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Net Positive 2018 Appalachian Energy Summit

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the 2018 Appalachian Energy Summit.  It was a “Net Positive”.  I am better, and I believe the world is better, because of this event.  To me it fulfilled its theme, “Leadership for Good”.  This was the 7th annual event, if you are interested you can see posts about previous events at the bottom of this post.

At the summit Amory Lovins and David Orr were there again and were amazing. | encourage to learn more about them and read their books.  Their names provide links to some information about them. 

I also learned there has been tremendous progress in clean energy generation with solar and wind. They explained how it is increasing fast and is currently, without even accounting for externalities, is cheaper than oil and gas. Externalities are defined as a side effect or consequence of an activity that has other impacts without being reflected in its costs. Some of this information was provided by Brian O’Hara – Sr VP Strategy and Government Affairs, at Strata Solar and many others. 

The new beneficial economics of clean energy was also explained by Mark Fleming, President & CEO of Conservatives for Clean Energy.  He said he was getting conservatives on board with clean energy using only economic reasons without even mentioning climate change.

It was also interesting to learn about efforts by Mars Incorporated from Ashely Allen, Sustainability Sr Manager for Climate & Land. I was also interested to learn about the We Are Still In Movement which is a group of companies doing what they can to support the Paris Agreement even though Trump pulled the US out.

Other things of interest to me from the energy summit included Georgia Tech’s Living Building Challenge.  They are doing what can be done to make living buildings energy producing and comfortable instead of being energy hogs.  Their message was that we can no longer be just less bad, we must cause good so we regenerate and restore our environment.  That message was echoed by Nicole Hagerman Miller from Biomimicry 3.8.  More information about their work is at www.Asknature.org 

Nicole shared some of Jane Benyus’s amazing work related to Biomimicry.  If you do not know of her fantastic work, you can see her TED Presentation and more information at Parallel NOT Linear Means Create Positive AND Prevent Negative. I also strongly recommend her book, Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature..

Nicole made this message clear by reminding us that Dr. Benyus says we will be sustainable when the city and the forest are functionally indistinguishable.  My favorite part of her speech, however, was when she explained that efforts must be focused on causing a “Net Positive” instead of just working toward the uninspiring 0.  This is the message I try to promote with Exceeding Expectations.

I liked this conference because, for the most part, they did not take the typical approach of showing us or scaring us about how awful things are and that we need to fix it.   That approach, as Chris Anderson of “TED” explains, is emotionally exhausting and causes compassion fatigue.  Often that has been my experience from the many environmental messages I hear.

Overall the summit was about ideas that were interesting.  The summit also provided many possible solutions to help work on the riddle of climate change.  For me this summit was about how to generate comprehensive improvements by creating pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits.  In other words, it provided many ways to Practice Paneugenesis.

Help make it a Great Week for everyone and everything!

***You can see previous summit posts at Energy Summit Reveals Sustainability ContradictionFantastic Energy Summit – Knowledge, Collaboration, Action;  A New State of Energy SummitPost 2 – Presentations from New State of Energy Summit; and Green events Provides Great Practices to Copy

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

Contact me at:
Email: BeWellr@gmail.com

 

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Conventional not Organic Farmers Should Pay a Premium

To practice paneugenesis means to generate comprehensive improvements by creating pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits.  Incumbent with these efforts means we will also be redesigning reality.  To redesign reality this means we need to build a better system that supports, encourages, nurtures and reinforces improvements.

To build a better system, a system must have multiple interdependent parts that can function as much on their own as possible while also contributing to making the whole system better. That means that each part contributes to the whole system and does not take from, or is a detriment to it.

This past week I attended the first East Carolina University Sustainability Symposium.  It was excellent.  While being inspired by speakers and from discussions with colleagues, we realized a way we could help redesign reality to improve the system and encourage paneugenesis.  A discussion with Anna Martin, Program Coordinator at the Water Resource s Research Institute, led to this post. The symposium and related discussion yielded these ideas to generate improvements…

Currently, organic farmers pay a premium to grow and sell organic food – while conventional farmers pay nothing additional.  This also translates to a higher cost to consumers for organic food.  Thus it is a deterrent from buying or growing organic food. Despite the premium costs associated with organic foods, reports suggest purchases of organic foods are growing dramatically, over 100% per year.

From a systems perspective, organic farmers are a positive contributing interdependent component of the whole system.  Organic farmers improve the system while contributing to it, by providing healthy food to humans, without taking away from the whole system.  Conventional farmers on the other hand are not able to function without getting external inputs in the form of petroleum fertilizers to be able to produce their output.  The fertilizers then hurt the whole system in many ways such as contributing to climate change, leaching carbon, and by hurting other species such as bee’s and in many other ways. (see figure below)

Assessment of organic farming relative to conventional farming in the four major areas of sustainability.

Assessment of organic farming relative to conventional farming in the four major areas of sustainability. Source: Nature Plants 2, Article number: 15221 (2016) doi:10.1038/nplants.2015.22it

Obviously, having contributing organic farmers pay a premium while damaging conventional farmers pay nothing does not make sense.  After thinking about it, we realized a simple change would yield a better system.  Instead of having organic farmers pay to grow their food, have conventional farmers who pollute the land, water and air with petroleum based insecticides and herbicides pay the premium. Currently conventional farmers defer those costs to consumers and citizens who pay for it with damaged water, air, and land which leads to a lower quality of life and additional disease care costs for all.  In addition this situation creates a system that nudges or encourages people to make unwise choices.

Despite a system that gives organic food a disadvantage, consumers are choosing organic foods and science indicates it is better for the people, land, water, and air.  To improve the system, shouldn’t the polluters, so-called conventional farmers, rather than the organic food producers, be the farmers who pay the premium?  Costs to grow organic food are rightly used for inspections and the certification process.  It seems it would make more sense to charge farmers who choose to pollute the food and land to pay for inspections and certifications.  This then means they could avoid that premium by growing food organically instead of growing food by adding ecologically damaging petroleum based herbicides and insecticides.

If  polluters paid a premium, the system would change from encouraging the use of polluting methods to supporting, encouraging, nurturing and reinforcing health promoting practices.  Such a change could have dramatic positive effects on the quality of our personal and planetary health. This change would also make organic, not petroleum laced food, the less expensive and natural, or default choice.

Contact your senators and the USDA to advocate for smart policies like this that support, encourage and reinforce agriculture practices that contribute to healthier personal and planetary health. Thank you.

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

Great Documentary to Watch: “Food Choices”

I watched “Food Choices” on Netflix (it is available through many sources). I thought it was a great documentary about how to make good choices and the impact of food choices on personal and planetary well-being.

I liked it because it was not heavy handed. I posted two trailers below. I encourage you to watch it and share your thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

Fantastic Energy Summit – Knowledge, Collaboration, Action

I am not sure what happened, but for some reason I never posted this after the summit this past summer. For those interested in creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits, this is a great conference to learn how.

summitheader

To me, with my efforts to generate comprehensive improvements by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits, how we live in our environment is key. Living in a sustainable way is the focus of the summit.

From July 18-20, 2016 I had the opportunity to attend the 5th Appalachian Energy Summit. The theme this year was Knowledge, Collaboration and Action, a great motto for what we must do. Once again I was able to learn from wonderful speakers. Amory Lovins and David Orr shared their vast knowledge and we also had the opportunity to hear Bill McKibbin of 350.org. Unfortunately some of the news is sad and scary, however there is hope and the message I got loud in clear is there also must be URGENCY with our efforts.

I love this conference because it is like the National Wellness Conference (NWC) because its focus is on how to help each of us be the best versions of ourselves with the overall aim of improving the common good. Coincidentally, or maybe not, the theme at this years NWC was “Spotlight on Sustainability”.An outcome from which everyone and everything benefits. Another very impressive part of the conference is that not only does it teach us how to be stewards of the environment, the conference is green. Linked description of specific efforts to green the event (also bel0w) are made in regards to Energy, Food Services (and the foods is outstanding), zero waste, water stewardship.

UpcycleCover_webC2C-English_med-e1365807753836UpCycle Chart

This conference demonstrates it is not about doing less, but doing it better and not using traditional methods. There are better ways and McDonough and Braungart explain in Epicycle and Cradle to Cradle (see post here). With regard to this conference, here is an explanation about how they practice what they preach:

Greening of the Summit

Our pristine mountain environment attracts a community of people dedicated to good stewardship. A walk across our campus is proof of our commitment to sustainability: a student-funded on-campus wind turbine, zero waste management initiatives, native landscaping and healthy buildings are among the most obvious indicators.

In good faith and commitment, Appalachian engages in the following activities which contribute to a sustainable summit.

   

Greening Initiatives

Carbon Neutral Event

Like last year, our 2016 Appalachian Energy Summit will be a carbon neutral event. First we will work to reduce our carbon emissions and \ will purchase renewable energy credits (RECS) and carbon offsets. These offset conference operations, accommodations, car and air travel, and food preparation. We have worked with Shift Equity and NC Greenpower to calculate and offset these emissions.

Housing Conferences & Institutes

  • Many participants will be housed in hotel-like accommodations at Mountaineer Residence hall, a LEED® gold certified residence hall

Energy Plemmons Student Union

  • Summit space utilizes building automation to increase HVAC efficiency
  • Summit space has temperature setbacks
  • Summit space and hotel-like accommodations have commercial solar thermal systems
  • Energy efficient high output lighting, including use of LED technology
  • Use of lighting motion sensors

Food Services Appalachian Food Services

  • All meals served will have local and organic content
  • China, silverware, glassware, and cloth used
  • Vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free options offered
  • All unopened leftovers donated to the local food shelter
  • Bulk items used (condiments, sweeteners, creamers, etc.)

Waste Reduction Zero Waste

  • We are making every effort to be a zero waste event
  • Recycling containers available at all summit locations and meeting spaces
  • Pre and post-consumer food waste collection at all meal events
  • Use of bulk items rather than individual items such as condiments, sugar, cream, etc.
  • Use of reusable food service items when possible
  • Disseminate conference info and other information electronically
  • Promotion of ‘BYO beverage’ container

Water Stewardship

Plemmons Student Union and Building Services

  • Low-flow sink aerators
  • Dual-flush toilets
  • Green cleaning supplies

Transportation Parking and TrafficZimride and AppalCART

  • Carpooling platform created using Zimride to make it easy for participants to share the ride
  • AppalCART provides free and convenient in-town mass transit transportation for participants

Communication

  • “These come from trees” signs on bathroom paper towel dispensers in Plemmons Student Union
  • Renewable energy kiosk in Plemmons Student Union
  • Electronic invites, announcements, registration, advertising
  • Any printed material (Leadership Luncheon only) is sugar cane-based

I look forward to more conferences, functions and organizations taking similar actions. Please share your efforts and how this can be done even better.

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

Advanced Potty Training to Benefit Everyone & Everything

From what I have learned, some of this is happening. I hope this post encourages more action to benefit everyone and everything.

UpcycleCover_web C2C-English_med-e1365807753836

Molly Winter’s interesting TED Presentation, “The Taboo Secret to Better Health” discusses the “Taboo” subject of Advanced Potty Training. I was fascinated by her explanation about how we could treat our Pee and Poo differently so we benefit everyone and everything. Her plans explain how reusing Pee & Poo by designing  a system to do what McDonough and Braungart describe as  “Cradle to Cradle” so we “Upcycle” waste. This technique provides a way to convert what was waste into a valuable resource for its next use, which is Upcycling. The techniques she describes also cleans the water, land and air and this negates the need for aded chemicals and fossil fuels. In other words, everyone and everything benefits.

In this post I am happy to highlight innovative solutions that demonstrate how to practice paneugenesis. Winters “Advanced Potty Training” generates comprehensive improvements that have pervasive, reciprocal positive impacts by creating selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits.

I encourage you to learn about these innovations and how you may want to help them get implemented in your area…

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

Harvest Current, Not Ancient Energy

**I would like to thank Alex Hsain,undergraduate researcher in energy harvesting systems at NC State University, for her collaboration in this post.

Harvest_Energy_Trust_logo.svg

At the recent 2016 Appalachian Energy Summit, I attended Alex Hsain’s “Energy Scavenging: Small Steps, Big Impacts” presentation about how she was harvesting ambient energy for portable electronic devices and it caused an epiphany, or sudden insight for me. Harvesting energy or energy scavenging is the process by which energy is obtained from  the surrounding environment in order to power small wireless devices. My question, why is  this not what we always do? Let me explain my thoughts.

Harvesting is a process of gathering, collecting or obtaining a resource for future use. Isn’t that what we do when we gather, collect, and obtain energy from the sun or wind to use to power our needs? According to multiple sources, the sun delivers more than enough harvestable energy every day to meet any possible needs. If we also collect wind energy, and energy that can be harvested from ocean currents, we will greatly exceed our energy needs with clean sources.

Instead of harvesting what is delivered to us daily, free of charge, we have embarked on an adventure to dig up hidden energy delivered millions of years ago that we have to burn it to use. Knowing that conserving energy is an evolutionary trait innate to humans, does this make sense? We are seeking the most indirect form of energy by using ancient fossil fuels instead of looking right in our backyard. The motion of our footsteps, the heat our body produces, the acoustics of our voice – all have the possibility to make us more energy independent.

Why are we doing this? An analogy would be to be given food to eat, like picking an apple from a tree, but instead of using that food we choose to find an animal gut, cook and eat. Beyond the data that documents whole food plant based eating provides more personal and planetary health benefits for humans than animal sources, why take the extra effort?

I understand there are taste issues with food, but why are we not only expending more effort than necessary to meet our energy needs, we also are giving energy companies the power to control our lives. Of course the even more important, often ignored issue is that the extra effort we must expend to get to the ancient energy or for that matter animal based foods, causes more damage than benefits received. I support energy independence that comes from utilizing a network of key technologies, working in parallel.

Lets all become independent energy generates or Robert F. Kennedy Jr. often discusses. Hear Kennedy’s presentation here from the 2015 Appalachian Energy Summit.

 

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

Growing Healthier Food, People, & Communities

good-food-revolution-cover

Urban Farmer Creates Growing Power

The success story of Will Allen is similar to my former post, Urban Farmer Puts Selfish, Selfless, Synergy in Action. This post however is about former basketball star Will Allen’s Growing Power organization. His book, The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People and Communities provides more detailed information about this successful ongoing project.

His efforts, some outlined in video’s below, demonstrates how someone can take action to create healthy food, provide jobs, nutrition, self-worth and value in ways that benefit everyone. His persistence toward creating the greater good has created a movement that benefits all and gives back to our environment.

A super impressive part of these efforts is how he grows healthy soil and also uses it to provide heat and energy without any waste – like nature. I encourage all to learn more about his beneficial efforts to see how he is generating comprehensive improvements by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits.

 

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

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