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No dilemma, the human omnivore’s prerogative is unsustainable

Radical slow food guru Joel Salatin is not popular with vegetarians. New Age wisdom has held that modern man had to transcend meat, the only sustainable future calling for us to cut out the middle beast and narrow our source of nutrition to the more efficient vegetable kingdom. Except it turns out that agriculture is no more sustainable than mining. Here's the lesson I gleaned from Joel Salatin's lecture last Saturday. Nature wants to grow grass not grain. The greatest environmental disaster to befall Earth was mankind's development of wheat. Calling humans omnivores pretends we can eat anything, when in reality outside of meat we're limited to the product of tillage, for the most part requiring irrigation and fertilizer. A sustainable biosphere calls for perennials cycled through their consumers, ruminant herbivores. As omni as we wanna be, we're not herbivores.

Can you manage a World Car-Free Day?

The publishers of Car Busters have proclaimed every September 22 to be WORLD CAR-FREE DAY. Consider taking the bus, riding a bike or walking to work today. Where possible, the World Carfree Network suggests you walk in the middle of the street where the automobile-dependent will get the point. It's not your fault the MSM hasn't told everyone we have a chance today to rethink the sustainability of how to get around. Apropos to how to get people out of their cars, Vancouver scholar Patrick Condon has released a text about Design Strategies for a Post Carbon World, titled Seven Rules for Sustainable Communities, published by the University of British Columbia Press. The table of contents offers talking points enough: SEVEN RULES FOR SUSTAINABLE, LOW-CARBON COMMUNITIES 1. Restore the Streetcar City The Streetcar City as a Unifying Principle Urban Form and the Pattern of Walkin and Riding Continuous Linear Corridors, Not Stand-alone Nodes Buses, Streetcars, Light Rail Transit, and Subways Streetcar as an Urban Investment Cars, Buses, Streetcar, or Heavy Rail? Case Study of the Broadway Corridor in Vancouver What Is the Optimal Transit System? 2. Design an Interconnected Street System Challenges of the Denritic Street System Four Types of Interconnected Street Systems Ideal Block and Parcel Size Road Width, Fire Access, Queuing Streets The Corner, Lanes and Alleys Greenhouse Gas and Street Pattern 3. Locate Commercial Services, Frequent Transit, and Schools within a Five-minute Walk Sense of Place in Corridors Transit, Density, and the Five-minute Walk Designing for the Bus or Streetcar The Walk to School 4. Locate Good Jobs Close to Affordable Homes The Historic Relationship between Work and Home Metropolitan and Community Scale 5. Provide a Diversity of Housing Types The Influence of Building Type on GHG Production The Sustainable Single-family Home Build and Adapt Neighborhoods for all Ages and Incomes Buildings with a Friendly Face to the Street 6. Create a Linked System of Natural Areas and Parks Fredrick Law Olmsted and Linked Natural Areas and Parks Ian McHarg and the Greenway Revival Case Study at the Regional Scale: The Damascus Design Workshop Case Study at the Neighborhood Scale: Sustainable Fairview and the Pringle Creek Community, Salem, Oregon 7. Invest in Lighter, Greener, Cheaper, Smarter Infrastructure Watershed Function Four Rules for Infiltration Green Infrastructure for Parcels Impervious Paved Infiltration Streets

CH2M pushes UAE Masdar as model PRT

In writing about the recent PPSBN Sustainability conference, I failed miserably to highlight the keynote speaker Nancy Tuor, who represented CH2M Hill as a model green corporate citizen. Ms Tuor, the "Group President and Executive Sponsor for Sustainability" at CH2M Hill, had headliner status at the conference because she is Program Manager on the MASDAR ‘Green’ City development in the United Arab Emirates, a smoke and mirrors project if ever there was, and it's smoke from burning oil. According to the program for this week's conference in Colorado Springs: CH2M HILL is the delivery partner for the first phase of the MASDAR development, a carbon-neutral and zero-waste sustainable city nestled in the heart of Abu Dhabi—the first major hydrocarbon producing nation. First, a sustainable city built on income generated by fossil fuel is an oxymoron. Second, UAE's efforts appear to be centered on securing the technological rights to new sources and practices before their monopoly on oil expires. MASDAR is a comprehensive Abu Dhabi government program to address the issues of sustainable energy sources and environmental practices. The program is focused on developing and commercializing advanced and innovative technologies in renewable, alternative, and sustainable energies. In other words, their definition of sustainable is much like the military's, they want to sustain their profits. Minneapolis Confidential's Ken Avidor contacted NMT about another outlandish aspect of CH2M's green charade in Masdar. It relates to an announcement which Nancy Tuor made at the conference: MIST delays impact PRT schedule. At a sustainability conference in Colorado Springs on November 3, 2009, Nancy Tuor, CH2M Hill’s program manager for the MASDAR ‘Green City’ in the United Arab Emirates, announced that the personal rapid transit (PRT) system will open to public use in about six months. It seems a central showpiece of the Masdar development is a Personal Rapid Transit system which always fails to materialize. As Avidor writes: You may have seen blog posts and news stories about a "sustainable" city in the United Arab Emirates called Masdar. One of the supposed "green" features of the Masdar project is a "Personal Rapid Transit" (PRT) system. It turns out the PRT system is a joke... but what do expect from a country where a prominent royal family member tortures people and has it all documented on video. One of Avidor's astute readers makes the point that the US tortures people, and documents it on video as well. So much for that dig at UAE, but Avidor's central criticism stands. PRT projects worldwide are being lauded with out merit, but of critical relevance, PRTs are being used as stalking horses to thwart the finite budgets which metropolitan regions have for mass transit. Interestingly, Avidor's blog posts are being dogged by two detractors who can't sing praises enough for PRTs. Maybe they're new technology freaks who want to see Jetsons fantasies in their lifetimes. Maybe they believe the argument against mass transit, that contemporary man doesn't want a community experience when he commutes. If they aren't PRT industry shills,

Sustainability catch phrase for profiteers

COLORADO SPRINGS- At Rosamund Naylor's CC lecture "Where's the Beef?" about the basic unsustainability of beef, whether corn or grass fed, we discussed three facets of the sustainable equation: biophysical, economic and social. The Southern Colorado Sustainability Conference taking place today and tomorrow is more interested in a fourth: military sustainability, or how to sustain its mission. The PPSBN event is a green wash for area businesses, primarily weapons industry contractors, and Fort Carson, to claim for example, that setting aside land for a firing range will ameliorate urban growth. Their keynote speaker this year is Nancy Tuor of CH2M Hill, one of the top war profiteers in Iraq and Afghanistan, implicated among the disaster profiteers of Hurricane Katrina. A sustainable army is a very, very small one. There is no sustainable offensive capability, nor even as deterrence. A big stick is only sustainable as a plowshare. A blimp-neck military type's concept of sustainability is fertilizing the status quo. But a word about Rosamund Naylor's lecture. Gates Common room was overflowing with students and locals who seemed already very much up to speed about the grass-fed versus industrialized beef agriculture. I was almost completely impressed by the caliber of the students, when a tangle-haired student seated in front of me posed this question: "Could developments with GMO grasses produce greater yields which in turn could make grass-fed beef more feasible?" Naylor answered that GMO development was unlikely for perennial grasses because where's the profit for Cargill? But the boy defended his question, as if Naylor's answer had come from a Luddite, and the little innocent reaped back slaps from his friends all around.

Unsustainably powered lights on parade

COLORADO SPRINGS- There used to be a float in the PARADE OF LIGHTS which set an example for energy conservation. The lights were generator-driven and the admittedly un-flashy vehicle moved along entirely under pedal power. Did it look out of place between the commercial affairs shellacked in Christmas light?

Fort Carson’s boot on your 4th of July

I just love the Gazette's headline on their July 4th front page: POST IS KEEPING TABS ON ITS 'BOOTPRINT'. Is it a cute eco play on words, or an ironic malapropism? About collateral damage, Rumsfeld famously said the US doesn't do body counts. I am reminded of course of George's Orwell's foretelling: "If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face -- forever." Certainly the PR crew at Fort Carson meant to imply the equivalent of an environmental footprint in Army lingo. But footprint is itself no longer the literal track left behind you as you walk. It has come to mean the space you occupy, or the resources you consume. Or that of your computer or the printer on your desk for example. The portion of surface resources which each item displaces. There must be a semantic fallacy which applies here, a mixed semaphore perhaps? As if you could tell me "put a sock in it." And the Army would add "Put a BOOT in it. HA HA." If the Fort Carson sustainability spin doctors want to call the Army eco impact a "bootprint" instead, it probably is more accurate. Their activities have devastation-unleashing consequences. And as the interviews in the article reveal, the warrior's real passion is in the warfare, hybred-whatsits be damned. On this Independence Day when we're all wishing ourselves "Happy" Patriotism, let's reflect on the full context of Orwell's 1984 passage: Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.

Eco-conscious, yes. Sustainable? Hardly.

The First Affirmative Financial Network may be green and may encourage eco-progressive development, but offering investors continued profits based on growing market activity is a far cry from an environmentally sustainable footprint.

When in Rome, do you know what to do?

Killing is wrong, no matter how much fertilizer you are able to make. Reaching across to the sustainability crowd, by minimizing anti-war ideals as merely differences of opinion, is to compromise not just taste, but substance.

Walden Pond is goin’ green

This year I've resolved to be a better Earth citizen. Last night I watched The Story of Stuff. It's a digital video making its way around the internet and it elucidates clearly the materials economy, from natural resource inputs to consumer consumption and, finally, to waste landfills and garbage incinerators. It is truly disheartening to see what we are doing to the planet. There is no question that things better change, and soon. The earth can't sustain our never-ending demands much longer.   Today I read that 13% of home energy bills go toward heating water. To make some headway on our resolution to be eco-conscientious, I presented a couple of options to my kids. We could commit to taking shorter and cooler showers. Or we could economize in the way my mother did while my dad was in Viet Nam and she was left home alone to care for 5 young children. My daughter just came upstairs, post shower, with blue lips and goosebumps galore. I think I have my answer.