Sustainability Assessment Tools

What is Sustainable?

Monday, January 8th, 2018

Answers to this question that are rooted in the relevant scientific disciplines – primarily systems ecology, the physics and economics of natural resource science and the world-system method of the history of civilizations – are so unsettling to most people in their implications for the future of modern civilization that they are met with denial. [...]

Why Trying to Save Industrial Civilization with Alternatives to Fossil Fuels Only Makes Things Worse

Saturday, April 6th, 2013

A recent Cornell report on how to convert New York state energy consumption to alternative fuels perpetuates the nonsense that in a declining economy we can convert NY or anywhere else to “clean” wind and solar energy, maybe dimming the lights a bit, and thus continue the party (industrial civilization and the US way of [...]

Visioning County Food Production – Part Three

Monday, March 8th, 2010


Seeing County Food Production as an Integrated Whole
In Part One of this series, I proposed principles of agroecosystem design for growers to follow if agriculture is to approach sustainability in a future of declining access to the cheap energy and other inputs on which our industrialized food system relies. I said that providing [...]

Visioning County Food Production – Part Two

Monday, February 15th, 2010

General Problem Areas in Sustainable Agricultural Design
In Part One of this series, I noted that providing for the local food needs of urban populations requires a design that integrates three overlapping categories of production systems: urban agriculture systems (many small islands of gardening in the city center), peri-urban agriculture (larger production areas on the immediate [...]

Visioning County Food Production – Part One

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

Visioning County Food Production
by Karl North
“Because energies and monies for research, development, and thinking are abundant only during growth and not during energy leveling or decline, there is a great danger that means for developing the steady state will not be ready when they are needed, which may be no more than 5 years away [...]

Economics as brain damage

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Economics as Brain Damage*
Karl North 2004
On the first day of my first formal introduction to economics as an undergraduate, the professor defined the discipline as the scientific study of the distribution of scarce resources. But the course from then on was concerned only with such matters as market variables like supply and demand, and market [...]