Category Archives: 7 Holonics and LOHAS

COP out? Yes! Sadly as expected, but what else could happen …

The 20th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change treaty ran over by a couple of days as delegates from over 190 countries “negotiated” the language of resolutions to control carbon emissions.  Rich countries don’t want to pay for past emissions; emerging economies don’t want their opportunity for the luxuries enjoyed by rich countries to  be jeopardised.  The consensus was that results were unsatisfactory.

The confrontational nature of discussions means they will not develop new systems that save humanity from growing environmental pressure and related economic problems.  No viable solution can be found until everyone recognises the common goals which are underpinned by the interconnectedness of people to planet and its biosphere.

Can you do anything?  Yes!  It never seems to be enough but taking a step in the right direction does make a difference.  Changing consumption habits and changing what you say to your friends is what changes culture and behaviour of a population.  Every little bit you do to make a difference, DOES make a difference.  The more people that take a step in the right direction, the sooner we’ll have more attractive options than environmental implosion, economic volatility and social violence.

So even if they don’t “cop on”, we can all make a change for good.

At a recent book signing for Common Sense, I was asked questions about what can be done.  The consensus was to cut back on beef consumption because it’s simple and has a huge impact.  Once you’ve done that it’s easier to cut back on other gratuitous consumption like packaging, cosmetics, detergents, and travel and easier to spend more time with friends and family.  Enjoy them and the planet while you can.  :-)

What we need to do if we’re to have a future.

Future Earth, a global initiative bringing together scientists across different disciplines, has launched its strategy to identify key priorities for sustainability.  The eight objectives are:

  • Deliver water, energy and food for all
  • Decarbonise socio-economic systems
  • Safeguard the terrestrial, freshwater and marine natural assets
  • Building healthy, resilient and productive cities
  • Promote sustainable rural futures
  • Improve human health
  • Encourage sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Increase social resilience to future threats

It is an attempt to help coordinate policy with science.  It has taken over 30 years since the Bruntland Commission release the report Our Common Future.

We need to move much more quickly at the personal level if we’re to avoid growing serious problems.

BBC: ‘Future Earth’ platform outlines global change strategy

 

Ignorance, bigotry, Islam, Christianity – a wasteful formula of terror, pain and suffering that we don’t need.

CNN pushed an interview with Reza Aslan which helped show how ignorant the media treatment of culture is.   His commendably calm response to the interview’s thoughtlessness elucidated many of the issues that raise political tensions needlessly.

Here’s an extract:

Female Genital Mutilation is NOT a “Muslim” problem – its a central African problem. Eritrea has a 90% FGM rate – and is a CHRISTIAN country, Ethipia has a 70% FGM rate and is also a Christian country.

The Saudis, our allies, won’t let their women dri
ve.

Yet, Muslim countries have elected SEVEN women as Heads of their States – and we have yet to have a Female President.

Our vision of Islam here is wrong. Saudi Arabia (and perhaps Iran now) are restrictive, but they are the minority among Muslims around the world. Saudis ARE the extremists. THEY HAVE BEHEADED 19 PEOPLE SINCE ISIS DID THE ONE. No one talks about that because they are in cahoots with our oil men.

This comment by Jeanette Kramer gives further perspective:

Equating genital mutilation problems to Islam is like equating gun problems to Christianity. If the media spoke about the gun problems in the USA like they did so many other topics, they would be reporting 24/7 on the Christian violence in the US.

Some guy once said:

Take the plank out of your own eye so that you can see clearly to take the speck out of another’s eye.

How to speak money.

From The School of Life blog by the author of How To Speak Money, here are a couple of useful definitions: interest rates and real and nominal amounts (also related to interest rates).  Helpful and funny too …

interest rates If I had to pick one term which summed up my reason for wanting to write this book, it would be interest rates. I must have heard interest rates mentioned in the news thousands of times before I found out why they were so important. When the financially literate talk about interest rates, they’re bringing to bear a whole set of linked ideas about inflation, unemployment, the cost of borrowing, the exchange rate, the political impact of rising mortgages, the conditions of trade for business, the price of exports, the balance of payments and the growth or contraction of the economy – all packed into two words, ‘interest rates’. Blink, and all the ideas packed into these two words have gone zooming past. To people who don’t speak finance, the language can seem impenetrable and the interlocking ideas too complex to grasp or unpack at the necessary speed.

The reason interest rates matter so much is because the interest rate is the cost of money at any given moment. It’s also the rate at which it is possible to invest risk-free, because you can buy a government bond at the prevalent interest rate, and it’s guaranteed to pay you back. This means that when interest rates go up:

1. life is harder for businesses, because money is more expensive, and

2. people will tend not to invest in companies, preferring to invest in risk-free bonds, and

3. the stock market will fall for that reason, so

4. confidence in general will fall. In addition,

5. people with mortgages will find it harder to make their repayments, and those who are coming off fixed-rate deals may suddenly have a dramatic increase in their monthly repayments. That means

6. mortgage defaults will rise, so

7. there will be downward pressure on house prices, and

8. some people will be in negative equity, which will stop them spending money. Also,

9. the currency will rise, because higher guaranteed rates of investment will attract money into buying the country’s debt, so

10. life will become harder for manufacturing businesses, because their exports will be more expensive. Not only that, but

11. inflation will fall – remember, inflation means that money is worth less, whereas a rise in interest rates means that money is more expensive.

There’s more, too, but these eleven things are a starting point for all the things that are completely taken for granted by people who speak money when they hear ‘interest rates’.

real and nominal amounts Figures that, respectively, do and don’t take into account the effect of inflation. Because of inflation, all charts which reflect prices will go up over time; strip out the effect of inflation, and the charts can look very different. Take the example of the most profitable US movies ever made. (I’ve done it for the US because I can’t find a global version of the list adjusted for inflation.) On the left is how the chart looks if you just consider the sums of money in real terms, and on the right is the chart in nominal money (the figure in brackets is the placing on the real-money chart):

1. Gone with the Wind 1. Avatar (14)

2. Star Wars 2. Titanic (5)

3. The Sound of Music 3. Marvel’s The Avengers (27)

4. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial 4. The Dark Knight (29)

5. Titanic 5. Star Wars: Episode 1 (17)

6. The Ten Commandments 6. Star Wars (2)

7. Jaws 7. The Dark Knight Rises (63)

8. Doctor Zhivago 8. Shrek 2 (32)

9. The Exorcist 9. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (4)

10. Snow White 10. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (94)

Note how movies have got worse: on the nominal, and therefore more recent, list, seven of the films are franchises, one is based on a theme-park ride, and the top two are by James Cameron.

5 feet of snow and zero degrees in every US state. “I’m not a scientist”, but that’s not normal.

Freezing temperatures were recorded across all 50 US states, including Florida and Hawaii, and a massive snowstorm dumped 5 feet of snow in the Buffalo area (North East US).

Snow covers a street at daybreak in Buffalo

It’s pretty.  But deadly.  So far 7 people are dead.  Three had heart attacks while shovelling snow – which is a sad commentary on health, diets and fitness.  Please be careful if you’re not a bit fit.

This weather is a month early.  Maybe it’ll warm up in a day or so.  Maybe it’ll get damn cold again soon.  You can be sure that it’s not predictable and it’s another sign of climate volatility that is beyond our control.

We need to start listening to nature and living within it’s laws.

BBC: Deadly snowstorm hits northern US

We’re ALL living next to slaves. 36 million of them.

Walk Free published the 2014 Global Slavery Index which makes for sad reading.  167 countries have them, including some which really shouldn’t:

Japan 240 thousand
South Africa 110 thousand
Singapore 5 thousand
USA 60 thousand
Italy 11 thousand
Germany 11 thousand
France 9 thousand
UK 8 thousand
Ireland 300

The report defines slaves as people subject to forced labour, debt bondage, trafficking, sexual exploitation for money and forced or servile marriage, none of which sounds like it should be acceptable in the countries above.

What can you do?  Be aware that it happens.  Don’t turn a blind eye.  And if you see signs of it, tell someone in authority.

Global Slavery Index Report – findings

Walk Free

BBC: Almost 36m people live in modern slavery – report

 

 

Omnivore’s Dilemma – Meat is sooo good but it’s killing the planet.

I love meat.  But I don’t eat it any more.  My parents still make fun of me for being vegetarian and might still think I should see a shrink.   Ha ha.

Why would a meat and potatoes guy who liked steak for breakfast quit meat?  There were reasons and the most important is that I knew the livestock industry was killing the planet. and I could be healthy and happy without meat.  That was nearly 20 years ago and I’m still alive – without meat.

meat_graphic4 meat_graphic3
meat_graphic2 meat_graphic1

 

dustymeatlotNational Geographic is pursuing a worthy series of articles on The Future of Food and how to feed the growing population.  The story for November, Carnivore’s Dilemma,  caught my eye because of the easy to understand charts that show the cost of beef, in particular, to the planet.  The cattle industry is turning the planet into a desert.

The NG article received  criticism because it was lenient on the current industry from meat producers to feed producers to drug providers and GMO purveyors.  But the message is clear:  the human population can NOT be sustained on the current meat diet  and system of food production.  It’s everyone’s responsibility to take a step in the right direction of reducing consumption of the planet.

I used to make fun of Vegetarians and Tofu Eaters … now I’m one. :-)

National Geographic: The Future of Food

beefvssalmonfeedtomeat

Malnutrition costs the global economy over 3 years’ GDP growth

The Global Nutrition Report said that  globally, malnutrition led to “11% of GDP being squandered as a result of lives lost, less learning, less earning and days lost to illness.”

And the numbers are made more appalling by the fact that they cut both ways: not enough food and too much food.  Every nation except China (whose regions could probably be included if you separate urban and rural) had crossed a “malnutrition red line”, suffering from too much or too little nutrition.

On the sad side of the spectrum the UN World Food Programme estimates that poor nutrition causes nearly half of deaths in children aged under five, that’s- 3.1 million children each year.  In addition lack of food restricts brain and immune system development.

_78913064_overweightwoman2paAt the fat end of the wedge the problems include obesity, diabetes, vascular disease.

Ironically half of the countries are grappling with under-nutrition and also over-nutrition problems!

You would think that bi agribusinesses and food companies would have helped but they seem to exacerbate the problems by pushing sugar to the overfed and pulling livelihoods from the underfed.

The global nutrition report.

BBC: World is crossing malnutrition red line, report warns

Only the strongest can kill themselves for peace.

In a Japan, a man set himself on fire to protest a change in policy allowing Japan to fight overseas, which goes against the constitution which bars the country from using force in conflicts except for self-defence.  It follows another self-immolation in June, in an apparently similar protest.

Suicide is not an easy option.  It demands the greatest courage because you do not want to die, but you want to kill even less and you want to show the world that violence is wrong.

Many people have self-immolated in Tibet over the past few years to protest the authoritarian regime which steals property and livelihoods, incarcerates innocents and encourages rape and violence.  Few people hear of this and no nation cares to influence its cessation.  They are more likely to pursue violence and belligerence themselves.

BBC: Japan man self-immolates ‘in protest over military shift’

The power of thought can flip a switch.

The study upon which this report was made is unusual, but the message is clear: thoughts have power.

In the study, brainwaves from human participants activated a tiny LED light which had been implanted in mice which then activated light-sensitive genes.

This study is the first to combine the thought control technology and the light sensitive genes technology.  The light-sensitive engineered genes sound a bit unnatural to me, but the idea of thoughts influencing external objects seems intuitive.  Maybe if we can understand the science better, telepathic skills could be developed.

This kind of emerging technology has potential applications for patients who can no longer communicate with the outside world other than with their mental activities and brainwaves.

It also proves that our thoughts do make the world.

BBC: Scientists develop thought-controlled gene switch