Transition Ferndale regular meeting, 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, January 21, at the Ferndale Public Library, 222 E. 9 Mile, Ferndale, MI.

Ferndale Freecyclers and Ferndale Time Bank members will tell how you can benefit from and join the online Ferndale Freecycle, Ferndale TimeBank, and more. Ferndale Freecyclers will bring stuff or photos of stuff for you to reuse and keep from landfills. Ferndale TimeBankers will bring Offers and Requests to be exchanged. If this sounds at all interesting, please come to the event and find out more.

You may be able to get some stuff, get rid of some usable stuff, and find some help–all without money. We suspect a lot of what you need already exists in the local community. You might have some underused skills or just some free time, and simultaneously, could use some help around the house or garden, especially if the helpers have some skills that you need to learn. And of course, it’s not just stuff and help, but meeting people and finding out that you have the ability to contribute to building this community while you benefit from it.

Transition Ferndale is about building a sustainable local economy to replace the unreliable – some would say “failing” – money economy. Real wages have been stagnant for decades and have been declining at least since the financial crisis of 2008. That certainly makes the economy unreliable for the great majority who have experienced pay cuts, disappearing jobs, increasing burdens of debt, foreclosures and all the other disruptions of continuing hard times.

The event is free, open to the public. You need not be a member of Transition Ferndale, Ferndale Freecyclers, the Ferndale Time Bank or even a resident of Ferndale to attend. Some light refreshment will be available.

If you can’t attend but would like to know more, or simply have questions, reach Sherry A Wells at 248-543-5297 or sherwells@tm.net

The full title of Naomi Klein’s latest book is, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. It’s well worth reading, though it is not the sort of book you will read straight through for the simple pleasure of the story. Neither climate change nor capitalism is a simple story.

Climate change may not change “everything,” but it certainly changes every imagined future for our society that was based on the assumption of a stable, predictable climate. We can be certain of this, even though there are a lot of uncertainties with models of climate change.

There are a lot of moving parts to consider; science, society, history, economy, politics, geography, geology, ecology and more. No one individual – not even Naomi Klein, though she is a conscientious and thorough journalist who spent years researching the subject – knows how climate change affects all the moving parts.

The thing to keep in mind while working your way through the book is that it is not gospel. Like the rest of us, Klein is still struggling to see what we individually and collectively should do about the issues, and even what we can do.
Early in the book, she presents the scientific consensus on climate change as something very close to certainty. Some examples:

From p. 25; “… virtually all of us [climate scientists] are now convinced that global warming poses a clear and present danger to civilization.”
From p. 28; “… the scientific community made its decisive diagnosis of the climate threat …”
And from p. 53; “… let me be absolutely clear: as 97 percent of the world’s climate scientists attest …”

The listing above has quotes selected to focus on Klein’s assertion of scientific near-certainty about climate change. It’s a good example of how making a case for action takes precedence over explaining the subtleties of the scientific models. The “97 percent” in particular is a citation also heard elsewhere, and it exaggerates the unanimity of climate scientists on the subject. Among the 97%, for instance, there is wide disagreement about what percentage of the observed change is attributable to human activities. One worthwhile article that discusses this range of opinion in some detail can be found at http://euanmearns.com/the-nature-of-the-scientific-consensus-on-climate-change/#more-6132.

She does say in the introduction that she is not a scientist. This should be sufficient warning that she is more interested in the political history of the subject, and she has numerous good insights about this aspect of things. Here’s one essential observation Klein makes about why there is so much opposition to the very idea of climate change, taken from page 49:

“… If the dire projections coming out of the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] are left unchallenged, and business as usual is indeed driving us straight toward civilization-threatening tipping points, then the implications are obvious: the ideological crusade incubated in think tanks like Heartland, Cato, and Heritage [basically, leave everything to the free market] will have to come to a screeching halt. … they know very well that ours is a global economy created by, and fully reliant upon, the burning of fossil fuels, and that a dependency that foundational cannot be changed with a few gentle market mechanisms.”

And more along that line, 5 pages later:

“… these hard-core ideologues understand the real significance of climate change better than most of the ‘warmists’ in the political center, the ones who are still insisting that the response can be gradual and painless and that we don’t need to go to war with anybody, including the fossil fuel companies.”

There’s a lot of valuable discussion about how the politics around climate change play out in conferences, treaties, movements and so on. Klein’s book is not the last word on climate change, but it is a good start for discussion of a critical issue for our times.

Art Myatt

Today, I saw gasoline for sale in Royal Oak for just under $2 per gallon. The philosophically short-sighted (as opposed to physically near-sighted) see this price as completely discrediting the idea of peak oil.

Enjoy the low price while it lasts, because it won’t. As for discrediting peak oil, it does not. It’s exactly the sort of thing predicted by people who understand how peak oil works. That’s demonstrated by this cartoon, published in 2009 (http://sorrycomics.blogspot.co.uk/2009/10/hubberts-peak.html) and worth repeating today:

slow crash 1

slow crash 2

Thanks to the Peak Oil group on Facebook for reminding me of this one.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2213264857/

Any comments?

It’s a longish video (1 hour, 41 minutes) available from Youtube:

 

Discussion following 4 short videos about Transition

7:00 pm Wednesday, November 19, 2014
at the Ferndale Public Library
222 East Nine Mile Road, Ferndale, MI

Free, open to the public
Light refreshments provided

Peak Oil, The Ultimate Challenge for Transition
Professor Susan Krumdieck, Oct, 2014 – 25 minutes
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBEoweU5xGU

Post Carbon Society
Peak Oil interview with Richard Heinberg – 13 minutes
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZDWZ45BDNg

The Fracking Hoax
Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert – 13 minutes
(first half of the program)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KJTNmBNINQ

Preparing for the Coming Economic Bust
Nicole Foss on Peak Moment TV – 26 minutes
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42rSAsPrFp0

77 minues of video total, plus a minute or two switching from one to the next. Academic ideas, finance and practical considerations for transition to a low-energy local economy. Watch one or all videos first at home if you want to prepare for discussion, or watch for the first time at the library.

This month’s Transition Ferndale meeting will be 7:00 pm Wednesday, October 15 at the Ferndale Library, 222 East Nine Mile Road, Ferndale, Michigan.

I’m sorry for the late announcement. It is certainly preferable to give people at least a week’s notice, and preferably two weeks’ notice. It’s been a busy month, and this meeting slipped up on me.

It will be less than three weeks to Election Day, so it would not be surprising if many people have some sort of political activity in mind. Transition Ferndale is not a political group. We won’t be pushing any candidates or ballot issues. As an organization we are more interested in changing the society locally and outside of the electoral process.

This month’s topic for consideration is “Deep Green Resistance” (DGR). It sounds powerful and dramatic and … deep. If you’re concerned about global warming and peak oil and a failing economy (and these three issues pretty well define the Transition movement), then the ieea of a deep green resistance sounds pretty appealling. Maybe we have some natural allies here.

Now, I personally do not think that’s the case. It’s not just that the Transition movement focuses on local actions, not national or international ones. It’s not just that that we try to include everyone in a non-political way, whereas DGR is more political and oppositional. It’s not even that we are basically non-violent whereas DGR is maybe not so much non-violent, depending on your definition of non-violence.

No, it’s mostly that the Transition movement focuses on how we can organize in a positive and adaptive fashion, with local resources, to create a resilient community. DGR, no matter how much it agrees with our starting premises, goes off in a different direction. We’ll see just how different.

We’ll be showing a video, a 2014 presentation from DGR, called “The False Solutions of Green Energy.”  It lasts just over an hour, which should leave us a fair amount of time to discuss their approach. It’s pretty clear, from what I’ve said above, that I do not agree with it, although I do agree with many of the criticisms they have of business as usual in our society.

As always, the meeting is free and open to the public. We’ll have some light refreshments available.

Art Myatt

For the Transition Ferndale meeting at 7:00 pm on Wednesday, September 17, 2014, we’re going to have Let’s Go Green, an environmental awareness presentation by Gerald Hasspacher,  sponsored by The Southeast Michigan Group of the Sierra Club. The meeting will be at the Ferndale Public Library, 222 East Nine Mile Road in Ferndale, MI.

The environment is the basis of the web of life. A healthy environment can only be assured through environmentally knowledgeable citizens acting responsibility.

The Sierra Club’s Let’s Go Green presentation defines current environmental issues and presents practical tips for individual action.

An alternative title for this presentation might be Climate Change and You, because climate change is the controversial, persistent and unavoidable environmental issue of our time. It includes acidification of the oceans, sea level rise flooding costal areas, uncontrolled feedback effects such as releases of methane making climate change faster and more extreme, droughts in regions we depend on for growing food, and more.

In part, the talk will cover a number of things we might do to lessen our personal contributions to climate change. Of course, if we could get everyone on earth to use energy more efficiently and generally to use less energy, then we could have the opposite feedback effect, making climate change slower and less extreme.

Topics in the presentation include:

  • The Sierra Club
  • Sustainability – reduce, reuse, recycle
  • Making energy – the old way and the new way
  • Greenhouse effect and climate change
  • Ocean water
  • Melting ice
  • Sea level rise
  • Transportation
  • Hybrids and real time traffic control
  • Bicycling
  • MI threatened and endangered species
  • MI native and invasive species
  • Bird-friendly glass
  • Trees
  • Earth Hour

Tips in the presentation include:

  • Water usage
  • Battery disposal
  • Paper usage
  • Cutting plastic bag usage
  • Choosing healthy foods

Gerald has given this presentation numerous times over the past couple of years, to a variety of schools and community groups. It covers a huge amount of ground in a short time, because the topic itself is huge. Even if you are already familiar with the subject, you can expect to learn something useful. And of course, there will be time for questions and discussion after the presentation.

The meeting is free and open to the public. You need not be a resident of Ferndale to attend. Some light refreshments will be provided. We’ll be using the projector and screen for the powerpoint part of the presentation.

Transition Voice (link on left) is having a contest in which it is possible to win a DVD of the new award-winning documentary Voices of Transition. The rules are simple: Answer, in 100 words or less, the question, “What does the transition to a fairer, post-oil economy look like for you?”

Well, I entered the following comment:

Transition happens when business as usual fails. There’s plenty of that already, with more to come. Even people who prefer lobster, asparagus, ice cream and macadamia nuts will barter for locally-grown potatoes when the gourmet grocer closes. Transitioning individuals and transition towns develop alternative sources of food, shelter and so on before they are forced, when necessary resources and skills are difficult to find. Transitioners focus on the peaceful and productive aspects of surviving collapse; survivalists on the less peaceful. Which will dominate depends on whether collapse is sudden and severe, or more gradual. Let’s hope for gradual.

[end contest entry]

If I happen to win, then we can see the video at an upcoming Transition Ferndale meeting. And of course, you can enter as well. Just go the the Transition Voice article (http://transitionvoice.com/2014/08/win-a-dvd-of-new-film-on-transition/) and leave your own comment.

Art Myatt

For the regular August meeting of Transition Ferndale (7:00 pm on Wednesday, August 20 at the Ferndale Public Library, 222 E. Nine Mile Road, Ferndale, MI), we’ll be watching Chris Martenson’s “Accelerated Crash Course” video, and discussing it after the viewing. What’s it about? Well, it’s about the root causes of the prolonged economic crash we’ve been experiencing at least since the fall of 2008.

You can watch it at home before the meeting at http://www.peakprosperity.com/crashcourse/accelerated, and decide if it’s something you would like to discuss, or of course, you can just come to the meeting and see it for the first time.

Sorry for the late announcement. I’ve been distracted. Like about half the people in this area, I’ve been dealing with a basement that contained close to a foot of backed-up sewage last Monday night. Now there are piles of carpeting, former furniture and bags of miscellaneous ruined stuff sitting at my curb, and a return to something like normal is at least a plausible future secnario.

Unfortunately for us all, the new normal includes more superstorms, more economic failure and generally more turmoil, as Chris’s video makes clear. To quote Mr. Martenson: “… the next twenty years are going to be completely unlike the past twenty years.”

The question for us is, “What should we be doing about it?” And that’s what we’ll be discussing.

Chris Martenson’s early career was that of a Wall Street whiz kid who made lots of money early in life. He learned, from this experience, that the ideas about economic growth he was expected to sell to his clients were deeply flawed; that there are physical and biological limits to growth on our finite planet, limits that must be ignored or denied in order to believe in continuing economic growth in the pattern of past economic growth.

It’s a different way of coming to pretty much the same conclusions as people who start out concerned about environmental degradation including climate change. It’s also very like conclusions reached by people who start out with concerns about the social and economic injustice of wars for oil. Because it is a different approach, those of us who start from a very different point of view than being a Wall Stree investor can learn from it.

It should be an interesting discussion. It’s free and open to the public. We’ll supply some light refreshments – not a good substitute for dinner, but enough to keep you going until you can get to a proper dinner.

Art Myatt

The Nature of Cities

Wednesday, July 16, 2014, 7:00 pm

Ferndale Library, 222 East Nine Mile Road, Ferndale, MI

A 39-minute video, which will leave plenty of time for discussion.

From the film’s text introduction:

How can we make better cities than ever, better workplaces, better schools… how can we immerse ourselves in nature everyday instead of thinking we have to get in SUV and drive 50 miles? There is no doubt that we need nature. It’s absolutely essential to daily life. We can find it in the cities where we live, it’s all around us if we look, but there are also many innovative ways in which nature can be designed into urban environments.

This is the story of both the nature in our own backyards as well as that being built into to cities of the future. We’ve got to rethink everything that we do in cities today to make them profoundly more resilient. We know in fact that we need daily contact with the natural environment and we have to overcome this sort of bifurcation that cities and nature can’t coexist.

[end quote from film]

Our discussion will start with: How might we apply these ideas here? How have people around here already started?

Free. Open to the public. Light refreshments provided.

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