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Are toxic assets a reprieve for the biosphere?

Last October I first saw this splendid inverted pyramid chart (this version has been smartened up) and put it next to another diagramme about programmed trading. I nicknamed the combination image a “Toxic Sludge Machine”. “Where we’re at now” (I wrote then) “is that systems designed to “streamline” the market have been spewing out financial […]

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Sins of emission (2)

The Guardian says today [Friday] that the (G20) summit’s biggest loser may have been the fight against climate change. “Hundreds of billions were found for the IMF and World Bank, but for making the transition to a green economy there is no money on the table”. The Guardian quotes diplomatic sources to the effect that […]

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Sins of emission

An unlikley climate change alliance has emerged: China and Christian Aid. Both argue that countries should take responsibility for their aggregate greenhouse gas emissions to ensure fair play as nations strive to halve global emissions by 2050. He Jiankun, a professor from Tsinghua University, says today that developed countries, which are home to just 20 […]

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Look at the big numbers, not at the small numbers

I’m waiting eagerly for my copy of a new book to arrive, recommended to me by Patrick Beeker: Sustainable Energy – without the hot air. Its author, David McKay, Professor of Natural Philosophy at Cambridge University, has responded to an urgent global challenge: how to make sense of the conflicting claims and information bandied about […]

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Metrics and Aesthetics

I gave a  talk at an event called Green Platform at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence. Introduction: measuring what matters “These are my principles. If you don’t like them, I have others”. Groucho Marx could also have been talking about environmental standards. Our world is awash in eco information, but starved of meaning. Hundreds of organisations […]

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Could ‘green’ energy kill the desert?

One of the more remarkale sights on my recent trip was this vast wind farm outside Palm Springs. Located on the San Gorgonio Mountain Pass in the San Bernadino Mountains, it contains more than 4000 separate wind turbines and provides enough electricity to power Palm Springs and the entire Coachella Valley. But for critics, large […]

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Off-Grid Water (Service design clinic, Stanford University, 2009)

Together with Banny Banerjee, the new Director of Stanford University’s ’Design For Change programme, we ran a professional design clinic on the theme of “off-grid water”. Our Stanford clinic focused on entrepreneurs in the Palo Alto region who were developing tools to help citizens manage water sustainably. Rainwater Hog has won lots of prizes, but […]

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Are you, or do you know, a wind catcher expert?

A friend in Colombia has sent me this picture of the model of their proposed new house. She asks my advice on its wind-catching performance, how wide these have to be…etc. Now I’m flattered to be thought to be an expert on such an incredibly sustainable thing as zero energy airco – but my practical […]

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Sustainable Daily Life (Projects Clinic, The Planning Center, Southern California, 2009)

“What would life in a sustainable world be like?” Together with The Planning Center, we organized this workshop in Southern California for participants from grassroots organizations. Each presented case studies in which they use resources in a creative, original way. Jules Dervaes is a pioneer in urban edible gardens; he calls them “urban homesteads”. Jules […]

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