Archive for the ‘Deep ecology’ Category

What is ecological food?

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

There is debate and scepticism about ecological food: Do we need it, and what is it?

At present ecological food represents a low percentage of food consumed in most countries. The figure is maybe about 2-5%, but many countries aim for much higher figures of 15-20% in the near future. Ecological quality is also questioned, and prices are generally higher.

The idea of ecology must be the basis of it all, and this is where the “confusion” starts: There are no common standards and definition, there are several selfmade definitions so the field is rather open. Ecological is not a fully developed concept, the agreement is not wide enough and does not cover all aspects of food production. Some say it has to do with the Earth as a system, deep ecology, small scale, diversity, values, ethics etc. At the same time we see the industrial giants muscling in with their own marketing and definitions. This is the basis that need settling: Give us a standard!

It is surely not enough for giants to change labels and call their food ecological. Industrialization means large scale, centralisation, standardization. What we need is local taste, different taste, new products, traceability, identification, short transports. We also want choice, alternatives, consumer power developing and reduction of corporate power with increasing buying power.

Ecological food is surely not for giants, it must be small scale and diverse: It must be better than industrial food for consumers and the Earth. It is rather sad that all food can not be called ecological and be really ecological too.

Food authorities should be part of this to make sure food is exactly what it is claimed to be.

So to make some headway: Standards and definitions must be settled, and then adhered to. This is part of the learning process of ecological living. Can we find agreement?

And remember that we are what we eat.

Urban quality rising – cities are improving

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Several cities in the world are now becoming good at creating fine environments for all.

An example of urban development and renewal is Hamburg, Germany. The old shipping and transit town by the river and water is making part of the old harbour areas into a modern city. Some of the old quays are changing into modern urban areas, and the thinking behind it is good and deep. Some say it has to do with crazyness what they do – especially with reference to the new concert hall.

Hamburg already has Elbe, Alster, Port City (13.000 seagoing ships arrive every year), Storehouse City, Fish Market, Reeperbahn, cultural activity of all kinds, and the special attitude to life is the most characteristic – you have to find out for yourself.

New developments are under way, and people love what they see and are moving in. It may be that culture is the engine of creation, and the Bilbao effect is also mentioned.

Hamburg now get several spectactular buildings like the new concert house Elbphilharmonie, a tower for viewing the harbour, big office buildings with a temporary architecture. Landmark buildings like the science museum and other museums are also there. The public areas are spacious, the thinking is about sustainability and community living.

The aim is to make this a city of short distances, so that walking and cycling is possible, all supported by a good public transport system. Underground parking is ample so that visitors, both business and tourists, have easy access. Other functions like eating, shopping, cultural activity are also rich. A cultural melting pot is considered by inviting individual participation into activities. The conscious city is what it is about.

There are many new homes on the waterfront, and people become more outgoing and participative, with good neighborhoods. There are meetings, community web-sites for information and opinion, and home offices are common.

The thinking is about balancing work, life, leisure by mingling residential and working areas including sport so that they are side by side.

So a grand city is in the making.

Your personal deep choices

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

In the future world of deep ecology we need education to understand what this is about. It has been likened to a life philosophy  and it will affect our western lifestyle profoundly. It is not about going back to nature, it is about understanding the place of man in the ecological system – an equal among equals. There is a living system all around us that we are part of, that is constantly developing, and we are developing with it. We must all find out what this is all about, and make it a personal choice to be part of it.

Some points to consider as this is not only about plants and fish, but ethics and systems too:

  • We must make less self centered choices about economic growth, even thinking of stopping economic growth or production in some areas. This thinking is completely new, but it should not mean having less, but distributing what there is fairly. A lot of what we make and is part of “economic growth” should be stopped. An obvious example are bombs. A lot of products should be recycled completely – e.g. metallic products. When we produce “enough” of a product it should become a commodity that everybody can have via the public domain at a fixed cost, and it becomes a common pool resource.
  • The system we have for health care should be for all, it is a public good. There are choices to be made, difficult ones about priorities. Our methods for developing cures are grossly inefficient, and people are dying because of it. Research into new ways and methods should be free and open and publicly funded. The drug companies are not the ones to do this.
  • Protecting the environment must become priority number one. This also have wide health implications.
  • We must use progressive technologies that are already out there and develop new ones – societal influence on development and use must dominate.
  • The understanding of human health must improve so that we know how our bodies work, including our brains, so that we can live well, eat and train sensibly based on knowledge.
  • Issues like abortion, gay rights, drinks and drugs and a million others should be either part of research programs where we find solutions, or less regulated or left to your private sphere.
  • Natural resources are a common pool for all and should be handled through common pool resource management. This is a prime area for corrupted practices, and must be stopped.
  • Political processes should be re-engineered to remove lobbying and forcing by special interest groups, many questions like roads, water, hospitals, schools should be run as a common pool resource and removed from politics. Corporate lobbying is a disease. Only individuals can take part in politics. Political influence on personal choice should be cut or removed.
  • Local politics and engagement should be rebuilt, participation should be increased, political principles should be renewed.
  • Corporations should not be allowed to become enormous so that they can threaten society in various ways. Small, agile, innovative enterprizes should be the norm.
  • Free trade is the normal system, but there is cooperation and coordination on selected products.
  • Product design, construction, distribution should all be ecologically founded, with a view to long life, use of resources, recirculation, practicality.
  • All decisions should be measured against an ecological yardstick: cost/benefit analysis
  • All communities, both urban/rural should be in a state of permanent renewal and development, or closed down as part of a willed process. Ghost cities are bad.
  • Excesses should be eliminated because people as ecological beings do not want them, as all products are measured ecologically.
  • Local culture must prevail – Americanization of the world is not desirable, and the same goes for Chinesifaction.
  • Education must be free up to and including university level, it must be broadened, travel to other parts of the world must be included to learn about foreign culture and philosophy, the exclusivity of intellectual training must be changed so that emotional, creative, intuitive abilities are recognised and trained. This way we can find our place in the world.
  • The monetary system and the system of markets must be changed profoundly – it’s basis must be broadened – now it is for the few that are running us around.
  • Forget politics – do not wait for something, it will never happen. World decisions will never materialize. All good systems are bottom-up: you decide for yourself, become an ecological being, express ecological views, see that it is good, others will join in, and you have an improved situation where you are. Do not think about everything, but stop thinking and get on with your life. You are the only one who can do it. “Obama” does not know about you and never will.

Think deeply and make a personal choice about deep ecology – it surely is a good idea.

So you think this is naive and far too wide – just start working on deep ecological principles and you will see that it is profound and much deeper and wider than these points.

Windmills in your mind: are you doing right?

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Windmills are now set up all over the world. The electricity generated is very expensive and is likely to remain so, the cost of these projects are heavily subsidized and the mills are a pain in the eye. They make sounds also: whirring, knocking when the blades pass the mast, constant movement disturbing you. Some places the windmills even kill birds.

New York City will have a windmill park that you can see from everywhere – are we supposed to be delighted at the prospect? And one on top of a hospital? It will be iconic – everybody can see it. Nature is already gone in the cities, but the visual aspect will not be likable long term – these things make sounds and disturb your view.

The risk associated with windmills has not been properly evaluated – a few have lost a blade, there have been structural collapse, and they have caused fires.

Windmills require invasion of nature – the nature is no longer untouched when windmills have been built, roads and power lines must be built or or underwater cables installed, the fish or the birds may be troubled. Urban planning: how many would you like or how many can you tolerate?

So where is the logic behind all this: We harm the environment visually and physically, even in the cities, the economics are bad and likely to remain so. This is true even when the costs of environmental harm have not been added. It all depends on subsidies, politics and lobbying. The interested parties get their money and the politicians their moment of glory.

So this is clearly not a sustainable proposition and huge windmill parks will eventually disappear – when the subsidies stop.

Let us instead see this as a learning process on our way to a sustainable society and ecological thinking: power must be sustainable, visually and physically acceptable, environmental costs must be accounted for, animals and plants should live, power generation must preferably be local to avoid power lines: all these factors at the same time. Windmills will  not be with us for long – have one or many near you and you will understand.

It surely takes time – but we will learn.

East meets West

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

The world is divided into blocks. It has to do with physical distance, culture, economics, politics, religion. The thinking behind it all also seems to be going on in its own way inside these blocks.

Culturally we think the best about ourselves. Our art and literature is deemed superior to culture from far away. Intellectually the differences may seem huge. We appear to be living in different worlds. But remember that all continents have produced great art and literature.

The Greeks are considered the source of our wisdom and culture, our model. But it now appears that the Greeks travelled widely also eastwards – to Persia and India, picking up thinking and wisdom from these parts and amalgamating it into their own thinking. Our Western tenets of freedom of speech and thinking, fairness, distribution of wealth, human suffering et. al. have also been part of Eastern thinking. Maybe some ideas originated in the East and later were made our own.

It now appears that there is a oneness based on basic human values like love and respect, and that it is possible to say that Eastern and Western thought are similar although the languages and expressions are different. There are also stages of development, differences of opinion, powerplay involved. Some people are famous in the West, others are famous in the East.

Gradually we will now see a merging of philosophies, the old ways will be left behind, new ways will emerge. The basic premise is that we must all take care of all living things under the all-embracing oneness there is. This oneness is emerging in many areas like deep ecology, life sciences of interconnectedness and systems thinking, medical thinking of body and mind, the Gaia model of the Earth.

This may seem like speculation now – but watch it – the increasing stature of many nations, the rebalancing of the nations of the world will aid the wholeness and integrating processes. The East will meet the West, and the philosophy of oneness will grow.

Antarctic – nothing there?

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

7 countries have claimed land in the Antarctic – 14 million square kilometers of it.

The claims have not been settled, only research agreements have been entered into.

Whaling is over for good, and there seems to be little of economic value in the area: tourists are there, fish, krill. No oil? Maybe some minerals?

There is environmental interest with a big icecap and 86% of all the fresh water in the world.

Seemingly no strategic or security issues? So keep the world cold and the Antarctic will stay a low-interest place. Or maybe there is more?

Somebody should surely oversee what is going on in the area: is there overfishing, environmentally harmful activity? The UN maybe?

The future of the scientific or knowledgebased world

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

We have done much to improve the world. Science and technology has been used to increase wellbeing and prosperity for most people. But there are areas of dismay: there are about 1 billion poor and starving people and we are harming the globe in many ways for future generations.

Food production and consumption is an area where the present industrialized system can not go on. We are changing the face of the earth to produce food, often substandard, lots of food is wasted, and distribution systems leads to lack of food in many areas. Sustainable methods are lacking.

Many illnesses are still there, often due to lack of sanitation and clean water.

Education is not available for all, creating large differences.

Science now enters a new phase where systems, networks and interconnections are featured, and huge possibilities can be seen for development. New technology in the bio- and nano spheres are there.

But there seems to a growing difference of opinion about what is right and what we should do. There is no longer an authority that knows – the facts are disputed in every field. We can move into new territory, but we must solve the knowledge problem and establish what is right.

Science is about how things really are – there is one true way that things work and that is right – even allowing for complexity in systems.

The agreement about the future is no longer there.

New thinking about deep ecology, the money system and continually happening crises, health issues, poverty, terrorism, harming the Earth etc. is not integrated, not well enough known and simply not on peoples agendas.

People are talking about scams, hoaxes and there are spins and lobbying. There are many dangers and this creates fear.

Political, scientific, ethical, financial issues must be integrated. A collectivization of the new big ideas is needed – so that we can make a foundation for the future. Some say this is not possible.

The real state of knowledge makes this possible if enough of us want it. Dialogue must be improved, knowledge and enlightenment must be improved. The new authority is the thinking about what is right that we all share – our common platform of thought and action.

We are systems – systems are us

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Deep ecology means accepting systems thinking in the sense that the processes taking place in the world follows a pattern or cyclus, and are interlinked and dependent upon each other. It is acceptable to see ecological thinking and systems thinking as the same.

Science has evolved in the same direction – scientific knowledge is increasingly seen as systems knowledge. Biological units are seen as systems, societies can be seen as systems. Things are placed together and they work together, they are connected, have relationships, fit in a context. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts alone. Analysis of detail is out and context is in.

Ecology means household – there are functional relationships between the parts of the biosphere – they have led to the Gaia systems view of the Earth.

Two new concepts are now firmly established: network and community. The old idea of web of life is coming back to us as it has to do with the interwovenness and interdependence of every phenomenon on Earth. Network models of cell systems and organs are used now and organisms are placed in hierarchies of nature. Networks also have nodes, and each node can be seen as an organism, all positioned in a larger system.

The systems concept of networks will lead us into the future!

Growing food: What would nature do?

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Food production in the western world – and increasingly in other parts of the world – is industrialized. We use chemicals on a massive scale to produce food, industrial techniques are the norm. We rely heavily on chemicals to get the job done. The saying is that yield is high, prices are low. But the drawbacks are becoming obvious and some major qualities are obviously left out. Chemical agriculture has failed and must be replaced by better solutions.

The drawbacks are there for all to see: local communities are destroyed, plant diversity is reduced, the environment suffers, food quality is questioned, transport costs are high, human health is not so good, GM plants with unknown qualities, chemicals are entering the environment, the soil is damaged.

We must rebuild respect for the land and natural processes. The natural rhytms of the world – birds, fish, the growing season.

We want a healthy harvest from environmentally friendly agriculture. This means natural fertilizers and disease and bug control methods, composting, no chemicals, rich biodiversity, good rich soil, equipment that do not harm the environment. A low maintenance landscape should also be the norm. The underground ecosystem and soil should be tested and kept in good order. We should invite helpful plants, insects and organisms to obtain organic pest control and good growth. Composting could produce methane for production of energy.

Plants should be chosen wisely so that they fit the environment, they should be rich in nutrients and taste, keep their freshness and look good.

These principles should be applied to farms, gardens, backyards, rooftops, verandas, urban areas and all.

The percentage of local organic produce is low in most countries, but encouraging signs are present. Interest is growing as the understanding of the problem grows.

A basic local supply is desirable for many reasons: local control, knowledge of what you eat, less transport, fresher food…. Use of local wisdom and experience should be encouraged, so that local conditions and plants are well taken care of.

Plants could also be used to feed animals in a small scale production.

Yield and cost are important factors, and evaluation of these factors will enter into the broad picture. The negative factors of chemical production must be measured.

Authorities must find their place in this new picture as new and more modern methods are introduced. These principles mean small scale  production, but the advantages could far outweigh possible increased costs.

Education must find its place: courses, books, DVDs, seminars, articles, organizations…..

No need to destroy the environment and make people ill – the solutions can be worked out when the principles are right.

Man made life – for humanity or profit?

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

News of man-made life! The work of creating synthetic DNA is progressing. Messrs. Smith and Ventner et. al. have made a bacteria with synthetic DNA only. The new cells can reproduce.

This is probably the beginning of a paradigm of creating life out of matter and information – many similar projects seems to be on the way as the techniques become practical and understanding deepens.

The theory of creating new life is slowly  - 15 years in the making – becoming a reality and many areas of progress can be envisioned: man-made energy, drugs, plant, animals …..

The ethics are awesome: the positives must be the goal, the negatives must be avoided. Open attitudes are required – new avenues of progress are opened up.

This is both exciting and frightening.