Environment

ENVIRONMENT - ECOLOGY - NATURE - HABITAT - GAIA - PERMACULTURE - CLIMATE - ENERGY ...

China Green Buildings - EcoBlocks

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EcoBlocks
EcoBlocks aim to be mass replicable, economically viable, and nearly entirely resource self-sufficient communities. EcoBlocks are an alternative way to meet the huge and growing demand for urban space in China, currently filled by inefficient and wasteful apartment blocks. The EcoBlock concept is still a only a concept, but it’s creator Harrison Fraker, former dean of the UC Berkeley School of Architecture, has worked with Arup to prove the concept and is in talks with various Chinese cities to build an EcoBlock. The slide show below is Professor Fraker’s full introduction to the concept, and I will focus on a few key slides in my post today.
    
Harrison Fraker- EcoBlocks
 
Whole Systems Design
Professor Fraker has done a masterful job of using whole systems thinking to design the EcoBlock. As the schematic below shows, the EcoBlock considers the many interactions between the energy, water, and waste systems. The anaerobic digester is a prime example: water used to flush the toilets goes into the septic tank as waste, which then goes through the digester where it is turned into energy. This is an interesting example of “waste equals food”, a concept Will McDonough and Michael Bruangart champion in Cradle to Cradle.

whole_systems_thinking

The upshot of this whole systems thinking is a development that is almost entirely self-sufficient from a resource perspective. As the chart below shows, thanks to significant energy efficiency measures and on-site generation, EcoBlocks is a net-zero energy community and doesn’t need to be connected to the grid.
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What is Biomimicry?

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BiomimicryBiomimicry or biomimetics is the examination of nature, its models, systems, processes, and elements to emulate or take inspiration from in order to solve human problems. The term biomimicry and biomimetics come from the Greek words bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate. Other terms often used are bionics, bio-inspiration, and biognosis.

History

Humans have always looked to nature for inspiration to solve problems. One of the early examples of biomimicry was the study of birds to enable human flight. Although never successful in creating a "flying machine", Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) was a keen observer of the anatomy and flight of birds, and made numerous notes and sketches on his observations as well as sketches of various "flying machines".[1] The Wright Brothers, who finally did succeed in creating and flying the first airplane in 1903, also derived inspiration for their airplane from observations of pigeons in flight.[2]

Here is a short video (in French with flemish subtitles for now, english version coming soon!)

Otto Schmitt, an American academic and inventor, coined the term biomimetics to describe the transfer of ideas from biology to technology. The term biomimetics only entered the Websters Dictionary in 1974 and is defined as "the study of the formation, structure, or function of biologically produced substances and materials (as enzymes or silk) and biological mechanisms and processes (as protein synthesis or photosynthesis) especially for the purpose of synthesizing similar products by artificial mechanisms which mimic natural ones".

BiomimicryIn 1960, the term bionics was coined by psychiatrist and engineer Jack Steele to mean "the science of systems which have some function copied from nature".[3] Bionics entered the Webster dictionary in 1960 as "a science concerned with the application of data about the functioning of biological systems to the solution of engineering problems". The term bionic took on a different connotation when Martin Caidin referenced Jack Steele and his work in the novel "Cyborg" which later resulted in the 1974 television series "The Six Million Dollar Man" and its spin-offs. The term bionic then became associated with 'the use of electronically-operated artificial body parts' and 'having ordinary human powers increased by or as if by the aid of such devices'.[4] Because the term bionic took on the implication of super natural strength, the scientific community in English speaking countries shied away from using it in subsequent years.[5] 

The term biomimicry appeared as early as 1982.[6] The term biomimicry was popularized by scientist and author Janine Benyus in her 1997 book Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. Biomimicry is defined in her book as a "new science that studies nature's models and then imitates or takes inspiration from these designs and processes to solve human problems". Benyus suggests looking to Nature as a "Model, Measure, and Mentor" and emphasizes sustainability as an objective of biomimicry.[7]

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IPC10 - International Permaculture Conference and Convergence

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 International Permaculture Conference and Convergence, IPC10

The biennial International Permaculture Conference is the world's premier permaculture gathering. 

The next International Permaculture Conference and Convergence, IPC10, will be held in Jordan across September 2011.  The theme is "Plan Jordan ~ Water".

HRH Princess Basma
bint Ali of Jordan
will be Patron of IPC10

Princess BasmaThe 1-day IPC10 Conference (open to all) and 4-day IPC10 Convergence (open to Permaculture Design Certificate graduates only) will be held in Jordan (Amman and Wadi Rum, respectively) and will be coordinated by Nadia 'Abu Yahia' Lawton & Charles Hamilton. Prior to the start of the Conference and subsequent Convergence, a two-week International Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course will be taught by a team of respected permaculture educators and pratitioners, and all three events will be followed by tours and permaculture site visits.

You are cordially invited to support this valuable initiative with your presence and involvement! Click here to learn more about the events and to book. 

  Jordan Wadi Rum

Jordan Wadi Rum2011 IPC10 Key Dates

PDC
3rd - 15th September 2011 / Amman, Jordan 

Conference Opening Dinner
16th September 2011 / Amman, Jordan 

Conference Day
17th September 2011 / Amman, Jordan 

Travel Day (Amman to Wadi Rum)
18th September 2011

Convergence
19th - 22nd September / Wadi Rum, Jordan

Tours
From 23rd September


 

 

A New We - Ecological Communities and Ecovillages in Europe

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A New We

— Ecological Communities and Ecovillages in Europe

 

A two-hour documentary — available now on DVD. 

"Every once in a while, a film comes along that can transform the way we live. A New We by the Austrian filmmaker Stefan Wolf is such a film..."
- Will M. Tuttle, Ph.D., author, The World Peace Diet

The variety of situations and voices in A New We inspires hope for the future of humanity and all life on the planet. The lives shown here are more motivated by imagination, vision, respect and cooperation than by economic forces and social expectations. In these 10 communities, the creative solutions to many social, environmental and economic challenges exemplify the nearly infinite capacity for human-, community- and self-development.

It’s a film that enlightens, encourages and spreads hope – for a new world and A New We 

The FIC is proud to announce that it is the sole North American distributor of the English language DVD of A New We (in the NTSC format), a two-hour video created in 2010 by Austrian Stefan Wolf that profiles 10 different European communities with a core commitment to sustainability.

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Prince's Foundation plots Indian Poundbury

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Poundbury, Dorset  The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment
has opened its first Indian office, in Mumbai, with the aim of building a new eco-town based on Poundbury and bringing values of “sustainable urbanism” to projects on the sub-continent. 

The charity, headed by the Prince of Wales, is working in a joint venture with Milestone Ecofirst Advisory Services, which will provide pro-bono office space in India and 50% of an architect’s time against a fee-sharing agreement.

It hopes to turn a 10ha site, either on the outskirts of Calcutta or Bangalore, into a mirror of its “model” village in Dorset.

Foundation chief executive Hank Dittmar said: “India is a fast growing economy and there is real potential to develop the concept of sustainable urbanism within the Indian planning system.

“Local people feel disenfranchised from the planning system – and this is true whether it be in Europe, America or India – and I hope that the work of the Prince’s Foundation will be able to help combat that feeling of disillusionment.”

Work at the office will also include educational and research activities in collaboration with the International Network for Traditional Building Architecture & Urbanism.

The charity has a history of working on international projects in countries including China, Afghanistan and the US.

Read more: http://www.bdonline.co.uk/news/princes-foundation-plots-indian-poundbury/5011396.article#ixzz1BVcHkOe0

 

Anima Mundi - Documentary Movie

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Anima Mundi movie

Will you survive the transition of human industrial civilization happening now due to peak oil and climate change? Can you see the forest for the trees, the earth for the dream, the universe for the seed? Anima Mundi is a film about hope, but its also a film about no hope, it’s a film about reality, from the outside looking in.

Anima Mundi is a new documentary movie (Coming Soon) on Permaculture, the Gaia theory, Peak Oil survival and Climate Change (man-made or not) featuring David Holmgren (co-originator of Permaculture), John Seed (Deep Ecology), Dr Stephan Harding (Gaia Science and author of Animate Earth), Dr Vandana Shiva (Human Rights – Environment – Philosophy), Michael C Ruppert (from the movie Collapse), Michael Reynolds (from the film The Garbage Warrior), Noam Chomsky, Dr Christine James (Psychology), Dr Mark O’Meadhra (Integrative Medicine) and Permablitz.

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A Climate in Crisis

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"Many civilizations have already come and gone. Global warming may be an early symptom of the death of our current civilization."

A combination of powerful factors is rapidly undermining the global ecological system that supports and integrates all living species and their interactions with land, water and atmosphere.

The Earth’s climate system provided the foundation for human civilization to develop over the last 10000 years. Collectively, we are only now beginning to recognize the depth of this interdependence. We are unwillingly facing an anthropogenic (man-made) climate crisis, unleashed by our own waste stream of carbon gas. Meaningful corrective actions are now a matter of urgency for the survival of our own species, and up to half of all species alive at the time of the industrial revolution. On the fortunate side, the clean energy technologis we need to avoid climate breakdown already exist. On the downside, a hugely wealthy corporate sector of society derives its profits from the status quo; continuous economic growth based on fossil carbon fuels.

Climate Crisis

The global ecological crisis is existential, fast-moving and multi-faceted. If we drift inadvertently past a critical juncture, we will be unable to halt the process--an outcome termed "runaway" global warming. Such is the context in which we established this website, as an educational resource, primarily for the international Buddhist community. The Science section covers the origins, dynamics and evolutionary implications of the climate crisis. Its aim is to provide an accurate, pithy description of the problem, as in the diagnosis of an illness. This is complemented by a Solutions section that describes key technologies, policies and actions to resolve the crisis. Once we understand the character and extent of a problem accurately, it is constructive and transformational to focus on the solution. A unique section of this website concerns Wisdom in relation to both individual and collective spheres of the climate change issue.

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The Dream of the Earth

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The Dream of the Earth

by Thomas Berry

One of the more remarkable achievements of the 20th century was our ability to tell the story of the universe from empirical observation and with amazing insight into the sequence of transformations that has brought into being the Earth, the living world and the human community. There seems, however, to be little realization of just what this story means in terms of the larger interpretation of the human venture.

For peoples, generally, their story of the universe and the human role in the universe is their primary source of intelligibility and value. Only through this story of how the universe came to be in the beginning and how it came to be as it is, does a person come to appreciate the meaning of life or to derive the psychic energy needed to deal effectively with those crisis moments that occur in the life of the individual and the life of the society. Such a story is the basis of ritual initiations throughout the world. It communicates the most sacred of mysteries.

 
Khor Yug (Environment) / Calligraphy by Thrangu Rinpoche

The deepest crises experienced by any society are those moments of change when the story becomes inadequate for meeting the survival demands of a present situation. Such, it seems, is the situation we must deal with now.

The great historical vision of Saint Augustine in The City of God, written in response to the burning of Rome by the Goths in 410 C.E., provided much of the guidance and energy for bringing forth European medieval civilization, and in that manner, for creating the Western world as we know it, both in its grandeur and in its disturbing qualities...Even in those medieval times, it was already clear that a rising money economy was diverting the human community from its more authentic destiny.  

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EcoSikh Movement

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EcoSikhEcoSikh is the Sikh community’s contribution to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) Plans for Generational Change Project, which aims to help the world’s major religious traditions create long-term plans to improve their relationship with the environment.


MISSION

EcoSikh connects Sikhs values, beliefs, and institutions to the most important environmental issues facing our world. We draw on the rich tradition of the Sikh Gurus and the Khalsa Panth to shape the behavior and outlook of Sikhs and the world, ensuring that our deep, abiding reverence for all creation remains a central part of the Sikh way of life. 


VISION

Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the first embodiment of Divine Light in the Sikh tradition, laid the foundation for a sacred vision for the environment when he composed the shabad:

Pavan Guru Pani Pita, Mata Dharat Mahat.
Air is the Guru, Water the Father, and the Earth is the Great Mother. ’We honor our Gurus’ wisdom by believing that all humans have an intrinsic sensitivity to the natural world, and that a sustainable, more just society is possible, where water, air, land, forests, and biodiversity remain vibrant, living systems for our generation and future generations.

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Turkey's Changemakers

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Turkey's Changemakers: Victor Ananias helps establish organic farming methods

Victor AnaniasSabanci Foundation's "Turkey's Changemakers" TV program shares inspiring stories of individuals who make a difference in social and economic development.

The 15th episode of Sabanci Foundation's "Turkey's Changemakers" tells the story of Victor Ananias.

Victor Ananias is a son of a Chilean father and Turkish mother and he was grown up in a small village at the Aegean coast of Turkey. He has been working to introduce organic agriculture to Turkey for 17 years. In this respect, he has established partnerships with several NGOs, leading to many new ecological practices. He also worked to design and implement integrated projects and promoted organic products. Ananias is a world known pioneer of the ecological movement and he is shown as one of five future leaders by international ecological agriculture agencies. He was also awarded an Ashoka Fellowship in 2000.

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A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction

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"Individuals have no effective voice in any community of more than 5,000-10,000 persons."

A-Pattern-LanguageA Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction is a 1977 book on architecture, urban design, and community livability. It was authored by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa and Murray Silverstein of the Center for Environmental Structure of Berkeley, California, with writing credits also to Max Jacobson, Ingrid Fiksdahl-King and Shlomo Angel. Decades after its publication, it is still one of the best-selling books on architecture.[1]

The book creates a new language, what the authors call a pattern language derived from timeless entities called patterns. As they write on page xxxv of the introduction "All 253 patterns together form a language." Patterns describe a problem and then offer a solution. In doing so the authors intend to give ordinary people, not only professionals, a way to work with their neighbors to improve a town or neighborhood, design a house for themselves or work with colleagues to design an office, workshop or public building such as a school. It includes 253 patterns such as 12 - Community of 7000 given a treatment over several pages where Pattern 12 on page 71 then goes on to state "Individuals have no effective voice in any community of more than 5,000-10,000 persons." It is written as a set of problems and documented solutions. This is a form that a theoretical mathematician or computer scientist might call a generative grammar. Written in the 1970's at University of California - Berkeley, it was influenced by the emerging language to describe computer programming and design. "A pattern language has the structure of a network" the authors write on page xviii. Thus each pattern may have a statement that is referenced to another pattern by placing that pattern's number in brackets, for example:(12) means go to the Community of 7,000 pattern. If the book had been written a few decades later, it probably would have been a web site, with each page being a pattern having hyperlinks to other patterns.

According to Alexander & team, the work originated from an observation that

"At the core... is the idea that people should design for themselves their own houses, streets and communities. This idea... comes simply from the observation that most of the wonderful places of the world were not made by architects but by the people".
—Christopher Alexander, A Pattern Language, front bookflap
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Cancun climate talks end with modest steps

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Cancun Climate SummitCancun climate talks end with modest steps

An agreement to reaffirm support for the world's least developed countries to help them cope with global warming was a highlight of climate talks that ended early Saturday in Cancun, Mexico.

The Green Climate Fund would manage a "significant share" of the $100 billion a year pledged last year at the Copenhagen climate talks. However, the decision does not spell out sources for that funding, which will not be distributed until 2020.

Delegates from 193 countries meeting for the United Nations talks in Cancun also agreed on a plan to halt deforestation and pledged to share low-carbon technologies.

Canadians demonstrate outside the climate change talks in Cancun, Mexico, on Friday.

However, the Cancun accord deferred for another year the tough work of carving out deeper reductions in carbon emissions.

The 12-day gathering was held a year after the Copenhagen climate talks ended without any binding agreement on curbing greenhouse gases. The Cancun agreement does not specify what will happen once the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012 — postponing the debate until the next scheduled climate talks in South Africa in 2011.


Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2010/12/11/cancun-climate-talks.html#ixzz17qrLg34l

 

Live the Future

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ON's advisory service

Operation Noah Operation Noah is offering a new advisory service to churches and communities. ‘Live the Future’ is a call to people of faith to take on a leadership role in their towns or cities, by living a transformed and rapidly de-carbonised life – in community. Such leadership is vital to help avert the threat posed to Creation by human-induced global warming.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field; which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree: so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof......”
Matthew 13:31

The time for talk on climate change has ended. We acknowledge that the financial and ecological crisis has revealed a yearning in society for moral and spiritual leadership and for a sense of wholeness and connectedness.

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