Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Our Daily Bread

This is an old film about the Great Depression. Filmed in Paso Robles, CA (near where I live). It tells a story of hardship and the necessity of going back to the land and the struggles and solutions through building community and working together! Heart Warming!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

53 MPB (Miles Per Burrito)

With gas at $4 a gallon and rising and food shortages we are going to be forced to learn how to conserve our resources! Ethanol from corn is not a sustainable solution to peak oil!! We need to relocalize our lifestyle and start reducing our dependence on our automobiles!

An important first step would be to buy your fruits and veggies as locally as possible, support your farmers market! Plus you'll be getting much tastier and healthier food than conventionally grown produce pumped full of NPK and lacking trace minerals and other nutrients. And you will be supporting your local economy and keeping jobs in your area. And if you bike there, you will be getting some exercise and being much more efficient!

Here is some creative bicycle advocacy to show just how much more energy efficient it is to ride a bike than drive a car or even walk! :)



Btw, for really awesome urban bikes, check out Breezer Bikes (Invented by Joe Breeze, the guy who invented the mountain bike and now wants more urban use of bikes, I've ridden one they are so awesome!)



This post below was borrowed from the awesome EcoGeek! - http://www.ecogeek.org/content/view/1445/:


I just noticed this post about some rather clever bike-advocacy shirts at Carectomy and thought to myself "53 Miles per Burrito is a really excellent slogan...but it's also a really excellent point." The question becomes...is the human body actually more efficient than an automobile and, if so...why?

A little bit of research tells us that riding a light-weight bicycle consumes about 35 calories per mile. Walking consumes about 100 calories per mile and is, of course, considerably slower.

Driving a car ends up consuming 1,800 calories per mile. This sure makes one think twice about biofuel, doesn't it?

I try to eat about 2,000 calories per day. If that food was converted to biofuel (as most of it could, since most of it is carbohydrates) it would drive a car less than a mile. But if I use it to bike, I could go 57 miles!

So the question remains, how many miles can I extract from a burrito. Well? You may be surprised to discover this, but a Chipotle burrito with beef, beans, cheese, sour cream and guacamole, comes in at an astounding 1,300 calories. Bust a gut with one of those and you'll find enough energy to travel 37 miles. If it were gasoline instead of a burrito, those same calories wouldn't even get you a full mile.

So why is the human body so much more efficient than automobiles?

It turns out that they aren't that much more efficient. Car engines aren't superbly efficient, that's for sure. But what's much more inefficient is the fact that 95% of the net weight of a car is car...only 5% is the driver. With a bike, the equation is shifted significantly toward the weight of the driver, not the vehicle. Only 65 of the 1800 calories used to move the car are used to move the driver. The rest is used to move the doors and the roof and the airbags and the cup holders around with you.

But still, bicycling comes out on top. Our bodies turn out to be almost two times better at converting calories to motion than cars.

Sometimes, if you want to see some powerful environmental technology, you don't have to look any further than your big beefy quadriceps.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Richard Heinberg: Peak Everything + Solutions

Richard Heinberg is amazing. He's the author of many books with his latest "Peak Everything" (Oil, Natural Gas, Coal, Uranium, Population, Food, Water, Economy, etc)

Richard is now working with Post Carbon Institute (Producers of The End of Suburbia) and has been instrumental in getting Peak Oil resolutions passed in cities in Northern California. From his experience he now knows many different avenues for solutions.







Richard's Peak Everything Presentation:
Part1:

Part2:

Part3:

Part4:

Part5:

Part6:



In his recent museletter he talks from his experience that he's learned the most effective form of change will come from the grassroots, not only from awareness but in people actually changing themselves and their actions.

But, the grassroots can't be the only solution as there are bigger problems that can only be solved through government intervention, such as what happened during WW2 with the victory gardens. The problem currently is that government is still primarily interested in working for economic growth and even though they say they care, nothing significant is being done. He suggests an alternative approach through Disaster Management by which he calls "Resilient Communities" (read more from his Museletter). [Update: The new movement that is growing rapidly around the world is Transition Towns, which I am part of in my local community - check it out!]

Richard's latest talk has been summarized and posted at Energybulletin.net. It quickly lists the problems that we will be facing and the actual solutions and lessons learned that are taking place now to prepare ahead. Highly recommended reading!

Quote:

There are historic examples of crisis equals opportunity, for example in Cuba, there were these organic agronomists who'd been promoting eco-agriculture for years before the crisis, but no-one listened. They'd been developing strategies and at that point of survival crisis they were called in to redesign Cuba's food system. If they hadn't already been working on it, they would not have survived. This got Richard to thinking we need to be doing this — formulating a plan that can be implemented in a crisis situation.


So - Don't wait for others to change or the government to be proactive. Start changing now. I've been getting my garden together, learning as much as I can about organic methods for improving soils by composting, fertilizing and growing beneficial crops. I'm going to be riding my bike to the farmers market and the local co-op to eat primarily local and seasonal foods. Do whatever you can to learn to live with less and learn as much as you can about the basics of life. Get out of debt and reduce your expenses as the economy continues to decline and prices for food and energy skyrocket.

Richard's way ahead of the game and is practicing what he preaches as well!! In this 25minute peak moment tv episode he gives a tour of his home with his partner. Here's the summary:

Tour Janet and Richard’s quarter acre for an example of what’s possible in suburbia. Their front yard of edible plants also provides habitat for birds and insects. The backyard radiates out from an herb and kitchen garden to vegetable beds and containers; 25 fruit and nut trees; and a restful Zen garden. Near a future pond is a “three sisters” spiral of corn, beans and squashes. Check out their rainwater catchment barrels system, solar ovens, grid-tied photovoltaics with backup batteries, a low-energy house, solar-heated garden room, and a comfortable “summer palace” of natural & salvaged materials.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Russia oil output to decline in 2008

The world's #2 oil producer and highest growing output country during 2001-2006 is expected to be producing less this year than last. It's year on year oil production increases have been slowing down.

Quote from Bloomberg.com: "Russian oil output may fall this year for the first time in a decade as the world's second-biggest supplier struggles with rising costs and harder-to-reach fields, Natural Resources Minister Yuri Trutnev said.

``Two years ago, we said the growth rate was falling, and we said this was bad for Russia, remember?'' Trutnev said in televised remarks after a government meeting in Moscow today. ``Now we're saying the production rate is falling this year. This is not a bogeyman, unfortunately, this is real,'' Trutnev said"

If you think $4/gallon gas is expensive, just wait till the whole world is in decline. $10+/gallon gas, easy. Europe pays equivalent $300/barrel when we are paying $100/barrel.. so oil is still relatively cheap. Consider it this way, gas is $0.15 a cup. Much less than starbucks coffee!

I suggest to get some fruit and nut trees, berry bushes and start learning to grow your own potatoes and veggies! This is what I'm going to be doing! Look at it in a positive light to learn something and get connected with nature, it will be fun and rewarding :)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Middlesbrough, UK: Urban Farming

Middlesbrough, UK had 1000 residents come together for an urban farming project. After 8 months of growing their own food, 8,000 residents joined to eat the fruits of their labor! What an amazing example of community! I hope we can see more of this in the future. The more we learn and prepare, the more resilient our communities will become.

Quotes from the article:

"There's a lot of space in towns and cities that is just green desert. It's there just to look at" - Ben Reynolds

"We need to start thinking about food production being part of a city's infrastructure - like roads" - Andre Viljoen

read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/mar/26/cityfood

Friday, April 4, 2008

Rob Hopkins: Transition Towns



Re-Localization in action! Rob Hopkins and the Transition Towns projects are very popular in the UK in bringing about peak oil awareness and actual change in the community! He stays positive in his approach by asking people to imagine a world that has "powered down". He advocates that life can be better without oil! We are brainwashed that this lifestyle is great, but look at all the problems we have. Obesity, Stress, Depression, Crime, Lack of Community...

I am so sick of driving and sitting and being tired. I want to ride my bike and get exercise. I want to eat fresh and nutritious local foods and feel good about giving my money to a local company. I want to feel like I'm part of a community and know my neighbors. I want to have my job mean something and have others appreciate what I do. If we realize that we are all in this together and we must rely on each other, a better world is possible!

Also, Rob is creating the "nut tree capital of england" in his town by planting walnut and almond trees throughout the town, even the mayor is involved!! I have a similar dream, to have "city orchards", where the wasteful "decorative" trees and shrubs are replaced with useful, food producing plants such as fruit and nut trees and berry bushes!

For more information about the organization, check out transitiontowns.org and read the official blog at transitionculture.org

If you are ready to get started in your community, buy a copy of the transition handbook, it's an inspiring and educating read!

Below is a summary of the 12 steps to transition that should be used as a loose guide since we are learning as we go and all communities are going to be different.

The 12 Steps to Transition

1 Set up a steering group and design its demise from the outset: A core team is essential for driving the project forward during the initial stages and planning for ‘The Great Unleashing’.

2 Awareness raising: Above all, this stage must be fun, imaginative and engaging. It is intended to inform the community about the realities of peak oil through film-screenings, presentations, talks and networking.

3 Laying the foundations: Identify and work with existing community groups and acknowledge the vital roles they have to play in the transition initiative.

4 The Great Unleashing: The event should be spectacular but also informative, introducing the wider community to the concepts of peak oil and climate change.

5 Form working groups: Ideally the ‘core’ working groups should be among the first, including food, waste, energy, education, economics, transport, water and local government.

6 Open Space: In theory, this forum model shouldn’t really work, having no agenda, no timetable, no obvious co-ordinator and no one to take minutes. However, Totnes has so far run successful Open Spaces on food, energy, housing and economics.

7 Develop visible practical manifestations of the project: This stage is essential for capturing the imagination of the community and demonstrating the potential of the transition initiative.

8 Facilitate the Great Reskilling: Many of the skills that our grandparents took for granted [Such as growing our own food] have sadly been lost to mechanization and industrialization. Transition represents an exciting opportunity to reinvigorate traditional skills that are essential for a post-fossil-fuel, resilient and sustainable economy.

9 Build bridges with local government: Whether it’s planning issues, funding or simply endorsement, the support of your local authority is essential if the Transition initiative is to be entirely successful.

10 Honour the elders: Local knowledge is one of the greatest sources of inspiration and ideas within your community. Those of us who can still remember the transition to the age of cheap oil represent a wealth of information.

11 Let it go where it wants to go: ‘Predetermining the outcome,’ as Rob says, ‘is going to really wind you up!’ Keep your focus on the key criteria and watch as the collective genius of the community creates highly inventive solutions.

12 Create an Energy Descent Action Plan: This is really the pinnacle of the transition process, the plan should be exhilarating to read, illustrated with stories and photos to provide an inspirational vision of a powered-down community.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Ray Anderson: Sustainability



Ray Anderson is the founder and chairman of Interface, Inc., the world's largest manufacturer of modular carpet. He had an epiphany in 1995 about the sustainability of his company and has been working to climb mount sustainability ever since. He plans to have his company sustainable by 2020. Already he has increased profits while recycling carpets and using no extra resources. He was featured in the Corporation and the 11th hour. This 10 minute video is very inspiring to see someone in his position truly "get it" and actually do something about it!