You are currently browsing the monthly archive for February 2013.

Three events you that may be of interest:

  • SCCP Green Deal briefing – Sat 16 Feb
  • Greenprint Forum Launch – Thur 7 Mar
  • Streetwise Transition Streets Training – Sat 20 Apr

SCCP Green Deal briefing event
Saturday 16th February,  12-2pm  at East Green Energy show room.
East Green Energy showroom, 26 Quayside, Woodbridge, Suffolk, IP12 1BH

A briefing will cover the Green Deal and how we can all benefit from it – homeowners, tenants and businesses can now make energy efficiency improvements to their home/business – like having solid wall insulation (where no cavity walls exist) and new double glazing installed – paid for by the expected energy savings made on their fuel bill.

The good news is that Suffolk has been selected as one of the few pilot Green Deal Pioneer Places in the UK, and so you can now get a free Green Deal Assessment (normally costing about £100) from our pilot partner and Green Deal provider Aran Services, who are based here in Suffolk. There is extra help for those living in homes without mains gas and/or in properties without cavity walls. Andrew Jackson will also be giving a 5 minute brief on the Community Environmental Action Fund and how it could benefit your community see SCDC website for more information

Please book your place on the event by sending an email John Taylor. Refreshments provided.

Launch of the East Coast Greenprint Forum.
Thursday 7 March, Greenprint Forum, 5.30pm – 9pm,
Riverside Centre, Stratford St Andrew.

Part of Climate Week and Fairtrade Fortnight.

The Greenprint Forum Steering Group we would like to invite you to the Formal Launch of the East Coast Greenprint Forum.

You will get a chance to talk over food to community environmental support organisations and communities who are ‘doing it for themselves’ in Suffolk Coastal and Waveney and beyond. Indeed you may well wish to put yourself forward as one of the stalls.

Through a talk and open session you will be exploring Fairtrade (Waveney District Council is a Fairtrade Council and Suffolk Coastal will be considering this in due course) and local food. There will also be a workshop on how the Suffolk Hedgerow Survey can be taken forward. Further information and an event programme.

If you represent a community, an organisation, or a group that is making  (or trying to make) a difference in East Suffolk or are an individual looking to start one book your place now to avoid disappointment. Please contact Andrew Jackson or call 01394 444218.

To reduce the amount of travel that people have to do, encourage use of public transport and cater for those that are not able to drive far in the dark we will be trying to link people together for car sharing, please indicate on the booking form if you require or can give a lift.

One of our groups is supporting the Family in Need food parcel appeal – it would be wonderful if you are coming if you could also bring some suitable non-perishables (Families in Need Foodbank).

Streetwise – Transition Streets Training
Saturday 20 April, 9:00
– 17:30.

This 1 day free training course provides the basis for running a Transition Streets (TS) project whereby Street by street behaviour change is introduced which will benefit the people involved and the environment. Transitions Streets originated in Totnes under the name of Transition Together. Based on 468 households from 56 groups the average saving per household is around £570 per year and 1.3 tonnes of CO2 per year’. ‘The greatest benefit of participating was the new social connections and the strengthening of local community.’ Free to attend but you must register as places are limited. See Streetwise flyer for details

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Book cover

Book cover

First, some background: Richard Heinberg is an American academic who has written extensively on environmental and economic issues. He works at the Post Carbon Institute and his previous books include ‘Peak Everything’, ‘The Party’s Over’ and ‘Power Down’, all of which look at resource depletion and particularly at our reliance on fossil fuels. This new book draws together many of those issues but looks at them from the perspective of our current recession.

The essential message of the book is that a number of factors are coming together which will mean that there is no long term prospect of continuing to live the way that we do at the moment. Those factors are:

  • Resource Depletion: many of Richard’s earlier books detail the background to peak oil. It is sobering to realise the extent to which our whole way of life is dependent on fossil fuels, from industrialisation to agriculture to transportation, through to the more mundane uses that we take for granted. Our society relies on the huge amounts of stored energy that are being released in the use of fossil fuels and it is that which allows our planet to support a population of seven billion, when the sustainable level is something like two to three billion. The discovery of this energy source has been likened to the humankind winning the lottery – unfortunately it has largely been squandered for short term gain.

While oil is the bedrock of our society, the extent to which we are using up other, non-renewable resources may not be as widely known. The book details a whole host of other irreplaceable elements and compounds that we are rapidly depleting.

  • Environmental Impacts: the effects of extraction and use of resources on the environment has also been well documented and is likely to worsen.
  • Financial Disruptions: a key element of the book’s argument is that the current socio-economic system is reliant on growth that can no longer be sustained. The scale of the world economy that has been created as a result of the availability of the cheap energy source that is fossil fuels means that it has to rely on debt; money is created by debt and to pay the interest on that debt requires constant growth. If the earth’s resources are finite, then it stands to reason that such growth cannot be sustained indefinitely. If it is a bubble that is reliant on oil and oil is running out, then it would seem that we are reaching that stage.

The book goes on to look at the likely effects of innovation and substitution. Having come to the conclusion that these cannot bridge the gaps that are starting to show, it looks at some possible scenarios if nothing is done to change the way that we live. It then moves to look at possible approaches to managing the problem. The conclusion is that we must look to create a sustainable society with a steady-state economy based on more responsible use of our natural resources.

That is all well and good but it begs the question why this is not being addressed in any serious manner by the world’s governments. An interesting part of the book looks at why that may be the case. It cites research that shows that selfish behaviour is an innate survival mechanism that is hard-wired into our brains: we would much rather take a short term reward than plan ahead. Is there any hope? There are learned behaviours of self-restraint and empathy for others but the depressing conclusion is that the short-term, selfish view is likely to prevail until such time as the situation worsens to the extent that action is better than no action. Unfortunately, by then it may well be too late!

This is only a very brief overview of the book. It is meticulously researched and the arguments are well presented. I would urge everyone to read it; if anyone wants to borrow my copy, please get in touch.

Gary Lowe.

published by Clairview (ISDN 978 1 905570 33 1)

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