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Stephen Hawking

Nurture Curiosity

Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking died today. Acknowledged as one of humanity’s greatest minds, he gained international fame for his work on black holes and his continued commitment towards asking the “big questions” of the universe. He has certainly been an inspiration to Sustainably Motivated, and his insights remain timely and relevant. With so much misinformation being disseminated, he reminds us that, “the greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” We must therefore stay humble, stay hungry (for knowledge), and stay dedicated to the pursuit of answers. Curiosity and critical thinking are powerful assets, yet they require support and engagement. Thank you for showing us the way Professor Hawking.


Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

Film Recommendation

Tomorrow (2015)

Hope for the Future

I highly recommend this sweet doc that offers viewers both information and inspiration in the struggle to combat climate change and discover better practices and alternatives in our strive for sustainability. It kicks off with the brutal reminder that the planet is currently undergoing its 6th great extinction as a result of destructive industrial practices and human-perpetuated climate change. This planetary pressure is very real, very scary, and has tremendously devastating potential. As parents themselves, the filmmakers (you might recognize Melanie Laurent, a celebrated French actress who also starred in Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds), go looking for hope for the future and share with the audience the various solutions that are currently underway.

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Why Biomimicry is so Cool!


Adopting Nature’s R&D

Nature has had millions of years to work on its designs and efficiencies, and it’s no wonder that humans have sought to adopt and mimic these traits for our own uses. This practice of transferring over elements or techniques from the natural world is called biomimicry, and it represents a cutting edge approach towards developing sustainable solutions to the many problems we face.

The more we observe nature, or learn about it from brilliant documentaries, the more amazed and inspired we find ourselves. It truly is awesome! So how do we get some more of this awesomeness to rub off onto us and our daily practices? Well some sharp engineers have already gotten the ball rolling, and I will share a few examples below. It’s worth remembering though, that you don’t necessarily have to be an engineer to leverage your observations of the natural world. Nature has already provided the engineering in many cases. Rather, the genius lies in being able to connect it to your very own applications. Read on and soak up the inspiration.

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A Call to Action

Take Sides

Taking a Stand

There is always an opportunity to do better, to be better. One place to start is where we see something blatantly wrong and unjust. By its very nature the status quo is strongly rooted, but it can be changed! I hope that you too will find strength from Elie Wiesel’s words. His suffering, as well as that of countless others, should be a reminder to us all that, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

Whether helping others in your community, or at work. Standing up for and with the socially oppressed, or helping protect the rest of the natural world that does not have a say in its exploitation and destruction. Let your own voice be heard.

Are Divestments Working?

Old Pump

What We’re Dealing With

Divestment is “the act of selling off a business/es, or of no longer investing money in something,” (Cambridge Dictionary). Basically pulling your money from organizations that you no longer believe to be of sound investment, or that you have come to disagree with as a result of their corporate actions and operations. In the context of climate change, the movement to divest represents the growing trend to withdraw investments from companies that deal in fossil fuels (such as coal & petroleum), and consequently endanger our future and that of the planet.

Oil companies make up some of the largest corporations on the planet, and it takes an astounding amount of money to maintain and grow their operations. Not only do many of these companies receive considerable tax breaks and subsidies (as well as externalize the environmental costs), they also collect huge cash injections from private investors. These investors may be individuals, but often times they are management funds, or collective investments, from a large number of people who may not be fully aware of where exactly their money is ending up.

For many, this type of investment may come in the form of pensions savings, where the initial priority is often the financial return, rather than what organizations the funds are supporting. This pattern of passive investment on behalf of citizens is what social and environmental activists are drawing attention to with their call to “go fossil free.”

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A Sustainable Source of Quality Jobs

Book Recommendation

The Green Collar Economy

by Van Jones (2008)

Green Collar

Van Jones makes the case for the renewable energy sector as a force for environmental and economic good. Climate change is indeed a terrible man-made crisis, but it also presents an opportunity for societies to shed their fossil fuel dependency and offer leadership through alternatives and innovation. Globalization has transferred millions of manufacturing jobs away from developed nations towards the developing world. This need not be viewed as a bad thing for the developed states (although labour conditions in the developing world are still in need of dramatic improvement). Rather, it provides the chance for the US, and other prosperous countries, to invest in the future and expand the skills of their citizens.

Jobs in the renewable energy sector, and the “Green” industry at large, represent the new model for blue collar jobs which, by their nature, are both local and better paying. As he explains, The Green Collar Economy can therefore work towards resolving climate change, as well as being a source of meaningful, well-paying jobs that will thereby benefit the economy.  Throughout the book, Jones goes on to back up his vision with impressive facts, as well as powerful community success stories. He is also personally involved in a number of initiatives, as well as being the President & Founder of Green for All, an organization that supports the green economy and seeks to help minorities and poor communities.

We encourage our readers to borrow books when they can, but if you choose to purchase a copy click HERE to order via Amazon, and support this blog in the process. 

NYC Stepping it Up


The Plan is to Divest from Fossil Fuels and Sue the Big Oil Companies

NYC’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, announced this week his administration’s intention to divest the city’s pension funds from any fossil fuel related investments. This amounts to approximately 5 billion dollars worth of assets, out of the entire $189 billion pension pool. Serious coin. Understanding that this can be potentially complicated, as the funds need to maintain certain returns and so forth, the goal is to achieve this within 5 years.

While the amount is significant, but not astronomical in the grand scheme of things, it also works to send a message that NYC is listening to the concerns of its citizens and attempting to demonstrate leadership when it comes to climate change. The city has already been feeling the effects of global warming, particularly with the beating it took from Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The mayor has therefore made it clear that he does not stand with the Trump administration in their decision to pull the US from the Paris Climate Accord, but would rather stand with concerned citizens who want to protect their environment (and consequently themselves) from catastrophic climate change.

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Unravelling the Narrative

Film Recommendation

This Changes Everything (2015)

Time for a Rewrite

This documentary reexamines the paradigm of mankind’s dominance over nature, and investigates the impact of fossil fuel demands on both the environment and society.  According to the film, the 400-year-old tale of human science’s conquest of nature, and its application in the quest for limitless economic growth, is false and untenable. The planet can no longer support the status quo, and the consequences of this dated mindset are rapidly catching up. Although potentially heart-wrenching at times, the doc does seek to offer hope to viewers through the numerous activists and organizations that are taking part in the struggle for change.

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What is The Circular Economy?


What’s made in Bartertown, stays in Bartertown

The circular economy, much like Mad Max‘s Bartertown, represents a model by which waste is not viewed as waste, but rather a source of power or material for something else. It’s essentially a closed loop system. The circular economy currently describes a pretty amazing representation of our desire to strive for zero waste, much like the natural world itself. Rather than the conventional means of manufacturing for a single purpose, with minimal thought to a product’s end of life, “the circular economy is restorative and regenerative by design. Relying on system-wide innovation, it aims to redefine products and services to design waste out, while minimizing negative impacts. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural and social capital.” – Ellen MacArthur FoundationThis means we can use more of what we create, more entirely, and find a better, more constructive use for what is left. Brilliant concept, for whom we have the planet to thank.

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