Forget Burning Man, Go To Ephemerisle

Ephemerisle is a libertarian Burning Man on the ocean. It’s goal is like Burning Man’s insofar that it exists to explore new ideas while throwing a big party. Ephemerisle is really trying to figure out how people can survive on the ocean for an extended period of time while finding solutions to the logistical aspects of doing so.

Ephemerisle participants need to figure out many things from waste management to how to generate electricity. On top of that, because it’s libertarian, do it all while creating some sort of economy.

I’m not into the American libertarian movement but I do like the idea of finding out how to live on the open seas in a sustainable manor.

Seasteading’s proponents say it isn’t impossible, it just has a funding problem: existing solutions cost money to implement, and the solutions that don’t exist yet cost money to develop. But even they admit it’s a hell of a funding problem. The funding necessary to launch even the simplest floating city was in the billions, leaving most proposed projects dead in the water, so to speak.

Unlike Burning Man, where participants are still subject to the laws of the United States, Ephemerisle would offer attendants true autonomy from American government. Also unlike Burning Man, which bans cash transactions between participants at the event, Ephemerisle would embrace money and commerce, as a respected feature of society. And also unlike Burning Man, Ephemerisle would be unticketed, free to anybody who could get there.

If people liked the festival enough, Patri thought, they might start staying out there for longer year after year, and invite their friends. It would grow both temporally and in population. For that to happen, the island itself would have to grow, too. Over time, maybe these people would be motivated to solve a lot of seasteading’s hard engineering problems, so Ephemerisle could continue to grow.

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Community Solar Garden to Open in BC

Germany, and to a lesser extent other nations, have championed community-owned sustainable energy production. In many ways it gives power to the people. Indeed, one way to encourage mass adoption of sustainable energy is to make policies which favour decentralized and community owned production. This means that big utility companies often oppose such efforts.

In British Columbia the city of Nelson may be the first city in Canada to take on this German-insipred approach. They are looking to open a solar facility which not only provides energy to the people it provides added revenue.

A community solar garden is a centralized solar panel farm that gives homeowners and businesses access to solar energy without having to install and maintain panels on their own roof.

The price of the electricity purchased from the proposed solar project in Nelson would cost residents more, but initial community feedback indicates people would be willing to pay the extra costs, said Proctor.

It’s about more than trying to save money, she said, and added costs eventually will even out.

Nelson Hydro is still working out detailed costs, but says people could end up investing something like $1,000 for a solar panel space for 25 years. They can either pay a lump sum up front or make monthly payments of about $3.47 until the solar panel space is paid off.

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Another Way to Deal with Butts

Cigarette butts are usually aren’t disposed of properly (why do smokers think it’s OK to litter?) and this is a problem for many cities. Earlier this year we looked at the Pick Up Your Butts campaign and now a new strategy of dealing with butts has taken hold.

A restaurant in Toronto has put up special bins in their neighbourhood to collect cigarette butts. This waste will then be converted into something useful: pallets.

Café staff will be in charge of emptying the boxes and shipping the butts to a TerraCycle plant in north Toronto, where they’ll be shredded and separated into organic and inorganic waste. The organic material will be turned into non-agricultural compost. The rest will be made into plastic lumber and shipping pallets, which could then be sold to home renovation stores and builders.

Layton said that’s a much better solution than letting tons of cigarette butts end up in a landfill or wash away into sewers and empty into Lake Ontario.

The cigarette stubs “are made of plastic and they’re not breaking down — and what does break down is toxic,” he told the Star. “It’s poisoning our own water supply, which is pretty crazy.”

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Boycott Bottled Water for a Better World

Bottle water is a sham and you all know this. The problem is that a lot of people don’t and that our society permits these individuals to continue their unwarranted consumption.

Water is the oil of the 21st century in terms of politics and conflict. It’s best not to make the situation worse by engaging in a system which denies people access to their local water while massive corporations make huge profits from water.

What’s more is that the water from your taps (in the developed world at least) is cleaner and safer than bottled water.

The reason you should boycott bottled water is because it enables a bullshit, backwards vision for society.

Boycotting bottled water means you support the idea that public access to clean, safe water is not only a basic human right, but that it’s a goddamn technological triumph worth protecting. It means you believe that ensuring public access to this resource is the only way to guarantee it will be around in a few more years.

Clean, safe drinking water that flows freely out of our faucets is a feat of engineering that humans have been been perfecting for two millennia. It is a cornerstone of civilization. It is what our cities are built upon. And over the years the scientists and hydrologists and technicians who help get water to our houses have also become our environmental stewards, our infrastructural watchdogs, our urban visionaries. Drinking the water these people supply to our homes is the best possible way to protect future access to water worldwide.

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The Humanitarian Douchery That is Voluntourism

“Voluntourism” is the growing trend of rich people using their vacations to go to poor places where they think they can help. A good chunk of the time these voluntourists are actually causing harm. This may seem counterintuitive but we’ve seen this before in the past with programs of the ‘adopt a child’ sort (you know, a nickel a day will save one kid).

The campaign to End Humanitarian Douchery wants to change that. If you’re not careful you’ll be engaging in modern neocolonial offensiveness.

Guan and MacNeill have even compiled a list of “The Seven Sins of Humanitarian Douchery” to help people recognize douchebags in action. Signs include:

  • Research slothery: A lack of research could lead to supporting unethical organizations or performing work a host community doesn’t even need.
  • Lusting for likes: When people flaunt their experiences on social media as “heroes” who are “saving” the third world.
  • Fishing for envy: When volunteers go on trips to make themselves look good and others jealous.

“You can tell that this is a trend that’s growing,” Guan says. “I’ve seen so many of my peers jet off to developing countries and try to save the world — and it’s great — but the thing is, even when you go in with best intentions, you can do more harm than good.”

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