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Blogosphere Round-up
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We've been traveling a bit the last few weeks, and in the process have accumulated a small collection of interesting links we've not had time to cover in depth. Here's a brief overview of a few of them for your Sunday linking and surfing...

Title: The BioDaVersity Code

What it is: A cute animated video spoof of the DaVinci Code, in which "Robert Penguin" and "Sophie Minnow" find clues to the disappearance of species.

Why it matters: Because biodiversity loss is one of the great crises facing our planet, and yet it is a difficult problem for people to take in, emotionally, requiring cultural appeals to engagement. The BioDaVersity Code pulls people in with humor, and yet leaves them with possible paths to action.

Quote: "They believe the greatest lie ever told: that humans are not part of the web of life, that they can survive apart from it."


Title: Nuclear Weapons Transparency

What it is: Our friends at GOOD Magazine just released this video, along with the release of their most recent issue of the mag.

Why it's important: A beautifully produced commentary on a serious issue, with plenty of facts, stats and visual illustration of the current status of nuclear power in the world.

Title: Multi-Touch Topography

What it is: A survey of interactive multi-media projects for perceiving landscapes, soundscapes, cityscapes, and assorted other scapes.

Why it's important: Innovative uses of interactivity and technology


Title: Pollan Smackdown Turns Love Fest

What it is: A report from a recent public conversation between Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey and food journalist/activist Michael Pollan.

Why it's important: Pollan (author of The Botany of Desire and Omnivore's Dilemma) has been known to lay heavy criticism on the Whole Foods/mass organics boom, considering it a danger to local, small farming and the preservation of our food culture. It is said that his criticisms have had major financial impact on WFM. Meanwhile Mackey is a proponent of the growth of the natural/organic food industry in the manner his company is pushing it. It was anticipated to be a tense encounter.

Quote: Mackey believes that a new era of food is emerging to replace industrial agriculture--what he calls ecological agriculture--and naturally it’s bigger than Whole Foods. He seems to think his company is the heart of the movement (it may well be), and he clearly articulated a vision for a sustainable alternative to industrial food.

He also broke some news (as he seems to do every time he appears with Pollan). Whole Foods has established a $30 million venture capital fund to make equity investments in artisanal food companies. This presumably comes on top of a $10 million fund set up for farmers last year.

Secondly, the company is launching a “Whole Trade Guarantee? for the company’s commitment to source certified ethically traded products.

Title: Uniqlo to recycle its used garments

What it is: Japanese apparel company, Uniqlo, has just instituted a garment recycling program that will allow their customers to return all of their Uniqlo garments to the store locations.

Why it's important: This is a model for garment manufacturers in the trend sector to push what's possible and raise awareness among fashion-conscious customers that they can be responsible consumers without changing what they buy.

Quote: Clothes that are still usable will be donated to such organizations as the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, while the rest will be reprocessed to be used as insulation or fuel, the Yamaguchi Prefecture-based company said.


Title: Steve Glenn Interview videocast

What it is: Steve Glenn, founder and CEO of Living Homes was interviewed by Alissa Walker at Core77.

Why it's important: Living Homes has gotten a huge amount of press this year for being the first LEED Platinum certified residential prefab home. Designed by several different well-known architects including Ray Kappe and David Hertz, the high-end modular dwellings are now available and Glenn discusses the process on video here.

Title: Cutting the Carbon Pie

What it is: A new piece by climate scientist Wallace Broecker (author of my favorite greenhouse quote "The climate is an angry beast, and we are poking it with sticks"), in which he points out the obvious-yet-controversial point that if we want to avoid the worst of climate catastrophes we need to set an upward limit to the total amount of carbon we will pump into the atmosphere, and then we need to divide that amount in a politically and ethically acceptible way: in other words, we need to set a maximum size to our climate pie and then cut its slices in ways to which we can all agree. (The original piece is behind a paywall, but you can get the gist from the link.)

Why It's Important: Climate realism demands the embrace of hard limits and the making of hard choices. Besides, who doesn't love pie?


Title: Obsolescent Heresies

What it is: A stinging rebuke to the lame NYT piece An Early Environmentalist, Embracing New ‘Heresies’, which makes the claim that Stewart Brand, by being pro-cities, pro-biotech and pro-nukes, is somehow leading the environmental debate into new territory.

Why it's important: By assigning Brand the heretic role, the NYT effectively dismisses in the public mind the profound and widespread mind-shift environmentalism has made in the last ten years, a shift with which Brand has had little to do. As WC co-founder Jamais Cascio lays it out, "Stewart Brand is nailing his environmental heresies on the door of a church that was long ago abandoned... or, at the very least, taken over by Unitarians."

Quote: "The conventional meaning of "heretic" is one who goes against dogma, and the positions that Stewart takes here just don't meet that requirement. There's no doubt that it would be possible to find self-described environmentalists who fit the stereotype that Stewart is responding to, but one of the hallmarks of the modern environmental movement -- and the reason why the "heresy" model is arguably obsolete -- is that, when it comes to solutions, nothing is a priori off the table. All solution options can be considered, but they must be able to stand up to competing ideas. Even if some of us believe that some of the solutions he advocates don't stand up to the competition, we aren't going to try to claim that Stewart Brand somehow isn't an environmentalist. As long as he recognizes that the Earth's geophysical systems are under extraordinary duress, and that business-as-usual is driving us headlong into disaster, he's one of us -- even if the ways we want to avoid that disaster vary."

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