Thursday, December 29, 2011

Richard Heinberg: why end of growth can mean more happiness


Richard Heinberg- whose latest book describes The End of Growth- isn't looking for when the recession will end and we'll get back to "normal". He believes our decades-long era of growth was based on aberrant set of conditions- namely cheap oil, but also cheap minerals, cheap food, etc- and that looking ahead, we need to prepare for a "new normal".

The problem, according to Heinberg, is our natural resources just aren't so cheap and plentiful anymore, and he's not just talking about Peak Oil, Heinberg believes in Peak Everything (also the title of one of his books).

Heinberg thinks for many, adjusting to a life where everything costs a bit more, could be very hard, but he also thinks the transition to a new normal might actually make life better.

"Particularly in the Western industrialized countries we've gotten used to levels of consumption that are not only environmentally unsustainable, they also don't make us happy. They've in fact hollowed out our lives. We've given up things that actually do give us satisfaction and pleasure so that we can work more and more hours to get more and more money with which to buy more and more stuff- more flatscreen tvs, bigger SUVs, bigger houses and it's not making us happier. Well, guess what, it's possible to downsize, it's possible to use less, become more self sufficient, grow more of your own food, have chickens in your backyard and be a happier person."

This is not all theoretical. In the backyard of the home Heinberg shares with his wife, Janet Barocco, the couple grow most of their food during the summer months (i.e. 25 fruit & nut trees, veggies, potatoes.. they're just lack grains), raise chickens for eggs, capture rainwater, bake with solar cookers and a solar food drier and secure energy with photovoltaic and solar hot water panels.

Their backyard reflects Heinberg's vision for our "new normal" and it's full of experiments, like the slightly less than 120-square-foot cottage that was inspired by the Small Home Movement. It was built with the help of some of Heinberg's college students (in one of the nation's first sustainability classes) using recycled and natural materials (like lime plaster).

Heinberg admits it's not a real tiny house experiment since they don't actually live in it- his wife uses it as a massage studio, he meditates there and sometimes it's used as a guest house (though that's hush hush due to permitting issues). But their tiny cottage points to the bigger point behind why a transition to a less resource intensive future could equal greater happiness.

"Simplify. Pay less attention to all of the stuff in your life and pay more attention to what's really important. Maybe for you it's gardening, maybe for you it's painting or music. You know we all have stuff that gives us real pleasure and most of us find we have less and less time for that because we have to devote so much time to shopping, paying bills and driving from here to there and so on. Well, how about if we cut out some of that stuff and spend more time doing what really feeds us emotionally and spiritually and in some cases even nutritionally."

Original story here: http://faircompanies.com/videos/view/richard-heinberg-why-end-growth-means-mo...

RAP NEWS X - #Occupy2012 (feat. Noam Chomsky & Anonymous)


http://thejuicemedia.com RAP NEWS episode 10: The year we've all been waiting for - 2012AD (or 13.0.0.0.0, if you ask a Mayan) - is finally here. What will happen? Will we see the poles shift or a paradigm shift? Will a rogue Sumerian planet smash into our solar system, plunging us into serfdom under the iron fist of a race of gold-hungry aliens? Or are the aliens already here? Or are all these merely humanity's collective projections of itself as it careens towards an ever-accelerating super-connected cyber-reality - whatever that means... One thing's sure, if 2011 was a prelude of things to come, 2012 is going to be one hell of a year. Now that it has arrived, are we ready? Join your host Robert Foster and his guests, Terrence Moonseed and General Baxter, as they conduct an in-depth rap analysis into the future, and humanity's place in it. Happy New YERA!

China jails dissident Chen Xi for 10 years

Mark Hennock reports for the Guardian:

A Chinese court has handed down a 10-year jail sentence to Chen Xi, the second dissident in four days to be convicted of inciting subversion through online essays.

Another democracy campaigner, Chen Wei, was sentenced to nine years on 23 December. The two men are not related.

It is one of the heaviest sentences for inciting subversion since the Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo was jailed for 11 years on Christmas Day 2009.

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http://www.euronews.net/ Chinese dissident Chen Xi has been jailed for ten years for subverting state power in what rights groups are calling a Christmas crackdown by Beijing.

A veteran of the Tiananmen protests, he was convicted for publishing essays online criticising the ruling Communist Party, according to his wife.

She told reporters by telephone that after a trial lasting just two and a half hours he said: "I am a law-abiding person. I respect the court's verdict. I will not appeal but I am innocent."

The Power of Occupy Wall Street Is Not Just What They're Doing, But How They're Doing It

... The way Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy movement worldwide are structured is drawn from another way of thinking. Marina Sitrin, an early participant in the Occupy movement in New York and the author of the book Horizontalism: Voices of Popular Power in Argentina, describes horizontalism thus:

“Horizontal, as it sounds, is a level space for decision making, a place where one can look directly at the other person across from you, and discuss things that matter most to all of us – we decide the agenda. Horizontalism is more than just being against hierarchy, or people having power over others – it is about creating something new together in our relationships. The means are a part of the ends. The forms of organizing manifest what we desire; it is not a question of demands, but rather a manifestation of an alternative way of being and relating.”

Horizontalism and consensus might seem complicated, especially after watching the houses of Congress descend into a battle of egos and wills. Trying to get a simple majority of the Senate, let alone the 60-vote supermajority that is essentially required for every vote now that the filibuster is routinely abused, to agree on anything is a near-impossible task, so how would 95 percent consensus ever work?

But the fact is that thousands of people can come to agreement on complicated issues. Witness the reported vote of 1720 to three (with six “unsure”) at the University of California-Davis over a student general strike this week in the wake of the pepper-spraying of unarmed students by a university cop. And some of that perhaps comes from the fact that they are not playing power games, jockeying for higher position (and more fundraising dollars), or making grandstanding speeches. The people's mic, the Occupy protesters' amplification system, actually contributes to the horizontal structure by cutting down on the ability of any one person to hold court for too long. Any speech requires the consent of those participating in the people's mic, and they can revoke it at any time by simply not choosing to repeat those words. ...

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Anarchist Nation By Mark Hand

... Over the past 15 years, anti-war, economic justice and environmental campaigners have increasingly embraced anarchism’s principle of equal distribution of power. Out of this organizing approach has emerged a view of the modern nation-state and its corporate partners as authoritarian and abusive. The growing awareness of the anarchist critique of the state is impressive. It’s what Schneider calls the “negative political philosophy” of anarchism, given that anarchists excel at explaining what they’re against. But what’s even more fascinating is the growing number of activists who now view the state as obsolete.

People have learned about and experienced alternative ways of organizing society. They welcome how these different social arrangements reject monopolies on power, thereby reducing feelings of alienation and powerlessness. Not only are people embracing the anarchist critique of the state and capitalism, they are being drawn toward what Milstein, in her book Anarchism and Its Aspirations, calls a “reconstructive vision.”

Schneider referenced this phenomenon in his Nation article when he wrote that anarchists have “reminded us that we don’t have to rely on Republicans or Democrats, or Clintons, Bushes or Sarah Palin, to do our politics for us.”

Indeed, large numbers of people are waking up. Poet and essayist Phil Rockstroh recently explained that “we are no longer isolated, enclosed in our alienation, imprisoned by a concretized sense of powerlessness; daylight is beginning to pierce the darkness of our desolate cells.” ...

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