Category Archives: Local Adaptation

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The great migration

por la abuela

Rudolf-Mates-1929 50watts.com-A-Forest-Story-by-Josef-Kozisek-(Czechoslovakia--1929)_900It wasn’t supposed to be like this—we all expected so much more of everything. When everything has always gotten bigger, better, and faster ever since we could remember, or our fathers’ fathers could remember, then we expected things to keep getting bigger, better, and faster, because that expectation had been baked into not only our own perceptions about how the world works, but also our culture. It was our expectations that led to our downfall, as we never imagined anything different. Continue reading

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Fitting into nature–or not

The role of this website is to interpret emergy science and ideas surrounding descent for a broader audience.  At the Emergy conference this week, the increasing problem of environmental pollution and human waste was a recurring theme, as was the difficulty of environmental stewardship and low-energy living while nested within an industrial society at the larger scale. With thoughts from the prior post about the primary importance of developing a balance between nature and society, my immediate thoughts turn to what we can do personally. Continue reading

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Going Local

by Mary and Todd Logan

springnotfoundAnchorage in general is in a sulk. Three or nine inches of snow fell yesterday and today, depending on where you live in the Anchorage bowl. This snowfall gives Anchorage a new record for the longest snow season on record, 232 days long. Bike to Work Day on Friday was rainy and then snowy. The Nenana Ice Classic, Alaska’s biggest guessing game on when the ice goes out in the spring on the Tanana, was the latest breakup in recorded history. Gardeners are frustrated, and even the skiers are tired of winter. We seem to be experiencing a cooling trend for Alaska due to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and changes in the winter ice patterns–more in the Bering Sea and less in the Arctic. Alex DeMarban at Alaska Dispatch summarizes the study: Continue reading

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Adding and removing complexity

By Mary Logan

An article on the difficulty of building truly green buildings and recent discussions about the healthcare system triggered thoughts about a major transition problem that is occurring over and over again—the problem of a complex hierarchy that demands feeding with extra energy. Previous posts about the added complexity that digitization brings are pertinent here, but this post is about the general problem of how we respond to limits by adding complexity, and what it might take to remove complexity at the top of the hierarchy without collapse. Continue reading

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Starting down: seven deadly sins

choices“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.” ― T.S. Eliot

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”― Mahatma Gandhi

“I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts.”― John Locke

“I am not imposed upon by fine words; I can see what actions mean.”― George Eliot

By Mary Logan

For those of us who live in countries where we use many fossil fuels, we have been shielded from the consequences of living badly. But that age is ending. Now that the Mayan Baktun 13 calendar has passed, we begin the era of the Gaian calendar. We “will eventually have to reduce either our populations or our living standards (emergy use) by 80 to 90 percent” (Odum & Odum, 2001, p. 170).  And as the years go by, adaptation will become harder and harder, as the surplus energy available for the tasks wanes. There are policies for a prosperous way down, but I know that when I mention the word policy to my students, their eyes glaze over. Since we are approaching the new year and a new era, I will approach the idea of personal action by framing actions in the form of Gandhi’s Seven Deadly Sins. Our capitalist culture values growth and wealth above all. It is time to reset our values as we start down in descent. This is a challenge to those of you who are still sitting on your hands when it comes to sustainable, local living. What are you waiting for? Consider Gandhi’s 7 Sins; how many of these are you guilty of, and how can your form personal resolutions that reframe these sins in descent? Continue reading

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Make Me!

By Todd Logan

No, that’s not the cry of a spoiled child.  It’s food, calling to you!

Anyone can grow, gather, or make a lot of their own food.  We do it on four fronts –  we garden, we catch a lot of fish, we raise chickens, and we make some of our favorite foods from scratch.  What have we learned along the way? Continue reading

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Digital snow days

by Mary Logan

Folks in the Anchorage bowl woke Wednesday morning to widespread power outages, trees down, traffic lights out, and closed schools and businesses. An early September winter storm created hurricane force winds. The power at the house was out for about eight hours, and we have a tree down in the yard. Much of Anchorage is in the same boat. Score one for Mother Nature in man’s apparent battle for control over nature. Fortunately this power outage came in early September and not the dead of winter, serving as a good consciousness-raising event and needs assessment for future power outages. So this post is both pragmatic and fanciful, covering personal, pragmatic issues related to sudden loss of complexity events and some “what if” questions about the future of digitization. I’m typing this during brownouts and occasional triggers of the generator, which got its first real test last night. We are near a trunk line, with underground power, so our power came back quickly. But close neighbors are not so lucky. Today is woodcutting day, for us and our friends, whether we need the wood or not. So this post may ramble a bit, like my thoughts, between the impacts of events at the larger scale like windstorms and regional blackouts, and personal preparation at the local scale. Continue reading

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