Archive for ◊ January, 2010 ◊

Author:
• Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

A new book by Tim Jackson “Prosperity Without Growth” focuses upon our new reality: economics needs to shift its focus from growth and towards new definitions of prosperity.

Gross National Product (GDP) is one of the statistics economists have used for 50+ years to define economic growth and prosperity. However, there are alternatives to a definition of prosperity based upon growth. The tiny country of Bhutan, for example, measures economic progress by Gross Domestic Happiness (GDH)  and ignores traditional GDP.

Source: The Guardian

“Questioning growth is deemed to be the act of lunatics, idealists and revolutionaries. But question it we must.” And that is the core mission of this perfectly timed book. Had he published it before the financial crisis, he would probably have been dismissed as another green idealist, at best. But in the wake of the crisis, more people are questioning the primacy of growth at all costs. President Sarkozy, the Nobel-prizewinning economist Joseph Stiglitz and elements of the Financial Times’s commentariat are among those now arguing that prosperity is possible without GNP growth, and indeed that prosperity will soon become impossible because of GNP growth. A new movement seems to be emerging, and this superbly written book should be the first stop for anyone wanting a manifesto.

Jackson, who is economics commissioner on the UK government’s Sustainable Development Commission, skilfully makes the relevant economic arguments understandable to the lay reader. He is not slow to simplify where that is warranted: “The idea of a non-growing economy may be an anathema to an economist. But the idea of a continually growing economy is an anathema to an ecologist.”

This is the core of the debate. Endless growth is a ridiculous notion to the typical ecologist because we live on a planet with finite resources, the mining and use of some of which is undermining our planet’s life-support systems. But the typical economist believes we can “decouple” GNP growth from resource use through the increased efficiency that tends to be intrinsic to capitalism: that we can grow our economies and reverse environmental degradation too. Tesco, as it were, can keep building more stores for ever, provided they are increasingly resource-efficient.

Jackson argues compellingly that such “decoupling” is a myth. A key area of argument, as with so much else in the current world, involves climate change. If we keep growing GNP, Jackson explains, then we fail to cut greenhouse gases deeply. This means we stoke destruction of prosperity beyond the short-term horizons – “next quarter’s growth figures” and all the rest – on which we routinely put such emphasis today.

Prosperity Without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet by Tim Jackson

We must repudiate traditional economics if we’re to save the planet, says Jeremy Leggett

Prosperity is understood as a successful, flourishing or thriving condition: simply, a state in which things are going well for us. Every day the system in which we live tries to persuade us – via TV news, politicians’ speeches, corporate pronouncements, inducements to consume and so on – that our prosperity is intimately linked to whether or not gross national product is growing and whether stock markets are riding high. These are the two main measuring sticks for the version of capitalism on which most countries base their economies today.

  1. Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet
  2. by Tim Jackson
  3. 160pp,
  4. Earthscan,
  5. £12.99
  1. Buy Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet at the Guardian bookshop

Other ways of measuring prosperity, such as employment and savings, follow these two. If GNP – the total national output of goods and services – is in recession, then unemployment will rise, and that means growing numbers of unprosperous people without salaries. If stock markets are falling, that means falling pension values, and rising numbers of unprosperous people in retirement. So what’s not to like about growth?

Tim Jackson states the challenge starkly: “Questioning growth is deemed to be the act of lunatics, idealists and revolutionaries. But question it we must.” And that is the core mission of this perfectly timed book. Had he published it before the financial crisis, he would probably have been dismissed as another green idealist, at best. But in the wake of the crisis, more people are questioning the primacy of growth at all costs. President Sarkozy, the Nobel-prizewinning economist Joseph Stiglitz and elements of the Financial Times’s commentariat are among those now arguing that prosperity is possible without GNP growth, and indeed that prosperity will soon become impossible because of GNP growth. A new movement seems to be emerging, and this superbly written book should be the first stop for anyone wanting a manifesto.

Jackson, who is economics commissioner on the UK government’s Sustainable Development Commission, skilfully makes the relevant economic arguments understandable to the lay reader. He is not slow to simplify where that is warranted: “The idea of a non-growing economy may be an anathema to an economist. But the idea of a continually growing economy is an anathema to an ecologist.”

This is the core of the debate. Endless growth is a ridiculous notion to the typical ecologist because we live on a planet with finite resources, the mining and use of some of which is undermining our planet’s life-support systems. But the typical economist believes we can “decouple” GNP growth from resource use through the increased efficiency that tends to be intrinsic to capitalism: that we can grow our economies and reverse environmental degradation too. Tesco, as it were, can keep building more stores for ever, provided they are increasingly resource-efficient.

Jackson argues compellingly that such “decoupling” is a myth. A key area of argument, as with so much else in the current world, involves climate change. If we keep growing GNP, Jackson explains, then we fail to cut greenhouse gases deeply. This means we stoke destruction of prosperity beyond the short-term horizons – “next quarter’s growth figures” and all the rest – on which we routinely put such emphasis today.

Author:
• Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

The City of Montreal unveiled the winning design for 400 new sustainable bus shelters to be built over the next year throughout the city. Features of the winning design from the firm of LeBlanc & Turcott include:

  • Solar panels for lighting
  • A self-supporting structure
  • Modular design for various sizes

Sustainable Bus Shelter

Source: Bustler

Drawing inspiration from the STM’s newly minted brand signature, “Mouvement collectif,” the design proposal by Leblanc + Turcotte + Spooner offers a modular, scalable solution. Featuring a self-supporting structure, the concept enables the manufacturing of base models, with the possibility of joining several units together to create variable-size configurations that can accommodate larger or smaller numbers of users.

The design features a communications column, which could house various components including dynamic digital displays and backlit advertising posters. An integrated solar power system will ensure lighting of shelters that cannot be connected to the power grid.

The jury was especially impressed with the potential for integration and modular construction afforded by the winning team’s proposal. In a statement, jury co-chairs Denise Vaillancourt, Executive Director, Planning, Marketing and Communications, STM, and Gilles Saucier, architect and partner in the firm Saucier + Perrotte, noted: “This preliminary design offers a comprehensive array of solutions to the complex problems with which the competing designers were presented. The concept incorporates current technologies, and meets the STM’s comfort and safety requirements.”

Author:
• Friday, January 15th, 2010

While 100% electric vehicles are positive, an extension of the Montreal Metro system and the creation of high-speed rail service to Toronto and Dorval airport would make me more excited.

Source: CNW Group

In collaboration with the City of Boucherville, Hydro-Québec will test the performance of up to 50 all-electric Mitsubishi i-MiEVs on the road under a variety of circumstances, notably winter conditions. The project, which is evaluated at $4.5 million, is the first of its kind to include the participation of a car manufacturer, a public utility, a municipality and local businesses that will integrate the vehicles into their existing fleets. The trial is designed to study the vehicles’ charging behavior, the driving experience and overall driver satisfaction.

“This new pilot project is part of our action plan for the electrification of vehicles,” noted Thierry Vandal, Hydro-Québec’s President and CEO. “It will allow us to advance our knowledge of the technology and its integration into our grid, which in turn, will help us plan the necessary charging infrastructure for homes, offices and public places…”

Electric Car Test in Quebeci-MiEV, which stands for Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle, is an all-electric, highway-capable, charge-at-home commuter car. Because the battery, the motor and other items are mounted out of the way beneath the floor, the i-MiEV seats four adults and offers surprising interior room and cargo space. Other i-MiEV features include excellent low-speed acceleration and a very low centre of gravity, which contributes to superior handling and stability. Moreover, the i-MiEV is extremely quiet…

At the recent Tokyo International Motor Show (2009), the i-MiEV won the Japanese Car of the Year award for “Most Advanced Technology.”

Author:
• Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Sprouting TraySprouts have higher vitamin content than raw veggies and fruits! You can grow them year-round in your home, without a garden or greenhouse and they are great for kids, too!

Coop la Maison Verte will host a sprouting workshop on January 20th 7:00PM-9:00PM. 5785, Sherbrooke st. West, Metro Vendome + bus #105

Cost: $25. To reserve your place, please call Tara Peters at (514) 722-7127.

Tara will bring several different types of sprouting jars and trays. Expect to get your hands dirty a little bit and bring a pen as there will be handouts on which to take notes.

Author:
• Thursday, January 07th, 2010

Forest GardeningForest gardening is usually done in warmer climates, but having the chance to do it in our cold climate is very exciting! Unfortunately, the following series of weekend classes are about 5 hours away in upstate NY. You may go for one weekend or the whole entire 4 weekend course! Discounts and some work trade available.

Source: Apios Institute

Join us for a hands-on skill-building experience in forest gardening from start to finish. Learn to transform traditional lawn landscapes into abundant food-producing perennial gardens. Each unique weekend equips participants with the skills needed to get started at their own home or expand the abilities of a gardening business.

Forest gardening yields local abundance, healthy families, and thriving ecosystems. Join us to build your own knowledge and experience and bring these ingredients to your home and community. Imagine a future of homegrown fruits- berries, pawpaws and persimmons, perennial vegetables- sorrel, ground nuts, water celery and more! All of this is possible.

February 26-28: Design & Theory- Dave Jacke, primary author of the Award-winning 2-volume Edible Forest Gardens, will kick off our first weekend with an evening talk. Throughout the rest of the weekend we will begin the design process for a future farm on our host site.

April 16-18: Install & Establish – In our second weekend we will get our hands dirty while we Install and Establish a brand new forest garden. This is the third year in a row that we are planting out forest gardens in the Hudson Valley!

May 28-30: Tend & Caretake – The already existing forest gardens at Camp Epworth will receive our love and attention in the third weekend of the series. We will immerse ourselves in how to Tend and Caretake the gardens to support future food abundance.

June 18-20: Food & Medicine – This leads us to our final weekend with special guest Dina Falconi. In this last weekend of the series we will harvest the fruits of our labor and spend the entire time making Food and Medicine.

7 Layer Forest Garden