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Global Change: Intersection of Nature and Culture

The purpose of this forum is to explore big questions about society and environmental change, such as

  • What does the good life mean in the 21st Century?
  • How do personal choices and values play a role in this conversation?
  • What do the natural sciences have to say about the way our world is changing?
  • What do the social sciences and humanities have to say about the ways that the social and the cultural intersect with questions surrounding environment?
  • How can we address environmental and social challenges at the same time?
  • How is environmentalism changing in response to these pressures?
  • What’s the role of higher education in facilitating sustainability and environmental literacy?

There are a lot of environment blogs that assess daily political battles on energy and climate. Others take a “100 things you can do to save the environment” approach. And many others provide a laundry list of daily news, from solar panels to tree frogs to Copenhagen to sea ice, and so on. Those approaches are useful and helpful, especially for fast-moving matters like policy. But they sometimes lose sight of the big questions we need to be asking in our quest to develop a more ecologically sustainable and socially just world. The blogosphere delivers a great deal, but it also fails in making important interdisciplinary connections that foster a more-sophisticated, substantive analysis.

globalchangeblog.com forges a new path (to visit the blog, click here). I want to analyze environmental change by focusing on the interaction between nature and culture, showcasing big ideas from all disciplines —sociology/anthropology, ethics, ecology and other natural sciences, psychology, history, political science, ethnic studies, religion, literature, visual and performing arts, and so on.

I hope this forum will provide the creative space to attract the best and most-interesting ideas for how we might get to a more ecologically sustainable and socially just world. I hope that the constellation of posts can lead to a more useful integration of ideas around these big questions.

Join this group to read posts and participate in the discussion.

An invitation to visit Solar Utopia, another future is possible! Website

Go to our website www.solarUtopia.org which features our peer-reviewed report "A Solar Transition is Possible" with important updates, including an estimate of how much conventional petroleum is needed to bring about a full solar transition in just a few decades while supplying all of humanity with the rough minimum 3.5 kilowatt/person, the necessary condition for a state of the science life expectancy and quality of life. Also test out our two calculators, one relating to our model of solar transition, the other the Energy Calculator that will connect power and energy units.

Best wishes,

Capitalism with a Human Face: A Proposal for the Establishment of a Sustainable Capitalism.

Capitalism with a Human Face:
A Proposal for the Establishment of a Sustainable Capitalism.
online: http://www.modelearth.org/modest.html

Signs of Change National e-Conference

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Our experiences and expectations define our reality. We have heard so much about what is wrong, and what is unsustainable.

The Signs of Change National e-Conference is a national conversation showcasing the signs of change, no matter how small. The conference is not an academic talk fest. Businesses from all fields, Transition Town groups, Farmers, Faith Organisations and Experts are giving evidence of a path other than business as usual.

Citizens Dividend

With the Green Tax Shift and Green Subsidy Shift, reform the flow of public revenue. End subsidies, especially the destructive ones such as to agribusiness and the rest of corporate welfare. Shift taxes off wages, useful enterprises, and buildings, and onto pollution, extraction, and locations respectively. Note that the Property Tax Shift -- off improvements, onto land -- always drives efficient land use. Compact cities are what cut demand for energy and release minimal pollutants; it has worked wherever tried.

The grand challenges of Earth system science and sustainability

Solutionary Elinor Ostrom and colleagues have an article in Science describing five major challenges in transitioning to a more sustainable world. Check out my summary in the latest blog post.

Hairy crops as a solution to climate warming?

It's considered in a new article in Climatic Change. Check it out at the blog.

Differing values in conservation complicate the search for simple soultions

There's an interesting new article in Conservation Biology that I feature on the blog. Conservation is a lot like climate change---many competing values and voices offering different worldviews on nature and culture. This makes it difficult to find simple solutions to extremely complex problems.

Can we improve public health of lower socioeconomic groups by reducing environmental harm?

That's the subject of the latest blog post, which examines an interesting new paper out this week in PLOS One.

Ways to solve poor diets in the U.S.

Check out the latest blog post, which responds to an article in the NY Times about poor American diets.

Considering carbon footprints of automobiles

What leads to more greenhouse gas emission: Making your vehicle or driving it? Check out the answer at the blog.

Climate warming with existing infrastructure

The latest post on the blog highlights an interesting question raised by a new paper in this week's issue of Science:

If we allowed all existing cars, furnaces, and power plants to live out their useful lives, and then replaced them with non-CO2-emitting machinery, how much would climate change?

Read more to find out.

Solutions to small town transportation

The town I live in--Brunswick, Maine--is experimenting with a few transportation solutions that might be of interest to other towns struggling with personal vehicle use. Check out more on the blog.

Food and consumption solutions required for tropical forest preservation

A new paper in PNAS describes the extent of tropical forest loss for the production of new agricultural lands. Visit the blog for more.

Gulf spill a catalyst for change?

Check out the interesting letter featured in Tom Friedman's latest column. Values changes like this by individuals will be an important part of the global change solutions story. It will be interesting to see how many other people develop/share these views in light of the Gulf oil spill.

More on the Gulf oil spill

The thought of mixing the largest oil spill in US history with a hurricane season projected to be worse than usual is not good news.

Read more at the blog...

Another plug for organic fruits and vegetables

You might have caught the story in today's news today suggesting that pesticide exposure might double the risk of ADHD in kids.

Read more at the blog...

Are we seeing the seasons change?

An interesting question featured in an article by John Parker on the blog.

City life may get a lot warmer by 2050

A forthcoming article in Geophysical Research Letters suggests that urban heat island effects may be as large as the effect of doubled CO2 in our atmosphere. Read more at the blog.

Krugman discusses building a green economy in Sunday's NY Times Magazine

For a good (but fairly basic) overview of economic issues involving emissions reductions, check out the latest post.

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