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According to an article IBM has designed a dish to concentrate sunlight onto Photovoltaic cells keeping them cool using water. Ahhh, maybe people have a really short memory but this is nothing new. Moving onward….

My preference is sill using a dish to focus sunlight onto a stirling engine which gives and impressive 25-35% efficiency in converting sunlight to heat and electricity with far less effort. Stirling engine also last a fairly long time with little maintenance. What IBM is proposing is good for areas with water or that could use the dish to desalinate water but not in a desert, but stirling engines with concentrating mirrors are perfect.

I’ve now been unemployed coming up to 2 1/2 years and I am finding new freedom in the lack of work. I just have to get use to being so poor.

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Whenever I bring up the topic of Peak Oil people often tell me we have so much oil left we have nothing to worry about. I’m not sure where they are getting their information from other than what has become the rhetoric after 2007 when the way reserves are calculated which include oil from synthetics (like pyrolysis), Canada Tar Sand, and shale. First oil from pyrolysis depends on waste or trash and if we produce less trash there is less syn-oil. Second is Canada Tar Sands which is a mix of heavy oil with sand that requires millions of gallons of water and a huge amount of natural gas to become something liquid enough to put into a pipeline, but no one ever mentions that. Last Shale oil is not even in production at this time that I know of, but its still counted.

Turning trash or waste into oil has maybe a return of 2 or 3 to 1, Tar Sands after refinement and ready for sale of 1:1 at best and Shale would have the poorest of all returns in the negative, using more energy to bring it to market than it would return. Relying on these fuels is a definite sign we are running out of petroleum faster than politicians, economists or the industry will admit.

Critics of Hubbert like Bjorn Lomborg, Michael Lynch, and Dr. Michael Mills disagree with the Peak Oil view, or Dr. Marion King Hubbert who came up with the Hubbart’s Peak on oil. They believe the Peak Oil argument, decline in oil to be flawed. Not sure how that can be since resources all go through the same path of discovery, increase in use, and decline. All resources. Instead they believe that a rise in price of oil will bring new supply and demand into balance as not to result in intolerable economic damage. This makes no sense if a resource is running out and there is no more to be had. John Hofmeister, former President of Shell Oil when interviewed on CNBC in February of 2012 said, “I think OPEC is about maxed out. When people talk about spare capacity in OPEC, I don’t see it. I just don’t see it coming through and I’m not sure it’s there. And it’s not just that they’re greedy, but they’re really producing what they can produce.” Followers of Hubbert’s Peak believe what’s left is much smaller than actually reported. As oil becomes scarcer and more expensive, critics of Peak Oil believe its increased price will encourage an advancement in technology to develop alternatives. Just what these “alternatives” is a big question. In the U.S. if we were to convert all the farmland into fuel production like biodiesel and alcohol from cellulose we would just meet 50% of our liquid fuel needs. Where’s the other half coming from? Some claim a land mass the size of Texas could meet all our needs in liquid fuels, that would be for cars only not trains, planes, ships or anything else. Also no one bother’s to address the other half of a car that is made from petroleum like lubricants, wire insulation, seats and carpeting and so forth.

Lomborg, Lynch and Mills must have blinders on or promote a very narrow view of reality. It is such detractors that are keeping the world from moving forward. Unless we address the fact so many things in our society are made from or are dependent on petroleum we will never find an answer to the decline in oil and prices will not over come the fact that we are running out of oil. I would like to see a real conference where every view brought forward their data and information openly discussing, debating and publishing the information. We can’t go on someone’s word that something like price will cause some magical increase in oil finds or production. These types of views need to brought out for what they are, lies and distractions from reality.

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I have been working for the last month very hard to find gainful employment and I have come to the conclusion that there is none. It no longer exists and we are not out of this continued recession, depression. In my book, Recession Survival Guide self-published in 2009 I said it wouldn’t be over before 2015. Now it looks like it will never be over. Anyone who thinks they are being told the truth by the news owned by the companies that manufacture the news is dumber than shit and ought to be composted. At least that would create something of value. The U.S. has an enormously large number of dumb people as compared to other industrialized countries. Reagan even lowered the I.Q. scale by ten points to raise the national I.Q. level.

The future on the current path looks very bleak. I have to back up for just a moment before going forward.

Robert Hayes who likes to comment on everything I post followed me from Facebook where all he did was post negative shit and now he is here doing the same. Here is my response to one of his comments he posted – a quote from Wikipedia:  “Peak oil is the point in time when the maximum rate of petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production is expected to enter terminal decline. Every oil well and field exhibits similar characteristics of being discovered, the logistics to extract the oil being put in place, a peak or plateau of production, followed by a decline.  US domestic oil production peaked in 1970. Global production of oil fell from a high point in 2005 at 74 mb/d, but has since rebounded, and 2011 figures show slightly higher levels of production than in 2005, as the definition of “oil” was changed in 2007 to include synthetic liquids.”   [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_oil]

So yes, the world oil production has gone up only because of fuzzy questionable bookkeeping not because there was anymore oil found all of a sudden which had peaked in the 1960s. We have only found less and less oil fields and wildcatters are coming up with more dry wells each year. Robert Hayes only finds enough information to support his point of view and doesn’t spend hours reading or cross references to see what he is saying is factual or supportive.

I say all this to show how so many people keep saying that we have lots of oil left for(ever), a long, long time. Discovery peaked in the 1960s and the entire planet has been surveyed so the question is where, or how, are people finding “new” oil. It is scientifically impossible.

So much for that.

The closer we get to the end of cheap fossil fuels the fewer choices we have or time left to act. Former president Clinton, Matthew Simmons an energy investment banker and adviser to George W Bush, and Dick Cheney all have said in one form or anther that we are running out of oil. Whether directly or indirectly stated we are on the downside of the Peak Oil curve and headed downward at an alarming speed. As Cheney said, “That means by 2010 we will need on the order of an additional fifty million barrels a day.” That means replacing that which we have lost due to decline. There has been plenty more people in the last decade that have come forward to say the same thing from former geologists, oil explorers, and people who worked with oil production information (like the U.S. Energy Dept.).

No one agreed when Peak Oil will or has happened. That doesn’t matter so much as it will, or has and we are doing absolutely nothing to prepare for no more oil! Technology will not save us like some white knight or some savior, they don’t exist. Technology is utterly dependent on cheap energy to work or for its production. Without oil absolutely everything collapses. Do a mind exercise and research to find something that isn’t dependent on oil in some way or another. (I’ll give you a hint: You find a single thing that isn’t dependent on oil.)

I am afraid this country is being pushed into a Mad Max scenario where people will fight over whatever scraps they can find.  In the book, Raising a Nation of Whimps by Hara Marano, editor-at-large and the former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today, has been watching a disturbing trend: kids are growing up to be wimps. [from Amazon]

People in the U.S. have little or no backbone or character worth acknowledging.  That said I have come across some very remarkable people but when it comes push to shove many of them would whimp out.  Too many who would give in to anyone doing violence.

What does the future hold for us. Nothing good. There will be those who will know how to grow food, process fiber and produce enough energy for their needs. They just lack the ability to defend themselves against the people who would rather steal what they need than produce it on their own. My wish that everyone learn to defend themselves, be able to produce what they need, create a strong reliable resilient community in order to survive the decline in cheap and once abundant fossil fuels. It will be through these communities that people will be able to not decline to far into a dark age and find solutions for a real sustainable  future based on the principles Nature has set forth where there is no waste, everything has worth.

My mantra has become: Learn to grow food & fiber. Learn to become energy independent (that doesn’t mean using only trees for fuel or you will see a localized Haiti effect).

 

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My last post asked what will happen with people who have a disability and I got exactly what I expected no reads and no comments. That speaks volumes.

I a very short time I will have to take a dead-end job just to pay the bills because Not the governor of Colorado not any city I contacted here where I live care about creating any sort of transition plans or real sustainability, durability, resilience policy. It seems the state I live in could care less what happens after cheap energy is gone and that will happen soon.

A now former CEO of Shell just a few years ago predicted we will have $3 per gallon gasoline by 2010 and we did, and do.  He also said to expect by 2015 the price to be $5 per gallon of gasoline.  We are heading that way and I have no doubt we will reach it.

Former president Clinton said in more than one speech or interview that we were headed for Peak Oil soon.  That was in 2006.  He also gave a deadline of 2030 as the year we can expect to run out of oil.  He may have let the cat out of the bag.

Here are some links.  You decide for yourself.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/warning-oil-supplies-are-running-out-fast-1766585.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_oil
http://business.financialpost.com/2011/04/01/oil-may-run-out-by-2060-hsbc/?__lsa=dcb8baa2
http://www.theinsider.org/news/article.asp?id=0423

At this point the U.S. is fu–ed.  There isn’t enough time to do anything really so here are my suggestions:

  1. Get some land, even within a city.
  2. Reduce your consumption of energy by super insulating your home.
  3. Learn to grow food and save seeds from one year to the next.
  4. Connect with people near you, within walking distance, to barter and exchange whatever you need.  This would include skills.
  5. Learn to grow fiber, process it and make cloths or whatever else you need. Also learn to grow dye plants.
  6. Grow some plants for easy fuel like sunflower for oil to burn in a lamp. Honey bees for honey and beeswax. Grow your own fuel.

That’s it people.  The other option to fight and defend precious resources is not the answer because those who rely on war and violence will die at some point when they can’t steal anymore because the people who know how to grow food, fiber and fuel will live far enough away for violence to reach them.

The future will change dramatically and we are not prepared.

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On the bus coming into downtown a friend boarded with whom I had a very interesting conversation.  It seems that every time I open my mouth there are a number of people on the bus I make uncomfortable and probably wish I would just shut up.  What do I say?

I said, we don’t much longer before we either run out of oil or it gets so expensive we won’t be able to afford it.   He agreed.  This made several people squirm in their seat, especially a young couple who look like they just got their first real jobs with more than a student level paycheck.  They look like they have money to spend by the way they dress.  Now it is not my intention to make people feel uncomfortable but it seems the truth does that to people.

My simple observation that we are running out of oil, and as a result fossil fuels, which will change our lives in such profound ways makes people uncomfortable.  People it would seem want to remain ignorant, oblivious to the truth.

I went on to mention to my friend that people will have a very hard time in the future as oil runs out.  Even the CEO of Shell mentioned just a few years ago how we are to expect $5 a gallon for gasoline by 2015.  We are well on our way.  What people don’t realize, we may have spikes from which the price will go back down but overall since the mid-1980s the price of gasoline has gone from 75 – 80 cents a gallon to around $3.80 currently.  A three dollar increase in 25 years which is more than inflation.  That’s actually more than a 4-hundred percent increase.

People have told me that technology will save them.  What they don’t realize is that technology is very heavily dependent on petroleum and can not save us.  It will never save us if we don’t have the energy.

President Clinton even mentioned in 2006 that we reached Peak Oil.  I’ve been telling people we hit Peak around 2007-2008.  We hit is sometime between 2005 and 2009 and we are not on a gentle slope of decline but rather heading for the valley below in increasing speeds until we hit bottom.  We fell off the cliff and bottom is getting closer and closer every day and yet people want to just continue to be entertained, numbed out of their skulls by useless stuff like TV and sports, and left alone so they don’t have to deal with reality, other than the manufactured stuff on TV.

Yes, this is turning into a bit of a rant, but it is good to get it out because too many people around me and in the U.S. as a whole want things to be left alone so they don’t have to change anything in their lives.  Colorado, where I live, has no plans to transition off fossil fuels.  The Transition Colorado group keeps teaching, and charging, for the same old classes rather than taking their lead from the original movement coming out of Ireland and England.

The transition techniques which have their origins in Permaculture were included in a student project overseen by permaculture teacher Rob Hopkins at the Kinsale Further Education College in Ireland. The term transition town was coined by Louise Rooney and Catherine Dunne. Following its start in Kinsale, Ireland it then spread to Totnes, England where Rob Hopkins and Naresh Giangrande developed the concept during 2005 and 2006. (www.wikipedia.org)

The problem with the Colorado groups that think they are helping are actually leaving out a large part of the population, namely working-poor, poor, homeless, and disenfranchised.  What I see happening is that only people who can afford to take classes, namely white-middle class, are getting a small piece of the pie, grow your own food, and everyone remains in the dark about how fast we are running out of cheap energy and what really needs to be done to keep some semblance of a society as we know it.

Even our governor keeps wanting to create jobs, grow the economy and keep Colorado prosperous.  Good luck when energy is running out and only getting more expensive.  I have been told we have plenty of coal left here in Colorado, not if you don’t have petroleum to run the machines to mine it you don’t.

We have to think differently.  We have to act differently.  We have to accept that we will no longer see a growing economy.  We will no longer see what we call prosperity.  We will no longer have it as good as we have had it in the past.  It’s over. Finished and the only thing we can do is prepare for a different kind of future.  We have to completely let go of the past, old ways of thinking, economic theories and even incomes and profits. They will all go away.

That is what I keep talking about and people don’t want to hear it, but they have to.  If they don’t want to have a future of chaos or one that is out of control then you have to get away from what has lead us down that merry path and make a new one.  We have to remake ourselves and everything around us. We don’t have a choice.

 

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I am going to use the word Geothermal to mean more than the narrow definition of just producing electricity which many people think of when they hear the word.   Geothermal to me means ‘ground heat’ or heat from the Earth broadening its application.

Background and History

The word Geothermal has its root in Greek words for Earth and Heat. Geo or gaia means Earth and thermo or therm for heat or warmth.  Heat from the Earth has been known for a long, long time with many ancient people making use of thermal springs that naturally rose to surface. Some of them were enclosed to hold in the heat and create a hot pool in which to bath while in other areas the water would have been hauled a short distance for use. Ancient people used this form of Geothermal heat for bathing as far back as ten-thousand years.

It was not until more recent years that we have seen the use of the Earth’s heat to produce electricity.  July 4th 1904 the first power plant using dry steam from a geothermal source went online to produce electricity in Larderello Italy. In 1911 the plant was upgraded to industrial levels for higher electrical production.  It was the only power plant in the world producing electricity in this way until 1958.  The site has seen more than 30% drop in steam pressure from its peak in the 1050’s.

In 1958 the Wairakei plant in New Zealand made use of flash steam technology.  Pacific Gas and Electric began to operate a Geothermal plant in 1960 in California. A binary cycle plant was put into use in Russia in 1967 and in the 1970’s in the United States after the energy crisis. The binary cycle plant makes use of much lower steam pressure. Now there are some 60 plants world wide producing electricity.

Many of the newer power plants make use of wells drilled to pump water underground before it resurfaces as steam unlike older plants which made use of areas where steam naturally rose from the ground.

Some Pro’s and Con’s

Pro’s:

  • compared to fossil fuels it is environmentally friendly and less polluting
  • it is a safe form of energy
  • for the most part it is renewable for as long as the Earth’s core remains intact producing heat
  • it can produce electricity at a fair price and is not subject to price fluctuations as fossil fuels are
  • it costs little to operate a Geothermal power plant
  • it reduces our dependence on fossil fuels and can be a transition energy source to include other renewable energy sources
  • more energy can be extracted by using the remaining heat in conjunction with Stirling engines to produce more electricity or for heating in nearby homes or businesses thereby getting a bigger return

Con’s

  • it is costly to setup a Geothermal plant
  • the heat source does not last and begins to decline soon after a power plant goes online
  • is not available everywhere, very localized
  • it could release poisonous gases like hydrogen sulfide which is hard to deal with or dispose of
  • pipes can become clogged with mineral deposits shutting a plant down
  • Earthquakes and after shocks can occur do to the drilling and pumping of water underground
  • it has limited applications, heat and electricity production only

There is only one Con I can see that is never adequately discussed – is there any potential damage it could cause to the Earth’s core by extracting ‘too’ much heat at one time like if there were too many Geothermal plants built around the world to meet future energy needs. All the water pumped underground to extract the Earth’s heat could cause a cooling effect as has been seen with existing power plants where steam pressure is lost overtime as the heat in the area is lost.  Until this majorly important question is answered without a brush-off with words like, ‘there’s plenty of heat, it can’t happen’ I can not in all honesty support it as a ‘major’ energy contributor and only see it on the sidelines.

Now onto a way I am fully supportive of.  In Europe new home designs with a heat pump work in two ways have been used successfully for a number of years now and should in my opinion be used in the U.S. too. I will admit I have not absorbed all the information as I am not an engineer or scientist to fully understand the inner workings but I do know  enough to relay the information for you here.

First, the home is super insulated to make best use of the heating and cooling without wasting energy as typical McMansions or other low insulation construction methods do.  The home will have several solar panels to collect the Sun’s heat throughout the day storing excess heat in one or more tanks in the basement.  Once the tanks are fully charged the excess heat is not wasted but stored in the ground beneath the house using the heat pump.  When heat is needed it is extracted from the tank and then from underground.  In this way you maximize the amount of heat stored without wasting it.  In summer months the heat pump can act as a means of cooling a home by storing the heat underground for cooler months.  In new homes radiant heat can be installed in both the floors and walls but in older homes the old fashioned radiators or baseboard radiators can be installed.

By combining Solar Heat collection and heat pumps that make use of the ground beneath a home as storage and extracting the heat the whole system becomes more energy efficient with very little need for additional or backup heating or cooling. The ground essentially becomes a heat battery that is recharged part of the year and drawn from when needed. Makes sense to me.

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I might as well be honest, neither of these are something I would support and I thing we should not persue them rather we should be getting off oil as fast as possible.  Now let my explain why I am not a fan of either of these unconventional forms of energy, oil.

Tar Sands

Here is a partial list of some of the more glaring reasons why we should stop extracting oil from tar sands:

  1. Strip mining leaves the land destroyed for many lifetimes in the future.
  2. It uses millions of gallons of fresh water that is left polluted forever.
  3. It disrupts wildlife habitat for thousands of miles around, both in migration and in taking away their home by destroying it.
  4. It leaves huge, I mean so large you could not walk around, sometimes for miles very large waste ponds that poison the ground water and soil for a very, very long time.
  5. Any doubts about what I’ve said take a look at areal photographs of these ponds and the mining operation and it will become glaringly obvious to yourself the need to stop such nearly devastation to supply you with oil.
  6. The EROEI (Energy Return on Energy Invested) is a good measure as to how financially viable it is going after any source of energy or will it actually take more input than it gives back. As for Tar Sands the EROEI is only 1.5:1 or one-half more than what is input. To say this another way, if you get 15 barrels out you spent 10 barrels getting it. There is one flaw with this, it doesn’t take into account the millions of gallons of water that are poisoned, the land destruction, the huge amounts of pollution create and takes to mine as well as process the sand into an oil that can be refined.
    Tar Sands is an overall energy loss no matter how you look at it, because two other crucial figures are left out, transportation and refining it which then takes the energy return into the negative. There you have it.
    Why go after Tar Sands? It’s a last ditch effort with the help of  huge subsides to keep it going and to damn with all the environmental  protection laws and regulations. The U.S. is a huge importer of this oil from Canada. This impost of oil is a cover for the fact we are running out of oil.

Some people online and in papers they have published claim the EROEI is much higher, as high as 4 or 4.5 for Tar Sands. They are only using deceptive manipulation of the numbers to raise the energy output by ignoring many of things I have mentioned already.  Below I will post a link to photographs of the Tar Sands so you can see the total devestation that has been caused to keep you supplied (in the U.S. namely) with oil, gasoline, diesel and plastics (along with the millions of other products made from oil).

My advice, get off oil as fast as possible and shut down the mining of Tar Sands today!

Shale (the rock that burns)

The EROEI is even worse for Shale than for Tar Sands. You can literally superimpose the reasons for Tar Sands onto Shale. Huge mountains are turned into rubble in the process expending a large amount of energy to get nothing in return.  Let me go into a bit more detail and EROEI for Shale to oil and natural gas.

The amount of energy it takes to mine, crush, process, ship, refine Shale leaves it with no more energy than a baked potato.  Including the millions of gallons of fresh water left poisoned and the environmental devastation involved which leaves the amount of energy in Shale far worse than Tar Sands, in the negative numbers.

Here in Colorado where I live several mines were abandoned after several years because without huge subsides, tax dollars given to the companies they were never profitable to mine and process shale into oil. Both Chevron and ExxonMobile gave up leaving the mines as huge scares on the land.

The gas production from Shale is hard to estimate as we have no idea what it actually costs to get at the gas as it is a secret Haliburton is keeping.  Here is what is involved: Fracking is a method of injecting under high pressure and high temperature water and a chemical soup Haliburton claims is proprietary leaving the ground water and surrounding land poisoned. First, several wells are drilled into the Shale deposit. Then huge trucks are brought in with the chemicals and water if it is not available in huge quantities on the surface or by drilling. Both are heated and pumped underground to fracture the Shale and it is this fracturing which releases the gas. If the area sees a decline in gas production then the process is repeated with more clean water mixed with the chemical soup to further fracture the Shale.

People who live in the area where Fracking have found their well water becomes mixed with the gas causing it to burn. Also, the chemical soup leaves the water poisoned and undrinkable unless a person wants to commit suicide. natural gas is sometimes even found to bubble up from the ground which adds methane a greenhouse gas to the atmosphere. Haliburton has so far claimed no responsibility yet everywhere they have done this process the same results have occurred in thousands of wells.

With huge energy inputs to extract gas leaves me to conclude the EROEI is very low or in the negative. It is nothing more than a last ditch effort to hide the truth from people, we are running out of Natural Gas rapidly!

I suggest people find every which way to reduce your dependence on oil and gas as quickly as possible. Some practical tips: insulate your home to greatly reduce your energy consumption. For people who have some land, not within cities as restrictions would be greater, build an underground methane digester to produce enough methane for all your cooking needs cleaning and storing any extra for colder months. If it is at all possible build or convert your fireplace to a what is called a Masonry Stove in the U.S. or Kachelofen in Europe. It uses less wood or other materials and provides more heat to the home. Park your car or get rid of it and use public transportation or bicycle. Walking won’t hurt you either. Buy organic food and natural fiber clothing or as little petroleum fiber clothing as possible. Grow as much of your own food as possible, even apartment dwellers can do this it just takes ingenuity and a will.

The ideas are by no mean comprehensive but at least it gives you options that take you beyond oil and gas. The more you do the less you use which helps. Encourage friends and family to join you. Make these types of operations more expensive by not using as much as you presently do to the point where they have to shut down because they can no longer make a profit. Become energy independent, decentralize energy production and distribution are the only way to rid ourselves of our dependence on fossil fuels.

References:

http://energy.geothunder.com/2011/10/11/eroei-shale-oil-and-shale-gas/
http://www.westernresourceadvocates.org/land/oseroi.php
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shale_gas
http://www.citizenscampaign.org/campaigns/hydro-fracking.asp
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_fracturing
Pictures of the Tar Sands:
http://www.google.com/search?tbm=isch&hl=en&source=hp&biw=1280&bih=694&q=Tar+sands&gbv=2&oq=Tar+sands&aq=f&aqi=g10&aql=&gs_l=img.3..0l10.9609l11236l0l11644l9l9l0l1l1l1l152l960l1j7l8l0.frgbld.

 

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