Celebrate Bicycle Day with Alex and Allyson Grey

Celebrate Bicycle Day with Alex and Allyson Grey

On April 19th, 1943 Albert Hofmann accidentally took the first LSD trip in history. After ingesting a dose of 250 micrograms at his lab, he went for the strangest bicycle ride of his life.

Here’s an excerpt from Mystic Chemist: The Life of Albert Hofmann and His Discovery of LSD on the history of how Hofmann’s psychedelic cycling changed the world:

His spectacular bicycle ride from the Sandoz factory through the outskirts of Basel and on beyond the city limits to his house became the stuff of legends. Since 1984, April 19th has been celebrated as “Bicycle Day” among pop-culture LSD fans. It was initiated by Thomas B. Roberts, emeritus professor of educational psychology. Americans in particular found the idea of a bike ride on LSD amusing and admirable. Back then, hardly anybody in that land of boundless possibilities used bicycles and certainly not in the condition Hofmann was in on his original trip.

Looking back, Hofmann thought about the circumstances and significance of his discovery: “From a personal perspective, without the intervention of chance, I think the psychedelic effects of lysergic acid diethylamide would not have been discovered. It would have joined the tens of thousands of other substances that are produced and tested in pharmaceutical research every year and are relegated to obscurity for lack of effect and there would be no LSD story.”

You can commemorate this momentous event in the history of psychedelics with live painting by Alex and Allyson Grey and other visionary artists in San Francisco, CA. Tickets are available here: http://www.axs.com/events/268841/bicycle-day-tickets.

Even if you can’t make it to San Francisco for Bicycle Day 2015, you can still celebrate at home with Mystic Chemist: The Life of Albert Hofmann and His Discovery of LSD and get ready to read more psychedelic stories and see more visionary art by Alex Grey, Allyson Grey and others by pre-ordering Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics.

Wherever you are on that day and whatever state you may find yourself in—go ride a bike!

zig_zag_zen_front_cover hofmann_example

Urban Ecology: 10 Cities Lead The Way

Urban Ecology: 10 Cities Lead The Way

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A small farm in the New York borough of Queens (Alamy)

Ever since Gilgamesh cleared the forest to improve the city, civilization has persisted with dominating nature in the name of progress. But in recent decades, humanity is confronted with a new enemy, a monstrous behemoth born through millennia of unconscious disregard for that great mother who once held us so dearly.

The reality of climate change is such that civilization, the city, and even the idea of what it means to be human is itself undergoing an essential transformation. And with this metamorphosis a new myth is being created, one that transcends the old notion of progress and domination by surrounding the exhausted narrative with a life-affirming dedication to conscious global participation in the future of the biosphere.

The anthropocene, a scientific idea that redefines humanity as a geological force, is also the story of the end of civilization and the beginning of a planetary epoch in which new symbiotic relationships are being discovered between culture and nature.

A recent article in the Independent, a popular British publication, features the ideas of German biologist, journalist, and Synergetic Press author ChristianSchwägerl , as he summarizes the vision presented in his book, The Anthropocene: A New Planet Shaped By Humans:

In the Anthropocene, there is no longer an “inside” and an “outside”, no alien, antagonistic nature with which humans are faced. The environment becomes the “invironment,” something with which humans are existentially interwoven. This is why it is far from sufficient to create “nature reserves” on a small percentage of the Earth’s land surface. Instead, we have to consider whether civilization itself can act and perform within nature, with technologies that don’t act as parasites and destroy, but enrich the living world.

In such a world we can no longer speak of “nature” and “culture” as two separate spheres. Rainforests will no longer exist just because they have always existed, but because people want them to exist.

Schwägerl’s insight is simple and profound. Rather than leading to more anthropocentric destruction, the act of identifying humans as the geological force that we evidently are awakens our sense of responsibility as stewards of the biosphere. Either/or dichotomies such as nature and technology or self and world become a kind of  habit that cripple humanity in the act of rediscovering our home in and through the world.

In practice, what this means is the re-imagination of the city itself, a new kind of urban planning that incorporates nature within the city walls. It’s worth noting that these walls of the city go back to the neolithic revolution and the ancient Sumerian epics; they are the same walls that bred ecological destruction and the phenomenon of war by creating the dichotomy of city and nature, citizen and enemy. These walls are rapidly crumbling. But what is taking their place? As Schwagerl explains in the Independent article:

Such Anthropocene cities will draw energy and materials from local and renewable sources. Fossil-fuel driven cars are replaced by public transport, bicycle highways and rental systems for electric cars. Architects design high-rise buildings where facades, balconies and roofs double up as farms, air conditioners and habitats. Green bridges can link city quarters, helping to create a living roof-landscape. Biological life-support systems such as bogs, mangroves and riparian forests become integral to cities in order to hold back floods, absorb carbon dioxide and store water. Cities that adopt these kinds of strategies will experience positive social changes.

The good news is that this evolution is already underway. Consider the following examples of cities that lead the way forward:

Bristol, UK The birthplace of Banksy and this year’s European Green Capital, Bristol employs around 9000 people in its low carbon economy initiative. Additionally, 34% of the city is made up of green and blue open spaces and homes have become 25% more efficient over the last decade.

Bristol, UK
The birthplace of Banksy and this year’s European Green Capital, Bristol employs around 9000 people in its low carbon economy initiative. Additionally, 34% of the city is made up of green and blue open spaces and homes have become 25% more efficient over the last decade.

Oslo, Norway The Norweigan capital has the world’s most electric cars per capita, reducing emissions by 50% since 1991. With the aim to make public transport fossil fuel-free by 2020, the city’s authority is making sure residents are as eco-friendly as possible.

Oslo, Norway
The Norweigan capital has the world’s most electric cars per capita, reducing emissions by 50% since 1991. With the aim to make public transport fossil fuel-free by 2020, the city’s authority is making sure residents are as eco-friendly as possible.

Nijmegen, Netherlands Located on the River Waal, this lesser-known Dutch city fuels its buses with biogas and citizen participation is encouraged through multiple green initiatives. Around 14,000 homes are heated using a network of waste heat, and the city aims to be energy neutral by 2040.

Nijmegen, Netherlands
Located on the River Waal, this lesser-known Dutch city fuels its buses with biogas and citizen participation is encouraged through multiple green initiatives. Around 14,000 homes are heated using a network of waste heat, and the city aims to be energy neutral by 2040.

Copenhagen, Denmark 55% of residents in the Danish capital cycle to work or school, and over 30% of public transport uses renewable fuel. The city is also aiming to be carbon-neutral by 2025.

Copenhagen, Denmark
55% of residents in the Danish capital cycle to work or school, and over 30% of public transport uses renewable fuel. The city is also aiming to be carbon-neutral by 2025.

To see the remaining 5 cities that lead the way forward, visit the original source of this list at the Independent.co.uk

All of the images in this article, as well as the captions and lead image, were sourced from the Independent article linked above.

Forests For Our Future

Forests For Our Future

Scientists are busy looking for high-tech geoengineering solutions to our most pressing ecological problems, namely, climate change. A few of the ideas that have been considered thus far include: placing giant mirrors in outer space to deflect the sun’s rays,1 dumping billions of tons of quicklime into the oceans to capture carbon,2 and shooting sulphur dioxide into the stratosphere to mimic the cooling effects of a volcano.3

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A constellation of billions of mirrors free-floating at the Earth-Sun Lagrange point blocks solar radiation and cools earthly global warming. Credit: Dan Roam

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A scheme to dump quicklime into the oceans to sequester more carbon in their depths is being revived with backing from Shell.

While it might seem that the best way to solve our growing and technologically-created problems would be to use the most advanced means available, the Committee on Climate Geoengineering at the National Research Council concluded that these interventions haven’t yet been studied enough to be put into action. According to the committee, “There is no substitute for dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate the negative consequences of climate change.”

 

 

 

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Injecting aerosols into the stratosphere mimics the cooling effects of volcanoes

A recent report from Oxford University seeks practical solutions that promise the best long-term hope. To achieve this, researchers consider approaches that have the potential to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere without leading us to unforeseen consequences.

One of the most promising techniques explored is called afforestation, which means establishing a forest where one formerly did not stand. And though this solution seems obvious, it’s putting a measure like this into action on a large scale that proves an obstacle to enjoying all of the services that trees provide naturally.

Author Tony Juniper describes these benefits in economic terms in his book What Has Nature Ever Done for Us? How Money Really Does Grow on Trees:

The economic value of the photosynthesis going on in the forests is thus vast. Even taking the low cost of carbon dioxide credits that companies must now buy via the European Emissions Trading scheme, the work being done by the forests in moderating the impact of our emissions is truly massive, worth literally trillions of euros. Our 2008 review on the value of forests estimated that halving the deforestation rate by 2030 would provide carbon capture services worth around $3.7 trillion, and that enormous figure takes no account of the many other economic benefits provided by forests, such as regulation of water supplies and sustaining species diversity… Beyond such fundamental ecological functions, plants are also the source of building materials, drugs, landscape and inspiration. They cool cities and sustain the soil that plays such vital roles in water cycles and atmospheric regulation.5

To effectively receive the benefits of trees, forest preservation and afforestation will need global support. Forests must be managed, cared for, and protected through active resistance to deforestation efforts around the world while the priorities of corporations and states will have to change in order to develop an infrastructure to grow new forests.

It’s important to note that economics and ecology are not the only things that benefit from trees. Our photosynthetic friends also remind us of the natural beauty of the Earth, especially as we find ourselves spending more and more time in man-made spaces.

By planting a tree (or several!), you can enjoy the benefits of trees for yourself and help to reduce carbon globally.

Find information about how to choose a tree for your region and plant it successfully here.

  1. http://www.livescience.com/22202-space-mirrors-global-warming.html
  2. http://www.wired.com/2008/07/new-geoengineer/
  3. http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-25639343
  4. http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=02102015
  5. What Has Nature Ever Done for Us? How Money Really Does Grow on Trees, Tony Juniper
  6. http://www.arborday.org/trees/index.cfm

 

Feature image source

 

Crash Course in The Anthropocene

Crash Course in The Anthropocene

[su_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WpaLt_Blr4″ width=”620″ height=”440″]

This quirky “Crash Course” video from Vloggers John Green, Hank Green, and Emily Graslie. introduces viewers to the Anthropocene concept through attractive animations, rhythmically edited broad-stroke research statistics, and a reasonably hi-resolution evaluation of the pros and cons of our now technologically saturated environment. While the factual downloads are helpful in bringing the big-picture questions to the average information consumer, their final formulation of solutions leaves a little to be desired.

Following a nice overview and set-up of the cultural-ecological problems that we face in the Anthropocene, Graslie and the Green brothers provide a distractingly oversimplified solution set , which basically amounts to:

  1. Technological miracle
  2. Collapse miserably into ruins and ashes
  3. “We can guide human society in to a creative descent, a gentle decline of complexity to more simple subsistence living.”

Despite this vulgarization of our options moving forward in the Anthropocene epoch, no doubt a side-effect of the Green brothers’ mastery over the vlog (video blog) medium, this ‘Crash Course’ IS a helpful way to draw viewers into the big questions that we face today.

For a more complex, dialectical approach to these very same cultural-ecological problems, I refer readers to Christian Schwägerl’s “The Anthropocene: The Human Era and How It Shapes Our Planet.”

See more ‘Crash Course’ vlogs on an extremely wide range of topics here.

 

Book Launch at the Derby Library, Wednesday February 27 at 7pm

Book Launch at the Derby Library, Wednesday February 27 at 7pm

logoMark Nelson, pioneering sustainability ecologist and partner at Birdwood Downs, and author of The Wastewater Gardener, will speak on Ecotechnics and Wastewater Gardening at the Derby Library on Wednesday, February 27th at 7pm.

Mark will discuss his land restoration and wastewater recycling work he has been doing around the planet (including the Kimberleys) for the past four decades, and talking about the lessons he learned while living for two years “under glass” inside Biosphere2 research facility in Arizona where they grew their own food, recycled all the air, water and wastes. He will also be signing copies of his new book, The Wastewater Gardener.

Any enquiries, please call the Library on 91910900.

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A Brief History of How We Got Into This Mess

A Brief History of How We Got Into This Mess

wastewater_sketchWhy do we waste so much precious fresh water and so many valuable nutrients by treating sewage through central plants that contaminate larger water supplies? Why is there such a deep cultural taboo on human waste in the west that prevents us from thinking sensibly about what to do with it?

In this excerpt from “The Wastewater Gardener,” Synergetic Press author and former ‘Biospherian’ Mark Nelson, explains how our modern approach to sewage developed into such and irrational mess; a prelude to the rest of his personal and practical tale of developing Wastewater Gardens technologies that have helped communities to live in harmony with their surrounding in many paces around the planet.

Read the full chapter excerpt through our friends at Realitysandwich.comthrough this link: http://bit.ly/17Izof0

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