Friday, January 31, 2014

Reclaiming the Commons in Appalachia

Photo credit: Wikipedia/Valerius Tygart
by Grant Mincy, originally published by Center for a Stateless Society

Humans are social beings.

We organize ourselves into groups, build relationships, enjoy creative labor and seek fellowship.

From childhood to adulthood, who we are greatly depends on our relationships with those closest to us.

We are also heavily influenced by the social, cultural and institutional circumstances of our lives.

Institutions, then, have major implications for our rights, welfare, labor, aspirations and associations. This warrants pause and careful reflection. Are institutions with such authority legitimate? The libertarian position is that illegitimate authority should be dismantled.

The January 9 industrial disaster that struck West Virginia should raise such reflection in the mountains.

The extractive resource industry has a firm hold on the wild, wonderful, but wounded Appalachians. The use of eminent domain and compulsory pooling has robbed communities of their cultural and natural heritage.

Capital is the authority of the Appalachian coalfields, and has created systemic poverty and mono economies. Instead of prosperity in the commons, the mechanism of authority has spawned tragedy.

Property is theft in Appalachia. The current system is concerned with the well-being of the politically connected corporati instead of the common good - Appalachian communities. This system exists because legal privilege is granted to industry.

The development of this socio-economic order is political, as opposed to free and participatory. The current authority in the coalfields, the corporate state, is illegitimate. It is far past time we transition to society free of it.

Appalachia is a region plagued with ecological destruction, where labor is on the decline and persistent class struggle exists.

Appalachia is also a place of community, a place where the commons work against these problems. Given the chance a mutual political economy would thrive in Appalachia.

Appalachian life is enriched by common land. Communal areas to this day are still shared for livestock, hunting, root digging, recreation and more.

The growth of industry in the region, however, and its subsequent property monopoly has made these traditions difficult to practice. Even family cemeteries are now industrial property - folks need permission to pay their respects to the dead.

Common property ownership is now manifesting itself in the form of community land trusts and conservation easements. Common natural resources - water, air, land, and biodiversity - are under direct threat from industry in Appalachia.

Such vital natural resources are a public good. They should be neither rivalrous nor excludable.

In Appalachia, however, clean air and water are subject to exploitation. It is a privilege to have access to these resources. The coal town of Bud West, Virginia, for example, has not had clean water in over five months.

Reclaiming the commons in Appalachia will allow new markets to develop. Numerous institutions and networks will emerge.

In the commons, social power will build anew within the shell of the old. This cannot happen under centralized authority. States and big business are guided by self-interest. The commons are guided by co-operation and mutualism - the natural, biological tendencies of human beings.

Luckily, the transition to a brighter future has already begun.

Small scale, decentralized markets are rising in the Appalachian coalfields. In West Virginia, coal miners who lost their jobs to the mechanization of the industry have started developing environmental markets.

Worker coalitions are helping communities save money via efficiency programs. Social movements are working to protect mountain ecology and alleviate poverty. Appalachia is speaking truth to power.

Economic transition, solidarity economies, restoration ecology and even more regeneration is coming to the gentle mountains. This regeneration will be fully actualized when property and power are once again where they belong - with the people.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Can Graffiti Be Good For Cities?

Image: Flickr user Aldo Cauchi Savona
by Shaunacy Ferro, Fast Company:

Graffiti isn't always a sign of criminal disorder; it can actually be a boon to cities' economies.

Late last year, 5Pointz a graffiti hotspot in Queens, New York, was whitewashed, erasing years of graffiti by artists from all over the world.
Since the ‘90s, street artists have been allowed to spray paint the walls of the warehouse in Long Island City, and the work that appears has long been curated by the graffiti artist Meres, whose goal was to turn the industrial space into a graffiti museum. 
More recently, the building’s owner, Jerry Wolkoff, forged ahead with plans to tear the warehouse down and turn the property into high-rise apartment buildings, starting by painting over the existing graffiti.
“It’s a little surprising, in this day and age, in this city, that the property owner there didn’t recognize the cultural value - that kind of implies economic value - in something as famous and hip as 5Pointz,” sociologist Gordon Douglas told Co.Design.
Despite its bad rap as a sign of disorder - and criminal status - graffiti has become more than just a public nuisance. In some cases, it can be a positive economic force for a city.
“A huge amount of social science throws [graffiti] into a camp of being a sign of crime and disorder,” Douglas, a PhD candidate at the University of Chicago, says.
“The truth is, at this point, some graffiti and street art are arguably contributing to gentrification and contributing to increases in the appeal of certain neighborhoods. Scholars question whether we should consider graffiti criminal if it’s a Banksy piece worth $100,000".
In SoHo, Baruch College sociologist Gregory Snyder writes in his book Graffiti Lives, “residents, tourists, and high-end boutiques, co-exist with graffiti vandalism in a relatively symbiotic fashion.”
Snyder compared rates of graffiti and violent crime in different neighborhoods in New York City, and found higher concentrations of graffiti in places like SoHo, which have fairly low rates of violent crime.
The heavily tagged neighborhood “attracts the type of urban ‘cool’ consumer that marketers call ‘taste makers’ and that advertisers and retailers so desperately want to reach,” he writes.

Graffiti-hunting has become a sort of tourism. People visit East London or New York’s Lower East Side and Williamsburg or, formerly, 5Pointz, just to see some of the graffiti there.

“Some scholars have questioned whether we should consider graffiti criminal damage if in fact, it’s a Banksy piece that’s worth $100,000 - if you can somehow get it off the wall,” Douglas says.

Economist Elizabeth Currid-Halkett, an associate professor at the University of Southern California, says there’s a strong relationship between the cultural activity of a city - which graffiti is a part of - and its economy.

“When you see graffiti, it’s really a sign of many more interesting creative things going on,” she told Co.Design. Cities that have more graffiti tend to be cultural and artistic hubs.

And street art tends to give people who don’t have the resources to launch a more traditional art career a shot. “Historically, graffiti artists were kids from poor neighborhoods, working class families, who didn’t have resources, and the city became their canvas,” Currid-Halkett explains.

“I think that that’s an important part of the ecology of a city … it allows people who don’t have much to make it. Street art has a positive effect on how unique a cityscape looks.

With the exception of “legal walls,” where street artists are allowed to tag, spray painting someone else’s property is still a crime, though, and Douglas warns that not all graffiti is a force for good. “In many cases,” he says, graffiti “is still associated with gang activity.”

Preliminary data from Place Pulse, an MIT project that functions as kind of a “hot or not” for cities, allowing people to compare pictures of urban neighborhoods and rate whether they seem safe, wealthy, lively, etc., suggests that people don’t see all graffiti as equal.

“We did some preliminary studies in this topic, and have suggestive, but not conclusive evidence that street art has a positive effect on how unique a cityscape looks,” Cesar Hidalgo, a professor at the MIT Media Lab, wrote me in an email.

However, “graffiti tags are associated with a decline in the perception of safety and class of a place,” he notes.

The Australian city of Melbourne, which boasts of its "internationally renowned" street art, used similar research findings when deciding to allow larger street art, but not tags.

A city website notes that "most people do not like graffiti ‘tagging’ (person writing their graffiti name or ‘tag’ on a wall with marker or paint). However, many people appreciate ‘street art’ such as larger, more artistic pieces, or murals placed in appropriate locations with the required permission."

Despite the differences in how people perceive a mural on a wall versus a a name tagged on a mailbox, the two are essentially inseparable, Currid-Halkett says. “You don’t have one without the other,” she says. “They’re both big components of graffiti subculture.”

And that unique look that street art provides a neighborhood really sells. As Douglas puts it, “if a piece is really beautiful and wheat-pasted, that doesn’t mean the property owner wants it on their wall, but it probably isn’t a provocation of greater disorder or a gang sign. It’s more likely an indication that young, hip, middle-class people are going to want to drink beer nearby.”

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Abbott Again - This Time He Wants to Roll Back Protection for Tasmania's World Heritage Forests

Hellyer Gorge, Tasmania
Hellyer Gorge, Tasmania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by SumOfUs

It’s not often that environmentalists, the timber industry and unions agree on forests - but now Tony Abbott wants to shred their landmark agreement to protect Tasmania’s forests

In just a few days, the government will ask the World Heritage Committee to strip Tasmania’s forests of their protection - and we can’t let this happen.

It’s less than one year since Tasmania’s forests were given the highest level of protection. 

Green groups and the timber industry still support the agreement - and even the Forestry Industry Association is asking the government not to interfere. 

But Abbott’s determined to undo this historic agreement to save the forests, unless we can show him the public won’t accept it.

Please take a moment to sign the petition to Tony Abbott asking him to respect the Forestry Agreement and protect Tasmania’s forests.

The Tasmanian Government has also spoken out against this outrageous plan. The state environment minister wants to compete on quality, not quantity, but has said that the Coalition government is “hell-bent on taking the industry backwards and removing any chance for Tasmania to market its products.”

Conservationists have spent decades fighting to protect Tasmania’s old growth forests and the agreement between the industry and green groups is truly remarkable. But if Abbott gets his way it could set things back decades and reignite a bitter feud. 

His recklessness is putting 170,000 hectares of forest at risk - including many old growth areas protected for the first time under the historic agreement.

Abbott thinks he can get away with this - and it’s up to us to show him the political cost to his actions. 

Already, his government is struggling with low opinion poll ratings as it tries to implement unpopular policies - and public outrage has already forced Abbott into retreat on issues like school funding. 

Green groups and industry are already putting the pressure on Abbott not to undermine their deal. Now we need to show him that the public is also opposed.

Please sign the urgent petition to Abbott and ask him to listen to the timber industry and conservationists.


Marguerite, Rob and the rest of us. 

More information:

Tasmania Forest heritage listing comes under threat from Coalition, The Guardian, December 23rd 2013. 

Greg Hunt seeks to wind back world Heritage protection for Tasmanian forests, The Sydney Morning Herald, January 23rd 2014.
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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

VIDEO: This Is One Time-Lapse Big Oil Doesn't Want You To See

by , Upworthy:

Oil spills often bring to mind images of oil-drenched birds and blackened coastlines, but this incredible time-lapse video presents the human and financial cost of every oil spill since 1986. Politics aside, these stats are downright disturbing.

Monday, January 27, 2014

What Makes a City Resilient?

"Making cities resilient: my city is gett...
My city is getting ready! (UNISDR Photo Gallery)
by , The Guardian:

When it comes to addressing civic problems, one of today's most popular buzzwords is "resilience".

The United Nations office for disaster risk reduction recently launched a Making Cities Resilient programme.

In Wisconsin, the Centre for Resilient Cities opened a research lab just last year.

At the Rockefeller Foundation, the 100 Resilient Cities project is highlighting urban hardiness around the world, while the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives is hosting its resilience series.

Companies like Siemens are getting into the act, as are organisations like the World Bank. Books are being published, conferences are being held, and, around the world, resilience is being encouraged.

At first flush, resilience seems a clear lens for addressing the problems of cities, suggesting - unlike "sustainable" or "livable" - a fairly inclusive standard of measurement.

Resilience reflects a city's ability to persevere in the face of emergency, to continue its core mission despite daunting challenges, and is as appropriate to discussions about Venice's rising tides as Medellin's corruption, Detroit's unemployment as Budapest's floods. 

The concept also extends beyond disaster preparedness.

At a recent clearinghouse on resilient cities, Thomas Frieden, director of the US Centers for Disease Control, noted that "Resilient systems are everyday systems that can be scaled up. Managing in an emergency is like managing normally, except more so."

In other words, as cities work to build resilience, they should develop procedures that enable them to carry out their daily mission, whatever that mission may be.

One strength of the resilience lens is that it can address life expectancy in Glasgow, population retention in Dakar and religious clashes in Ramallah. This, however, could also be a weakness, as the needs of individual cities are not only varied but might be contradictory.

As the notion of resilience is carried across cultures, and applied to hundreds of cities around the world, varying ideas about the purpose of cities, and of the individuals who reside in them, becomes a potential stumbling block.

For a westerner schooled in the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes, the purpose of a city might be the preservation of life, and "a more contented life thereby". For one who follows his compatriot John Locke, the purpose might be the preservation of "life, liberty, and property."

But, as the emergence of factory towns or frontier communities suggest, cities are built for numerous reasons other than the needs of their citizens. And, while the rights of the citizens and the needs of businesses, or the defence of national security, often go hand in hand, they do not always do so.

The Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena, renowned for his work on socially inclusive urban designs through his practice, Elemental, explains the concept of resilience in terms of "magnets," which draw workers to cities, and "bombs," which push them away.

As the global workforce becomes more mobile, cities that offer the best amenities and resources will draw the most workers - and will be the most resilient. Alternately, he notes, cities that are unable to maintain a high quality of life will be less resilient. 

The question of the purpose of cities, and their responsibility to their citizens, is at the centre of the Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient Cities programme.

Designed to promote urban resilience around the world, the programme awards $1m (£600,000) grants to 100 cities that "have demonstrated a dedicated commitment to building their own capacities to prepare for, withstand, and bounce back rapidly from shocks and stresses".

More than 1,000 cities registered to take part in the Resilient Cities programme, and almost 400 formally applied for inclusion. On 2 December, the foundation announced its first 33 honorees.

Arrayed across six continents and 21 countries, the selected cities range from thriving megacities like Mexico City to struggling regional hubs like Rotterdam, relatively young metropolises like Porto Alegre to some of the oldest occupied areas on the planet, such as Rome.

All have experienced significant setbacks that have tested their resilience, and they have all attempted to design programs and procedures to help them come to terms with their vulnerabilities.

According to the Rockefeller Foundation's president, Judith Rodin, the intention is to circumvent the problem of conflicting civic and cultural philosophies by focusing on solving specific problems, using flooding as an example.

She says: "Your city's vulnerability to water may require an 8ft-tall dike, while another city requires natural infrastructure like archipelagoes and oyster beds. Those are very different practices, but they represent the same resilience principle, which is that you've got to figure out how to deal with water in a way that really works."

Ultimately, Rodin hopes, the programme will form the basis of a "set of systematic resilience principles that are generalisable". And, eventually, she says, the project hopes to help all cities learn to view their specific problems "through a resilience lens".

But is it possible to trade a specific regional lens for a worldwide one? To some extent, this conflict emerged when the mayors of two of Rockefeller's honored cities outlined the problems that their communities face.

Noting that New Orleans has, in recent years, weathered two devastating hurricanes, a financial crisis, and an unprecedented oil spill, its mayor, Mitch Landrieu, highlighted the city's historic relationships with cities around the globe, and suggested ways that it could leverage its web of economic and cultural connections to develop solutions to its problems.

On the other hand, Khalifa Sall, the mayor of Dakar, Senegal, noted that his city's relationships with other areas is part of its problem, as more economically robust regions have been siphoning off Dakar's young workers.

By placing the question of resilience in the hands of 100 cities spread around the world, the Rockefeller Foundation is effectively outsourcing the question. The answers are likely to be pragmatic and ad hoc, a collection of best practices for dealing with a variety of crises.

More broadly, however, the resilience movement is a global attempt to address two of the longest-standing and most vital questions facing theorists, planners and leaders. Namely, what is the purpose of society, and what is a society's responsibility to its citizens?
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Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Biological Basis of Resilient Cities

English: Resilient tree In Chatsworth Park, th...
Resilient tree (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Michael W. Mehaffy & Nikos A. Salingaros, Ecologist:

Biological systems offer design strategies for successfully adapting to an age of climate change and resource depletion.

Insights from nature will be essential in creating a green and sustainable future for humankind.

The word 'resilience' has become the new buzzword of the day for environmental designers.

In some quarters, it's even displacing that other popular word, 'sustainability'.

This is clearly a reflection of the growing recognition that disruptive weather (and other) events are a part of life, and we must adapt to them.

We know it's not possible to design in advance for such unpredictable events, but we could make sure our buildings and cities are better able to survive disruptions and bounce back afterwards.

Nor is it only weather events we need to worry about, or even other random external events (like earthquakes).

We need to account for the disruptions that we ourselves cause too: technological failures, resource destruction and depletion, economic shocks, and a host of other growing self-made challenges to human well-being.

We are going to need more resilient design, not as a fashionable buzzword, but out of necessity for our long-term survival.

Aside from a nice idea, what is resilience really, structurally speaking? What lessons can we as designers apply towards achieving it? In particular, what can we learn from the evident resilience of natural systems? Quite a lot, it turns out.

Resilient and non-resilient systems

Let's start by recognizing that we have incredibly complex and sophisticated technologies today, from power plants, to building systems, to jet aircraft. These technologies are, generally speaking, marvelously stable within their design parameters.

This is the kind of stability that C. H. Holling, the pioneer of resilience theory in ecology, called "engineered resilience". But they are often not resilient outside of their designed operating systems. Trouble comes with the unintended consequences that occur as 'externalities', often with disastrous results.

Figure 2. On the left, an over-concentration of large-sale components; on the right, a more resilient distributed network of nodes. Drawing by Nikos Salingaros.

A good example is the Fukushima nuclear reactor group in Japan. For years it functioned smoothly, producing reliable power for its region, and was a shining example of 'engineered resilience". But it did not have what Holling called "ecological resilience', that is, the resilience to the often-chaotic disruptions that ecological systems have to endure.

One of those chaotic disruptions was the earthquake and tsunami that engulfed the plant in 2010, causing a catastrophic meltdown. The Fukushima reactors are based on an antiquated US design from the 1960s, dependent upon an electrical emergency cooling system.

When the electricity failed, including the backup generators, the emergency control system became inoperative and the reactor cores melted. It was also a mistake (in retrospect) to centralize power production by placing six large nuclear reactors next to each other.

The trouble with chaotic disruptions is that they are inherently unpredictable. Actually we can predict (though poorly) the likelihood of an earthquake and tsunami relatively better compared to other natural phenomena.

Think of how difficult it would be to predict the time and location of an asteroid collision, or more difficult yet, to prepare for the consequences. Physicists refer to this kind of chaos as a "far from equilibrium condition".

This is a problem that designers are beginning to take much more seriously, as we deal with more freakish events like Hurricane Sandy - actually a chaotic combination of three separate weather systems that devastated the Caribbean and the eastern coast of the USA in 2012.

As if these unforeseen dangers were not enough, we humans are contributing to the instability. An added complication is that we ourselves are now responsible for much of the chaos, in the form of our increasingly complex technology and its unpredictable interactions and disruptions.

Climate change is one consequence of such disruptions, along with the complex and unstable infrastructures we have placed in vulnerable coastal locations. And In fact, Japan's technological infrastructure has been heavily damaged over a much wider area by the chaotic "domino" effects of the Fukushima disaster.

Our technological intrusion into the biosphere has pushed natural systems into conditions that are far from equilibrium - and as a result, catastrophic disruptions are closer than ever.

Biology lessons

So what can we learn from biological systems? They are incredibly complex. Take, for instance, the rich complexity of a rainforest. It too generates complicated interactions among many billions of components.

Yet many rainforests manage to remain stable over many thousands of years, in spite of countless disruptions and 'shocks to the system'. Can we understand and apply the lessons of their structural characteristics?

It seems we can. Here are four such lessons extracted from distributed (non-centralized) biological systems that we will discuss in more detail below:
  1. These systems have an inter-connected network structure.
  2. They feature diversity and redundancy (a totally distinct notion of "efficiency").
  3. They display a wide distribution of structures across scales, including fine-grained scales.
  4. They have the capacity to self-adapt and "self-organize". This generally (though not always) is achieved through the use of genetic information.
The Internet is a familiar human example of an inter-connected network structure. It was invented by the U.S. military as a way of providing resilient data communications in the event of attack.

Biological systems also have inter-connected network structures, as we can see for example in the body's separate blood and hormone circulation systems, or the brain's connected pattern of neurons. Tissue damaged up to a point is usually able to regenerate, and damaged brains are often able to re-learn lost knowledge and skills by building up new alternative neural pathways.

The inter-connected, overlapping, and adaptable patterns of relationships of ecosystems and metabolisms seem to be key to their functioning.

Focusing upon redundancy, diversity, and plasticity, biological examples contradict the extremely limited notion of "efficiency" used in mechanistic thinking.

Our bodies have two kidneys, two lungs, and two hemispheres of the brain, one of which can still function when the other is damaged or destroyed. An ecosystem typically has many diverse species, any one of which can be lost without destroying the entire ecosystem.

By contrast, an agricultural monoculture is highly vulnerable to just a single pest or other threat. Monocultures are terribly fragile. They are efficient only as long as conditions are perfect, but liable to catastrophic failure in the long term. Come to think of it, that may be a pretty good description of our current general state!

Why is the distribution of structures across scales so important? For one thing, it's a form of diversity. By contrast, a concentration at just a few scales (especially large scales) is more vulnerable to shocks.

For another thing, the smaller scales that make up and support the larger scales facilitate regeneration and adaptation. When the small cells of a larger organ are damaged, it's easy for that damaged tissue to grow back - rather like repairing the small bricks of a damaged wall.

Figure 2. Distribution of inter-connected elements across several scales. Drawing by Nikos Salingaros.

Self-organization and self-adaptation are also central attributes of living systems, and of their evolution. Indeed, this astonishing self-structuring capacity is one of the most important of biological processes.

How does it work? We know that it requires networks, diversity, and distribution of structures across scales. But it also requires the ability to retain and build upon existing patterns, so that those gradually build up into more complex patterns.

Often this is done through the use of genetic memory. Structures that code earlier patterns are re-used and re-incorporated later. The most familiar example of this is, of course, DNA.

The evolutionary transformation of organisms using DNA gradually built up a world that transitioned from viruses and bacteria, to vastly more complex organisms.

Applying the lessons to resilient human designs

How can we apply these structural lessons to create resilient cities, and to improve smaller vulnerable parts of cities by making them resilient? Developing the ideas from our previous list, resilient cities have the following characteristics:
  1. They have inter-connected networks of pathways and relationships. They are not segregated into neat categories of use, type, or pathway, which would make them vulnerable to failure.
  2. They have diversity and redundancy of activities, types, objectives, and populations. There are many different kinds of people doing many different kinds of things, any one of which might provide the key to surviving a shock to the system (precisely which can never be known in advance).
  3. They have a wide distribution of scales of structure, from the largest regional planning patterns to the most fine-grained details. Combining with (1) and (2) above, these structures are diverse, inter-connected, and can be changed relatively easily and locally (in response to changing needs). They are like the small bricks of a building, easily repaired when damaged. (The opposite would be large expensive pre-formed panels that have to be replaced in whole.)
  4. Following from (3), they (and their parts) can adapt and organize in response to changing needs on different spatial and temporal scales, and in response to each other. That is, they can "self-organize". This process can accelerate through the evolutionary exchange and transformation of traditional knowledge and concepts about what works to meet the needs of humans, and the natural environments on which they depend.
Resilient cities evolve in a very specific manner:
  • They retain and build upon older patterns or information, at the same time that they respond to change by adding novel adaptations.
  • They almost never create total novelty, and almost always create only very selective novelty as needed.
  • Any change is tested via selection, just as changes in an evolving organism are selected by how well the organism performs in its environment.
This mostly rules out drastic, discontinuous changes. Resilient cities are thus 'structure-preserving' even as they make deep structural transformations. How do these elements contribute to resilient cities in practice, in an age of resource depletion and climate change?

It's easy to see that a city with networked streets and sidewalks is going to be more walkable and less car-dependent than a city with a rigid top-down hierarchy of street types, funneling all traffic into a limited number of 'collectors' and 'arterials'.

Similarly, a city designed to work with a mix of uses is going to be more diverse and be able to better adapt to change than a city with rigidly separated monocultures.

Figure 3. A complex resilient system coordinates its multi-scale response to a disturbance on any single scale. Drawing by Nikos Salingaros.

A city with a rich and balanced diversity of scales, especially including and encouraging the most fine-grained scales, is going to be more easily repairable and adaptable to new uses.

It can withstand disruptions better because its responses can occur on any and all different levels of scale. The city uses the disruption to define a 'pivot' on a particular scale, around which to structure a complex multi-scale response.

And it's more likely to be able to self-organize around new economic activities and new resources, if and when the old resources come to be in short supply.

The evolution of non-resilient cities

So where are we today? Many of our cities were (and still are) shaped by a model of city planning that largely evolved in an era of cheap fossil-fuel energy and a zeal for the mechanistic segregation of parts.

The result is that in many respects we have a rigid non-resilient kind of city; one that, at best, has some 'engineered resilience' towards a single objective, but certainly no 'ecological resilience'.

Response is both limited and expensive. Consider how the pervasive model of 20th century city planning was defined by these non-resilient criteria:
  1. Cities are "rational" tree-like (top-down "dendritic") structures, not only in roads and pathways, but also in the distribution of functions.
  2. "Efficiency" demands the elimination of redundancy. Diversity is conceptually messy. Modernism wants visually clean and orderly divisions and unified groupings, which privilege the largest scale.
  3. The machine age dictates our structural and tectonic limitations. According to the most influential theorists of the modernist city, mechanization takes command (Giedion); ornament is a crime (Loos); and the most important buildings are large-scale sculptural expressions of fine art (Le Corbusier, Gropius, et al.).
  4. Any use of "genetic material" from the past is a violation of the machine-age zeitgeist, and therefore can only be an expression of reactionary politics; it cannot be tolerated. Novelty and neophilia are to be elevated and privileged above all design considerations. Structural 'evolution' can only be allowed to occur within the abstracted discourse of visual culture, as it evaluates and judges human need by its own (specialized, ideological, aestheticizing) standards.
From the perspective of resilience theory, this can be seen as an effective formula for generating non-resilient cities. It is not an accident that the pioneers of such cities were, in fact, evangelists for a high-resource dependent form of industrialization, at a time when the understanding of such matters was far more primitive than now.

Le Corbusier

Here, for example, is the architect Le Corbusier, one of the most influential thinkers in all of modern planning, writing in 1935, and providing a blueprint for modern sprawl:

"The cities will be part of the country; I shall live 30 miles from my office in one direction, under a pine tree; my secretary will live 30 miles away from it too, in the other direction, under another pine tree. We shall both have our own car. We shall use up tires, wear out road surfaces and gears, consume oil and gasoline. All of which will necessitate a great deal of work ... enough for all."

Sadly, there is no longer enough for all! This relatively brief age of abundant fossil fuels - and the non-resilient urban architecture that it has spawned all over the globe - is rapidly drawing to a close. We must be prepared for what has to come next.

From the perspective of resilience theory, the solutions are not going to be simple techno-fixes, as so many naively believe. What is required is a deeper analysis and restructuring of the system structure: admittedly not an easy thing to achieve since it doesn't make money short-term.

Postscript: a lesson from our own evolution

People tend to be carried along by the present, and put both past and future out of their mind. Even in our information-glutted age, the past is remote and abstract - just another set of images like any movie.

And so we ignore where we have come from, and the path that brought us here to our marvelous technological culture. We are ill-prepared to see where we must go next. For our techno-consumerist culture, tomorrow will bring no surprises.

But new research in anthropology, anthropogeny, and genetics suggests that we humans are, quite literally, creatures of climate change.

Thanks to ingenious detective work, we now know that some time around 100,000 years ago, our species very nearly became extinct - down to hardly more than 1,000 survivors clinging, it appears, to the southern African coast, as a mega-drought swept that continent - according to work by paleoanthropologist Curtis Marean (see Bibliography).

Our evident response was to diversify, and to develop many new sources of food as well as new technologies for acquiring them: fishhooks, barbs, baskets, urns, and other innovations.

More complex language probably followed, allowing us to coordinate more sophisticated strategies for hunting and gathering.

10,000 years ago, it now appears, we adapted once again to a mini-ice age, prompting us to innovate with new agricultural technologies, and new forms of settlement around them. These innovations arose more or less simultaneously in many parts of the then-disconnected world, suggesting that the trigger was very likely the changing climate.

Now we are facing the third great adaptation of our history to climate change. But this time it is we, ourselves, who have triggered it with our own technologies.

If we are going to adapt successfully, we will need to understand the opportunities to innovate yet again, in the way we design and operate our technology.

Our comfortable lifestyle (in the wealthy West, and among those socioeconomic classes that can afford to copy us) is significantly less resilient than most people would care to admit, or even dare think about.

If we are going to continue our so-far remarkably successful run as a technological civilization, we had better take the lessons of resilience theory to heart.


Charles C. Mann (2012) "State of the Species", Orion Magazine, Issue November/December.

Pinnacle Point, Wikipedia entry

This article is a slightly revised version of: "Toward Resilient Architectures 1: Biology Lessons", published in Metropolis Magazine, March 2013.

Michael Mehaffy is an urbanist and critical thinker in complexity and the built environment. He is a practicing planner and builder, and is known for his many projects as well as his writings. He has been a close associate of the architect and software pioneer Christopher Alexander.

Currently he is a Sir David Anderson Fellow at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, a Visiting Faculty Associate at Arizona State University; a Research Associate with the Center for Environmental Structure, Chris Alexander's research center founded in 1967; and a strategic consultant on international projects, currently in Europe, North America and South America.

Nikos A. Salingaros is a mathematician and polymath known for his work on urban theory, architectural theory, complexity theory, and design philosophy. He has been a close collaborator of the architect and computer software pioneer Christopher Alexander. Salingaros published substantive research on Algebras, Mathematical Physics, Electromagnetic Fields, and Thermonuclear Fusion before turning his attention to Architecture and Urbanism.

He is Professor of Mathematics at the University of Texas at San Antonio and is on the Architecture faculties of universities in ItalyMexico, and The Netherlands.

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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Why Are Some Areas More Affected by Economic Shock Than Others?

Dr Adrian Healy of the School of Planning and Geography at Cardiff University
Dr Adrian Healy, Cardiff University
by Rupert Hall, Wales Online:

In the first of our series of round table seminars organised by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in association with the Western Mail, Dr Adrian Healy of Cardiff University discusses the theories of economic recovery and why some areas are more affected by economic crisis than others.

After several false starts it appears that the economic recovery has, in the words of Mark Carney the Governor of the Bank of England, “finally taken hold”.

Yet this recovery, like the crisis itself is not evenly distributed across the UK, some places are doing rather better than others and, as we have seen in recent news in Wales, the effects of fiscal tightening on the public sector are still working their way through the system.

Why is it though, that some places are more affected by an economic shock than others?  Why do some places take longer to recover and others respond more quickly?

The scale of the economic crisis across the EU has thrown this question into stark relief and it is particularly pertinent in Wales, where levels of economic prosperity are already someway below the EU’s average.

In the aftermath of the economic crisis there is a lot of talk of the need to build more resilient economies. That is economies which are less susceptible to economic shocks, or which are able to recover more quickly.

But what does resilience mean? Is it levels of economic output, as measured by traditional indicators, such as GDP, or things which are closer to individual experience such as levels of employment or household incomes?

The recent economic crisis was characterised by the fact that employment levels remained relatively strong, although overall real wage levels fell, as employers and workers tried to maintain employment through the downturn.

For many people, a resilient economy is one that is able to maintain jobs, or to recover to the previous peak in employment relatively quickly. Whilst wage levels, and household incomes, may fall temporarily these should also recover over time in a resilient economy.

Interview with Dr Adrian Healy

But what influences the economic resilience of a place?

One aspect is clearly the nature of local businesses. Economic structure can be a significant feature, as some sectors are more affected by economic shocks than others.

Areas with a more diverse business base also tend to have a greater level of resilience, as some sectors decline others are likely to expand.

The extent to which an economy innovates and exports its products can also positively affect levels of resilience to economic shocks.

The local population also has an influence, often through the way that local labour markets operate, whilst community features, such as the strength of local networks and willingness to help one another, can also have a positive effect.

What is clear is that it is not always the richest or most technologically adept that are most resilient to economic shocks. Some, more traditional, economies also exhibit stronger levels of resilience, suggesting that there may be more than one path available.

One of the features of economic resilience that remains less well understood, though, is how individual choices might affect this.

These might be choices made by ourselves, as households: should I take a pay-cut to retain my job or should I move to another place for example? Often, though, it is about the choices made by businesses.

In the last crisis, for example, many firms recognised the need to retain experienced workers and chose to reduce costs through reducing wages and hours worked rather than through large-scale layoffs.

Others reduced investment, ran down their financial reserves and stopped out-sourcing work, all of which can have longer-term implications for the wider economy.

Businesses also helped each other, with some larger firms providing payment holidays to help maintain their supply chains for example.

Helping firms make positive choices, such as through seeking new markets or to retain labour, was a feature of much public policy at this time, although such assistance needs to be rapidly available in order to be successful.

Long delays in policy responses can create additional burdens for firms and hinder their ability to respond.

The economic crisis has also demonstrated the importance of small and family firms as anchors of many local economies. Often these are strongly embedded in their local economy and highly dependent on their local market.

They are less able to turn to new markets during an economic downturn, but tend to absorb the shock through generally tightening their belts. Ownership of their own property and employment of family members helps in doing so.

A focus on the resilience of economies raises some new questions on the role of businesses, communities, households and, significantly, government in the development of places.

Whilst economic growth is important we must also consider how our economies will react, and respond, to a future downturn in economic activity.

This is not to say that protectionist policies are the way forward, but rather policies that promote the ability of businesses, individuals and communities to adapt to changing circumstances. The policies that we put in place today will lay the ground for how we respond in the future.

Dr Adrian Healy of the School of Planning and Geography at Cardiff University

The next seminar in the series will be held on Wednesday, February 12 when Professor Karel Williams of Manchester Business School will examine the issue of “What Small Business Can Do?”

For full details log on to
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Friday, January 24, 2014

Australia’s Climate Plan: Are You Serious?

Coal power plant in Datteln (Germany) at the D...
Coal power plant in Datteln (Germany) (Wikipedia)
by Penny van Oosterzee, James Cook University

The Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF), the central pillar of Australia’s Direct Action climate policy, continues to attract a fair bit of derision with its credibility said to be “hanging by a thread”.

Is it really that bad? Probably.

Now that environment minister Greg Hunt has released a Green Paper for the Emissions Reduction Fund, let’s look at just three aspects: comparable global action, the proposed baseline and credit system for business, and implications for the land sector.

World abandons carbon pricing?

In the Green Paper foreword the environment minister introduces the ERF as one of the two major global policies of emissions reductions. The main policy is a price on carbon, like ours to be removed in July this year.
But the minister dismisses this because of “considerable uncertainty and policy instability within many of these schemes”. Is this correct?

True, there have been problems with European Union’s falling carbon price due thanks to an oversupply of carbon permits, causing the price to drop to around €5. But the EU last week agreed to postpone sale of 900 million carbon permits to increase demand and price.

The OECD says that to be serious governments must price carbon, and their latest list shows the growing number of countries and regions where emissions trading is being implemented. Rest assured emissions trading is alive and well.

As for policy instability, look no further than home. Australia is the only country in the world dismantling a working carbon price: one that has, in its short life, already reduced emissions by nearly 40 megatonnes CO2 equivalent.

Paying to reduce

The other global approach is “purchasing abatement”. Instead of paying to emit, polluters are paid if they reduce emissions below a threshold.

This is the model the ERF nominally follows, founded on part of our current carbon policy known as the Carbon Farming Initiative. The initiative, designed to work with a carbon price, rewards landowners for reducing emissions with carbon credits that can be traded and bought by polluters.

The United Nations Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), cited in the ERF Green Paper, is the global example. The CDM allows developed nations to buy emissions reductions in developing nations to help meet their emissions reductions targets under the Kyoto Protocol.

The CDM is not a stand-alone scheme. It is voluntary program dependent on the Kyoto Protocol to function. Take away the compliance aspects of the Kyoto Protocol and you would be left with a voluntary scheme with nowhere to go.

It would be like, well, dismantling our carbon price and leaving only the Carbon Farming Initiative.

The UK model

The ERF also cites the United Kingdom Non Fossil Fuel Obligation Scheme. Operating between 1990-98, the scheme encouraged private investors to invest in nuclear power, but also subsidised all forms of renewable energy.

The scheme was funded through a fossil fuel levy, not out of the public purse as with the ERF. Each year the scheme was allocated the equivalent of A$2.2 billion, more than the entire allocation of the ERF. The scheme is said to have incentivised the shift to renewable energy in the UK.

Competing bids for funding under the scheme were also price-banded so that different technologies could compete. The ERF makes it clear it is only interested in the lowest-cost abatement.

Baseline and credit, or simply credit

But let’s not quibble. Using an expanded, streamlined Carbon Farming Initiative to generate carbon credits might well work.

But for it to have any integrity it must be linked to a baseline and credit system that manages companies’ emissions. The ERF Green Paper calls this “safeguarding emissions reductions”.

It would be self-defeating, for instance, if the government purchased emissions only to see business increase emissions.

The guts of any baseline and credit scheme is that there is a baseline for emitting activities. Credits are awarded for activities that emit below the baseline, and costs apportioned to activities that emit above the baseline.

The ERF, however, “is designed to allow businesses to continue ordinary operations without penalty.” “Ordinary” is not defined but clearly means as long as businesses contribute to economic growth.

This is the real baseline of the ERF, underscored by the statement that entities that consistently exceed their baselines will be “rare cases”.

Actually businesses will have difficulty exceeding ERF baselines. They will be set “flexibly” that is to say they will reflect a “high point” in emissions using data from the current National Greenhouse Energy Reporting Scheme .

If a business did actually manage to exceed its generous baseline then flexible compliance arrangements would kick in including a transition period during which compliance would not apply.

Consistently high polluters could actually be rewarded with investments in emissions reductions funded by the ERF. Almost by definition this is not a baseline and credit scheme. It is simply a credit scheme.

Modelling from carbon consultancy Reputex shows that up to 75% of credits could be of this kind, potentially leading to a windfall of A$2 billion over the first four years.

In any case, a recent survey shows that three quarters of Australian businesses have assumed they’ll be charged a carbon price to run their business.

Big global businesses have long priced carbon into their investment decisions with prices ranging from A$8 to A$60 per tonne CO2 equivalent. But instead the ERF could provide a windfall.

Biodiversity abandoned again

Paradoxically, the one thing a streamlined and expanded Carbon Farming Initiative under an ERF will not do is fund abatement across the land sector, as originally intended. Instead emissions reductions will be achieved at the lowest cost, and this will cut out the land.

Gone too is the focus on soil carbon “as the lowest cost of CO2 emissions reduction available in Australia on a large scale”. Given the methodological difficulties associated with measuring soil carbon that’s really no surprise. But that’s not the only flaw.

Players working across the landscape in the ecosystem sector are generally small. They will find it difficult to bid into the ERF. The Green Paper suggests a minimum bid size is likely to be adopted. The government does not, however propose a maximum bid size.

Purchasing emissions reductions at the lowest available cost also means that other objectives like biodiversity conservation, reducing salinity control and improving water quality won’t count.

The Green Paper says in fact that these could raise costs, “as Australia would have to forgo lower-cost emissions reductions projects” to deliver them.

Alongside the ERF is the government’s 20 Million Trees plan, to aide carbon storage and reforestation. It sounds grand, but 20 million trees amounts to a area just 200 kilometres squared, and less than half that that if we’re talking about rainforest.

And even if we do meet our 5% reduction goal through the ERF, government modelling show emissions soaring after 2020 to 23% above 2012 levels.

Reverting to fossil fuels, phasing out of renewable energy incentives and increasing deforestation levels to accommodate expanding agriculture explains most of this. Which begs the question of Australia’s government: are you serious?

Penny van Oosterzee does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article. She is a linkage partner in an ARC Research Project on cost-effective reforestation for biodiversity and carbon.
The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation. Read the original article.
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Thursday, January 23, 2014

An Insider's Story of the Global Attack on Climate Science

Panorama of Wellington, New Zealand 日本語: ケーブルカ...
Wellington, New Zealand (Wikipedia)
by Jim Salinger, University of Auckland

A recent headline - Failed doubters trust leaves taxpayers six-figure loss - marked the end of a four-year epic saga of secretly-funded climate denial, harassment of scientists and tying-up of valuable government resources in New Zealand.

It’s likely to be a familiar story to my scientist colleagues in Australia, the UK, USA and elsewhere around the world.

But if you’re not a scientist, and are genuinely trying to work out who to believe when it comes to climate change, then it’s a story you need to hear too.

Because while the New Zealand fight over climate data appears finally to be over, it’s part of a much larger, ongoing war against evidence-based science.

From number crunching to controversy

In 1981 as part of my PhD work, I produced a seven-station New Zealand temperature series, known as 7SS, to monitor historic temperature trends and variations from Auckland to as far south as Dunedin in southern New Zealand.

A decade later, in 1991-92 while at the NZ Meteorological Service, I revised the 7SS using a new homogenisation approach to make New Zealand’s temperature records more accurate, such as adjusting for when temperature gauges were moved to new sites.

For example, in 1928 Wellington’s temperature gauge was relocated from an inner suburb near sea level up into the hills at Kelburn, where - due to its higher, cooler location - it recorded much cooler temperatures for the city than before.

With statistical analysis, we could work out how much Wellington’s temperature has really gone up or down since the city’s temperature records began back in 1862, and how much of that change was simply due to the gauge being moved uphill (you can read more about re-examining NZ temperatures here). So far, so uncontroversial.

But then in 2008, while working for a NZ government-owned research organisation, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), we updated the 7SS.

And we found that at those seven stations across the country, from Auckland down to Dunedin, between 1909 and 2008 there was a warming trend of 0.91°C. Soon after that, things started to get heated.

The New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, linked to a global climate change denial group, the International Climate Science Coalition, began to question the adjustments I had made to the 7SS.

And rather than ever contacting me to ask for an explanation of the science, as I’ve tried to briefly cover above, the Coalition appeared determined to find a conspiracy.

“Shonky” claims

The attack on the science was led by then MP for the free market ACT New Zealand party, Rodney Hide, who claimed in the NZ Parliament in February 2010 that:
NIWA’s raw data for their official temperature graph shows no warming. But NIWA shifted the bulk of the temperature record pre-1950 downwards and the bulk of the data post-1950 upwards to produce a sharply rising trend … NIWA’s entire argument for warming was a result of adjustments to data which can’t be justified or checked. It’s shonky.
Mr Hide’s attack continued for 18 months, with more than 80 parliamentary questions being put to NIWA between February 2010 and July 2011, all of which required NIWA input for the answers.

The science minister asked NIWA to re-examine the temperature records, which required several months of science time.

In December 2010, the results were in. After the methodology was reviewed and endorsed by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, it was found that at the seven stations from Auckland to Dunedin, between 1909 and 2008 there was a warming trend of 0.91°C. That is, the same result as before.

But in the meantime, before NIWA even had had time to produce that report, a new line of attack had been launched.

Off to court

In July 2010, a statement of claim against NIWA was filed in the High Court of New Zealand, under the guise of a new charitable trust: the New Zealand Climate Science Education Trust (NZCSET). Its trustees were all members of the NZ Climate Science Coalition.

The NZCSET challenged the decision of NIWA to publish the adjusted 7SS, claiming that the “unscientific” methods used created an unrealistic indication of climate warming.

The Trust ignored the evidence in the Meteorological Service report I first authored, which stated a particular adjustment methodology had been used. The Trust incorrectly claimed this methodology should have been used but wasn’t.

In July 2011 the Trust produced a document that attempted to reproduce the Meteorological Service adjustments, but failed to, instead making lots of errors.

On September 7 2012, High Court Justice Geoffrey Venning delivered a 49-page ruling, finding that the NZCSET had not succeeded in any of its challenges against NIWA.

Weather wars (New Zealand Herald)

The judge was particularly critical about retired journalist and NZCSET Trustee Terry Dunleavy’s lack of scientific expertise. Justice Venning described some of the Trust’s evidence as tediously lengthy and said “it is particularly unsuited to a satisfactory resolution of a difference of opinion on scientific matters".

Taxpayers left to foot the bill

After an appeal that was withdrawn at the last minute, late last year the NZCSET was ordered to pay NIWA NZ$89,000 in costs from the original case, plus further costs from the appeal.

But just this month, we have learned that the people behind the NZCSET have sent it into liquidation as they cannot afford the fees, leaving the New Zealand taxpayer at a substantial, six-figure loss.

Commenting on the lost time and money involved with the case, NIWA’s chief executive John Morgan has said that:
On the surface it looks like the trust was purely for the purpose of taking action, which is not what one would consider the normal use of a charitable trust.
This has been an insidious saga. The Trust aggressively attacked the scientists, instead of engaging with them to understand the technical issues; they ignored evidence that didn’t suit their case; and they regularly misrepresented NIWA statements by taking them out of context.

Yet their attack has now been repeatedly rejected in Parliament, by scientists, and by the courts. The end result of the antics by a few individuals and this Trust is probably going to be a six-figure bill for New Zealanders to pay.

My former colleagues have had valuable weeks tied up with wasted time in defending these manufactured allegations. That’s time that could have profitably been used investigating further what is happening with our climate. But there is a bigger picture here too.

Merchants of doubt

Doubt-mongering is an old strategy. It is a strategy that has been pursued before to combat the ideas that cigarette smoking is harmful to your health, and it has been assiduously followed by climate deniers for the past 20 years.

One of the best known international proponents of such strategies is US think tank, the Heartland Institute.

The first in a planned series of anti-global warming billboards in the US, comparing “climate alarmists” with terrorists and mass murderers. The campaign was canned after a backlash. The Heartland Institute

Just to be clear: there is no evidence that the Heartland Institute helped fund the NZ court challenge. In 2012, one of the Trustees who brought the action against NIWA said Heartland had not donated anything to the case.

However, Heartland is known to have been active in NZ in the past, providing funding to the NZ Climate Science Coalition and a related International Coalition, as well as financially backing prominent climate “sceptic” campaigns in Australia.

An extract from a 1999 letter from the Heartland Institute to tobacco company Philip Morris. University of California, San Francisco, Legacy Tobacco Documents Library

The Heartland Institute also has a long record of working with tobacco companies, as the letter above illustrates (you can read that letter and other industry documents in full here. Meanwhile, Heartland’s reply to critics of its tobacco and fossil fuel campaigns is here).

Earlier this month, the news broke that major tobacco companies will finally admit they “deliberately deceived the American public”, in “corrective statements” that would run on prime-time TV, in newspapers and even on cigarette packs.

It’s taken a 15-year court battle with the US government to reach this point, and it shows that evidence can trump doubt-mongering in the long run. A similar day may come for those who actively work to cast doubt on climate science.

Jim Salinger does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.
The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation. Read the original article.
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Be Part of the Movement to Stop Deep-Sea Oil

View from a beach off Beach Rd. in Kaikoura.
Just off Beach Rd. in Kaikoura (Wikipedia)
by Greenpeace Aotearoa New Zealand

The movement to Stop Deep Sea Oil has really become a force to be reckoned with - it reminds me of the people-powered movement that saw NZ become nuclear free in the 1980s!

This year there's already a lot going on so, here's an update for you on dirty drillers, a Wellington march, ‘rapid response’ blockades, a day at the beach and other actions you can get involved with in every part of the country.

Last year the Oil Free Seas Flotilla hugely increased public awareness of the deep sea oil issue by protesting Texan oil giant Anadarko’s wildcat drilling off the Raglan coast. There are Stop Deep Sea Oil signs and banners all over the country, new groups emerging, protests planned and more to come.

Soon Anadarko will finish operations off Raglan and begin drilling another high risk deep-sea exploratory well off the Otago coast, and also start seismic testing in the Pegasus basin near Kaikoura and Wellington.

Now is the time again to make it completely clear that deep sea drilling is not welcome anywhere in the oceans of Aotearoa New Zealand!

South Island: Banners on the Beach, 15 February - come along if you can!

- Come out to your favourite beach on the east coast of the South Island on Saturday the 15th Feb at midday for Banners on the Beach events. As the title suggests, bring along a banner to show your opposition to risky oil on the very beaches we want to protect! In November 2013 over 5,000 people turned out on west coast beaches of the North Island to take a stand against drilling off Raglan. Now the Mainland needs to make its voice heard! More on this soon but please RSVP on facebook now and invite your friends!

Wellington: March to Stop Deep Sea Drilling - 24 January

- Oil Free Wellington is holding a protest this Friday, the 24th of January, 12.30pm beginning at Midland Park to oppose Anadarko's drilling plans in the Pegasus Basin, just 30km south of Wellington. If you’re in the Wellington area get along and show your support!

Around the rest of the country:

- All around the country people are getting out and getting active in opposition to risky deep sea drilling. One of the most fun and creative ways to do this is to put up a sign at home or somewhere in your community. Check out the Summer of Signs for more details and some inspirational examples of banners that are already up.

- The Oil Free Future Summit in Dunedin earlier this month was a fantastic success and one of the highlights was that local group Oil Free Otago established a "Rapid Response" team of people committed to opposing Anadarko’s risky drilling due to happen off Otago in the next few weeks. If you live in Te Waipounamu and are keen to get involved, OFO would love to hear from you.

- Kaikoura locals who depend on whales and the oceans for their livelihoods are not happy either about seismic testing, which is known to distress whales, and plans are afoot for protesting this activity also. Click here if you want to be involved in Kaikoura

- Right now you can make a quick submission in defence of your right to say NO to deep sea drilling. The EEZ Submissions process closes on the 30th of January.

PHEW! That was a lot of info to get through, thanks for sticking with it - no matter where you are in the country or how much time you have on your hands there’s something you can do Stop Deep Sea Oil.

This issue affects us all so please make your voice heard!

Nick and the whole crew at Greenpeace.

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