Saturday, February 28, 2009

Plink, and you'll miss it.

This is me making an attempt to live up to my word and try out a plinky topic. For this week, I've chosen this question:

What's one of the oldest buildings or landmarks you've seen?

I've done quite a bit of traveling and seen more than my fair share of (wonderfully) old stuff, but I think the oldest landmark I've ever seen is Hadrian's Wall. Actually, it may be The Colosseum in Rome. Pompeii? I'm not sure. They were all around at about the same time. Perhaps it's the Roman Baths in Bath, England, if you count the earliest temple there. But if we're counting sites that were once something else, then there are numerous places I've been by or near that are "new"monuments on top of "old" landmarks.. I suppose I should include Stonehenge, though I've only driven by it thanks to Foot and Mouth disease.

In short. I don't know!

But I'm glad to have remembered some of my travels. I miss them so much it hurts.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Plinky Dink

Hey, look over there on the left hand margin - under the B'Hat trick. There is a feed from the Plinky site that poses a daily question. The topics might be fun to answer when the ol' blog tongue is tied. Everyday there should be a new question listed. I won't guarantee that I'll answer all of the prompts. My goal is at least one a week - maybe on Saturday mornings(?). Feel free to play along either by responding in a comment or on your own blog. FUN! :)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Update In Maturity

We actually scrambled for a babysitter at the last minute and found one - a girl from my class.

I said to her, "It might be a late night. We'll leave at 8:30 and be back at midnight."

She said, "OK, that's cool."

I said, "But it's really late. Are you sure it's OK?"

She said, "Um. It's not that late. I'm a teenager, remember?"

I said (silently), "Oh right. I'm a codger.."

So, we managed to get the baby ready for bed, at which point I usually crash. Instead, I put on my heels, smudged some color on my lips so that I would have a better shot at looking less like the undead, and with a couple of Red Bulls in my pocket for support, we headed to Cafe Rembrandt in the BIG City where we saw Tweedle Dee play in his Elvis Costello tribute band.

I was pleased to note that at 11:30 I wasn't ready to leave, but because I'm true to my word (and because I have to see the babysitter bright and early on Monday morning), we were home by midnight.

Friday, February 20, 2009

In Maturity

A very civilized meeting commenced on what would normally be called Drab, Flab, Super Dull Wednesday. The silent seriousness of the occasion was made manifest in the strict, bulleted agenda. All gathered, pencils at the ready, hovering above cluttered planners and neat yellow Steno pads.

Without warning, a note was nonchalantly passed to the Cool Kids.

Read as follows:

Cool Kids,
My Elvis Costello band just got asked to play on Friday night at Cafe Rembrandt in the Metroplex. We're on at 10. If you can, I'd be thrilled to see you there. Short notice, I know.
- Tweedle Dee


The Cool Kids raised their brows at one another and whispered delicately out of the sides of their mouths that perhaps this was just what was needed to placate a particularly insistent Drab Wednesday - the promise of an evening out - of flashy attire, interesting music, and sparkly shoes! Oh! They smiled under masking hands, and winked to each other in mutual understanding; the drone of the meeting continued on without them.

From across the still room, a generally robust man got the Cool Kids' attention with the flick of a hand and then and there, with an amused eyebrow raised, he silently mouthed (in what would otherwise be a loud, but jovial reprimand) "Cool Kids! Be quiet. Listen to the important-i-tudes. Your lives may depend on this relatively asinine information!"

The Cool Kids cowered at the reproof, lowered their eyes back to the secret note. Cool Kid 1 decided, in a fit of frustration, that she would not endure that sort of harsh business wielded so unpleasantly by the rotund. She glanced back, a glare of warning in her eye. Before she could secure the rotund's attention, she saw Tweedle Dee gesticulating grandly behind the rotund, mouthing (again silently) "Oh, man! YOU GOT TOLD!"

Quickly, the Cool Kids collaborated through telepathic communication that they would mount a rebellion. "SO!" Cool Kid 1 scribbled in bold letters across a blank spot on the contraband note. She flashed it...discreetly. Tweedle Dee immediately responded with the flashed return, "Touche," scribbled on his notes.

Cool Kid 2, recognizing her perfect opportunity, seized the pen and responded with a brilliant shrug, "Touch U?". As she held up the sign, both of the Cool Kids acted confused, a mocking misunderstanding that deflated Teweedle Dee into a crumpled mass of blushing guffaw.

"Tweedle Dee!" the speaker crooned, "Stop making a ruckus! Don't you understand the ridiculous importance of this say-nothing meeting? Stop!"

The Cool Kids could not look at each other for a significant amount of time. They bit their lips and pinched their legs under the table, trying to stanch the pure joy bursting from their souls. "Don't laugh don't laugh don't laugh" was their silent mantra for the rest of the meeting.

Just before the end of the solemn gathering, the Cool Kids lifted their heads only to find that Tweedle Dee once again held a scribbled sign for them to read. They were horrified to find that it said,

"Promise?"

You know what?

Touche, Tweedle Dee. Tou-freakin'-che.

Head Banging

The other day during one of the times I was literally banging my head against the wall - trying to reconcile my responsibilities and wants with time limitations - I had an epiphany. This whole time- my whole life - I have been feverishly working towards something. There has always been an end-game be it a diploma, a degree, getting a job, buying a house... Hell, for a while it was me thinking I could "do" things to get my name on heaven's VIP list. Funny, right? But there was always a goal. I worked my ass off (literally when the goal was losing weight) for that end result.

And I realized, as my skull met the wall, that I'm done. At this moment in my life, I am working to no end. My job has no bonuses for those who work harder, no incentives to be better, other than that damned nagging bitch called Integrity. Some might say that I am working so that "the future generation can become good, productive thinking blah blah blah.." But I'm not. I'm not working for them.

Don't get me wrong. It isn't that I find them altogether hopeless, though some days it seems that way. It's just that they are not my sustainable reason. They are not enough.

Some might say that I'm working for Jack - so that he can have a great life. And yeah. That's as close to an end game as I'm going to get. Retirement? That's so far out of reach.

So this is the part where I bide my time until the next goal becomes apparent. There is some freedom in this realization. But also, I want to be better than that. I want to think of an end game - like writing a novel or a finding a job across the ocean. Pipe dreams, I'm sure. But dreams nonetheless. Part of the reason I do any head clanging at all is that I want to be a better Ginger.

Maybe to be a better me I need to accept that we don't always get the end that we had hoped for. History and literature prove that this is true over and over again. Maybe it's fruitless to make goals as a 33 year old teacher in a dead-end job. But I've always believed that the difference between doing and not doing is deciding.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wine Red - The Hush Sound


I'm always going on about the garden - working in it, going back to it, NOT failing the second time around, yet understanding that the failure (theirs and ours alike) is what gives us life as we know it in overwhelming technicolor.

I think of that when I hear this song.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Turbo Scara

A mother and her grown daughter primp for the day together in front of a mirror:

Mother: Ginger, here. Check out this mascara that Great Aunt Jody had to buy.

Daughter: Um. OK. (opens mascara. mascara begins to vibrate) Oh my God.(grinning) This is make-up and a vibrator all in one. How old is Aunt Jody?

Mother: (laughing) I think she's 79 or so.

Daughter: Huh. Go Aunt Jody! (using the mascara) Hey this is pretty cool. It separates my lashes nicely. I like.

(Son-in-law walks in)

Daughter: Hey Babe, check this out. Open it.

(vibrates)

Son-in-law: So. Do you need to be alone?



Estee Lauder: Fufilling all a girl's desires and then some..

Friday, February 13, 2009

Ready, Steady, Grow!

I love this idea out of the UK. Check it out! Rich and I are hoping to start our own food garden this season, but I realy like this:
Get Growing was set up because we are passionate about growing food, concerned about climate change and peak oil, and would like to support people in London to have greater control of the food they eat.

Get Growing is a social enterprise based in Hackney. Our aim is to:

* train people to grow food using natural methods, with the use of structured sessions and learning materials
* establish a social network for participants through which experience, knowledge and resources can be shared
*increase awareness about the dual challenges of climate change and peak oil and how our food choices can reduce our impact
* build stronger, networked communities that are ‘climate resilient’
* increase access to a variety of fresh local food and help people to make healthy food choices – local, seasonal, fresh
* promote physical and mental well-being through gardening
* beautify space through implementing well-designed gardens, and inspiring others to grow food at home
* enhance biodiversity within urban areas
* encourage recycling, composting and water saving.

We wanted it to be a social enterprise as this allows us to be more sustainable by combining business rigour with the ethical principles of a non-profit organisation. Through the securing of grants we are able to offer our services to more people.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pathetic Fallacy

Definition:
Pathetic Fallacy is the poetic practice of attributing human emotion or responses to nature, inanimate objects, or animals.


Classic Example:
In Milton's "On The Morning of Christ's Nativity," all aspects of nature react affectively to the event of Christ's birth. "The Stars with deep amaze Stand fixt in steadfast gaze"


My Example:
The Heavens with violent desire Maul spirits with hail-storm and fire


Proof:
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HAS ISSUED TORNADO WATCH IN EFFECT UNTIL MIDNIGHT CST TONIGHT

It's February, folks. This shouldn't happen until at least March!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Salon

I would love your input on any or all of these discussion topics:

1. Is the world on the verge of a global depression, or a new awakening?

2. Does our love of luxury inevitably erode the virtues of our Founding?

3. Has Western culture exaggerated the importance of liberal learning?

Monday, February 2, 2009

"Oh to be in England now that [snow] is there.."

Proof that London is still magical
(A warm thank you to AFP for this).

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Politics of Ecological Space

The recently published Living Planet Report calculates that humans are consuming a third more of our natural resources than the Earth can replenish each year. As a result, the report suggests that the world is heading for an ecological credit crunch. This state of affairs can be directly attributed to the prevailing economic growth paradigm which promotes increased productivity and consumption as a solution to the global problem of under-development and poverty. Consequently, the continued promotion of economic growth is becoming a primary threat to the environment and its ability to sustain all life on Earth.

Ecological Justice

The core problem with economic growth is its inability to address issues of ecological justice and ensure democratic and just relations between ALL life-forms on this planet. As such, economic growth is a paradigm that only seeks to address the well-being of humans but simultaneously creates a cycle of neglect towards non-human life-forms. In this respect, economic growth is a human-centric model of development which at the same time erodes the environmental basis of human survival. Therefore, as long as human life-forms place their needs and interests over and above the needs and interests of non-human life-forms, the ability of Nature to support human existence is continually put into question.


Ecological Economics

In recent decades, alternative economic paradigms have been put forward as a way of acknowledging, to varying degrees, the rights of Nature to a sustainable existence. These alternate economic models contribute towards creating an awareness of ecological justice and can be schematically represented as a continuum depicting different levels of economic activity:-

Unrestrained growth : Neo-liberal and laissez-faire policies

Lower growth : Transition Culture Network[1]

Zero-growth : Centre for the Advancement of a Steady State Economy[2]

De-growth (contraction) : Objection to Economic Growth (Decroissance) Movements[3]

As can be seen, these alternative types of economic activity are represented by different organizations and movements.

Transition Culture Network
A grass-roots initiative that aims to create resilient networked communities in the face of a peak oil environment and fossil fuel depletion with a particular emphasis on the re-localization of economies to reduce fossil fuel dependency. In the main these measures are aimed at reducing the human-production of the greenhouse gases which generates climate change


Centre for the Advancement of a Steady State Economy
An initiative to promote the development of a steady state economy in order to reduce the environmental degradation and the global conflicts directly caused by the imperatives of the economic growth paradigm. An initiative that also challenges the idea that technology will provide sustainable solutions to facilitate continued economic growth now or in the future and so emphasizes the re-localization of economies and just human-human and human-nature relations


Objections to Growth (Decroissance) Movements
A global movement of movements that actively promotes economic de-growth, the re-localization of economies, voluntary simplicity (downsizing) and democratic and just relations between ALL life-forms. In particular, utilizes a post-development critique to challenge economic growth, capitalist models of development and the inequitable distribution networks which maintain the divide between the global rich and the global poor


When taken together, these alternatives form a complete model to highlight the possible transition from ecologically unsustainable economic paradigms to ecologically sustainable economic paradigms.


Ecological Societies

The ability of humans to create ecological societies is dependant on the willingness to create social, political and economic justice for ALL life-forms. This invariably must take into account the right of ALL life-forms to co-exist in an environment of balanced living in order to create ecological sustainability. In turn, this must take into consideration the right of ALL life-forms to kill since it is the life/death relationship between ALL life-forms that underlies ecological sustainability. This means that humans have to build into their social, political and economic calculations what I have termed The Discrimination Principle in that decisions need to be made which discriminates between which life-forms live and which life-forms die in order to create robust ecosystems. This type of endeavour will need to be constituted and underpinned by the likes of The Earth Charter in order to enshrine the rights of Nature into human institutions and so ensure that ALL life-forms are treated with dignity in relation to their existence or sacrifice. Once the rights of Nature are constituted, the needs and interests of ALL life-forms will need to be represented by a Council of All Beings in order to ensure that the highest standards of dignified existence and sacrifice are maintained.

Ecological Consciousness

Much work needs to be done to ground humans and their models of survival into an ecological consciousness in order that humans develop a realistic sense of their dependency upon Nature. The desire to continually consume resources (that is non-human life-forms) beyond the capacity of Nature to reproduce them is a prime example of the neglect many humans exhibit towards Nature in their everyday lives. This neglect is particularly apparent in the behaviour of most modernizing industrialised societies – as promoted by governments, the private sector and the public in general – and is a course of action which, if continued, will lead to ecological impoverishment for ALL life-forms for generations to come. Therefore it becomes obvious that In order to stop unnecessary ecological degradation and the slow erosion of our basis of survival, humans will need to learn to value and respect the rights and responsibilities of ALL life-forms to a dignified and sustainable existence here on Earth.


Useful links

The Living Planet Report
http://www.panda.org/news_facts/publications/living_planet_report/

The Earth Charter Initiative
http://www.earthcharter.org/

The Council of All Beings
http://www.rainforestinfo.org.au/deep-eco/coab.htm

The Constitution of the Rights of Nature in Ecuador
http://climateandcapitalism.com/?p=479

Just Transition Alliance
http://www.jtalliance.org/docs/climate.html

Re-connecting with Nature – The Work of Joanna Macy
http://www.joannamacy.net/html/great.html

International Community for Eco-psychology
http://www.ecopsychology.org/

European Society for Ecological Economics
http://www.euroecolecon.org/index.htm

New Economics Foundation – A Green New Deal
http://www.neweconomics.org/gen/greennewdeal.aspx

Club of Rome “A New Path for World Development”
http://www.clubofrome.org/eng/new_path/

Positive News
http://www.positivenews.org.uk/cgi-bin/Positive_News/welcome.cgi
[1] http://transitionculture.org/
http://transition-brum.wikispot.org/Home
[2] http://www.steadystate.org/
[3] http://www.r-m-o-c.net/
http://www.degrowth.net/
http://www.esf2008.org/registrations/merged/degrowth-and-social-rebirth-the-logical-steps-to-2
http://mondediplo.com/2004/11/14latouche


***Thanks for this, Mark and Project 2012.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Plink, and you'll miss it.

This is me making an attempt to live up to my word and try out a plinky topic. For this week, I've chosen this question:

What's one of the oldest buildings or landmarks you've seen?

I've done quite a bit of traveling and seen more than my fair share of (wonderfully) old stuff, but I think the oldest landmark I've ever seen is Hadrian's Wall. Actually, it may be The Colosseum in Rome. Pompeii? I'm not sure. They were all around at about the same time. Perhaps it's the Roman Baths in Bath, England, if you count the earliest temple there. But if we're counting sites that were once something else, then there are numerous places I've been by or near that are "new"monuments on top of "old" landmarks.. I suppose I should include Stonehenge, though I've only driven by it thanks to Foot and Mouth disease.

In short. I don't know!

But I'm glad to have remembered some of my travels. I miss them so much it hurts.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Plinky Dink

Hey, look over there on the left hand margin - under the B'Hat trick. There is a feed from the Plinky site that poses a daily question. The topics might be fun to answer when the ol' blog tongue is tied. Everyday there should be a new question listed. I won't guarantee that I'll answer all of the prompts. My goal is at least one a week - maybe on Saturday mornings(?). Feel free to play along either by responding in a comment or on your own blog. FUN! :)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Update In Maturity

We actually scrambled for a babysitter at the last minute and found one - a girl from my class.

I said to her, "It might be a late night. We'll leave at 8:30 and be back at midnight."

She said, "OK, that's cool."

I said, "But it's really late. Are you sure it's OK?"

She said, "Um. It's not that late. I'm a teenager, remember?"

I said (silently), "Oh right. I'm a codger.."

So, we managed to get the baby ready for bed, at which point I usually crash. Instead, I put on my heels, smudged some color on my lips so that I would have a better shot at looking less like the undead, and with a couple of Red Bulls in my pocket for support, we headed to Cafe Rembrandt in the BIG City where we saw Tweedle Dee play in his Elvis Costello tribute band.

I was pleased to note that at 11:30 I wasn't ready to leave, but because I'm true to my word (and because I have to see the babysitter bright and early on Monday morning), we were home by midnight.

Friday, February 20, 2009

In Maturity

A very civilized meeting commenced on what would normally be called Drab, Flab, Super Dull Wednesday. The silent seriousness of the occasion was made manifest in the strict, bulleted agenda. All gathered, pencils at the ready, hovering above cluttered planners and neat yellow Steno pads.

Without warning, a note was nonchalantly passed to the Cool Kids.

Read as follows:

Cool Kids,
My Elvis Costello band just got asked to play on Friday night at Cafe Rembrandt in the Metroplex. We're on at 10. If you can, I'd be thrilled to see you there. Short notice, I know.
- Tweedle Dee


The Cool Kids raised their brows at one another and whispered delicately out of the sides of their mouths that perhaps this was just what was needed to placate a particularly insistent Drab Wednesday - the promise of an evening out - of flashy attire, interesting music, and sparkly shoes! Oh! They smiled under masking hands, and winked to each other in mutual understanding; the drone of the meeting continued on without them.

From across the still room, a generally robust man got the Cool Kids' attention with the flick of a hand and then and there, with an amused eyebrow raised, he silently mouthed (in what would otherwise be a loud, but jovial reprimand) "Cool Kids! Be quiet. Listen to the important-i-tudes. Your lives may depend on this relatively asinine information!"

The Cool Kids cowered at the reproof, lowered their eyes back to the secret note. Cool Kid 1 decided, in a fit of frustration, that she would not endure that sort of harsh business wielded so unpleasantly by the rotund. She glanced back, a glare of warning in her eye. Before she could secure the rotund's attention, she saw Tweedle Dee gesticulating grandly behind the rotund, mouthing (again silently) "Oh, man! YOU GOT TOLD!"

Quickly, the Cool Kids collaborated through telepathic communication that they would mount a rebellion. "SO!" Cool Kid 1 scribbled in bold letters across a blank spot on the contraband note. She flashed it...discreetly. Tweedle Dee immediately responded with the flashed return, "Touche," scribbled on his notes.

Cool Kid 2, recognizing her perfect opportunity, seized the pen and responded with a brilliant shrug, "Touch U?". As she held up the sign, both of the Cool Kids acted confused, a mocking misunderstanding that deflated Teweedle Dee into a crumpled mass of blushing guffaw.

"Tweedle Dee!" the speaker crooned, "Stop making a ruckus! Don't you understand the ridiculous importance of this say-nothing meeting? Stop!"

The Cool Kids could not look at each other for a significant amount of time. They bit their lips and pinched their legs under the table, trying to stanch the pure joy bursting from their souls. "Don't laugh don't laugh don't laugh" was their silent mantra for the rest of the meeting.

Just before the end of the solemn gathering, the Cool Kids lifted their heads only to find that Tweedle Dee once again held a scribbled sign for them to read. They were horrified to find that it said,

"Promise?"

You know what?

Touche, Tweedle Dee. Tou-freakin'-che.

Head Banging

The other day during one of the times I was literally banging my head against the wall - trying to reconcile my responsibilities and wants with time limitations - I had an epiphany. This whole time- my whole life - I have been feverishly working towards something. There has always been an end-game be it a diploma, a degree, getting a job, buying a house... Hell, for a while it was me thinking I could "do" things to get my name on heaven's VIP list. Funny, right? But there was always a goal. I worked my ass off (literally when the goal was losing weight) for that end result.

And I realized, as my skull met the wall, that I'm done. At this moment in my life, I am working to no end. My job has no bonuses for those who work harder, no incentives to be better, other than that damned nagging bitch called Integrity. Some might say that I am working so that "the future generation can become good, productive thinking blah blah blah.." But I'm not. I'm not working for them.

Don't get me wrong. It isn't that I find them altogether hopeless, though some days it seems that way. It's just that they are not my sustainable reason. They are not enough.

Some might say that I'm working for Jack - so that he can have a great life. And yeah. That's as close to an end game as I'm going to get. Retirement? That's so far out of reach.

So this is the part where I bide my time until the next goal becomes apparent. There is some freedom in this realization. But also, I want to be better than that. I want to think of an end game - like writing a novel or a finding a job across the ocean. Pipe dreams, I'm sure. But dreams nonetheless. Part of the reason I do any head clanging at all is that I want to be a better Ginger.

Maybe to be a better me I need to accept that we don't always get the end that we had hoped for. History and literature prove that this is true over and over again. Maybe it's fruitless to make goals as a 33 year old teacher in a dead-end job. But I've always believed that the difference between doing and not doing is deciding.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wine Red - The Hush Sound


I'm always going on about the garden - working in it, going back to it, NOT failing the second time around, yet understanding that the failure (theirs and ours alike) is what gives us life as we know it in overwhelming technicolor.

I think of that when I hear this song.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Turbo Scara

A mother and her grown daughter primp for the day together in front of a mirror:

Mother: Ginger, here. Check out this mascara that Great Aunt Jody had to buy.

Daughter: Um. OK. (opens mascara. mascara begins to vibrate) Oh my God.(grinning) This is make-up and a vibrator all in one. How old is Aunt Jody?

Mother: (laughing) I think she's 79 or so.

Daughter: Huh. Go Aunt Jody! (using the mascara) Hey this is pretty cool. It separates my lashes nicely. I like.

(Son-in-law walks in)

Daughter: Hey Babe, check this out. Open it.

(vibrates)

Son-in-law: So. Do you need to be alone?



Estee Lauder: Fufilling all a girl's desires and then some..

Friday, February 13, 2009

Ready, Steady, Grow!

I love this idea out of the UK. Check it out! Rich and I are hoping to start our own food garden this season, but I realy like this:
Get Growing was set up because we are passionate about growing food, concerned about climate change and peak oil, and would like to support people in London to have greater control of the food they eat.

Get Growing is a social enterprise based in Hackney. Our aim is to:

* train people to grow food using natural methods, with the use of structured sessions and learning materials
* establish a social network for participants through which experience, knowledge and resources can be shared
*increase awareness about the dual challenges of climate change and peak oil and how our food choices can reduce our impact
* build stronger, networked communities that are ‘climate resilient’
* increase access to a variety of fresh local food and help people to make healthy food choices – local, seasonal, fresh
* promote physical and mental well-being through gardening
* beautify space through implementing well-designed gardens, and inspiring others to grow food at home
* enhance biodiversity within urban areas
* encourage recycling, composting and water saving.

We wanted it to be a social enterprise as this allows us to be more sustainable by combining business rigour with the ethical principles of a non-profit organisation. Through the securing of grants we are able to offer our services to more people.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pathetic Fallacy

Definition:
Pathetic Fallacy is the poetic practice of attributing human emotion or responses to nature, inanimate objects, or animals.


Classic Example:
In Milton's "On The Morning of Christ's Nativity," all aspects of nature react affectively to the event of Christ's birth. "The Stars with deep amaze Stand fixt in steadfast gaze"


My Example:
The Heavens with violent desire Maul spirits with hail-storm and fire


Proof:
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HAS ISSUED TORNADO WATCH IN EFFECT UNTIL MIDNIGHT CST TONIGHT

It's February, folks. This shouldn't happen until at least March!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Salon

I would love your input on any or all of these discussion topics:

1. Is the world on the verge of a global depression, or a new awakening?

2. Does our love of luxury inevitably erode the virtues of our Founding?

3. Has Western culture exaggerated the importance of liberal learning?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Politics of Ecological Space

The recently published Living Planet Report calculates that humans are consuming a third more of our natural resources than the Earth can replenish each year. As a result, the report suggests that the world is heading for an ecological credit crunch. This state of affairs can be directly attributed to the prevailing economic growth paradigm which promotes increased productivity and consumption as a solution to the global problem of under-development and poverty. Consequently, the continued promotion of economic growth is becoming a primary threat to the environment and its ability to sustain all life on Earth.

Ecological Justice

The core problem with economic growth is its inability to address issues of ecological justice and ensure democratic and just relations between ALL life-forms on this planet. As such, economic growth is a paradigm that only seeks to address the well-being of humans but simultaneously creates a cycle of neglect towards non-human life-forms. In this respect, economic growth is a human-centric model of development which at the same time erodes the environmental basis of human survival. Therefore, as long as human life-forms place their needs and interests over and above the needs and interests of non-human life-forms, the ability of Nature to support human existence is continually put into question.


Ecological Economics

In recent decades, alternative economic paradigms have been put forward as a way of acknowledging, to varying degrees, the rights of Nature to a sustainable existence. These alternate economic models contribute towards creating an awareness of ecological justice and can be schematically represented as a continuum depicting different levels of economic activity:-

Unrestrained growth : Neo-liberal and laissez-faire policies

Lower growth : Transition Culture Network[1]

Zero-growth : Centre for the Advancement of a Steady State Economy[2]

De-growth (contraction) : Objection to Economic Growth (Decroissance) Movements[3]

As can be seen, these alternative types of economic activity are represented by different organizations and movements.

Transition Culture Network
A grass-roots initiative that aims to create resilient networked communities in the face of a peak oil environment and fossil fuel depletion with a particular emphasis on the re-localization of economies to reduce fossil fuel dependency. In the main these measures are aimed at reducing the human-production of the greenhouse gases which generates climate change


Centre for the Advancement of a Steady State Economy
An initiative to promote the development of a steady state economy in order to reduce the environmental degradation and the global conflicts directly caused by the imperatives of the economic growth paradigm. An initiative that also challenges the idea that technology will provide sustainable solutions to facilitate continued economic growth now or in the future and so emphasizes the re-localization of economies and just human-human and human-nature relations


Objections to Growth (Decroissance) Movements
A global movement of movements that actively promotes economic de-growth, the re-localization of economies, voluntary simplicity (downsizing) and democratic and just relations between ALL life-forms. In particular, utilizes a post-development critique to challenge economic growth, capitalist models of development and the inequitable distribution networks which maintain the divide between the global rich and the global poor


When taken together, these alternatives form a complete model to highlight the possible transition from ecologically unsustainable economic paradigms to ecologically sustainable economic paradigms.


Ecological Societies

The ability of humans to create ecological societies is dependant on the willingness to create social, political and economic justice for ALL life-forms. This invariably must take into account the right of ALL life-forms to co-exist in an environment of balanced living in order to create ecological sustainability. In turn, this must take into consideration the right of ALL life-forms to kill since it is the life/death relationship between ALL life-forms that underlies ecological sustainability. This means that humans have to build into their social, political and economic calculations what I have termed The Discrimination Principle in that decisions need to be made which discriminates between which life-forms live and which life-forms die in order to create robust ecosystems. This type of endeavour will need to be constituted and underpinned by the likes of The Earth Charter in order to enshrine the rights of Nature into human institutions and so ensure that ALL life-forms are treated with dignity in relation to their existence or sacrifice. Once the rights of Nature are constituted, the needs and interests of ALL life-forms will need to be represented by a Council of All Beings in order to ensure that the highest standards of dignified existence and sacrifice are maintained.

Ecological Consciousness

Much work needs to be done to ground humans and their models of survival into an ecological consciousness in order that humans develop a realistic sense of their dependency upon Nature. The desire to continually consume resources (that is non-human life-forms) beyond the capacity of Nature to reproduce them is a prime example of the neglect many humans exhibit towards Nature in their everyday lives. This neglect is particularly apparent in the behaviour of most modernizing industrialised societies – as promoted by governments, the private sector and the public in general – and is a course of action which, if continued, will lead to ecological impoverishment for ALL life-forms for generations to come. Therefore it becomes obvious that In order to stop unnecessary ecological degradation and the slow erosion of our basis of survival, humans will need to learn to value and respect the rights and responsibilities of ALL life-forms to a dignified and sustainable existence here on Earth.


Useful links

The Living Planet Report
http://www.panda.org/news_facts/publications/living_planet_report/

The Earth Charter Initiative
http://www.earthcharter.org/

The Council of All Beings
http://www.rainforestinfo.org.au/deep-eco/coab.htm

The Constitution of the Rights of Nature in Ecuador
http://climateandcapitalism.com/?p=479

Just Transition Alliance
http://www.jtalliance.org/docs/climate.html

Re-connecting with Nature – The Work of Joanna Macy
http://www.joannamacy.net/html/great.html

International Community for Eco-psychology
http://www.ecopsychology.org/

European Society for Ecological Economics
http://www.euroecolecon.org/index.htm

New Economics Foundation – A Green New Deal
http://www.neweconomics.org/gen/greennewdeal.aspx

Club of Rome “A New Path for World Development”
http://www.clubofrome.org/eng/new_path/

Positive News
http://www.positivenews.org.uk/cgi-bin/Positive_News/welcome.cgi
[1] http://transitionculture.org/
http://transition-brum.wikispot.org/Home
[2] http://www.steadystate.org/
[3] http://www.r-m-o-c.net/
http://www.degrowth.net/
http://www.esf2008.org/registrations/merged/degrowth-and-social-rebirth-the-logical-steps-to-2
http://mondediplo.com/2004/11/14latouche


***Thanks for this, Mark and Project 2012.