What is our place in the food system?

Louise Fresco shares her vision for our future food system – probably closer to reality than either the fossil fuel dependent industrial or the local organic model. Just does not feel as good as the local, organic vision!

It makes sense to assume that our future food needs are met by a system that lies between those models, that we will use technology (including biotech) as much as we can within the bounds of what is healthy for us humans and the environment. And she certainly has a point, when arguing that we cannot expect poor people to continue spent all their time to meet their food needs often using nothing but their hands, when we only have to go to the supermarket after work to buy what we need thanks to mechanized agriculture.

A great quote that is also shared on the TED site: “There is no technical reason why we could not feed a world of nine billion people. Hunger is a matter of buying power, not of shortages.” –Louise Fresco, NRC Handelsblad

Citizenship, communication and politics

Interesting talk in the face of the ongoing events in Iran:

Clay Shirky shows how Facebook, Twitter and TXTs help citizens in repressive regimes to report on real news, bypassing censors however briefly. The end of top-down control of news is changing the nature of politics.

via Clay Shirky: How cellphones, Twitter, Facebook can make history | Video on TED.com.

To Common: a Lifestyle we have to relearn?

Check out this post on OntheCommons and the video of a speech by Professor Louis Wolcher from the University of Washington it links to.

For me, the most important meaning of the commons is not a pasture, it’s not an ocean, it is the shared imagination of people in solidarity with one another, confronting a world that is falling apart before our eyes.

Watching the full speech entitled “The Meaning of the Commons”, is well worth the 25 minutes. In the end Wolcher cites an Economist article that was published after the IASC conference in Cheltenham in 2008.

On creating value

There were a lot of people who were completely complicit in this grand rip-off of the financial system, because they were thinking about capturing value for themselves, they weren’t thinking about creating value.  —Tim O’Reilly in his Keynote at ETech 2009.

The principle he advocates here is Create more value than you capture. Why? because if everyone only thinks about their own return independently of the overall impact, we get system breakdown, as in the financial system, climate system, food system, … Instead we can choose to create community and lasting value!

Saving costs: a good enough argument for change?

TriplePundit has a post on the benefits of pilot projects to convince managers of the usefulness of becoming sustain:

Assuming your pilot is successful, just multiply out the sustainability and financial benefits by the total number of units to be produced in normal operation. Then… presto! Your demonstrated value isn’t just the return of your pilot project, but the return of the overall project, as if it were implemented throughout your facility.

via Making the Case for Sustainability in Tough Times: The Magic of Pilot Program.

Unfortunately, this simple math does not always work. It will depend on the incentives a manager has to cut costs and the way he is viewed by the rest of the organization (especially his superiors) to try out new things.

Watch this video on resistance to change to see what I mean:

If you want to know more about this video case study, read this explanatory post.