Sunday, December 27, 2009
INTRODUCTION: Two Institutions Required in Every Watershed: Commodity Ecology and Civic Democratic Institutions
Introduction: Two Institutions Required in Every Watershed: Commodity Ecology and Civic Democratic Institutions. Read that link for an explanation. And this one about maintaining biodiveristy and the bioregional state.
No where is required to entirely reinvent the wheel. Related intimately to the book Toward A Bioregional State (2005), this PARALLEL blog will be a clearinghouse of interesting technologies and materials showing that the wider window of known possibilities that can be utilized, instead of reinvented, for institutionalizing sustainability materially, in a particular watershed.
Unlike most blogs, it will be associated with a permanent number of 94 updated threads--one for each of the human commodity choices, as follows:
2. dyes/colorants (murex, cochineal, synthetic chemicals, derived organic coal based chemicals)
3. building materials/tool construction
5. garbage/garbage disposal
8. infant food
9. animal based food
10. vegetable based food
11. mycelium based food (mushrooms)
12. insect based food
14. pollinators (introduced bees where none exist; or in some cases required hand pollination, in vanilla for instance; ultrasound/birdsong pollinators)
17. mineral food (typically only one: salt, sometimes earth/clays/dirt)
18. preservatives (salt, smoke, sun-dry/dehydrate, chemical, sugared, vacuum sealed, pickled, dry freeze, etc.)
19. communication/transmission technology (voice/sound, paper, mud brick cuneiform, silk rolls, papyrus, digital computers, pony express, telephone/telegraph, smoke signals from fires, semaphore, electrified metals/conductors, electromagnets, etc.)
22. purifiers/cleansers/concentrators (soap, water, membrane sieves, clays, diatomaceous earth, ultrasound, gas diffusion/heat, etc.)
23. protectants (paint, plastic, electroplate, glass, bulletproof glass, etc.)
24. retardants (asbestos, inflammable materials, deoxygenators, glass, etc.)
25. insulators (wool, ice, straw, fiberglass, rags, vacuums, solid glass, plastic, stones/marble, etc.)
26. abrasives (diamond dust, carborundum, sandpaper, etc.)
28. elastics (rubber, synthetic rubber)
29. coolants (ice, caves, chemicals, oils)
30. ambient heat (chemicals, caves, oil, hot springs, tallow, wood fires, antifreeze)
31. light/artificial light (sunlight, chemicals, oil (whale or abiotic), tallow, electricity/blubs, fire)
32. potable liquids (water, wine, sake, beer, cider, milk, tea, coffee, koumiss, etc.)
33. war materiels
34. energy (oil, solar, wood, nuclear, hydro/waterpower, charcoal, horse power, human labor, AC electricity, DC electricity, tides, zero-point technology, water based electrolysis engines, electromagnetic dynamos, etc.)
36. energy storage (batteries, computer memory (a peculiar property of silicon only discovered in the 1950s), cynanobacteria (being linked as silicon substitutes in experiments) etc.)
37. aesthetics (brought into consumption simply because of perceived beauty, spirituality, and/or symbolism/ideology interests instead of a ‘material functionality’ prominent in many other consumptive positional categories)
38. musical instruments
44. environmental-proof/waterproof/airtight materials
47. industrial tools/machine tools materials
48. tunneling/drilling materials
49. humans themselves as a ‘designed commodity’ (i.e., materials for those of eugenic bent, gene knowledge, etc.; or replaceable human parts whether transplants or cyborg machine substitutes like dialysis machines, artificial hearts, or artificial kidneys, etc.)
50. sense extensions (different from simply communications technology, actually going into human sensory areas that humans are ill equipped to do without aids of some sort)
51. calculation (human minds, abacus, computer, copper, silicon, superconductors, cynanobacteria, etc.)
52. software (from Jacquard’s loom to programmable Chinese textile machinery from the Later Han, etc.)
54. timekeeping (archaeoastronomy, moons, garden/plant clocks, calendars, mechanical clocks, water clocks, chronometers, Foucault pendulums, cesium atomic clock, etc.)
55. spacekeeping (string, plumb line, geodetic pyramid, compass azimuths, compasses)
56. climate manipulation (seeding, etc.)
57. money (state-financial decisions about money and exchange are equally a commodity and infrastructural issue influenced by the materiality of the commodity in question and politics of choice; local currency strategies, rice, metals/coins/bullion, paper, checks, digital transfers, stones, shells, salt, cider, cigarettes, etc.])
58. remediation (chemical or nuclear remediation; zeolite, recycling filtration, etc.; various types of water and soil cleansing technologies dependent upon physical characteristics of the materials utilized; learning options, etc.)
67. chemically inert materials
69. surgical tools
70. experimental models
72. packing materials
75. real estate
77. funeral services
80. transparent materials
81. anti-gravity / inertial variation
82. light-proof / electromagnetic-proof materials
83. insect repellents
84. sound-proof materials
86. breathable air
87. chemical fractionation
91. road materials [recent additions separated out see below comments]
92. cooking oils [recent additions separated out see below comments]
93. human anti-radiation drugs/human remediation
94. skin sunscreens (physical sunscreens that block UV radiation and chemical sunscreens that absorb UV light)
Some people already working on this are those like William McDonough--working in a few 'cradle to cradle' materials. Clipped from the parallel book blog post on this topic:
We've seen the dystopian plan of the "World Bank's world". Here's William McDonough's version of a "cradle to cradle" world and of urbanization without wastes--where urbanization is intimately fitted to a particular landscape. We might even say urbanization fitted to support the ethnosphere durability that Wade Davis speaks of in his talk above. In McDonough's world, wastes become useful items back into the city with the aim for durability of "all time." Just so you avoid thinking this is some "pie in the sky" plan, he shows you some schematics of the already agreed upon plans to build twelve cities in China in a "commodity ecology" sustainable fashion.'
(McDonough hired by Chinese Government to build cities based on Cradle to Cradle, starting 2012)
When built as a model to us all, China once more may justify the title of Middle Kingdom, core of the world. This talk is only twenty minutes as well, though represents a lifetime of work in which many other similar ecological design projects are mentioned.
TEDTalks: William McDonough
20 min 11 sec
"Architect and designer William McDonough asks what our buildings and products would look like if designers took into account "All children, all species, for all time." A tireless proponent of absolute sustainability (with a deadpan sense of humor), he explains his philosophy of "cradle to cradle" design, which bridge the needs of ecology and economics. He also shares some of his most inspiring work, including the world's largest green roof (at the Ford plant in Dearborn, Michigan), and the entire sustainable cities he's designing in China."
However, to be more systematic with a larger view, commodity ecology requires integrating each of the 90 above in particular watersheds.
This blog will aid in creating a scalable model for use anywhere in the world based on interactions myself or others post It will obviously be based on noticing different climactic, material, and interactive requirements in different watersheds worldwide (i.e., even ones that are desert, for instance).
A great deal of the history of the world can be said to be 'bad material choices'. This may be for a variety of 'purposes', though two main purposes can be detailed. First, there is only the short term interest involved in commodity choices, which tends to yield externalities that destroy the biodiversity of particular areas.
Second, more nefarious is the history of intentionally forcing people to consume certain items and reducing their choices in the category--to gain political and economic power over citizens and consumers.
So let's ponder the project of an ideal watershed commodity ecology that will maximize human commodity choice, remove political clientelism, remove environmental degradation, and preserve local biodiversity. Though the ideal watershed would be a varied solution, the project of making any of them sustainable and closed loop involves pondering the social dynamics of different commodity productions, wastes, and local material and biota availability.
Janine Benyus's short talk may inspire how to learn ideas from natural interactions for commodity ecology interactions: what life with its "3.8 billion years of field testing" might teach in terms of human design. This is known as "biomimicry."
This might mean a biologist sits that the design table, or the engineers go out into the natural world to learn ideas. Benyus's short talk opening with the story on the resistant engineers is instructive, how they learned to apply an IDEA from an organism instead of simply utilizing materials and organisms. Benyus says of life: "3.8 billion years of field testing....These are solutions solved in context, and these are...conscious emulation of life's process...taking the design principles and learning something from it."
Janine Benyus shares nature's designs
"With 3.8 billion years of research and development on its side, nature has already solved problems that human designers and engineers still struggle with. In this inspiring talk, Janine Benyus provides fascinating examples of biomimicry -- the way humans mimic nature in the products we build and the systems we implement. And because the champion adapters in the natural world are, by definition, those that can survive without destroying the environment that sustains them, biomimicry can contribute to the long-term health of our planet."
From her described "heat, beat, and treat" of most current human commodity production (with 96% wastes and only 4% product on average), to an integrated 100% of products without wastes, since "life doesn't really deal with 'things', things divorced from their system." HER lucid points in the talk describe TWELVE PROBLEMATIC ASPECTS OF HUMAN DESIGNS in turning massive waste streams into metabolically sound arrangements--that we are dealing with right now.
THREE POINTS ON COMMODITY PRODUCTION AND BIODIVERSITY PROTECTION--IN COMMODITY ECOLOGY
1. Ideally, another strand here is that it deals with institutionalizing biodiversity in human uses, instead of leaving them out of the social human loop (like in utilizing native bees for pollination, for example). Once they have a social use, there is a systemic human desire to innately preserve them and their ecological interrelations. When the local biodiversity is integrated in commodity production, then humans take over--for their own self-interest and politics--the protection and representation of voiceless plants and animals that is in sync with them.
2. As a corollary, when they are integrated, areas of plants/animals/environments of local biodiversity that are left out of integration are less likely to suffer degradation if there is a closed loop of human commodity production that runs in a parallel track, to to speak, without 'leaks' of externalities that poison the area.
3. This blog may additionally be of use in rekindling such ecologically sound commodity relations in 'emergency recovery efforts' after natural or human disasters to aid in the organization of sustainability in destroyed and/or polluted communities and ecologies, to start out on a footing already thought of in terms of interactions.
Note Bene: Ideally, this is a beta test for how to archive such information. Ideally, one would post one example only once, and then have a drop down list of all the numbers you could 'check' to make it appear in different sorted streams of the 90 commodity choices simultaneously--instead of having to post multiple instances of the same thing on each thread. This may require a design solution closer to a separate website with a database attachment (perhaps designed through Dreamweaver Ultradev).
Give me an email (or just post to this thread) if you know of something readymade, or if you want to be in on the website design issue.
One nice solution to direct posting over the internet is the self-categorization motif inbuilt into the left column of Portland Indymedia. There you can post once, though it allows the post to be instantly self-categorized in multiple ways, so it creates separate slowly amalgamating lists of many different self-categorized posts appearing in multiple places, though with only one post required.
- I've got another idea about users of the website capable of ranking such items for how well they like it,
- or how they could set up separate watershed filters on the idea it if is specifically to integrate a particular locality's biodiversity.
- or how particular watersheds could have open ended debates on what are their priority issues for solutions and/or integrations.
- and people could be notified by email when someone updates a particular thread they are watching, etc.
Here's a summary of commodity ecology that I posted elsewhere:
Re: 'sustainable development', moving away from abstract terms to more grounded uncooptable terms: commodity ecology
Joan Mencher writes:
>> What words are people who are working for a truly alternative model of the
>> future where people consume much less, where cooperation and community are
>> more important, and where food production for example, is primarily local
>> (for nearby towns, villages, and maybe cities), etc. and not for a vast
>> globalized work market -- where most of what people eat is grown within 100
>> or so miles of where they lives --where most energy (including electricity)
>> is produced by solar or wind energy locally, etc.
>> I would like to know what
>>>> term to use instead of sustainable development for such systems.
I've suggested "commodity ecology" as a term. It's a more 'grounded' definition in particular geographically locused materials and institutions, instead of using abstract double terms 'sustainable' and 'development' which I think we can all agree can be shuffled to mean and have signification toward anything people want to stick it to unfortunately.
Unlike that, 'commodity ecology' is a very grounded and un-cooptable thing because it describes a sense of institutional forms, localization, and material interactions themselves as desired in sustainability. I additionally provide some institutional suggestions on how to get there at the links below.
"Commodity ecology is the local watershed democratization of commodity choice and their interactions."
Quoting this link:
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
COMMODITY ECOLOGY: From Living Machines "End of Pipe" Dead Ends, to Ecologically Engineering Commodity Interaction for Sustainability in a Watershed
"Most people I know consider that sustainability means only a form of agroecology, socially speaking, a continuation of the whole 1960s ‘back to the land ethic’ revisited--and little else. I have nothing against that, and it's very important, though, however, food is only one of the 54 different materials** and material choices (or lack of choices!) we consume daily in social relations....
[**everywhere I say 54 below, insert 90 as updated in the comments ongoing:http://commodityecology.blogspot.com/ ; particularly see a suggested watershed commodity ecology planning diagram for facilitators and institutions mentioned there or here: Saturday, May 26, 2007, "Two Institutions Required in Every Watershed: Commodity Ecology and Civic Democratic Institutions,"
Food can hardly be the alpha or omega of a movement of sustainability because it is only a small 1/90th part of commodity relations--however important food is.
What is required is a larger vision and knowledge base for how to integrate all materials in sustainable relationships--instead of only food. This post moves toward that commodity ecology.
First, a commodity ecology of a watershed would integrate all 90 commodity choices. (Just what these 90 are will be addressed in section two.) A commodity ecology will be a human invention of how to interact the 54 different commodity choices we all use worldwide, to fit a variety of different geographic concerns concerning issues of remediation as well as sustainability of commodity choices that potentially can be as different and perfectly suited to each microclimate, soil type, people's political economic local desires, or general ecological specifics for each watershed worldwide. And if they get out of bounds with externalities, there is the political feedback from their neighboring watersheds in the bioregional state as well as from within their own as a political feedback because these watersheds are additionally electoral districts.
I personally see nothing the matter with economic scale expanding outside of a particular watershed (unlike more puritanical foodsheders, for example)--as long as externalities are successfully avoided within their home watershed. The issue of avoiding institutionalizing externalities in the first place is the greater point I think. If people wished to self-limit themselves to exclusively buying and selling within a particular watershed, well, who can or should critique that? That is the point. That is the "local jurisdictional dominance over developmental paths" that is important in the bioregional state:
Bioregional democracy (or the Bioregional State) is a set of electoral reforms (and commodity reforms) designed to force the political process in a democracy to better represent concerns about the economy, the body, and environmental concerns (e.g., water quality), toward developmental paths that are locally prioritized and tailored to different areas for their own specific interests of sustainability and durability. This denotes democratic control of a natural commons and local jurisdictional dominance in any economic developmental path decisions--while not removing more generalized civil rights protections of a larger national
There should be variation within the theme of sustainability. Sustainability is the theme of variability, institutionalized--institutionalized and protected from being undermined from environmentally degradative frameworks of commodity production elsewhere.
Second, as mentioned, this commodity ecology would be done on the criteria to minimize externalities in the beginning by entirely removing the whole category. Instead of a flippant after the fact "end of pipe" concern, materials as a group would be chosen holistically inside the factory wisely through a producerist-consumerist democratic process described below (in section three). [or described at links above: http://biostate.blogspot.com/2007/05/two-institutions-required-in-every.html ]
Instead of attempting to deal with pollution politics AFTER pollution has already been institutionalized in the poor choices of material choices in factories via chemical/technological processes used--which puts producers typically at odds with the consumer politics of pollution remediation and safe health, ecology, and economy--instead the 90 different commodity producers get together in the first place led by their vision for sustainability for their watershed. In this sense then the consumer and the producers will be more of one family on the same side.
Third, another criteria of this human invented commodity ecology would be adjudicated on whether producers' commodity choices for their positions can be integrative or supportive--instead of degradative--of the other 53 different commodity choices in a particular watershed.
To do this, it is suggested to institutionalize a producer-consumerist deliberative interaction between all 54 different commodity producers by a regular democratic process of collective work in each watershed to create this commodity ecology as a living practice. Each "watershed of 54 heroes" and their consumer feedback of improvement or critique can be supportive of cobbling together how to institutionalize local developmental paths that are germane and particularly suitable to a watershed. This is done by an open political process to suit and protect each specific watershed's contribution to sustainability (which includes preservation of the local interaction of health, ecological security, and economic sustainability).
Each watershed can draw upon the experiences and "commodity ecology" plan of interaction of another watershed for ideas about the interactions in general, though each watershed would have a nugget of 54 interactions of commodities especially suited to its democratic producerist-consumerist process. This interaction of a democratic, watershed-specific developmentalism is where people, in the local area, can have jurisdictional dominance in the oversight of the demotion of their own pollutions and create their own 'local wing' solutions. This is implied in the short definition of the bioregional state. Each watershed has the dominant jurisdiction in its own health, ecological, and economic concerns, though within the larger civil rights rubric of the bioregional state. (See this other post for more details on this point.)
WATERSHED COMMODITY ECOLOGY
The challenge of sustainability is to integrate ourselves into ecology politically, with the mental focus that people used to devote to thinking up novel cogwheels or flywheel designs for clocks or heavy machinery. Instead, a means is required where we can integrate our politics and consumption into ecologically durable relationships, because it is the organization of our consumption choices that pays little heed to this which leads to environmental degradation and habitat destruction--instead of our consumption by definition in the abstract per se. However, a vocabulary for commodity ecology is lacking for the most part. I hope to provide a few ideas below for that by a comparison with some ideas that have been toyed with approaching commodity ecology without touching on it. I will show that each lack crucial material and/or socio-political insights that makes them far from sufficient for achieving sustainability as commodity ecology would. These insufficiencies relate to their lack of appreciation of socio-political institutional dynamics and/or knowledge of the major 54 commodity choice puzzle pieces. Many still view commodities as neutral abstracts. However, materials are always politically informed choices which have very different material and political ramifications.
As an introduction to commodity ecology and what I would call its applied science of ecological engineering, there are several different strategies aired in the past 20 years where I think all this is leading.
The mental prowess now required is for raising a generation of "ecological engineers." This desire--actually this requirement--for sustainability means that such "ecological engineering" of human and environment to take each other into account from the start by knowing of the biological issues and material science issues and social science issues of each item chosen. Ecological engineering would ponder the long term iterative health, ecological, and economic durability issues with each policy, commodity choice, technology, or formal institutional design change, and how each change whether biological, physical or social will give rise to a whole different kind of interaction in a particular watershed.
the rest here:
Since much political corruption flows from consumptive clientelism across ostensible political borders, it turns into the 'real' political borders through these tendrils of material dependence.
Therefore, all material and technological changes toward sustainability in the bioregional state should be judged on how well then can be decentralized as much as materially sustainable--optimized to a particular watershed or bioregional area's own sustainability.
In other words, this decentralized material sustainability is its own political sustainability. This means judging novel technologies and materials on more than simply soft sustainability (material sustainability), it means hard sustainability that integrates a degree of judgment on whether the technology or material can be implemented locally and in a decentralized fashion to avoid future cross-border political economic dependencies that become the source of corruption in the watershed, and soon a source of a political developmentalism that encourages more unsustainability through more political corruption, etc., in a feedback loop of corruption that is political and material.
The current more bioregional opposition to a huge liquefied natural gas terminal in Oregon (that is not even to be utilized by Oregonites!) is starting to show these type of oppositions to such political corrupt developmentalism as unsustainability in practice.