For truly sustainable cities the former mayor of Curitiba says first you must get rid of your car.

Living without a car doesn’t have to be a total drag. While I have at times found it difficult to do without one, it certainly saves me money!

For the most part you can easily adapt to life without a car if you live in a city or large town that has good public transport. You will never miss your car, and the cost of bus tickets will be quickly off-set by the money you save by not having to pay for parking!

To continue to live without a car it is essential when moving house to live as near to trains, trams and buses as possible. The rent may be slightly higher, but just remember you are not paying to run a car.

The only times I miss having a car is when doing the weekly shopping (for instance, when it is raining, not so much fun!), picking up big loads, or to take a trip out of town on the weekend.

If you want to try living without owning a car try these strategies:

  • Join a car-sharing company (In Australia I use one called Flexicar)
  • Try a car-pooling site
  • Alternatively you could set up your own car-sharing arrangement, (It works best if you car-share with your neighbours, or someone living very close by)
  • Buy a bicycle with a trailer attachment (or panniers)
  • Take a taxi (even one trip a week will be cheaper than running a car!)
  • Rent a car (especially good for weekend trips out of town, and even a few trips a year is cheaper than owning your own car)
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350Here’s my attempt at 350 – some images that I made on my way to Uni in Thursday morning. A small gesture, but if mine is one of thousands, or even millions, that adds up to something – right?

Get involved, its pretty simple! For some inspiration visit the gallery at 350 org

Maybe you could make some art:

What do you get when you mix the arts and activism? Artivism!

With the International Day of Climate Action only a week away, now is the perfect time to start building some creative visuals for you action. You’ve been planning your action, making phone calls and having meetings: now is the time to have some fun, and get into the “hands-on” part of creating an action. The plan: organize an “Art Build”. Call your friends, or round up some local youth and set a time to spend 3 hours making art for your action. It doesn’t matter if you have 2 people or 20, we’ve got a few simple tricks that will help you make your action louder, more colorful, and more fun. A little art goes a long way! Fun events such as this are also great ways to strengthen your action community, and to get more and more people involved. You can even invite the press, and get some coverage before your action even starts.

There are lots of ways to get creative, and each day we receive new photos with all sorts of wonderful ideas. We’ve got a few things on our site that can help you, step by step, with the logisitics of making art for your action. Look at a few of the following pages, and let them spark your imagination. A good place to start is to make a banner for your action, this can appear front and center in your action photo: so everyone knows what your message is. You can create t-shirts for your action using these great stencils, or you can make headbands using potato prints. The possiblities are endless… Want to get some theater involved? Check out this script for a short skit that can be done quickly with groups of any age. Want to put some movement into this movement?  Look no further than this great idea for a dance performance. Don’t be afraid to push your limits – its all for the good of the climate movement.

Looking for more ideas? Check out our Spread the Word page for even more tips on how to create hand-made posters to advertise for your event, cardboard hats, instruments made out of garbage, and other fun ideas to get your action to stand out in a crowd. We are a vibrant, colorful and diverse global movement, lets show that to the world! Become an artivist today!

Or get involved in someone else’s action. Check out the actions that are happening near you. In Hobart, there are several events happening, including a plant collage at the Botanic Gardens, a procession on the waterfront, and the 350 photo challenge.

To find out and register to attend an event, search the map at 350.org

View Actions at 350.org

350 a350 b

Read more here: Science of 350350 Science

350 parts per million is what many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments are now saying is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere.

Accelerating arctic warming and other early climate impacts have led scientists to conclude that we are already above the safe zone at our current 390ppm, and that unless we are able to rapidly return to 350 ppm this century, we risk reaching tipping points and irreversible impacts such as the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and major methane releases from increased permafrost melt.

There are three numbers you need to really understand global warming, 275, 390, and 350.

For all of human history until about 200 years ago, our atmosphere contained 275 parts per million of carbon dioxide. Parts per million is simply a way of measuring the concentration of different gases, and means the ratio of the number of carbon dioxide molecules per million other molecules in the atmosphere. 275 ppm CO2 is a useful amount—without some CO2 and other greenhouse gases that trap heat in our atmosphere, our planet would be too cold for humans to inhabit.

So we need some carbon in the atmosphere, but the question is how much?

Beginning in the 18th century, humans began to burn coal and gas and oil to produce energy and goods. The amount of carbon in the atmosphere began to rise, at first slowly and now more quickly. Many of the activities we do every day like turning the lights on, cooking food, or heating or cooling our homes rely on energy sources like coal and oil that emit carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. We’re taking millions of years worth of carbon, stored beneath the earth as fossil fuels, and releasing it into the atmosphere. By now—and this is the second number—the planet has 390 parts per million CO2 – and this number is rising by about 2 parts per million every year.

Scientists are now saying that’s too much – that number is higher than any time seen in the recorded history of our planet – and we’re already beginning to see disastrous impacts on people and places all over the world. Glaciers everywhere are melting and disappearing fast—and they are a source of drinking water for hundreds of millions of people. Mosquitoes, who like a warmer world, are spreading into lots of new places, and bringing malaria and dengue fever with them. Drought is becoming much more common, making food harder to grow in many places. Sea levels have begun to rise, and scientists warn that they could go up as much as several meters this century. If that happens, many of the world’s cities, island nations, and farmland will be underwater. The oceans are growing more acidic because of the CO2 they are absorbing, which makes it harder for animals like corals and clams to build and maintain their shells and skeletons. Coral reefs could start dissolving at an atmospheric CO2 concentration of 450-500 ppm. These impacts are combining to exacerbate conflicts and security issues in already resource-strapped regions.

(Text from the 350 website)

Invitation

Invitation

Dear World,

This is an invitation to help build a movement–to take one day and use it to stop the climate crisis.

On October 24, we will stand together as one planet and call for a fair global climate treaty. United by a common call to action, we’ll make it clear: the world needs an international plan that meets the latest science and gets us back to safety.

This movement has just begun, and it needs your help.

Here’s the plan: we’re asking you, and people in every country on earth, to organize an action in their community on October 24. There are no limits here–imagine bike rides, rallies, concerts, hikes, festivals, tree-plantings, protests, and more. Imagine your action linking up with thousands of others around the globe. Imagine the world waking up.

If we can pull it off, we’ll send a powerful message on October 24: the world needs the climate solutions that science and justice demand.

It’s often said that the only thing preventing us from tackling the climate crisis quickly and equitably is a lack of political will. Well, the only thing that can create that political will is a unified global movement–and no one is going to build that movement for us. It’s up to regular people all over the world. That’s you.

So register an event in your community for October 24, and then enlist the help of your friends. Get together with your co-workers or your local environmental group or human rights campaign, your church or synagogue or mosque or temple; enlist bike riders and local farmers and young people. All over the planet we’ll start to organize ourselves.

With your help, there will be an event at every iconic place on the planet on October 24—from America’s Great Lakes to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef–and also in all the places that matter to you in your daily lives: a beach or park or village green or town hall.

If there was ever a time for you to get involved, it’s right now. There are two reasons this year is so crucial.

The first reason is that the science of climate change is getting darker by the day. The Arctic is melting away with astonishing speed, decades ahead of schedule. Everything on the planet seems to be melting or burning, rising or parched.

And we now have a number to express our peril: 350.

NASA’s James Hansen and a team of other scientists recently published a series of papers showing that we need to cut the amount of carbon in the atmosphere from its current 387 parts per million to 350 or less if we wish to “maintain a planet similar to that on which civilization developed.”

No one knew that number a year ago—but now it’s clear that 350 might well be the most important number for the future of the planet, a north star to guide our efforts as we remake the world. If we can swiftly get the planet on track to get to 350, we can still avert the worst effects of climate change.

The second reason 2009 is so important is that the political opportunity to influence our governments has never been greater. The world’s leaders will meet in Copenhagen this December to craft a new global treaty on cutting carbon emissions.

If that meeting were held now, it would produce a treaty that would be woefully inadequate. In fact, it would lock us into a future where we’d never get back to 350 parts per million—where the rise of the sea would accelerate, where rainfall patterns would start to shift and deserts to grow. A future where first the poorest people, and then all of us, and then all the people that come after us, would find the only planet we have damaged and degraded.

October 24 comes six weeks before those crucial UN meetings in Copenhagen. If we all do our job, every nation will know the question they’ll be asked when they put forth a plan: will this get the planet back on the path to 350?

This will only work with the help of a global movement—and it’s starting to bubble up everywhere. Farmers in Cameroon, students in China, even World Cup skiers have already helped spread the word about 350. Churches have rung their bells 350 times; Buddhist monks have formed a huge 350 with their bodies against the backdrop of Himalayas. 350 translates across every boundary of language and culture. It’s clear and direct, cutting through the static and it lays down a firm scientific line.

On October 24, we’ll all stand behind 350–a universal symbol of climate safety and of the world we need to create. And at the end of the day, we’ll all upload photos from our events to the 350.org website and send these pictures around the world. This cascade of images will drive climate change into the public debate–and hold our leaders accountable to a unified global citizenry.

We need your help—the world is a big place and our team is small. Our crew at 350.org will do everything we can to support you, providing templates for banners and press releases, resources to spread the word, and tools to help you build a strong local climate action group. And our core team is always just a phone call or e-mail away if you need some support.

This is like a final exam for human beings. Can we muster the courage, the commitment, and the creativity to set this earth on a steady course before it’s too late? October 24 will be the joyful, powerful day when we prove it’s possible.

Please join us and register your local event today: http://www.350.org

Thanks,

Bill McKibben – Author and Activist- USA
Vandana Shiva – Physicist, Activist, Author – India
David Suzuki – Scientist, Author, Activist – Canada
Bianca Jagger – Chair of the World Future Council – UK
Tim Flannery – Scientist, Author, Explorer -Australia
Bittu Sahgal – Editor of Sanctuary magazine – India
Andrew Simmons – Environmental Advocate, St. Vincent & The Grenadines
Christine Loh – Environmental Advocate and Legislator – Hong Kong

View Actions at 350.org

Cascade brewery From the top of the ridge separating the Brewery and the South Hobart Tip, I look down from above, and think of expansion and growth, and capitalism.

The Cascade brewery building is one of Hobart’s iconic buildings. From above, the Cascade Brewery is a different place to the one that is shown in the glossy tour brochures. A material symbol of the company, it has been expanded as the Brewery has grown, and eventually it has become a big messy group of highly functional, but pretty ugly, warehouses.

I had thought that a rubbish tip located almost in the middle of a city was a terrible bit of planning (of course, the city has expanded somewhat). The smell of the rubbish apparently wafts down the valley on a warm summer’s evening, into the houses of South Hobart. I see the tip birds flying overhead when I look out my window. Flocks of crows and seagulls fly to and fro from the tip. These birds are the carrion-eaters, the birds we instinctively recoil from. They are not cute birds.

On this particular walk I change my mind. For the tip is us. All of the objects we have discarded, our refuse, goes there. Perhaps we need to see it,  deal with it. For if it is out of sight, it is out of mind. That pile of rubbish is us. The tip birds, as they fly over in flocks heading towards or away from the tip are simply symbolic pointers to our bloat. We feed them with our waste, the increasing excess from our drive to grow and expand. The rubbish tip feeds these birds. We feed them.

So I suppose this rather rambling post is about change and expansion, and wondering if growth is always smarter. Sometimes the most elegant and beautiful solution may involve re-use, renewal and regeneration.

For some discussions about some new ways of living in cities check out ‘smart growth’ and ‘new urbanism’, (new terms to me!):

New Urbanism Org

Smart Growth Org

Celsias

the centre
As we progress into 2009, and summer hits the south-east of Australia with full force, the issue of weather becomes unavoidable.

by Deb Foskey

Melbourne and other places in Victoria have experienced the longest period of 40+ degree days in recorded history.  Our need for comfort and the predominance of poorly designed housing has led to a mass turning on of air conditioners and consequent loss of power altogether for many electricity ‘consumers’ (weren’t they clients once?).

There are some interesting stories, such as the parrots gathering at a suburban swimming pool in their scores. Luckily the pool owner was also there and was able to rescue all but eight of the birds that fell in. All species must cooperate during periods of intense weather.

Big cities feel the impacts of hot weather in the power outages, the rail-dependent public transport breakdowns and cancellations. I imagine it is very unpleasant to find yourself by-passed on a crowded platform as yet another full train goes past without stopping. Those who can afford it are renting rooms in air conditioned motels. During the 2003 January fires in Canberra, neighbours in my street all visited the only house with gas connected (the electricity had gone) so we could have our drugs of addiction: tea and coffee.

Sadly, most buildings these days are designed on the assumption that they will be air-conditioned, and retrofitting them will be very difficult. However, it can be done, as Australian Ethical Investment has shown with its conversion of its very ordinary (but correctly oriented) Canberra office building which won a Banksia Environmental Award in 2008.  Have a look at Trevor Pearcey House to see how AE and the architects managed to reduce water use by 75% and energy use by 70%. Perhaps this summer’s experiences will entice other office managers to reduce their resource use (as water and energy are proving to be unreliable resources) – but office owners will need to be given enticements and regulation to provide this amenity for their tenants.

The Victorian Government looks as though it never really thought the present circumstances would ever happen – abnormally hot weather and a fire to boot – and seems singularly unprepared. In South Victoria, the fires are serious. Yesterday I was with a friend whose partner was protecting their house in a town too near the Delburn fires in South Gippsland. The smoke cloud was visible just out to sea from Orbost.

The positive theme that comes through in many of the interviews and news reports is that community caring and good communication are key factors in preparedness and ability to handle fire situations. Coping with climate change will throw up many challenges that will need to be dealt with at the community level. Communities organising locally seem better able to cope than the government. Government, even local government, is too far removed to deal with situations at a sub-town or suburb level.

Jane Jacobs had much of it right back in the sixties in her book The life and death of great American cities. Check out the Project for Public Spaces website for more about Jane, her writings and activism.

2009 must be the year that we stop building inappropriately and instead design communities – not just ‘developments’ – with social and environmental sustainability as their focus. We have many planners, writers and examples to guide us. The Transition Towns movement is a growing community-led movement which provides many tools for individuals and organisations to work with (see their website for further info).

Meanwhile, we could be finding out what makes successful local communities work. I believe we have understood the importance of working collaboratively as communities – whether connected by place or interest or kinship – since we started being conscious of being human. But from time to time, we seem to forget its importance and how to do it. The Howard years, wherein we were meant to see ourselves as individuals and (heterosexual, nuclear) families, have necessitated a new attention and relearning of the efficiency and sheer pleasure of working cooperatively. And 2009 is the year to do it.

Dr Deb Foskey will be writing the odd post for Herenow Collective. Her website is: www.debfoskey.com

Rain clouds over the Bowen Mountain range

Rain clouds over the Bowen Mountain range

The pundits are busy predicting the shape of our year to come. What’s in store for humanity and the planet? This article from the International Herald Tribune is  worth a read I think.

I thought I might gather together my thoughts and expectations and those of others for a few posts over the quieter month of January.

Firstly, now more than ever, it is time to invent new ways of working.

Secondly, own ideals, but share ideas.

Thirdly, get connected. However or whatever that means for you. Don’t wait. Start now. Time to think collectively.