Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Transition Challenge

Thinking about how Salem will respond to the nascent "energy descent" --- the rapid decline in availability of cheap energy --- and the global need to radically reduce greenhouse emissions (which will further drive up the costs of energy and of moving people and goods around, driving limits on doing so), it becomes clear that these linked challenges will affect everything.

But, it's also helpful to remember that, past a certain point --- a point which most Salem folks are well past indeed --- material affluence is simply not that well correlated with happiness or fulfillment. Energy descent and the need to restrain emissions can actually create a paradox where the fact of doing the right thing for the future generations (a higher order satisfaction in Maslow's terminology, illustrated above) helps smooth out the bumps as we learn to use much less energy and to have much lower material flows (reduced affluence in the disposable-society mode -- our standard of consumption -- while enjoying more real affluence in the quality of life).

More like this, please! Another great idea for Salem

Turn park space into gardens

There are undeveloped parks and unused spaces that are reserved for the public. These undeveloped parks could be utilized as seasonal gardens.

I believe there are families who would eagerly plant, maintain and harvest food for the months ahead if they had an individual garden space.

The City Council and the parks commission and a few compassionate local citizens could create a number of community gardens. Individual gardens could be divided and rented out for the season. Individual plot agreements should include the type of garden planned, and the weeding and fertilizer to be used (invasive plants must be forbidden).

There may be one or more generous tractor farmers who would contribute time and efforts to prepare the soil for the planting.

At the time the parks were created, they may have appropriated funds to install water for landscaping, restrooms, etc. If park funding is not available, perhaps government stimulus funds will install sprinkler irrigation pipes to the garden plots. Watering could be overseen on a night schedule by the parks employees.

Volunteering time and effort for this project should bring pride to the city of Salem.

— Annabel Stanley Weldon, Salem

A Tale of Two Maps

Who causes climate change and who suffers (dies) from it:

Top map has countries adjusted to show relative greenhouse emissions; bottom shows increased mortality from climate change.

So much for the golden rule.

When you think about things like this, Jefferson's fear comes to mind:

Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep forever.

(h/t Ezra Klein, WA Post blogger, via Energybulletin.net)