Articles from December 2009
Like many countries, Thailand has an issue with waste. From buildings, to manufacturing and agriculture, to consumer goods and tourism leftovers, mountains of garbage go to landfill each year. Agriculture alone in Thailand churns out 58,190,000 tons of refuse annually
(Land Development Department, Government of Thailand). Think about that the next time you frolic on a Thai beach.
Throughput of industrial system today, from source to end consumer ends up in landfills or incinerator. For every truckload of product with lasting value, 32 truckloads of waste are produced. On a finite planet, it doesn’t take a genius to realize this sort of system is totally unsustainable.
Singh Intrachooto is an unlikely hero in this pile of waste. Closing the loop on society’s byproducts has become Singh’s claim to fame. On one sunny afternoon just outside Bangkok, on the campus of Kasetsart University, we caught up with Singh for an intimate look at his work. (article continues)
In many developing countries, eco-tourism projects are heralded as one way to bring money into communities and create economic benefits for local people. The premise is simple: showcase the local culture and natural heritage and gain the tourist dollar. Unfortunately, this seemingly simple business idea gets messy when implemented.
Small communities are often overrun with waste from materials brought in for or by tourists. Mountains of plastic water bottles and other refuse are the usual suspects. Too, communities often lack sufficient water and sanitation infrastructure, which leads to sewerage issues. Local natural attractions can be overrun and degraded by unscrupulous tour guides and their groups. Culturally too, it is far too easy for communities to be culturally overrun by outsiders and lose the very elements that make them unique to begin with.
Thankfully, in the Spiti Valley of northern India, one social enterprise is taking these concerns into consideration. Ecosphere
got started in 2002 with the premise to take a holistic view on ecotourism and what it could provide the local community. The crux of the organization’s work is to couple economic empowerment, development, and conservation efforts so that no area goes lacking.
Slammed by the economic crisis? Been laid off? Hating your job and wishing you were? Yearning for something more meaningful? Congratulations, you’re not alone. If you’ve been pounding your brain and the pavement in search of alternatives, look no further as there is something perfect for you.
Called “Half Farmer/Half X
”, it’s a concept created by a rather astute Japanese man named Naoki Shiomi
. The idea is simple: roughly half your time you devote to raising food and connecting with nature-- be it in a backyard garden, veggie patch, window box, or on a farm. The other half of the time, you spend developing your “X”— that is, your bigger purpose in life.
Shiomi got the idea after being a “salaryman” (Japanese corporate hack) for nearly a decade in Japan. Back in 1995, he got tired of his day job and found himself wondering how else he might spend his time. Around that same time, he also became conscious of a number of environmental issues, as well as thousands of hectares of abandon rural land in the Japanese countryside.
In exploring the issues and his own desire for change, he realized that most environmental problems are connected with people’s often misguided attempts at finding their identity. They consume to satisfy deeper emotional needs to the point it becomes addictive, an unquestioned pattern of behavior. (article continues)
As the keynote speaker at the Singapore Energy Lecture, Dr. Daniel Yergin
was toeing his usual line of optimism on the subject of oil and energy. As the Founder and Chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associate (CERA
), Dr. Yergin has a long career in the energy industry, though one some challenge
as upholding the status quo of business and industry.
“The century ahead of us will be defined by energy innovation,” he said in his keynote address. “We need availability and security of energy, and a depth and diversification of energy sources.”
He spoke of the odd timing of the Copenhagen
agenda of lowering carbon emissions (of which fossil fuel energy sources are a key contributor) by 2050, as well as projections that by 2030, there would be a substantial growth of energy needs worldwide. Some 80% of which these energy demands are to be met by hydrocarbon sources. Indeed, humanity faces some difficult decisions and conflict in the years ahead: development at what cost?