Friday, December 31, 2010

Zone of Influence

2011 is approaching. It is natural to think about the upcoming year. The way I see our mid and long term future is as follows. Next on the horizon in time is another big financial crisis that will hit the US, and again it will be mortgage-based. As the US is so big and the dollar so influential this crisis will indirectly and slowly affect other nations, i.e. the EU and the rest of the world. Both the US and the EU will go through a period of recession of 1 to 3 decades. It will not happen instantaneously or especially in the EU, all changes will be slow and gradual. Example changes will be: salary 5% down, unemployment 5% up, food quality 5% down, etc. There won't be this cataclysmic big event, this big crisis is not about suddenly there will be no food or no petrol, instead the typical living standard will be gradually but consistently going qualitatively downhill in most nations. Civil rights will be reduced step by step. Governmental and corporate scams will become wilder and weirder. Our personal sanity and well being must come from the immediate environment around us: our family, friends and neighbors. Despite Tea Parties, Transition Movements and many more activist groups I see hardly any change around me as I walk through the city. Above all I see no change in how-we-do-business and in politics, no corporate ethical change, no politics for the masses. Since it is hard to find positive political change, there is a high level of doubt that in 10 years we have advanced politically into a more ethical, just and sustainable society. I sound pessimistic. Unfortunately. But it just means as a way of safety and a way of moving forward we must focus on our small and immediate surrounding where we do can make change: our homes, our gardens, our neighbors, a small community group in our village or city, etc.

At the national level, we are very reactive: only when the oil prices really hurt and the cars stand idle in the parking lots will be seriously think about other modes and technologies of transportation. We could be so pro-active as a society, but instead we are forced to behave in certain ways through laws and regulations which includes building codes, tax laws, governmental incentive schemes, and so on. Pro-active behavior currently only has room at a personal level, where an individual takes the burden upon himself. We must take this challenge and shoulder this burden for the sake of our morality, our kids and our long-term hope.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Religion and Sustainability

Just by chance I stumbled across this book today on Christmas Eve. After reading a few pages it dawned on me that this book is very appropriate for this religious day. The title is "Religion and agriculture: sustainability in Christianity and Buddhism" by Lindsay Falvey. It is available freely. In the introduction it states that it uses "sustainability as the meeting point of science and religion". It raises questions like "Why chose agriculture as the entry point to sustainability?" "Why even relate religion to the search for sustainability?" "What is sustainability anyway?" For 300 pages it then goes into details on western and eastern religions and how they lead and relate to sustainability. I haven't read all the way through it but if you are interested in any two of the three topics of agriculture, sustainability and religion/spirituality, then this book might be of interest to you. It certainly is spiritually motivating, a good book to start reading on December 24th.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Collaborative Consumption

The term "Collaborative Consumption" was coind in 2007 and in 2010 pushed by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers. It is about shared owning, owning access but not the product, and community ownership. This leads to community consumption. Rachel and Roo have written a book "What's Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption" and created the matching website It gives some good ideas on how collaborative technology (internet and its services) enabled new concepts of sharing (car sharing, ride sharing, real-estate sharing, etc.) and reuse (swapping and donating products). If you are more into audio and moving pictures, have a look here at collaborative consumption videos.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Recycle. Free + recycle = Freecycle. Hence, The idea of Freecycle is so simple. We all have things we throw out, and our trash can be somebody else's treasure. Whenever we throw away an old door, a used book, a child's toy, we fill up the landfills and these items might be reused by somebody else. Freecycle is an online network bringing people together to form a local community. You announce an item that you want to give away for free, and somebody from the community can come by and pick it up.'s mission is: "to build a worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources and eases the burden on our landfills while enabling our members to benefit from the strength of a larger community." Go ahead, join or start your local Freecycle community.