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Sept 23rd, 2014: Siemens and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) announced the winners of the City Climate Leadership Awards 2014 at a ceremony held on Monday night in New York City. The Awards honor cities all over the world for excellence in urban sustainability and leadership in the fight against climate change. The winning cities in the ten award categories are:
Amsterdam (Finance & Economic Development)
Barcelona (Intelligent City Infrastructure)
Buenos Aires (Solid Waste Management)
London (Carbon Measurement & Planning and Air Quality)
Melbourne (Adaptation & Resilience)
New York City (Energy Efficient Built Environment)
Portland (Sustainable Communities)
Seoul (Green Energy)
Shenzhen (Urban Transportation)
In the international network circle of AiREAS (citizen’s driven healthy city cooperation, that started in Eindhoven and focuses on air quality and human health) people reacted with surprise that highly polluted London was awarded for Air Quality.
AiREAS is not submitted for these or any other award. We are hence not surprised. If you don’t buy a ticket don’t expect to win the lottery. It is not the state of pollution that matters but the effort a city does to solve the issue for human health and vitality. We @AiREASnl and City of Tomorrow (@STIRfoundation) reason using 4 paradigms, not just one. The award winning cities have every right to be highlighted, in their fragmented technologically innovative way.
What people tend to forget is that cities are the old conglomerates of “industrialised” financial and technological dependencies. People who live in cities enjoy the centralized facilities but depend for their basic needs (water, food, energy, clothing, etc) entirely of the system’s dynamics of the city with the surroundings, still totally based on money. To get access to money the citizens need to work or speculate. Due to system automation cities only develop consumers but not labor. Cities sustain themselves with growth, change, inflation or go broke.
Big enterprises such as Siemens depend on these huge city’s investments in technological solutions so award those that excel in this, rather than those (such as Eindhoven) that develop living lab solutions with their own population and entrepreneurship. In large cities systems prevail over human, responsibility driven interaction, simply because financial flows give old power to the political and economic structures. They however cover just part of the solutions.
Local responsibility is extremely cost and bureaucracy saving, very challenging even for the local creative forces that get involved in their own sustainable city progression with the development of a circular local economy, yet demanding a new local leadership mentality. It requires facilitating support from the policy makers, is not directly taxable nor instantly part of the global economic reality, so no reward system is in place yet to back it up. Local value systems appear in the city based on value creation and sharing. These subsystems detach from the large economies producing a power shift in the city.
That’s why solutions like Sustainocracy and AiREAS are not (yet) receiving global awards simply because they do not fit marketing communication plans. They just solve key local issues through co-creation, they don’t buy or sell them.
Of the 4 paradigms available to cities, economic lobbies and fragmented power positions around public dependencies tend to push to a single focus, the one of technological innovation only, offered by the big global players. “Smart Cities” is not (yet) about people but mainly about (business) systems. From an overall global sustainable progress point of view we see that the other 3 paradigms need to be respected too, else the cities enter into chaos anyway. These other complementary 3 are however not money driven, hence hardly ever highlighted:
- Chaos: cities have to accept the collapsing of old obsolete structures and economic efficiencies to open up for overall renewal based on other types of innovative solutions (people, planet, profit) in a more holistic approach.
- Awareness: cities have to allow and help their self aware and responsible citizens to develop solutions of their own and connect to the evolution of their own community. This requires freedom for experimentation and innovation from inside the community. It opens up a new economic reality of cocreation, universal ethics, commitment and best practice from within.
- Harmony: cities need to learn to focus on harmony between nature, people, authority (rather than power) and their own regional self sufficiency.
Those cities that develop themselves using all the four paradigms (Sustainocracy) become strongholds of human evolution that contribute to the whole as well as the regional self. They become pearls of co-existence, harmony and flexibility. Then they will be rewarded by evolutionary progress and need to address the challenge of growth (in population) because of a livable, integral attractiveness, fulfilling the “sustainocratic dream” of sustainable human progress within, among others, climate awareness.
We need food on a daily basis but do not generally produce it ourselves. We rely on the supply system to provide it with abundance. We access this abundance with money which is achieved through labor, sales of property, a gift or debt. There are three mayor issues that make food a huge challenge with tremendous risks for billions of people. It is of key importance to take food seriously urgently.
As mentioned in my previous blog “life is…” the growth of human populations in cities is enormous. The city the place where the money systems concentrate which in turn produces human concentrations, attracted by the perceived wealth of such systems. It is a basis of economic growth for the city by making space available for construction of homes and optimizing concentrated distribution of goods and services. Yet from a sustainability point of view the cities are deadly traps for people when humankind reaches its point of singularity, the moment of total collapse of the robot systems that provide us with all kinds of securities, including our daily food.
Cities are speculative centers for financial services. The 3.3 billion people now living in those areas leave no local room for self-sufficiency. The soil is crammed with people, housing and infrastructures. Food has to be grown and transported to the cities and distributed to the people. People who have no access to financial means get their food through the waste of the ones who do have access. But the financial system is under pressure and so are the systems based on financial speculation. Inflation on food is likely to grow as shortages become higher while populations find less and less work in industrialized processes. It all will get more expense while people get less to spend. We are talking about 50% of the world population now that is totally depending on a complex series of (robotic financial) systems.
The tremendous pull of the desperate and concentrated need for large quantities of food is a huge market for the food industry. The fact that people are not active in self sufficient food productivities drives them into the hands of commercial and economic speculation. Being at the end of the supply chain the consumer will pay the ultimate price.
On the other side of the supply chain are the people who live and work in the countryside. The productivity will be concentrated as much as possible in large volumes destined for the mass consumers in the cities. No supply chain will have any interest in the wide spread other, decreasing half of the human population which is outside the huge financial markets. These people have to rely on themselves and produce abundance in places where this is impossible without modern technologies. The cold commercial systems have no moral sensitivity to these populations which will starve, or depend on charity, pay the highest price or are forced to move to the cities too. That is the economic effect that may cause economies to grow but in fact produce humanitarian and ecological disasters.
2. Chain inefficiencies
The supply chain of food is full of inefficiencies. International studies reveal that between 50 and 70% of good food gets lost in the process. Due to the enormous distance between the centralized production and consumption of the food products we see that:
- offer and demand often do not match in which case good food has to be dumped as it does not get to the consumer
- massive production units are growing even more to remain profitable under pressure of economics
- places where massive productivity takes place do not create more labor due to automated processes but do cause local issues like sound, air and other environmental pollution. Local regulation tries to hold this massive centralization process, especially in cattle.
- the transport lines are so long for fresh fruit that the reaping process has to be done on route and artificially at the expense of the quality
- the lifestyle of city consumers is getting more and more demanding asking for pre-cut and pre-prep food in which lots of consumable waste is produced and thrown away. Waste is included in the sales price.
- supermarkets are expected to have a broad selection of fresh and non fresh goods at every time of the day. A lot is not consumed and thrown away when dates become overdue. For the chain it is not important because the consumer pays the price for it. The immorality of good food being lost due to economic life style is huge when considering the hunger and death caused at the other end of the chain.
- modern economies consume more and more “composed” food in which only a smaller percentage is real food and the rest are additives. The consumer looses sight on what he/she eats.
- The chain of global distribution goes through the focal point of huge purchasing entities that act on behalf of the retail chain. All the profitability is placed at the end of the line leaving near to nothing at the side of production. Farmers go broke, investors have no interest in that end of the chain and producers are forced to find ways to increase production through “whatever” means.
The above are the effects of “growth economics”: massification, concentration of power and speculation with shortages along the entire line, at the expense of quality, sustainability, climate, soil, environment, etc. An efficient chain with less loss and shorter distances would certainly solve a great deal of the hunger in the world yet lifestyle and economics stand in the way. This situation is not only immoral, it is unsustainable and will eventually cause a bigger humanitarian crisis than the credit crisis, also in the welfare regions.
3. Climate changes
The above profit centered global food construction have caused landscapes to change in such a way that climate changes have resulted as well. Desertification, extreme droughts, extreme rainfall, floods and other natural disasters are increasingly affecting harvests causing death and disaster across the world with people who have no means to sustain themselves in the speculative world.
But this is only a start. With the growth of the world population and concentration of people in cities we see that food is:
- increasingly difficult to produce,
- increasingly uninteresting to produce due to the financial pressure and risks at the production end
- increasingly manipulated to provide city people with what they want at the expense of public health
- getting more and more expensive due to the speculation of dealers around global shortages
Economics plays a dangerous game over the back of humankind. The focus is to get the money stream towards the focal point of dealership without morality around human needs or rights. It is all called economy of growth but needs urgent reflection (read “killing the robot“) because we are facing humanitarian disaster.
- Eatable cities: we need to get food productivity urgently into the cities. With modern technologies we can create urban farming in a great diversity even utilizing space and vertical surfaces. The positive side effects are that living green uses up the excess CO2 of the cities and cools down the environment making the place more healthy for human activities. “Negative” side effects are the need of a diversity of biological life forms to support pollination and other natural cyclic processes involved in natural food chains. City people have grown psychologically and physically allergic for pollen and insects. We will have to learn to deal with our environment again.
- Reducing the chain’s distance between production and consumption. This will improve the quality of food and reduce the waste production. Waste can be used in local processes, s.a. energy production. Volumes are less large reducing the power position of the intermediaries. Human health will improve while labor related to food production will come back into the local 4 local circuits.
- Improving the climate by creating local 4 local bio-diverse activities proper of the local circumstances. When production and consumption gets close to each other, practically at self-sufficient level the footprints will decrease and logistic chains, with all the negative environmental effects of transportation, will diminish.
- Food innovations to see what else humans can consume than the unbalanced life style diets of today, and how 100% of the food can be used without loss.
All together we will reduce the risks for the human population and improve our relationship with our environment for better health and vitality. The above requires a total transformation of our human organization placing sustainable human progress above economics. Anyone can start to take responsibility right now by trying to address the issue within his/her circle of influence and personal authority. Only then we may be able reverse the Titanical course towards disaster that humanity is heading for right now.