Industrial system disconnect #1. The car

A recent post outlined a system map of the industrial society. One reason to map things out is to give you helicopter perspective where you might be able to better see where the system is not working. This post takes on one of the obvious reasons the industrial society is still not on track for the Paris agreement: the car.

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Industrial society system map

Highest level system map. Click to enlarge.

Above is the latest version of my system map, done in KUMU.IO.

The basic elements of the map

  • 11 elements (e.g. government, natural capital stocks, built capital, etc)
  • 31 connections (e.g. flow of resources to firms, waste to local authority)
  • 3 types of flow: work, money, resources
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Please Nippon Steel, don’t cut these woods! Update.

My letter pleading with Nippon Steel to reverse the decision to log Ovakos forest, close to Hofors town was premature. Ovako have reversed their decision

Lissjön woods with the lake in the background

Update! They didn’t cut the woods down.

We just heard that Ovako, subsidiary of Nippon steel, just announced that they will not cut the forest.

Continue reading “Please Nippon Steel, don’t cut these woods! Update.”

Fossil fuel depletion: a sorry outlook for Alberta

Oil companies (mining, forestry etc) should put the costs for restoration of the asset they are extracting from onto their accounts. As they are often publicly traded this should be available in the public record.

It seems some oil companies might go bankrupt before they have to do the restorations. 

The article brings to light something I have been seeing the more I get involved with normative accounting and the four capitals approach: the lack of clarity around accounting and political economy in general is used by extractive forces for their own good at the expense of the public sector.

The article has many good references and insights, highly recommended!

Multi capital scoring: measure what matters in the circular doughnut

Circular economy thinking, taking hold among policy makers, civil servants and scientists alike could be the answer to reducing material load, de fossilising and creating green jobs. Doughnut economic frames a reasonable operating space for this new economy. This article explores the possibilities to create metrics for the circular economy doughnut at a national or regional level.

Circular economy thinking is taking hold among policy makers, civil servants and scientists alike. For example, the Swedish Government formed its own Circular Economy Delegation last year and recently announced its national strategy for the Circular Economy. Facing reduced material availability and rapidly reducing use of fossil fuels to align with the Paris accord, Sweden hopes that its production system will continue to deliver and indeed grow economically, but with far less material and fossil energy intensity.

A reasonable operating space for the circular economy has been developed by economist Kate Raworth in the Doughnut Economy. The Doughnut model proposes a social floor below which the economic system shall not let citizens fall, and an ecological ceiling, through which social activities shall not exceed. This article explores the possibilities to create metrics for the circular economy doughnut at a national or regional level.

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Regenerating Society One “Cell” at a Time

Guest post by Steve Hamm

Bridge Street in Humboldt (early morning)

Ten years ago, Humboldt, Kansas, was a lot like thousands of small towns across the United States. Economic and social shifts had left the once-booming downtown feeling eerily abandoned. Walmart stores had opened up to the north and south of town, “sucking the life out,” as one local man put it. A highway bypass had been built. And, because of mechanization, the many farms in the area required fewer workers. As a result, many storefronts were empty and the town population was dwindling.

But the residents of this town of 1900 people didn’t give up. The area economy was actually quite sound. There were three successful industries—farming, a cement plant, and a fast-growing trailer hitch company. It was the downtown and the sense of wellbeing that needed a shot of adrenaline. That boost is now being provided by Joe Works, the founder and CEO of B&W Trailer Hitches, and a group of young people, mostly made up of his children, who launched an initiative called A Bolder Humboldt aimed at making the town a vibrant place to live and visit. “Why should people have to move elsewhere to enjoy the nicer things in life? Why can’t they have all those things in a small town in the Midwest?” says Joe.

Continue reading “Regenerating Society One “Cell” at a Time”

The circular economy neighbourhood

Sweden, like many countries, is pursuing the circular economy as a path to decarbonization, to the bio-economy and to ensure their economy has enough material resources. Apart from the climate emergency, pressure from population increases and rising standards are about to create inevitable material shortages. Still developing, the idea of circular economy begs us to envision a circular home, a circular neighbourhood and circular municipality. This article explores what a circular economy neighbourhood might look like, and how a cooperative model might help accelerate the transition in Sweden. The ideas may, of course, apply to other countries.

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Transition arose to respond to the scholars’ warning

Before the COP26 venue was packed away hundreds of scholars signed an open letter urging communities to lead their own ‘emergency response’ after ‘failure’ of Cop26 to slash dangerous greenhouse gas emissions.

The letter says “We believe that the corporate capture and failure of COP26 clearly show that people in communities and organizations must now lead our own emergency response.”

It seems like yesterday when I first heard of the Transition movement and decided to help start it up in Sweden. It was 2005. Transitioners were saying “Governments will not defossilize, corporations will not, local councils will not. That leaves us ordinary folks, together with our nieghbours and people in our community. We have to do it.”

In Sweden the movement took off, at one point we had 5 000 members with 100 local groups around the country. Transitioners were trying a broad range of things. Some went digging up lawns outside libraries to plant potatoes. Other started eco-village projects. Some researched into alternative approaches to economics. Others explored their own angst through inner transition. All over Sweden things were happening. Movements were connecting, too. Transitioners found kindred spirits in movements like nature protection, Permaculture, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, even catching the eye of academics as maybe offering a source of new knowledge about social transformation.

For various reasons activity slowed down. However, somewhere out there is still a phenomenal amount of experience and knowledge about how to organize the local community to focus action on addressing climate change and all its bad effects on society, de-fossilisation, mapping possibilities and concerns, sharing and organizing. All kinds of useful know-how. I am sure the same is true in many countries around the world.

That is why the Transition movement is in a unique position to respond to the call from the Scholars. Transition has always been about convening those individuals and organizations that feel called. It has always been about the climate, about equity.

Here are some ways to respond to the call:

Seek out Transitioners, get them onboard. Or if you yourself were involved or indeed still are, consider the ideas below.

  • Set up a community-led group to co-ordinate all aspects of dealing with climate change. If you make the geographic area coincide with the administrative area you will have a natural interface into the local authorities.
  • Start groups doing investigations into aspects of how to increase resilience of food provision, housing energy, inclusion etc. All the basics.
  • Look into practicalities of producing more food locally. One transition town set up a garden exchange where people who had gardens they couldn’t tend met people without gardens who wanted to grow food.
  • Now is the time for local action. It is now pretty clear to the average person – one who might not have understood what the Transition movement were talking about – that government and corporations are really not going to change anything. And the average person now gets it that they are going to have to deal with the consequences of inaction. (Just like with COVID.)

The list below is of the local action organizations I know of. Let’s find a way to bring them together! Add your own in the comments.

  • Local Futures
  • Friends of the Earth
  • Greenpeace
  • Local Civil defense
  • Permaculture
  • Eco village movement
  • One Village movement
  • Nature preservation groups
  • Community banking
  • Community Supported Agriculture
  • Post Carbon
  • Resilience International
  • Initiatives of Change (Lands, Lives and Peace)
  • Extinction Rebellion
  • Fridays for the Future
  • Save the Forest
  • Doughnut Action Lab
  • Pivot Projects
  • Reconomy
  • Mutual Aid Network

The sustainable future-a riveting read?

Whilst we are longing for the sustainable future we are flooded with visions fashioned from concrete and steel, albeit covered with green. In these visions people seem to be doing nothing and going nowhere. Can we conjure forth a vision so attractive, cool and magnetic it just pulls us into that future?

Continue reading “The sustainable future-a riveting read?”