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How can we create a CoLab activity around the idea quantifying local effects and impacts?

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Josh Introne

May 23, 2011
10:37

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The idea about creating some sort of activity in the CoLab that allows people to see how their individual behaviors affect emissions, and how mitigation costs trickle down and affect their individual existence, has come up in this discussion: https://www.climatecolab.org/web/guest/discussion#discussion%3DpageType%3ATHREAD%2CthreadId%3A7203 jdbumrille wrote: "It could be viscerally engaging if the models of 'my world' not only included mitigating externals (CO2 tonnage; sea rise change) but also internal, personal and community based factors. For instance: on a personal level, it is possible for me to stop driving a car (++ external outcome) but actually wreck my life/potential and the well being of others because I can no longer get to work ( --- internal, family and community outcome). In this closed model example, mitigation of CO2 output does well in a colab model, but sucks for me." Some resources have been identified that might help us put something like this together; in particular: - http://www.transitionnetwork.org/projects/transition-together - http://hes.lbl.gov/consumer/ In this discussion, I'm hoping we can identify other resources and also talk about how to turn this into a CoLab activity.

James Greyson

May 26, 2011
05:43

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There seem to be a lot of 'measure your impacts' projects around already (http://www.google.co.uk/search?&rls=en&q=measure+your+carbon+footprint ) so good to differentiate. Costs of mitigation can be deceptive since it depends so much on how it's done. At household level my choice to take a cycling rather than flying holiday saves both cash and carbon. If I could afford solar panels should the price be counted as a cost or investment? At a macro level should an increased spending be counted as a cost since it would be adding to GDP? What if the economy's money supply is boosted to enable the increased economic activity? I've not been attracted to 'measure your impacts' initiatives but there would be an exception - if the effort of measuring created carbon credits that could be used productively somewhere. Most activities probably struggle to show 'additionality' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_credit#Additionality_and_its_importance ) but something really innovative might work, for example the use of woodgas cookers to make and bury biochar. I've enjoyed demonstrating this locally but it would be better done globally! http://bit.ly/C-ve I wonder if this could be done?

Linda Beamish

Sep 14, 2011
09:10

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Indeed!:D And every other 'free' non fossilED solution on Earth too! That's what I reckoned, when I started to go into transition - and morph into an Eco-Design consultant from an architectural designer! All my (grassroots) clients - don't want expensive solutions, they want practical inexepensive ones, which actually work! I've been bookmarking them whereever I find them, and hope to find volunteers to load them all into the Ark diectory. I thoght I'd put it together as a 'green and ethical' version of the 'Kellys Directory - available out of Ecological Co-Operative outlets, (anything from a porta-cabin upwards, with a charity 'Ark Internet Cafe in it, showing by projected slide-shows and loops on the walls, with Eco-Design patterns available 'off the shelf' so people can build their own, or so communities can make them for their communities, for a majority agreed exchange rate. Any net profits earned - after living costs and a wage - would go back into Global Ark Projects, to build more outlets in Community Hubs - to help build self-sustainable communities/homes. So it can all be done quite simply really! (A sort of 'Green Argos' or 'Green Rainbow' catalogue - in an E-Co-Op store - where people could go to buy local and good produce, made sustainably, and with renewable technologies manufactured for those who would rather purchase than make them themselves.) We hoped to be able to do that in our Tree Study Centre for visitors to The Tree Ark Project sustainable community showcase site. The problem was, that we lost the proposed site, so I've been trying to put it all onto the websites in readiness instead. The problem with that, is that unless you're the size of Google, you can't get the audience to find you. You sit frustrated with the knowledge you can't share - because you're as low down on the pecking order, as an ant!! Still, that remains just one invention - out of thousands and millions, of practical solutions, which people have innovated in order to meet a problem. Problem - solution. (Results = Invention.) As such, I created The Ark Portal of Innovations - where people could submit their own inventive solutions, and where a humanitarian audience could decide which they would like to order. At local level, the R & D work could be done by local schools, colleges and universities, and the marketing could be done by local designers, the market research having already been done by the visiting members and public, either using the design to build their own (but not for profit), or saying that they wanted to have one - and how much or what they would pay to have one. Any investor who wanted to buy the pattern to manufacture, could then buy it knowing that they'd have a known market - the University or College would make money for equipment and costs, the people chose what they wanted to use, the marketing was done ethically - and the Ark would get a cut for the sale of the design pattern - from which, all net profits would simply go back to: The Ark Water Project - to provide water in all ways, everywhere. To provide safety for everyone in flood risk and drought risk. To clean up pollution from seas and water-ways. The Ark Communities Project - to provide the seed-fund monies needed to help build sustainable resilient communities, and affordable Code 6 Eco-Homes. (It costs money to buy things for the first time - buy once invested, they can be used and re-used for a lifetime.) The Ark SOS - to help float everyone who'd got caught short environmentally (because of the effects of Earth's environmental changes) voice4reason - to help float everyone who's not got any human rights or rites. Global Ark Projects is essentially a sustainable community showcase, formed of sustainable communities and showcases. Its a listings hub - where people can go to find eco-ethical design solutions, and find *community and individual) examples which prove that they work. Its just showing and telling - what's available from £0 upwards - its a gallery to find all the solutions. Ark's showcase community is the Tree Ark Project Eco-Village showcase community - which is landless, hence I prepared the research for all the designs I'll show in the gallery, and put it all online (plus all over 25 notebooks, one whole laptop, voice recorder, scraps of paper - everywhere, and bought the books in readiness. I've now prepared proposals for about 15 sites - and would love the Ark Royal to use as a demonstration floating showrooms, showing how all the available renewable technologies and innovations, can be used to provide Green Power to a floating landless Eco-Village community. (The Ark Royal would be great, because its got so mcuh flat deck, we could either live in adapted shipping crates, freight containers, pods etc on deck, or under deck - with geodescent domes on deck - or with planting underdeck. Either, has the potential of using 'daylight' bulbs powered by electricity created by a generator, powered via: anaerobic digestion/biogas/photovoltaic, wind, wave, etc. Include a variety of livestock and companion species, a bit of permaculture - and 'hey presto' one 'Ark'.!! Of course, it would have to have a communications, and telecommunications system - to allow the flow of education and information to continue with communities formed on land. Ark is a showcase to show how children can live through the effects of climate change - and including solar winter.

Joseph Robertson

Oct 11, 2011
05:58

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This might seem a bit vague, at first, as a response to this very useful question, but my feeling is that we need to conceive an entirely new conceptual approach to valuing economic activity, and that what you propose cannot fit easily into the conventional economic patterns for valuing human activity in numerical terms. The reason is that so many of the factors which affect the real, climate-wide value, including at the locally focused scale, are not calculated at all by conventional economics. We need, for instance, to evaluate not only what it would cost if rivers crest far above levees built for a time we are no longer living in, and by comparison what it would cost if we were able to prevent the melt and the climate destabilization that would bring those higher floodwaters; we also need to find ways to evaluate the entire scope of displacement, at the macro and micro levels, of the water cycle. Conventional economics assumes this is 1) incalculable and 2) not useful for judging the human-scale value of human activity. In fact, without finding ways to better assess the negative impact of climate-destabilizing activities, we run the risk of grossly understating the benefit of acting sooner, rather than later, to mitigate the fallout from comprehensive climate destabilization. My suggestion would be to look at the following: 1. Start counting each area of human activity—including reliable survival from day to day, access to affordable food, hygiene issues, disease, etc.—that involves reliable access to clean water; 2. Start counting each area of human activity that involves reliable access to healthy sun and rain cycles; 3. Start counting each area of human activity that involves reliable access to a climate conducive to agriculture, civil society, educational continuity, industry, entrepreneurship, generalized human health, etc. 4. Take all of those areas and begin a thorough evaluation of how specific values, feed into one another; 5. Find areas of overlap and do thorough evidentiary analysis of where overlap implies redundancy of valuation or where it actually magnifies the value impact; 6. Disaggregate the total climate-related water, food and energy cycle impacts, to the local level, judging quality of life, long-term socio-political resiliency, opportunities for growth, in terms of the HDI and affordability of climate neutral technologies, to judge more accurately where we are actually having a negative impact on local life, by way of climate-wide propagation of risk. 7. Acknowledge that this is only a beginning, and publish conservative estimates for local climate destabilization costs. The emphasis must be on finding ways to render visible the complex, unwieldy systemic value of intangibles that we require in order to live the kind of life we aspire to, because those aspirations will continue to drive human behavior and because some of the most overwhelming localized costs will come in communities' being stripped of the intangibles that make life more dignified, more sustainable, more democratic and value-capable.

Josh Introne

Oct 18, 2011
11:56

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I agree in principle. However, I don't think we have either the analytical tools or the resources (time, money, will) required to follow the approach you suggest. I also think it is kind of a low-leverage activity because arguing with the well-developed, flawed, dominant analysis will dilute any insights gained from your proposed analysis. My original intent in asking the question was to find ways in which to bring the currently somewhat abstract consequences of engaging in mitigation activities to a level at which people can understand. There is a lot of fear-mongering and imprecise thinking about the hardships individuals would endure if they chose a more sustainable existence. This stands in the way of grassroots driven change and innovations that would make life even easier. Think about real people, engaged in the real day to day of trying to make ends meet. Could you paint them a picture of a more sustainable existence that would not add to their hardship?

Thahy Valente

Oct 29, 2011
05:41

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Pesquisando a cultura popular local. A sabedoria dos antigos em conhecer as melhores formas de lidar com o meio-ambiente, tirando proveito do que a natureza oferece... Agora, de que forma trabalhar isso online... só refletindo e buscando conhecer, para descobrir...

James Greyson

Oct 30, 2011
04:37

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Thank you Thahy for helping the CoLab really feel like an international community! With web translation even non-linguists like me can try to follow what you say: "Searching the local popular culture. The wisdom of the ancients to know the best ways of dealing with the environment, taking advantage of what nature offers ... Now, how does it work online ... just reflecting and seeking to know, to find out ... I wonder how ancient wisdom, or traditional/indigenous understandings, could resurface in a future CoLab activity? Como poderia a sabedoria antiga aparecem em uma atividade CoLab futuro? Josh, what do you think about the grassroots driven change of the #occupy movement? The 20 year long dialogue between decision-makers and experts hasn't really worked for the climate (or other global problems?). The CoLab is like dialogue from the other direction, open to everyone and with experts (and then hopefully decision-makers) supporting the development of the ideas. It's an occupation of our potential for collective intelligence. Is it too radical-sounding to call it #OccupyPolicy? Joseph, your ideas sound like a potential future proposal in the CoLab? The 'Fix the system' proposal takes another approach to externalities and the question of how to build impacts into economic activity. Impacts are tough to value predictively especially when you get into positive feedbacks and runaway tipping. But it should be obvious that in general it's cheaper to prevent them than suffer them. So one solution is to internalise the costs of prevention rather than the larger costs of the impacts. This means a smaller, easier to agree correction and a strategy that pursues what we want rather than what we don't want. The correction is quantified and localised using precycling premiums that turn responsibility for the risk of materials becoming waste into funding streams for preventive action. Linda, how would the CoLab work if was an Ark? Thanks everyone - more ideas very welcome on creating a CoLab activity around quantifying local effects and impacts. James

Linda Beamish

Oct 31, 2011
07:12

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Hi James!! (& Thank You:) If CoLab was an Ark, it would be an Ecological Colaboration & Ecological Co-Operative, providing a festival of realtive information - as a coloured infusion of graphical information & shared/pooled resources! Showing the problems & the solutions side by side - allowing people the potential they need to live sustainably, via broadcast Open Source information. (I'm not saying it isn't user friendly already - in fact, it's as user friendly as Wiser Earth Organisation, which I think most of us have found to be an absolute blessing!) But: Rather than pages (& pages) of written words - it would be full of pictures & live broadcasts, delivered over a platform of broadcasting mediums. (Potentially answering how to quantify local effects & impacts simultaneously - as each broadcasting station at any site, would have the equipment to stream up and down 'the line/s'! I've just bought a WiBE Broadband 'antenna' - looks more like a modern table lamp! It'll be movable between the Land-Rover Defender, and the Eco-Festival truck, to stream live broadcasts, YouTube, PDFs etc.) Adding one or two CCTV cameras -with 'night light' visibility - either on the roof/s, or onto an extendable stand-alone mast, would not only allow site safety & security - but would also be turned to study & monitor the environment & any 'Open' community. (From what I've seen, most of these cameras only 'turn on' when movement is detected on any site, thus recording wildlife etc.) If each site monitor were mapped on Google Earth - or equivalent platform - anyone would be able to click on the planet anywhere, to be able to have a broadcast timeline recording environmental impact & change. (Slideshows could be a collation of photgraphs run at speed to produce displays showing the time-lapsed loops of tidal flows & solar movement across the night sky. etc.) Example: Cool Carolyn's Eco-Navigator system would be used to run the plethora of information. (All thank's to Cool Planet's Carolyn for a potential library/filing system - I had hoped that someone, somewhere would!!) Basically, this could be broadcast into any Ark IT/CoLab education unit - run as the 'Pink Pages' showing only non-profit organisations presentations - as an Open Source 'Educational Trust'. (Reference Tony Gosling, Eco-Village Network UK, and Co-OP/BBC/Radio Reporter - www.radio4all.net/index.php/series/Bristol+Broadband+Co-operative.) N.B. Tony asked if I was "up for collaberating in pulling together the UK Ecovilage network again", which I am!!:D - Basically, this could operate as the 'pink pages' on The Ark/CoLab Directory, as an Educational Trust, to provide free, open source information/education. Tony Smith MA, Architect & Lecturer in Sustainable Construction & Environmental Sustainability, at the College of West Anglia/Anglia Ruskin University said that he is also interested in broadcasting (free) by Open Source. (BUT that it would have to be a heck of a lot better system than they've previously used for 'outside broadcasts'. Both Tony's could potentially join this platform. (Also, Eugene from UK Ecovillage network who's also networked with me, and is the UK Director of Open Source Ecology.) N.B. I'm in the midst of preparing a presentation entitled "Introduction to Environmental Sustainability" for Tony (Smith) - for BTEC's "Subsidiary Diploma in Environmental Sustainability" - I'll link you it online via Twitter &/or Wiser Earth as soon as I've finished... Hopefully, it will answer a few questions! IF everything was shown & colour coded for simple speed recognition, then information would be very obvious relating to what was (& wasn't) sustainable. People are finding it difficult to know how green they are - or how green they can be: On http://blog.wiserearth.org/so-what%E2%80%99s-stopping-us-all-from-going-green/#comments there is currently a conversation in which Greta Lee's comment epitomises the sort of feedback which I've had asking everyone what they thought. At base level, there is simply no way that people know what the level of their own impact is, relative to any known & recognised 'league table' or sliding rule. For instance, few people seem to realise that everytime they flush their toilet, they are paying to lose a substance which has the capacity to provide them with free electricity, free hydrogen/methane, free heating, free water - and the opportunity to make Spirulina, which would save lives (and earn them income). People aren't living sustainably for a huge variety of reasons - the first being that there isn't a "Magical Door" by which to access all that is 100% green, from everything which is slightly (or hugely) tarnished. (Tarnished either by being manufactured unethically or unsustainably - or transported by fossil fuels, or indeed, not very good!) For example, a person could cover their entire roof with PV cells (IF the Local Authority's Development Control officers + planning committee ever let them), & believe that they had acheived 100% 'ECO' credential & capacity. Would they ever have bought the PV cells - if they knew that children had been used to mine or manufacture the components? (OR if workers were forced to work in sweatshops which were so bad, they preferred to throw themselves out of the windows to their deaths - rather than continue working in enforced 'slavery'. - E.G. The workers manufacuring the components for Apple's iPad.) Sharing the design patterns would allow their own community to be actively engaged & employed in the production of those renewable power generators. Either they could use the pattern & make 'the thing' themselves - or they could pay others to buy the finished end product, providing employment at community level simultanously. Local effects & impacts really do need to be monitored at community levels all over the world, both in terms of environmental and ethical impact/s. Invariably (to date), people have looked online to find a re-seller of renewable energies, and have followed the advice of the company they found on their Google search - or equal. Maybe they order online - or maybe, they find a local reseller. Either way, without a simple colour-coded 'system' of recognition, they lack the instant ability to see just how green any product or design actually is. N.B. Even though we are all now supposed to be living sustainably to meet Planning Guidelines & Agenda 21, have you noticed an increase in the number of independent showrooms selling & explaining renewable technologies? (Where does everybody go near you, to a local "Green Store"? - Or a sustainable [local] community, manufacturing renewable technologies?) IF outlets were run as a COLABoration of Ark (type) social enterprises - as an Ecological Co-Operative/COLABoration, then people would be able to trust the resellers in a way which they simply can't currently. Basically, it would be as user friendly as an E-Co-Op outlet, with its shelves stacked with sustainable design solutions, (ethically manufactured) - and with Green Blue Prints available (virtually) "off the shelves". As everything would then be recorded graphically - it could simply be shown as presentation material/backdrop behind live music, broadcast (LIVE by Skype - like Eddie Izzard's "Laughs in the Parks"), but with all the net proceeds from ticket sales going to each community site hosting an "ARK in the pARK" Eco-Festival. Even allowing for CoLab/Ark to host everything online - not everyone has the internet, or even wants to use it, hence we all need to get out 'into the field/s' to show all the good work which all the social enterprises have been doing. We need to show people that proposing housing estates constructed of cement, with cul-de-sacs, no community employment & enforced commuting - is completely unsustainable. (E.G. East Coker.) We need to show the levels of CO2 emitted through the manufacture of cement - and explain that as well as the pollution, there is a huge over-consumption of fuel/power to manufacture this substance. We also need to show that, it is completely illogical to dig one green field up for aggregates, - to have them mixed with cement - and transport the whole lot onto yet another green field site. Primarily, we need to explain to decision makers - everywhere, that "Ignorance is no excuse in a court of law". (Quote by Tony Smith, used while presenting Construction Law.) Ergo, the continuation of that which is unsustainable - if not immoral - should have the responsibility metred back to the decision maker. Ergo, (for instance), it would be in the best interests of all politicians, planning officers, and planning committee members - to attend 'The Subsidiary Diploma in Environmental Sustainability' - BEFORE making any planning judgements - or changing planning guidelines, especially those which have already been proven to work, to produce exemplary "Green Design Awards" - for independent dwellings, and sustainable community 'Living' Projects. Much more to add - but shortened for speed of read! Must just add though, that it is imperitive that people are able to find the facts fast - and including all great examples of regenerative projects, such as Permaculture "Greening The Desert" in Jordan - and EarthShips Biotecture, which can be see to stand sustainably in a desert. Please also note that the green pages on CoLab/Ark Directory, would be Ecological Design solutions - which would provide our E-Co-Op with commissions, from which all net profits would again simply go back into all non-profits, especially for the seed-funds needed by everyone to kick start their own sustainable living projects, for affordable low-impact homes, & sustainable communities, such as Eco-Villages - UK & Global. Will update with links to those documents asap! All Best Regards, Linda. P.S. As someone as low-down on the pecking order as an ant myself - I propose that we call ourselves "Peace Ants" - representing a virtual 'Land Army' of people, willing to work on land restoration & regeneration projects, in exchange or the opportunity of living sustainably nearby to any site - at least on a temporary basis. (Rather than 'Peasant' - which has such negative connotations, as used to describe an entire race of people, who never {ever} 'bought into' the whole capitalistic/unsustainable glossy charade!:D)
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