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1.31.2010

In Portland, Going Green and Growing Vertical in a Bid for Energy Savings


NY Times, Jan 31, 2010

PORTLAND, Ore. — Urban gardening used to seem subversive. People planted tomatoes in public parks, strung their hops to rooftops to make homebrew and reclaimed empty lots as community farms, never mind the property owner.

Yet here in one of the more thoroughly tilled cities in America, subversive has come full circle: the federal government plans to plant its own bold garden directly above a downtown plaza. As part of a $133 million renovation, the General Services Administration is planning to cultivate “vegetated fins” that will grow more than 200 feet high on the western facade of the main federal building here, a vertical garden that changes with the seasons and nurtures plants that yield energy savings.

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1.10.2010

The end of consumerism: Our way of life is 'not viable'

New report says we must embrace a basic future to survive

From The Independant, Sunday Jan 10, 2010

Ditch the dog; throw away (sorry, recycle) those takeaway menus; bin bottled water; get rid of that gas-guzzling car and forget flying to far-flung places. These are just some of the sacrifices we in the West will need to make if we are to survive climate change.

The stark warning comes from the renowned Worldwatch Institute, a Washington-based organisation regarded as the world's pre-eminent environmental think tank.

Its State of the World 2010 report published this week outlines a blueprint for changing our entire way of life. "Preventing the collapse of human civilisation requires nothing less than a wholesale transformation of dominant cultural patterns. This transformation would reject consumerism... and establish in its place a new cultural framework centred on sustainability," states the report.

"Habits that are firmly set – from where people live to what they eat – will all need to be altered and in many cases simplified or minimised... From Earth's perspective, the American or even the European way of life is simply not viable."

Nobel prize winner and microfinance expert Muhammad Yunus, writing in the foreword, describes the report as calling for "one of the greatest cultural shifts imaginable: from cultures of consumerism to cultures of sustainability".

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1.03.2010

A year without getting into a car


Source: San Fransisco Chronicle, Jan 2, 2010

Maybe it was the eve of a new year. Maybe it was the Champagne. Maybe it was simply the right time.

Whatever it was, Adam Greenfield of San Francisco made a resolution at a party on Dec. 31, 2008: He would not drive, or ride, in an automobile for all of 2009.

This futuristic experiment fit in with Greenfield's lifestyle. A 29-year-old single guy who makes community films for City Hall, he was already commuting from the Inner Sunset mainly by bicycle. And he already believed that we're approaching a time in which oil will be so scarce, or expensive, that few of us will be able to power our cars or have access to foods grown from afar.

"I wanted to step out of the car world and downscale my life," he said. "I think this is going to be the theme of the 21st century - we are going to be forced to make do with less."

And that's exactly what he did. No annual Christmas camping trip to Lake County with friends. No Burning Man. And his brother's wedding in the English countryside would be a bit of a trick.

People either applaud him or tell him he's crazy.

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