Yearly Archives: 2009

Bloggerscircle: why we need a plastic bag tax

bloggers-circleRob Greenland at The Social Business blog wrote, a couple of days ago:

It’s in the news today that supermarkets just missed their target of 50% reduction in plastic bag use (they got to 48%).  I’m not a big fan of supermarkets but I think on this one they need to be congratulated.  Remember the reaction against proposals to tax plastic bags, and how, many believed, people would never change their habits.

Far too many bags are still used but a 48% reduction is a massive improvement.  If businesses and the public can get their act together on this issue, what other seemingly impossible environmental problems might we solve?  It may also suggest that it’s better tonudge people into doing the right thing (like the clever question the checkout assistant was trained to ask), rather than taxing them into behavioural change.

50% sounds great, doesn’t it?

But in Ireland the introduction of a plastic bag tax in 2002 cut the use of plastic bags immediately by 90%, and created millions of Euros in government revenues which were pledged for use in environmental projects. Cutting ours by 50% is nothing to be proud of in comparison to that figure, especially as much of that 50% is people like Rob, me, and you, dear reader. The remaining 50% are inevitably going to be much harder to reach. Even with Tesco offering the carrot of Nectar card points for every bag reused, this is still too slow. It’s time to get out the sticks.

Like it or not, taxation is the most effective behaviour change lever government has. As Anthony Giddens suggests is in The Politics of Climate Change these are levers we’re going to have to use, and not be afraid of using. But the revenue used from these taxes must be used creatively and positively if we’re going to trust the system. Denmark’s carbon taxes, introduced in the 90s, have created an absolute fall in Co2 emissions from that country not only because they disincentivise carbon use, but because the revenue created by the fed directly back into subsidising energy-saving measures.

This post is part of a collaborative  initiative at bloggerscircle.net

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

Friends of the Earth Show: Act Now Don’t be Bio-Fuelled

Produced by Arcola theatre as part of Friends of the Earth’s Summer of Action on Biofuels.

The 10 minute street performance addresses the complex issues surrounding the use of biofuels.

The playful but uncompromising piece demonstrates that biofuels are a false solution to climate change.

In the performance we meet:

  • A politician looking for a quick fix to climate change.
  • A business man looking for easy money.
  • A farmer who will pay the price for their misguided actions.

Taking to the streets

Arcola will be performing their street theatre around London and also in Brighton during the summer.

Director: Phil Ormrod

Cast: Jed Hancock-Brainerd, Daniel Millar and Sean McConaghey

Performance dates:

  • 2-3 Aug: Innocent Village Fete, Regents Park
  • 8 Aug: Barge – Paddington, Camden
  • 9 Aug: Islington Green
  • 15 Aug: Canary Wharf
  • 16 Aug: Brighton beach
  • 22 Aug: Soho Square
  • 23 Aug: Leicester Square
  • 29 Aug: Golden Square
  • 30 Aug: Sloane Square
  • 5 Sept: Victoria Embankment Gardens
  • 6 Sept: Soho GardensArcola Theatre

Go to Arcola Energy

Low Energy Lighting – Carbon Trust Information Packs

The Carbon Trust (www.carbontrust.co.uk) has some excellent information on low energy lighting solutions. See: www.carbontrust.co.uk/publications/publicationdetail?productid=CTV021

Spend some time on the website – there is a huge amount of relevant information. Much of the information requested by the arts sector is already there…

Go to Arcola Energy

Greenwala – First generation “Greensters” are making a statement that Hollywood can be green.

Some friends of the CSPA, Stephen and Enci Box, are leading this fantastic project to produce a film sustainably. Here is an excerpt from the article on Greenwala:

On the set of “At What Price” made possible by Rebel Without A Car Productions, you wont see any cars parked around but you will see bikes galore! All ranging from beach crusiers, to Xtracycles to homemade bicycles with trailers.On the first day, everyone showed up on their bike, introductions where made, speeches said then it was off to get the equipment. I was given an Xtracycle to ride across town since it was capable of holding A LOT more then my little basket could and we needed to pick up some heavy equipment. Most of the cast and crew got to and from set using a bike or by taking the bus I must admit, living over 30 miles away made me the black sheep on this crew, as I drove to set everyday but everyone put in the effort not to make a huge carbon footprint.

After venturing through the back streets of Hollywood, we showed up to Castex Rentals to very surprised looks from the Castex employees. At first they didnt really believe we where going to haul all of this film equipment on just bicycles alone, they even started laughing as we started figuring out what could go where. We got to work on loading up the bikes, strapping down c-stands, piling up sand bags, finding room for apple boxes, etc. After the nice men at Castex finally realized we where the real deal, they jumped right in and started helping load stuff, then of course started taking pictures to share with everyone from their camera phones. I dont blame them; we ARE the first generation Greenseters after all.

via Greenwala – First generation “Greensters” are making a statement that Hollywood can be green..

Waste Wood as a Bio Fuel

There are significant issues with widespread adoption of bio-fuels from energy crops (i.e. growing wood or oil seed specifically to burn it). See for example the Friends of the Earth campiagn (www.foe.co.uk/campaigns/biodiversity/press_for_change/biofuels/index.html).

However this does not mean that we cannot make better use of waste materials. Effectively we are considering incineration of selected wastes to produce useful heat.

There is some excellent information on this subject at: www.biomassenergycentre.org.uk

We are specifically interested in using:

Note that there have been changes made to the categorisation of Waste to allow the use of untreated timber and SOME wood composites as bio fuels. In preparation for using redundant set materials (which cannot be re-used) we need to consider elimination of materials which cannot be cleanly burnt (ply is probably one of these).

Go to Arcola Energy

No Really Now.

Really. It’s a common blip for the wordpress theme to get all aggressively defaulty, but hopefully now it is fixed. We hope. We are hoping. ‘Cause the blips and farts are really exhausting.

In the meantime, some really awesome stuff has been going on.

In Seattle, artist Mandy Greer has just unveiled the installation Mater Matrix Mother and Medium at Camp Long in Seattle, Washington. It’s a lot of yarn. A lot of yarn in deep dark to bright lights blues, twisting and spazzing and coughing its way through a series of urban trees. Water. On its opening night it danced with performer Zoe Scofield.

Trees are growing sideways in the exhibition Radical Nature: Art and Architecture for a Changing Planet 1969-2009, on display at the Barbican Art Gallery in London. They’re part of a massive retrospective of environmental artwork, ranging from Beuys to Smithson to mounds of grass. Trees also paraded through London to celebrate the opening of the exhibit.   William Shaw gives an excellent overview on the RSA Arts & Ecology blog: there’s a video of the exhibition from them below. Monumental, both in the comprehensive gathering of significant artworks, and in the diverse reactions from the critics.

And sadly, the environmental art gallery Collectively Grasp will be closing its San Francisco doors in August. For those of you in the area: they’re having a closing party August 15th. Check it out.

The Bay Area Air is alternately hot, stale, and rich and creamy like ice cream. Here’s RSA Arts and Ecology’s video of Radical Nature. Enjoy.

Radical Nature | Barbican 2009 from RSA Arts & Ecology on Vimeo.

Go to the Green Museum

“You know more than you think you do”

designLast night at the RSA, the RSA’s Design & Society project launched its new project on resourcefulness, self-reliance and design with a essay by Emily Campbell: The challenge posed to design by today’s social and political agenda of inclusiveness is to ease the distinction between the professional skill of designers and the insights of users; to make these complementary and integral to the solving of problems.  But the popular narrative of design history stands in marked contrast to the agenda of inclusive process. The Designer – in fiction and often in reality – is famed for his or her passionately pursued, authentic and unique visual language. The designer is known by his or her mediated icons. The designer is famously unbending in his or her choices and only ever wears black. Despite its own rhetoric, design often disempowers us. How can it be made to do the opposite? The RSA’sDesign & Society team suggests that instead of designing for us, design should start from the assumption that we are not just consumers of design, we are all potential designers too.  Read about this project. [PDF 95KB]

knowCompetition | The “You Know More Than You Think You Do” poster, given away at the launch,  is designed by Anthony Burrill, and printed by hand from antique blocks in Rye. I have a signed copy to give away along with other goodies. Go to the Arts & Ecology ning site to find out how you can get it.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

Wind turbines and the failure of markets

twometers
Monometer by Michael Pinsky, July 2009, Kortrijk

The Vestas wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight, under occupation by a handful of workers, is set for closure at the end of this month, citing “lack of demand”; that this happened in the immediate aftermath of Ed Miliband’s Energy Transition White Paper is ironic, to say the least. Three years ago, as Seamus Milne points out, Nicholas Stern nailed climate change as “the greatest market failure the world has ever seen”. It’s time to nail the myth that “lack of demand” is a natural state, to which everything must submit.

The illustration is from an installation by the British artist Michael Pinsky at this July’sKortrijk annual all-night arts festival. The four supporting columns of Belgium’s tallest wind turbines were transformed into giant meters, monitoring the ecological impact of Kortrijk’s all-night event. The consumption of energy and water, the production waste, and noise levels were all metered by two rings of projectect light moving up and down the turbines, as if, to quote the artists’s statement, the festival was “feeding” Monometer.

http://www.michaelpinsky.com/

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

PostNatural history: organism of the month


PostNatural Organism of the Month: American Chestnut Tree July 2009

From a series of artworks from the Center for PostNatural History. The caption reads:

This variety of American Chestnut Tree is engineered by a small team of researchers at the SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry program to be resistant to the chestnut blight that is responsible for reducing this American icon to a shrub. In selecting the genes to create a blight-resistant tree, researchers paid unusual attention to selecting genes from organisms that would not be seen by the public as controversial. For example, researchers chose a blight-resistant gene from wheat rather than a more commonly used toxin gene from frogs. This consideration of public perception as well as the environmental ecology is significant as this tree is among the first transgenic organisms to be designed with the intent to proliferate in the ‘wild’.

Thanks to Groundswell blog.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

Rural Culture & Urban Arts: Terroir Wrap

Emily Payne Haven
(2009) site-specific installation
clay, wax, linen thread

After a three month run the Terroir exhibition in Marin County (Northern California), organized by ecoartspace west has closed. This indoor/outdoor exhibition included 28 Bay Area artists and several site-specific installations both indoor and outdoor. A few of the outdoor temporal works were already removed by the time of the closing reception. There are several posts on the Art at the Cheese Factory blog that capture the programs and artists included. Below are a few highlights and additional information.

Overall, it was a well attended exhibition with a high number of people who had not planned to see an art exhibition when they arrived to visit the Marin French Cheese Company. Of the 42 days the gallery was open to the public, attendance was approximately 70 persons per day. Outdoors there was high traffic flow, with up to 10,000 people over the three-month period. There was also a one-week residency, the very first at this site. And, a total of four events including an opening reception, curator’s tour & tasting, artist talk and closing reception. The owners of the cheese factory were closely involved and really appreciated the number of younger conceptual artists included. Our goal was to show work that visitors could relate to with regard to subject matter and that was a new aesthetic than they might expect to see in a local gallery (no landscape paintings or traditional sculpture). The consensus was that the works were engaging and that visitors were surprised to find conceptual art at their local gathering site.


Some highlights include:

Susan Leibovitz-Steinman Land(e)scape (2009) topsoil, rain and pond water all collected on the cheese factory grounds, and acrylic paint Photo ©2009 Jeannie O'Connor

Philip Krohn with Paul Reffell
The Kindling (2009)
11’ X 8’ diameter misc firewood (cypress, douglas fir, eucalyptus, monterey pine)

Mark Brest van Kempen Lineaus Line
2009 approximately 600 ft
(500 tags)

Jessica Resmond Jorge Bachman Shipped
Global Terroir (2009)
58” X 130” 4 inkjet prints/sound component

Lewis de Soto
APPELLATION: Napa 4 (10.12.07)
K3 inks on paper 26″ x 77.5” X 2″ Courtesy Brian Gross Fine Art, San Francisco

Go to EcoArtSpace