From void into vision, from vision to mind, from mind into speech, from speech to the tribe, from the tribe into din.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

A Speech from Her Speeches Greta Thunberg Never Made

I recently read No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference  by Greta Thunberg (NY: Penguin Books, 2018, 2019  ISBN 9780143133568), a slim book of her speeches since she started her Friday School Strike, "that idea was inspired by the Parkland students, who had refused to go to school after the school shootings.  [More on Parkland at]

"And sometimes NOT doing things - like just sitting down outside the parliament - speaks much louder than doing things.  Just like a whisper sometimes is louder than shouting."

As usual, I flagged passages as I read and then copied them over to my computer when I was finished.  Then I thought about how to share what I learned from this remarkable young woman, finally deciding that my collection of notes from her words could make one coherent speech.

What follows is my cut-up of her book to present what I believe are her core concepts.  All the words are hers joined together with ellipses (...) and my own commentary in brackets ([ ]).

We want you to follow the Paris Agreement and the IPCC reports. We don’t have any other manifestos or demands - you unite behind the science, that is our demand... 

Right there (page 108, chapter 2, in the latest [as of July 2019] SR15 IPCC report) it says that if we are to have a 67% chance of limiting the global temperature rise to below 1.5ºC, we had, on 1 January 2018, 420 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide left in our CO2 budget. And of course that number is much lower today. We emit about 42 gigatonnes of CO2 every year. At current emissions levels, that remaining budget is gone within roughly 8.5 years. [3.5 gigatonnes per month, 0.80769 gigatonnes per week, 0.115 gigatonnes per day] And now that figure is already down to less than 360 gigatonnes [in 2019, the May 2021 figure is 276 gigatonnes and falling according to]...

But perhaps the most dangerous misconception about the climate crisis is that we have to “lower” our emissions. Because that is far from enough. Our emissions have to stop if we are to stay below 1.5-2ºC of warming. The “lowering of emissions” is of course necessary, but it is only the beginning of a fast process that must lead to a stop within a couple of decades, or less. And by “stop” I mean net zero [Greta and others are strongly interrogating the idea of "net zero" as accounting tricks have been used in some current "net zero" claims] - and then quickly on to negative figures. That rules out most of today’s politics... 

And our main enemy right now is not our political opponents. Our main enemy now is physics. And we cannot make “deals” with physics... 

The fact that we are speaking of “lowering” instead of “stopping” emissions is perhaps the greatest force behind the continuing business-as-usual... 

If the EU is to make its fair contribution to staying within the carbon budget for the 2ºC limit, then it means a minimum of 80% reduction [in greenhouse gases] by 2030 and that includes aviation and shipping. So, it is around twice as ambitious as the current proposal... 

If the emissions have to stop, then we must stop the emissions... 

We need to keep the fossil fuels in the ground and we need to focus on equity... 

To do your best is no longer good enough. We must all do the seemingly impossible. [Be realistic, demand the impossible - a Che Guevara quote used as graffiti on the walls of Paris in 1968 and by Prof Donald Sadoway of MIT, the developer of the Ambri flow battery and a way to decarbonize steel production, to inspire his students]...

We should no longer measure our wealth and success in the graph that shows economic growth, but in the curve that shows the emissions of greenhouse gases. We should no longer only ask: “Have we got enough money to go through with this?” but also: “Have we got enough of the carbon budget to spare to go through with this?” That should and must become the centre of our new currency... 

In Sweden, we live our lives as if we had the resources of 4.2 planets. Our individual carbon footprint is one of the worst in the world. This means that Sweden steals 3.2 years of natural resources from future generations every year: Those of us who are part of these future generations would like Sweden to stop doing that. Right now... 

Now we probably don’t even have a future any more. Because that future was sold so that a small number of people could make unimaginable amounts of money. It was stolen from us every time you said that the sky was the limit, and that you only live once. [The sky WAS the limit and now it’s striking back.]... 

Many people say that we don’t have any solutions to the climate crisis. And they are right. Because how could we? How do you “solve” the greatest crisis that humanity has ever faced? How do you “solve” a war? How do you “solve” going to the moon for the first time? How do you “solve” inventing new inventions?... 

“That’s still not an answer,” you say. Then we start talking about a circular economy and rewilding nature [or geotherapy, see for more] and the need for a just transition. Then you don’t understand what we are talking about... 

Avoiding climate breakdown will require cathedral thinking. We must lay the foundation while we may not know exactly how to build the ceiling. [Sacred]... 

And yes, a transformed world will include lots of benefits. But you have to understand. This is not primarily an opportunity to create new green jobs, new businesses or green economic growth. This is above all an emergency, and not just any emergency. This is the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced. This is not something you can like on Facebook... 

We already have all the facts and [some of the] solutions. All we have to do is to wake up and change.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Solar Public Service Announcements

The first solar video I produced was for the Urban Solar Energy Association [USEA] back in the early 1980s. One of the 10 second public service announcements was “A south-facing window is already a solar collector. Learn how to use it.” with the contact information for USEA. Another was “A south-facing porch can become a solar greenhouse. Learn how to build one.” We got a few hundred dollars in a grant from a group that was refusing to pay war taxes to make 3 inch tape copies and I took them around to the TV stations. Even saw the spot, once, late at night, I think on Channel Five.

The next round of solar videos was a set of 30 second spots I did with a graphic designer, Ed Hill, for the successor organization, Boston Area Sustainable Energy Association in the 1990s when I was doing a lot of public access TV, including videotaping and cablecasting the monthly talks that BASEA hosted. There is still a lot of information to be mined from that archive but it is just gathering dust in a storage area in my house in the form of VHS and 3/4 inch tape.

My favorite of that second series was the one on solar history which showed photographs of local solar buildings since the 1940s and back a few thousand years to the solar techniques of Greek houses (

Unfortunately, when I took these solar PSAs to the local TV stations they had no time available. Only one local UHF station (remember UHF?), Channel 56, took a copy but I’m not sure that it ever made air.

Since then I’ve made some of my own short Youtube videos on simple solar principles as I have always believed that you can teach the basics of practical solar energy, at least for emergency/survival electricity and heat, in a half hour or less.

Recently, I compiled a playlist on Youtube of all my simple solar stuff at

Some of the products mentioned are no longer available but I believe the basic solar information is still good.

Saturday, April 03, 2021

Geotherapy Not Geoengineering, Please

 Geotherapy not geoengineering, please.

“Geotherapy refers to the process of restoring the earth’s health by strengthening natural biogeochemical and physiological mechanisms that regulate the earth’s planetary life support systems and control global temperature, sea level, atmospheric composition, soil fertility, food, and fresh water supplies.”
Source: Geotherapy: Innovative Methods of Soil Fertility Restoration, Carbon Sequestration, and Reversing CO2 Increase

Geoengineering “is the deliberate large-scale intervention in the Earth’s climate system, in order to moderate global warming” and “the most prominent subcategories of climate engineering are solar radiation management and carbon dioxide removal.”

Geotherapy is based on working with existing natural systems and starts local, adapting to the different biomes in which a geotherapeutic technique works. Geoengineering tends to be global from the get go and the “engineering” is emphasized much more than the “geo,” at least so far. Geotherapy is systems solutions, working within ecological boundaries. Geoengineering is engineering, tools based, and usually mechanistic.

The resources I used to learn about geotherapy are
Geotherapy: Innovative Methods of Soil Fertility Restoration, Carbon Sequestration, and Reversing CO2 Increase

Proceedings of the recent conferences organized by Biodiversity for a Livable Climate on a wide variety of geotherapeutic solutions

John Todd’s history of his lifetime building healthy and healing ecologies, Healing Earth: An Ecologist’s Journey of Innovation and Environmental Stewardship

According to the Guardian (, John Todd is working with a Dutch company, the Weathermakers (, developing a plan to make the Sinai Desert green. They are using John’s “eco machines,” greenhouses with an extremely biodiverse environment reflecting “the aggregate experience of life on Earth over the last 3.5bn years.” They will distill salt water while growing plants, fish, and animals, all powered by the sun. “The idea is that you may have 100 of these structures,” says John Todd. “And they’re spending five years in one site and then they’re moved, so these little ecologies are left behind.”

One proof of such a regreening the desert concept is a permaculture experiment near the Dead Sea over a decade ago

Another is Wadi Attir ( in the Negev Desert, a Bedouin sustainable farm.

The Weathermakers are also following the successful methods Li Rui developed in regreening the loess plateau of northern China in the 1990s, collaboratoring with John D Liu who documented the process for TV and film and is now associated with the Ecosystem Restoration Camps (, part of a growing group of environmental restoration and regeneration projects now launched around the world.

Just as focusing on cities drove climate politics from Copenhagen to the Paris agreement, I believe ecovillage restoration will drive practical climate solutions using geotherapy, which works at every scale from a flower pot on a window sill to thousands of hectares of land, in the next few years. 

Here are some upcoming events which offer ways to participate in the action:
Smart Village Summit (, powered by Future Thinkers and RegenVillages.
This monthly virtual summit is for people interested in the many aspects of Smart Villages and ProtoB communities. We’ll be joined by experienced guests to discuss earth regeneration, permaculture, community building, governance, education, social dynamics, funding, economics, organization and leadership, affordable housing, natural building, information sharing, innovation, technology and other important subjects.
March 31, 2021 04:00 PM GMT (Vancouver)
April 28, 2021 04:00 PM GMT (Vancouver)
May 26, 2021 04:00 PM GMT (Vancouver)

Global Just Recovery Gathering (, April 9 to 11, is a three-day online event featuring interactive workshops, cultural sessions, and hands-on trainings. The events will include appearances by Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai, Naomi Klein, Brianna Fruean and others. Build your skills, strengthen relationships, and hear from a powerful line-up of climate leaders, artists, and musicians in every corner of the world.

The GEN Ecovillage Summit – Living Solutions for a Regenerative World ( will take place from April 9-15, 2021 and will showcase how ecovillages contribute to the mitigation of climate crisis and function as resilient communities of practise bringing concrete solutions and actions for earth restoration, economic revival, social regeneration and cultural celebration.

Recently, L Hunter Lovins said that reputable scientists believe we could return to 280 ppm CO2, pre-industrial levels, in 30-60 years IF we used holistic grazing practices on the existing grasslands of the world ( Now, think about how quickly we could draw down atmospheric carbon IF we added marine ecosystems, which can sequester much more carbon (15 -20 times) more rapidly than terrestrial ecosystems, to the mix all while rapidly reducing our emissions to zero.

We are surrounded by insurmountable opportunities, when we think in terms of geotherapy, not geoengineering, please.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Zero Net Energy - March 24, 2021

 Making a wooden solar insolation visualization - program to help you make your own - a collection of Python libraries for simulating the irradiation of any point on earth by the sun
Editorial Comment:  possibly a useful tool for those thinking about solar in relation to zero net energy

District heating in Sweden

World’s largest PassivHaus-certified office building

Saudi Arabia to build a zero emissions city

Sustainable Housing Ownership Project, Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation

Gothenburg, Sweden is developing the world’s first large-scale zero-emissions city zone,c3266333

Ohlone College - 185,000-square-foot net zero energy development

UK prefab low energy homes coming to scale?  An estimated 30,000 in the pipeline
Leeds Climate Innovation District

Deep Energy Retrofit for Triple Deckers

Oregon State University goes for net zero in new building

ML King Open/Cambridge Street Upper School in Cambridge, MA achieves net zero emissions

Net zero home development with 3D printed components

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Solar Decathlon Webinars

"The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is a collegiate competition, comprising 10 contests, that challenges student teams to design and build highly efficient and innovative buildings powered by renewable energy."

It’s been going on since 2002 and has produced hundreds of model houses built by student teams from all over the world.  This year they are doing a webinar series as well.  Should be lots and lots of good information here which will be especially useful now that Governor Baker has vetoed the Climate Roadmap bill.

Democracy is do it yourself and I guess so is energy and climate policy.

Resilient Home 411: Strategies to Weather and Recover from Natural Disasters
Thursday, January 21, 2021, 1–2 p.m. E.T.

Zero Energy Ready Homes: New and Growing Fast
Wednesday, February 17, 2021, 1–2 p.m. E.T.

The Future of Solar: A Tour of Cutting-Edge Solar Research with the U.S. Department of Energy
Wednesday, March 17, 2021, 1–2 p.m. E.T.

Solar Decathlon Build Challenge Team House Tour
Wednesday, April 28, 2021, 1–2 p.m. E.T.

More at

Friday, December 25, 2020

Zero Net Energy - December 25, 2020

 "Second + Delaware is the largest Passive House building in the world, which means that it uses 80-90% less energy than conventional buildings”

Opening in October in Kansas City, Missouri

A blog about living in a self-designed shipping container tiny house which is completely self-sufficient in Australia

40 hectare “regenerative city” plan for Bergen, Norway

How Oslo plans to become a zero emissions city by 2030

Net Zero energy McDonald's

Snøhetta’s Powerhouse Telemark will use 70% less energy than a conventional building of similar size and will produce more energy than it will require over its entire lifespan, including the energy used in construction and even during its eventual demolition in decades to come

In January, 2019 this list included
Trondheim, Norway’s net energy positive building, Powerhouse Brattørkaia, "will generate more energy in its operational phase than it consumes through the production of buiding materials, construction, operation, and disposal of the building” or Snøhetta strikes again

Editorial Comment:  Snøhetta is the standard for zero net energy, net zero energy design and construction, at least in my opinion.

Plan for UK’s first carbon neutral “urban quarter”

The Green Gateway, a zero-emission, highly sustainable multimodal hub, is the winner for the 2020 Fentress Global Challenge (FGC), an annual global student design competition

Westwood Hills Nature Center in St. Louis Park, Minnesota with net-zero energy design

Net energy positive hotel for Bornholm Island, Denmark
Editorial Comment:  Bornholm Island was the test-bed for the EU’s Grid 2.0 project to determine how to mesh renewables with the existing grid and speed the renewable transition:
More on Bornholm and other near net zero island projects at

Redesigning Bellinzona, Switzerland through an “'eMergetic evaluation' concept that considers the entire building lifecycle to minimize the city’s carbon footprint. The proposal also includes planned energy policy objectives with zero-emission targets, renewable energy systems and environmental monitoring."

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Planning the Energy Transition

 Over the past couple of weeks I’ve run across what might be a few really useful reports on the energy transition.

The Lancet is doing an annual climate countdown report to monitor our progress.  Here is this year’s edition:

That should give us some idea of where we are and this particular finding jumped out

"Indicator 4.2.5: net value of fossil fuel subsidies and carbon prices—headline finding: 58 of the 75 countries reviewed were operating with a net negative carbon price in 2017.  The resulting net loss of revenue was, in many cases, equivalent to substantial proportions of the national health budget...

"This indicator calculates net, economy- wide average carbon prices and associated net carbon revenue to government. The calculations are based on the value of overall fossil fuel subsidies, the revenue from carbon pricing mechanisms, and the total CO2 emissions of the economy. Data on fossil fuel subsidies are calculated on the basis of analysis from the IEA and OECD.  Together, these sources cover 75 countries and account for around 92% of global CO2 emissions. Carbon prices and revenues are derived from data in the World Bank Carbon Pricing Dashboard ( [Corporate Carbon Accounting Market may also be useful here]

"Of the 75 countries, 61 (81%) countries in 2016 and 58 (77%) countries in 2017 had net negative carbon prices, and only 14 (19%) countries in 2016 and 17 (23%) countries in 2017 had a price higher than zero, a result of substantial subsidies for fossil fuel production and consumption (figure 25). The median net carbon revenue was negative, a pay-out of $0·66 billion (IQR –0·04 to –3·48), with some countries providing net fossil fuel subsidies in the tens of billions of dollars each year. In many cases, these subsidies were equivalent to substantial proportions of the national health budget—more than 100% in eight of the 75 countries in 2017.  Of the 38 countries that had formal carbon pricing mechanisms in place in 2017, 21 still had net negative carbon prices.”

An historical perspective is available with an interactive diagram of the Energy Transitions in U.S. History, 1800–2019 (, extremely fine work which maps the transitions from biomass to coal to oil to gas to nuclear to renewables.  The supporting paper is at

McKinsey has just released a report on How the EU Could Achieve Zero Emissions at Net Zero Cost ( and there are two new studies for the USA:

Net-Zero America:  Potential Pathways, Infrastructure, and Impacts

and two US renewable energy policy scenaria, administrative action alone doubling renewables by 2030 and 50% renewables by 2030, from Wood Mackenzie (

The Sierra Club also has a paper on how they are approaching "Climate Resilience, Carbon Dioxide Removal, and Geoengineering Policy”