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Alex Steffen
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Alex Steffen

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The idea that realism & imagination are opposites undergirds our inability to cope with the planetary crisis we now face.
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Alex Steffen

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I have a piece today in the new Guardian Cities.

"On a planet of cities, affordability is social justice. The hardships rising rents cause low-income people – the strained budgets, the overcrowding, the increased risk of homelessness and the pushing out of the urban poor into suburbs where their time and money is further taxed by longer commutes and more expensive transportation – undermine hardworking people's prospects and worsen income inequality, with serious consequences for all of us.

"To make housing affordable again, we need to catch up to decades-worth of unmet demand, over the next few years. In many cities, this means goals measured in the tens of thousands of new homes; in the fastest-growing cities, it means hundreds of thousands. Build enough housing and (economists and experience both tell us) prices should at least stabilise. Want social justice? Build a lot more housing."

http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2014/feb/10/unaffordable-cities-global-scandal-housing-lack …
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Alex Steffen

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The prize for solving the problems we now face will be to have more interesting problems to solve in the future.
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Some quick thoughts on the strengths and weaknesss of the big new climate agreement between CA, WA, OR and BC.

http://www.alexsteffen.com/2013/10/pacific-coast-action-plan-on-climate-and-energy-the-good-and-the-bad/

THE GOOD: CLIMATE PRICING
The best part is right up front: “Account for the costs of carbon pollution in each jurisdiction.”

"Oregon will build on existing programs to set a price on carbon
emissions. Washington will set binding limits on carbon
emissions and deploy market mechanisms to meet those
limits. British Columbia and California will maintain their existing carbon-pricing programs. Where possible, California,
British Columbia, Oregon and Washington will link programs for
consistency and predictability and to expand opportunities to grow
the region’s low-carbon economy."

Climate pricing is an essential tool; working to strengthen and link all four programs could create one of the world’s most powerful climate pricing jurisdictions (If CA, WA, BC and OR were an independent nation, it would have an economy larger than most G20 members).
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Alex Steffen

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How smart reading of the IPCC reports can help us see beyond its cautious findings to glimpse the future:

----------------

"What are the black elephants?

"Black swans, as you may know, are major events which are considered extremely unlikely, or even impossible… until they happen.

"Black elephants, on the other hand, are major events which are treated in politics or business as extremely unlikely, or even impossible… but are known to many to be entirely possible, maybe even likely. They are the elephants in the room whose consequences we refuse to consider.

"Herds black elephants stampede through the climate debate. The implications of major, game-changing possible events often go under-discussed: the possibility of worse-than-expected impacts from (or feedback loops set in motion by) our emissions; the feedbacks between ecological collapses and climate chaos; societal instabilities caused by climate impacts and their potential to both harden resolve to act and weaken capacity to act; geo-political conflicts created between nations who need to respond to climate change and those who want to delay; intergenerational political conflicts over the speed of implementing change; and so on and so forth."
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Green geeks may have been wondering--is 3D printing better or worse than cutting stuff out of blocks of material?  Well, some colleagues and I recently did a study.  Here's what we found:

http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2013/07/19/3d-printing-environmental-win
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Alex Steffen

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Friends:

I'm looking for an amazing person to be my part-time Chief of Staff. Know someone in the Bay Area who'd be great for the role? Please let them know!

Thanks.

http://www.alexsteffen.com/2014/01/im-looking-for-an-amazing-person-to-be-my-chief-of-staff/
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Climate change: the one number you need to know (new post)

http://www.alexsteffen.com/2013/10/the-one-number-you-need-to-know/ …
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Why You Want to Live (and Invest) in Low-Carbon Cities

Here’s a simple fact I haven’t seen written up well elsewhere, so thought I’d cover briefly: cities with high emissions are less competitive in a carbon-constrained world. High emissions risk economic decline.

Here’s why. Climate emissions will inevitably cost more, significantly more, within the next couple decades, despite today’s political opposition to carbon taxes or trading [I've covered why I think that elsewhere]. Carbon-wasteful places, therefore, are at risk of an increasing economic disadvantage, because as emissions costs rise, they’ll be spending more money to produce the same amount of wealth.

If you have the luxury of choosing where to live, or where to invest, thinking through the climate-economic vulnerability of competing cities is something you’ll want to do. And the picture is currently not very pretty in North America...

http://www.alexsteffen.com/2013/09/why-you-want-to-live-and-invest-in-low-carbon-cities/
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Writer, speaker, planetary futurist
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Writer, Speaker, Planetary Futurist
Introduction

I am a writer, public speaker and planetary futurist. I like to think about how we can live well and be good ancestors.

I was executive editor of Worldchanging.com after co-founding the organization in 2003 until it closed at the end of 2010. I also edited two editions of Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century.

Now, I am at work on several projects, including Carbon Zero (which looks at climate-neutral cities as an imminent reality) and a book/film/online project about the future of the future.

I sometimes blog at http://www.alexsteffen.com/
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London - Kyoto - Seattle - New York - San Francisco - Osaka
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