Pages

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sea-Level rise part 2

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.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

2BC:n Co-operation

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.

Have you ever felt that you missed the train?
 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Doha COP18

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.


Anders, wrote over at his blog "a greener life a greener world" on what Doha must deliver, here's the list in short;
  • Ending fossil fuel subsidies
  • A global carbon tax
  • Boosting green economy
These are good concrete examples so all we have to do now is to put pressure on the negotiators to give us some results! 



Today's recommendations;

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.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Economy, Climate and the Future Sum-up

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.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Conference Tomorrow

Tomorrow is finally the conference on Economy, Climate and the Future, that I wrote about before. If you can't go but want to follow it, it will be live-streamed here. Twitter hashtag is #hurda.

I'm gonna head for my bed already to be fresh and not-so-tired tomorrow.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sea-Level Rise

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!



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Children's Rights Day

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.



Monday, November 19, 2012

Local and local

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.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Don't Make Your Bed!

Have I not been looking for an excuse not to make the bed? Well, here is one by EcoKaren! The dog agrees; Why, is it important to make the bed? Do I have to move?



Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sustainable Leadership

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!

Carbon Tax or Cap-and-Trade?

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).

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Economic Democracy

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?".

To learn more you can read his books or see videos on YouTube from a previous lecture he held in Uppsala.

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?


Monday, November 12, 2012

Orangutan Awareness Week

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.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Movember

Just after pink October we have Movember. Couldn't December also focus on a good cause instead of the commercial Christmas?



Thursday, November 8, 2012

Reduce Flights part 2

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 there was yellow (so nobody wanted to drink it), also the sea water was quite disgusting to swim in, so dirty!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Proposition 37

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.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Herb Colouring

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:

 After:


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.



Monday, November 5, 2012

The Destiny of the Blender

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?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Prosperity Without Growth

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:



Saturday, November 3, 2012

If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to far, go together

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!


Thursday, November 1, 2012

CO2 Neutral Wine

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.