Friday, March 25, 2011

Experts' Opinions on Sustainability - 2010 in Review

With this first post of EOS, we can look back on 2010 and get to know our experts a little better as well. Enjoy! And please leave any comments below.

Question Set #1: 2010 in Review
1. What was the biggest political upset of 2010?
2. What was your favorite book of 2010?
3. What was your favorite documentary of 2010?

Jeffrey Davis - Eco Snobbery Sucks

1. I'm not one of those environmentalists that gets involved in a matter of fact, I don't even vote. For me, not voting is my vote. I don't really see where one person (or group of people) lording over others has ever worked out so well for any party involved...including the environment. Bare in mind that is simply my personal political paradigm, but that's how I see it for now.
I think we'd all be much better off if we'd learn to love and respect each other, and in turn, the environment we live in. It may sound idealistic, but if we can't cling to ideals, what hope do we have to begin with, ya know?

2. I didn't read much in 2010. Well, at least not in the form of books. But of the books that I did get to read, 50 Things Your Life Doesn't Need, by my friend Sam Davidson was my favorite...and not because Sam is a good friend. It's truly a great read!

3. I'm not much of a film documentary type person. I LOVE the History and Discovery channels, and watch lots of documentaries (if you want to call them that) there, but don't catch many film documentaries. I have been planning to finally see The Cove.

Brendan DeMelle - DeSmogBlog
1. Russ Feingold's loss to Ron Johnson
2. Merchants of Doubt (Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway)
3. Tie between Gasland and The Cove

Edward Hall – LightSource
1. The UK "hung parliament", quite a lot of ruckus there!

1. I refrain from speaking about politics because I believe this is beyond any one person and beyond politics in general. I believe this Sustainability, or Green movement is about a life style that affects other human beings and other life. I consider it a humanistic question. Although politics is very much part of the issue, but I feel it often clouds the real questions.

2. Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma;
Jonathan Nash’s Environmental Law and Policy; and
Dr. Colin Campbell’s The China Study.
These three books gave me the knowledge base necessary to appreciate the complexity of the Green issue, the immense knowledge gap we have about the Sustainability topic, and the invariable connections between how we see ourselves, how we see the world, and how we see changes, that shapes our Sustainability crisis. Of the three authors, each brings a sense of professional quality to what they can contribute to the overall Green Conversation. I see them as my teachers and their writings the lighted guideposts on my journey to changing my own behaviors. Aside from these books, I want to also mention The Economist’s Special Report on Food, the 9 Billion People Problem. The editors at The Economist really put the problem in perspective and gave the context necessary to frame my own thinks.

3. As for my favorite documentary is ZeitGeist: Moving Forward. Beware, the whole thing is close to three hours long, but even if you just watch the first three minutes of the video, you will be inspired!

Meris Michaels - Toward Better Health
1. The Republicans gaining more seats in Congress and entry of Tea Party members into the government.

2. Poisoned for Profit - How Toxins are Making our Children Chronically Ill by Philip & Alice Shabecoff, revised 2010 edition, describes the devastating effects of toxic chemical substances on children's health and includes advice to parents and consumers on how to advocate for a healthier environment.

3. "Solutions locales pour un désordre global", 2010 French documentary produced by Coline Serreau.  In contrast to the "global disorder" of intensive industrial agriculture, the film presents "local solutions" for a more sustainable agriculture such as direct delivery of locally-grown produce to consumers; setting up seed banks to preserve plant diversity and move away from the expensive patented GMO seed imposed by multinationals;  producing a healthier soil, free of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Jessica Reeder - Love and Trash
1. In the United States: The Arizona immigration law. Obviously the issue is contentious, and it's been debated for a long, long time. This law is simply another step on a long path with a pretty clear destination: to hold back immigration to America.

I try not to buy into the political divisions in our country, but rather look at both sides of the issue. Immigration is something that every country struggles with, but over the centuries America has often prided itself on its open borders. I think this move to impede illegal immigration speaks to America's growing maturity as a nation. Personally I don't agree with the law for a number of reasons, but I find it very telling.
Internationally: The Tunisian Revolution. I know its effects were largely felt in 2011, but this revolution's impact was bigger than almost any other event in 2010. It sparked popular uprisings around the globe, something that (to my limited knowledge) has never happened before in such a way and is very much related to Internet accessibility. This is a clear sign that humanity's increased access to knowledge and communication tools will irrevocably change the relationships between governing bodies and their citizens.

2. Temple Grandin's "Animals Make Us Human." I devoured every word. It gave me so many tools for understanding not only the animals I interact with (by keeping, feeding or eating them), but myself and other humans as well. It's incredibly clearly written and has completely changed my mind on some subjects.

3. I don't really keep up with the movies, but I did attend the Wild & Scenic Film Festival in January. I loved Bag It and have recommended it to lots of people. I also got a real kick out of a short called On The Trail With Miss Snail Pail.

1. In my opinion, Naheed Nenshi's victory in the mayoral race in Calgary, Alberta ranks as the biggest political upset of 2010. Nenshi trailed in the polls and languished in third place as ballots were being cast. But he ran a very clear, thoughtful, innovative (lots of social media), and sustainability-driven campaign right in the heart of the Canadian oil economy's territory and managed to emerge victorious. He highlighted errors made by previous city councils and made clear how he would address them and create a better future in ways that made sense fiscally, socially, and environmentally. His message certainly struck a chord with Calgarians.

2. My favourite book of 2010 was "Strategy for Sustainability" by Adam Werbach (ok fine, it was released in 2009). Werbach eloquently makes the case that sustainability cannot be thought of as window-dressing, reputation management, or a "nice to have", but is actually about an organization's long-term viability and survival. He provides a great approach for recognizing threats and opportunities, and then highlights the need for transparency, engagement, and networking to make meaningful progress.

3. Gasland ranks as my favourite documentary of 2010. Hydraulic fracking for natural gas is obviously very risky business, and is not being regulated with nearly an appropriate level of caution. The film is an excellent example of our reckless pursuit of a certain type of progress, our extremely short-term view of success and the consequences of the decisions we make, and a failure of governing bodies to put the wellbeing of their people before corporate interests.

Shane Shirley-Smith - Environmental Booty
1. I was just thinking that the answer to the biggest upset should just simply be the approval of Obama Care.  The two advisers I referenced in the post, are no longer a part of Obama’s adviser team. As a registered Democrat who no longer automatically votes along party lines, I am appalled at what President Obama's advisers on health care are planning to do with our lives. Are you? Part of living a green lifestyle is about not only keeping an eye on the future health of our planet, but also looking out for the future health of each and every one of us. Obama's health care plan is certainly turning me in the color you turn before you puke.
You can check out the rest of Shane's blog post on the topic here:
2.  Farmer Jane - Women Changing the Way We Eat by Temra Costa
Not only do I love Temra Costa's book because of the 30 stories of inspiring women changing the way we eat, I also love it because it was a transformative read. I asked Temra Costa why she wroteFarmer Jane and she said, "Because women's stories need to be told. Also, I wrote it to educate and inspire action and change in our food system." 
There are so many great tips on how a woman (or a man) can find easy ways to provide her family with healthy, whole, local and sustainable foods, that I came away from reading the book with a feeling that I can and should feed my family better foods through knowing my farmer, protecting my local farmer's way of life and supporting locally sourced food production.
Each of the books chapters focuses on the areas of change that women are leveraging to bring greater sustainability back to our plates. Every chapter features profiles of women and ends with "Recipes for Action" which give actionable steps to help us follow through with the concepts discussed - ideas for how you as a farmer, eater or an owner/employee of a food business can join in.
We can "vote with our fork", as Temra says and truly change the future of not only agriculture, but our future generations as well.
3. Garbage Dreams - PBS Independent Lens Series by Mai Iskander
Believe me when I tell you, Garbage Dreams by Mai Iskander, part of the PBS Independent Lens Series, should definitely be a part of your PBS education.

For those of us living in a country such as the United States, you will see firsthand just how really far behind we are in our efforts to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. If you have children, this is a must see as it will solidify in their minds, just how much of a difference young people can really make, and what a significant impact can be made with their knowledge and resulting power.
The movie was filmed over four years in Cairo and follows three teenage boys who are “Zaballeen” which is Arabic for “garbage people”. The Zaballeen have collected Cairo’s garbage for decades in a way that is far ahead of any of our modern green initiatives. They recycle an almost unbelievable 80% of the garbage they collect while lifting themselves out of poverty and creating a solution to one of the world’s most pressing crisis. When the Zaballeen community is suddenly faced with the globalization of its trade, each of the teenage boys is forced to make choices which will impact their future and the survival of the community.

Bonnie Lane Weber – Grass-Roots Organization
1. Trite at this point but it is the success of the Tea Party because they now have a lot of power. Also, not political, but the fact that Bernie Madoff was the only "banker" that wound up in jail.

2. A Better Way of Dying by Fitzpatrick and Fitzpatrick. Population control is a very important environmental issue. Acceptance of dying is an important part of population problem and will help save our resources. We should not be keeping people alive many of whom do not even know they are alive. We must do paperwork to prevent our being kept alive longer than we prefer.

3. Gasland not because it is a prize documentary as a film but because it is a prize education tool. It has made many people around the country aware of the dangers of hydrofracking. It is a very important part for NY State being able to get such attention to the issue that maybe it can be stopped or at the very least made safer.

Now it's your turn:
What was the biggest political upset in 2010?
What was your favorite book of 2010?
What was your favorite documentary of 2010?


  1. Hi Jeffrey Davis,

    I would like to change your mind about voting.

    I was born and raised in China in the 80s. Growing up, the freedom of the press and right to vote were foreign concepts. I wrote a blog about this I want you to read:

    I don't want to preach, but I believe that although politics is necessary, it should not divide the topic. In a society like this one, we need everyone to vote to voice that opinion. Take this how you want, but I want to make sure you understand that there are people in this world who do not enjoy the luxury of being able to vote. there are people who would kill to prevent people form voting. I want you to treasure your rights and exercise them.

    Thank you

  2. Great job! Wonderful info from all. I have Tweeted and Shared on FB!! Can't wait to see what is coming next.