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, 29 September 2008

Drilling for Oil is Not the Answer | celsias°

Something to keep in mind, oil companies are sitting on licenses already issued in the US as they wait for the price of oil to rise high enough to justify drilling, adding more area available to them to purchase licenses for will only increase their profits, not decrease the price at the pump, not increase our energy security. It will increase the amount of money they spend to purchase politicians. Every drop of oil we produce continues the paradigm of addiction and the war, global warming, and corrupt politics that go with it.

Check this out;
Drilling for Oil is Not the Answer | celsias°

Posted using ShareThis

The Tables Turned- By Wordsworth

Up! up! my Friend and quit your books;
Or surely you'll grow double:
Up! up! my Friend, and clear your looks;
Why all this toil and trouble?

The sun above the mountain's head,
A freshening lustre mellow
Through all the long green fields has spread,
His first evening yellow.

Books! 'tis a dull and endless strife:
Come, hear the woodland linnet,
How sweet his music! on my life,
There's more of wisdom in it.

And hark! how blithe the throstle sings!
He, too, is no mean preacher:
Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your Teacher.

She has a world of ready wealth,
Our minds and hearts to bless -
Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health,
Truth breathed by cheerfulness.

One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.

Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous form of things: -
We murder to dissect.

Enough of Science and of Art;
Close up those barren leaves;
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Hubris - by Robb

I've been thinking recently about hubris. I don't mean the the petty everyday hubris we experience in our relationships and human contacts. I'm thinking about the hubris we have developed along with our big brains through the millenia of evolution. As we have refined our ability to change our environment, through fire, then agriculture and latterly industry, we seem to have become convinced that whatever we can imagine we have the right to do. So convinced are we that our ostensibly massive human intellect will solve all problems, even the ones we ourselves create, that we have completely lost touch with the intelligence that precedes and informs our own. We have forgotten the innate intelligence of nature.

This form of hubris is particularly dangerous in it's manifestation in reductionist western culture and value systems. It has led to what university of Texas professor Robert Jensen has called "the Delusion Revolution".

"It takes the hubris of folks such as biologist Richard Dawkins, who once wrote that “our brains … are big enough to see into the future and plot long-term consequences.” Such a statement is a reminder that human egos are typically larger than brains, which emphasizes the dramatic need for a drastic humility. I read that essay by Dawkins after hearing the sentence quoted by Wes Jackson, an important contemporary scientist and philosopher working at The Land Institute. Jackson’s work has most helped me recognize an obvious and important truth that is too often ignored: For all our cleverness, we human beings are far more ignorant than knowledgeable. Human accomplishments -- skyscrapers, the internet, the mapping of the human genome -- seduce us into believing the illusion that we can control a world that is complex beyond our ability to understand. Jackson suggests that we would be wise to recognize this and commit to “an ignorance-based worldview” that would anchor us in the intellectual humility we will need if we are to survive the often toxic effects of our own cleverness."

I'm not quite as hard on professor Dawkins as Jensen who believes Dawkins should be denounced for such views. I do however agree completely with Wes Jackson's assertion that we are tinkering with the systems of life we do not have the capacity to understand. Dawkins writes and speaks eloquently of the ability of evolution to bring into being the unimaginable complexities of this world while at the same time denouncing creator myths that deny evolution as scientific fact. I believe in the fact of evolution but am not willing to deny people faith in a creator, I don't see them as mutually exclusive. Indeed, the hubris I decry is even worse when compared to the hand of god. How can someone who believes in god the creator believes that it is OK to trash his/her creation.

The complexities of the natural world are the brain of the planet. As we seem intent on doing to our own brains, with toxic chemicals in our food, alcohol, drugs, pharmaceuticals, and polluted water and air, so we are doing to the planetary brain.

Rather than trust to the intelligence of evolution, or god, in our hubris we are killing it.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

The Link between Debt and the Destruction of Nature | celsias°

A very interesting article with an accompanying video over on Celsias. The video is well worth the time it takes to watch it.
Banking on an Unsustainable Future? The Link between Debt and the Destruction of Nature | celsias°

Posted using ShareThis

What's more important? - By Robb

Is preserving the habitat of a rare mudfish more important than installing a tidal barrage that will provide carbon free energy? Need we sacrifice the natural world in order to save it for our use?

We need to careful not to let such issues divide us. If a researcher in mudfish habitat wants to stop a tidal barrage because it will destroy the habitat then that should have equal weight to the carbon free energy produced by the barrage. After all, when not if, sea levels rise the mudfish habitat will be destroyed anyway. The tidal barrage however is a big system solution designed to continue business as usual, to encourage people that real change on their part is not necessary. People need to realize that without the intact habitats, like the mudfishes, to support biodiversity we are in just as much trouble after we have the barrage.

My grandfather used to tell me "it is a poor man who won't stoop to pick up a coin". Global warming and biodiversity are two sides of the same coin. A coin we must trouble ourselves to pick up. The natural environment should be looked to as our saviour in it's ability to provide the necessities of life from oxygen to breathe, food to eat, and the only reliable method of carbon sequestration.

Without that coin we will not be able to buy our daily bread.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Are you ready for this?

Most scientists now agree that 400 ppm is the tipping point for CO2 content in the atmosphere, the point beyond which we will trigger irreversible catastrophic climate change. The 100 month group has calculated that we have just that, 100 months to get it right. This is the summary from their report;

"We calculate that 100 months from 1 August 2008, atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases will begin to exceed a point whereby it is no longer likely we will be able to avert potentially irreversible climate change. 'Likely' in this context refers to the definition of risk used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to mean that, at that particular level of greenhouse gas concentration, there is only a 66 - 90 per cent chance of global average surface temperatures stabilising at 2o Celsius above pre-industrial levels. 1 Once this concentration is exceeded, it becomes more and more likely that we will overshoot a 2o C level of warming. This is the maximum acceptable level of temperature rise agreed by the European Union and others as necessary to retain reasonable confidence of preventing uncontrollable and ultimately catastrophic warming. We also believe this calculation to be conservative. The reasons why and the assumptions behind our conclusion are detailed below."

You can download the report here;

100 months website

Some scientists think we are already past the tipping point and our challenge is to get it back to 350ppm as soon as is humanly possible.

Is this too much scary stuff? At what point do we just have to face up to the science and accept that yes it is scary and yes we really have to make big changes? Is anything less than that going to get it done?

Monday, 15 September 2008

Go Carfree on the 22nd

On the 22nd of September don't drive or ride in a car. It's that simple. The reasons are so obvious and the implications so momentous that I won't go into them here. If you need more information please see the website:

World Carfree Day 2008

Thursday, 11 September 2008

News Flash! Mice Smarter than Humans!

Lesson of the Week:
School Lab Rats Freak Out on GE Food

Schools in Wisconsin are showing kids the dangers of genetically engineered (GE) junk food with some unique science class experiments. Sister Luigi Frigo repeats the experiment every year in her second grade class in Cudahy. Students feed one group of mice unprocessed whole foods. A second group of mice are given the same junk foods served at most schools. Within a couple of days, the behavior of the second group of mice develop erratic sleeping schedules and become lazy, nervous and even violent. It takes the mice about three weeks on unprocessed foods to return to normal. According to Frigo, the second graders tried to do the experiment again a few months later with the same mice, but the animals have already learned their lesson and refuse to eat the GE food.

Read all about it at Organic Consumers Association

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

10 minutes of darkness


On Wendesday, September 17, 2008, I invite people around the world to turn off their lights for ten minutes – from 9:50pm to 10:00pm in their local time zone.

Darkness world: On September 17, 2008 from 21:50 to 22:00 hours.
Proposes to turn off all lights and if possible all electrical appliances, so our planet can 'breathe'.
if many take part, energy saving can be
Only 10 minutes, and see what happens.
Yes, we are 10 minutes in the dark, we light a candle and simply
watch it, breathe with our planet.
Remember that unity is strength and the Internet can be very useful in creating a worldwide impact.

Spread the word, if you have friends who live in other countries send this message to them. Set your mobile phone calender alarms to remind you.

Oscuridad mundial: En Septiembre 17, 2008 desde las 21:50 a las 22:00 horas.
Se propone apagar todas las luces y si es posible todos los aparatos eléctricos, para que nuestro planeta pueda "respirar".
Si la respuesta es masiva, la energía que se ahorra puede ser brutal.
Solo 10 minutos y vea que pasa.

Si estamos 10 minutos en la oscuridad, prendamos una vela y simplemente la miramos y nosotros estaremos respirando y nuestro planeta.
Recuerde que la unión hace la fuerza y el Internet puede tener mucho poder y puede ser aun algo más grande.

Pase la noticia, si usted tiene amigos que viven en otros países envíeselo a ellos.


Escuridão mundial: No dia 17 de Setembro de 2008 das 21:50 às 22:00 horas
propõe-se apagar todas as luzes e se possível todos os aparelhos eléctricos, para o nosso planeta poder 'respirar'.
Se a resposta for massiva, a poupança energética pode ser brutal.
Só 10 minutos, para ver o que acontece.
Sim, estaremos 10 minutos às escuras, podemos acender uma vela e simplesmente
ficar a olhar para ela, estaremos a respirar nós e o planeta.
Lembrem-se que a união faz a força e a Internet pode ter muito poder e podemos
mesmo fazer algo em grande.

Passa a notícia, se tiveres amigos a viver noutros países envia-lhes.

ظلام العالم : على 17 سبتمبر 2008 من الساعة 21:50 الى 22:00
ويقترح حذف جميع الانوار واذا امكن جميع الاجهزه الكهرباءيه ، ويمكن لكوكبنا 'تنفس'.

اذا كان الجواب هاءله ، ويمكن الاقتصاد في استهلاك الطاقة وحشية.
خلال 10 دقائق فقط ، ونرى ما سيحصل.
نعم ، نحن على 10 دقائق في الظلام ، ونحن على ضوء شمعة وببساطة
ان النظر اليها ، ونحن نتنفس وكوكبنا.
نتذكر ان الاتحاد هو القوام وشبكة الانترنت يمكن ان تكون بالغة القوة ويمكن
حتى تفعل شيئا كبيرا.
التحركات الاخبار .

Darkness monde: Le 17 Septembre 2008 de 21:50 à 22:00 heures
Propose de supprimer toutes les lumières et, si possible, tous les appareils électriques, à notre planète peut 'respirer'.

Si la réponse est massive, les économies d'énergie peuvent être brutales.
Seulement 10 minutes, et de voir ce qui se passe.
Oui, nous sommes 10 minutes dans le noir, on allume une bougie et simplement
Être regarder, que nous respirons et de notre planète.
N'oubliez pas que l'union fait la force et l'Internet peuvent être très électricité et peut

Même faire quelque chose de grand.
Déplace l'actualité.

Σκοταδι κοσµο: Στις 17 Σεπ του 2008 απο 21:50 εως 22:00 ωρες
Προτεινει να διαγραψει ολα τα φωτα και αν ειναι δυνατον, ολες τις ηλεκτρικες συσκευες, να πλανητη µας µπορει να «αναπνεει».
Εαν η απαντηση ειναι µαζικη, η εξοικονοµηση ενεργειας µπορει να ειναι κτηνωδης.
Μονο 10 λεπτα, και να δουµε τι συµßαινει.
Ναι, ειµαστε 10 λεπτα στο σκοταδι, θα αναψει ενα κερι και απλα
Να εξεταζουµε, που αναπνεουµε και τον πλανητη µας.
Θυµηθειτε οτι η ενωση ειναι η δυναµη και το Internet µπορει να ειναι πολυ δυναµη και µπορουν να
Ακοµη κανουµε κατι µεγαλο.

Μετακινησεις την ειδηση, αν εχετε φιλους να ζουν σε αλλες χωρες να στειλουν τους και τους.

Darkness Welt: Am 17 September 2008 von 21:50 bis 22:00 Uhr
Schlägt vor, alle Lichter zu löschen und, wenn möglich, alle elektrischen Geräte, die unseren Planeten kann 'atmen'.
Wenn die Antwort ist derb, Energieeinsparung kann brutal.
Nur 10 Minuten, und sehen Sie, was passiert.
Ja, wir sind 10 Minuten im Dunkeln, wir Licht einer Kerze und einfach
Sei es bei der Suche, die wir atmen, und unseres Planeten.
Denken Sie daran, dass die Gewerkschaft ist Stärke und das Internet kann sehr Macht und können
Selbst etwas tun groß.

Verschiebt den Nachrichten.

Ночь на Земле: 17 сентября 2008 года с 21:50 до 22:00 часов отключите все огни, и, по возможности, все электроприборы, чтобы наша планета могла спокойно 'подышать' хоть 10 минут.
В случае массового участия, этот проект приведет к огромному сбередению энергии по всему земному шару. Всего только 10 минут, и вы увидите как важен будет результат.
За эти 10 минут можно просто посидеть в темноте, зажечь свечу и посидеть при ее свете. А за это время наша планета успеет спокойно отдышаться.
Помните, что совместное действие - это мощь, а Интернет - это великая сила, вместе мы можем добиться очень многого.

Сообщи о нас другим!!!

Darkness wereld: Op 17 September 2008 van 21:50 tot 22:00 uur
Stelt voor om alle lichten en zo mogelijk alle elektrische apparaten, om onze planeet kan 'ademen'.
Indien het antwoord is enorm, de energiebesparing kan worden wreder.
Slechts 10 minuten, en zie wat er gebeurt.
Ja, we zijn 10 minuten in het donker, we licht van een kaars en gewoon
Wordt kijken, we inademen en onze planeet.
Vergeet niet dat de unie is kracht en het internet kan zeer macht en kan
Zelfs iets te groot.

Vertrokken het nieuws.

Monday, 8 September 2008

A real American Heroe - By Robb

This morning I watched the beginning episode in a new series by Dr. Iain Stewart. He has produced some wonderful earth science programs for the BBC. His new one is specifically about Climate Change. This first episode details the history of the debate and the science. I was gratified to see Dr. James Hansen making commentary, both in 1988 before congress and today for this series. Then I found this article in the Independent online.

Nasa scientist appears in court to fan the flames of coal power station row

By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor
Thursday, 4 September 2008

Prof James Hansen: Urged Gordon Brown to refuse planning application to build new coal-fired units at the Kingsnorth plant in Hoo, Kent

"Prof James Hansen: Urged Gordon Brown to refuse planning application to build new coal-fired units at the Kingsnorth plant in Hoo, Kent"

You can read the whole article at


    Sunday, 7 September 2008

    report on the first Free From Power Day -By Robb

    It went pretty well. There were a couple of oops moments when my instincts took over but for the most part I'm encouraged and have begun to plan October's Free From Power Day.

    • For 24 hours I used no grid electricity, aside from 5 oops moments where I turned on a light without thinking which I quickly turned back off. Lighting was provided by a windup torch on loan from my friend Graeme.
    • For 24 hours I used no fossil fuels of any kind; not to cook, heat, or drive.
    • For 24 hours I turned on no taps for water aside from one oops moment when brushing my teeth. Toilet was flushed with rainwater. Hands were washed with rainwater. More about water below.
    • For 24 hours I connected to no electronic media aside from listening to some classical music on a windup/solar radio. This was a big one for me as I usually spent alot of time on the computer, listening to mp3 player and even a few hours watching TV every day.
    • For 24 hours I bought nothing, this was easy as I don't usually buy anything anyway.

    Water - I collect rainwater for my garden and I was happy to use that to wash with but for drinking I did not prepare a purification method. Thus I drew water from the taps the night before for drinking. I made a flask of tea with the kettle and super insulated it overnight. This was my biggest failing as it meant I still consumed tap water and had used fossil fuel to make tea, just not on the day.

    Food - For most of the day I did well. I ate English organic apples, though they had been purchased from a supermarket the week before, something I will try to remedy for next time. I foraged for berries and raw nettles on a 7 mile walk. I ate runner beans and tomatoes from my garden. My biggest failing was the bag of tortilla chips and salsa I ate in the evening. I did manage to never open the fridge during the day however.

    I am going to devise a method for purifying rainwater and cooking via a biomass cooker, probably something like a Vita stove. It will have to be small and very smoke free for use in this urban jungle I live in. I will collect and dry fuel in advance.

    I will source local organic non-corporate unpackaged food in advance. There is a farm within a 3 mile walk of my house to source free range eggs, I will try to gather/forage more in advance, I will locate a green grocer selling local veg.

    If weather permits I will set out my portable solar hot water heater for washing.

    What I did:
    As mentioned I walked and foraged, I worked in the garden, I played scrabble with Jacqui, I finished reading Michael Pollan's "An Omnivore's Dilemma" and started his "In Defense of Food", I organized my thesis paperwork, I tidied our room, sorted out our gear closet and designated stuff to go to recycling and freecycle, I avoided the TV room.

    I also spent some time thinking about this Free From Power Day. Traditionally most western cultures have practiced this sort of thing to some degree and called it the sabbath. I think we need to look at this practice and encourage people to take it up again. Imagine if every business closed; no-one would need to drive to shop or to work, no sporting events planned would mean people could spend time exercising instead of watching people exercise, time for cooking wholesome meals from quality ingredients, time for growing quality ingredients, time for spending with loved ones, time for studying, time for worship, time to slow down, to relax. Isn't that what a day of rest is all about?

    Tuesday, 2 September 2008

    Sheffield Star online post #3 - by Robb

    Here's the next post from my Sheffield Star online Green Scene column.

    Beyond Consumerism?

    "We are at a stage in human history that is as monumental as changing from a hunter/gatherer society to an agricultural society and from an agricultural society to an industrial society. ...We need to face the way we used the world for our gains, pleasures, satisfactions. ... we need to change our view about acquiring things. We have the opportunity to take a great leap forward in these very challenging times. We need to change our institutions and ourselves. ...We need to launch our imaginations beyond the thinking of the past. ...That's how we change the world... because WE will be the change."
    - Grace Lee Boggs, 93, a long-time Detroit activist and philosopher.

    2030, imagine a scenario where you live in a completely different way than you do now. Your home doesn’t generate bills it generates power. Your bin only needs emptying once every month because you generate almost no waste. The clothes you wear are designed for practicality and durability and are rarely replaced. The food you eat is grown very close to where you live, some of it by yourself, the rest of it by your neighbors or farmers you know. You work either from home or within an easy walk or bus ride. You don’t need or own a car. As a result of all of the above your bank account doesn’t hemorrhage your hard earned pay but creates income because you have minimal debt. And best of all your choice to live this way along with all of your neighbors has supported the worldwide grassroots movement away from crippling dependance on fossil fuels and has helped to significantly reduced carbon emissions, stabilizing global climate. All of this is possible with current technology and current knowledge. All of this is happening currently. Don’t wait for 2030. You can take steps towards it now.

    There are many benefits but perhaps chief among them is that this new style of life involves less stress, more time to spend with loved ones and neighbors, time for cooking and eating healthy food, exercising, and building a healthy community. It is a lifestyle based around long term sustainability, good health, and the development of human potential for all citizens.

    Studies abound pointing out that the current cult of consumerism involves much less of the above, but who needs scientific research to prove what is evident to any who care to see it. Too many hours of the day are spent earning and spending money as our class based lifestyles rely on debt. Stress related illness is rife, obesity and ill health are at pandemic proportions due to poor nutrition and minimal exercise. The divide between rich and poor, educated and ignorant, healthy and sick is widening. And worst of all, the ecosystems that support our very existence are being sacrificed to support this short term pleasure based individualistic lifestyle. It is unsustainable. There is literally no future in it.

    Every step you take towards a sustainable life is progress but small steps are not enough. As I pointed out in my second post of this series we are in a tight spot.

    For more about that, download the WWF report “Weathercocks and Signposts”
    We have a very short time to make very big changes.

    In the next post I will look in more detail at some characteristics of a sustainable lifestyle.

    For more about Grace Lee Boggs see: