Environment and Ecology

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Social Ecology versus Deep Ecology

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Social Ecology versus Deep Ecology: A Challenge for the Ecology Movement

by Murray Bookchin

 

[Originally published in Green Perspectives: Newsletter of the Green Program Project, nos. 4-5 (summer 1987). In the original, the term deep ecology appeared in quotation marks; they have been removed in this online posting.]

The environmental movement has traveled a long way since those early Earth Day festivals when millions of school kids were ritualistically mobilized to clean up streets, while Arthur Godfrey, Barry Commoner, Paul Ehrlich, and a bouquet of manipulative legislators scolded their parents for littering the landscape with cans, newspapers, and bottles.

The movement has gone beyond a naive belief that patchwork reforms and solemn vows by EPA bureaucrats to act more resolutely will seriously arrest the insane pace at which we are tearing down the planet. This shopworn Earth Day approach to engineering nature so that we can ravage the Earth with minimal effect on ourselves---an approach that I called environmentalism in the late 1960s, in contrast to social ecology---has shown signs of giving way to a more searching and radical mentality. Today the new word in vogue is ecology---be it deep ecology, human ecology, biocentric ecology, antihumanist ecology, or to use a term that is uniquely rich in meaning, social ecology.

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SPIRAL ISLANDS / ISLA MUJERES

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General Information about Spiral Island

SPIRAL ISLANDS / ISLA MUJERES

Spiral Island is the name given to two world famous floating artificial islands built by British expatriate and eco-pioneer Richart "Rishi" Sowa.

Sowa, a musician, artist, and carpenter started constructing the original Spiral Island in 1998 in the Maya Riveria of Mexico. The first Spiral island was located in a lagoon near Puerto Aventuras, on the Caribbean coast of Mexico south of Cancún. Rishi began filling nets with empty discarded plastic bottles to support a structure of plywood and bamboo, on which he poured sand and planted numerous plants, including mangroves. The floating bottle island sported a two-story palapa structure, a solar oven, a self-composting toilet, and three beaches. Some 250,000 bottles were used to construct the 66 feet (20 m) by 54 feet (16 m) floating island structure. Rishi planted mangroves to help keep the island cool, and some of the mangroves rose up to 15 feet (4.6 m) high.

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Spiral Island on Floating Bottles

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Richie Sowa (Re)Builds Mexican Island Paradise on 250,000 Recycled Floating Bottles


Spiral Island


If you can’t afford to buy your own tropical island paradise, why not build your own? That is exactly what Richie Sowa did back in 1998, from over a quarter-million plastic bottles. His Spiral Island, destroyed years later by a hurricane, sported a two-story house, solar oven, self-composting toilet and multiple beaches. Better yet, he has started building another one! His ultimate goal? To build the island bigger and bigger and finally float out to sea, traveling the world from the comfort of his own private paradise.

Spiral Island Construction and Steering


The original Spiral Island was (as its successor will be) built upon a floating collection used plastic bottles, all netted together to support a bamboo and plywood structure above. Located in Mexico, the original was 66 by 54 feet and was able to support full-sized mangroves to provide shade and privacy, yet also able to be moved from place to place by its creator as need with a simple motorized system.


Spiral Island Early Stages

An environmentalist to the core, Sowa is also an artist and a musician. More than just the universal dream of an island retreat, Spiral Island is also his vision for low-impact sustainable living. The next version of the island will be built to withstand more treacherous weather than the first and will also be located in a more sheltered part of Mexico’s waters.



The Above Ripley’s Believe-it-or-Not video is a great introduction to the island, which conjures images of Gilligan-done-right. Spiral island is able to exist and move about in Mexico in part because it is classified as a ship, not an island, like an atoll out of WaterWorld (only much much cooler). On September 7, 2007 the new Spiral Islander social network utility was opened to the public to allow visitors, Spiral Islanders and friends of Richie Sowa to connect and communicate about the history of Spiral Island and to learn more and discuss Richie Sowa’s new Spiral Island. Want more islands? See these 7 Island Wonders of the World from WebUrbanist.

 

UNEP - NEWS

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Ozone Treaty Anniversary Gifts Big Birthday Present to Human Health and Combating of Climate Change Ozone Treaty Anniversary Gifts Big Birthday Present to Human Health and Combating of Climate Change
16/ 09/ 2009
A treaty to protect the ozone layer, which shields all life on Earth from deadly levels of ultra violet rays, has scored a first in the history of international environmental agreements.
Resting and Restoring Gaza Strip's Underground Water Supplies Emerges as Top Priority Says UNEP Resting and Restoring Gaza Strip's Underground Water Supplies Emerges as Top Priority Says UNEP
14/ 09/ 2009
The underground water supplies, upon which 1.5 million Palestinians depend for agricultural and drinking water, are in danger of collapse as a result of years of over-use and contamination that have been exacerbated by the recent conflict.
Trees on Farms Key to Climate and Food-Secure Future Trees on Farms Key to Climate and Food-Secure Future
24/ 07/ 2009
The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) are calling for the widespread uptake of 'green' agricultural practices that will deliver multiple benefits to the world's rapidly growing populations
Iraq moves forward on ozone protection Iraq moves forward on ozone protection
17/ 07/ 2009
Iraq wants to eliminate ozone depleting substances (ODS) such as CFCs from its refrigeration and foam industries by 1 January 2010 in accordance with the target set under the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty set up to protect the ozone layer.
World's First International Commission on Ecosystem Loss Launched in Nairobi World's First International Commission on Ecosystem Loss Launched in Nairobi
16/ 07/ 2009
You are invited to attend the launch of the world's first international commission on the catastrophic loss of the world's ecosystems. Legislators will argue that Governments are failing to stop the destruction of the world's ecosystems at a summit in Nairobi on the 18/19 July.
Collaborating on Climate Change - Ozone and Global Warming Experts Get Closer on Common Challenge of F-Gases Collaborating on Climate Change - Ozone and Global Warming Experts Get Closer on Common Challenge of F-Gases
16/ 07/ 2009
An historic meeting, bringing together experts on the ozone layer and ones on climate change has been concluded this week in Geneva, Switzerland.
Five UN Heads of Agencies Seal the Deal! Five UN Heads of Agencies Seal the Deal!
16/ 07/ 2009
The heads of five international organizations have joined the international campaign to galvanize public support for a successful outcome to UN-sponsored climate change negotiations by signing a global petition addressed to world leaders.
UN Environment Head says World at Green Economy Crossroads on Eve of G8 Summit UN Environment Head says World at Green Economy Crossroads on Eve of G8 Summit
09/ 07/ 2009
In a keynote address to Chatham House in London, UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said G8 leaders have a golden opportunity to focus political action towards powering forward a Green Economy future.
UNEP Signs Agreement To Help Green The Sochi 2014 Olympics UNEP Signs Agreement To Help Green The Sochi 2014 Olympics
09/ 06/ 2009
In an effort to green the Sochi Olympics in 2014, UNEP has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Russian Olympic organizers to help and advise them on making the Games environmentally friendly.
UNEP launches new online system to view and study the world's marine protected areas UNEP launches new online system to view and study the world's marine protected areas
08/ 06/ 2009
A new decision-making tool is being launched to provide the most current and relevant information about marine and coastal biodiversity and its protection status.
G8 leaders agree to global warming goals G8 leaders agree to global warming goals
09/ 07/ 2009
Hopes that a comprehensive climate agreement can be agreed in Copenhagen in December were given encouragement after leaders of the world's eight major economic powers agreed to broad goals for reducing global warming at the G8 meeting in L'Aquila.
Chinese CEOs Visit UNEP to Share Views on the Green Economy Chinese CEOs Visit UNEP to Share Views on the Green Economy
02/ 07/ 2009
16 top CEOs from China have attended a workshop at the UN Environment Programme headquarters to learn more about what the agency is doing in the Green Economy initiatives, combating climate change, international campaigns, green construction, reforestation and the green technology.
Countries Representing Four Fifths of the Global Economy Back Green Growth Countries Representing Four Fifths of the Global Economy Back Green Growth
26/ 06/ 2009
Achim Steiner, the head of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), today welcomed the 'Green Growth' Declaration by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) saying it underlined the way environment was rapidly being brought into the centre of economic discourse and policy-making. Ministers from 40 countries said: "Well targeted policy instruments can be used to encourage green investment in order to simultaneously contribute to economic recovery in the short-term and help to build the environmentally-friendly infrastructure required in the long term—the crisis should not be used as an excuse to postpone crucial decisions for the future of the planet".
UN Agencies 'Deliver as One' To Realize a Green Economy UN Agencies 'Deliver as One' To Realize a Green Economy
25/ 06/ 2009
At least 21 UN agencies today backed the call for a world-wide transition to a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy able to deliver multiple economic, social and environmental opportunities in the 21st century. Such a transition is needed to catalyze a sustainable global economic recovery while generating decent jobs, enhancing food security, and reducing dependence on finite fossil fuels. A Green Economy can also address multiple persistent and looming crises from overcoming poverty and combating climate change to reversing the degradation of multi-trillion dollar ecosystems and their services, experts argue.
30 years of Bonn Convention: Russia supports the protection of the Saiga antelope 30 years of Bonn Convention: Russia supports the protection of the Saiga antelope
25/ 06/ 2009
On the occasion of the 30th Anniversary of the Bonn Convention, the Russian Federation has enhanced its support for the conservation of the Saiga antelope by signing the relevant agreement established in the framework of the Convention. The Saiga antelope is one of most rapidly declining land mammal species worldwide. While one million of the ungulates still traveled through the Eurasian steppe as recently as the early 90s, their populations have dwindled to less than 100,000 animals today.
Climate Change Picks Pace New IPCC Report Warns Climate Change Picks Pace New IPCC Report Warns
22/ 06/ 2009
"The world faces a growing risk of "abrupt and irreversible climatic shifts," was the conclusion of report by international scientists issued on Thursday. The 36-page document summarized over 1,400 studies which were presented at a climate conference last March in Copenhagen attended by some 2,000 scientists from over 70 countries. The research, which was written and reviewed by many of the scientists who compiled the benchmark UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report in 2007, presents the newest scientific evidence that warns that ocean temperatures, sea levels, extreme climate conditions and the retreat of the Arctic sea ice have picked up more pace than experts predicted two years ago.
Action on HFC Gases 'Low Hanging Fruit' Opportunity to Combat Climate Change Says UN Environment Chief Action on HFC Gases 'Low Hanging Fruit' Opportunity to Combat Climate Change Says UN Environment Chief
22/ 06/ 2009
A scientific paper, highlighting the need to accelerate action over a group of gases known as Hydroflurocarbons (HFCs) as part of the climate change agenda, was today welcomed by the head of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). The findings, by an international team of researchers are published in the Proceeedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The scientists argue that HFC use could climb sharply in the coming years in products such as insulation foams, air conditioning units and refrigeration as replacements for ones being phased-out to protect the ozone layer.
Best Environmental Techniques and Practices of Sound Chemicals Management Under the Spotlight at Stockholm Convention Meeting Best Environmental Techniques and Practices of Sound Chemicals Management Under the Spotlight at Stockholm Convention Meeting
12/ 06/ 2009
The workshop is designed to increase knowledge of national obligations regarding the unintentional emissions of POPs and the ESM of PCBs and POPs waste under the Stockholm Convention.
Gentle Giants in Need: International Experts Issue Frankfurt Declaration to Call for Better Protection of Gorillas Gentle Giants in Need: International Experts Issue Frankfurt Declaration to Call for Better Protection of Gorillas
11/ 06/ 2009
The new "Frankfurt Declaration" highlights major threats to gorillas and their habitats, as well as the strategies available for the conservation of the second closest relative to humankind.
Green Economy Day for World Environment Day 2009 as Mexico Announces Voluntary Greenhouse Gas Cuts and Five New Protected Areas Green Economy Day for World Environment Day 2009 as Mexico Announces Voluntary Greenhouse Gas Cuts and Five New Protected Areas
07/ 06/ 2009
Echoing the 'Healing the Earth' ceremonies of Mexico's ancient Mayan civilization, President Calderon announced on World Environment Day his government's landmark plans to combat climate change alongside the establishment of new protected areas.
 


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