Categories
computing education

Dr Michael Goldweber


Computational thinking needn’t be restricted to commerce or abstract maths, Dr Michael Goldweber dreams of a time when people wanting to make a positive impact choose computing as a career.

Dr Goldweber says that students are looking to make a positive social impact. We can do this without sacrificing rigour within the discipline by using social good as the motivating examples in courses. Dr Goldweber teaches at Xavier University in Ohio. He was in New Zealand as keynote speaker at CITRENZ, and in Dunedin to speak at Otago Polytechnic.

Shane’s number of the week: 5. OK, its a fraction: 5 out of 8 tuna species at risk of extinction.

Sam’s joined up thinking: Social translucence is the basis on which Mary Barreto connects visibility, awareness and accountability (entire interview with Mary >>)

Categories
behaviour change computing

Mary Barreto

Mary Barreto works with the Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute: a collaboration between the University of Madeira, founded by the University of Madeira, Madeira Tecnopolo, and Carnegie Mellon University. Mary is with the SINAIS project, the Sustainable Interaction with social Networks, context Awareness and Innovative Services.

In this web-only feature recorded at CHI2011, Mary talks with Samuel Mann about the ideas from her paper on social translucence.

Categories
dunedin energy local government power

Neville Auton

Neville Auton is Energy Manager at the Dunedin City Council.  Neville works an ‘internal consultant’ within the Council, helping managers of the various business units to identify energy savings.  He talks about the huge reduction in impacts already being realised and the potential for more savings without affecting services to the city’s citizens.

Shane’s number of the week: 13.6.  The British honeybee population declined by 13.6% over the past winter, rising to a more severe 17.1% in the north-east of the country.  This is despite weather conditions that should have favoured the bees.  The cause appears to be a class of pesticides – the neonicotinoids.

Sam’s joined up thinking: Sam argues that the chaotic card game Fluxx is a great introduction to sustainability (more>>).

Categories
food permaculture planning transition towns

James Samuel

James Samuel

In the show that started out being about frogs and metamorphosed into a show about transition, James Samuel talks about Transition Towns in New Zealand. James says that he aims to spend no more than 20% of his time talking about what needs to change, and instead focuses on demonstrating a more vibrant future. This is an inspiring story.

Shane’s number of the week: 2788 is the number of species that are endangered in New Zealand.

Sam’s joined up thinking: How can we work together to think about what our places might look like in years to come? And how might we get there? Sam talks with Dr Olaf Schroth who mixes community involvement, modelling and visualisations of future scenarios. The full interview is on Sustainablelens.org.

(Our advertised guest Dr Phil Bishop was unable to join us. He has been rescheduled for August. Our apologies – but we know you’ll enjoy James Samuel instead).

Categories
computing planning visualisation

Dr Olaf Schroth

Olaf Schroth

Dr Olaf Schroth works for the Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.  CALP focuses on accessible solutions that bridge research and practice by bringing rigorous science and modeling, visualizations, innovative environmental design and participatory processes to community and landscape planning.

In this extended interview Olaf talks with Samuel Mann about participatory collaborative planning through visualisation.

Categories
transport union

John Kerr

John Kerr of the Rail and Maritime Transport Union is leading the charge to keep Dunedin’s Hillside Railway Workshops afloat after KiwiRail’s decision to outsource major rail manufacturing contracts overseas.   He talks about that decision, the fight to change it, and how an integrated view of sustainability sees workers and the environment as part of a grand alliance.

Click through to “Save Hillside Workshops” on facebook.

 

Shane’s number of the week: 50,000.  That is an extra 50,000 people who died as temperatures stayed more than 6C above normal for many weeks last year in Eastern Europe and Russia.  Shane describes several extreme weather events of the last year with impacts worse in poorer countries.  While extreme weather is to be expected, the frequency and intensity trends are most worrying and as as predicted by climate change models.  And it’s not just an increased reporting, while reported geophysical disasters such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions have remained constant, flooding and storms have increase from 133 in the 1980s to to 350 now.

Sam’s joined up thinking: Sam had just been to Dr Dame Jane Goodall’s lecture.  He gives a run-down of her amazing and empowering talk.

Categories
education maori

Dr Khyla Russell

Khyla Russell

Dr Khyla Russell is Kaitohutohu to Te Kura Matatini ki Otago – Otago Polytechnic. In this interview she talks about her role, and the partnership between the institution and the Ara-i-Te-uru Papatipu Runaka. In the second part of the interview she describes her research into Kai Tahu perceptions of the landscape. What are the sustainability implications of an awareness that “we whakapapa to the landscape”?

Shane’s number of the week: 183 Billion. That’s the 183 Billion US dollars estimated to adapt Africa’s roads to climate change. Shane describes several reports that clearly show the impact of climate change – this cost far outweighs what it would take to work to avoid climate change.

Categories
law politics

Alex Kruize

Alex Kruize is an aspiring environmental Lawyer and Green Party List Candidate.   He talks with us about environmental law;  proper process and community input in environmental decision making; legal perspectives of Climate Change; and MMP. Timaru born and strongly influenced by living the effects of large scale industrial agricultural systems, his passions are working for a better future through both legal structures and political action.

Shane’s number of the week: 60,000,000 hectares.   Last year foreign investors bought or leased nearly 60 million hectares of land in Africa – an area about the size of France.   These owners either displace the local farmers or as distant landlords expect greater returns – threatening the food supply of the world’s poor.  Much of this land has also been taken in order to develop biofuel production, in place of normal food production.

 

Today we also celebrate the soft launch of Sam’s newest book “The Green Graduate”.  Subtitled “Educating Every Student as a Sustainable Practitioner”, this book sets out a framework for integrating sustainability into every course of study.   Sponsored by UNESCO and published by NZCER press, The Green Graduate is available here.

 

 

Categories
computing peace

Computing for peace

Dr Juan Pablo Hourcade from the University of Iowa is the passion behind the hciforpeace.org.  In this fascinating interview he describes how this community is using computing technologies to promote peace and prevent conflict.

Shane’s number of the week: 1.5.   UN’s climate chief, Christina Figueres argues that the world should be aiming to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celcius, rather than the weaker 2 degrees.

Categories
climate change education

Tim Bishop


Tim Bishop trained as an engineer, worked in the electric car industry, and now works for Otago Polytechnic.  In that role he led Shac: The Sustainable Habitat Challenge.   In 2011 he is part of the Regeneration crew, touring New Zealand both energising and learning from local sustainability initiatives.

Shane’s number of the week: 262 Billion.  As in 262 Billion pounds the UK government has paid so far for assets worth only 55 Billion pounds in public private partnerships. 

Sam’s joined-up-thinking: Following Chris Williamson’s talk last week in which he described a strong set of principles underlying his work as a counsellor,  Sam spent some of the week working out a set of guidelines for his own work.

Categories
behaviour change counselling

Counselling for social justice

Chris Williamson trained as a counsellor at Otago University through the Masters of Education (Counselling).   He has worked as a counsellor in Dunedin for 15 years.  Chris is currently the Associate Head of School for the School of Social Services at Otago Polytechnic.

In this conversation we talk about the role of the sustainable practitioner in social services – counselling in particular being rooted in rooted in notions of social justice.  Chris describes how the principles of counselling can be applied and extended in the arena of sustainability.  He talks about maintaining practice, mindfulness, and a overwhelming belief that you can make a positive change.    We explore different models including motivational interviewing and solution focusssed therapy with a view to identifying approaches for sustainable behaviour change.

Shane’s number of the week: 350.

350 is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide (in parts per million) in the atmosphere.  As we’re already at 386ppm, then 350 is a target  humanity needs to get back to as soon as possible to avoid runaway climate change.

Sam’s joined-up-thinking: Over the last few days I’ve been exploring how we might promote “not-buying stuff”.  I thought I had hit on it with  a big green button for “impulse sustainability”, but then undid myself with the realisation that we don’t really know what such a button would do – or even if it could (read more>>).

Categories
education food organics permaculture

Michelle Ritchie

Michelle Ritchie is an organics and permaculture edcuator with a background in resource management (she holds a Masters in Regional and Resource Planning).  Michelle is responsible for the ongoing development of Otago Polytechnic’s LivingCampus.    Michelle describes the transformation of Otago Polytechnic’s campus into an integration of community garden and focus of sustainability education.  People come to the garden, ask questions “how do I plant a bean?” but quickly move on to realising “something bigger is going on here”.  The LivingCampus then becomes a prompt for questions like “how did I get here today?”, “what is it I’m eating?” and “how do I make changes to my life?”.

Shane’s number of the week: 120 is the number of kakapo left.

Sam’s joined-up-thinking: How could we promote not-buying stuff?  Sam explores three options: trying to be impervious to marketing; removing all marketing; and recognising the value of marketing (full text here).

 

Categories
design

Brian Burns

Brian Burns asks “if we were to ride into ‘Ecoville’ late one night – how would we recognise it, and would he like to live there?”.   Brian describes his experiences when he set his University of  Carleton Industrial Design students off to explore Ecoville.

Shane’s number of the week: 3,000,000,000    The contribution to US agriculture from insect eating bats is estimated at US$3billion (less conservative estimates range up to $54B).      US biologist Tom Kunz and his team calculated this from a study of savings in pesticide costs in 8 counties in Texas ($74 per acre) then extrapolated to the US at large, adjusting for bat populations and local levels of agricultural productivity to produce a nationwide bat .   With bats threatened by careless wind-turbine development in major flyways and, more pressingly, by White Nose Syndrome decimating colonies, protecting them isn’t just ethical – it makes sense on every level.

Sam’s joined-up-thinking: In which Sam is conflicted.  In 1980 New Zealand had 73%  hydro electricity generation. By  2007 this had dropped to 55%.   Load growth has been largely met by building new gas and coal fired thermal power stations. Consequently CO2 emissions between 1990 and 2005 rose 134% (Barry and Chapman 2009).     With rivers nearing capacity, wind power is about the only option left.  New Zealand currently meets only 2% of its electricity needs through wind generation.   Denmark already has 20%.   This low uptake in NZ is despite being the best place in the world for the efficiency of wind turbines.  Our wind and hills means wind effective turbine productivity is 45%, double the global average (next highest is Australia at 35%, Denmark, for example is only 24%).

So why am I so conflicted?  This weekend I went to the open day of the new Mahinerangi windfarm, near Dunedin.   And I’m in two minds – or rather four hands.   On one hand an extremely efficient source of power, on the other an excuse for us not to face the real problem of profligate consumption. On one hand bespoiling a stunning landscape (and these are 12 of planned 100 in this site alone), on the other these giant structures are seriously elegant.

 

Categories
electricity generation health power

Lindsay Smith


Lindsay Smith is Business Manager for Ashburn Clinic in Dunedin, which recently won the Otago Business Excellence Award for Sustainability (sponsored by Otago Polytechnic).   This award recognised the Therapeutic Community philosophy which underpins the entire operation, playing a major role in achieving sustainable practices in every aspect of the Clinic.    Ashburn Clinic has been working with all stakeholders, including quite different relationships with suppliers:  Ashburn doesn’t buy wood – it buys heat.  We explore how we might expand the successful model demonstrated by Ashburn. Lindsay has a background in the electricity industry, his observations on that industry are quite shocking.

Shane’s number of the week: 70% is the decline of specialist farmland birds since 1975 in the UK (DEFRA).

Sam’s joined-up-thinking: In 1879, Henry George, a critic of Malthusian economics, argued that “it is a well provisioned ship this which we sail through space” :

If the bread and beef above the decks seem to grow scarce, we but open a hatch and there is a new supply, of which before we never dreamed. And very great command over the services of others comes to those who the as the hatches are opened are prepared to say. “This is mine!” (p179 in 2005 reprint).

The journey metaphor was given a challenging twist by Buckminster Fuller in the 1950’s and 1960’s earth in his conception of the earth as a spaceship with a limited set of resources that cannot be resupplied, save for energy from the Mothership Sun. A key element of his ‘operating manual’, is that the ship only consists of crew – there are no passengers (1965 in Vallero 2005. 367). Hence, different thinking is required if the problems facing the earth and its systems are to be addressed because “…we have been mis-using, abusing, and polluting this extraordinary chemical energy-interchanging system for successfully regenerating all life aboard our planetary spaceship.”

Categories
education

John Mann

Imagine a country on a par with prosperous and cosmopolitan Bangkok.  50 years ago Phnom Penh was the “pearl of the orient”.    Then, devastated by decades of invasion, topped by Pol Pot’s genocidal Khmer Rouge years, the capital is now regarded as world head-quarters of pedophilia and squalor.   The heavily populated rural areas fared worse in Pol Pot’s  misguided agrarian revolution.

Imagine an area of 12 villages where no one has been to school.  Ever.   Where twelve hours work gets a dollar a day.  Where there is no social welfare of any description.  Where ordinary families want the best for their children but know that in the short run the only option is to succumb to the sex industry.

The only way out this trap for families of these villages of Don Kong in the Kamchay Mear district of Prey Veng is education – at the very least to able to read and write their own language.

The Cambodian government and a world full of agencies are desperately trying to deal with this.  But until there is a new generation of educated people, it cannot be reversed.

With help of friends, family, and donors around the world, and in particular the Rotary clubs of Australia (so far), John has got 1000 children into three new schools.  Our next project is – he hopes – a high school and a clinic.   None 0f this can happen without your help.    John Mann gives a truly astonishing interview.

 

Shane’s number of the week: 20,000 hectares of new rain-forest as part of  Willie Smits’  Orangutan habitat restoration.

Sam’s joined-up-thinking: There is not going to be a singular event that definitively  signals “peak oil is happening now”.   Climate Change is the same.   With gradual and insidious change (though with increasing occurrence of catastrophic events in both scenarios) decisions made now need to made in the context of the knowledge of those scenarios.

More on John’s Educating Cambodia:

http://www.rotaryeclubone.org/articles/2009-Rotary/0209-Cambodian_Village_Builds_Rotary_School.htm
www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DqW9F3S8MBt0 www.youtube.com/watch?v=qW9F3S8MBt0

http://computingforsustainability.wordpress.com/2009/03/06/and-the-award-for-the-most-inspiring-dad-goes-to/

http://computingforsustainability.wordpress.com/2009/11/24/update-from-dad-in-cambodia/

Categories
design

Mark Miller

Mark Miller is the General Manager, Applied Design Research Centre.

Shane’s number of the week: 1972 – the year when we were warned that the reactors used in Fukushima were reported as having a dangerous design flaw… and the warning was promptly ignored.

Sam’s Joined-up-thinking: As ground based beings we are good at thinking in two dimensions: backwards and forwards, left and right. We can cope with 3D, up and down, but not as well as birds. We can stretch to think of space-time as constituting 4D. Like the beings in Abbot’s Flatland, we struggle with dimensions outside our normal realm. Perhaps Sustainability is another set of dimensions: scale; cumulative time; system connections; and humility.

 

Air date:  17th March 2011

Categories
agriculture climate change

Dr Chris Rosin

Dr Chris Rosin is a Research Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Agriculture, Food and Environment (CSAFE).  As a social scientist  he is responsible for interviewing participating farmers and growers. On the show, Chris talks about the long running ARGOS project.

Shane’s number of the week: 100.  At the present rate of extinction, most species will be extinct in 100 years. Shane’s goes on to discuss Holocene, or Anthropocene, two terms that refer to time periods when humans have had a significant impact on Earth’s climate and ecosystems.

Sam’s Joined-up-thinking: five things the IT profession could be doing towards a sustainable future, and also about the impact of Barbier’s Venn diagram of sustainability.

Air date: 1oth March 2011

Categories
environmental entrepreneur management

Dr Sara Walton


Dr Sara Walton from University of Otago (link).  Sara’s  research includes analysing triple bottom line (TBL) company reports and constructions of sustainability, examining ecopreneurial businesses in New Zealand, and business responses to climate change and natural resource based conflicts.

Shane’s number of the week: 319 to 1. On average, a CEO earns 319 times more than the average worker in their company.

Sam’s jointed-up thinking: The Virtues of Ignorance–what would cultures and human interactions in the world look like, if we commenced every endeavor  and conversation with the humbling assumption that human understanding is limited by an ignorance that no amount of additional information can solve?