The Switch is a monthly newsletter distributed by the Northern Alliance for Sustainability (ANPED) on initiatives that are making the switch to a sustainable society. The Switch covers various campaigns, new book releases, academic papers, policy processes and more. It takes a holistic and progressive approach to the sustainability debate and does not shy away from addressing controversial topics. The Switch also keeps you updated on upcoming conferences and events.
The Switch is open for your news, events and articles as well. So please send them to us !!
If you have any other recommendations or comments, dont hesitate to contact the editor of The Switch, Koen Stuyck, koenstuyck[at]gmail.com
ANPED publishes leaflet on Sustainable Consumption and Production
One of the core issues for ANPED is Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP), as this is at the heart of Sustainability. The next 2-year cycle of the CSD will also deal with the topic of SCP, in the review of the 10 year framework of SCP - the Marrakech process. To stress our position in this process we decided to publish a new leaflet.
If you want to be updated and participating on our discussions and process work during those two years, please write a mail to leida[at]anped.org, and we will subscribe you.
Mother Earth launches campaign against geo-engineering schemes
The Hands off Mother Earth campaign (or H.O.M.E. campaign) wants to stop Geoengineering - the large-scale intentional manipulation of the climate and earth systems to counteract global warming. It started as an initiative of some 70 organizations at the Peoples Conference on Climate Change and The Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Some of the geoengineering technologies that have received the most active attention include ocean fertilization (which involves the dumping of iron particles or urea on large areas of the ocean surface in the hope of creating phytoplankton blooms that could sequester carbon dioxide), and the manipulation of the stratosphere to block or reflect sunlight in order to temporarily lower temperatures. Geoengineering presents grave consequences for the earth's remaining biological diversity that is already under serious threats, and to global climatic patterns that could have dire consequences for agriculture and food production in an already food insecure world.
Dangerous and unjust
The H.O.M.E. campaign regards such geoengineering schemes as very dangerous and unjust. The campaign is urging individuals and organizations to speak out in opposing such geoengineering technologies. The H.O.M.E campaign features an interactive website http://www.handsoffmotherearth.org
where individuals can lend a hand to the campaign, leaving messages and uploading images of themselves. The site features a public portrait gallery of individuals with open palms calling a halt to geoengineering. This gallery is expected to swell as the focus of the campaign moves from Cochabamba this week to upcoming UN talks culminating in the next meeting of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Cancun Mexico in December. A Facebook group for the H.O.M.E. campaign has also been launched. The campaign can also be followed via http://twitter.com/HandsOffMotherE
. For further information about geoengineering and the H.O.M.E. campaign, you may visit http://www.handsoffmotherearth.org/about
More than one million used Global Footprint Network's Ecological Footprint Calculator
Since its release two years ago, Global Footprint Network's Ecological Footprint calculator
has been used by more than one million people in the U.S., Australia and Canada to evaluate their level of resource demand and identify ways of reducing it. Recently Global Footprint Network expanded the calculator considerably: Ten new countries and nine languages where added. Users from China to Ecuador, from South Africa to Japan can now find out how many Earths we would need if everyone in the world lived like they do, through a fun quiz.
The calculator takes users through a series of questions about their food, housing, purchasing and transportation habits. It determines the amount of land area it takes to produce all the resources they consume and absorb their CO2 emissions, in other words: their Ecological Footprint. It also breaks their Footprint down into various land types, such as forest, cropland and fishing ground. After receiving the results, users can set a target for how much they'd like to reduce their Footprint and explore how making various changes can help them reach their goal (for example, by biking rather than driving to work, eating meat one day less a week, recycling more and reducing new purchases).
Accounting for both bikes and bakkies
The calculator, which has featured results for the U.S.; Switzerland; Australia; and Calgary, Canada now also includes those for India; China; Japan; South Africa; Turkey; Italy; Brazil; Argentina; Peru; and Ecuador. Developed with the help of in-country experts, calculator questions are tailored to the ways of life typical to each country. In South Africa, for example, a bakkie (an open-back pick-up truck that carries passengers) counts among the transportation choices. For India, charcoal, crop residue and dung cake are listed along with coal and electricity as heating choices. A 1,500 square foot house is categorized as 'very large' in the Brazil version, but average in the American one. 'Occasional' fish consumption is defined as one or two servings per day in China, and once a week in Italy.
Friends of the Earth Europe calls on Europe to take into account its resource use
Europe is using ever more of the world's resources, and is now more dependent on imported resources than any other global region. Yet we're also throwing away over 5 billion euro's worth of valuable resources every year. Friends of the Earth Europe released a new report calling for Europe to measure its resource use not just materials, but also land, water and carbon footprints and to incorporate resource use measurement in impact assessment. The report is particularly relevant given the importance that the new Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik is giving to resource efficiency, and the upcoming review of the European Commission's Thematic Strategy on Natural Resources.
The report is available here
Friends of the Earth organizes a conference on measuring our resource use on the morning of 1st June, in the European Parliament, Brussels. The same afternoon the European Commission's launches its Green Week, a free event which includes high level speakers on resource use and biodiversity. http://www.greenweek2010.eu
The rise of the Degrowth-movement
"Life after growth - economies for everyone" is a documentary film that documents the rise of a new movement, calling not for more economic growth, but less. The degrowth movement, or "mouvement por le decroissance", argues that through a voluntary reduction of the economy we can work less, consume less and live better, fuller lives. Claudio Medina and Leah Temper made this film with the support of the Fundacion Autonoma Solidaria (Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain). The film had its debut screening at the second international degrowth conference in Barcelona this past March.
The economic crash of 2008 revealed not only the frailty and vulnerability of the economic system, it also showed the false basis that the growth economy is built on. The financial bubble grows bigger and crashes bigger, but we don't seem to be getting any happier. To the contrary, we suffer from greater job insecurity and environmental chaos threatens. The prescription from the mainstream economists is more growth but is this just taking more of what ails us? Has growth become uneconomic? Is there another way? Many have been pointing out that our current economic system is leading us to an environmental and social catastrophe. "Life After Growth" begins to point to the people and communities who are looking for ways out. These are the pioneers who are rethinking the role of economics in our lives, and are engaging in different types of economic activity, right now.
The D-word is still taboo in many circles. Politicians are loath to go against the growth orthodoxy that our society is based on. But everywhere people are engaging in degrowth type activity - the beginning of a wave that is laying the groundwork for a post-capitalist future... Because it's not the size of the economy that counts, it's how you use it!
"Life After Growth - Economics for Everyone" is now viewable online: http://www.vimeo.com/10871269
. The aim of the makers is to disseminate it as widely as possible. Everyone is free to pass it on to their network. If you would like to lend support, collaborate or obtain a DVD copy, contact at the following email: email@example.com
Footprint Forum: Meet the Winners of the 21st Century - Second Partner Conference from Global Footprint Network
The Forum Roundtables are a series of fast-paced, highly interactive conversations on critical topics, designed to move the sustainability agenda forward during a time of increasing resource constraints. The aim of the sessions is to overcome barriers to action, fill gaps in knowledge, and identify strategies that inspire further sustainability investments and bring about systemic change. Footprint Forum will foster the kind of learning and idea-sharing that will support government innovation, strengthen corporate strategy and advance human development.
Attendees will include international leaders in government, non-profits, development agencies and business, sharing the common mission of creating healthy societies where all people can live well, within the means of our planet. The Forum will allow governments to discuss strategies for maintaining a competitive economy during a time of resource scarcity, corporations to gain an understanding of how to build a robust business strategy that will withstand ecological pressures, and development agencies to explore what is needed to make development gains last while preserving natural capital. The academic side-conference provides a forum for researchers to share the latest in Ecological Footprint science.
Copenhagen COP15 showed us that national governments and political leaders are finding it difficult to act collectively in the global interest. Global Footprint Network is convinced that climate action will only gather momentum once nations see that decisive action is in their own best interest. This compelling self-interest story becomes obvious once we understand climate change in the context of ecological resource constraints, as one of a number of related crises food, energy, water, biodiversity, and so forth emerging from humanitys systematic overuse of available resources. This reframing presents a great impetus for transformation. The focus of Footprint Forum 2010 is on how we can capitalize on this opportunity.
WHEN: June 7-12, 2010. The events of the Forum include:
WHERE: Colle di Val dElsa, Italy, just outside of Siena
CALL FOR ABSTRACTS: Global Footprint Network is calling for abstracts for presentation at Footprint Forum: Meet the Winners of the 21st Century. Click here for more information.
Money Is a COW, and It's Time for the COWs to Come Home
In the last issue of the Daly News, Rob Dietz from CASSE (Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy) points out that money in itself is not real wealth but just a claim on wealth or COW.
The problem of course is that we have unrealistic expectations for money (COWs): we expect money to grow exponentially through the magic of compounding interest. When people and institutions make investments (e.g., an employee investing in a pension fund, a bank providing a home mortgage loan, or a mutual fund manager buying corporate stocks), they anticipate a return on their investments. They assume that they will recoup their investment plus interest, subject to some amount of risk. We have also come to expect additional returns when we re-invest our original earnings. It has become altogether commonplace to assume compounding interest and exponential growth. Our COWs are not subject to any physical or ecological laws. Money in a bank account can increase as high as we can count, but what about the stuff it can buy? Can we exponentially increase the amount of stuff we produce and consume? How long can real wealth, which is certainly subject to the laws of physics and ecology, continue to increase the way our COWs do?
Industrial agriculture keeps monsoon away from northern India.
A new research by Purdue University and the Indian Space Research Organization found a link between large scale irrigation techniques and industrial agriculture and the slackening of the pace of the monsoon in the north of India. The study looked through Indian meteorological data of the last fifty years and made a comparison with changes in the use of land in the same period on the base of satellite images.
Although average rainfall stayed stable in the whole of India, in the northwest they established a downfall of 35 to 40 per cent. Especially the states of Punjab, Haryana en Uttar Pradesh, that profited most from the Indian green revolution in the sixties.
Too much irrigation
Further investigation of satellite images of the American National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration pointed towards the humidity of the soil. Between 1988 and 2002 humidity rose with 300 per cent just before monsoon. "To shift the monsoon, you need a hot and dry earth surface", says Dev Niyogi, professor Regional Climatology at Perdue University. "By irrigation you get a wet and green surface. More irrigation implies less rainfall, which means more irrigation. It's a vicious circle."
Bolivia uses new philosophy of "Living Well" as base for new constitution
Bolivia's new constitution philosophy of "Living Well" is being put forward by the Bolivian government as basis for a global movement against consumerism, depredation of natural resources for profit, and current models of development. According to sociologist and vice-minister for strategic planning Raϊl Prada, "the Bolivian program is a good export product because it protects biodiversity, it respects land rights of indigenous peoples and it preserves water sources." Before the new constitution was drafted, many representatives from civil society where consulted.
At the start of the 'World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth' in Cochabamba on the 19th of April, Prada presented "Living Well" as a proposition that incorporated the traditional indigenous world-view and one that connects well with the environmental and anti-capitalist movements.
According to Portuguese sociologist Boaventura de Sousa Santos, who is actively involved with the World Social Forum, "the new Bolivian constitution is based on three democratic pillars: a representative system, participation of all social actors and restoration of community values." The process towards a new constitution was initiated after the start of Evo Morales' presidency, in January 2006. Goal was to give back control over natural resources of the country and to improve the rights of the indigenous population, of workers and women.
Companies that want to exploit natural gas reserves in Bolivia's Southeast now have to consult the indigenous population before proceeding. They also have to pay for the exploitation. Natural gas is one of Bolivia's major sources of income.
Spaces of environmental justice, by Ryan Holifield (Editor), Michael Porter (Editor), Gordon Walker (Editor)
In this cutting-edge volume, leading scholars examine a diverse range of environmental inequalities from around the world and introduce a pluralistic agenda for critical environmental justice research. Spaces of Environmental Justice explores novel theoretical approaches and neglected spaces of inequality and shows how far the field has moved beyond its original focus on uneven distributions of pollution in the USA.
The book also considers the influence of critical geographical and social theory on environmental justice studies. A range of possibilities for future research directions are identified, as are the challenges involved in investigating and pursuing environmental justice at a time of rapid economic and environmental change.
The School Food Revolution, by Kevin Morgan and Roberta Sonnino
All around the world it is becoming clear - to experts, parents, educators, practitioners and policy-makers - that the school food service has the potential to deliver multiple dividends that would significantly advance the sustainable development agenda at global, national and local levels. Drawing on new empirical data collected in urban and rural areas of Europe, North America and Africa, this book offers a timely and original contribution to the school food debate by highlighting the potential of creative public procurement - the power of purchase. The book takes a critical look at the alleged benefits of school food reform, such as lower food miles, the creation of markets for local producers and new food education initiatives that empower consumers by nurturing their capacity to eat healthily.
To assess the potential of these claims, the book compares a variety of sites involved in the school food revolution - from rural communities committed to the values of 'the local' to global cities such as London, New York and Rome that feed millions of ethnically diverse young people daily. The book also examines the UN's new school feeding program - the Home Grown Program - which sees nutritious food as an end in itself as well as a means to meeting the Millennium Development Goals. Overall, the book examines the theory, policy and practice of public food provisioning, offering a comparative perspective on the design and delivery of sustainable school food systems. The cover illustration is by a Roman child.