Climate Change: March 2008 Archives

On Friday I followed the fruit blossoms up Old Gravenstein Highway up to Sebastopol, CA (pop 8,000), where The Post Carbon Institute is based.

Present were the Institute's founder and executive director Julian Darley, co-director Celine Darley, along with authors Richard Heinberg (The End of Oil, Peak Everything) and Daniel Lerch (Post Carbon Cities).

We had tea in the local energy farm garden surrounded by a quarter acre of food-sunlight-energy-soil experiments, including an ethanol distiller and apple press. Chickens clucked in their pen and mosquito fish swam in the caputured rainwater reservoir. The garden epitomizes a sort of working lab for how communuities can achive greater self-reliance in the face of global climate change and energy volatility.

We discussed how Common Curernt and the Post Carbon Institute can collaborate on our visions of a more sustainable future. Daniel has been leading up work with North American cities on oil-depletion protocol, while Common Current has worked with regions, the State of California and national governments on creating frameworks for green cities.

Besides the challenge of climate change, government, businesses and citizens need to prepare for scarcer resources, namely crude oil, which has risen more than four times in price the past few years. For the first time, even Goldman Sachs and UBS energy analysts, automotive companies and the McNeil Lehrer show are mentioning the "P" word--peaking oil.

The Post Carbon Institute's energy garden is one response to figure out how a society responds to the diminishing availability of the economy's key resource. More critical has been the institute's development of Relocalization Networks.

The Relocalization Network is composed of more than 170 grassroots groups and affiliate organizations all over the world. Consider Willets (CA) Economic Localization, which includes an inventory of how the Northern California town is preparing for greater energy and food security, to the Grateful Gleaners, wich last year picked four tons of unwanted fruit and distributed it to schools, senior centers and food distribution centers. 

PCI has also started a fleet of carbon-free carsharing in Sebastopol. Julian took me for a spin in two different electric vehicles, one parked in front of the local energy farm, and one in the driveway of a former Sebastopol mayor. All he had to do was wave a fob over a transponder in the dashboard to get access to the cars, which were being partially charged through solar energy panels.

Banish thoughts of isolationist hippie back-to-the-landers--the Post Carbon Instutute is more an internet savvy organization with 20 employees, a book publishing arm and a carefully researched framework for new community networks and municipal mangers to plug into.

PCI and Common Current are planning how we can expand their network statewide and into Marin County, CA, where Common Current is based. We expect to make presentations to the city council of Fairfax and Sustainable Fairfax, and to get involved in county leadership efforts to develop communtiy choice aggregation for community owned renewable energy.  

This is final entry on my Korean cities tour, sponsored by the US Dept. of State and US Embassy in Seoul.

I'm back in the US after five days in Korea, on a hectic, though quite successful visit to cities of Seoul, Changwon and Busan to lecture at universities and meet with Korean officials about the development of green cities.

Koreanatrail.jpg

Seoul Redux

I took a relaxed journey to Seoul on the high-speed Korean National Rail from Busan--I loved the way the conductors ceremoniously bow to the passengers after entering or before leaving each train car, and the Korean folk music that plays before each station announcement. We then went to Seoul National University, where I was to deliver a lecture at the school of Architecture and Urban Design and graduate school of Environmental Studies.

(Seoul National University is the top public educational institute in the nation.)

seoulnatuniv.jpg

First we made a courtesy visit to the Dean of  Architecture and Urban Design, Kiho Kim.  Dr. Kim told us he is preparing this summer to open the Asian Sustainability Institute on the campus, the first such institute for all of Asia. I look forward to collaborating with Dr. Kim and other partners on the institute's positioning and planning.

Seoul National University in conjuncton with the city of Seoul is also hatching a plan to make the university campus a living model of a creative and green neighborhood, celebrating the arts, cultural attractions and the latest in sustainable urban planning, design and technology. Think of a green Dinkytown, the off-campus neighborhood near the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, where Dr. Kim previously taught, he told us.


After lunch with Dr. Kim and professors Kyung-Jin Zoh and Jong-Sang Sung, I lectured to about 50 professors and students, including one professor that is working with the Korea Land Corporation on the Korea cities indicators project I mentioned in my second-previous blog entry (see "Halftime Report" blog from March 12).

Our final stop was Seoul City Hall to present to and meet officials from the city's "Green Seoul" program. Seoul's sustainability efforts appear to be more siloed than those of leading US cities, with "green" efforts having separate city management from such areas as city public transportation, fleet management and renewable energy.

On the subject of climate change and carbon action planning, however, I was told by Seoul Green deputy director Yoon Jong Choi that Seoul will be sponsoring the C40 Large Cities summit meeting of the world's most populous 40 cities, sponsored by the William J. Clinton Foundation's Climate Initiative. I attended the first C40 summit in New York City last spring and hope to be back in Seoul for the next C40 event in 2009.

green tea cappaccino

My final night in Seoul was spent checking out the very cool Myeongdong neighborhood with the US Embassy's Eun Kyong. We had green tea lattes and cheesecake, made from local organic tea grown in the southwest of Korea. Turns out Koreans are also very concerned about pesticide and pollution food contamination from Chinese imports, especially heavily pesticide sprayed tea.

Huge thanks to Choi Eun Kyong, assistant cultural affairs officer Jeffrey Beller, Jean Vander Woude, John Dyson and my interpreter Kim Chi Young for all their excellent planning, cultural guidance and hard work in putting the trip, lectures and meetings together. It's extremely heartening to know that the US Embassy has such high-caliber representation overseas!

I'm sure future developments resulting from this tour will be forthcoming. I'll keep you posted.

Photos: Warren (top two); Flicker: LWY



 

About the Author

    Warren Karlenzig
Warren
Warren Karlenzig, Common Current founder and president, has worked with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (lead co-author United Nations Shanghai Manual: A Guide to Sustainable Urban Development in the 21st Century, 2011); United Nations Center for Regional Development (training of mayors from 13 Asian nations on city sustainable economic development and technology); provinces of Guizhou and Guangdong, China (urban sustainability master planning and green city standards); the United States White House and Environmental Protection Agency (Eco-Industrial Park planning and Industrial Ecology primer); the nation of South Korea ("New Cities Green Metrics"); The European Union ("Green and Connected Cities Initiative"); the State of California ("Comprehensive Recycling Communities" and "Sustainable Community Plans"); major cities; and the world's largest corporations developing policy, strategy, financing and critical operational capacities for 20 years.

Present and recent clients include the Guangzhou Planning Agency; the Global Forum on Human Settlements; the Shanghai 2010 World Expo Bureau; the US Department of State; the Asian Institute for Energy, Environment and Sustainability; the David and Lucile Packard Foundation; the non-governmental organization Ecocity Builders; a major mixed-use real estate development corporation; an educational sustainability non-profit; and global corporations. Read more here.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Climate Change category from March 2008.

Climate Change: February 2008 is the previous archive.

Climate Change: April 2008 is the next archive.

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