Thursday, November 10, 2011

Expedition Bhutan Update

Well, we finished the design of the coverage page for the Expedition Bhutan! They have been in Bhutan for a few days now, got blessings from the king and wonderful support for their trip! Check out the coverage page to see what's happening...

Friday, September 23, 2011

I hope to be working with Expedition Bhutan supporting their website and social media outlets. The project could entail managing the blog, photos and trip updates where necessary. A very exciting opportunity!! I would also like to help them weave a story on how the east can learn from the GNH and the west can learn form our mistakes in measuring GDP. I hope to be able to utilize the research I've been doing on the hydropower plants that India has been installing in Bhutan. Here is a link to a story that outlines all the violations, and alleged violations realized in the construction of one of the dams... It is shocking how many violations and illegal acts have occurred during this project.

Monday, September 19, 2011

So many things are presenting themselves to me!! I just bumped into an old friend who is part of a group that is trekking across Bhutan to find out what Gross National Happiness (GNH) really means. Bhutan is on my must see list. They are going through some dynamic changes, including trying to figure out a way to be financially self sustaining. One of the ideas for becoming self sustaining is to dam up the rivers to create energy. They have already allowed some Indian companies to build several hydro electric dams. These dams didn't receive Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) credits, which would help Bhutan to meet part of their emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol. It was speculated that India finished the dams before the review and comment period because the construction may not have met the standards needed for credits. I'm still trying to research what really happened.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I keep thinking about how I can make a difference by reducing my carbon footprint and general ill effects on the environment. I have some fantasies, but what will make them realities? Infrastructure changes, lifestyle changes and societal changes where I live, or moving somewhere else?

I've been without a car since Monday morning April 25th, the day I had to get to SF from Truckee for an interview. Not knowing an alternate way to get there in time for my interview I rented a car. Since then I have been spending more time in SF using public transportation, or human power to get around and renting a car on occasion to get to Truckee. Alternatively, I have taken the train to Truckee occasionally and used a friends car while there. Though one of my fantasies is to live without a car, I have a house in a mountain town with no easy access to public transportation, no buses that come within 3 miles of my house, and an elevation differential between my house and the bus stop of over 800 feet. I have ridden my bike and cross country skied around town, but only when time and energy allow me to slog back up the mountain to get home. My knee surgery hasn't allowed me to ride my bike much the last few months, and recently I was told not to do any bent leg exercises for at least 4 weeks, so I'm left with walking and public transportation. OK, I did take a taxi last night, but funds don't allow that as a usual form of transportation. All this being said, to live out this fantasy I will have to move to a more convenient location that will allow for not utilizing carbon-emitting vehicles and unfortunately not enjoys the Sierras. Nope, not quite ready for that yet!

I am waiting for the delivery of my new car. It does emit less carbon, has an MPG of 31/25 and the 2011 is ranked #3 in its class on the Next Green Car Website and #2 in its class on the EPA green vehicle guide, the diesel is rated #1, but unfortunately, it's not available in the US. I don't think it's enough and neither does Gernote Wagner What is it going to take for us to change our lifestyle enough to make a difference? This leads me to my other fantasy of a bohemian lifestyle in a place that you can walk, or ride a bike anywhere you need to go, a small studio apt. or cottage that is very green and limited travel. There is a meeting in the middle... I could build a passive energy sustainable house on my lot in kings beach that is built out of mostly reclaimed materials, low, or no maintenance green materials and smaller more efficient space. I have started to design this and since I have very limited coverage on my lot I can't build your typical large Tahoe house.

Oh, and by the way the car is a 2012 Mini Cooper Countryman S All 4

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Trying to stay focused on my journey... I have to believe that it is possible, even in this economy, to get a position that will fulfill my vision to contribute to the greater good and afford me the lifestyle I envision. Kurt Vonnegut, one of my favorite writers, said it best... "I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge, you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center." To me, this means to keep reaching and stretching without losing sight of the vision.

So many people are saying to just take a job because it's better to have something. Many times those are the same people that think work is a 4 letter word and tend to just subsist living day to day. Do I trust the critical eye of someone I respect with my vision? Will their feedback helps me see the bigger picture and understand just how very close to my goal I am, or will they offer criticism and give me the same advice? Have I lost objectivity about the struggle I've been going through, and what is the real truth -- am I almost there? Do I plan a celebration to keep me focused on the finish line and put the intention out there?

So many questions. I've created some of the answers and want to believe I can create all the answers. Yes, I fantasize about a minimalist bohemian lifestyle, if that's what it takes, but I still have my current lifestyle to support and have a hard time just walking away from that. Is it better to rip the Band-Aid off quickly and have immediate pain and potential shock, or do it slowly to minimize the pain and spread it out over time? The latter is what I think our government has done with the economic recovery, but just today it was announced that the foreclosure rates have spiked in some of the countries largest cities and in almost every state. Does this push people to strive for a better, more secure life, or does it put them in survival mode?

I think some people have become numb to it all and are in survival mode. I want to stay on the edge and keep seeing all sorts of beautiful things.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I saw a new film about the legendary environmentalist Aldo Leopold, his life and his legacy. The films name is Green Fire. It's bittersweet, gives you hope and makes you cry.

Here is a link to the site for the movie.

After the film, a few of us had a debate about the "Land Ethic" as it relates to environmental sustainability. Is the land ethic overarching everything we do, or is sustainability what we look to for our guidance? There were two camps, one was that environmental sustainability was the overarching concept while the land ethic was only a subset of environmental sustainability and the other was that the land ethic is the main idea for where environmental sustainability is created. I felt that the land ethic is the overarching guideline that we base our decisions on regarding environmental sustainability. The ethic gives us guidance to determine what is sustainable. We can't have environmental sustainability without a land ethic.

I pulled a couple of excerpts from Leopold's book

The Land Ethic

By Aldo Leopold,
from A Sand County Almanac, 1948

When god-like Odysseus returned from the wars in Troy, he hanged all on one rope a dozen slave-girls of his household, whom he suspected of misbehavior during his absence.
This hanging involved no question of propriety. The girls were property. The disposal of property was then, as now, a matter of expediency, not of right and wrong.
Concepts of right and wrong were not lacking from Odysseus' Greece: witness the fidelity of his wife through the long years before at last his black-prowed galleys clove the wine-dark seas for home. The ethical structure of that day covered wives but had not yet been extended to human chattels. During the three thousand years which have since elapsed, ethical criteria have been extended to many fields of conduct, with corresponding shrinkages in those judged by expediency only.

Land Ethic

The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land.
This sounds simple: do we not already sing our love for and obligation to the land of the free and the home of the brave? Yes, but just what and whom do we love? Certainly not the soil, which we are sending helter-skelter downriver. Certainly, not the waters, which we assume have no function except to turn turbines, float barges, and carry off sewage. Certainly not the plants, of which we exterminate whole communities without batting an eye. Certainly not the animals, of which we have already extirpated many of the largest and most beautiful species. A land ethic, of course, cannot prevent the alteration, management, and use of these 'resources,' but it does affirm their right to continued existence, and, at least in spots, their continued existence in a natural state.

The Ethical Sequence

This extension of ethics, so far studied only by philosophers, is actually a process in ecological evolution. Its sequence may be described in ecological as well as in philosophic terms. An ethic, ecologically, is a limitation on freedom action in the struggle for existence. An ethic philosophically is a differentiation of social from anti-social conduct. These are two definitions of one thing. The thing has its origin in the tendency of interdependent individuals or groups to evolve modes of co-operation. The ecologist calls fees symbioses. Politics and economics are advanced symbioses in which the original free-for-all competition has been replaced, in part, by co-operative mechanisms with ethical content.
The complexity of co-operative mechanisms has increased with population density, and with the efficiency of tools. It was simpler, for example, to define the anti-social uses sticks and stones in the days of the mastodons than of bullet and billboards in the age of motors.
The first ethics dealt with the relation between individuals; the Mosaic Decalogue is an example. Later accretions dealt with the relation between the individual and society. The Golden Rule tries to integrate the individual to society, democracy to integrate social organization to the individual.
There is as yet no ethic dealing with man's relation to land and to the animals and plants which grow upon it. Land, like Odysseus' slave-girls, is still property. The land relation is still strictly economic, entailing privileges but no obligations.
The extension of ethics to this third element in human environment is, if I read the evidence correctly, an evolutionary possibility and an ecological necessity. It is the third step in a sequence. The first two have already been taken. Individual thinkers since the days of Ezekiel and Isaiah have asserted that the despoliation of land is not only inexpedient but wrong. Society, however, has not yet affirmed their belief. I regard the present conservation movement as the embryo of such an affirmation.
An ethic may be regarded as a mode of guidance for meeting ecological situations so new or intricate, or involving such deferred reactions, that the path of social expediency is not discernible to the average individual. Animal instincts are modes of guidance for the individual in meeting such situations. Ethics are possibly a kind of community instinct in-the-making.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

We have been working on our vision statement and the mission for Million Green Communities. Here is what we have so far...

By providing the necessary education, leadership training and resource development in relation to natural resource sustainability, sustainable food development and consumption, human impacts on the environment and dependability on imported goods, Million Green Communities vows to create one million green communities with a goal of saving each community one million dollars through the process of becoming more sustainable.