Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bioplastic use is set to boom


As fossil fuels get used less we need alternatives. Enter bioplastics. Great article showing the benefits. We know we can re-create forests and even start growing trees in the deserts. We can use these trees to make bioplastics.

We still need to setup city/community/neighborhood wide composting programs, it will be a joy to live in a world where I can compost my plastic. Since the only thing I really throw away is plastic wrapping, and those paper/wax orange juice containers.

It would be a good idea for us to find a way to make condoms compostable too.. :)

everything below is the good stuff from http://edition.cnn.com/2009/TECH/science/12/15/eco.bioplastics/

The 215,000-square-feet carpet at the Bella Center that hosted most of the U.N.'s official events was made using Ingeo, a bio-fibre derived from corn sugars.

According to French manufacturer Sommer Needlepunch and Natureworks LLC, the provider of Ingeo, in shunning oil-based products the carpet saved the emissions equivalent of driving an average car 68,869 miles (110,834 kilometers).

It is one small step in a bioplastics and biofibers industry that is fast developing new alternatives to oil-based polymers and turning them into everything from food packaging to fashion outfits, cell phone casings and medical implants that dissolve inside the body.

Bioplastics are not new.

Henry Ford theatrically swung an ax to show the dent resistance of soy-based car doors at Ford in 1940, when the infant science was called "chemurgy."

So far, bioplastics only comprise an estimated 0.20 percent to 0.25 percent of total plastics use. But several forecasts predict a boom for the once-brittle plastics that are now beginning to compete with traditional PET and polystyrene.

A recent University of Utrecht study forecast that up to 90 percent of plastics could technically become bio-based in the long term and that production could grow by on average 37 percent annually until 2013.

Ceresana Research predicts the largest growth rates in electronics and auto industries. The Freedonia Group, an industrial research company, sees demand growing fastest in the Asia-Pacific region, and the U.S. market to reach $10 billion a year by 2020, a tenfold increase from 2007.

The most recent scientific breakthrough came from researchers at South Korea's pioneering Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST).

They used a metabolically engineered strain of E. Coli bacteria to produce bioplastic polymers through single-stage fermentation, potentially cutting the cost of the usually expensive process by about 40 percent when the new science is market ready within about two years, according to Professor Sangyup Lee, who led the team of scientists.

"We're basically torturing E.Coli but in a way that will benefit human beings and environments," Lee told CNN.com.


Re: Oil

The bioplastics market has swayed to the price of oil.

"The general rule of thumb, if oil gets above $70-$80 a barrel, it gets very easy to compete on a price basis," said Steve Davies, director of Communications and Public Affairs at Natureworks, which owns the world's largest bioplastics facility.


Re: Sources

The menu of ingredients in the biomass used to make the plastics is growing -- corn, wheat, potatoes, tapioca, soy, sugarcane and wood are in the production cycle.

Metabolix is exploring switchgrass, industrial oil seed and has been trialing tobacco crops. Algae is favored for its high yield and oil giant Exxon Mobil this year bought into its potential to produce 2,000 gallons of fuel per acre. That's almost 10 times as much as corn, which remains the cheapest and most widely used feedstock for biomass.

Both Natureworks and Metabolix companies see the future in cellulosics such as grasses and non-edible plant parts.
"Crops like sugar cane and switchgrass have the potential to grow in acres where crops can't be grown or those grown are of marginal value," Peoples said.

Davies also champions cellulosics: "It really allows you to produce bio-based, bio-degradeable materials from agriculture without impacting food."


Re: Environmental Options

Even at competitive cost, bioplastics companies must persuade critics and those confused about how environmentally friendly the different kinds of bio-plastics really are.

"People don't like to deal with complexity. And the answers to all these questions is often: 'it depends'," Reid Lifset, an associate research scholar at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Industrial Ecology, told CNN.

Natureworks' PLAs can be chemically composted into lactic acid and then produce virgin polymer for new products -- yet the composting is still on a post-industrial scale and not widely available for ordinary households.

Metabolix produces a different type, polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs), which Peoples said will readily bio-degrade in home composting and even in cold oceans.

Lack of composting facilities could push bioplastics into landfills, where certain types would release more damaging methane than traditional PET plastics. Worries that bio-plastics could contaminate the PET recycling stream has some retailers hesitating.

The impact also depends on other difficult variables, including each product's lifespan.

Market growth, stricter government standards for plastics and limits on land filling are encouraging more research into improvements and solutions, but bio-plastics will not be a miracle cure in an "either-or" scenario with oil-based plastics, producers and experts say.

"PET recycling is already very good. Our attitude is that Mirel should be used where it actually makes good sense and not to replace something where there already is a good system," said Peoples.

Said Davies: "Bio-plastics can go somewhere at the end of their life, there are many exciting options for the future,"

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Challenge your World!

La Chaussettologie - Challenge your world from Desrumaux Celine on Vimeo.



pretty genius I think.... a better world IS possible. and we are creating it right now! no need to fear, its all going to turn out just the way its supposed to.. :)

http://www.challenge yourworld.com - the plantain idea is great!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Positive Worldwide Change Idea

Here's a quick sketch of an idea to make a video petition and online movement around: - I'd like to get your feedback on this!

Objective: To create a positive, fun, cartoonish video that the whole world can understand and will inspire people to ask for an improvement in their lives.

Visual Start: Tell people that here is an idea. show someone talking and point to a cartoon globe (inspired by the story of stuff).

Content: ask the top 1% or whatever small percentage (show small number of people) to make their names forever eternal in earths history (or some other epic name for this gargantuan deed) to hand back half of their money spread evenly to the rest of the inhabitants of earth - the remaining 99% of people (show numbers).

This would double everyone's income for that year. Think of it like a christmas bonus for all of earth. Do you love earth? Do you appreciate what it's given you (show all abundance of nature and people and creations and technologies and luxuries)

This may sound like a a lot of change, but if you think about it - the lower 99% would still have 45% less than the top 1% (need catchy name for them-leaders,overlords,etc heh and show number).

Raising the income of the lower 99% (show number of people) - (example someone making $30,000 gets $60,000) - would make a very serious impact to improve their standard of living and happiness - and simultaneously create the biggest boost to our economy's growth in the worlds entire history. Or the money could be spread evenly - a set flat amount. I'd have to do the calculations on this.

-what do you all think? any ideas? other catchy points that could be universally understood? please leave them in the comments section.

My own rebuttal - I know this would be have the potential to just be temporary. such as if laws were not changed, jobs did not change, mental attitudes did not change, etc that it would go back to the way it was - but think about this - if people had more money they would have more time to think. and the more time to think, and since everyone just wants to be happy -then we will increase the rate positive change so everyone can enjoy and grow from this experience.

Visualize the idea in action: Imagine you living your life where if you wanted to, you could take a year or two off and really think about life. you could have the freedom to do whatever you wanted to do. Or you could keep at your job but be able to afford the things you really needed to make that free energy invention. Or create that new musical instrument. Or create that cure for cancer..... :)

A world with no fear of money. just simply passion for life. imagine that.

Update: the numbers of doubling and the top whatever percentage of money are just a starting point. it could be top 2% and we increase our income by 5x ... whatever the 75% of people in the world agree on - and that number can be different too!

Please share your ideas!

Update: Catchy quick slogan - "How to increase 100% of the people of the world's happiness" - 99% get more money, %1 feel good about their impact/legacy/responsibility

Update2: Ok so if people are against "something for nothing" aka "a gift" then perhaps everyone could have an equal amount of money if they wrote a paper on what they plan to do with the money, which would give them a chance to really think about it. Combine this with self-improvement brochures or other info to help empower people.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Plasco Energy Group's Zero Waste Technology


Plasco Energy Group is from canada that has been working on this plasma technology since the 80s. Their first plant has been in operation since 2007. Now I read that they are in talks with Salinas, California! Their plants takes municipal waste and turns it into energy and resources we can re-use.

Here is a graphic showing what is created from waste that would otherwise go to the "dump".



So glad to see a way to make use of things we cannot recycle such as old toothbrushes, plastic wrappers, etc.

For more information please visit their website: http://www.plascoenergygroup.com/?Technology_Overview

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

USA Military Spending vs THE WORLD


Add up the money that all the other countries in the world spend on their military equals how much money we spend on our military. Note these numbers are from 2008, we just increased our military budget again this year. Balancing our budget would be easy if people demanded we spend less on our "defense" budget. Also we need to realize that this is no longer considered "defense", more like "offense", to keep USA #1 at all costs. This also explains why other countries can afford free health care.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Plastic to Fuel


From the ever inspiring ecogeek - http://www.ecogeek.org/component/content/article/2947

A new company in Washington, DC, Envion, believes they've come up with a way to efficiently convert waste plastic into fuel by using carefully-controlled infra-red energy. The $5-million plant was unveiled this morning.

The process that Envion has created is still tightly under wraps, but the plant includes a chemical reactor with internal agitators for mixing the liquid and heating elements that deliver the necessary infra-red energy. Since the infra-red energy is easily controlled, the process is very efficient. The plant is able to convert 82 percent of the waste into fuel and the resulting sludge is usable too.

The liquid can be mixed with other components to become gasoline or diesel. Envion has already signed up one company to use their recycled oil as motor fuel and is negotiating contracts with others.

The plant can process all types of plastic except for #1 PET, which is easily recycled at a better value. For each ton of waste, the plant can produce three to five barrels of fuel, with each barrel costing about $10 to make.


The amount of good news these days is overwhelming. There is something going on. Maybe Ian Lungold was right about us being on a schedule

(For those of you who do not know who Ian is, watch his mind blowing explanation of the Mayan calendar and how he put the pieces together to show the evolution of the universe and the planets and life and animals and humans and all of consciousness matches up to the cycles of the Mayan calendar which ends October 28th, 2011!)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wireless Electricity

Nikola Tesla's dream is now a reality! How exciting!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"Fake Trees" to absorb co2



Great! So we use "these trees" to capture co2 and pump it into algae ponds for biofuels and/or systems that use the bacteria to create natural gas (methane) which can be converted to energy or even gasoline! We're making progress to a truly sustainable world. There is still hope!

The next step is for governments across the world to change our top priority from economic growth (and profit) to a sustainable world where we are powered by renewable energy and renewable resources and everything is endlessly recycled including our human waste, (where we can also capture the natural gas to generate electricity!)!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Monatomic Elements: The Real Power of GOLD

This presentation is guaranteed to blow your mind. The history and power of monatomic elements and the new scientific and archeological research that explains what the Egyptians were up to and how they created this substance from gold, among other things! Scientific research shows monatomic elements can balance the left and right brain, and also change its weight to be negative with temperature changes. Very powerful information here that opens up great possibilities for the human race. It seems gold is much more valuable than we think!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Zeitgeist 2: Addendum

Much better than the first film as this one focuses on sustainability and why we need to have that as our number one priority. It also touches on our money system and why it is unsustainable (quicker explanation than "money as debt") and has a great interview with the famous "economic hitman" on how the american empire operates behind the scenes.

Imagine what we can do as humans if we simply change our priorities! If we do not proactively change, there will be a revolution. Let us work for a peaceful one :)

Chicken Feathers for Hydrogen Storage


Ecogeek never fails to inspire hope. Following the trend of using waste as a resource, scientists have found a way to use the protein in chicken feathers to create low cost hydrogen containers. Reducing the cost from $30,000 per 20 gallon tank to $200 !

Hydrogen can be burned in existing gasoline cars, reducing our need to create brand new vehicles for everyone. It is not too difficult to convert our gasoline engines to hydrogen and we can create the hydrogen at home through electrolysis machines which creates the hydrogen from water using electricity. The sustainable solution would require the electricity to come from renewable resources. Similar devices to create the fuel at home have been made for natural gas vehicles.

If we can convert our existing fleet of automobiles to hydrogen, then we can save massive amounts of energy. Yes, hydrogen is not as efficient at storing energy as a battery, but is it possible that saving on making new cars would make up for that difference over the long run? I'd like to see the new america repairing and retrofitting its infrastructure, this would also create many jobs all over the country through small businesses, which is the true backbone of any good nation.

full article: http://www.ecogeek.org/component/content/article/2829

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Willie Smits: Reforestation



Permaculture in action. An agro-forestry plan (Food & Fuel Forest) that turned deforested inhospitable land which was burning(!) grassland into a system that provided food, fuel, income and security to the local people. Truly inspiring! What a success story!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Waterboxx



This device creates condensation and directs the water to storage below which is then slowly delivered to the roots of the baby tree. After 1 to 2 years the box can be re-used and moved to another location to start another tree!

Other advantages are the ability to grow the tree from seed directly on top of the soil or surface you want to plant on, like rocks! This really opens up the possibilities to reforest our deserts, even the areas with eroded topsoil. The trees roots will find their ways through the cracks into the earth and begin the process of building new soil!

One major problem with reforestation in harsh climates is the lack of on site water, so this device fixes that problem since it creates the water from the air! Yes!

I'd like to see these all over the world starting the great work of the 21st century and beyond, to restore the forests of the world to create food for humans and wildlife, fuel in form of wood, cellulosic ethanol and biogas, charcoal for fuel, filters or soil amendment increasing agricultural yields and sequestering co2, build soil, increase rainfall, reduce wind, beautify our landscapes, create shade, and lower temperatures of the surrounding areas including our homes and businesses!

Tests in the Moroccan Sahara showed that 90% of the trees planted using this technology survived while those planted on their own didn’t, even though they were watered every week!

The Waterboxx was invented by Pieter Hoff, a Dutch businessman and inventor. It has won the Beta Dragons Award during the Flying Dutchman 2008, Science & Technology Summit in Amsterdam. The jury proclaimed his design to be “the most promising and innovative project." Its inventor "is convinced that, if the right species are planted, large parts of the earth can be reforested, without sacrificing agricultural land. He is seeking investors to apply his invention in the Middle East, India, Africa and other arid territories. Hoff: "If we can reforest 2 billion hectares, the trees consume more CO2 than men produces and the whole CO2 problem will be solved." His WaterBoxx will be available from July 1, 2009.

More information: http://www.aquaproholland.com

Imagination of the Gaviotas


"The only deserts are deserts of the imagination. Gaviotas is an oasis of imagination." -Paolo Lugari

Gaviotas is an ecovillage of about 200 pepole located in Colombia. It was founded in 1971 by Paolo Lugari who assembled a group of engineers and scientists in an attempt to create a mode of sustainable living in one of the least hospitable political and geographical climates in South America.

For three decades, Gaviotans - peasants, scientists, artists, and former street kids - have struggled to build an oasis of imagination and sustainability in the remote, barren savannas of eastern Colombia, an area ravaged by political terror. They have planted millions of trees, thus regenerating an indigenous rainforest. They farm organically and use wind and solar power. Every family enjoys free housing, community meals, and schooling. There are no weapons, no police, no jail. There is no mayor.

They have invented some great technology and made sure it was free to the public. They created three significant technologies.

The first that is mentioned is a more efficient pump that can pump water six times as deep as conventional wells with less energy/effort, so little that even a child could do it, and they did! The Gaviotas converted the pump into a see-saw used by children to pump their own water at school!

Second, they created a solar cooking system using a closed loop filled with solar heated oil that ran around pots to heat the food inside, and the oil was stored in an insulated container so food could be cooked 24hrs a day.

And the last technology that I have read about (probably not the last thing they have invented) is a solar water purifier, it is a system to boil water and have it available for drinking without any manual effort.

To see pictures and read more about the Gaviotas and their technology please visit http://mingo.info-science.uiowa.edu/~winter/engineering.html and also http://www.friendsofgaviotas.org

The old saying - "if there is a will, there is a way" still holds true! We can restore the earth to its natural abundance and live sustainably without fossil fuels, so let's get started!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Money System Update

Russia says it wants to include gold to part of the new system and china wants a basket of 30 commodities. If we back our money system by what we produce (commodities) this would be a much more stable system!

Where we go is not so certain, however the dollar is on its way out as the world's reserve currency.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/g20-summit/5072484/Russia-backs-return-to-Gold-Standard-to-solve-financial-crisis.html

Renewable Natural Gas & Gasoline = CO2 + electricity + water + bacteria!

This is the most exciting news I have heard in a long time. This gives me hope for the human race!

It's called electromethanogenesis. Basically uses bacteria to create methane (natural gas) or methanol, which can be converted to gasoline!

This technology involves using electricity to generate from co2, but this could be from all sorts of renewable resources - geothermal, wind, solar, wave, etc. The catalyst for this technology is bacteria!

I see a trend these days that blends ecology with technology to create amazingly efficient new products, this I believe is the future. Working with and mimicking nature!

Can you imagine a box outside your house that can produce your cooking, heating and motoring fuels by using co2 from the air, water and electricity from your solar panels? talk about freedom..

more info can be found here at the abundant ecogeek.org

A great vision about a CO2-fuel powered world can be found here - http://permaculture.org.au/2009/04/26/beyond-peak-oil-and-climate-change/

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Deep Pipe Irrigation


This is a great idea for establishing trees and bamboo pipes can be used. Small holes are drilled along the sides and buried straight into the ground or at an angle to let the water seep in higher first as it falls down the tube. Compared to having drip emitters on top of the ground, deep pipe irrigation allows the water to reach deeper into the soil and encourages deeper roots and has proven higher rates of survival!

Studies in this pdf show how trees in the desert survived after a three year drought. For those who wish to help reforest hills and landscapes, this would be a good idea to reduce water usage and encourage survival. Water can be hand delivered and poured in or setup on drip systems.

I posted the pdf over at a social networking site for permaculture I setup. The download link for the pdf can be found here - http://permacultureslo.ning.com/forum/topics/deep-pipe-irrigation

More information can be found here - http://www.aridsolutionsinc.com/page/page/1988794.htm

Saturday, February 7, 2009

mushrooms and our purpose in life

I just read Paul Stamet's book "Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World", and there was a inspirational paragraph describing the mushroom's role in repairing the forest after a fire by working together with all the other lifeforms that share the same forest.

Here's the paragraph, slightly edited for better reading:

"Using mushroom mycelia as tools for ecological restoration is a new concept borrowed from the age-old methods of nature. After forest fires, when burned habitats begin to recover, the species that appear amid the ash and cinders are mushrooms, particularly morels and cup fungi, which can appear in a matter of weeks. The fast-growing and quick-to-decompose mushrooms emerge where seemingly no life could survive. As these succulent mushrooms mature and release spores, they also release fragrances that attract insects and mammals, including mushroom hunters.

A biological oasis emerges as new species gather around the postfire fungus. Flies deposit larvae in morels, and as the larvae mature they attract birds and other maggot lovers. Birds and mammals coming to eat morels defecate seeds of plants eaten far from the fire zone. All these critters scour the burnt wasteland searching for mushrooms.

Each mushrom-seeking organism imports hitchhiking species from afar with every visit, essentially carrying its own universe of organisms, an ecological footprint of flora and fauna. Then, with every mushroom encouter, each animal is dusted with spores, leaving an invisible trail of them as they wander on."

This got me thinking, if all the other living beings are helping to repair the earth by simply living, then what is our role here on earth? And why are we damaging and destroying the earth by our actions? What is wrong with us? Are we doomed to extinction by our shortsightedness?

We live in this great technological society, but what's the point if it isn't going to last? Is there another way to live? A life that exists, while repairing and improving our "home" at the same time? This is what I am searching to find out. I believe it is possible. Like Geoff Lawton says, humans can be the most repairative function on earth. We can help nature on its natural course of repair and speed up the process. This is what excites me and inspires about permaculture. There are other ways to live, but first it takes courage to acknowledge this and make a choice to change. To wake up from our habits and become conscious of our every day choices in how we are living and treating eachother and our home. Either we can be proactive and change now, with some time to adjust if we make mistakes, or we can be forced to change soon enough with much suffering endured.

There are limits in this world and we are running into them. Not all things are limited however. If we design our civilization around using the sun's constant daily input, then we can count on increased energy and sustainable "growth" for millions and billions of years to come. However, our society is running on stored ancient sunlight. Millions of years of compressed energy, spent in a few generations all in the name of progress. Now that the "economy" is failing, we must fundamentally look at what our motives are. What exactly are we doing? Why are we in this rat race, where are we headed to and why are we in such a rush?

Its time we start looking at the bigger picture. We all know about our dependence on oil but not many are talking about our dependence on natural gas as well. Natural gas is used for many things, including fertilizers and pesticides for farming, electricity generation, heating homes and cooking food. Not too long after oil peaks we will be peaking in natural gas as well. We are encountering serious problems with our North American supply, and the answers are moving to importing liquid natural gas from the Middle East and Asia. But this is very dangerous and expensive and will only be a transitional solution as eventually the world will peak.

So the future is more than simply switching our cars, changing light bulbs and going organic. Yes we know it is also about changing the way we generate energy and growing our food. But we also need to start thinking about how we are going to be cooking our food and heating our homes. There are solutions to some of these but not for all. Some in my opinion are best solved by living in a different climates where we require less energy and resources.

Further down the line from oil and natural gas we will have less and less coal available, its been researched by Richard Heinberg and other energy experts that we have reached peak coal in the US (in terms of energy density, not quantity of coal extracted). Globally, peak coal will be occurring around 2025. Many countries are reducing their reserves of coal drastically, for example Germany last year reduced their reserves of coal by 90%! We use coal not only for energy but for generating metals and other many uses. Its possible to have a dedicated copicing forest to create charcoal to make metals but this will seriously limit the amount of energy we can use.

Without magical new technologies, we are in for a much lower energy future. A much more modest and closer-to-nature lifestyle. I do not think this is such a bad idea. I think those of us who live the western lifestyle are out of touch with reality, with what is real, such as the natural cycles of life and how we fit in and depend on it for survival. We have nature-deficit disorder on a massive scale.

If peak oil, peak natural gas and peak coal weren't enough we have problems with peak water, peak topsoil, peak food and peak economic growth climaxing with subsequent peak population. The game is over. It's been a fun ride but now it's time to change the rules of living on earth. We must evolve or die.

Our life depends on the life of the planet. We eat what grows from the earth. We are the earth. We really have a lot to learn from the Native Americans and those who live more "primitive" and "poor" lifestyles. These are people who can live off the land in a sustainable way for generations. The Native Americans thought ahead seven generations before making major decisions. We need to start becoming responsible for our actions and care about our future generations if we want them to exist at all. I think soon enough our collective egos are going to be gut-checked, forcing us to humble ourselves and ask for help from the 3rd world, not the other way around.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Chu: 2100 = No more water in California

Nobel Prize winner Steven Chu, our new U.S. energy secretary warns "I don't think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen," he said. "We're looking at a scenario where there's no more agriculture in California." And, he added, "I don't actually see how they can keep their cities going, either."

Thinking ahead to generations in the future, possibly of my own making, if its unlikely to get people to stop using their cars and burning fossil fuels for electricity and making products then it makes wise sense to reduce potential consequences and start moving now to greener pastures. Or we can try our luck and wait and see. I'm sure many will be able to stick around, living off rainfall and producing wheat, dairy, fruit and nuts and whatever lucky imported things the government can ration. Doesn't sound like much fun to me.

The only thing that could slow down the use of cars is high gas prices caused by gov taxes or created by supply and demand factors via Peak Oil. But then we'd have the pesky problems of unemployment and civil unrest... Which could cause the demand of coal to liquids, which is a climate change doomsday scenario. There's also the problems of using tractors, processing and distributing of our food and the related fossil fuel use.

The good news is that it is possible to use biochar to stop climate change. Biochar aka Terra preta is turning organic material such as trees to charcoal and burying it which sequesters co2 while increasing crop yields by building and improving the soils capacity to hold water and nutrients!

Biochar could be the only realistic solution, combined with a massive reforestation project in all climates and soil types, to also remove carbon from the air. Furthermore, the soil food web and all the life that lives with the tree's roots will capture even up to 5 times more carbon than the tree itself! Furthermore, forests would subsequently increase rainfall as well, along with providing material to make biochar, food, fuelwood and habitat for more variety of lifeforms.

But maybe those permaculture solutions are "too primitive" and people would rather hope for the prophetic technofix. Such as an invention to make ocean water desal cheap and abundant and build piping from the coast to the valleys. Or as one crazy friend of mine suggested, to build large pipes from the great lakes all the way to California... sure, that's going to happen! Why do we keep hoping for more technology when we already have the solutions built into nature? Why are we so afraid of natural methods?

On the bright side, it's refreshing to see some truth coming from high ranking officials in the federal government. Hooray for Obama and Change(tm). I'm glad we're starting to talk about it, but the next step is to actually start doing something about it. If I wasn't so busy doing what I can in my own life such as trying to find a place to live to be able to easily grow my own food, I'd help make a plan. However even if I had the plan, who would listen? It is going to take a lot of money or government intervention. So, I hope that someone finds out there are solutions and starts making it happen or gets the plan to someone with ties and influence to Chu and Obama or people in their local government. Spread the word!

from http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/washingtondc/la-me-warming4-2009feb04,0,567052.story

Video on Biochar and Soils:

Saturday, January 31, 2009

IEA 2008 World Energy Outlook Forecast



This was the most significant news of 2008 and I'm sorry for not posting it sooner. Life's been pretty crazy. Since the price of oil has collapsed I feel it makes the report even more important.

I'll keep it simple. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has historically been very optimistic on the ability of the world to continue meeting its liquid fuel needs as demand increases. Such as saying peak oil is real, but won't happen until 2030. As the years go by, they have been becoming much more realistic.

This latest report shows total energy liquids which appears that energy availability is growing, but the top part is natural gas liquids (yellow), which is not used by the average person for transport, biofuels (green) make up a small percentage, the most important and largest part is the dark blue section.

The dark blue is existing fields in production of crude oil, which is used to make gasoline and diesel which is what makes our civilization hum and purr along. The shocking news is that this graph shows a potential 4%-9% decline THIS YEAR, unless we have new investment into existing oil discoveries (light blue). Since the price of oil has dropped so low, these investments have been put on hold because they are no longer profitable (all the cheap stuff has been tapped).

Furthermore, even if we do invest everything to develop all the new fields, plus find new ones (the red section, which is pure hope), we will only be able to keep a plateau of supply until 2015, which means demand will be required to stay constant or decline, if this does not happen then there may be shortages and/or prices will increase rapidly again and stay there, until demand declines again to keep up with supply.

Once supply declines and we are past the peak of oil production then there is no going back and prices will stay high no matter what, with potential shortages and/or wars without proper global governmental co-operation and global demand reduction of oil consumption matched to the global supply decline rate. Good news Obama is in office, since I feel he'd have a kinder and much more co-operative approach to diplomacy than our previous president.

Regardless of where things go, I encourage everyone to reduce their dependence on imported goods and energy for their livelihoods. Sure, enjoy life while you can and be extremely grateful for what we have. But please think ahead and be proactive. We must take this seriously and start creating our local economies. Life as we know it is about to change drastically.

The sooner we start on this inevitable change, the easier it will be for all of us.

Much love to everyone who is being the change!

To read more about this report, check out the summary over at the oil drum.

No-Till Gardening

No digging! Making life easier, this is the permaculture way! Also, less weeding after the first couple years. Good visual of setting up and maintaining a no-till garden.





Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pangaia Off-Grid in Hawaii



This is a tour of Pangaia's permaculture property on the Big Island of Hawaii. Note how they have a dry toilet and they "grow" the toilet paper next to it, which is a bush with wide leaves!

I can't say they are truly "off grid" since they need all that technology to support the solar and electricity.. What happens if it breaks? But it surely makes for more luxuries - like a washing machine, internet, refrigeration and night-time lighting. But I suppose I could live without those if I had, I wear just shorts and hand wash them (or go naked!) in paradise, spend time learning and receive entertainment from living with nature and working with community instead of needing the internet, we could have a community kitchen where we share cooking responsibilities and all the food is fresh or dig a hole 3-6 ft into the ground or find a shady stream or spring to keep things cool instead of a refrigerator and go to bed when it's dark instead of needing electricity at night!

I suppose living without the internet would be very hard since it is so damn convenient for communication to the outside world! Ahh, let us hope for technological innovations for us to keep this going.. For example, there is a way to eliminate the need for silicon in solar panels from blueberries. And scientists are working on artificial photosynthesis which could turn CO2 into Ethanol! Maybe there is some hope after all?

More videos and information on Pangaia (including tours) can be found on their website.

Brick Rocket Stove



Since we've past the peak of natural gas already in north america and importing liquid natural gas is a disaster waiting to happen (and unsustainable), we must find other ways to cook our food.

I think this is a great way to cook using all local materials, as long as you have access to clay to make the bricks! No need for imported metal cans for a regular rocket-stove or materials to build a solar oven.

Since small pieces of wood are used in a rocket stove, the wood can easily be grown by using the coppice method. Which means cutting down a tree and letting the stump re-sprout into multiple, smaller trunks. They then slowly harvesting your woodlot periodically in sections and as long as you do not cut down the tree too fast and let it grow and generate more stored energy, the stump will keep generating new sprouts for firewood!

I'm not sure how long the wood lasts and how often you have to add to the stove, but it uses much less energy than a traditional fire. It also does not need much space so this could be used in most if not all living situations. The only requirement is access to fuel, the community would need to have a dedicated and managed coppiced forest.

A more transitional approach would be to use an electric cooking stove and hope for power from 100% renewables or a new invention sometime in the future. But how much will electricity cost, could you depend on it, and will you have a job to afford it? Furthermore, as globalization becomes less dependable because of the peak in oil production it may not be easy to throw it away and buy a new one from the local corporate box store. So we need to ask, who will repair the stove or make a new one when it breaks? If a new one is made, what materials will be used, and how will those materials be mined using what kind of fuel... Maybe it's easier to just plant a tree.