Tags >> international
Feb 04

Post Carbon Institute

Posted by Bruce Robinson in Sonoma County , Santa Rosa , resources , politics , policy , planning , nonprofit orgs , news , legislation , international , Ideas , Green , government , food , environment , economy , climate change , carbon , business , alternative energy , agriculture , activism

Bruce Robinson

When the Post Carbon Institute was started in 2003, the idea behind its name was a philosophical ideal. Seven years later, it’s become a imminent necessity—one with an accelerating deadline.

Moving into a post-carbon world will require all kinds of changes in the way people live, especially in our high-consumption culture. But Asher Miller (left), Executive Director of the Post Carbon Institute, believes that the necessary adjustments may not prove to be as difficult or disruptive as they may appear at this point in time.

This is Miller's Open Letter to President Obama, in response to his 2010 State of the Union Speech.

Dear President Obama,

Your State of the Union speech last week laudably referenced clean tech and renewable energy several times. We ask that you follow your words with action, by leading the transition to a post-carbon economy and a healthier world.

You also spoke of our need to face hard truths.

Hard truth: Our continued, willful reliance on fossil fuels is making our planet uninhabitable. We are evicting ourselves from the only paradise we’ve ever known.

Hard truth: No combination of current and anticipated renewable sources can maintain our profligate energy usage as the global supply of fossil fuels heads for terminal decline.

For the recently released Searching for a Miracle, Post Carbon Institute Senior Fellow Richard Heinberg conducted a “net energy” analysis of 18 different energy sources (including nuclear and “clean coal”). He concluded that the amount of energy available after accounting for the energy used in extraction and production of those sources is—at our current and anticipated rates of consumption—insufficient to get us “over the hump” to a post-carbon world.

Our 29 Post Carbon Institute Fellows—experts in the leading economic, energy, and environmental issues of the day—all agree that this "net energy" deficit is just one of many interrelated crises shaping the 21st century. Each crisis alone creates formidable challenges; in combination, their complexity admits no simple solution. But given their direness, inaction risks tragedy.

Mr. President, we respect you and your advisors and appreciate the enormity of the dilemmas you and all of us confront. When a great leader frames a great challenge, a resilient people will rise to meet the opportunity. And so we ask, Mr. President, that you tell the American people that we must:

1. Face reality. In a carbon-constrained world, true prosperity comes not from heedless growth, but from shared security, community, and liberty.

2. Prepare for the future. Conservation, with an emphasis on building a green economy and revitalizing struggling communities, offers cost-effective “found” energy, and the most immediate and long-term return on investment.

3. Lead the way. A substantial investment in renewable energy, with an emphasis on distributed solar and wind, offers the best hope for moving to a sustainable economy and environment.

Mr. President, lead us in creating a future worth inheriting. Post Carbon Institute and our Fellows will support you and your team in whatever capacity we can. We believe that the American people, and the world’s people, will support you as well.

With hope,
Asher Miller
Executive Director
Post Carbon Institute

Click here to comment on the letter to President Obama. You can also see the complete list of fellows on the Post Carbon Institute website.





Feb 02

ACTA and Fair Use

Posted by Bruce Robinson in technology , rights , policy , nonprofit orgs , news , media , legislation , international , government , finances , economy , Congress , business , arts , activism

Bruce Robinson

An international trade agreement on counterfeiting, currently being negotiated in secret, may actually impose strict new enforcements of expanded copyright protections.

While it’s not unusual for international trade treaties to be negotiated behind closed doors, most of the rationales for doing so don’t apply in the case of ACTA. There are 37 nations involved in the talks, and they freely share materials among themselves; it has been the public—in all of those countries—that has been excluded from the process. The high degree of secrecy surrounding the ACTA negotiations are additionally suspicious, says the Electronic Frontier Foundation's International Policy director, Gwen Hinze (left) , when contrasted with the way other similar pacts were developed in recent years.

Extending the stringent protections of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act to written work that is published online has already been tried in several of the countries that are party to the ACTA negotiations, says Gwen Hinze. But everywhere that has been tried, it has prompted enormous public outcry.

Requiring Internet service providers (ISPs) to enforce a “three strikes” policy against anyone accused of three violations of the new, tougher copyright protections, is being advocated by the film and music industries—who are being consulted in the ACTA negotiations—and opposed by the ISPs, who are on the outside. The Electronic Frontier Foundation agrees with the ISPs, because, as Hinze observes, there are too many ways such an enforcement policy can go wrong.

There's additional background information on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement here. EFF is also mounting a letter-writing campaign to urge that  Congress demand the ACTA process be opened to public scrutiny.


Jan 29

Haiti Response

Posted by Bruce Robinson in volunteer , students , speaker , Sonoma County , resources , rescue , public safety , poverty , nonprofit orgs , medicine , international , homeless , healthcare , finances , economy , aging , activism

Bruce Robinson

The Hatian earthquake has left at least half a million survivors displaced and homeless, and as relief efforts continue now, some aid workers worry that the coming hurricane season may compound the disaster.

The enormity of the immediate crisis in Haiti has captured and held the world’s attention for the past two and a half weeks, but Chloe Gans-Ruggebregt, a north coast native who is on the Red Cross health staff in Haiti, is worried that global concern will soon move on to other areas, while  the Hatian people will need years of assistance to recover from the disaster.

Chloe has been living and working in Haiti for the past four year, and her parents visited her there just last summer. They’ve  been talking with her almost daily since the quake, and her father, John Ruggebregt of Santa Rosa, says that for him, those conversations have given the humanitarian crisis an individualized human face.

The local Red Cross office is maintaining a list of events in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties to raise money to support  relief efforts. You can also view a slideshow of Red Cross photographs from Haiti. To make a donation, click here.


When the quake struck, Chloe was more than 100 miles away in rural Haiti. She promptly returned to Port au Prince (where she, too, lived) and emailed her first impressions not long after arriving there:

I was on the fourth floor of the house in Trou du Nord when the earthquake started. It probably lasted about 20 seconds. The whole house was shaking and people started yelling and running outside. There was however no major damage in the NE. The phone promptly went out as did our Internet which relies on the same system.

I drove to PAP [Port au Prince] today thinking that I wouldn't be able to get back just because it had been raining for two weeks in the north and the planes weren't flying. There was no way I nor my driver could have predicted what we would see when we drove into PAP.

We started to see large cracks in the highway about an hour outside PAP and as we got closer and closer the chaos mounted. PAP probably has tens of thousands dead and no aid [organization] can even respond. Matt [Marek, head of the American National Red Cross Haiti delegation] was out with half our team all night and day just giving basic first aid, but the hospitals are closed or full, the government has many dead, the head of the UN is dead and many of the UN are unaccounted for as are six of our staff.

We are sure they are fine but they have no way to communicate and many roads are blocked. I  haven't been home but will go tomorrow to see if my house is still there. As far as I know we will only be able to do first aid but teams are on the way. I am in shock along with the entire city. The city has been reduced to a concrete pile of rubble. Everyone is sleeping outside because they are scared of more.

Jan 28

The Shovel Project

Posted by Bruce Robinson in volunteer , speaker , recycle , poverty , international , construction , activism

Bruce Robinson

A unique instance of hands-on philanthropy, Tom Pringle’s Shovel Project is making life a little better for random households around Tijuana, Mexico.


Perhaps surprisingly, Pringle (seen here  in his home workshop) says the germ of the idea for his shovel project was inspired, not by the need or a desire to “make a difference,” but by a high profile public art project.

Tom Pringle will present a slide show and report to the community oh his shovel project at the Peace and Justice Center, 467 Sebastopol Avenue  in Santa Rosa, January 28th at 7 pm. 




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