What have you done today to lower your impact?

We are washing away the foundations of our existence on every front. It is high time we move from crashing about on the planet like a bull in china shop and find a way to go forward with intent. We must find systems of living based on sustainability. The systems and tools exist, it is up to each of us to adopt them.

Blog Archive

Monday, 24 March 2008

The World's First Bionic Burger

True story about a man who's been saving hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and Big Macs from McDonalds for over 18 years... and they look EXACTLY the same! Visit http://www.thebestdayever.com for more information.

David Garett "Gypsy Dance" for the fun of it - from Rob

Sometimes music sustains me.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Video - Franken Foods

The crazy story about genetically modified foods... and what it means for your health. For more information, please visit: http://www.thebestdayever.com

Food Part 3 - GM Foods - by Robb

Genetically Modified crops have nothing to do with feeding the world and everything to do with corporate profit through control of our food supply. Global hunger is caused by politics, war, and money not lack of supply. Green peace has loads of information regarding the threat from unsustainable farming practices and GM Foods. Rather than cut and paste from their excellent website I refer you directly to the source.


Do a search for "7-deadly-sins.pdf", a nice expose' about Monsanto. Also the report "cool-farming-full-report.pdf" is worth having a look at as it deals with agriculture and global warming.

One aspect of this I'd like to discuss briefly is the link between meat and GM crops. Though England and much of Europe tightly restricts the growing of GM crops they don't seem to have any compunction about importing the food produced. The majority of factory farmed livestock in the UK is fed with GM feedstock. Another reason to reduce your intake of meat?

With many developing countries rushing to grow crops for biofuel, the problems of hunger and the profits of Monsanto are set to soar.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Eighth Deadly Sin Update - by Dave

Regarding my earlier posting suggesting the addition of "Waste" as another Deadly Sin, it seems as though the Vatican has caught up with me. Here's an excerpt from the current Harper's Weekly:

The Vatican released a list of seven "social" sins, meant to complement the existing seven cardinal vices. They include drug abuse, littering, genetic tampering,excessive wealth, and creating poverty--specifically,"contributing to the widening divide between rich and poor." Perrier-Jouet announced it would sell the world's most expensive champagne, priced at 4,166 euros, or$6,485, per bottle. Spokesman Olivier Cavil said sales would be limited to 100 members of the "super-rich" global elite accustomed to "ultimate luxury."

Although the Vatican directive doesn't use the term "waste", I think "contributing to the widening divide between rich and poor" nicely incorporates the concept. True waste, as I define it, goes even a little further than that, in that a resource is not only allocated to just an elite few...but even those elite few don't end up actually using it. That must be truly galling to over-consuming elitists...the fact that there's a limit to how much resource a single organism can actually absorb, requiring that a great bulk of their treasure must simply be "wasted".
I'm reminded of an observation to be found in The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce, American satirist, aphorist and journalist:

"The only thing the rich allow the poor to keep is their distance."

Monday, 17 March 2008

BRUCE COCKBURN - If A Tree Falls - posted by Robb

As Dave would say, "It's dark but it glows around the edges".

"Rain forest
Mist and mystery
Teeming green
Green brain facing lobotomy
Climate control centre for the world
Ancient cord of coexistence
Hacked by parasitic greedhead scam -
From Sarawak to Amazonas
Costa Rica to mangy B.C. hills -
Cortege rhythm of falling timber.

What kind of currency grows in these new deserts,
These brand new flood plains?

If a tree falls in the forest does anybody hear?
If a tree falls in the forest does anybody hear?
Anybody hear the forest fall?

Cut and move on
Cut and move on
Take out trees
Take out wildlife at a rate of species every single day
Take out people who've lived with this for 100,000 years -
Inject a billion burgers worth of beef -
Grain eaters - methane dispensers.

Through thinning ozone,
Waves fall on wrinkled earth -
Gravity, light, ancient refuse of stars,
Speak of a drowning -
But this, this is something other.
Busy monster eats dark holes in the spirit world
Where wild things have to go
To disappear

If a tree falls in the forest does anybody hear?
If a tree falls in the forest does anybody hear?
Anybody hear the forest fall?"

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Suburban Renewal - One Backyard at a Time

I firmly believe that urban and suburban agriculture will be a necessity for many if not most within a decade due to Peak Oil. This video is a good example of how it can be done in a sustainable manner. - Robb

Saturday, 15 March 2008

The Break in the Broken Wheel - By Dave

"Everything the Power of the World does is done in a circle. The Sky is round and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball and so are all the stars. The Wind, in its greatest power, whirls."
Black Elk
Native American writer and cultural historian

" A paranoid is simply a person in full possession of all the facts."
William S. Burroughs
American writer

There are myriad reasons, in this unprecedented age we all find ourselves in, to be sad, anxious, despairing, and even paranoid. It seems as if the Sacred Circle of the World has been violated and we, proud homosapiens all, are the perpetrators of the deed. Toxic degradation and climate radicalization- human driven, are placing the entire globe into an extinction-level-event unparallelled since the Permian Terminal Catastrophe...the one that took the dinosaurs...and we all participate in the process.

Some of us, to avoid the agonizing side-effects of being "in full possession of all the facts" will stop our ears, shout down the doomsayers, or simply allow ourselves to become numb-anesthetized. These are all perfectly predictable, human responses, and can't be roundly condemned by any of us, since we're all so familiar with those feelings, and have indulged them, and will indulge them again. We have to. It's a survival mechanism. None of us truly believe in our own death...it would be too distracting. After all, we've got to get on with the business of hunting and gathering...we can't allow ourselves to become paralyzed by the enormity of the world as it is.

But some of us can't help it. We have to look directly at the bald facts... not knowing is worse. So there it is. The facts just keep pouring in. We try to assimilate them, meanwhile performing whatever sustainable strategies we can to save resources and keep that carbon footprint down. But how to manage the temptation to consider everything to be unmanageable? The despair and fear part of it?

I have developed some coping mechanisms, exercises, habits that serve me whenever I hear the big, bad voice howling in my ear, "you're doomed!". It helps me to think of the words and acts of others who have seen their own horrors and holocausts, and have transcended them. Something Robert Frost once said comes to mind often: " It is the habit of each succeeding generation to feel itself the most put upon in history." It amuses me and puts things in a different perspective right away.

I have heard of poetry being defined as a secret language that, once you unlock it, teaches you that you are not alone...that others have gone this way before you, and thought the same things, felt the same things as you. There is a great comfort to be had there. Many dark and uncharted ways have been navigated to take us to this place we call here. How can we abandon such a long and torturous journey as the one described by all our visionaries and artists?

America's great poet laureate Walt Whitman spent most of the American Civil War in the field hospitals, tending to the sick, dying, and dead soldiers...by many thousands before it was over. He changed their bandages, washed their bodies, and wrote letters to their families when they were incapacitated or dead. By the thousands. Day after day, year after year, Whitman kept his vigil and gave all of himself to his self-appointed task. Far from being crushed by the burden of all those young lives suffering and ending, he seemed to rise above even that final fear that we all must face:
excerpt from " When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd" by Walt Whitman

"Come, lovely and soothing Death,
Undulate round the world, serenely arriving, arriving,
In the day, in the night, to all, to each,
Sooner or later, delicate Death.
Prais’d be the fathomless universe, 140
For life and joy, and for objects and knowledge curious;
And for love, sweet love—But praise! praise! praise!
For the sure-enwinding arms of cool-enfolding Death.
Dark Mother, always gliding near, with soft feet,
Have none chanted for thee a chant of fullest welcome? 145
Then I chant it for thee—I glorify thee above all;
I bring thee a song that when thou must indeed come, come unfalteringly.
Approach, strong Deliveress!
When it is so—when thou hast taken them, I joyously sing the dead,
Lost in the loving, floating ocean of thee, 150
Laved in the flood of thy bliss, O Death.
From me to thee glad serenades,
Dances for thee I propose, saluting thee—adornments and feastings for thee;
And the sights of the open landscape, and the high-spread sky, are fitting,
And life and the fields, and the huge and thoughtful night. 155
The night, in silence, under many a star;
The ocean shore, and the husky whispering wave, whose voice I know;
And the soul turning to thee, O vast and well-veil’d Death,
And the body gratefully nestling close to thee.
Over the tree-tops I float thee a song! 160
Over the rising and sinking waves—over the myriad fields, and the prairies wide;
Over the dense-pack’d cities all, and the teeming wharves and ways,
I float this carol with joy, with joy to thee, O Death!"

Another poet who is much on my mind these days is the singer song-writer Bruce Cockburn, who can comfort us and warn us at the same time:
The Broken Wheel by Bruce Cockburn

Way out on the rim of the galaxy
The gifts of the Lord lie torn
Into whose charge the gifts were given
Have made it a curse for so many to be born
This is my trouble --
These were my fathers
So how am I supposed to feel?
Way out on the rim of the broken wheel

Water of life is going to flow again
Changed from the blood of heroes and knaves
The word mercy's going to have a new meaning
When we are judged by the children of our slaves
No adult of sound mind
Can be an innocent bystander
Trial comes before truth's revealed
Out here on the rim of the broken wheel

You and me -- we are the break in the broken wheel
Bleeding wound that will not heal

Lord, spit on our eyes so we can see
How to wake up from this tragedy

Way out on the rim of the broken wheel
Bleeding wound that will not heal
Trial comes before truth's revealed
So how am I supposed to feel?
This is my trouble --
Can't be an innocent bystander
In a world of pain and fire and steel
Way out on the rim of the broken wheel"

Many before us have trodden dark and forbidding pathways and come out the other side with wider vision and stronger purpose. Can we do less?

Thursday, 13 March 2008

An Experiment in Back Yard Sustainability

Peak Moment 51: Tour Scott McGuire's "White Sage Gardens" in the back yard of his rental home -- a demonstration site for suburban sustainability. He ponders, "How might a household produce and preserve a significant portion of its own food supply?" Composting, a water-conserving greenhouse, and seed-saving are all facets of this beautiful work in progress. [www.whitesagegardens.com]

Monday, 10 March 2008

theWatt podcast

Years ago before I left Bermuda and my off grid lifestyle, I discovered a real gem of a podcast. Run by Ben Kenney, a phd student in fuel cell research, theWatt podcast opened my eyes to the power of podcasting and the potential of enthusiastic study of the problems facing us all. It was the first podcast I listened to regularly and I still listen to it today. I was very pleased this past weekend to be invited to participate in a panel discussion on theWatt. It is a

"Panel discussion podcast with Mark Seall, Rod Adams, Robb Worthington and Ben. Topics include carbon taxes vs cap-and-trade policies, OECD Environmental Outlook, nuclear power in the UK, carbon limits on cars in the EU, $106/bbl oil."

I think you'll find it interesting and might convince you to subscribe to theWatt to keep abreast of developments in the energy sector. You can listen to it or download it by clicking on this link.


Friday, 7 March 2008

Summary of recent climate science

Please have a look at this Indymedia UK website for a concise review of the science that didn't make it into the latest IPCC report. These are all reasons why to practice sustainable living.


Thursday, 6 March 2008

Food part 2 - Meat - by Robb

I was vegetarian for over 20 years. Getting enough protein in your diet without meat is possible if careful attention is paid to proper food combining. I personally found that I was not focused and disciplined enough and began to suffer from problems related to deficits of protein in my diet. I could probably do better now but have grown used to eating meat again. We are very careful in our household to purchase free range chickens, from a farm just a pleasant 2 mile walk away, and sausage, from the local butchers shop. We would prefer organic chickens but have chosen local free range instead because of the food miles and packaging involved. We have meat as an entree 2 or 3 times a week. I cook two chickens together on the weekend and we eat from it till it’s gone and make soup and stock from the bones. On weeks we don’t have chickens we have sausages. We could increase our sustainability by making reductions.

My plan is to reduce our chicken consumption down to one per week for the 3 of us thus halving the impact from our chicken consumption, aside from the energy to cook it as it will take nearly as much time to cook one as two. We also eat 1 or 2 dozen eggs/week, free range, as well as organic cheese and milk for myself and my mother in law. My wife eats very few diary products. Dairy products have less of an impact than livestock raised for meat. Free range animals live a healthier and more natural life whereas organically raised livestock are also fed a much healthier diet with no chemicals involved.

Livestock husbandry requires tremendous input of energy, water, feed, and land. Livestock contributes to soil erosion, water pollution, and are themselves emitters of greenhouse gases. Zero Carbon Britain calls for a 66% reduction in British meat consumption as part of a sweeping plan to bring Britain to a zero carbon future. ZCB recommends that meat become a special occasion food as it once was as well as a flavoring agent for other meals rather than as a main course. Those who support a vegan diet claim that seriously addressing climate change is impossible without a large scale shift to veganism.

‘A report commissioned by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Bank concluded that factory farming, "acts directly on land, water, air and biodiversity through the emission of animal waste, use of fossil fuels and substitution of animal genetic resources. In addition, it affects the global land base indirectly through its effect on the arable land needed to satisfy its feed concentrate requirements. Ammonia emissions from manure storage and application lead to localized acid rain and ailing forests.’”
(Vegan Society)

While 25,000 people die every die from hunger related conditions the US feeds it’s livestock 60% of the grain harvest. A recent study in Canada suggests that beef raised on feedlots convert 2.5% of the gross feed energy, human edible grains, into usable food for human consumption while in the most efficient operations dairy cattle convert between 55 and 67% of their gross feed energy to human food. Meat heavy diets are especially damaging as they often rely on developing nations to devote land directly to livestock production or feed for export rather to feeding their own populations. With more and more arable land being lost to soil erosion how we use the remaining bit becomes increasingly important.

Land use per kg of food:
beef requires 20.9 m2/kg
pork requires 8.9 m2/kg
eggs require 3.5 m2/kg
milk requires 1.2 m2/kg
fruit requires 0.5 m2/kg
vegetables require 0.3 m2/kg
potatoes require 0.2 m2/kg

Additionally, growth hormones used in the meat industry are having dire consequences on the ecosystem as well as the health of consumers. Non organic livestock are typically fed with GM feed stock, with all the implications that brings, not the least of which is corporate control of food and loss of diversity in seed stock.

So can a sustainable lifestyle include consumption of meat? Surely if you produce your own meat or eggs, or even source them locally, provided they are organic and do not involve the importation of foreign grain for feed stocks then I’d say yes. But even then one has to consider the resources devoted to that production and do ones best to minimize consumption and impacts. I still have a ways to go on this one.

Thanks to the Vegan Society website http://www.vegansociety.com/html/environment/ for content.Link

Monday, 3 March 2008

A brief aside - by Robb

When I've had all the research, writing, and listening about sustainability I can stand I go for a walk. I put my iPod, purchased used, in my pocket and listen to some great science fiction. My podcast of choice is Escape Pod, well written and read science fiction with very thoughtful and thought provoking commentary. I highly recommend it


Science fiction is related my interest in sustainability because I find it an expression of the possible. The two interests intersect because quite often science fiction is set in some possible future, one where humans have risen above, or haven't, the challenges we face. This can be very reassuring, whether to my hope that we are capable of rising above or to my belief that the challenges are almost insurmountable.
I don't seem to be the only one who feels this way. Check this out


A very interesting interview about the intersection of environmentalism and science fiction.