Food resilience poster

April 30, 2010 at 4:42 pm (Uncategorized)

Food resilience poster.

Food resilience poster A4

I was only able to convert the poster to pdf in A4 size so i just posted that and the ppt in A0 hope thats ok!

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Sustainable development project: food resilience.

April 30, 2010 at 4:16 pm (Uncategorized)

Food resilience

Well i was only now able to convert this to pdf and my poster still wont convert properly so i hope its ok the way it is!

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Building. Sustainable. Communities.

April 29, 2010 at 8:16 pm (Uncategorized)

Well this is our last blog and this week we were learning about building sustainable communities. As this was our last week of lectures I think it was really important to tie in everything that we had learned so far in the module and this topic really did that. Throughout this whole module we have seen how if there ever is going to be a change for the better then it would have to start on a local level for building sustainable communities really is the whole idea of this module.

This is supposed to take everything that we have learned into account and not just small parts of it. This is what this whole module has been about and in our lectures this week that was the real message.

I could spend this whole blog writing about what we learned this week about sustainable communities or I could just talk about what we saw. This week we didn’t just learn about sustainable development we actually got to see it. This week we when on a class trip to Cloughjordan. This is a small town but it has huge potential because in this small rural village lies Irelands first and at the moment only real sustainable community.

As we were leaving to go on this trip I couldn’t help but think that in order to be more sustainable we would be forced to sacrifice comfort and although we had spent a week learning about it I was still envisioning a group of people living in a forest with no shoes but I was hugely wrong!

During the week one of the activities which we did was creating a column. I was in the group that got economics and on one side of our column we put the ideal version. In this we showed how in a perfect world people in a community would get together themselves and make their lives more sustainable. We said that Ireland’s sustainability would no longer be in the hands of big companies whose only goal is to make a profit. We had put this down as the best situation, as something to aim for and yet here it was all along in Cloughjordan.

In the one community there was almost all the key aspects brought together to form a better lifestyle for all the inhabitancy and the most astounding thing is that the standard of living of the people living here was if anything better than normal. Throughout this whole module the one thing that I have always been thinking about is just how big this all is. I have always struggled to see how one person could make any kind of a difference to the bigger pitcher and yet here these people are. These are normal everyday people like teachers, lectures, taxi drivers and everything else and yet they are making a difference just by the way that they live their lives.

Terries in Cloughjordan.

Terries continued.

Wood chips for wood burner.

Allotments owned by residence.

In this one trip I saw how just a few people with a common goal and desire to do good can actually make a big difference. This trip truly was inspiring. After all our lectures people were saying that it was just all a bit depressing and that it seems like there is nothing that we can do but this has give me renewed hope.

The module as a whole has just made such a difference to the way I think about things. I can in here with an open mind but low expectations and I really have been astonished at what it has been really like. Just to hear everyone talking openly about what their views and just being able to discuses thing rather than been lectured to has really made a huge difference. I think that this module and our trip to cloughjordan have made an impression on us that will not be soon forgotten.

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Food Resilience Poster.

April 23, 2010 at 12:55 am (Uncategorized)

Food resilience poster.

Here is the poster for the project.

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Sustainable Development project: Food Resilience

April 23, 2010 at 12:48 am (Uncategorized)

Food Resilience.

I wasnt able to copy and paste my project from word to the blog so i just uploaded it as an attachment. Hope this is ok for ye and hope ye enjoy it.

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Law and politics.

April 19, 2010 at 8:45 pm (Uncategorized)

This week in our lectures we learned about both local and national law and I still don’t fully understand it but here we go! For all my life I believed that law and epically EU was life a well oiled machine. I thought that the heads of state got together and all agreed on what was best and passed a law to fix whatever problem they are dealing with, simple as that. Even though we all know the resent problems that were faced in trying to resolve the battle against global climate change but for some reason I still believed that the EU is like some computer that just automatically passes all the right law. The truth is far from this though!

This pitcher shows the EU as being our light in the dark, like it’s a beacon that guides us in our lives but is this really true. This week we saw how there are still a lot of shortfalls in the European Union.

One of the main reasons for the difficulties within the EU is its diversity! At this time there are currently 27 member states in the EU, each with its own laws and customs. This poses huge problems when it comes to passing law as what is acceptable for one country may not be for another and with more countries due to join this problem is only going to get worse!

The other striking thing that we learned this week as well is the environment was only first mentioned in EU law in 1986 and since then in has been the predominate topic in all the EU treaties passed! Although the EU have tried to make a difference to global warming it was left on the sidelines at the recent Copenhagen accord and played no real part in its founding!

Another point where there has been some trouble is the putting of European law into action as National law! The National laws of all 27 member states must be taken into account when the EU are planning even the smallest of laws or else it will have no hope of being pass. Even when these laws are passed they may not always be put in power as National law straight away which leads to huge legal problems.

It seems that at the end of the day although the EU has taken the inactive with climate change it still isn’t enough! I just think that much stronger legislation needs to be put in place and politicians need to start thinking more about the lives of future generations and less about being re-elected.

I started this by saying that this week really showed that European Law and politics really don’t run as well as I once thought or as well as it needs to and it’s through but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work! At the end of the day it really is like our light in the dark because there is no hope of us ever getting through this without it.

Here is a link to the European law monitoring body that give some information on European Law and also has information on other areas of the EU!

One other thing that I saw from our lecture on Friday was when we were asked to pick an area that we know about where all this applies. At the start of this module there would have been no way that we would have been able to pick something and the same was true this week but his time it wasn’t because we just didn’t know, it was because there was so many thing that we could have chosen! After 11 weeks of doing this module as we come to the end it really becomes clear how each of the topics that we have studied link together to form the area of sustainable development. I mean before this week even I struggled to see how people living on the streets could possibly be sustainable development and yet it does! It also shows though that when we are trying to tackle an issue, there are always a number of different factors involved which need to be addressed.

It was also said in our lectures what have we done as a class? Well I don’t know what we will do as a class but I know that as energy students we will make a difference and even if it’s just a small one, at least it’s a start!

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Putting a number on the incalculable.

April 14, 2010 at 10:15 pm (Uncategorized)

This week in our lectures we learned about sustainability metrics which was eye opening to say the least! The main problem for people is how to measure sustainability. Well that’s what sustainability metrics is, it’s the idea of putting a number on sustainability. Without learning anything about this it is fairly easy to see how this would be an exceedingly hard thing to do. I mean think about it, it’s far from an exact science.

There are hundreds if not thousands of different indicators that can be taken and it’s not always easy to pick which ones are relevant to what you’re investigating and almost everything will have different indicators! It’s funny but the best evidence that there is for this is that when I tried to get a few images on the internet for this blog it was almost impossible because if u search sustainability metrics u will get lots of nice pitchers but nothing that you would really class as a sustainability indicator! The thing is an indicator can be anything, from something as small as how many times you bile the kittle during the day, to something as big as how many vehicles there are in a country!

Bernadette O’Regan showed us the results that they had put together for different areas in the country and there were really detailed and were very impressive but then someone asked her can those results be compared to other areas and even other countries and although in some case it might be possible, for the most part it is not! This is because different places and groups might use different indicators as onions differ on what indicators are relevant to what topic! Some people when they are looking into the sustainability of something would look at it purely from an environmental point of view where as someone else could take it from an economic point and there results could be totally different!

So after all this it’s pretty easy to see how this really isn’t an easy area to deal with and it gets worse! At the end of all the research this data must be presented to someone that has the power to make the changes and for this a report that might have started off at being 400 pages long could be cut down to 2 or 3 pages! Now that just sounds mad and I don’t think it’s just me! What should be done though? Should scientists have to keep dumbing it down or should politicians have to smarten up!

The one other thing that really stood out to me about all this is how so much of the information is lost along the way. We saw in our lectures that the higher you go up the scale that less detailed the results are. For example if you take the sustainability of a single house hold, you would take how much energy they use with the washer, heating, cook and so on but if you increase this to the sustainability of a whole city then you’re not going to conceder how many times a day everyone puts on the washing machine! Therefore the bigger the scale the less detailed which isn’t a good thing because how many washes are put on is still important but it’s just no longer viable to calculate!

Here is a link to a web site that gives a good description of sustainability metrics and it also has links to a lot of other things dealing with stainable development so if u get a chance it’s worth looking at!

So what’s there left to say? In the end sustainability metrics is a really handy thing but it must be done correctly because if not then it will be totally misleading and it’s a lot easier to get it wrong than to get it right!

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History is written by the victor!

April 3, 2010 at 7:38 pm (Uncategorized)

This was one of the most interesting weeks that I have had so far in our sustainable development lectures. We were learning about critical thinking. This is something that is always at the back of your mind but yet it still isn’t thought about enough!

Every time we hear a story or some fact that a company or even a person tells us, we should really stop and think about the view point of the story!

In our lecture on Thursday we learned about Rodger Casement. I did history for my leaving cert and I had learned a lot about Casement. I had heard all about the gun running and how he was captured on a German ship arrested and executed in London but I had never heard anything about him being involved in rubber! Its strange how one of the biggest and noblest achievements in this man’s life are largely unheard of. These actions were left out of history because Casement was immortalised by a people who needed an Irish hero so his work for the British was largely left untold. It just shows that no matter how much you think you know about something you might not know the whole story.

Someone once told me that history is written by the victor. I mean if you think about it how much of the history that we know was written by the losing side? In the Second World War Japan bombed Pearl Harbour killing almost two thousand people. In retaliation America dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima killing 70,000 people and three days later dropped a second bomb on Nagasaki killing another 90,000 people. Also in the end of the second world war as Germany were preparing to surrender British RAF pilots carpet bombed Dresden where thousands of German refugees were gathered. This act raised Dresden to the ground and killed an estimated 100,000 defenceless people. After the war had ended the leaders of both Germany and Japan were tried and many convicted of war crimes, where as the British and American leaders were celebrated for their actions! I know that this doesn’t have much to do with sustainable development but it just shows how history is always biased! I mean would anyone argue that the Allied leaders wouldn’t have been tried for war crimes if the Axis had won!

This topic seems the most withdrawn from the idea of sustainable development. I mean you really have to stop and think about it to see how it applies but when I did, I found that it’s actually one of the most important parts of it!

After looking at every topic that we have studied so far like global climate change and corporate social responsibility the overwhelming feeling at the end is that there are so many thing that we could be doing but most people are just unwilling to change. In most areas there are solutions to the problems it’s just in most cases people are unwilling to make the sacrifice.

No matter where we look we see companies making these radical clams and promises which are not always true like we say in our study of corporate social responsibility. Critical thinking is hugely important in this area as people need to look beyond these claims and see the real facts.

This here is a link to a website that gives a very thorough explanation of critical thinking! For me it’s just the idea that we should stop and think about the truth behind every story. I mean as Energy students we are going to come in contact with thousands of stories for hundreds of companies and this is the thinking that the public need, to see through the fog of corporate advertising  and  hopefully  one day make the changes that are needed!

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Tax in 20 and 50 years.

March 26, 2010 at 2:28 am (Uncategorized)

Tax in 20 and 50 years 1

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CSR! Wrong or Right?

March 21, 2010 at 6:56 pm (Uncategorized)

Last week we were doing a lot about product lifecycle and the whole time I couldn’t help but think about, how much of the responsibility of the product is on the company? Then this week we learned about corporate social responsibility and it answered my question. I learned this week that if companies don’t accept responsibility for this products then who will!

Even though we only had two lectures about this topic I thought that they  were some of the most revealing so far! All of us here have seen the advertisements on television and the internet of companies that are doing so many good deeds for their communities and it really does look impressive. It wasn’t until this week though that I actually looked into these adverts.

The game that we played in class about the Baroness really helped me understand the idea of responsibility. It was really interesting to see how the different groups in the class had different ideas as to who was the most responsible. This is a huge problem also when it comes to the big companies that have some questionable business practices. For example Nike who were mentioned in class, have been linked to child labour in the past but they state that they don’t directly use child labour, but companies linked to them may! The only question here is where does the responsibility stop? I mean think about it, people say that Nike shouldn’t have anything to do with companies that use child labour. So does that mean that if you buy clothes from Nike that you too are supporting child labour? I mean where does the level of responsibility stop?

The other stark truth that we saw this week was the total hypocrisy of some companies! It’s like a company that make cigarettes teaming up with a charity for lung cancer it is just totally for their own image! Nowadays I find that companies are no longer seen as a group of people but instead as a faceless and ruthless machine.

It would seem that modern companies no longer care about the people that use their products. In this age companies are answerable to no one. The head of the company is only answerable to the share holders and the share holders are only interested in their profits!

The question that needs to be asked however is should this be any different! Companies are set up with the sole purpose of making money so should they really have to care about what happens after that! If you think about it they don’t have to, I mean at the end of the day no one really has to do anything, but the thing is, they should! No one is going to be able to force these companies to care. There has to be a willingness within the companies themselves to change!

So often in this module have we seen that there is a way to fix the problem but people just don’t have the willingness to do so and it’s the same with CSR. These companies do one or two little things so they can put up photos of it on their web site but very few have a real interest in helping people but that doesn’t mean that none have! At the end of the day it is real people that are at the head of these companies making the call and where there are people there will always be some compassion shown but unfortunately some is not enough!

I tried to find a good example of a corporate social responsibility section for a company so here is a link to Toyota’s CSR report. It talks about how they are part of the local community and how they are doing great things to help the environment and for road safety. I can only speak for myself but I have my doubts but I will leave that up to everyone else!

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