Archive for the ‘renewable energy’ Category

A Fossil Fuel Free World is Possible

June 7, 2015

The reality is that climate is getting warmer, the weather is getting more extreme and unpredictable, and we have to become more resilient, more efficient, and more innovative.  — Governor Jerry Brown

Across the world we are starting to see the impact of extreme weather events.

In California a prolonged drought has prompted a 20% cut in water usage by Executive Order.

We’re in an historic drought and that demands unprecedented action. For that reason, that I’m issuing an executive order mandating substantial water reduction across our state. As Californians, we have to pull together and save water in every way we can. People should realize we’re in a new era. The idea of your nice little green grass getting lots of water every day, that is going to be a thing of the past.

But, if Californians are expected to cut their water consumption, why is a Nestle bottling plant exempt, why is fracking exempt?

If California is in trouble then so is the rest of America, because they truck fresh produce from California. Fresh produce is even airfreighted to Europe.

Why? Is this not insane?

We have such an insane system because agriculture can externalise its costs, because Big Businesses controls our food production and distribution system. Food is grown for profit not to feed people.

Illegal to erect rooftop solar arrays

March 22, 2015

In Galicia, the system used to be, generate your own renewable electricity, instead of selling it to the big energy company, supply them, they supply you, and all you pay for is the difference.

That was the system, it worked. it encouraged the installation of rooftop solar arrays.

That was the system, but it was scrapped. Not only was it scrapped, but the regional government at the behest of the big energy companies who cannot compete with rooftop solar arrays, has made it illegal to install rooftop solar arrays.

Time for Podemos, time for local, community controlled grids. Fair price for suppliers, fair price for consumers. Only the surplus from the local grid would be fed into the national grid.

Local, community controlled grids put local communities in charge, put out of business big grids, big power companies.

In Transition 2.0

January 23, 2014

People are brainwashed into being consumers, when they are are not consuming, they sit like zombies before widescreen TVs, the modern day soma of our times, where they receive yet more brainwashing.

The news before Christmas, was how much are people consuming, is it enough, after Christmas how much had they consumed, was it enough?

Is that all we are, is that all there is to life, endless, mindless consumers? It does not lead to happiness or wellbeing, quite the contrary, it leads to unhappiness, leading to more consuming, the junkie trying to get the next fix. Nor is it good for the planet. We are being hit by environmental crisis every day, and they are becoming more frequent and more extreme.

In the long run, it is not good for the economy, as unconstrained growth never is, it leads to boom and bust,

We have economic crisis, caused by the the banks, being used as an excuse for austerity, which is merely a cover for Shock Doctrine, slash and burn of public services and welfare, further transference of wealth from the poor to the rich.

The richest 85 people in the world have amassed as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion. That is a handful of people who could easily travel on a double-decker bus, not that they ever would, have as much wealth as the poorest half of the word’s population.

Is this fair?

Travelling around, I find people are increasingly saying no, enough is enough, the 99% have had enough.

The one thing that communities have learnt, when they put their mind to it, are more than happy and capable of running their own affairs, they do not need corrupt politicians and global corporations, telling them how to think, what to do, what to wear, what to eat.

Community run pubs are successful, those run by pubcos, or to be more accurate bled to death by pubcos, then sold off for redevelopment, are not.

Using the Localism Act, communities can register their pubs as an Asset of Community Value, then should the pubco try to dispose of the pub for redevelopment, the local community has the right to buy and six months within which to raise the money.

Transition Heathrow transformed a derelict market garden, to the benefit of the local community.

Communities have been abandoned. Their only use was as a cash cow.

The Tumbledown Dick is an old coaching inn dating from the 1720s. Once a popular live music venue, it has been abandoned and allowed to fall into disrepair. The local community wished to buy it, turn it into a community run arts venue. They were shafted by their local council, who preferred to see it demolished for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s

A common reaction of visitors to North Laine in Brighton, or Totnes in Devon, or Sincil Street, The Strait, Steep Hill in Lincoln, is why is my town not like this why do we not have quirky little shops, character?

Lincolnshire Co-op, aided and abetted by the City Council, is wishing to destroy Sincil Street for a shopping centre.

Quirky little shops, usually family owned, recycle money within the local economy, increasing the value of that spent. Global corporations drain money out of a local economy, usually dodge tax too, as we see with Starbucks.

Quality local shops bring people into an area. Other local shops benefit. Money spent in the local shops, gets recycled within the local economy.

Market Rasen was a failing market town. The local shops, got together with each other and the local community, put on markets, craft and arts fairs, opened up empty shops as pop up shops, spruced the area up. Market Rasen is now a success story.

To look at the opposite end of the spectrum, Aldershot and Farnborough, where the local council has a policy of ethnic cleansing of local businesses, net result, two dead soulless towns.

Greening Alton grows food in public space. A green patch at a road junction, Alton Station. Passers by, at least at Alton Station, are encouraged to help themselves.

There are gardens, not used to their full potential, people who wish to grow vegetables, but have no garden. Why not bring together the two, and share the produce?

In Geneva, under a scheme called foodscaping, neighbours agree what to grow, then share the surplus.

In Transition 2.0 is a wonderful mix of discussion and real world examples. If it contains one underlying message, it is that of hope, we do not have to tolerate the status quo, we are the 99%, we do not have to accept what is dictated to us by the 1%, when people, local communities, cooperate, put their mind to something, they can effect real and lasting change.

Moneteveglio illustrates where local communities need to go further. They need to seize control of their local councils, the local councils then become accountable to the local community, serve the local community, where we have participatory democracy, where the local people are directly involved in all the decision-making, and the role of local councillors then becomes reduced to one of accountability and scrutiny, ensuring what the local community wants is carried out.

This is a bottom up approach, not what we are seeing now, a top down approach, where corrupt councillors and officials in the pocket of Big Business and developers, impose unwanted schemes onto hapless local communities.

It is not for local communities to work with local councils, it is for local councils to work with local communities.

Note: Apologies for including the Question and Answer Session on the film, as a disaster, badly filmed, bad sound. An experienced film maker on stage, and yet no one had the intelligence to bring the microphones close to the speakers, or worse, people off camera who were completely inaudible.

A longer version of this article published on Medium with additional notes.

Transition Free Press

December 2, 2013
Transition Free Press - Winter 2013

Transition Free Press – Winter 2013

Who other than a madman would launch a new newspaper?

Who in not only today’s economic climate but in the climate for newsprint, when newspapers are losing money, would launch a new newspaper?

Local and national newspapers are losing money.

A downward spiral, less news, less frequent, less reason to buy, shrinking income, fewer resources for news gathering and quality journalism.

It is into this climate Transition Free Press has been launched. A real newspaper, real newsprint, not a digital newspaper, like the recently launched Guardian Australia.

Transition Free Press was launched this year as an experiment, a toe in the water, a pilot of four quarterly issues.

Transition Free Press has proved to at least be sustainable. Whether it will continue into 2014 will depend upon securing funding.

I came across Transition Free Press in The Barn in Farnham, one of their fifty plus distribution hubs.

Why print and distribute a newspaper, with all the risks involved? Why not be like the Huffington Post or Guardian Australia, on-line only?

A newspaper is shareable, and yes, on-line is shareable too. Indeed, I would go further, when you find something interesting on-line, be it Transition Free Press, this article, music, then please share, tweet, re-tweet, recommend.

Transition Free Press is quarterly, it is not transient like a daily newspaper, it contains useful information, thus more likely to be valued, kept for future reference.

So what is in it?

Articles on self-sufficiency, local communities, alternative energy, local economies, carbon reduction, protest, local currencies, sustainability, art, music.

The very first issue, what could be called a pilot for the pilot, came out last year to test the feasibility.

I have read Transition Free Press whilst in The Barn, and have been suitably impressed. At the weekend I found the latest edition, hot off the press.

The front page of the current winter 2013 edition, out now, has a front page lead story on protest. Taking the lead from comments on not voting and the need for revolution from Russell Brand, communities are taking the lead.

Activists staged a mass work out at COP19 Climate Talks in Poland last month. The talks had been hijacked by Big Coal, Big Oil, and other big carbon emitters and polluters. The point the activists made with an impromptu press conference outside the talks, was that we can no longer trust politicians, if we want change, we have to take action ourselves.

That is what Transition Heathrow did, they squatted derelict nursery gardens and brought them back into productive use, ran workshops. Even the local police reported they had a positive impact on the local community, with reductions in low level crime.

With the collapse of the Co-op Bank, and the unfolding scandal, whereto ethical banking, and was it so ethical at the Co-op Bank?

Payday loan sharks, are not only screwing those they have got their teeth into, they are draining money out of our poorest communities, communities that should be plugging the leaks and recycling money within the local economy.

An evaluation inspired by the Reconomy Project of the potential to ‘relocalise’ Lambeth’s economy … switching just 10% of the borough’s supermarket food spend to local retailers would release £37 million (and “money spent in independent local businesses can create 2-4 more times as much real value as money spent in chains”), and retrofitting housing stock with solid wall insulation could payback in 15 years and generate £100 million of local employment.

And yet, we see the opposite. The Rotten Borough of Rushmoor, has been practising ethnic cleansing of local businesses in Farnborough and Aldershot. Squandering £1 million on repaving Queensmead will not attract people to Farnborough, any more than wasting £15,000 on a free wifi scam, a scam that will collect personal data, in order that locals can be bombarded with spam e-mail and spam sms text messages. Neither will demolishing the c 1720s Tumbledown Dick for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s. The local economy will only benefit, when there are local shops and businesses to spend money in, local shops and businesses which then recycle money within the local economy.

The ConDem government, under pressure from the Big Six energy suppliers, are poised to axe or reduce the green and social levies on the Big Six, to reduce their commitment on green measures such as house insulation. Even if these levies were halved, at only 10% of the average bill, it would only see a reduction of 5%. On the other hand, if only 10% was knocked off the 90% of the bill the Big Six are responsible for, this would lead to a 9% cut in bills. The poor will save money if they use less fuel, they will use less fuel, we will all use less fuel, if our homes are better insulated. If we use less carbon-based fuel, we emit less greenhouse gases.

Money paid to the Big Six on fuel bills, is money drained straight out of the local economy. If we insulate, not only do we cut our fuel bills, reduce our greenhouse emission, that is money that is retained within the local economy, money, which if spent with local businesses, is money recycled within the local economy.

Transition Free Press is produced by a not-for-profit collective and supported, although not financed by, the Transition Network. You can help back the paper by signing up for an annual subscription, minimum £15 per year, though you can pay more if you wish.

You can also help, not only by buying a copy from a distribution hub, but chatting to your local indie coffee bar and similar local businesses, and suggesting they too become a distribution hub. It helps them, as they can bulk buy at a discount,and it helps them by bringing people into their coffee bar.

In a coffee bar, having a copy to read, or a pile on display helps. That is how I came across Transition Free Press in The Barn.

If there is not a distribution hub near you, you can find Transition Free Press on-line.

An edited version of a longer article published on Medium.

Earthship 101

January 1, 2011

Earthship n. 1. passive solar home made of natural and recycled materials 2. thermal mass construction for temperature stabilization. 3. renewable energy & integrated water systems make the Earthship an off-grid home with little to no utility bills.

Biotecture n. 1. the profession of designing buildings and environments with consideration for their sustainability. 2. A combination of biology and architecture.

Tires are not toxic in an earthship. They are hazardous in a pile… Tires are filled with rammed earth, then plastered over. We have had numerous tests and been doing this for 40 years. Not ONE complaint, problem, rumor or ANYTHING in 40 years. David Wright does not know what he is talking about.

Also see

Soft Energy Paths

Curitiba – Designing a sustainable city

Natural Capitalism

Sustainable Energy: Thermal Banking Greenhouse Design

December 2, 2010

Steven Schwen of Earthen Path Organic Farm (Lake City, Minnesota) has built an innovative greenhouse that allows him to extend his growing season while reducing energy costs. The Farmer-Rancher Grants program from SARE provided critical assistance for Schwen in the beginning phases of his project.

This is something I have always wanted to do. Heat pumps that pump energy into the ground in the summer when it is too hot, then they draw heat out of the ground during the winter. This is very very efficient.

We also need houses that are passive solar collectors.

There were some homes like this in Nottinghamshire that are south facing and partly built into a hillside, hobbit style. They also overlook a pond which has a cooling effect.

Also check out the Rocky Mountain Institute. Built into a hillside and needing minimal heating in the winter.

Also see

Soft Energy Paths

Zero Carbon by 2030

October 31, 2010
Bolivian Ambassador Maria de Souviron

Bolivian Ambassador Maria de Souviron

I was on my way up to London on the train to Zero Carbon by 2030 and the news was coming in fast, Vodafone stores were dropping like flies. A good start to the day! [see Nationwide shut down of Vodafone stores]

Zero Carbon by 2030 organised by Campaign against Climate Change was a look at how we get to an economy free of carbon by 2030. We have a window of opportunity of five, maybe ten years, before it will be too late. How do we get there?

I missed the introduction on the science, but as I am already very familiar with all the positive feedbacks I probable did not miss anything of importance.

I caught the tail end of Stephen Murphy from Zero Carbon Britain talking about how they intend to get there. From what I heard it sounded very fuzzy and not well thought through. All become veggies and yes we can still fly if we plant lots of crops for biofuels! [see Sustainable Energy]

Ben Brangwyn talked of Transitions Towns. He gave two examples from opposite ends of the spectrum, Totnes in Devon and Heathrow. How do we oppose a new supermarket? Talk to planners, take direct action or set up an alternative food network so people do not have to go to the supermarket? At Heathrow a derelict site had been brought back into food production and it had brought about community involvement. The police had seen a 50% reduction in crime rate. David ‘Big Society’ Cameron please note.

We will have to change to adapt to the future. If we start to change now, future shocks will have less impact, we will be more resilient.

I have mixed feelings re Transitions Towns. Nothing wrong per se, growing local food etc. is all a step in the right direction but does it give a warm cuddly feeling that we have done our bit? Ben Barngwyn admitted the jury was out on this. On the other hand if it makes people more political aware, empowers them, then yes, it is a good direction as nothing is going to happen without direct action, we can forget politicians and big business doing the right thing. [see Transition towns]

Vicki Hird from FoE talked of the need to restructure agriculture to be less energy intensive. She urged everyone to support the campaign Join the Moovement.

John Stewart from Airport Watch told us that even for cheap flights, it was the rich that were using the flights not the poor, it was not the myth that is often peddled that is is bringing aviation for all. The rich benefit but it is the poor that suffer, especially the poor in the Third World. We are suffering second-hand noise, second-hand pollution.

Aviation has to pay its way. It is not as easy though as John and others would have us believe to slap on taxes. It is international treaties that give aviation tax exemptions. We can though be creative. Air Passenger Duty is ill-conceived as the airlines simply pass it on to their passengers. It should be a tax per flight. The worst offenders pay the highest tax. This would be a combination of emissions, nuisance and loading factors. There is then an incentive to improve.

The most obscene offender by far is the business aviation at Farnborough Airport. Average of 2.5 passengers per plane. A Boeing Business Jet is a re-configured Boeing 737.

Deepak Rughani from Biofuelwatch was a breath of fresh air. He said there was too much focus on carbon and we were ignoring ecosystem destruction. That if we destroyed the Gaian control mechanisms it would make no difference were we to reduce carbon emissions, reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere as these targets have no meaning if our Gaian control mechanisms are destroyed.

Plantations have about 4% the carbon of pristine rain forests. Every time we destroy a living species, we destroy part of the complex web of life with unknown and often unknowable consequences.

Deepak Rughani attacked the presentation earlier suggesting we could reach Zero Carbon Britain by growing crops for aviation fuel! Sadly there are some folk living in cloud cuckoo land. But most of the NGOs are not listening.

There are plans to import wood chips as biofuels. This means forest destruction in Canada and the Third World. We also see human rights abuses associated with the production of biofuels.

Land should be used for Food not Fuel.

There is no such thing as sustainable palm oil production. The land could be used for growing crops or restored to forest.

For years I have been highlighting biofuels is bad. Biowaste yes, but not the growing of crops as fuels. It has to be seen as a sick joke when earlier in the week Rainforest Action Network were promoting sustainable palm oil plantations. But then RAN also supports the logging of primary forests.

Wood burning stoves, associated with traditional coppicing of ancient woodland improves the biodiversity of the woodland. Picking up dead wood from the woodland floor is destroying the lifeforms within the dead wood.

Bolivian Ambassador Maria de Souviron said the poor countries were not going to be bullied into an international agreement that left them worse off. Global temperature rises had to be limited to no more than one degree centigrade. In Bolivia there was a grass roots movement Mother Earth. The Cochabamba Declaration argues for a target of limiting temperature rise to no more than one degree centigrade and a maximum limit of 300 ppm of carbon in the atmosphere.

Speaking to Maria de Souviron afterwards I asked what brought an ambassador to such an event. She said she was only too happy to lend her support as climate change effected the poorest countries. Some countries would disappear or be devastated by rising sea levels. In Bolivia the glaciers would melt. In the winter they would have floods, in the summer drought.

A trade unionist gave the trade union viewpoint. We could create a million green jobs. But we should not as he asked, stand shoulder-to-shoulder on the picket line with Luddite Trade Unionists to protect jobs in dirty industries, but we will support the workers in the call for the creation of green jobs.

Andrew Simms from The New Economics Foundation spoke of the limits to growth. We live on a finite world with finite resources. We are citizens, not consumers. In one day he counted over 400 adverts calling for us to consume, but only three that asked for good behaviour from us as citizens. The news links High Street spending with the state of the economy. NEF has launched a programme The Great Transition.

Alexis Rowell from Camden CAN and 10 by 10 Campaigning forward told us of what is happening in Camden. Council vehicles powered by fuel from biowaste, education of Camden planning officials on what green means, buildings that recycle grey water, green roofs. In Wales there was initiatives with New Economics Foundation on the use of well-being indices. As a Libdem councillor he was very outspoken against the Libdems in the coalition government.

The one aspect of our energy use that was not discussed was embedded energy.

Caroline Lucas who had hoped to be there sent her apologies. She was attending a rally on cuts in Brighton.

John McDonnell was due to speak but sent a video message with his apologies.

In the evening we had entertainment. Poetry and music. Songs from Seize the Day. An amazing guy on guitar with another guy on violin. A lovely poem on the earth shedding tears (the words please).

There was a meet up in a pub the Cock Tavern in Kings Cross later but the map was illegible, many people had gone home.

I called it a day. I had a chat with Shannon, lead singer in Seize the Day, she signed a copy of Standing Strong, only released that day, mine was number five she told me. The first track, Boys on the Balcony, which Seize the Day performed live, is about the Vestas workers who last year occupied their wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight to try and prevent its closure.

Nearby in the back streets at the side of Euston Station are some very good Indian restaurants. I had a dosa, two glasses of water, then caught the overcrowded train home.

There is to be a big (or hoped to be big) march in December I would question the timing and the futility of such a march. Who is wanting to march on a cold December day? What is the purpose of marching on Parliament on a Saturday when no one is there? Lessons are not being learnt. Marches attract zero publicity and do not achieve anything. It is direct action that achieves change, that gets publicity.

The suffragettes learnt a hundred years ago that marches gets you nowhere. Change comes through direct action, through confronting those in power, by making the status quo costly.

Also see

Climate Rush ‘do a Banksy’ on HM Treasury

Yes Men hijack Chevron media campaign

Crude Awakening shut down Coryton Oil Refinery

Gaia’s prayer

Transitions towns

Nationwide shut down of Vodafone stores

Funny Weather

Sustainable Energy — without the hot air

Soft Energy Paths

Curitiba – Designing a sustainable city

Natural Capitalism

Climate Rendezvous with Climate Rush

October 14, 2010

There are corporate environment groups like Rainforest Action Network whose business model is environmentalism, who carry out stunts to raise money for their corporate coffers. There are then grass roots groups like Climate Rush and Climate Clamp, who carry out stunts to effect change, to raise awareness.

I was at Toynbee Hall in London for a meeting with Climate Rush.

The hall was packed. Standing room only.

Climate Rush model themselves on the suffragettes who effected change by direct action. No one in power willingly gives up power. We effect change by challenging authority.

We will only move forward on climate change if we challenge authority. This Climate Rush do very effectively, be it rushing parliament, taking tea in a station forecourt or visiting the editors of mainstream newspapers who act as though climate change does not exist.

Various speakers: Old hands from the Greenham Common Peace Camp of the 1980s, an expert on the suffragettes, Caroline Lucas MP and Tamsin from Climate Rush.

A century ago the suffragettes were badly beaten and sexually assaulted on Black Friday. They then took more violent action: burning down houses, bombings. Their most effective action was to dog the footsteps of Members of Parliament calling for votes for women.

Caroline made a flying visit between votes in the House of Commons. She highlighted how undemocratic the House was and in need of reform.

Cutting our carbon emissions is the opportunity for change to a better quality of life. We should offer people alternatives. We should have affordable and reliable public transport. No one should die in their homes of cold due to fuel poverty.

We are rapidly approaching a tipping point and have a window of opportunity of five, maybe ten years at the most, before it will be too late to act.

The government has just given the go ahead for offshore deep water drilling off Shetland. This is before a Select Committee has reported. Financial incentives have been offered!

Where to next? Black Friday must not pass without some form of action on that day.

An excellent meeting. Red sashes for those who wanted them.

I then popped along to a fundraising party by Just Do It, a film about activists by activists.

Synchronicity: Two days later I walk into my house, turn on the radio and it is a programme about the Suffragettes! [see Suffragette-defaced penny]

Upcoming events

The Crude Awakening – Central London – Saturday 16 October 2010

Zero Carbon by 2030 – Friends House, Euston Road, London – Saturday 30 October 2010

Also see

Climate change is not a picnic

Is climate change activism dead?

Climate Rush activists storm Daily Express newsroom

A message from our Patron (yes we do mean Caroline Lucas MP)

Raising a Ruckus

August 22, 2010

Climate Camp has set up camp outside the global headquarters of Royal Bank of Scotland to highlight their funding of dirty energy. Unless we park our tanks on their lawns nothing will change. It is only by taking direct action that we effect change.

A report revealed today by the Sunday Herald shows that RBS has provided nearly £13 billion worth of funding to the oil and gas industries since it was bailed out by the taxpayer two years ago. This is at a time when small businesses are being starved into bankruptcy through lack of finance.

Also see

Climate Camp vs RBS – We’ve arrived

How RBS funds ‘dirty oil’

Why should state-owned companies be ethics-free zones?

RBS: £13bn funding to companies blamed for global warming

RBS under siege over “environmental vandalism”

Climate change campaigners turn up the heat on RBS chiefs

RBS Porkies and Climate Camp Frogs

RBS moves to avoid protest

Climate Camp vs RBS – We’ve arrived

August 21, 2010

Climate Camp is this year in Edinburgh during the Fringe targetting RBS, bailed out by the taxpayer and now funding tar sands expansion in Canada.

Climate Camp has set up camp right next to the Royal Bank of Scotland Global HQ!

No democratic advancement has ever been achieved without direct action. Those in power do not voluntarily give it up.

Further images have been posted by Amelia Gregory.

Last year Climate Camp occupied Blackheath Common in Greewich.

Also see

Blood Bank – RBS funding clmate chaos and ecocide

Climate Camp: Breaking the Bank

Climate Camp Scotland

High Pressure Front

Climate protest camp targets RBS headquarters

Protest at RBS group oil support

Activists set up Climate Camp at Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters

Climate protester breaches RBS Gogarburn security and glues herself to desk

Pakistani floods reportedly triggered by climate change

Greenwash spill at the BP-sponsored National Portrait cotland