiotis Kantas, Co-Founder of 'Free and Real']:

"I just try to be the change I want to be, instead of waiting for a government to make the change, or instead of voting for someone to make the change. I try to be the change."

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