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Pacific Ecologist

Pacific Ecologist 18 Winter 2009

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inspiration on sustainability

  • Insights from a golden affluent age: hunter gatherers [280K PDF]
    Hunter-gatherers have few possessions and are the lowest energy consumers, reports Marshall Sahlins, yet they are the original affluent society with material needs easily met in a few short hours a week. Paradoxically, in the 21st century’s market economy, an era of the greatest technical power, a billion people are starving and people struggle to bridge the gap between unlimited wants and insufficient means. Scarcity and anxiety define our economy, while the hunters’ confident trust in nature’s abundance signals their success.
  • Gandhi’s philosophy
  • Intelligent return to simplicity
    Pannalal Surana
  • Strengthening the vital Transition Towns movement [470K PDF]
    Global sustainability and justice can only be achieved through something like the inspiring Transition Towns movement, but thought needs to be given to key issues or the movement might fail to achieve its goals, suggests Ted Trainer. Unless the movement works to replace consumer society it will collapse with it when it finally fails.

changing world views

  • Walking restores the world and humanity
    Modern societies’ obsession with speed and mechanical forms of transport alienates humanity from nature and from each other, reports Bill Bunn. Walking restores our humanity, frees our minds and is what our planet expects of us.
  • Car stop!
    Not long ago the world was accessible to everyone, say Ivan Illich and Jean Robert and freedom was not a commodity. But a powerful spell was cast over people creating the fantasy of the car as liberator. Now our freedom of movement is limited by traffic and roads. Could a simple court ruling, turning all drivers into chauffeurs, change the way we view cars and make it possible to transform our values, lives and physical environment?


  • Altruistic economics: the gift culture and end of the culture of extinction
    With serious global crises appearing on many fronts it’s clear our current alienated, resource-wasteful economic activity and antiquated banking and money systems are inadequate, and the source of our problems, writes Jonathan M Newton. To solve the life-threatening problems we face we must reconnect with nature and the life of all to create an inclusive economics for the wider good. Kindness and selflessness in human economic communication is an ancient part of our history without which we cannot survive.

diet for our times

  • EM = C2 – Eating meat = catastrophe2
    Take action now on climate change, don’t feel helpless, says Dr Aryan Tavakkoli. With a climate tipping point fast approaching, the quickest way to personally cut warming emissions and most effective means to prevent climate catastrophe is to eliminate or reduce meat and dairy consumption. Reducing the numbers of animals bred for meat and dairy production will reduce emissions of the potent greenhouse gas, methane. Eliminating or reducing meat consumption would also solve the world’s hunger problems many times over and bring excellent health and ecological benefits.
  • Now’s the time for a diet change
    Millions of people around the world are hungry and without access to clean water while livestock consume grain, water and land for the meat market, reports Alyn Ware. A change from meat eating to a vegetarian diet, besides having health benefits, will help solve the world’s hunger problem, reduce much unnecessary suffering inflicted on animals bred to be killed for food, and reduce the heavy environmental costs of meat production

urgency for climate stabilisation

  • Closing windows opening floodgates: Recent climate change science and implications for New Zealand policy [300K PDF]
    Our window of opportunity to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations at low levels is closing fast, reports Dr Andy Reisinger. If economic recovery over the next few years is fuelled by investments in carbon-intensive infrastructure, it will slam the window firmly shut for the rest of this century and saddle future generations with escalating costs and increasing risk of catastrophic events.
  • Security a major climate change issue in the Pacific
  • Token environmental policies continue in Australia
    Australians elected the Rudd government in the hope it would protect the environment and take action on global warming, Dr Sharon Beder notes, but instead it is promoting an emissions trading scheme, despite evidence this will achieve little apart from higher prices for consumers.
  • Fast-tracking renewable energy with the wondrous feed-in tariff: correcting a market failure
    Benjamin K Sovacool explores the justification behind Feed-in Tariffs (FITs) in promoting development and use of renewable energy and their advantages over other mechanisms. Everyone wins with Feed-in-Tariffs and every Kilowatt hour of energy from renewable resources saves lives, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, enhances human health, and improves social stability.
  • Join climate action at 350 Aotearoa – 350.org.nz

book reviews

  • Poles Apart: Beyond the shouting, who’s right about climate change? by Gareth Morgan & John McCrystal
  • The Spirit Level: Why more equal societies almost always do better by Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett
  • The Dirty Energy Dilemma by Benjamin K Sovacool


  • Dr Ian Prior – a very public physician, activist, humanitarian and supporter of the arts
    Peter Isaac recounts the life and achievements of a very special New Zealander.

Pacific Islands initiatives

  • Indigenous oil fields of the Pacific
    Pacific Island countries could finance their energy security and energy independence through carbon credit markets, with projects to develop their indigenous coconut plan­tations into a viable energy source for electricity and transport. Sean Weaver, principal of Carbon Partnership reports.
  • Earth Day celebration in Papua New Guinea: Villagers pledge land to protect tropical forest habitat of tree kangaroos
    Villagers in Morobe Province held festivities in April 2009 to celebrate the creation of Papua New Guinea’s first Conservation Area protecting an important area of pristine tropical forest, where one of Earth’s unique, threatened creatures, the Huon, or Matschie’s tree kangaroos live. The YUS Conservation Area, covers 76,000 hectares or 760 square kilometers of tropical forest stretching from coral reefs to the peaks of the western Saruwaged Mountains.