DAPL fight not over yet

SUBHEAD: Trump may have approved the Dakota Access Pipeline, but the fight is far from over.

By Staff on 18 February 2017 for Russia Times -

Image above: Aerial photo of Standing Rock NoDAPL campsite that North Dakota Governor ordered evacuated 2/16. From (https://spectator.org/north-dakota-governor-orders-emergency-evacuation-to-speed-clean-up-of-nodapl-protesters-toxic-waste/).

More than 120 investors with over $650 billion in assets in banks financing the Dakota Access Pipeline have called on the financial institutes to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s call to have the pipeline rerouted from Native American land.
Citigroup, Wells Fargo, SunTrust Bank and BNP Paribas are among the 17 banks targeted in a letter signed by pension funds, asset management companies, and organizations.

The signatories have a total of $653 billion in assets under their control.
“We are concerned that if DAPL’s projected route moves forward, the result will almost certainly be an escalation of conflict and unrest as well as possible contamination of the water supply,” the letter reads.
“Banks with financial ties to the Dakota Access Pipeline may be implicated in these controversies and may face long-term brand and reputational damage resulting from consumer boycotts and possible legal liability.”
The banks have already been pressured by protesters that have urged people to divest from institutions that are funding the $3.7 billion project headed by Energy Transfer Partners. To date, bank accounts worth $53 million have been closed as a result of the DAPL movement, the letter claims.

Seattle City Council voted to end ties with Wells Fargo over the pipeline, while New York mayor Bill de Blasio suggested he would support a boycott.

The California Public Employees Retirement System, or CalPERS, one of the pension funds behind the letter, has previously been criticized for its holdings in ETP. The fund received a petition signed by more than 40,000 people demanding it sells its ETP holdings, according to the Financial Times.
“We understand that the banks providing the project finance have contractual obligations to DAPL, but the extreme controversy tied to the project warrants their urgent action,” the letter states.

“We call on the banks to address or support the Tribe’s request for a reroute and utilize their influence as a project lender to reach a peaceful solution that is acceptable to all parties, included the Tribe.”

Video above: North Dakota Governor issue  order to evacuate NoDAPL Standing Rock campsite because of waste and danger to inhabitants. From (https://youtu.be/j4jV4qypoZA).

By Josh Fox on 9 February 2017 for Alternet -

On Tuesday, February 7, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it was canceling an environmental review of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline and will grant approval of an easement permitting the construction of the final link in the pipeline to be constructed.

The decision, which is a major blow to the Standing Rock Sioux and activists who have been fighting the pipeline, comes after President Donald Trump’s executive order from his first week in office meant to advance the project. The pipeline opponents have vowed to continue the fight.
“The Obama administration correctly found that the tribe’s treaty rights needed to be respected, and that the easement should not be granted without further review and consideration of alternative crossing locations,” Jan Hasselman, an attorney for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, told The Guardian. “Trump’s reversal of that decision continues a historic pattern of broken promises to Indian tribes and violation of treaty rights. They will be held accountable in court.”
I spoke with my friend and fellow activist Chase Iron Eyes, a Lakota lawyer and one of the Standing Rock Sioux water protectors, who was recently arrested at the Standing Rock Camp, about the Trump’s reversal of Obama’s decision on the Dakota Access Pipeline and the next steps for activists in this ongoing battle.

Josh Fox: Obviously this is very aggressive action on behalf of the Trump administration and the Army Corps of Engineers, basically flying in the face of the rule of law and canceling the legal process and the environmental impact study ordered the Obama administration that would have examined the issues you and the other water protectors have been campaigning about.

What are your thoughts on this dramatic reversal and what do the water protectors, activists and concerned citizens do now?

Chase Iron Eyes: We’ve expected this all along. Those of us who have been on the front lines knew in our hearts and minds that December 4th—when the feds blocked the final permit to continue the pipeline—was no victory at all; that it was a hollow and meaningless gesture of the Obama administration.

Everybody was asked to go home at that time. Now those of us who seemed paranoid at the time have been vindicated. Now we have to be prepared for two things. One of those is the Dakota Access pipeline company, Energy Transfer Partners, has to go ahead to start drilling now. All fronts need to be activated—whether it’s legal, political or front line civil resistance.

Then also there is the Environment Impact Statement process that the Trump administration is reporting to just do away with, which is in violation of the law.

I don’t know what Standing Rock and Cheyenne River’s legal moves are, but we’re at a point now where water protectors are pursuing other legal means to try to stop, hinder or otherwise prevent the unabashed and violent expression of the power of the corporate state further in North Dakota by a very highly militarized resource committing violence on unarmed water protectors, who are sure to protest and exercise their constitutional and civil rights.

Josh Fox: Is this a call that you would put out for more people to come to Standing Rock now and under what conditions?

Chase Iron Eyes:A lot of people have put the call out and I would say about 1,000 to 2,000 people are already on their way, including three contingents of U.S. veterans who are coming to stand in peace and dignity and help achieve a modicum of respect for our constitutional rights, which are being encroached upon. In addition to people coming to join that fight, #DefundDAPL is still an ongoing effort. Seattle divested $3 billion.

The Muckleshoot tribe, the Nez Perce and the Milat tribes have divested significant amounts. Dallas Goldtooth, a “Keep It In The Ground” campaign organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network, mentioned it Wednesday on Democracy Now! during our interview there.

We’re calling for the whole nation to be on guard. If drilling starts happening or when the camp gets raided presumably on the 23rd or possibly the 22nd, the Army Corps said that we’re to be vacated by February 22nd.

Josh Fox: Let me just add that there are a number of different calls to action. Number one is to attend the protest where you are. There are protests all across this nation right now against the actions of Dakota Access pipeline. There’s one in New Orleans. There’s one in San Francisco. There’s one in New York. They’re all over the place.

I think the other thing that is worth saying is yes, if you can get to Standing Rock and you’re a self-sufficient person and you’re not going to be a burden and you’re not going to be messy and you’re not going to be violent, show up and they need you. Especially veterans.

I have to say that the veterans’ presence has been especially poignant because it was a reaction to the police brutality that we saw against peaceful protesters who are exercising their constitutional right. The veterans are saying, North Dakota police force, you guys want to shoot at Americans, you want to shoot at indigenous people, you want to mace us, okay you can start with us, the people who put our lives on the line defending this country from all enemies foreign and domestic.

When I talked with retired general Wesley Clark, he referred to all enemies—foreign and domestic—meaning the Dakota Access pipeline is a foreign and a domestic enemy, which I thought was a very bold statement to make.

That call, the veterans coming to Standing Rock and people coming to Standing Rock who are able-bodied, who can be of use, who can withstand the winter, who can be that kind of level of toughness and that kind of level of peacefulness—it’s a very interesting mix.

You need to be tough. You need to be strong but you need to be peaceful. You cannot be violent. You cannot be aggressive. You cannot be all of those things that we know won’t lead us down the right path. I think also you’re saying divestment, that’s a huge part of this movement.

Divesting your own personal funds, divesting your church’s funds, divesting your company’s funds from Wells Fargo, Chase, CitiBank, TD and all the banks that are invested in the Dakota Access pipeline is another huge part of this.

Then of course the legal strategy which we have nothing to do with, that’s up to the lawyers, but that’s another big part of what’s happening here. That’s a four-pronged resistance and that’s still very much in swing.

I would add to that a media strategy that I’m helping with, our film on Standing Rock that you and your daughter Tokata are in, will be coming out next week. We have found a place. I cannot announce it yet but it’s coming out and we’re going to be using that to further your call and to further the actions that you want. We have just gained the help of our revolution.

Bernie Sanders’ organization for furthering, they’re going to help promote it so we can announce that.
We can’t say the TV station yet that it’s going to be on but it’s going to be happening. It’s very exciting. It’s called Awake, A Dream from Standing Rock. It’s a collaboration between me and indigenous filmmaker Myron Dewey, Josue Rivas and Oscar-nominated filmmaker James Spione.

Also, this is obviously a moment of incredible stress and anxiety. How are you dealing with that, the level of responsibility that you have and the fact that these forces have gotten more and more violent? I know you were just arrested, maybe you want to speak about that.

Chase Iron Eyes: Yes, it’s the same as it’s been: through prayer, through trying to spiritually ground myself, spiritually ground ourselves. We are fully cognizant of the nature of this struggle. Some would call it a spiritual struggle. Some would call it a political or an economic struggle for liberation. It is all of those things. I mean we’re at a time now where we can name our common colonizer who we were taught and rightly so through genocide, holocaust and slavery that a certain group of people of one phenotype or skin color committed those crimes against humanity against another type of another phenotype or skin color.

Now we’re at a point where we can name currency, debts, big finance, big extraction, consumer values, advertising, the global corporate state. We can name that common colonizer, that common enemy and we have to address it and own it for what it is because we are all part of it. For me, I’m just one soul that has to be willing to sacrifice something in order to liberate from this thousand year old enemy. I know that our country’s at a point now where enough of us can build those bridges. Just through prayer, bro, that’s how I’ve been holding up.

Josh Fox: We talked earlier about how this spirit of Standing Rock is pushing out across the nation. There are fights against fossil fuel infrastructure in Florida against the Sabal Trail pipeline, in New Jersey against the PennEast pipeline, against the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline in Pennsylvania, against the Bayou Bridge pipeline in Louisiana and Big Bend, Texas, and in Denver against fracking and in my own hometown at the Delaware River Basin, once again against fracking.

Do you see this call for water protectors is one that is echoing throughout the nation? Is this a moment where we all have to come together, where we all have to be Standing Rock? Do you say no, let’s keep the focus on Standing Rock right now?

How do you balance those things is I guess one of the things that I’m struggling with right now because I see the primacy of that Standing Rock struggle right now as so important and so inspirational.

At the same time I understand that we’re under siege across this nation in many of the same ways. How do we best, for your position of leadership, how do we best balance those obligations as a movement and move forward?

Chase Iron Eyes: I think it’s important to recognize that it’s not even human-led prayer or human-initiated uprising in consciousness, collective consciousness that guided this or that made it happen.

We certainly had a part in it, but I believe it’s the water itself, it’s the land itself that is creating a spirit of prayer that is connecting to all of us whether it’s prayer, whether it’s energy or the raised consciousness or however you want to define or express what those concepts mean in every given language or culture, it’s something is happening and we’re responding to it now.

Standing Rock is serving as the physical expression of an international prayer monument because there had been prayers. There had been people, there have been struggles there.

There have been people sending their energy from that place at the confluence of the Missouri and Cannonball Rivers but all of these other struggles now, that may be the only way that we win is to multiply the fronts instead of focusing on one single front.

The people who are here through are committed to that. There does need to be a sacred fighter here. There does need to be that expression of solidarity, international solidarity.

Not everybody can be here. Wherever the next fights are whether that’s Keystone or the Delaware River or wherever it’s at, we need to all be talking to each other so that we can share resources, share platforms and help each other overcome some of the challenges that face those who fall outside of the “corporate state” paradigm.

Josh Fox: I really appreciate that. I want to quote my friend Doug Pineda, who’s a wonderful person and teacher who I met at Standing Rock. He said we need to “fight like the water.” We are the water, we need to fight like the water. We need to embrace and swarm and need to go and meet obstacles and go around them and wear them down.

I also would say that just like the water is all connected across the United States, we all need to be connected. That is the great rallying cry. Standing Rock is at the geographical center of North America. We are all the water running out from it. Yoko Ono says we’re all water from different rivers, that’s why it’s so easy to meet. I love that saying.

Chase Iron Eyes: I believe that. Something greater than ourselves has moved us and it started with prayer. That prayer came from human beings but it’s the natural elements in the universe that have their own spiritual authority. They’re older than us.

Our stories, our cosmologies tell us this and kind of give us that center from which to find our place, you know. We do recognize that it’s not just us. That for us that’s the true path to civilization is recognizing our respect relationship with things that sometimes western theological or academic thought considers inanimate objects or without life force or to be exploitable, to be under the dominion of human beings which for us that’s just kind of a crazy concept.

Josh Fox: Atossa Soltani from AmazonWatch likes to say we are nature defending itself. I like that.

Chase Iron Eyes: The only thing that I need to add is that I always want to express that we love everybody who supports the movement, everybody who takes action on their own accord, on their own behalf and that we support you. Just know that we send our compassion back to you because this movement doesn’t happen unless bridges are built and everybody helps each other.

Josh Fox: Wonderful, thanks Chase. I got my marching orders. I’ll see you on the front lines soon.

Chase Iron Eyes: All right, brother. Talk soon.


US has used DU in Syria

SUBHEAD: Toxic radioactive depleted uranium munitions have been used by US forces on Syrians.

By Daniel McAdams on 17 February 2017 for Ron Paul Institute -

Image above: Illustration of DU shell and radioactive warning symbol. From original article.

Despite vowing not to use depleted uranium (DU) weapons in its military action in Syria, the US government has now admitted that it has fired thousands of the deadly rounds into Syrian territory. As Foreign Policy Magazine reports:
US Central Command (CENTCOM) spokesman Maj. Josh Jacques told Airwars and Foreign Policy that 5,265 armor-piercing 30 mm rounds containing depleted uranium (DU) were shot from Air Force A-10 fixed-wing aircraft on Nov. 16 and Nov. 22, 2015, destroying about 350 vehicles in the country’s eastern desert.
Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman John Moore said in 2015 that:
US and coalition aircraft have not been and will not be using depleted uranium munitions in Iraq or Syria during Operation Inherent Resolve.
Now we know that is not true.

Numerous studies have found that depleted uranium is particularly harmful when the dust is inhaled by the victim. A University of Southern Maine study discovered that:
...DU damages DNA in human lung cells. The team, led by John Pierce Wise, exposed cultures of the cells to uranium compounds at different concentrations.

The compounds caused breaks in the chromosomes within cells and stopped them from growing and dividing healthily. 'These data suggest that exposure to particulate DU may pose a significant [DNA damage] risk and could possibly result in lung cancer,' the team wrote in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.
We should remember that the United States is engaged in military activities in Syria in violation of international and US law. There is no Congressional authorization for US military action against ISIS in Syria and the United Nations has not authorized military force in violation of Syria's sovereignty either.

The innocent citizens of Syria will be forced to endure increased risks of cancer, birth defects, and other disease related to exposure to radioactive materials. Depleted uranium is the byproduct of the enrichment of uranium to fuel nuclear power plants and has a half-life in the hundreds of millions of years. Damage to Syrian territory will thus continue long after anyone involved in current hostilities is dead.

Too little Growth to grow

SUBHEAD: “Real GDP growth fell and leveled off in the mid-1970s, then started falling again in the mid-2000s”.

By Raul Ilargi Meijer on 18 February 2017 for the Automatic Earth -

Image above: Mashup of canoe paddling team dragging a water skier. No matter how hard they paddle it is too little energy to get the job done, or not enough ERoEI. Mashup by Juan Wilson.

It’s amusing to see how views start to converge, at the same time that it’s tiresome to see how long that takes. It’s a good thing that more and more people ‘discover’ how and why austerity, especially in Europe, is such a losing and damaging strategy. It’s just a shame that this happens only after the horses have left the barn and the cows have come home, been fed, bathed, put on lipstick and gone back out to pasture again. Along the same lines, it’s beneficial that the recognition that for a long time economic growth has not been what ‘we’ think it should be, is spreading.

But we lost so much time that we could have used to adapt to the consequences. The stronger parties in all this, the governments, companies, richer individuals, may be wrong, but they have no reason to correct their wrongs: the system appears to work fine for them. They actually make good money because all corrections, all policies and all efforts to hide the negative effects of the gross ‘mistakes’, honest or not, made in economic and political circles are geared towards making them ‘whole’.

The faith in the absurd notion of trickle down ‘economics’ allows them to siphon off future resources from the lower rungs of society, towards themselves in the present. It will take a while for the lower rungs to figure this out.

The St. Louis Fed laid it out so clearly this week that I wrote to Nicole saying ‘We’ve been vindicated by the Fed itself.’ That is, the Automatic Earth has said for many years that the peak of our wealth was sometime in the 1970’s or even late 1960’s.

Intriguing questions: was America at its richest right before or right after Nixon took the country off the gold standard in 1971? And whichever of the two one would argue for, why did he do it smack in the middle of peak wealth? Did he cause the downfall or was it already happening?

As per the St. Louis Fed report: “Real GDP growth fell and leveled off in the mid-1970s, then started falling again in the mid-2000s”.

What happened during that 30-year period was that we started printing and borrowing with abandon, making both those activities much easier while we did, until the debt load overwhelmed even our widest fantasies ten years ago. And we’ve never recovered from that, if that was not obvious yet. Nor will we.

As the first graph below shows, there was still growth post-Gold Standard but the rate of growth fell and then “leveled off”, only to fall more after, to a point where Real GDP per Capita is presently 0.5% or so -little more than a margin error-. How one would want to combine that with talk of an economic recovery is hard to see. In fact, such talk should be under serious scrutiny by now.

Still, the numbers remain positive, you say. Yes, that’s true. But there’s a caveat, roughly similar to the one regarding energy and the return on it. Where we used to pump oil and get 100 times the energy in return that we needed to pump it, that ratio (EROEI) is now down to 10:1 or less.

Alternative energy sources do little better, if at all. Whereas to run a complex society, let alone one like ours that must become more complex as we go along – or die-, we would need somewhere along the lines of a 20:1 to even 30:1 EROEI rate.

Another place where a similar caveat can be found is the amount of dollars it takes to produce a dollar of real growth. That amount has been increasing, and fast, to the point where it takes over $10 to create $1 or growth in the US and Europe, and China too moves towards such numbers.

Both our energy systems and our financial systems are examples of what happens when what we should perhaps call the rate of ‘productivity’ (rather than growth) falls below a critical mass: it becomes impossible to maintain, even keep alive, a society as complex as ours, which requires an increase in complexity to survive.

In other words: a Real GDP per Capita growth rate of 0.5% is not enough to stand still, just like oil EROEI of 5:1 is not; there is growth, but not -nearly- enough to keep growing.

One does not get the impression that the St. Louis Fed economists who wrote the report are aware of this -though the title is suggestive enough-, they seem to lean towards the eternal desire for a recovery, but they did write it nonetheless. Do note the sharp drop that coincides with the 1973 oil crisis. We never ‘recovered’.

The U.S. economy expanded by 1.6% in 2016, as measured by real GDP. Real GDP has averaged 2.1% growth per year since the end of the last recession, which is significantly smaller than the average over the postwar period (about 3% per year). These lower growth rates could in part be explained by a slowdown in productivity growth and a decline in factor utilization. However, demographic factors and attitudes toward the labor market may also have played significant roles.
Long-run growth rates were high until the mid-1970s. Then, they quickly declined and leveled off at around 3% per year for the following three decades. In the second half of the 2000s, around the last recession, growth contracted again sharply and has been declining ever since. The 10-year average growth rate as of the fourth quarter of 2016 was only 1.3% per year. Total output grows because the economy is more productive and capital is accumulated, but also because the population increases over time.
The same dynamics (or lack thereof) are reflected in a recent piece by Chris Hamilton, in which he argues that global growth -as expressed by growth in energy consumption- has largely been non-existent for years, other than in China. Moreover, China has added a stunning amount of debt to achieve that growth, and since its population growth is about to stagnate -and then turn negative-, this was pretty much all she wrote.

Since 2000, China has been the nearly singular force for growth in global energy consumption and economic activity. However, this article will make it plain and simple why China is exiting the spotlight and unfortunately, for global economic growth, there is no one else to take center stage.
China’s core population is essentially peaking this year and beginning a decades long decline (not unlike the world. The chart below shows total Chinese core population peaking, energy consumption stalling, and debt skyrocketing.
• China of 1985-2000 grew on population and demographic trends.
• China of 2000-2015 grew despite decelerating population growth but on accelerating debt growth…this growth in China kept global growth alive.
• China of 2015-2030 will not grow, will not drive the global economy and absent

Chinese growth…the world economy is set to begin an indefinite period of secular contraction. China ceased accumulating US Treasury debt as of July of 2011 and continues to sell while busy accumulating gold since 2011.

Unfortunately, neither quasi-democracies nor quasi-communist states have any politically acceptable solutions to this problem of structural decelerating growth and eventual outright contraction…but that won’t keep them from meddling to stall the inevitable global restructuring.
I can only hope that these data will convince more people that all the times I’ve said that growth is over, it was true. And perhaps even make them think about what follows from there: that when growth is gone, so is all centralization, including globalization, other than by force. This will change the world a lot, and unfortunately not always in peaceful ways.

What seems to have started (but was in the air long before) with Brexit and Trump, is merely a first indication of what’s to come.

People will not accept that important decisions that affect them directly are taken by anonymous ‘actors’ somewhere far away, unless this promises and delivers them very concrete and tangible benefits. In fact, many have lost all faith in the whole idea, and that’s why we have Trump and Brexit in the first place.

This turn inward -protectionism if you will-, in the UK, US and many other places, is an inevitable development that follows from declining growth and soaring debt. Entire societies will have to be re-built from the ground up, and people will want to do that themselves, not have it dictated by strangers.

At the same time, of course, those who profit most from centralization want that to continue. They can’t, but they will try, and hard.

Equally important, people who wish to try and save existing ‘central institutions’ for less selfish and more peaceful reasons should think twice, because they will fail too. It’s centralization itself that is failing, and the demise of the structures that represent it is but a consequence of that.

We will see local structures being built, and only after that possibly -and hopefully- connect to each other. This is a big change, and therefore a big challenge.


Seeding the Future

SUBHEAD: One of the few defenses local indigenous people have against big-ag GMO capitalism.

By Michael Meurer on 18 February 2017 for Truth Out -

Image above: Speakers at a seed exchange near the Río Santiago in México share planting tips. Photo by Michael Meurer. From original article.

There was much bluster about US job losses under NAFTA in the 2016 election, but walking along the banks of the Río Santiago in the pueblo of Juanacatlán, Mexico, the larger impact of the agreement immediately becomes a searing reality. One's eyes and skin burn after only a few minutes' exposure to the toxic spray and sulfurous stench as foaming waves of chemical pollution cascade over a once pristine falls known only a few decades ago as the Niagara of Mexico.

The pollution, which includes large concentrations of arsenic, cadmium, zinc and other heavy metals used in electronics fabrication, is partly driven by unregulated NAFTA and domestic manufacturing, and also by toxic runoff from export-oriented agribusiness that, unlike traditional campesino farming, relies heavily on chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Fusion magazine dubbed the Santiago the "river of death." Vice magazine describes it as a "toxic hell" that caused 72 deaths in 2015 alone.

Compliance with barely existent environmental regulations in Mexico is voluntary under NAFTA, something that is rarely mentioned in the US. NAFTA's Chapter 11 even allows foreign corporations to sue the Mexican government for imposing regulations they consider to be unfair or burdensome.

On November 20, 2016, Mexico's Revolution Day, I was invited by my friend Miyuki Takahashi, a native Mexican-Japanese doctor who runs the educational Jardín de Vida project (Garden of Life) in Juanacatlán, to accompany her and nearly 400 residents from towns and villages located near the river as an independent journalistic observer during a protest against its poisoning.

The protest action was organized in part by Un Salto de Vida (USV), or A Leap of Life, a civic organization formed by local farmers near the town of Salto, which is across the river from Juanacatlán.

After the protest, we were invited to the 14th annual reunion and seed exchange organized by USV and the local Jalisco chapter of the Red de Alternativas Sustenables Agropecurias (RASA), or Network of Sustainable Agricultural Alternatives, made up of small farmers who live along the Santiago watershed. They come together annually to celebrate the culture of sacred corn, water and trees and to "sow seeds of rebellion," per the email recap to attendees, on which they graciously copied me.

About 80 small farmers met this year in Juanacatlán to share success stories from their use of heirloom seeds that have often been in their families for generations.

The focus was corn (maíz), which is a historic and sacred staple crop of Mexican rural culture that has been undercut by mass imports of subsidized, genetically modified corn from the US since NAFTA was signed in 1994.

After many speeches, attendees spent several hours exchanging heritage seeds and talking, then shared a meal of roasted pig, beans, organic corn and rice.

One of the speakers, a young man named Alan Carmona Gutiérrez who is a cofounder of USV, gave a speech that started with this remarkable statement: "Seeds are the arms that can win the war against capitalism." ("Las semillas son las armas que pueden ganar la guerra contra capitalismo.")

Alan did not mean capitalism in the abstract. He meant the kind of capitalism that has made the 433-kilometer (269-mile) Río Santiago one of the most lethally toxic and polluted waterways in the world, and that under NAFTA forced Mexico to amend its constitution to allow foreign land ownership. This change opened small landholders, upon whom organic crop diversity depends, to the whims of banks and foreign creditors. These campesinos had been deeded their property for life by the constitution of 1917. NAFTA wiped that legal protection away with the stroke of a pen, leading to a doubling of export farming by large-scale agribusiness by 2015.

Out of necessity, campesinos in nearly every state in Mexico are quietly and irrevocably walking away from this lethal model to create their own alternatives. Small local seed exchanges, such as the one in Juanacatlán, happen across Mexico every year, unheralded by the media. USV, RASA and other farmers' groups like them are engaged in a cooperative, ongoing initiative called the "National Campaign in Defense of Mother Earth and the Territory." The USV announcement of the seed exchange states the goals of this national campaign:
It will not be ideologies that guide us but the desire for freedom, common sense, the sun, the moon and the wind. Against their technology is the knowledge of our ancestors. Against their factories are our spaces for the reproduction of life. Against their repression is our organization.

It is time to exchange our seeds and sow the land with the nobility and tenacity of those who love their mother, it is time to share our knowledge with the transmission of our collective memory of our identities and to recover our own lives, to be guardians and warriors who strive to forge together the world we want, here and now, today and forever.
They fight for all of us, not just themselves, and with good reason. According to the Center for Food Safety, just five companies -- Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, Dow and Bayer -- account for 62 percent of world seed sales. As Rachel Cernansky recently reported, these same companies own multi-decade patents on many varieties of crop seeds for staple agricultural items found in daily diets worldwide. Alan is not exaggerating at all when he says that seeds are the new arms in the fight for sustainable democratic self-governance.

Image above: A table at a seed exchange near the Río Santiago in México displays heritage seeds. Photo by Michael Meurer. From original article..

Micro and Macro Hope
The seed exchange along the Río Santiago is one of many similar experiences with local micro-initiatives that I have encountered during my travels. Having seen these kinds of localized efforts in the US, Europe and Latin America, I knew that a connecting mechanism was still badly needed, something beyond corporate social media platforms, which are essentially large-scale data mining operations.

Enter VIC (Vivero de Iniciativas Ciudadanas/Nursery of Citizen Initiatives), a new open source, Creative Commons project that is finding, mapping and connecting local micro-initiatives, such as Alan's USV. Their work reveals some of the most hopeful signs I have seen that underneath the media radar, people are taking matters into their own hands, reinventing and rebuilding civic life.

VIC was started by a group of architecture and urban design students in Madrid who won an open bid by the city government to design and build a memorial in honor of 191 victims of the horrific terrorist bombings at the central Atocha Train Station in 2004.

The resulting memorial is a 36-foot-tall glass cylinder that is illuminated from below at night. Floating inside the cylinder is a colorless film that is inscribed with thousands of messages of condolence from citizens of Madrid that visitors see in lighted motion above them.

In addition to allowing citizens to become a living, interactive part of the memorial, the messages provide an illuminating glimpse of an alternative city that is vibrantly alive with unsuspected interconnections and pulsing with an underground civic life that no one knew existed.

This brilliant memorial eventually led to the VIC initiative, which is focused on developing and disseminating what Medialab-Prado calls "collective intelligence for real democracy" ("Inteligencia colectiva para una democracia real.").

Medialab-Prado is an award-winning "citizen laboratory" funded by the City of Madrid for the production and dissemination of citizen-driven projects that embody collaborative cultural exploration using digital networks. VIC's work mirrors and expands this sensibility, and it has now spread across Spain and Latin America, while I am helping with political and academic introductions in the US.

VIC's deceptively simple and powerful central idea, which is both diagnostic and descriptive, is to find and map local citizen-driven initiatives at the micro level and to connect them at the macro level, with all information available interactively to the public under Creative Commons licensing.

The micro-initiatives that are being mapped have always existed. They are what might be called the non-monetized social economy, and VIC field work over the past decade shows that their numbers increase during times of economic or social duress.

What has been missing among the motive elements of the non-monetized economy is rigorous diagnostic analysis, mapping of interrelationships, mutual awareness of other civic actions and an easy, collaborative, citizen-managed way to connect, collaborate and endure.

In spite of the formal analytic rigor they bring to their work, VIC members and their network of collaborators across Europe and the Americas often talk in a language that seems vital and primal compared to the stilted, scripted jargon of the neoliberal media. There is incessant discussion about honoring the "affective environment" of particular social-political projects, of "doing politics with pleasure" in "open spaces of unforeseen possibility," etc.

Their sources of inspiration are too eclectic to be pigeonholed ideologically. I would describe the underlying beliefs as forming a non-ideological politics of joy, collaboration and discovery, but undergirded by rigorous diagnostic research and hard data.

Paul Hawken, a long-time advocate of natural capitalism (an imperfect concept that nevertheless has value) once described the hundreds of thousands of citizen's initiatives across the world as "humanity's immune response to resist and heal political disease, economic infection and ecological corruption."

Despite the eloquence of Hawken's description, it lacks a deeper diagnostic understanding of motive force and a clear means for interconnection and collaboration. VIC social mapping and diagnostics, along with their highly collaborative open methodology, have the potential to solve this problem.

During just one afternoon amid a 12-day series of Open Labs fora titled "Cities that Learn" ("Ciudades que Aprenden") held from November 28-December 9, 2016, at the National Library in Mexico City, 10 initiatives were showcased to reflect the characteristics of thousands of similar micro-initiatives VIC has mapped in Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay, Ecuador, Brazil and Spain over the past decade.

I watched the presentations for all 10 of these beautiful citizen's initiatives, which ended in a candlelit singalong in the library's grand, open-air Octavio Paz salon. The leaders of these projects are working, often with very little funding, to improve and democratize education, public transportation, public art, historic cultural preservation and much more. And now, in a wonderful development, they are tangibly connected to one another with common open-source tools.

Image above: Varietal heirloom corn is displayed at the 14th annual seed exchange along the Río Santiago in México. Photo by Michael Meurer. From original article.

Rebuilding Civic Life
Civic life worldwide has been in decline for decades. From the publication of the original Bowling Alone thesis by Robert Putnam in 1996, to Planet of Slums, Mike Davis's survey of global shantytowns in 2006, there is an enormous and growing body of academic literature and field work documenting a radical decline in the range, variety and frequency of the kinds of free civic associations that used to bring people together face-to-face to solve community problems, teaching tolerance, civility and political maturity in the process.

Open-source projects, such as VIC alone cannot rebuild this lost civic life. But they can provide a connecting vision, a model, inspiring examples, tools and social mapping for those who are already doing so. As VIC member and cofounder Javier Esquillor explained to me recently over dinner in Guadalajara, this kind of social mapping and open source collaboration could even reinvent tourism as a force for civic good.

The UN World Tourism Organization estimates that more than 1.1 billion people traveled internationally in 2015. Ignoring questions about ecological impact, the UN celebrates this tourism as a great economic stimulus and simply makes tepid recommendations that encourage tourists to "buy local."

Yet, what if a billion people wandering aimlessly around the planet with their tourist guides and selfie sticks were instead empowered to connect with people running local micro-initiatives in areas of mutual interest? The municipal government of Madrid is already using VIC maps as their official city tourist-map-cum-guide.

Having the Courage to Dream
Civic life cannot flourish in an atmosphere of dread over the future. In order to thrive politically, we need dreams, romance, entertaining stories, a bold and engaging vision of a just and sustainable future that is still anchored in our collective history, cultural diversity and the courage to pursue these things most passionately when it is hard. In a world filled with corporate propaganda and miserabilist doomsayers on both the left and right, the joy of doing so is proportionate to the challenge.

Like all newborns, the emerging open-source civic movement that reflects this hopeful sense of experimentation and possibility is tiny and fragile.

But it is also scalable because it is focused on empowering actions and initiatives that are already organically embedded in, or growing out of, the non-monetized part of people's daily lives worldwide. It therefore has the potential over time to reimagine and recreate an open, collaborative civic society of sufficient strength and diversity to dramatically expand the range of what is politically possible.

The destructive ethos of rapacious, late-stage neoliberalism and its regime of globalized capital is not inevitable. In many ways, it exhibits signs of imminent collapse and derangement.

Like the Soviet regime symbolized by the Berlin Wall, what seems insurmountable one day can collapse the next. But that collapse started years earlier with small local civic movements among workers and citizens in Poland, Czechoslovakia and across the Eastern Bloc. Former Polish President Lech Walesa called it the "Power of the Powerless."

Although the technological and social environments are very different today, the world is at a similar crossroads against an oppressively monolithic neoliberal economic philosophy that is losing both its ability to adapt and the reluctant faith of its population.

In this crisis of political legitimacy, the success of the open-source civic movement exemplified by VIC and the enormous potential of hundreds of thousands of micro-initiatives with the ability to connect worldwide, take on a much greater sense of urgency. They may soon be required to engage at a higher level.


Determining Kauai's Ala Loa Trail

SUBHEAD: State lawmakers may identify the path of the ancient Ala Loa trail on Kauai as a public trail.

By Timothy Hurley 17 February 2017 for Star Advertiser -

Image above: Photo looking west along the Kalaloa Trail on the north shore of Kauai. This section of the overall Ala Loa Trail system is still in everyday use. From (http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2015/11/kauais-ala-loa-trail.html).

[IB Publisher's Note: To follow and comment on this legislation see (http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=HB&billnumber=120&year=2017)]

State lawmakers are weighing a bill that requires the state to identify the path of the ancient Ala Loa trail on Kauai and recognize it as a public trail.

The trail, which generally follows the coast around the island, apparently includes a section that crosses the property of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as well as other oceanfront property owners reluctant to open their land.

More than 100 people marched near Zuckerberg’s property Feb. 4 in what was billed as a peaceful demonstration to “Save the Ala Loa” and urge that it be opened to the public. Some were Native Hawaiians looking for coastal access for fishing and gathering purposes.

The bill, introduced by state Rep. Kaniela Ing, is expected to be approved on second reading today by the House Committee on Ocean, Marine Resources and Hawaiian Affairs and then move on to the House Committee on Water and Land.

The measure was approved Tuesday despite a request by state Department of Land and Natural Resources Chairwoman Suzanne Case that it be deferred.

In written testimony, Case said that while the department, through its Na Ala Hele trail and access program, has determined from registered maps that the trail is owned by the state, the problem is that the exact location still remains undetermined.

“To date the department has not been able to confirm the location of this historic trail — indeed evidence indicates it may have been located further mauka away from the coast near the main highway,” she said.

Nevertheless, officials remain committed to an ongoing dialogue with community members regarding specific trail locations, and the department is continuing to review “all available information” in an effort to determine the trail’s whereabouts, Case said.

But Jocelyn Doane, public policy director for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, said more than enough information is available to pinpoint what she called a “critical cultural pathway.”

Doane said officials with OHA and the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., along with community members in the Koolau district of North Kauai, have been working on the issue since 2011.

“Through this work and the great work of the community, OHA believes that the specific scope and location of the Ala Loa extending through the Koolau district has in fact been thoroughly documented,” Doane said.

The historic trail appears on maps from as early as 1833 through 1900 and is recognized in land commission award documents that date back to the Great Mahele, the land distribution of 1848.

What’s more, ancient coastal settlements in the Koolau district such as Moloaa, Papaa and Aliomanu were traditionally linked by the Ala Loa, she said, and accounts of the use of this historic trail have been documented in publications from 1829 to 1895.

Doane said she walked portions of the trail with community members only two weeks ago.

“There’s no question they know exactly where the Ala Loa is,” she said.

The state’s authority to claim ownership of ancient trails dates back to when Queen Lili‘uokalani and the legislature of the kingdom of Hawaii enacted the Highways Act of 1892, a law that still remains on the books.

Under the law, all roads, trails, bridges and other forms of public access that can be verified to have existed before 1892 continue to be owned in fee simple by the state.

The law applies even if the trail is not physically on the landscape, having, for example, been wiped out from ongoing land use activities or by natural events. But the burden of proof rests with the state, which must consider archaeological reports, historic maps, historic accounts, surveyor’s notes, deeds and other sources of information that might help determine state ownership.

In written testimony, Kauai County Councilman Mason Chock said identifying and recognizing the trail would be an important step in securing public-access, hunting and gathering rights for many Native Hawaiians.

It would also help end the escalating tension between Native Hawaiians, private landowners and residents in regard to its location, Chock said.

Some residents have complained about fences blocking access, security guards patrolling beaches and fishermen being threatened with arrest.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Modest Disruption will unravel us 11/25/15
Ea O Ka Aina: No need for $7m from state 11/12/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Kauai's Ala Loa Trail 11/6/15
Ea O Ka Aina: The Toxic Truth 4/18/14
Ea O Ka Aina: The Ala Loa Trail 4/10/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Trails and Tribulations 2/26/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Sleeping with the Enemy 5/24/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Paradise Ranch Rationalization 2/16/11


Find and Limit Ourselves

SUBHEAD: The only way into the future for humanity is to reduction in our numbers by an order of magnitude.

By Juan Wilson on 17 February 2017 for Island Breath -

Image above: Painting "The Concert" by Gerard van Honthorst, 1623 From (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerard_van_Honthorst).

Yes ! I drone on - but I can't help it.

I'm afraid it is too late for the Earth, America, Hawaii and Kauai. At the international, national, state, and county level our organizational institutions have failed... or more precisely ...they have failed because we failed to put down the fossil-fuel crack-pipe and face the music of reality.

County Level
I do not think that is possible anymore. As I watched our county planning department push through a ill conceived update to the Kauai General Plan it became obvious that the old plan's motto of "Keep Kauai Rural!" was to be replaced with "Make Kauai Suburban!"

This new General Plan proposal is based on doubling the population of Kauai over the next few decades and the requirement for transforming thousands of acres of agricultural land into suburban sprawl. It's exactly the wrong formula for the future.

State Level
Hawaii continues its dependence on tourism and the military for much of its economy. It has ignored the imperative of achieving food independence. It has put off reaching energy self sufficiency. It encourages the growth of American Consumerism.

The State of Hawaii has avoided any implementation of Hawaiian sovereignty, and delayed the promise of Hawaiian Homelands.

National Level
Since last year America dropped the Democratic and Republican parties that had governed the nation  through the 20th century. Some called it Pax Americana or The American Century. It was in actuality the century of America's military-industrial domination of the a world.

Well, that is over and done. We've replaced it with a flawed duopoly of the Deep State and Trump-Bannererism seeking a way towards war with Russia, China or both. 

International Level 
With the reduction of world natural resources andc heap energy modern industrialization the world has come to rely on  globalization and financialization to keep wheels of the economy spinning - all a giant Ponzi Scheme.

The Earth's nations are incapable of putting together and sticking to a plan for the future. The Conference of the Parties (COP) refers to the countries that signed up to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It is now twenty-five years old and has barley nudged the needle on the speedometer measuring our rush to extinction.

Natural Level
To the living Earth we appear to have become a malignant cancer. Something, if not cut our or reduced will destroy Gaia along with ourselves. I know, I know. That sounds harsh, but sadly it is an apt analogy.

As the planet's resources have dwindled humanity has become obsessed with virtual reality.  We are stuck with our self absorbed delusions on tiny handheld screens that have replaced nature and the reality of collapse. TIME TO WAKE UP! Turn off the fascination devices.

For nature to be whole again we must cease breaking it into small parts by roads, suburban squalor and flattened-out industrial agriculture. Nature's continuity is more important than ours. We can live in distinct separate self-contained communities, or even better yet - in Nature itself - as do some of our still indigenous cousins.

That means giving up oil for our muscle and the delusions it provides. In a practical sense it was the replacement of coal by oil as the means by which to plunder the Earth's resources and run industrial civilization that did the trick of defeating Nature. Our leverage over Nature increased by nearly order of magnitude as did our population.

We must return to a balance with nature that provides some continuity forward. Continuity cannot be achieved without achieving Sustainability. That means a smaller population using much less of the worlds resources. At this point that means something like the Renaissancein Europe - If we're lucky or the Middle Ages - if we are not.

That should not be not news to you - but it is still necessary. Have you stopped flying in jets for your own amusement yet?

Sustainability is not a means for the continuing the status quo.

Nature herself will provide the solution to her problems if we cannot. A short bitter worldwide nuclear exchange between nations would suffice. Even ignoring the current of human caused disasters, like meltdown Fukushima Daiichi, will do the trick in a generation for two.


Office Equipment Revolution

SUBHEAD: Why the modern office needs a low energy, low tech "retro"lution that includes typewriters.

By Kris De Decker on 22 November 2016 for Low Tech Magazine -

Image above: A Remington Standard #7 typewriter from the 19th century. Remington was a gun manufacturer that turned to office equipment after the civil war when business slowed. From (http://machinesoflovinggrace.com/rems.htm).

Digital equipment is one of the main drivers behind the quickly growing energy use of modern office work. Could we rethink and redesign office equipment, combining the best of mechanical and digital devices?

The Artisanal Office (Antiquity - 1870s)
Office work has accompanied humankind since the formation of social, economic and political organisation and state administration structures, and the functioning of economic trade. The first office institutions were founded in Antiquity, for example in Egypt, Rome, Byzantium, and China.

The period from these early civilizations up to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution was marked by the stability of institutional forms and means of office work. [1] [2]

The bulk of office work involved writing -- copying out letters and documents, adding up columns of figures, computing and sending out bills, keeping accurate records of financial transactions. [3] The only tools were pen and paper -- or rather the quill (the steel pen was invented only in the 1850s) and, before the 1100s in the Western world, stone or clay tablets, papyrus, or parchment.

Consequently, all writing -- and copying -- was done by hand. To copy a document, one simply wrote it again. Sometimes, letters were copied twice: one for the record, and the other to guard against the possibility that the first might get lost. The invention of the printing press in the late middle ages freed scribes from copying books, but the printing press was not suited for copying a few office documents. [4]

Communication was largely human-powered, too, using the feet rather than the hands: people ran around to bring oral or written information from one person to another, either inside buildings or across countries and continents. Finally, all calculating was done in the head, only aided by mathematical charts and tables (which were composed by mental reckoning), or by simple tools like the abacus (not a calculation machine but a memory aid, similar to writing down a calculation).

The Mechanized Office of the Past (1870s - 1950s)

Before the Industrial Revolution, business operated mostly in local or regional markets, and their internal operations were controlled and coordinated through informal communication, principally by word of mouth except when letters were needed to span distances. From the 1840s onwards, the expansion of the railway and telegraph networks in North America encouraged business to grow and serve larger markets, at a time when improvements in manufacturing technology created potential economies of scale. [5]

Image above: The 19th century office of the accounting department of E. & J. BurkeLtd. in the Times Building, Times Square NYC. From (http://www.officemuseum.com/photo_gallery_1900s_ii.htm).

The informal and primarily oral mode of communication broke down and gave way to a complex and extensive formal communication system depending heavily on written documents of various sorts, not just in business but also in government. [5] Between the 1870s and the 1920s, writing, copying, and other office activities were mechanixed to handle this flow of information.

The birth of office equipment and systematic management was accompanied by three other trends.

The first was the spectacular growth in the number of office workers, mainly women, who would come to operate these machines.

The second was the rise of proper office buildings, which would house the quickly growing number of workers and machines. The third was a division of labor, mirroring the evolution in factories. Instead of performing a diverse set of activities, clerks became responsible for clearly defined sub-activities, such as typing, filing, or mail handling.

This article focuses exclusively on the machinery of office work, and more specifically its evolution in relation to energy use. While it's impossible to write a complete history of the office without taking into account the social and economic context, this narrow focus on machines reveals important issues that have not been dealt with in historical accounts of office work.


Of central importance in the nineteenth-century information revolution was the typewriter, which appeared in 1874 and became widespread by 1900. (All dates are for the US, where modern office work originated). The "writing machine" made full-time handwriting obsolete. Typing is roughly five times quicker than handwriting and produces uniform text. However, the typewriter's influence went far beyond the writing process itself.

Image above:A 1953 Royal Quiet DeLuxe, the mechanical typewriter at the peak of the that technology. From (Machines of Loving Grace.

For copying, an even larger gain in speed was obtained in the combination of the typewriter with carbon paper, an earlier invention from the 19th century. This thin paper, coated with a layer of pigment, was placed in between normal paper sheets.

Unlike a quill or pen, the typewriter provided enough pressure to produce up to 10 copies of a document without the need to type the text more than once. The typewriter was also made compatible with the stencil duplicator, which appeared around the same time and could make a larger number of copies. Considering the importance of writing and copying, the "writing machine" was a true revolution. [4-7]

The typewriter didn't reduce the amount of time that clerks spent writing and copying. Rather, the time spent writing and copying remained the same, while the production of paper documents increased. By the early years of the twentieth century, it became clear that old methods of storing documents -- stacked up in drawers or impaled on spikes -- could not cope with the increasing mounds of papers. This led to the invention of the vertical filing cabinet, which would radically expand the information that could be stored in a given space. [4-8]

Mechanical Calculators
The typewriter quickly evolved into a diverse set of general and special purpose machines, just like the computer would one hundred years later.

There appeared shorthand or stenographic typewriters (which further increased writing speed), book typewriters (which typed on bound books that lay flat when opened), automatic typewriters (which were designed to type form letters controlled by a perforated strip of paper), ultraportable and pocket typewriters (for writing short letters and notes while on the road), bookkeeping typewriters (which could count and write), and teletypewriters (which could activate another typewriter at a distance through the telegraph network). [4-7] The latter two will be dealt with in more detail below.

Mechanical calculating machines were another important tool in the new, mechanised office. "To clerks, mathematical machines are what the rock drill is to the subway labourer", stated an office management manual from 1919. [9] Mechanical calculating machines could add, subtract, multiply and divide through the motion of their parts. Many of these machines had a typewriter-style keyboard with a column for each digit entered (a "full keyboard"). This allowed numbers to be entered more quickly than on a more compact ten-key device, which became common only from the 1950s. [10]

Image above: A 1921 Monroe Model K-20 calculator in the Smithsonian. From Calculating Machine. IslandBreath.org actually purchased one of these K-20 models from Ebay a few years ago.

Devices designed especially for addition (and sometimes subtraction) were known as adding machines. Adding up long lists of numbers was typical for many business applications, and in mathematical terms many offices didn't need to function at any more sophisticated level.

The first practical adding machine for routine office work -- the Comptometer -- was introduced in 1886. [4][10] At the beginning of the 1900s, the typewriter and the adding machine were combined into the adding typewriter or bookkeeping machine, which became central to the processing of all financial data. [6]

Obviously, the telegraph (1840s) and the telephone (1870s) also had an enormous impact on office work. The typewriter, beyond its use in business and government offices, also became an essential machine in telegraph offices. Initially, the telegrapher listened to the Morse sounder and wrote the received messages directly in plain language with a typewriter. [11]

Image above: A relatively late model PDP 8-L teletype machine that has been refurbished. From (https://www.princeton.edu/ssp/joseph-henry-project/pdp-8l/).

In the early 1900s, a special typewriter -- the "teletypewriter" or "teletype" -- was designed to transmit and receive telegraphic messages without the need for an operator trained in the Morse code. [12]

When a telegraphist typed a message, the teletypewriter sent electrical impulses to another teletypewriter at the other end of the line, which typed the same message automatically. From the 1920s onwards, teletypewriters became common in the offices of companies, governmental organisations, banks, and press associations. They were used for exchanging data over private networks between different departments of an organisation, a job previously done by messenger boys. [11]

Starting in the 1930s, central switching exchanges were established through which a subscriber could communicate by teletypewriter with any other subscriber to the service, similar to the telephone network but for the purpose of sending text-based messages.

This became the worldwide telex-network, now largely demolished. Telex allowed the instantaneous and synchronous transmission of written messages, like today's chat or email over the internet, or like the exchange of text messages over the mobile phone network (teletypewriters could use the wireless telegraph infrastructure).

Telex was also used for broadcasting news and other information, which was received on print-only teletypewriters. [11]

The office equipment that appeared in the late nineteenth century was in use until the 1970s, when it was replaced by computers.

It is now considered obsolete, but upon a closer look, the superiority of today's computerized machines isn't as obvious as you would think. This is especially true when you take into account the energy that is required to make both alternatives work.

Although it offered spectacular improvements over earlier methods, and although it could perform similar functions as today's digital information technology, much of the office equipment described above remained manually powered for decades. [13]

The first succesful electro-mechanical typewriter -- the IBM Electromatic -- was introduced in 1935, and the breakthrough came only in 1961, with the highly succesful IBM Selectric typewriters.

Unlike a traditional typewriter, this machine used an interchangeable typing element, nicknamed the "golf ball", which spins to the right character and moves across the page as you type. [13][14]

Although electric motors were used on some of the mechanical calculators already in 1901, electrically driven calculators became common only between the 1930s and the 1950s, depending on the type. Pinwheel calculators remained manually operated until their demise in the 1970s. [13]

Unlike typewriters and calculating machines, the telephone and the telegraph could not function without electricity, which forms the basis of their operation.

However, compared to today's communications networks, power use was small: until the late 1950s, almost all routing and switching in the telephone and telegraph infrastructure was done by human operators plugging wires into boards. [11][15]

The Digital Office (1950s - today)
With the arrival of the computer, eventually all office activities became electrically powered. The business computer appeared in the 1950s, although it was not until the mid-1980s that this 'machine' became a common office tool. Reading, writing, copying, data processing, communication, and information storage became totally dependent on electricity.

Screens, printers & scanners
The computer took over the tasks of other machines in the office such as calculating machines, bookkeeping machines, teletypewriters, and vertical filing cabinets. In fact, on the surface, one could say that the computer is the office. After all, its dominant metaphor is taken from office work: it's got a "desktop", "files", "folders", "documents", and a "paper bin". [16]

Furthermore, it can send and receive "mail", make phone calls and accomodate (virtual) face-to-face meetings.

On closer inspection, however, it becomes clear that the arrival of the computer also led to the appearance of new office equipment, which is just as essential to office work as the computer itself. The most important of these devices are printers, scanners, monitors, and new types of computers (data servers, smartphones, tablets). All these machines require electricity.

Monitors and data servers appeared because the computer introduced an alternative information medium to paper, the electronic format.

Welcome to the "Paperless" Office
Printers and scanners appeared because this new medium, contrary to expectations, did not replace the paper format. Although documents can be read, written, transmitted, stored and retrieved in a digital format, in practice both formats are used alongside each other, depending on the task at hand.

Image above: "Paperless" office in the digital age really means more paper. Computer scientist Bob Braden at his office in 1996. Photo by Carl Malamud.From original article.

In spite of the computer, and later the internet, paper has stubbornly remained a key feature of office life. A 2012 study concluded that "most of the offices we visited were more or less full of paper". [17]

This means that the use of resources further increases: to the electricity use of the digital devices, we also have to add the resources involved in making paper.

In their 2002 book The Myth of the Paperless Office, Abigail Sellen and Richard Harper investigate why and how office workers -- especially the growing group of knowledge workers -- are still using paper while new, digital technologies have become so widely available. [8]
They argue that office workers' reluctance to change is not simply a matter of irrational resistance:

"These individuals use paper at certain stages in their work because the technology they are provided with as an alternative does not offer all they need."

Obviously, digital documents have important advantages over paper documents. However, paper documents also have unique advantages, which are all too often ignored.

For example, it was found that office workers actively build up different kinds of paper arrangements on or near their office desks, reminding them of different matters and preparing them for specific tasks.

Computers do not reproduce this kind of physical accumulation. Information exchange, for example in meetings, is another common office practice in which paper is used.

Actions performed in relation to paper are, to a large extent, made visible to one's colleagues, facilitating social interaction. When using a laptop, it's impossible to know what other people in a meeting are looking at. [8] [17]

Most important, however, is the point that paper tends to be the preferred medium for reading documents.

Paper helps reading because it allows quick and flexible navigation through and around documents, reading across more than one document, marking up a document while reading, and interweaving reading and writing -- all important activities of modern knowledge work. [8]

Although some electronic document systems support annotation, this is never as flexible as pen and paper.

Likewise, moving through online documents can be slow and frustrating -- it requires breaking away from ongoing activity, because it relies heavily on visual, spatially constrained cues and one-handed input.

Opening multiple windows on a computer screen doesn't work for back-and-forth cross-referencing of other material during authoring work, both because of slow visual navigation and because of the limited space on the computer screen. [8]

Image above: The multi-screen high-tech office work station. From original article.

The use of multiple computer screens (and the use of multiple computers at the same time) is an attempt to overcome the inherent limits of the digital medium and make it more "paper-like".

With multiple screens, it becomes possible to interweave reading and writing, or to read across more than one document. Research has shown that work productivity increases when office workers have access to multiple screens -- a result that mirrors Sellen and Harpers findings about the importance of paper. [18-21]

The use of multiple monitors is rapidly increasing in the workplace, and the increase in "screen real estate" is not limited to two screens per office worker. [19][21]
Fully integrated display sets of twelve individual screens are now selling for around $3,000. [22]

A recent innovation are USB-powered, portable monitors, aimed at travelling knowledge workers but just as handy at the office. Because these monitors have their own set of dedicated hardware, rather than putting all the work of another screen on the computer itself, it's possible to connect up to five portable screens to a laptop. [23]

A multi-touchscreen keyboard, already on the market, could solve the annotation issue.

The Energy Footprint of the Digital Office
The problem with extra screens is that they increase energy use considerably. Adding a second monitor to a laptop roughly doubles its electricity use, adding five portable screens triples it.

A 12-screen display with a suited computer to run it consumes more than 1,000 watt of power. If paper use can be reduced by introducing more and more computer screens, then the lower resource consumption associated with paper will be compensated for with a higher resource consumption for digital devices.

A similar switcheroo happened with information storage and communication. Digital storage saves paper, storage space and transportation, but in order to make digital information readily accessible, dataservers (the filing cabinets of the digital age) have to be fed with energy for 24 hours per day.

And just as the typewriter and carbon paper increased the production of documents, so did the computer.

Especially since the arrival of the internet, people can access more information more easily than ever before, resulting in an increase of both digital and paper documents.

Ever cheaper, faster and better quality printers and copiers -- all digital devices -- keep encouraging the reproduction of paper documents. [8]

The computer increases energy use in many different ways. First of all, digital technology entails extra energy use for cooling -- the main energy use in office buildings.

A 2011 study, which calculated the energy use of two future scenarios, concluded that if the use of digital technology in the office keeps increasing, it would become impossible to design an office building that can be cooled without air-conditioning. [24]

In the "techno-explosion" scenario, all office workers would have two 24'' computer screens, a 27'' touchscreen keyboard, and a tablet. The perhaps extreme scenario also includes one media wall per 20 employees in the office break zone.

On top of operational energy use and cooling comes a higher energy use during the manufacturing phase. The energy used for making a typewriter was spread out over many decades of use. The energy required for the production of a computer, on the other hand, is a regularly reoccuring cost because computers are replaced every three years or so.

The internet, which has largely engulfed the telephone and telegraph infrastructure, has become another major source of power demand. The network infrastructure, which takes care of the routing and switching of digital information, uses roughly as much energy as all end-use computers connected to the internet combined.

Learning from the Low Energy Office
The typewriter was just as revolutionary in the 1900s as is the computer today. Both machines transformed the office environment.

However, when we consider energy use, the obvious difference is that the second information revolution was accomplished at much higher costs in terms of energy. So, maybe we should have a good look at pre-digital office equipment and find out what we can learn from it.

During the last ten years or so, the typewriter has seen a remarkable revival with artists and writers, a trend that was recently documented in The Typewriter Revolution: A typist Companion for the 21st Century (2015). [14]

Like paper, the typewriter has many unique benefits. Obviously, a manual typewriter requires no electricity to operate. If it's built before the 1960s, it's built to outlast a human life.

A typewriter doesn't become obsolete because its operating system is no longer supported, and it can be repaired relatively easily using common tools. If we compare energy input with a simple measure of performance, the typewriter gets a better score than the computer.

There are also practical advantages.

A typewriter is always immediately ready for use. It needs no virus protection or software updates. It can't be hacked or spied upon. Finally, and this is what explains its success with writers and poets: it's a distraction-free, single-purpose machine that forces its user to focus on writing. There are no emails, no news alerts, no chat messages, no search engines and no internet shops.

Image above: The Typewriter Manifesto. From (https://escriturasmecanicas.wordpress.com/2015/05/07/the-typewriter-manifest/).

For office workers, and for knowledge workers in particular, a typewriter could be just as useful as for a poet. Computers may have increased work productivity, but nowadays they are "connected to the biggest engine of distraction ever invented", the internet. [14]

Studies indicate that web web activities are among the main distractions that keep office workers away from productive work. [25][26] Many online applications are especially designed to be addictive. [27]

A typewriter also forces people to write differently, combating distraction within the writing process itself. There is no delete key, no copy-and-paste function. With the computer, editing "became a part of writing from the very start, making the writer ever anxious about anything that just took place". [28]

The typewriter, on the other hand, forces the writer to think out sentences carefully before committing them to paper, and to keep going forward instead of rewriting what was already written. [14]

The "Back-in-Time" Sustainable Office

How can we insert the common sense of the typewriter -- and other pre-digital equipment -- into the modern office?

Basically, there are three strategies. The most radical is to replace all our digital devices by mechanical ones, and replace all dataservers with paper stacked in vertical filing cabinets, in other words we could go back in time.

This would surely lower energy use, and it's the most resilient option: for all their wonders, computers serve absolutely no purpose when there's no electricity.

Nevertheless, this is not an optimal strategy, because we would lose all the good things that the computer has to offer. "The enemy isn't computers themselves: it's an all-embracing, exclusive computing mentality", writes Richard Polt in The Typewriter Revolution. [14]

Another strategy is to use mechanical office equipment alongside digital office equipment. There's some potential for energy reduction in the combined use of both technologies. For interweaving reading and writing, the typewriter could be used for writing and the computer screen for reading, which saves an extra screen and a printer.

A typewriter could also be combined with a low energy tablet instead of a laptop or desktop computer, because in this configuration the computer's keyboard is less important.

Once finished, or once ready for final editing in a digital format, a typewritten text can be transferred to a computer by scanning the typewritten pages.

The actual typewritten text can be displayed as an image ("typecasting"), or it can be scanned with optical recognition software (ORC), which converts typewritten text into a digital format. This process implies the use a scanner or a digital camera, however these devices use much less energy than a printer, a second screen, or a laptop.

By reintroducing the typewriter into the digital office, the use of the computer could thus be reduced in time, while the 'need' for a second screen disappears.

The Sustainable Office of the Future
The third strategy is to rethink and redesign office equipment, combining the best of mechanical and digital devices. This would be the most intelligent strategy, because it offers a high degree of sustainability and resilience while keeping as much of the digital accomplishments as possible.

Such a low-tech office requires a redesign of office equipment, and could be combined with a low-tech internet and electricity infrastructure.

For low-tech writing, a couple of devices are available. A first example is the Freewrite, a machine that came on the market earlier this year after a succesful crowdfunding campaign. [29]

Image above: The low-tech electric writing machine Freewrite. From original article.

Like a typewriter, it's a distraction-free machine that can only be used to write on, and that's always instantly ready to be used.

Unlike a typewriter, however, it has a 5.5'' e-paper screen, it can store a million pages, and it offers a WiFi-connection for cloud-backups. Files are saved in plain text format for maximum reliability, minimal file size, and longest anticipated support.

Apart from a backspace key, there is no way to navigate through the text, and the small screen only displays ten lines of text. Drafting and editing have been separated with the intent to force the writer to keep going. For editing or printing, the text is then transferred to a computer using the WiFi connection.

The device is stated to have a "4+ week battery life with typical usage", which is defined as half an hour of writing each day with WiFi turned off. That's a strange way to communicate that the machine runs 14 hours on one battery charge, and when I asked the makers how much power it needs they answered that they "don't communicate this information".

Nevertheless, enabling 14 hours of writing already beats the potential of the average laptop by a factor of three.

Hardware Word Processors
Another type of digital typewriter is the hardware word processor. Before word processing became software on a personal computer in the 1980s, the word processor was a stand-alone device. Like a typewriter, a hardware word processor is only useful to write on, but it has the added capability of editing the text before printing.

Although hardware word processors work and look like computers, they are non-programmable, single-purpose devices. [30] [31]

The great advantage of a hardware word processor is that both writing and editing can happen on the same machine -- a typewriter or a machine like the Freewrite requires another machine to do the editing (unless you write multiple versions of the same text).

The hardware word processor virtually disappeared when the general-purpose computer appeared. One notable exception is the Alphasmart, which was produced from 1992 until 2013.

This rugged portable machine is still widely traded on the internet and developed a cult following, especially among writers. The Alphasmart was conceived as an affordable computer for schools, but the low price was not its only appeal.

The machine responded to the need for a tool that would make kids concentrate on writing, and not on editing or formatting text. Although it has full editing capabilities, the small screen (showing 6 lines in the latest model) invites writing rather than excessive editing. [32][33]

Image above: AlphaSmart From ().

The Alphasmart is especially notable for its energy efficiency, using as little electricity as an electronic calculator. The latest model could run for more than 700 hours on just three AA-batteries, which corresponds to a power use of 0.01 watt.
The machine has a full-sized keyboard but a small, electronic calculator-like display screen, which requires little electricity. It has limited memory and goes into sleep-mode between keystrokes.

The Alphasmart can be connected directly to a printer via a USB-cable, bypassing a computer entirely if the aim is to produce a paper document. Transferring texts to the computer for digital transmission, storage or further editing also happens via cable. [32][33]

Interestingly, Alphasmart released a more high-tech version of the device in 2002, the Alphasmart Dana. It was equipped with WiFi for transmitting documents, it had 40 times more memory than its predecessor, and it featured a touchscreen.

The result was that battery life dropped twentyfold to 25 hours, clearly showing how quickly the energy use of digital technology can spiral out of control -- although even this machine still used only 0.14 watts of power, roughly 100 times less than the average laptop. [32][33]

Of course, a low-tech office doesn't exclude a real computer, a device that does it all. A small tablet with a wireless keyboard can be operated for as little as 3W of electricity and many of the capabilities of a laptop (including the distractions).

An alternative to the use of a tablet is a Raspberry Pi computer, combined with a portable USB-screen. Depending on the model, a Raspberry Pi draws 0.5 to 2.5 watts of power, with an extra 6 or 7 watts for the screen.

A Pi can serve as a fully functional computer with internet access, but it's also very well suited for a single-purpose, distraction-less word processing machine without internet access. Such machines could be powered with a solar system small enough to fit on the corner of a desk.

Dot-Matrix Printers
Unless we revert to the typewriter, the office also needs a more sustainable way of printing. Since the 1980s, most printing in offices is done with a laser printer. These machines require a lot of energy: even when we take into account their higher printing speed, a laser printer uses 10 to 20 times as much electricity than a inkjet printer. [34]

Unfortunately, inkjet printers are much more expensive to use because the industry makes a profit by selling overpriced ink cartridges.

Until the arrival of the laser printer, all printing in offices was done by dot-matrixprinters. Their power use and printing speed is comparable to that of inkjetprinters, but they are much cheaper to use -- in fact, it's the cheapest printing technology available.

Like a typewriter, a dot-matrix printer is an impact printer that makes use of an ink ribbon. These ribbons are sold as commodities and cost very little. Unlike a typewriter, the individual characters of a matrix printer are composed of small dots.

Image above: A modern and efficient Oki dot-matrix electronic printer. From (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3NkITEI3Jg).

Dot-matrix printers are still for sale, for applications where printing costs are critical. Although they're not suited for printing images or colors, they are perfect for the printing of text.

They are relatively noisy, which is why they were sometimes placed under a sound-absorbing hood. There is no practical low-tech alternative for the copier machine, which only appeared in the 1950s.

However, since a photocopier is a combination of a scanner and a laserprinter, the copying of paper documents could happen by using a combination of a computer with a scanner and a dot-matrix or inkjet printer.

The information society promises to dematerialize society and make it more sustainable, but modern office and knowledge work has itself become a large and rapidly growing consumer of energy and other resources.

Choosing low-tech office equipment would be a great start to address this problem. Such a strategy is especially significant in that the energy use goes far beyond the operational electricity use on-site.

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[2] Economy and Society, Max Weber, 1922.
[3] Woman's place is at the typewriter, Margery W. Davies, 1982. Quoted by the Early Office Museum.
[4] Machines in the Office, Rodney Dale and Rebecca Weaver, 1993.
[5] Control through Communication: The Rise of System in American Management (Studies in Industry and Society), JoAnne Yates, 1989
[6] Innovation Junctions: Office Technologies in the Netherlands, 1880-1980 (PDF), Onno de Wit, Jan van den Ende, Johan Schot and Ellen van Oost, in Technology and Culture, Vol. 43, No. 1 (Jan., 2002), pp. 50-72
[7] Early Office Museum, website.
[8] The Myth of the Paperless Office (MIT Press), Abigail Sellen and Richard Harper, 2003.
[9] Office Management, Geoffrey S. Childs, Edwin J. Clapp, Bernard Lichtenberg, 1919.
[10] Calculating Machines, Adding Machines. Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
[11] The Myth of the Paperless Office (MIT Press), Anton A. Huurdeman, 2003.
[12] Teleprinter, Encyclopedia Britannica.
[13] Nobody seems to have researched the energy use of pre-digital office equipment, so this information is partly derived from an online search through the databases of eBay, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Early Office Museum, and partly on fragmentary information from secondary sources. For example, a 1949 survey of the equipment in high school office machine courses in the state of Massachussetts shows that the majority of typewriters, calculators, adding machines, duplicators and addressing machines were manually operated, although most of these machines were less than 10 years old.
[14] The Typewriter Revolution: A Typist's Companion for the 21st Century, Richard Polt, 2015
[15] Gift of Fire, A: Social, Legal, and Ethical Issues in Computing, Sara Baase, 1997
[16] How the computer changed the office forever, BBC News, August 2013.
[17] Mundane Materials at Work: Paper in Practice, Sari Yli-Kauhaluoma, Mika Pantzar and Sammy Toyoki, Third International Symposium on Process Organization Studies, Corfu, Greece, 16-18 June, 2011.
[18] Productivity and multi-screen computer displays (PDF), Janet Colvin, Nancy Tobler, James A. Anderson, Rocky Mountain Communication Review, Volume 2:1, Summer 2004, Pages 31-53.
[19] Evaluating user expectations for widescreen content layout (PDF), Joseph H. Goldberg & Jonathan Helfman, Oracle, 2007
[20] Are two monitors better than one?, J.W: Owens, J. Teves, B. Nguyen, A. Smith, M.C. Phelps, Software Usability Research Laboratory, August 2012
[21] Are two better than one? A comparison between single and dual monitor work stations in productivity and user's windows management style. Chen Ling, Alex Stegman, Chintan Barhbaya, Randa Shehab, International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, September 2016
[22] http://www.multi-monitors.com/Twelve_Monitor_Display_Arrays_s/53748.htm
[23] The best USB-powered portable monitors, Nerd Techy, 2016
[24] Trends in office internal gains and the impact on space heating and cooling (PDF), James Johnston et. al, CIBSE Technical Symposium, September 2011
[25] Employees waste 759 hours each year due to workplace distractions, The Telegraph, June 2015
[26] Internet Addiction: A New Clinical Phenomenon and Its Consequences (PDF), Kimberly S. Young, American Behavioral Scientist, Vol. 48 No.4, December 2004.
[27] The Binge Breaker, The Atlantic, November 2016.
[28] The future of writing looks like the past, Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, May 2016.
[29] Freewrite, website.
[30] Word Processing (History of) (PDF), Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, Vol. 49, pp. 268-78, 1992.
[31] A brief history of word processing (through 1986), Brian Kunde.
[32] AlphaSmart: a history of one of Ed-Tech's Favorite (Drop-Kickable) Writing tools, Audrey Watters, Hackeducation, July 2015.
[33] AlphaSmart: Providing a Smart Solution for one Classroom-Computing "Job" (PDF), James Sloan, Inno Sight Institute, April 2012.
[34] Zeven instap zwart-wit laserprinters vergelijktest, Hardware.info, December 2014. The data were corrected for the higher printing speed of the laser printer.