An example of snow sculpture and sand sculpture (from a competition on PEI) by Delayne Corbett. Here are more of the PEI entries (thanks to Tree for the link). What motivates an artist to create something that will last for a shorter time than the time it took to create it?
The Psychology of Consumption: From The Oil Drum, this study by Nate Hagens is a must-read. It examines the theory of natural selection and how humans have evolved to be addicted to certain behaviours that enhance survival. Our economy has likewise evolved to exploit these addictions. The problem is that all these addictions are driving us to short-term behaviours that are totally at odds with our long-term sustainability. In other words, we want to believe that climate change and the end of oil will not happen, to the extent that we embrace denial (it won’t happen) and technophilia (we’ll fix it before it happens), and do essentially nothing to address these increasingly likely (but not certain) outcomes. So “we all have to start to change now” is an impossible, hopeless admonition: It is not ever in our nature to “all start to change now”.
The Downside of Hubbert’s Peak: Also from the Oil Drum, David Murphy argues that the back end of the oil peak curve will be more like the blade of a shark’s fin, because of the ever-increasing input energy cost that will be needed from now on to extract each barrel of oil.
Gladwell on Why Awareness Doesn’t Change Behaviour: In the first 17 minutes of a TVO program taped last November, Malcolm Gladwell uses examples like US seat belt laws (when government raised awareness of dangers of not using seat belts, behaviour didn’t change, but when they made them mandatory for children, adult use rose from 15% to 75%) to argue that we need to make knowing subservient to doing. We have done the ‘awareness’ thing on climate change and peak oil, he says, but behaviour change has been negligible. Yet we forgave Al Gore for doing nothing as US VP for eight years but gave him a Nobel and film awards for raising awareness after he’d lost the power to do anything.
Conformity as the Enemy of Resilience: A new study of civilizations suggests that cultural homogeneity breeds conformity which in turn reduces innovation and resilience of those civilizations, in the face of change or limits to growth. Thanks to David P for the link.
Ending Mountaintop Coal Mining: A plea from NASA climate scientist (and now arrested protestor) Jim Hansen to end a devastating process. Thanks to Graham Clark (who also points us to a new online carbon counter) for the link. If you’re a subscriber, the June 29 New Yorker has a great profile of Hansen by Elizabeth Kolbert (summary here).
Can Stories Change the World?: Dave Eggars argues that teaching the poor and disenfranchised how to become good story-tellers, and then providing time and space for their stories, is essential to their emancipation. Thanks to Jerry Michalski for the link.
Canada’s Environmental Backwardness: The right-wing Harper minority government is exempting 14,000 projects from environmental assessments, another gift to their funders in Big Oil and Big Construction. This is a classic Bush technique: don’t bother changing the law to favour polluter friends, just don’t let anyone enforce it. Meanwhile, environmentalists are pleading to Hilary Clinton not to permit Canada’s incredibly dirty tar sands oil into their country.
A Peer-to-Peer Virtual Support Network for Women: An intriguing application of the Gift Economy that draws on the mutual trust of women and reciprocality of needs to ensure fairness. Started by my friend Indigo.
Roger Ebert on Food Inc: The famous film critic, suffering from diseases caused by our dangerous food production system, lashes out at that system in a review of a new documentary about it, which is based on Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Thanks to Tree for the link.
Just for Fun: A hilarious list of 10 reasons not to buy a firefly cell-phone for your 4-year-old. Thanks to Dermot Casey for the link.
Thought for the Week: From Paul Hawken (thanks to Samuel Richard for the link): “We are the only species on the planet without full employment.”