Feasta newsletter October 15 2013

Dear Feasta members and newslist subscribers

Welcome to the Feasta Autumn newsletter.

We hope you’ll find lots of interest and we encourage you to give feedback or respond to the various possibilities for getting involved. If you haven’t already it would be great if you would consider joining Feasta – members are our bedrock, providing us with much-needed funds whilst also shaping the work and direction of the organisation.

Please contact [email protected] for information on this or if you have any other queries.

Table of Contents

  1. Feasta Interns
    1. Feasta welcomes Erik Van Oosten to Cloughjordan!
    2. Feasta’s David Korowicz is seeking an intern to work on large-scale risk management for systemic shocks.
  2. Feasta Website
    1. David Korowicz’s new paper “Catastrophic Shocks in Complex Socio-Economic Systems-a pandemic perspective”
    2. Three chapters from a new book by Brian Davey
    3. Other new papers and commentaries: evolving global commoning, the situation in Syria, designer currencies and population growth
    4. Submission on the need for a commons-based approach to climate change
    5. Reviews: The democratic crisis of capitalism, Some recommendations for rules for governance for sustainable development and The Wealth of the Commons
  3. Feasta Publicity and Fundraising
  4. Do you have a Feasta-compatible project you’d like to see funded?
  5. Feasta Climate Group
    1. Response to IPPCC Report
    2. Feasta Climate Group weekend
  6. Basic Income Ireland
  7. New CSA in Co. Kildare
  8. Invitation to Participate in Upcoming Renewable Energy Planning Event
  9. John Sharry to speak at upcoming Social Justice Ireland conference

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1. Feasta Interns

i. Feasta welcomes Erik Van Oosten to Cloughjordan!

photo of ErikHi, I’m Erik and I will be interning for Feasta until the end of December. As a Dutch masters’ student in Urban Environmental Management at the Wageningen University I’m deeply interested in sustainability and resilience. I am working on a research project with Graham Barnes about innovative financing methods for renewable energy projects on a community level. The combination of the theoretical side I’ve encountered in Sharing for Survival and Fleeing Vesuvius and the practical side of living in the Cloughjordan ecovillage is a very powerful and fantastic experience. I intend to read all Feasta publications so if you ever contributed, chances are high that I will read your work
in the following months.



ii. Feasta’s David Korowicz is seeking an intern to work on large-scale risk management for systemic shocks.

David Korowicz is looking for an intern who would be interested in working on a project: Large-scale risk management for systemic shocks. It would provide a very interesting opportunity for a numerate graduate to explore and learn about collapse dynamics, the scope and limits of risk management, and risk management framing. There is at present no funding for this project, but hopefully that will change.

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2. Feasta Website

As usual we have plenty of new material available on the website from the past few months.

(i) Image: CrevasseDavid Korowicz’s new paper “Catastrophic Shocks in Complex Socio-Economic Systems-a pandemic perspective” was published in July and is available on the Feasta site as well as on David’s own website, davidkorowicz.com. It was commissioned by USAID and is based on a presentation that David made in Manila earlier in the year. The paper provides an overview of the effect of a major pandemic on the operation of complex socio-economic systems using some simple models. It discusses the links between initial pandemic absenteeism and supply-chain contagion, and the evolution and rate of shock propagation.
It discusses systemic collapse and the difficulties of re-booting socio-economic systems.

The paper has attracted considerable interest, including an in-depth discussion on the Zerohedge.com blog. They think it should be required reading: “everyone should be aware of what the absolutely worst case outcome may and will look like in a world in which sticking one’s head in the sand has become a religion.”

(ii) Image: Dice in a casinoThree chapters from a new book that Brian Davey is currently working on are online now. In the first one, entitled “Information, preferences, knowledge and belief”, Brian points out that it is often not appreciated that human attention is a scarce good. The everyday life of many people precludes their getting much information about ecological systems and nature, or forming deep “preferences” that would mean that they would seek to protect it. By contrast, the aboriginal mentality tends to assume that land care is the main purpose of life. Rather than land belonging to them, they belong to the land.

Brian’s second chapter is on “Entrepreneurship – the narrative of destructive creation”. Entrepreneurs are often assumed to play a heroic role in the economy, with some shades of tragedy. Brian believes that the heroism of entrepreneurs is somewhat exaggerated, whereas the tragedy is probably downplayed. Co-operative approaches to doing business generally prove to be more compatible with the real world.

In the third chapter by Brian, “The market for delusion on climate change”, he argues that with economism functioning as a foundational religion underpinning the general orientation of market based society, it is incredibly unsettling to the faithful to hear the message of climate science because it implies that the free market does not, after all, automatically deliver collective well being.

(iii) Other new papers and commentaries

Image: Exchanging Politenesses at the Approach of a StormGraham Barnes contributed a paper on Designer Currencies and Behaviour Change which explores the relationship between the values that are implicitly embedded in a currency and the type of explicit behaviour that that currency could promote. Rather than simply taking the current monetary system as given, it seems preferable to ask ourselves what we actually want from a currency and then work from there.

David Knight contributed an updated version of his paper on economic growth, population growth and climate change. Gross domestic product (GDP) is closely correlated with energy use and over the last 40 years increases in the scale of global economy activity can be shown to have been an even bigger factor in the increase in energy use than population growth. The growth in both GDP and global population needs to be reined back if climate change and its damaging consequences are to be avoided.

Image: Souk in DamascusBrian Davey contributed a commentary on the current situation in Syria. Why is that country experiencing so many problems, and why have some Western governments been so eager to intervene? Brian argues that Syria’s woes are actually rooted in the ecological crisis.

Brian also contributed a short presentation entitled Earth, Air, Fire and Water: Evolving Global Commoning which was prepared for a side event at the recent “Economics and the Commons” conference held in Berlin in May. It provides practical suggestions for the formation of a global commons partnership of participants and practitioners in existing commons, in order to help defend them and to develop new commons-based projects.


(iv) Submission

Image: ScaffoldingFeasta’s response to the European Commission consultation on a 2030 framework for climate and energy policies is available on the website too. In this submission we emphasise the need for clear targets, not only for greenhouse gas emissions but also for carbon sequestration and storage. These can be achieved via mechanisms such as Cap and Share and a Carbon Maintenance Fee, described in detail in the Feasta climate group’s book Sharing for Survival. We also urge the Commission to end its support for the continued exploitation of fossil fuel
sources.


(v) Reviews

Image: Protest
There are also three new reviews on the site. Willi Kiefel provided a summary of Peter Wagner’s book The democratic crisis of capitalism: Reflections on political and economic modernity in Europe in which Wagner argues that there is no compelling reason why capitalism and democracy should co-exist. He suggests that Brazil and South Africa provide examples of relatively inclusive and highly participative forms of democracy, despite the many challenges that those countries face.

Willi also summarized the views of political scientists Rene Kempp & Saeed Parto in their paper “Some recommendations for rules for governance for sustainable development”. They believe that for a transition to sustainable development to be successful “it must be pursued with as much humility as commitment, as much diversity as direction and as much creative experimentation as resolute protection”.

Caroline Whyte reviewed The Wealth of the Commons, a collection of 77 essays edited by David Bollier and Silke Helfrich. The book’s central theme is the idea that existing commons provide a structural framework which can and should form the basis for our future. Caroline thinks it “should provide enormous inspiration to anyone wishing to contribute to the development of a resilient world economy.”

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3. Feasta Publicity and Fundraising

If you use Twitter and Facebook you’ll have noticed a flurry of activity from Feasta in the past few weeks. We’re experimenting with using the social networks much more actively and in particular we’re sending out a lot more tweets these days. You’ll notice frequent tweets, not only on topical issues such as the recent IPCC report, but also material from our web archives that we hope you’ll find as fresh and relevant today as it was when it was originally posted.

We’re still in the same precarious position with regard to our core funding that we’ve outlined before – with a strong possibility that we’ll be unable to maintain our administrative staff next year. If you’d like to give us some help by joining our fundraising group, please contact us at [email protected].

Currently the group is working on a short video which we’re planning to use as part of a crowdfunding campaign. It will feature endorsements from people around the world who have worked with Feasta over the years. You can get some sneak previews of Nicole Foss, Albert Bates, Allan Savory (speaking from his grass hut in Zimbabwe), and Stan Thekaekara (with a South Indian rainforest behind him) on the Vimeo site. (It will ask for a password, which is “sustainable”.)

We’ve also produced a “track record” leaflet which provides a handy summary of the achievements Feasta has made over the years. Both will shortly be available on the Feasta site. In the meantime, any leads on possible funding sources would be very much appreciated.

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4. Do you have a Feasta-compatible project you’d like to see funded?

If you’re a member of Feasta and you have a suitable project you’d like to see funded, we have the opportunity, through our umbrella body the Irish Environmental Network (IEN), to inform The Ireland Funds about our organisation’s work. Specifically, each group can submit brief descriptions of up to 3 projects for which they are seeking funding, with the ultimate intention, where possible, of them matching these with funders. Note, in this case brief means brief: only 130 words per project allowed! If you have a potential project please submit both a 130 word version and a more detailed description of it to [email protected] by Monday Oct 21st. If there are more than 3 projects the Feasta monthly co-ordination meeting will make the decision as to which 3 best represent Feasta’s work. You are welcome to take part in that meeting to make a case for your project at that meeting (in Dublin on the afternoon of Tuesday October 29
th).

It’s important to note that this does not constitute a funding application to The Ireland Funds. This is for their information only, to bring our work to their attention and possibly the attention of other potential donors. The Ireland Funds are re-assessing and re-structuring the way they make grants. By the end of 2013 or early next year, they will announce their new funding structure/criteria. We have been assured that whatever emerges, the IEN portfolio will be one of the resources they are drawing on.

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5. Feasta Climate Group

(i) Response to IPPCC Report

The Feasta climate group’s response to the recently-published UNIPCC Fifth Assessment Report on the dangers of climate change is on the Feasta website. We believe that this report presents still more compelling evidence that the economy must be cured of its fossil fuel dependency and we reiterate that emissions targets or caps will need to be accompanied by justice-promoting measures such as the distributional framework provided by Cap and Share.

An effective climate change policy could have the side-effect of alleviating an enormous amount of human suffering which, on the face of it, may seem to have nothing to do with climate. As discussed below in the report on the climate group’s workshop, we think that legal action may prove to be a key to progress on this issue.

(ii) Climate Group Weekend

Image: streamThe Feasta climate group’s weekend workshop on “Fresh approaches to tackling climate change” in Winchester at the end of June was very productive. There were several outcomes from Saturday’s session: a greater understanding of both the range of possible types of legal action on climate change and of the underlying legal precedents and principles; the development of better networking for the sharing of knowledge and for coordination of action from country to country; and the resolve to hold a moot or mock trial to develop a case to prosecute one or more major fossil fuel producer for planning to produce large quantities
of fossil fuel which when burnt would greatly increase the future risk of flooding in a low lying coastal community such as Portsmouth.

There was general agreement from the workshop that the best eventual outcome of climate change litigation would be the establishment of Cap and Share, a scheme devised by Feasta members for progressively reducing the quantity of coal , oil and gas that could be burnt, and for widely sharing the increased profits resulting from the constricting supply of these fuels.

The Sunday workshop examined how to get Cap and Share off the ground, and other measures that might supplement this or be implemented on a standalone basis. The workshop considered how to judge which proposals for addressing climate change were promising and which were useless delusions, as well as how to tackle the ways in which governments and the fossil fuel industries spread these delusions. It also considered approaches to encourage the change of hearts and minds, community ownership initiatives, and local measures aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions from transport.

David Knight, one of the organisers of the event said, “Participants judged the workshops a great success and very exciting. We are confident that there will be further action based on the greater understanding of what is possible that flowed from the workshop.”

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6. Basic Income Ireland

Basic Income Ireland logoThe concept of a basic income has received a boost with the recent news that Swiss citizens have gathered enough signatures to call a national vote which would guarantee citizens 2,500 Swiss francs ($2,800) per month. Several active members of Feasta are involved in the Basic Income Ireland network. We have now developed a standard presentation that any member can use. We are preparing a leaflet about basic income and our website continues to attract visitors. A community group in Celbridge Co. Kildare will host a participatory basic income event in the public library on Sat Nov 23rd at 2pm. We have also received an invitation to host an event in Kilkenny, date to be decided. If any Feasta member would like to organise an event in their home
area, the BII network could supply the presentation and a couple of people to answer questions and participate in discussion. Please email [email protected] if interested. Or visit our website: www.basicincomeireland.com.

The European Citizens’ Initiative for an Unconditional Basic Income is a campaign to collect one million signatures to call on the European Commission to encourage cooperation between the Member States to explore Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) as a tool to improve their respective social security systems. Please visit their site and sign their petition before December 2013, at: http://basicincome2013.eu.

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7. New CSA in Co. Kildare

Derryberg Farm logoA new member-driven CSA is starting out in Co Kildare, serving Celbridge, Maynooth, Leixlip, Kilcock and Lucan. Bruce Darrell of Feasta has given a lot of help to the planners and farmers. Visit www.derrybegfarm.ie for more information.

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8. Invitation to Participate in Upcoming Renewable Energy Planning Event

How can communities in Laois, the Midlands and Ireland be involved in the development of renewable energy plans?

You are cordially invited to participate in this free event on November 9th in Portlaoise. You don’t need expertise to take part but we are especially interested in hearing from Feasta members with knowledge of the economics of energy and/or social justice aspects.

LEAF, Laois Environment Action Forum, and COF, Claiming Our Future, invite everyone who would like to have constructive conversations about how communities can be positively involved in the development of renewable energy to this groundbreaking event. It will take place on Saturday November 9th from 11.00 to 5.00 at Killeshin Hotel, Portlaoise.

Our organisation of this event is based on four assumptions :

  1. Communities must be involved
  2. Renewable energy needs to be developed to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels
  3. Fuel poverty needs to be addressed, guided by the principles of equality
  4. Climate change must be addressed

Proposals for wind farms, fracking and drilling for oil near Irish coasts have led to energy becoming a contentious and divisive issue for many. Most communities have effectively been ignored in the plans and must now work together to have their voices heard.

We believe it is possible to have creative conversations on these subjects that will help us all move forward and invite ALL who believe likewise to join us.

This event is being independently facilitated. Most conversations will be held in small groups to ensure full participation for all involved. This event is the start of a process where the end result we are aiming for is a people’s charter to deliver to our government – showing what the people want and giving a roadmap for how progress can be made – collaboratively.

For further details and to book a place please visit the event page at http://leafrenewableenergy.eventbrite.ie/.

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9. John Sharry to speak at upcoming Social Justice Ireland conference

Feasta member John Sharry has been invited to speak at Social Justice Ireland’s annual policy conference, to be held November 19th at the Croke Park Convention Centre. The theme of this conference will be A Future Worth Living For.

Details to be announced soon.

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Note: Feasta is a forum for exchanging ideas. By posting on its site Feasta agrees that the ideas expressed by authors are worthy of consideration. However, there is no one ‘Feasta line’. The views of the article do not necessarily represent the views of all Feasta members.