Home / Archive by category "Lifestyles"
Surviving Climate Change

Surviving Climate Change

A 50-Year Plan to Survive Climate Change

The world’s energy portfolio will get vastly cleaner by the year 2040 – but not clean enough, says a new long-term energy outlook from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

Why? It seems that fossil fuels will still provide 44% of our power in the projection, as new coal plants come online to provide cheap power in developing nations. The Paris-based International Energy Agency similarly reports the world is on a course to miss the widely-accepted international target of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

This is NOT the news we want to hear. But – by projecting where current trends are taking us, we can take immediate personal actions to protect ourselves, our families and our communities.  That doesn’t mean we should “throw in the towel” and resign ourselves to a world filled with disruption and climate chaos. We need to continue to do the work required build a just, carbon-free, sustainable and resilient world, while adapting to an already-changing climate.

This provocative presentation,  A 50-Year Plan for Surviving Climate Change, was given by Blake Davis, Adjunct Professor, School of Applied Technology, Illinois Institute of Technology at the 2012 Great Lakes Bioneers Chicago event and then again in May, 2013 at Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ. In it, Davis  provides an analysis of trends that affect our climate and our economy, and then identifies “low tech” solutions that can help us adapt and mitigate some of the economic consequences and hardships likely to come our way.

Who Is Blake Davis?

Blake Davis teaches about sustainability and facilitates undergraduate research projects the School of Applied Technology at the Illinois Institute of Technology.  His students developed the aquaponics facility at The Plant, where he continues to serve as faculty adviser for one of the first vertical farms in the world, in a former meat packing plant in Chicago’s former Stockyards.

Click here to learn more about Blake Davis’s experience, accomplishments, and credentials.

Once you’ve viewed this presentation, tell us what you think by using the comment form below!

Are We Blinded by Progress?

Are We Blinded by Progress?

Blinded by Progress


Wrestling with Some Tough Questions

If you’re reading this article, it’s because you know that humanity is headed for disaster, and you are interested in doing your part to restore and heal our home so that it can sustain life for future generations.

But are you willing to wrestle with some tough questions:

  • Why do we Americans praise lifestyles and growth economics that require five planets?
  • Why does this five-planet illusion grip us so tightly even though it defies commonsense?
  • Why do we continue to pursue economic growth as if it is economic health when we know it is ecologically suicidal? Are we that sinister? unconscious? Is it blind faith in technology? Are we simply addicted to “More?”

If so, then we recommend the book Blinded by Progress, which was written by friend and mentor Lee Van Ham of Jubilee Economics. This book walks us smack into tough questions about our survival on this planet … and then, finds possibilities within our reach!  A whole new worldview is spelled out for us to contemplate, and then take meaningful actions.

We think Blinded by Progress releases that “ah-hah” feeling we get when truth breaks in on us and breaks us out of illusion.

Lee has prepared a free guide to help you or your group reflect on key messages. You can access it here.  This “Read! Act! Reflect” cycle he has developed has been designed not only to help us see more clearly the clash between MultiEarth and OneEarth ways of living, but also to help us choose strategic solutions.

Where to Find the Book

Print copies of Blinded by Progress are available from Amazon at discounted from $12.95 to $11.66.
Buy the print edition at Amazon and get the eBook for half price, only $1.99.

Or, if you prefer, you can buy the kindle version from the Kindle eStore for $3.99.

And, when finished, pass it along!

The Same Old “New” Ideas?

The Same Old “New” Ideas?

New Idea? Or … Business as Usual?

In this talk, John Michael Greer asks his audience to acknowledge that one of the least recognized and most pervasive challenges we face in moving toward a saner relationship between natural systems and human communities is the way that a set of repeatedly failed ideas about the future keep being recycled in the popular imagination.

By recognizing these stereotyped “new ideas” for what they are – business as usual under another label – we can step past some of today’s least useful controversies and engage creatively with the emerging deindustrial future.

Who is John Michael Greer?

John Michael Greer is a scholar of ecological history and an internationally renowned Peak Oil theorist whose blog, “The Archdruid Report,” has become one of the most widely cited online resources dealing with the future of industrial society. He is the author of more than 30 books including The Wealth of Nature and The Long Descent.

He was one of six keynote speakers at Great Lakes Bioneers Chicago’s November 1-3, 2013 event. Great Lakes Bioneers Chicago (GLBC) was a project of Eco-Justice Collaborative (EJC) and a local self-organized group affiliated with National Bioneers.  GLBC was founded in 2011 to host an annual event that would create a leading-edge forum where participants could see tomorrow today … a future environment of hope. EJC recently relocated to Champaign, Illinois, and hopes to continue their work with Bioneers there.

For more about this event, visit Bioneers 2013. For more on National Bioneers, visit

Life After Growth

Life After Growth

Life After Growth:
Why the Economy is Shrinking and What to Do About It

Richard Heinberg is regarded as one of the world’s foremost Peak Oil educators. When he says that our recent economic recession represents a fundamental turning point in our economic history, we listen.

This plenary session from the inaugural Great Lakes Bioneers Chicago event, sponsored by Eco-Justice Collaborative in 2012, was given shortly after Heinberg completed his book “The End of Growth: Adapting the Our New Economic Reality ”. In this video, he draws from the conclusions reached in his book to present a compelling argument that growth not only has ceased, but that it may never return in the same way. This, says Heinberg, is because energy and resource limits are increasingly constraining economic expansion.  In other words, “the expansionary trajectory of industrial civilization is colliding with non-negotiable natural limits”.

What does that mean for those of us who have come to depend on an every-expanding economy? Richard Heinberg claims that families and communities may actually be better off in a sustainable, “steady-state” economy – one that values people and nature over high-rate financial returns.

Watch, tell us what you think, and share widely! Change is coming, and the way we think and act about how we use energy and other natural resources is critical if we are to preserve the planet we live on and build a more just, sustainable world.

Short Biography, Richard Heinberg

Richard Heingberg is regarded as one of the world’s foremost Peak Oil educators. He has authored scores of essays and articles that have appeared in such journals as Nature, The American Prospect, Public Policy Research, Quarterly Review, The Ecologist, Resurgence, The Futurist, European Business Review, Earth Island Journal, Yes!, and The Sun; and on websites such as,,,, and

Richard has been quoted in Time magazine, appeared in many film and television documentaries and has spoken to hundreds of audiences in 14 countries and is a recipient of the M. King Hubbert Award for Excellence in Energy Education.



Faithful Responses to Climate Change

Today, a majority of Americans believe that the status quo is no longer possible if we are to avert the most devastating consequences of climate change. But how many of us are willing to consider the seemingly impossible – that our changing climate is a result of our fossil-fuel driven, growth-oriented consumer economy? Or, that the changes the climate crisis demands of us today actually may provide the opportunity to to rebuild our broken political and economic systems into alternatives that improve our quality of life; well-being; and connectedness to one another?

Join us for a six week study of Naomi Klein’s newest book “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate”:

Wednesday evenings, 6:30pm to 8:30pm
2/25; 3-4; 3-11; 3-18; 3-25; and 4-1
Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ
615 West Wellington Avenue, Chicago (Lakeview neighborhood)

This interactive series has been designed to test our beliefs about a changing climate and provoke us into actions that can avert the worst impacts of a changing climate by addressing its root causes – our current political and socioeconomic systems, which have stood largely unchallenged for decades.  Each evening begins at 6pm with a light meal and fellowship, before moving into discussion.  We’ll learn and sing together “Do It Now.  Sing for the Climate”; watch short videos that help us understand each week’s topic; participate in the art project “Rolling Away the Stone”; and come away with concrete ideas and actions for systems change that can contribute towards building a more just world.

Session 1 – February 25:
Welcome, introduction to the book and overview of the series.  Come prepared to answer these questions:  “Why are you here?” “What do you want to get out of this study series?” Led by Pastors Dan Dale and Alli Baker.

Session 2 – March 4:
Part One:  “Bad Timing” (Chapters 1-4 ) and “Confronting the Climate Denier Within” (Chapter 5). Led by Pastors Alli Baker and Dan Dale.

Session 3 – March 11:
Part Two: “Magical Thinking” (Chapters 6, 7 and 8). Led by Yuki Schwartz Minister of Theological Formation, and Pastor Alli Baker

Session 4 – March 18:
“Listen to Voices from the Front Lines” The evening will include a panel of representatives from communities on the front lines of the struggle for environmental justice, and selected videos highlighting their work. Prexy Nesbitt, African activist and educator, renowned for his work in the anti-apartheid movement, will moderate the panel. Organized by Pam and Lan Richart, Eco-Justice Collaborative, and Dan Dale, Senior Pastor, WAUCC.

Session 5 – March 25:
Part Three:  “Starting Anyway”. Led by Clinton Stockwell, former Executive Director, Chicago Semester, and Dan Dale, Senior Pastor, WAUCC.

Session 6 – April 1:
COLLECTIVE ACTION – Building the social movements that are getting in the way and building the alternative future. Led by Pam and Lan Richart, Eco-Justice Collaborative, and Dan Dale, Senior Pastor, WAUCC.

For more information, contact Pam or Lan at 773.556.3417 / 3418 or Kathy at 773.935.0642

Click here for a printable flyer

This Changes Everything Flyer. Please share widely!

Pressing for Justice

Pressing for Justice

Common Good.001

Pressing for Justice in the Ecosystems Where Life Thrives or Dies

Have you heard of The Common Good Podcast by Jubilee Economics?  If not … it’s time to be introduced!

This episode features Lan Richart, co-director of Eco-Justice Collaborative.  Listen and learn a bit more about Lan, who created healthy wetlands for many years in the business he and his spouse, Pam, owned. She led municipalities in planning their futures, helping them factor in the environmental issues. They retired early from their business, sold it, and formed the nonprofit Eco-Justice Collaborative, based in Chicago. They’ve just moved south to Champaign, Illinois, putting them in the middle of the state and much closer to the vast Illinois coalfields being mined to meet our species’ voracious appetite for energy.

Their work reveals the high costs of coal energy including:

1. Healthcare costs from coal dust and dirty air.
2. Destruction of species life depends on as mining displaces them.
3. Raising global temperatures by oversaturating the air with carbon dioxide.
4. Destroying neighborhoods and rural culture through displacement.
5. Contaminating fresh water streams, underground water, and drinking wells.

But their eco-justice work is shaped far more by their vision of what we are capable of than opposing the mistakes we are making. Their passion for eco-justice counters injustices with informed convictions that a just world works better for everyone and all life. One example is their coordination of Bioneers conferences in the Chicago region: 2012 | 2013.

Lan and Pam were part of Jubilee Economics from its beginning in 2000 and continued until they formed the Eco-Justice Collaborative. Their eco-justice work amazes in its scope and passion. Just take a look at their website!! They put themselves all out and then leverage that energy through collaborations. Their vision is spawned by imagination and spirituality. What they do flows from their faith.

MENTIONS in This Episode

International Energy Agency statistics on coal.

Lee and Harry’s new Shared Housing Blog.

Lee’s book Blinded by Progress at | REVIEWS.

The mission of Simple Living Works! is “equipping people of faith to challenge consumerism, live justly and celebrate responsibly.” Those three elements come together at Christmas time. SLW! signature publication — Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway? — is available in three forms this fall: podcast, legacy (blog) and 2014 edition.

Read about Jerry’s encounter with JEM at the Chicago house. Scroll to Posts 93-94.

The Fork in the Road

The Fork in the Road

Political Reality Versus Physical Reality

Most of us love fairy tales. Stories of alternative realities. Stories where all things are possible, even if they extend beyond the limits of reality. We want to believe. We want to believe that resources are inexhaustible, that technology will overcome all challenges and that an ever expanding economy CAN be sustained on a finite planet. According to Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute, this is our political reality, the foundation upon which our economic, social and political decisions are made. And to be a credible participant in todays’s society, one must believe in this fairytale. But the earth is now sending us strong wake up messages: physical reality trumps fairy tales. With world population now climbing beyond 7 billion, critical raw materials becoming increasingly scarce and energy production moving into extreme and destructive modes of mountaintop removal coal mining, natural gas hydrofracturing, deep sea oil drilling and tar sand extraction, we are now pushing real limits with our voracious consumption. The USEPA reports that humans have consumed more resources in the last 50 years than in all previous history. And of all the materials consumed in the U.S. over the last 100 years, more than half were consumed in the last 25 years. There is no sign of slowing this trend, our current economic paradigm demands it. In his recent article “Two Realities” Richard Heinberg states:

Our contemporary world is host to two coexisting but fundamentally different — and, in at least one crucial respect, contradictory — realities. One of these might be termed Political Reality, though it extends far beyond formal politics and pervades conventional economic thinking. It is the bounded universe of what is acceptable in public economic-social-political discourse. The other is Physical Reality: i.e., what exists in terms of energy and materials, and what is possible given the laws of thermodynamics.

Tim Jackson, author of “Prosperity without Growth, Economics for a Finite Planet”, writes that human prosperity has much broader dimensions than material fulfillment and argues that humans can and must flourish within the ecological limits of a finite planet. This will necessarily mean redefining prosperity in more social and psychological terms and decoupling economic progress from material throughput and environmental impact. Richard Heinberg in his book “The End of Growth, Adapting to our New Economic Reality” makes it clear,

The economy of the future will necessarily be steady-state, not requiring constant growth. It will be based on the use of renewable resources harvested at a rate slower than that of natural replenishment; and on the use of non-renewable resources at declining rates, with metals and minerals recycled and re-used wherever possible. Human population will have to achieve a level that can be supported by resources used this way, and the level is likely to be significantly lower than the current one.

Which Path Will You Follow?

Many would argue that we are reaching a fork in the road, where we must make a decision: follow the fairy tale path of unbounded economic growth and face the inevitable consequences of ecosystem collapse and human suffering, or select the road that leads to a steady state economy, minimizes environmental destruction and promotes a thriving culture living sustainable on the earth. Neither road is easy, but only one is real.

Earth Has a Budget Too

Earth Has a Budget Too

There are only so many fossil and renewable resources on this planet to sustain our expanding population.  Last year, for example, humanity exhausted the earth’s resource budget for 2013 in just 8 months!

This ecological overshoot is marked each year by the Global Footprint Network’s Earth Overshoot Day, the day we begin to live beyond our ecological means in that year. From that date on, we live in a planetary ‘overdraft’, maintaining our ecological ‘deficit’ by ‘drawing down’ local resource stocks and accumulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Last year, Earth Overshoot Day was August 20.  The trouble is, we continue to deplete our resources faster every year. Keeping with past trends, we can expect to reach ecological overshoot in 2014 some time mid-August or before:

  • 2014:    ??
  • 2012:    August 23
  • 2008:    September 23
  • 2005:    October 20
  • 1995:    November 21
  • 1980:    November 8

It’s true. Throughout most of our history, humans have relied upon nature’s resources to build cities and roads; to provide food and create products; and to absorb our carbon dioxide at a rate that was well within our planet’s budget.  So what changed?  In the mid-1970s our consumption began outstripping what the planet could reproduce.

Today that deficit stands at over 50%. We are now using 1.5 planets each year to sustain our (over)consumption.

If we continue current patterns of overconsumption, we will need more than 3 planets to support an estimated 9 billion of us by 2050.  But … we have just one.

The fact that we are using, or “spending,” our natural capital faster than it can replenish is similar to having household expenditures that continuously exceed income.  But these planetary costs manifest themselves in climate change (the result of greenhouse gases being emitted faster than they can be absorbed by forests and oceans); shrinking forests; species loss; fisheries collapse; higher commodity prices; and civil unrest.

Call to Action

While Earth Overshoot Day is a sad reminder of our unsustainable way of life, it also can be seen as a wake-up call to live more connected with our planet and with one another.  We know what we need to do, and there are plenty of resources available to help us track and reduce our individual footprints; our country’s footprint; and the world’s footprint.  The Global Footprint Network is a terrific first start.

Eco-Justice Collaborative is compiling a list of resources that can be used by individuals and households; and communities: Suggested Websites • Books • Videos

If you have resources you would like to see us incorporate, email us and well add yours to our lists.

Your Carbon Impact In Real Time

Your Carbon Impact In Real Time

New app allows real time tracking of your carbon impact on the planet

For most of us, there is a major disconnect between our everyday lifestyle choices and the impact that they have on the world around us.  We might know for example that driving a fuel inefficient vehicle will contribute significantly more carbon to the atmosphere than say riding public transit.  But what about those everyday choices we make regarding food, clothing, entertainment, and other goods and services that are not so obvious?  And how can we make better choices?

Now a group called Oroeco has developed a new app that will track your carbon emissions in real time using personalized information and life-cycle assessment data developed through independent research.  Oroeco has teamed with Intuit owned to assign a carbon footprint to almost everything you do, tracking it over time and allowing you to compare your progress with others.  Along the way Oroeco offers insights and recommendations for further reducing your carbon footprint.

As Oroeco CEO, Ian Monroe says, 

The basic idea is that every dollar we spend impacts our climate. The problem is that we can’t see these impacts when we’re deciding what to buy, particularly now that global supply chains have shifted problems half a world away. We are building a tool that automatically connects your purchase data (via to scientific climate impact data so you can track the climate footprint of your groceries, gas, airfare, home energy, clothing, etc. We’re also integrating with Facebook, so you’ll be able to see how you compare with your friends, as well as earn points and prizes for improving.

You can explore Oroeco and its new app at:


Climate Change Warning Labels

Climate Change Warning Labels

… On the Handles of Gas Pumps! 
The San Francisco Bay Area city of Berkeley is moving forward with plans to put climate-change warning labels on gas pumps in what could be the first such requirement of its kind in the nation.

Scientists know that CO2 emissions contribute to climate change, just as they know that smoking causes cancer. If cigarette companies are required to post warning labels reminding consumers of the risk on their products, why not include warning labels on gas pumps, too?

Berkley’s environmental advisory panel asked the city manager last week to draft an ordinance for the labels. The city’s community environmental advisory commission called on the city manager last week to draft an ordinance for the labels. The city council is expected to vote on the ordinance in the fall

From the LA Times on June 18, 2014:

“It’s a perfect opportunity to remind people that there are greenhouse gas impacts and there are alternatives,” said Councilman Kriss Worthington, who sponsored an initial measure but then moved to send it to both commissions to vet “all possible objections” from the petroleum industry.

The design idea for the stickers, which could change, currently includes a statement reminding consumers that California “has determined that global warming caused by CO2 emissions poses a serious threat to the economic well-being, public health, natural resources and the environment of California.”

One of the warning labels under consideration by the City Energy Commission of the City of Berkeely

The idea was modeled on warnings on cigarette packaging and crafted by a grassroots environmental organization known as 350 Bay Area. A San Francisco supervisor is also working with the group to promote similar labeling there. A Canadian organization is moving forward as well.

Targeting All of Us, “the Consumer”
This is exciting, and shows what we can do at the local level.  Will it immediately cease purchases at the gas pump?  Maybe not. But the point of sale is a great place to have people stop and think about the impact of their purchases.  And it is consumers that can drive policy, whether it be higher gas mileage on cars and trucks; a carbon tax; or shift to cleaner sources of energy.


Crowd-funding video for BC One Horizon Project