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Giving Robert Socolow a Wedgie, and Other Recommended Reading

Giving Robert Socolow a Wedgie (so to speak) by Rob Hopkins

In 2004, Steve Pacala and Robert Socolow published a paper in Science about climate mitigation which introduced the concept of ‘stabilisation wedges’.  This proposed that rather than waiting for some ‘magic bullet’, one amazing technology that would bring climate change under control, what was needed was the immediate and much expanded application of a combination of existing and proven technologies which, combined, would have the desired effect.  “Humanity already possesses the fundamental scientific, technical and industrial know-how to solve the carbon and climate problem for the next half-century” they wrote.  It was a timely and seminal approach.  But it strikes me that, given that their underpinning assumptions neglect a wider perspective in term of the ‘perfect storm’ of other challenges that increasingly keep climate change company in the “reasons-to-lie-awake-at-night” charts (powerfully described by Jeremy Rifkin recently), that it is in desperate need of a profound overhaul, rather than having been ‘reaffirmed’ by the intervening 7 years.

Resilient to What? A Fascinating New Look at Risk, by Rob Hopkins

I was reading through the Executive Summary of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks 2011 this afternoon (as you do) and the chart on page 3 (see above) caught my eye (click on it to enlarge it).  In it, the authors set out all the risks they see in the world on a matrix which positions the various risks by their perceived impact on the global economy and by the perceived likelihood of their happening.  What you might expect to be at the top, given recent media reports, would be the threat of terrorism or perhaps some hideous computer virus that knocks out nuclear power station.  But no.  There at the top, leading the pack, are climate change, ‘extreme energy price volatility’ and fiscal crises. 


Enough: a worldview for positive futures by Anne B. Ryan

From Fleeing Vesuvius:

While the adoption of new technologies is crucial, so too is the need for a new, self-limiting worldview recognising that “enough is plenty”. This philosophy of “enough” is about the optimum — having exactly the right amount and using it gracefully. Adopting such a worldview would nourish a culture of adapted human behaviour in which social justice could prevail and at least some of the Earth’s ecosystems would have the chance to renew themselves.

It seems that at no time in recent history have people had as many questions as they do today. Here are just a few:

     How can we live in harmony with nature? How do we stop global warming, associated climate change and the destruction of ecosystems?

    How can we eliminate poverty, provide security and create sufficiency for all?

    How do we restore an ethic of care for people and for the Earth?

In short, how can we put human and planetary well-being at the heart of all our decision-making? In this paper I propose a philosophy and practice with the potential to answer these questions. It is in essence a worldview, and I call it Enough. This worldview applies insights from flourishing ecosystems and from moral thinking to the big philosophical questions about how we should live.


Prunes by Walter Haugen

For those of you planning your orchard, I strongly recommend at least one Italian prune tree. These are the plum trees you see quite often around the area that have purple egg-shaped fruit on them and sometimes called Fellenberg or Stanley. They are self-fruitful (no pollinator needed), quite delicious fresh and thrive in areas with cold wet springs (like here!). The fruit is ready after early apples like Transparents and Gravensteins, but before later apples like Jonagolds, so it fills a nice window. They are also ready around the time the Bartlett pears come off.

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