By Stephen Leahy
Unless governments work actively to build a brighter future for humanity, climate change, poverty and loss of biodiversity will worsen and continue to exacerbate existing global problems, top scientists warned ministers attending the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) governing council meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, on Monday.
Replacing GDP as a measure of wealth, ending damaging subsidies, and transforming systems of governance are some possible steps they can take, the scientists said.
“The current system is broken,” declared Bob Watson, the UK’s chief scientific advisor on environmental issues.
“It is driving humanity to a future that is three to five degrees C warmer than our species has ever known and is eliminating the ecology that we depend on for our health, wealth and senses of self.”
Watson and 19 other past winners of the Blue Planet Prize, often called the Nobel Prize for the environment, presented their 23-page synthesis report, “Environment and Development Challenges”, at the UNEP meeting.
Ministers warned that because the adverse impacts of climate change and biodiversity cannot be reversed, “The time to (act) is now, given the inertia in the socio-economic system.”
“The good news is that (solutions) exist, but decision makers must be bold and forward thinking to seize them,” Watson said.
“We have a dream – a world without poverty – a world that is equitable… a world that is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable…” wrote Watson and his co-authors in their report.
By Richard Thornton
It is all too rare to read news about the continuing catastrophic problem in today’s United States land development industry. In many parts of the country, the better part of two generations of highly educated construction professionals have been wiped out financially. Another is graduating from college to find almost no job openings. Meanwhile those primarily responsible for creating the catastrophe are denying their culpability for the multiple human tragedies that their actions and inactions have caused.
Like generations of aspiring architects and civil engineers before them, students at the Georgia Institute of Technology look out the windows of their dorm rooms to the dramatic skyline of downtown Atlanta. However, unlike all students before them, going back twelve decades, they will see no construction. Private sector construction came to a sudden halt in the Atlanta area in 2007. In 2008, state and local governments canceled projects because of the stark drop in tax revenue. By late 2008, prominent Atlanta architecture firms were going bankrupt. Some had survived the Great Depression, but were put permanently out of business by the lack of projects to pay rent and payroll.
The situation in many former boom cities like Atlanta is not likely to change soon. According to the national real estate research firm of Jones-Lang-LaSalle, downtown Atlanta currently has a 22.5 percent vacancy rate and slim chances of new construction in the foreseeable future.
The forebears of these Georgia Tech students dreamed of following the paths of brilliant design professionals in Atlanta such structural engineer T. Z. Chastain or architect John Portman. This generation can only ponder ways of surviving after graduation, until perhaps some day there is a job opening for an internship in their profession. Like most of their counterparts around the nation, though, that day is not likely to happen. They are a lost generation without dreams.
The first four chapters of the Sustainable Land Development Code (SLDC) were released to the Santa Fe, NM Board of County Commissioners (BCC) and the public at the December 13, 2011 BCC Meeting. The SLDC will implement the goals, policies, and strategies of the adopted Sustainable Growth Management Plan (SGMP), which was approved in November 2010.
Copies and CDs are available at County Administrative Offices in the Planning Division at 102 Grant Ave. and are available at the County Satellite Offices (Pojoaque, Eldorado, Edgewood). Santa Fe County will release the remaining SLDC Chapters as they are drafted and would like to encourage all residents to review the draft chapters and provide input. The final draft code will incorporate public input and be presented to the BCC once completed for direction on an approval process.
The draft SLDC Chapters 1-4 and a link for residents to provide public comment are available at www.santafecounty.org under Hot Topics or the direct link is www.santafecounty.org/growth_management/sldc.
This SLDI Open Letter is in support of and response to the Presidio Graduate School students’ Open Letter to the David and Lucile Packard Foundation Regarding Ecosystem Service Valuation as part of their capital markets open letter project:
As part of their curriculum, MBA students studying the interconnections of sustainability and business at the Presidio Graduate School are developing a capital markets mechanism to monetize ecosystem services that would incentivize communities to preserve and/or rehabilitate vital local ecosystems, such as watersheds, by utilizing a letter of inquiry to engage the Packard Foundation (the Foundation) as an investor in a proof of concept pilot project for the above model…
Dear Presidio Graduate School students and Packard Foundation Representatives,
Given that healthy watersheds are critical to supporting various functions within a community, the Sustainable Land Development Initiative (SLDI) supports your effort to develop a capital markets mechanism to monetize ecosystem services that would incentivize communities to preserve and/or rehabilitate vital local ecosystems, such as watersheds.
Therefore, in answer to your desire for a model community area that has a need for capital investments to sustainably support its water infrastructure, SLDI respectfully requests your consideration of a partnership opportunity with the following existing model in Curry County, OR:
Port Orford Community Stewardship Area
By: Richard Thornton – Community Planner, Architect and Native American Historian
Five hundred years ago, the young Spanish colonial town of Pensacola was surrounded by permanent and seasonal wetlands. The swamps were considered a vital part of the colony’s defenses – in more ways than one. They made transportation of heavy siege cannons near the fortifications of Pensacola by a European enemy almost impossible. They also helped keep hurricane damages to a minimum, ensured viable food and water supply, and more.
Great Britain won the French and Indian War in 1763 and in process, gained all of the present-day Southeastern United States. Attacks by large European armies were no longer a concern. Defense of the harbor against enemy fleets and privateers became the focus of military engineers. Expansion of the potential farmland around Pensacola became a major objective of British colonial officials. Work crews of African slaves were utilized to construct drainage canals out of the wetlands.
West Florida became a province of Spain again at the end of the American Revolution in 1783, but Spain had been an ally of the fledgling United States during the war, so it did not initially worry about a land-based attack. Defense from land-based attacks briefly became a concern during the War of 1812, but the war was primarily between the United States and Great Britain, along with their Native allies.
Can an investment help the pocketbook and the planet at the same time?
Definitely, says R. Paul Herman, author of The HIP Investor: Making Better Profits by Building a Better World. Following is an excerpt from Herman’s book. Explore the options, and put your money on a wiser course…
What frameworks are useful in evaluating real estate investments? The Sustainable Land Development Initiative (SLDI), a member-owned organization dedicated to promoting land development around the world, seeks to balance the needs of people, planet and profit – for today and future generations. SLDI is piloting a project at Ocean Mountain Ranch in Oregon using its “SLDI Code” (based on a holistic model) to pioneer innovations in eco-forestry and sustainable living (http://www.triplepundit.com/author/sldi/).
It’s now clear that much of the western hemisphere was well-populated and dotted with impressive cities and towns. One scholar estimated that it held a hundred million people or more – more than lived in Europe at the time.
Pre-Columbian Americans had transformed vast swaths of landscape to meet their agricultural needs by using fire to create prairies for increased game production, and had also cultivated at least part of the forest, living on crops of fruits and nuts.
What’s more, Native Americans, above all else, were master land planners and designers. They managed their civilization through planning and design much to the extent we do today and in some areas used greater sophistication than we do today. Much sustainable intelligence can be found through the study of their community planning, site selection, terrestrial and marine ecosystem integration, building design, and more.
In Hans Christian Anderson’s iconic fairy tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes, two swindling weavers promise an Emperor a “new suit” that they tell everyone will be invisible only to those who are unfit for their positions. So, when the Emperor parades before his subjects, the spellbound people laud his beautiful new clothes in fear of being exposed as unsophisticated or stupid. Eventually, it took a child to cry out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!” before the king’s subjects could muster enough confidence to admit the obvious reality.
Scholars note that the phrase “emperor’s new clothes” describes a common situation where “weavers” of official policy insist that the value of their labor be recognized apart from the physical reality of the moment, and has become a standard metaphor for anything that smacks of pretentiousness, pomposity, social hypocrisy, collective denial, or hollow ostentatiousness.
While today’s existing global power structure continues to try to conduct business as usual and insist that the economy is in good standing, there is no question that existing systems are unsustainable. The economic value of all of our assets and resources are at stake, and dealing with the symptoms of the problem rather than their root causes, while delaying the consequences and numbing the public to their real effects only exacerbates the inevitable results. Note these sobering facts:
SLDI co-founder Terry Mock was invited recently by the Rotary International’s Port Orford, Oregon chapter to give a presentation on the SLDI pioneering sustainable land development model project Ocean Mountain Ranch located just outside the Port Orford city limits. Rotary International and the Rotary Foundation missions offer excellent complements to the holistic SLDI Code™ sustainable development model and an inspiring and unique case history in the evolution of sustainability on both local and global scales over the last century. It’s an evolution which all sustainable development practitioners and advocates can benefit from learning about.
By Greg Wendt
An excellent article was just written called “Reviving Main Street – A Call for Public Banks” highlighting the opportunity states across America have to restore a healthy economy – simply by creating a state bank.
Surprisingly, North Dakota is the only state in the union which has created its own bank.
The article highlights work of thought leader Ellen Brown , and the Public Banking Institute which educates policymakers about the opportunities from the straightforward process of forming a state owned bank.
Her site shares that:
Public Banks are…
- Viable solutions to the present economic crises in US states.
- Potentially available to any-sized government or community able to meet the requirements for setting up a bank.
- Owned by the people of a state or community.
- Economically sustainable, because they operate transparently according to applicable banking regulations
- Able to offset pressures for tax increases with returned credit income to the community.
- Ready sources of affordable credit for local governments, eliminating the need for large “rainy day” funds.
- Required to promote the public interest, as defined in their charters.
- Constitutional, as ruled by the U.S. Supreme Court
…and are not
- Operated by politicians; rather, they are run by professional bankers.
- Boondoggles for bank executives; rather, their employees are salaried public servants (paid by the state, with a transparent pay structure) who would likely not earn bonuses, commissions or fees for generating loans.
- Speculative ventures that maximize profits in the short term, without regard to the long-term interests of the public.
Will the U.S. Catch Up with the Rest of the World?
Hugh Wheelan of Responsible Investor conducted a great interview of Kevin Parker, Global Head of Deutsche Asset Management (DeAM) based in New York City. In it, Parker puts forth the most positive outlook yet that private money is finally coming to climate change technology. Despite Parker’s bullishness, the money has not yet surfaced for the most part, but he says it’ll be this year and investment will increase annually for the foreseeable future.
Parker says insurance companies are beginning to model the strange weather patterns that have been emerging and trying to understand the financial impacts they will have on the world. While global temperatures continue to rise, there are many inconsistencies and microclimates are emerging. Parker notes that Northern Europe for example, is becoming a colder climate because of the impacts of the Gulf Stream.
Investors who are thinking about generational wealth are putting environmental issues and the availability of energy and natural resources at the top of their investment priority, as most of them will hit major crises in the next 50 years. Savvy Middle East investors are beginning to hedge against depleting oil resources, which they say will run out in the next 50 years.
Biodiversity – By Dr. Reese Halter
A century ago the most dominant tree in the U.S. – the American chestnut towered the land and ruled the East Coast forests from Georgia to Maine. In a manner of a human lifespan this majestic tree has not only disappeared; it has in many cases been forgotten.
Chestnuts belong to the genus Castanea and are a member of the beech family, which flourishes in the temperate zones across the northern hemisphere.
Once upon a time chestnuts grew all over North America and Eurasia then joined to a supercontinent called Laurasia. Once Laurasia broke-up seven species of chestnuts developed: Chinese, European, Japanese, dwarf Chinese, Chinese chinquapin, American chestnut and Allengheny chinquapin.
All species bear nuts – high in fiber, protein, vitamin C and carbohydrates; low in calories and fat.
This article is Part 3 in the Fractal Sustainable Development Trilogy.
As a comprehensive sustainable development decision model, The SLDI Code™ functions as a completely integrated, fractal matrix which leads decision-makers from the foundation of triple-bottom-line sustainability to sustainable results. This unique model (depicted graphically by the logo to the right) is a result of the input and vetting of numerous sustainable project leaders.
NOTE: The principles embedded in the SLDI Code Sustainable Development Matrix are universal in their application and need not be confined to land development projects. In Pass-It-Forward spirit, the SLDI Code has been gifted on behalf of the land development industry to be used by anyone on any effort in which triple-bottom-line sustainable results are desired.
It’s hardly news that after more than two decades of talk about the need for sustainable development, we humans continue to have a poor track record when it comes to achieving sustainable results. How can we implement change while up against the overwhelming current of business as usual? It will take a new perspective, new approaches and different means of leadership.
For the first time, a condensed & balanced triple-bottom-line set of defining articles, collectively entitled The Fractal Frontier – Sustainable Development Trilogy, is now available for your review. The trilogy examines the reasons for our past failures, a new scientific basis for the essence of achieving sustainable development in the future, the nine universal principles that must be built into any sustainable project, ways to educate, plan and lead teams to achieve sustainable results, and much more.
SLDI News & Commentary Update: Developing a Sustainable Oregon Coast
The southern coast of Oregon is a rare place on earth, where beautiful wild & scenic rivers tumble down through steep canyons, and the tallest and largest carbon-sequestering forests in the world on their way to a rocky coastline with wide stretches of sandy beach, before pouring out into the mighty Pacific ocean. Along the rugged coast are picturesque working ports, made of hillside homes, small waterfront cafe’s, vibrant art communities, and more parks per mile than anywhere in the USA.
The Port Orford Ocean Resource Team (POORT) has a mission to engage Port Orford fishers and other community members in developing and implementing a Port Orford Community Stewardship Area Plan that ensures the long-term sustainability of the Port Orford reef ecosystem and social system dependent on it. The Redfish Rocks area south of Port Orford has been designated a pilot marine reserve and a broader area of some 30 miles in length along the southern Oregon coast forming a unique 935-square-mile land and sea stewardship area is to protect terrestrial, freshwater, intertidal and ocean reserves. This model sustainability initiative is a prime example of a trend described in the current Oregon Planners Journal entitled Ecosystem Services: A new approach to planning that can help the profession to plan sustainably.
On February 11th, POORT will hold its 3rd annual Land-Sea Connection workshop to share healthy best practices with proactive agencies, NGO’s and local stakeholders to improve collaboration within the stewardship area and encourage implementation of the Port Orford Marine Economic Recovery Plan. Located in the stewardship area headwaters along a 1000’ ridgetop overlooking old growth forest and the marine reserve, Ocean Mountain Ranch is a SLDI carbon-negative project that will provide for long-term yield of high-quality hardwood, softwood, and wildlife habitat while serving as a model organic forestry/grazing operation incorporating residential, agricultural, educational, recreational, and industrial activities to promote sustainable land development best practices on the southern Oregon coast by mixing nature, tradition, and economics for a sustainable future. You can watch a documentary preview of this ground-breaking eco-forestry project here.
Financing for ecosystem services is beginning to emerge from some compassionate climate capitalists who have been seeking out carbon offset projects that not only reduce carbon emissions but also have significant social, economic and/or environmental benefits in the communities where the projects are developed. These projects are often referred to as having co-benefits or some call them charismatic projects. Charismatic carbon projects are poised to experience significant growth because there is increasing demand from offset buyers because companies that buy charismatic offsets gain more brand value for buying them than if they had just bought garden variety offsets.
The Fractal Frontier – Sustainable Development Trilogy
This trilogy of articles examines the essence of sustainability and presents some new perspectives on achieving sustainable results. Part I – Designing a Big Wheel for Civilization explores our checkered history regarding sustainability and provides a foundation of understanding for the future. Part II – Like Life Itself, Sustainable Development is Fractal presents new scientific understandings of economics, nature and social psychology and their impacts on sustainable development. Part III – The Universal Principles of Sustainable Development begins the process of defining the requisite outcomes in order to achieve sustainable results on any project.
Pass It Forward
In the Pass-It-Forward spirit, SLDI is gifting the information in the document, along with the SLDI Code™ sustainable development matrix, on behalf of the sustainable land development industry, to anyone interested in collaborating to achieve sustainable results. You are encouraged to cite, share, copy, distribute and transmit this information under the conditions that you attribute the work to The Fractal Frontier – Sustainable Development Trilogy and include this link to the document in its entirety – http://www.triplepundit.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/THE-FRACTAL-FRONTIER.pdf.
It is important to note that the information contained in the document is universal in its application and need not be confined to land development projects.
Your participation and comments are welcome.
This article is Part 2 in the Fractal Sustainable Development Trilogy.
Part 3: The Universal Principles of Sustainable Development
A new understanding of the world is revolutionizing how scientists and other professionals of all disciplines are solving important problems today, and this understanding also has the potential to significantly impact how we think about and work to achieve a sustainable world.
In just the last couple decades, we have learned that fractal geometry – and its related field of chaos theory – forms the very basis of science. “Chaos,” as its name implies, is the study of processes that appear so random that they do not seem to be governed by any known laws or principles, but which actually have an underlying order. We now know that the physical, biological, social and even the economic universe is not random, and we’re beginning to determine just what that underlying “code” is.
Scientists are learning that everything natural is created by the immutable laws of fractal geometry. This includes static elements as well as energy flows, living things, and their behavior patterns. They are all built on self-similar patterns that replicate each other on increasing and decreasing scales, sort of like Russian nesting dolls. The various levels of scale are not all exactly alike, but they are all self-similar and build one on top of the other based upon a fundamental “code” that reproduces itself on different scales. In both the metaphysical and practical sense, the entire universe is built by fractal geometry.