As we are in Spain and I like dogs and miss my own very much, I thought I'd give my monthly donation for December to an organization called SOS Animals, they have organizations supporting homeless dogs in Spain both in Sweden and in UK. I picked this organization as my friend has volunteered for them in Malaga so if she says they are good I trust her.
Most importantly though, remember to take care of the pets you already own or the pets that are in your home country.
Late Christmas greetings from our dog currently in my parents care.
I promised to tell you more about my Christmas present from my husband before. The thing I had to pack was somepants and shoes so we could go horse-riding. It was a great experience and a non-material gift! Here is some picks of us riding in the river, the horses really enjoyed being in the river as it was a warm day, in general we had a fantastic landscape with both valleys and mountains to look at while riding. I also enjoyed my horse as it was a little more challanging than the one's I've ridden before, very easy to correct though and beautiful!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you! We have now spent a few days in Spain and I have already lot's of things in my mind I want to blog about later, but for now we are gonna enjoy Christmas here with family and friends.
Some photos from Valencia where we have spent the last couple of days.
Remember that I wrote about the Sustainergies cup where students help companies come up with solutions for companies? There is still time to submit your ideas until 20th of January. This year you should come up with ideas for fortenant owner organizations on how they can communicate and teach their residents about sustainability. You can download the case and instructions here in English if you are interested to participate.
You might remember I posted a video in support to end animal cosmetic tests earlier this year. I now added this cute little bunny banner down to the right on this blog to support Cruelty Free International in their goal to end animal testing for cosmetics. If you want to add one of their banners on your blog as well you can find them on their Facebook page, an easy way to support them!
I got the below infographic at OnlineEducation.net. I have to admit that also me and my husband are worse when it comes to recycling plastic than other materials but that young people in general are worse at recycling plastic than older ones I didn't know. When I thought about it though, I wasn't surprised, a lot of our friends are not even composting which I think is the most basic.
So; if you are not yet recycling at all, perhaps it could be a good New Years resolution? I'm sure you've done more difficult things in life! And if you are recycling, but not plastic, how about adding that to your recycling habits?
For the rest of you congrats; you're probably already a recycling guru!
I had a little pre-Christmas yesterday, two nice packages in the mailbox and a nice surprise!
I received one package from Maryfly organics, and even if I did pay and order it for myself, Vera and Tommy that owns the store always make you feel special with the little notes and small presents they put in the packages. If you didn't know they sell nowadays Santé's natural haircolouring which was one of the reasons I ordered the package.
The other package was the book Jorden vi äter (the Earth we Eat) from the Swedish Society for Nature Consevation (SSNC) that they sent as a thank you for blogging and tweeting from the conference in November. I was really happy about that; it's gonna be a pleasant read I think, at least last year's book on chemicals was good. Now I have the perfect book to read while we're on holiday!
And last but not least I already got to know my Christmas present from my husband because it involved me having to pack something special. Will tell you more about that later, really excited about it!
Finished my last assignment before Christmas yesterday and started packing for the Spain trip, it's gonna be interesting to be in Spain in crisis. I wonder how much we will notice it, but at least we'll be talking with the people we know and hear their story of their everyday life.
Just for fun I wanted to do a apocalypse playlist for while I was packing, if the world is gonna end on Thursday (or Friday?) I want to go down with some awesome music! So far only Florence and the Machine songs have made the list though, nothing else felt quite mighty enough and put me in the right mood. Let me know if you have any good ideas! What would be your soundtrack during an apocalypse? Not that I think the world is gonna end but any excuse is a good excuse for some good music. Otherwise I can't say how happy I am to finally have some holiday! I'm gonna continue listen to music a tiny bit too loud and get on with the packing.
Read an interesting post over at Beauty & Broccoli's blog about the different ways you can be tired in and that it can be good to reflect over these.
The last two days I've been pretty destroyed after a busy autumn, so I guess that I've been mentally and emotionally tired, after some yoga and working out though I felt physically tired but a lot better mentally.
You can basically be:
Physically tired after working out for example
Tiredness or in need of sleep
Mentally tired a feeling of a lack of energy and difficulties thinking, making decisions and solving problems.
Emotionally tired a little bit like mentally tired but it includes feeling down or depressed.
How are you tired? Or are you dealing with winter better than I am?
I know I'm not always that good at explaining things when I talk about stuff I already know or take for granted. Sometimes I assume that other people will have the same knowledge and understanding than me but just stating " we can't have more growth" is maybe not enough for those who haven't contemplated on the "why growth" question in our economy a bit more.
So why is GDP (Gross Domestic Product) not a good measurement for quality of life or social progress?
This measurement assumes that more spending in the economy will make us "happier", which is not
the case. It is to a certain point. For example, undeveloped countries should be allowed to increase their material well-being but developed countries do not increase their "happiness" as GDP increases. GDP ignores throughput (simply put; the raw material processed during a certain time) and our ecological limits to unlimited growth. It measures the “wrong
things” because, for instance, redistribution of resources to developing countries would likely slow GDP and, another example, environmental
catastrophes are likely to increase GDP as spending would increase after such an event.
I think that is one of the reasons there is no genuine progress in, for example, the climate negotiations: almost all things that would be good for the planet are not so good for GDP or growth in the economy and politicians are usually focused on that. As we all know, COP18, the climate negotiations in Doha ended, again, without much results at all.
If you want to learn more you can read, among others, Tim Jackson's "Prosperity Without Growth", Richard Heinberg's "the End of Growth" or "Bankrupting Nature" by Anders Wijkman and Johan Rockström.
Hope you've been doing well during my absence on the blog!
Finally, things are slowing down a bit, had my last exam today before Christmas and it was the collective exam I wrote about before. It turned out well, our class passed and it was actually a fun experience!
I have to say that I am feeling sad that this course finished. It has been challenging even if we went through some stuff I knew about from before but looking at macro-economics and the world's problems from a sustainability perspective with great lecturers, classmates and coordinators has been quite a journey and I will never look at the world in quite the same way again. Also we had really good readings and material. So if you are in Uppsala and want to take an awesome course, I can really recommend "The Global Economy-Environment, Development and Globalization" at Cemus in Uppsala University.
As I haven't blogged for a while now, I'll take the opportunity to post the trailer of the movie "Trashed". I think I might have some other links saved with interesting blogging material that I've gathered up during the blog-break....just have to go through it all. I hope it won't be such a long break until I blog the next time but I will also try to take it a bit easy and enjoy the holiday season.
There is so many options to donate now before Christmas that I decided just to renew my membership in the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation and will think about something more creative in December.
It might be a bit quiet here on the blog for a few weeks as I'm having exams and assigments to hand in and I'm gonna do a last effort in studying before Christmas holidays.
Absolutely, lovely weather today with lots snow, now I'm really looking forward to Christmas!
I wrote about sea-level rise just about a week ago and yesterday there was the news that sea levels are rising 60% faster than expected. Coincidentally, there was also a small notice about floods in Venice in the newspaper called "18 minuter"(similar to Metro) the sort of free newspaper you get on the bus that I stumbled upon. I'm sorry about the bad quality of the pic, the bus was pretty bumpy.
In any case, the notice says that whoever wants to see Venice need to plan it well as the city is flooded very often. This autumn the water levels were the 7th highest since they started measuring the levels in 1872 (would be interesting to know though when the other 6th highest have taken place!). Some weeks ago 70% of Venice's main parts where apparently flooded and the picture is tourists having a bath on Piazza San Marco.
My experience of Piazza San Marco in 2005 when I was exchange student in Italy, luckily no swimming involved.
I have guest-blogged for 2BC:n Personal Management Agency in Finland with a modified text that has figurated on this blog earlier, check out my Do Something! post on their blog here. I might write some more for them in the future if this gets a good response.
2BC:n is a company working as a link between young people, companies and the social sector to help young people make choices on what career path's to take. At the same time they try to inspire and challenge us to create a better, sustainable society where everybody, but especially young people would feel less lost and more confident.
Today is the start of the climate change negotiations in Doha. I thought I'd share this short history of climate change negotiations I saw yesterday in the name of Doha and hope that there will be results.
These are good concrete examples so all we have to do now is to put pressure on the negotiators to give us some results!
Not related to COP, but check into Daniel Pargman's blog for another post in English on the conference I wrote about before and check out Afrah Nasser's blog for a post on a cool photo exhibition in Paris at the moment on the subject of islamic women's dress.
The focus on the conference yesterday organized by the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) was on solutions: what do we need to do to avoid a 4 degrees warmer world? Do we need to change the current economic system?
I think there were examples of solutions (e.g. investments, incentives and indicators, often political decisions that need to take place), however not so much concrete examples of different economic systems. It's perhaps quite a difficult subject to discuss in one day with a broad audience where not everybody has an economic background from the start. The conference all in all was nonetheless interesting and gave me a lot more, once again, to think about.
One of the problems in today's world, as I'm sure we all know, is inequalities. Poor people are often the ones with least environmental impact. SSNC's chairman, Mikael Karlsson, mentioned that two children in USA has the same environmental impact as twelve children in Bangladesh. I think this was a recurring subject throughout the afternoon seminar I attended with the title: "Do we need a new economic system?". We want to help more people out of poverty but not all of us are willing or realize that then we have to cut down on our own lifestyle and share the resources to have a sustainable world.
I think it was interesting to hear in this debate different persons' opinions and to see how some are really convinced that technology will save us and that we will find an alternative to oil, whether it is through the current market economy and competition or another system, while others say that we need to control our resources and share them equally and prepare for a low carbon future. I saw someone tweeting that it was perhaps not so great to invite Per Langer from Fortum (an energy company) to talk in this debate, but I disagree: it's healthy to hear other opinions in order to learn how to argue for your own standpoint. Per Langer argued that there is nothing wrong with the current economic system and that it only reflects our own values. I could probably write a whole different post on that subject; reflecting on what needs are created by the market, whether it is the obsession with growth that is the problem and if our current system would work without growth. The debate can be seen here (in Swedish though) and more videos from the conference here.
I thought I would share with you this video and talk on Climate and the Global Economy with Chee Yoke Ling, director of the Third World Network, as one of the English speaking presenters during the conference and a good sum up of what the conference was all about.
Thanks to SSNC for a great day! It was very nice to meet so many bloggers and tweeters face to face, most of us met up for the yammi vegetarian lunch. I also got to meet other interesting people with the same interests like Emelie Adamsson.
I was additonally happy to get my hands on a copy of the book "What Next-Climate, Development and Equity" from What Next forum for free. The book has a chapter on real and false solutions that I might just jump straight into when I get the chance to sit down with it.
My husband asked me some time ago about how sea-level rise will affect us if we live in our house in Finland. I hadn't really given it a thought before so I googled a bit too see if I could find any map. I did find a global map at globalfloodmap.org.
According to the World Bank's recent report, we are in for a 4 degrees Celsius warming unless we change our ways. So 4 degrees would give us about half a meter or more of sea-level rise. The map gives an 18 inches rise when you go to the page which is almost half a meter so that's pretty correct I guess for a 4 degrees warmer planet. Surprisingly, our nearest town, Lovisa, will be one of the few cities in Finland affected with about half of the people losing their homes, but we should be unaffected just a bit North from there. If you are interested about your own home-town you can go the the Flood map yourself and check, I found there was most coastal cities on the map.
However, before you jump-for-joy for being safe on the floodmap and consider climate change doesn't concern you, a 4 degrees warmer world brings still a whole lot of other challenges with it, some places will be too dry to live or grow food in and others too wet. Additionally, the "safe places" might have to deal with some climate change emigrants, looking for habitable places to live.
So let's do the best we can to stay under 2 degrees, ok!? We can all do something to decrease our climate impact!
Our dog's half-sister's owner (yes, we very much know who owns which dog of our dog-family tree) put this video on Facebook for Children's Rights Day, which is apparently today. Yesterday was also International Men's Day but it seems none of these days get very much attention... In any case, the music video is from a Finnish band and I'm afraid a lot of Finnish bands do metal music, so also Sonata Arctica, which is the band playing here. However, I think it's nice that they have wrote a song on such a subject and even if this is not usually my type of music this one is not too bad. The song-writer in Sonata Arctica, Tony Kaakko writes this about the song;
To put it short it's a song about how we should not pass the burden we get from
the past generation on the shoulders of our future offspring.
Children's rights subject. Not the most metal subject ever, I suppose,
but then again I think it fits our band well and is pretty universal. Funny to actually have fans from each age group this songs speaks about. Let's see what comes of it.
I am always a little uncomfortable when people lobby for eating local, (Swedish), meat. Karin (blog in Swedish) just reminded me why; most local cattle are fed soy, from Brazil, which is not very local. To make sure you get meat not fed on soy from Brazil, buy organic, however, as always, best to go vegan or vegetarian.
I recently started thinking though that where does the beans I like come from? How local are they? Not very I assume, and unfortunately, the local green beans are the beans I like least, my favourite is chickpeas and kidney beans. Vera (another blog in Swedish) wrote about using the more climate friendly yellow pea instead of lenses and chickpeas and indeed, the lense stew with yellow peas was very good and the yellow pea tasted much like the chickpea.
I forgot to take a pic of the food but here is a pic of the spices instead, the stew was enjoyed with some Naan bread, which was quick and easy to make.
Yesterday I took part in a Sustainable leadership seminar at Ernst & Young in Stockholm organized in cooperation with the Hunger project. I was once again able to go as a member of Sustainergies, so thanks to them, it was very interesting! My favourite part of the seminar was the debate in the end where, among others, Stina Billinger took part, she was also one of the moderators during Sustainability Day that I went to earlier this year. I have to say I was also very positively surprised by Sasja Beslik, CEO at Responsible Investments at Nordea. I thought that someone working at bank would not have such strong views on sustainability, but he proved me wrong.
The debat is about to start
Another interesting profile and the main speaker during the seminar was Kjell Hasslert who is an entrepreneur and previously has worked as CEO at Telge, an energy company working for renewable energies. His leadership advices were:
What you ask for is what you get, as a CEO one is constantly at meetings so dare to ask about the sustainability issues, people will focus on the things that are asked for by the leaders
Equality, hire women and people with a different (cultural) background. A company need people with competence but the competence can be achieved trough other ways and educations than the typical business school and those people can bring new views and ideas to the company
Be patient and persevere
Everybody in a company can make a difference. The key is to manage to create the right mindset throughout the organization, to give the organization a soul
The last one is easy to say but I can imagine it is more difficult to achieve such a goal in reality.
Anastasia Nekrosova from Intelligent Mindsets had a presentation about sustainable leadership and what is needed from a successful sustainable leader. They had looked into what such a concept would entail and they concluded that sustainable leadership is more or less leadership for complexity as there is so much that goes under the title sustainability. Everything from a more effective production to environmental questions, HR questions and communcations. Which is why sustainability should be a strategical question concerned with everybody in the organization and not just a part of the organization.
I can't but agree with Alan Atkisson who said during in his lecture that if you work with sustainability you will never get bored!
This is an interesting subject, if carbon tax or a carbon cap and trade system is the best way to achieve less fossil fuel use. It seems Annie Leonard from Story of Stuff is at least against a cap and trade system.
Also Matt McDermot from Treehugger just recently argued for a tax instead of a cap and trade system. I think the most comprehensible article I have read on the subject so far it the carbon tax vs. emission trading article on the Global Policy Forum website. They have some arguments for both and explain why different countries are in favour of different systems. This is an interesting point they make;
"Which is Better? There is no simple yes or no answer,
and the policies are not necessarily mutually exclusive."
I'm kind of thinking if it is possible to have both in place at ones....the more the better right?
Australia put in place a carbon tax this summer as well as issued their first carbon emission permits in October. The tax is only applicable to the 300 largest polluting companies though and not on households. In general, Australia is a country of controversies when it comes to energy as a large part of their economy is based on exporting coal to, for example, China, so even if they will lower their own emissions they are much dependent on their exports of coal. It is also a country that, I would imagine, have huge possibilities to implement renewable energies as they have sun, wind and water available so close to their cities, yet there is very little of it so far. It will be interesting to see what happens when it comes to energy there in the next few years. Read more on the issue here.
Here is the campaign video for the law that was passed, Say Yes Australia!;
In the meantime I have downloaded the book "Carbon Trading" from WhatNext forum and will read it as soon as I have some time to spare (which will probably be next year as it seems right now).
A classmate in my course gave us the tip about a lecture from David Schweickart in Uppsala on Monday evening on an alternative to capitalism called Economic Democracy, so some of us went to listen to him. I had lectures the whole day on Monday so I have to admit that by 19:15 when this lecture started I was not so focused any longer. The discussion afterwards was interesting though but I should probably read David Schweickart's books to get a better idea of how such a system would work, the main idea however, is that the decisions in companies would be taken democratically by many stakeholders and not only by the shareholders, as today. As he said during the lecture; "why does our democratic rights finish when we go to work?".
David Schweickart referred to an interesting article by John Keyens, when he was talking about working less to produce the same amount and not consume more (which is not making us happier and destorying the environment). The article is called "Economic possibilities for our Grandchildren", written 1936, where Keynes argues that maybe our needs are not insatible after all and perhaps this could give us possibilities to prosper and have more freetime than ever before.
Here's some quotes from the paper by Keynes (may be read in full here);
Now it is true that the needs of human beings may seem to be insatiable.
But they fall into two classes – those needs which are absolute in the
sense that we feel them whatever the situation of our fellow human
beings may be, and those which are relative in the sense that we feel
them only if their satisfaction lifts us above, makes us feel superior
to, our fellows. Needs of the second class, those which satisfy the
desire for superiority, may indeed be insatiable; for the higher the
general level, the higher still are they. But this is not so true of the
absolute needs – a point may soon be reached, much sooner perhaps than
we are all of us aware of, when these needs are satisfied in the sense
that we prefer to devote our further energies to non-economic purposes.
I draw the conclusion that, assuming no important wars and no important
increase in population, the economic problem may be solved, or be at
least within sight of solution, within a hundred years. This means that
the economic problem is not – if we look into the future – the permanent
problem of the human race.
Thus for the first time since his creation man will be faced with his
real, his permanent problem – how to use his freedom from pressing
economic cares, how to occupy the leisure, which science and compound
interest will have won for him, to live wisely and agreeably and well.
For many ages to come the old Adam will be so strong in us that
everybody will need to do some work if he is to be contented. We shall
do more things for ourselves than is usual with the rich to-day, only
too glad to have small duties and tasks and routines. But beyond this,
we shall endeavour to spread the bread thin on the butter – to make what
work there is still to be done to be as widely shared as possible.
Three-hour shifts or a fifteen-hour week may put off the problem for a
great while. For three hours a day is quite enough to satisfy the old
Adam in most of us! When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social
importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals. .... The love of money as a possession – as
distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and
realities of life – will be recognised for what it is, a somewhat
disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological
propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in
mental disease. All kinds of social customs and economic practices,
affecting the distribution of wealth and of economic rewards and
penalties, which we now maintain at all costs, however distasteful and
unjust they may be in themselves, because they are tremendously useful
in promoting the accumulation of capital, we shall then be free, at
last, to discard.
The pace at which we can reach our destination of economic bliss will be
governed by four things – our power to control population, our
determination to avoid wars and civil dissensions, our willingness to
entrust to science the direction of those matters which are properly the
concern of science, and the rate of accumulation as fixed by the margin
between our production and our consumption; of which the last will
easily look after itself, given the first three.
Since 1936, I guess our population has grown tremendously though, so I guess Keynes idea already fall on that but it is quite interesting that there is some sort of simple living movement going on at the moment though.What's your toughts on this? Do we have it is us to share our wealth and if so could working less be a solution? Furthermore, could economic democracy be an alternative to capitalism?
A year has passed and it's Orangutan Awareness Week once more.
If you feel like you want to give a helping hand for the Orangutans who's natural habitat is being destroyed, mostly for Palm Oil plantations, you can adopt an Orangutan at, for example RedApes.org, you can sign petitions here and here or you can just join the Orangutan Outreach group in Facebook to get more information on what's happening when it comes to helping to save the Orangutan. Remember that the conservation efforts of the rainforest does not only help Orangutans but all animals living there.
It's some time ago I wrote about reducing flights. I decided to write about it again since both Karin and Maria (both blogs in Swedish) recently has brought it up and me and my husband are flying to Spain for Christmas. I have remorse about flying, but I also have remorse for not having spent Christmas with my husband's family since Christmas 2007. We were thinking of doing the trip by train but this time our time schedule does not really allow it, I also think it might have been more expensive in the end to take the train. Flying is (unfortunately?) very convenient.
I will also fly over to Finland once before Christmas. We usually take the cruising boat, but as it turns out it is not more ecological (link in Finnish) to take the boat for such a short trip (depends what sort of boat I guess but now I'm taking the cruising ships going between Helsinki and Stockholm). I guess there might also be a little different outcomes depending who has done the calculation but according to the calculation Noora Shingler has referred to in her blog by VTT ( Technical Research Centre of Finland) there is slightly less CO2 emissions taking the plane, and significantly less sulfur and nitrogen emissions by taking the plane. So turns out I might just do the right thing taking the plane there. On the boat there is additionally usually more consumption done than on the plane (food, tax free etc.) so that should add to the environmental costs as well.
Karin is asking those flying several times per year just for holiday how they justify it. I can't say that I have always been thinking about how I fly, but the last years I try to fly less. How often do you fly? Do you think about the emissions it causes? I once talked about flying to my friend who has worked as an air-hostess, she replied something in the lines of that surely one plane carries so many people that it would create more emissions if they all would take cars or other travel measures to go to the same destination. I don't know, is that so? An interesting question is that would people then take the trouble to go those places, if there wasn't planes?
We might just find out soon, according to professor Kjell Akelett, in today's morning show on radio P3 here in Sweden, we will run out of oil in 10 years. I guess today I'm a little gloomy, 10 years is an awfully little time for transition from oil. Can we do it? Perhaps, but I can't put my head around why we aren't more already.
Pic from Öland this summer, Öland an island on Sweden's coast facing a future of erosion, lack of drinking water and is in risk when the seas start rising. I reacted to Maria's post on this as we were there this summer and the drinking water therewas yellow (so nobody wanted to drink it), also the sea water was quite disgusting to swim in, so dirty!
Obama is re-elected, so that's good! (or better than Romney anyway)
However, it seems like the propositon 37, to label GMO (Genetically Modified Organisims) foods in California has not passed. What a shame! I live far from California and US, where GMO's are quite restricted but still I'm not quite comfortable with this whole GMO thing and I'm pretty sure we get GMO foods from US as well. If you haven't yet, do watch the Genetic Roulette movie, it seems GMOs have caused both allergies and sicknessses in both humans and cattle.
There's a lot of talk about how GMO's should be more resistant to drought and pests for example, however, I still haven't heard of a real life case where this would have been true in the long run. The pests have usually become resistant and organic produce has been more resistant to drought. Do correct me if I'm wrong.
If you want to avoid GMOs, there is at least one shopping guide for non-GMO produce and organic labelled food should be safe as well.
Third time now I do herb colouring of my hair at home, I used Santé's nutbrown colour again and finally I tried the trick of adding red wine and I did like the result!
I wish my hair had a nicer natural colour so I wouldn't have to bother at all (not that I have to but I just can't stand the dull colour of my own hair) and I really don't wanna put any chemicals in my hair ever again.
Before, a bit less than three months since I coloured it last time:
I really liked the colour after last time's colouring, this time it's not as intense, or perhaps it's only the light reflecting in the picture, I can't really tell myself. Here's another pic a bit more from the side, the light still reflects quite a lot of light though.
Perhaps I have to try to mix the herbs with tea again next time. For sure adding some wine or tea both created better results than just adding hot water.
Finally, when I have started to get on with this juice mixing in the morning, even if I mostly stayed to "safe" stuff like banana, kiwi and apples I even put some spinach in one morning, so I'm pretty proud of myself.
But what happens? Yesterday, our blender gave up on me. There was a noise and some smoke and suddenly an awful smell. So I guess something burned, I'm far from an engineer but I don't see much hope in us fixing it. Must have worked it a bit too hard? Or is it just so that stuff is built to not last anymore? It's just a year and few months old! Which just now makes me think that maybe there is a receipt for a guarantee that still holds, better check up on that.
In any case, if it doesn't, were in the dilemma of buying a new one or not, or perhaps I could find a second-hand one. It has been immensely handy when making everything from soups to smoothies, on the other hand we'll probably move back to Finland sometime next year. Is it worth buying more stuff right now?
You guys that use blenders, what blenders do you like? A hand-mixer? A proper blender? Anyone have an extra one that they want to give up somewhere close to Uppsala?
One of our coursebooks at the moment is Tim Jackson's Prosperity Without Growth. I was happy to see it was gonna be our coursebook as I bought the book about a week before I knew about it. So it was very nice to get to read it for a course as I would have read it sooner or later anyway. I liked the book and I can only regret the fact that it wasn't sooner that I read it. This is surely not a book that only economists can read, if you are interested in how a different economy could look like do read it! Even though there probably are quite a few economists who should read it.
Here's a Ted talk by Tim, I like the part where he says:
We spend money we don't have,
On things we don't need,
To create impressions that won't last,
On people we don't care about
I also agree with the "giraffe" idea, the fact that most of us are too busy just getting on with the daily activities, (the squirrel wheel if you like) to think about adapting to another type of lifestyle. However, there is room for all of us to live both happier and better if we would make an effort to change the system based on growth. In any case, listen to his talk yourself:
Brilliant Tim, our course co-ordinator, speaks here about a different way of making exams. The video is not great quality but he is a fantastic speaker live. I hope to get back to you on how the exam went in December, if our class passed or not!
Remember the post about how glass wine bottles are less sustainable as they weight more than tetrapak-packed wine during transport? Well, my husband found a wine packed in a "lighter weight bottle". They also claim they are CO2 neutral, which usually means they have compensated for the carbon emissions emitted during the process of making the wine. The wine itself was from Chile, so it has travelled quite a bit too until it reached us so it must have produced quite a bit of CO2 during transport even it is was in a lighter bottle. As far as I know the wine was not organic either but as you can see there is always ways to market yourself as green anyway. Is it greenwash? I think it depends a little bit on how clear a company is in their claims, and how easy it is to obtain information on what exactly CO2 neutral means in this case.
If you followed this blog for a while, you might remember that I blogged from the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation's conference last year. I'm really excited as I'm gonna blog from there this year again. It's extra interesting for me this year as the topic is about what changes we need in the economy to manage the climate change challenge ahead. This relates really well to the course I have at CEMUS at the moment. I'm also excited that among others Johan Rockström and Mattias Klum will be there! I finally have their book "The Human Quest" in my bookshelf just waiting to be read.
Pic from Swedish Society for Nature Conservation's webpage
If you also want to join, you can still do so, the conference will take place on 23rd November in Stockholm, last date to sign up is 9th November. You can find the program here and you can sign up here, the conference will be mostly in Swedish I'm afraid though. If you can't make it, you can still follow the life feed here if you are interested, and twitter hashtag will be #hurda.
The blog has been a bit quiet lately as I've been working on assignments and my thesis. I can't believe that I'm having my last courses already! It feels like I just got to Uppsala to start my master. I guess soon is the time to start making a plan for what's gonna happen next, or perhaps no plan is better?
Saw this fun pic with Bill McKibben tweet on Facebook this morning. Wonder how much damage that hurricane Sandy will manage to make?
Little bit late but I do recomment this movie, Genetic Roulette, on GMO food, you can watch it here for free until Thursday.
And a last tip, I wrote about the Sustainergies cup a few days ago. I've been involved in the group starting up Sustainergies in Uppsala and next Tuesday we will organize a meeting and After-School get togheter if you are interested to know more about what Sustainergies do. All students from all different areas are welcome! Sustainability is not limited only to students in a certain science, on the contrary we need people in all areas. Link to the Facebook event. We're meeting at 18:00 in V-dala nation, unfortunately, I can probably not go myself but do go if you are a student in Uppsala!
Food Security in a Global Perspective was the headline of the lunch seminar at our department yesterday. Melinda Sundell from the Stockholm Environment Institute came to speak to us about the reasons for food insecurity and what suggestions to solve this issue have been given by the commission on sustainable agriculture and climate change. Also, a professor from the economic department at SLU, Rob Hart, spoke a little bit about the economic perspective on this.
The reasons for food insecurity that Melinda mentioned were:
Poverty amidst abundance. Rob also mentioned that at the moment we do have enough food to feed the world but it is more a problem of distribution: some have too much and some don't have any.
Increased pressure on natural resources. For example, water might be a scarce resource in the future and we are also running out of phosphorus rock.
Climate Change will probably turn land that is used for agriculture today to dry deserts and extreme weather might destroy a lot of the crops.
The suggestions by the commission to solve the food insecurity issues were:
To integrate food security and sustainable agriculture with global & national policies (Melinda pointed out that everybody is talking about future energy issues but almost none about agriculture issues).
Significantly raise global investment for sustainable agriculture and food systems
Sustainably intensify agriculture production while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other negative environmental impacts of agriculture. The problem here is that organic produce costs much more than conventional produce, this could possibly be solved with some sort of tax that shows the "real" cost of the food in terms of environmental harm.
Develop specific programmes and policies to assist population and sectors most vulnerable to climate change and food insecurity.The fact is that a lot of developing countries are most vulnerable to climate change and there might be conflicts in the future because of that.
Reshape food access and consumption patterns to ensure nutritional needs are met and foster healthy and sustainable eating patterns worldwide. Melinda pointed out that food patterns might be difficult to change as they are very tied to emotions, eating patterns is something we learn from young age and is difficult to change.
Reduce loss and waste of food in the food system: infrastructure, farming practices, processing, distribution and household habits. Here we can actually do a lot! Something like 50% of food is wasted.
Create comprehensive, shared, integrated information systems that encompass human and ecological dimensions (still to be developed).
Some of these are easy to write down but perhaps harder to grasp and actually implement in reality. Global and national policies are for example difficult to achieve in a political climate where everybody mostly look after their own interests. However, small farmers are more important than what we might think: 70% of food consumed today is produced traditionally by small farmers which is a fact also pointed out in this video trying to bust the food myths that claims that we need industrial agriulture.
Are you a student interested in sustainability issues? Sustainergies has just launched their annual competition where students help companies come up with sustainable ideas for the future. The cup is launched internationally so you can participate even though you are not in Sweden. You are also allowed to join no matter what subject you are studying, the winning prize is 25 000 Swedish crowns.
If you are interested to learn more and download the case you can read more on their webpage.
This is such a cool project! OneZoom.org has constructed a Tree of Life with all the mammals in it. I went right out and looked for humans in the tree, and found us next to Chimapanzee and quite close to Borneo Orangutan as well. Fashinating! Now let's keep working on conservation so we don't have to cut whole branches out!
According to Peppe the series "The Big Bang Theory" does not pass the Bechdel test...Now I have a ligitimate reason not to like it too much (not that I've watched a lot of it). Any TV-series you like that pass/does not pass the test? Feel free to recommend anything, we are thinking of looking for something new to watch togheter but not sure what to go for. We don't watch any TV but we have followed the Monk series on DVD, I know my husband follows more series but I really can't be bothered. It has taken us about a year to go through all the seasons of Monk and it has suited me fine as there is no cliffhangers so I don't get immensly stressed about when to watch the next one. I realized that it only just passes the Bechdel test, probably not even all the episodes, but at least Nathalie and her daughter are having conversations every now and then. However, I'm not sure it counts if it's a mother-daughter conversation?
I celebrated the World Food Day today with finally making a "green" (it was more yellow in colour) juice on my own. I used a banana, two kiwis, apple and some juice ( I think it was carrot, orange, mandarin juice). It turned out quite thick in consistence but it tasted good which was my worst concern. Now I think it will be much easier to continue experiencing once I did the first one and it was not a complete failure.
Cruel Crude writes about a role-play in Sweden on possible after Peak-Oil scenarios. Read more here in English and check a short clip from Swedish television here.
A fun video on a human power station I found on this blog. That's an idea for a gym! Isn't it quite silly that we go to the gym to sweat using appliances that use energy instead of using appliances that would supply energy from our workout?
So today is finally Blog Action Day! As I participated in a TedX event last week I decided to hold on to it a bit longer and post about it today as Blog Action Day's theme is "The Power of We" and the TedxHornstull event theme was "Change Through Cooperation".
The TedX event consisted of both live speakers and a couple of recorded TED event talks. If I remember correct the host presented the TedX event with the words that we create social transformations through cooperation and not through business plans.
Rebecka Carlsson, Spokesperson for Young Greens in Sweden, started off as the first speaker and spoke very passionately about how we create amazing change when we give up our selfish goals and work towards a goal together. This became very clear to her when she was in Egypt during the Arabic revolution. Even if she was not there for that reason just being on the Tahir-square, feeling the engagement and fighting spirit from the people around her, gave her courage to do things she would normally not and she helped report back to Sweden on what was going on there. Her lesson from this event was that we do not always have to know what to do when trying to change something. In the revolution everybody was incredible supportive of each other and let everyone try and fail and it was so encouraging when you knew you'd be loved no matter how many times you would fail, the important thing was that you tried. Some of Rebecka's last words was "you can try a 1000 times without knowing how to start". A great blog (in Swedish) that unfortunately is not updated very much any longer on the Egyptian revolution can be found here (go back in the posts to come to the Egyptian posts).
Lars Wilderäng, who writes the interesting blog Cornucopia? (in Swedish) was the next speaker. His message was that the state is not a solution, it is the problem in today's society. He gave some examples of cooperatives that have emerged when the state no longer manage to provide the service, like parental cooperatives for children's day care and school. He also pointed out that there is a tendency at the moment for communities to take back the responsibility of infrastructure from private companies as they have noticed that it becomes both cheaper and the quality is much better when they do it themselves. He wrote a post about that in his blog here.
Next we watched the Ted speech from Roy Bunker about Barefoot collage in India, which you can find on youtube here.
After this we listened to Anna Nygård on the project Planka.nu. This project is working for a free public transport. They arguing that public transport is a public service and therefore it should be free for everybody. At the moment it is about 5-10% of the people who are travelling with public transport that cannot afford to do so and therefore has to cheat. The state present it as you have a choice to take another mean of transport if you cannot afford it but this might not always be the case. Therefore nobody should pay for the public transport so that the power structures in society wold change.
Per Ribbing spoke about cooperatives for renewable energy and how it is cheaper than the energy you pay to normal energy companies and it is obviously good for both the planet and for us.
As the student union at my university, SLU, turned 80 they had organized some lectures for inspiration about the green future on Wednesday. I didn't make it to the two first presentations but I'm happy I managed to go to the last one with the chef Paul Svensson, who talked about sustainable cooking. Finns might know him from the TV-series Strömsö. I sat quite far back so the quality of the photo is not that great but you can check better photos at the AbsolutAgronom blog and read about the other two presentations there (in Swedish).
I really liked Paul as a speaker, he was both funny and informative and seemed to be doing it with ease. He started with giving us a little bit of a historic background on cooking and also talked about a revelation he had when he was travelling for work on why we have so different cooking styles in different parts of the world. From good quality food produce you can build up a beautiful presentation of a meal around the vegetables without even complicating it too much but if you have vegetables that taste mostly water from produce that has been grown on depleted soils it's a different story. Luckily in the Nordics we have quite easy access to relatively good seasonal quality produce.
He talked about his own cooking philosophy, he's not a vegetarian but he uses meat mostly as side-dish or only for taste. His meals are always built up on what vegetables are in season locally and then he adds meat and fish. He gave us an example where he had used fried fish merely as croutons in a dish to give taste. He emphasized again the necessity for good quality produce, if you have good quality meat with good taste people will be happy with less and if farmers specialize in having produce with a their special own tastes it will give the food additional value. In Paul's view we need to move away from the idea that all food need to look perfect, a few brown salad leaves are not gonna kill us. Additionally, you can cook different things with the produce in different growing stages, for example different sprouts are just as good or even better than the full grown sometimes. Additionally, it is not necessary to import rice when we have lots of local grains that are just as nutritious.
He also talked about the need for cafés and restaurants that want to be sustainable to not only think about the food. They need to think about the whole concept from what people are gonna sit on to what they are gonna eat from. He will open his own café in Gothenburg end of next month where for example chairs and porclain are second hand. As they didn't want the café to have a vintage touch they bought second hand porclain only in white and painted all the chairs white. It is possible to create almost whatever from second hand, there is already so much material in the loop that upcycling is easy!
His last slide contained these sentences (sound better in Swedish):
Glad mage, upplyst mage, lagom mätt mage, renare mage och kanske en bättre värld.
Would translate into something like.
Happy stomach, enlightened stomach, just enough full stomach, cleaner stomach and perhaps a better world.
If you want to learn more about his philosophy he has written a book in Swedish. Another cook book that defenitely could make it to my kitchen.