Archive for the ‘Solidarity’ Category

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.

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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The Scientific American article, “Can we get off oil now?” dated February 28, 2011 has some very interesting points.

Too much of our oil we are dependent on comes from countries like, Africa, Middle East and Venezuela. (See full list of members of OPEC: http://www.opec.org/opec_web/en/about_us/25.htm) Many of these countries either have internal strife or they are not very friendly to the U.S. (they just like our money). Any of these countries could at any time begin the process of cutting off our oil supply and would we have enough money, oil reserves and troops to go after the oil?

The article says it well: “Eight of the top nine oil exporters are dictatorships or autocratic kingdoms, a control structure funded by our own dollars that is suddenly being shaken.” This was after the banking collapse and the financial crisis.

This paragraph brings home some of the hidden costs of oil most people have no idea exist: “The payoff of significantly reducing oil consumption would reach far beyond the economy and the environment, by the way. A study by Boyden Gray and Andrew Varcoe noted that oil companies are permitted under a waiver of the Clean Air Act to include known carcinogens such as benzene, toluene and xylene in gasoline, which raise octane (power output). The study showed that the added cost to healthcare and shortened lives in the U.S. comes to more than $100 billion a year.”

The article says what so many have said before: “To be clear, the goal is to break U.S. addiction to oil, not just foreign oil.” But how?

One solution is to get us off oil by transitioning toward liquid fuels that can take the place of petroleum is to implement a $1-per-gallon-gasoline-tax. This tax would be phazed in over time a nickel each month to give people time to begin finding alternatives, other options. This tax is the idea of Thomas Friedman who advocated that the tax go to lower the national deficit. Other people say the tax should go to fund new alternative fuels.

The RAND Corporation in a white paper they issued argued for a crude oil tax, “at the refinery, spreads the burden across all taxpayers, not just motorists and truckers.” Spreading out the tax would be more preferable, but then it would have to be significantly more than a dollar-per-barrel.

Another option would be to have two kinds of taxes, one on the crude itself and to help reduce car usage, and its associated health and other hidden costs on society tax both diesel and gasoline at the pump. Both could be fazed in over a period of a year at a nickle at a time at the pump, or in the case of crude, $5 a barrel every 3 months.

There is also the argument that subsides would have to phazed out just as the tax is being phazed in to make other options more affordable and desirable.

But, would this move us toward something better? No! Not necessarily. There is no gaurantee that something better would happen as corporations are known for taking short-cuts and doing what is in their best interests and makes them, and their stock holders, a profit. Here are my thoughts.

Hybrid and Flex-fuel vehicles are a joke. If were to have used them we should have started back in the late 70s and 80s. We need to move faster than implementing something that will take years to get them into the hands of the public.

Electric cars sound like a good idea but tell me, how much of that car is made with petroleum products? Did a light bulb just come on? Have never thought about this before? The answer varies slightly but around half of every car has parts that are made from petroleum. Here is a list: bumper, cloth covering the whole inside of a car, the floor carpets, all the hoses and belts, the battery casing, coating on the wires, lenses for all the lights, door panels, dashboard, seats, mirror housing,  knobs, switches, gauges, sound-system, ignition system, cables, computer, oil, lubricant, seat-belt, brake line, brake fluid, floor petals, anti-freeze, fuel line, steering wheel, and wheels. Did I miss anything? It really doesn’t matter because the point is, the car is able to move due to petroleum and is almost completely made from petroleum. So electric cars are out.

Hydrogen cars are out. Don’t even get me started talking about what a colossal waste in every sense of the word persuing Hydrogen as a fuel is. It is NOT a source of energy and never will be. It is an energy carrier. It takes more energy to liberate hydrogen from its bonds that you get out. Besides like the electric car it would be mostly made of petroleum.

Liquid fuels are a serious waste of money. We can make use of ethanol (not from corn) and biodiesel (from more than soy) to transition off of petroleum but we will never be able to grow enough to supply every car, truck, train, or boat with a liquid fuel. We would face a serious limitation in how much we can grow and still be able to feed ourselves. Liquid fuels from other sources, like coal or natural gas would face their own peak and quick decline soon after their introduction. Besides the idea is we transition off all fossil fuels in order to not be dependent of foreign imports any longer.

What does that leave? Some fringe ideas like cars that run on compressed air. This would actually be a good idea for the interim but not the long-term if we are to move off of petroleum. Running cars on compressed natural gas is another waste of our efforts. We would run out of natural gas in less than ten years if we had any significant number of personal cars using natural gas.

There is no single idea that will keep us all driving our cars, trucks, trains, or boats into the future. There are no alternatives. Don’t even mention algae because the amount of energy input (petroleum is used in lubricating the pumps, growing drums or membranes, tubing, pipes, filter, and some of the chemicals have petroleum ties) would be greater than the energy output. Algae is a lost cause. We should have worked on this one decades ago.

My solution: raise the tax as quickly as possible on both the crude and at the pump. Use the money to build an infrastructure of PRT transit systems, light-rail and both medium and heavy rail relying on electricity to move them, not diesel. Buses for public transit would disappear. Use the tax to set up a lab where brilliant scientists with not corporate ties would be given the task to find ways to mimic nature in producing plastics, along with other products, for the public transit systems. All items produced would have to be produced in such a way that at the end of their life would either be harmlessly returned to the soil or remade in some way so there is never any waste.

And how does this tie into growing food? Duh! 1) Farms would have to be divided up and made much smaller. 2) Food needs to be grown where people live and not transported. 3) We will need to rely more on natural fibers to replace all the petroleum based fibers. 4) The colors used in making cloths or for print work would be replaced with natural materials. 5) All farm equipment would have to rely on either electricity or biodiesel, but the farmer would have to produce it themselves and use it on the farm – no transport involved or the return on invested energy would go way up becoming unsustainable. 6) Nothing less than 100% organic everything. 7) The old systems would have to be allowed to crumble for this transition to occur just like everything eventually dies.

There you have it. I see not other way,  everything else but a direct heading toward complete transition off of fossil fuels as a waste of money and time. I would love to hear what you have to say so please comment.

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For well over a decade people have questioned whether continued growth, especially exponential growth, can be sustained or worth pursuing.  This is for several reasons, there are limits to growth as we live on a finite planet. Resources are not limitless, even nature has limits it imposes and doesn’t allow one species or another to go beyond the limits that lead to its own death. In fact nature allows for die-off to occur limiting any one species to not dominate a particular ecosystem.

Let me first look at Nature. Lets say a particular animal begins to have too many young. If there is plenty of food then nothing happens and all the young that are born not deformed or experience disease live. But if the food or water supply is limited for one reason or another then both the young and older animals die off. Usually the weaker members. Nature keeps a delicate balance so the food or water source is not over exploited to the point of desertification where both plant and animal die off completely as well as any other species within that ecosystem.

The only species that does not limit itself and does everything to prevent natural methods of die-off from occurring is us humans. Modern medicine pats itself on the back with claims of having fended off many diseases through vaccinations or disease prevention methods. In doing so it has allowed many genetic weaknesses to creep into the human gene pool and the eventuality of Pandemic scares many health officials.

So what does this have to do with a No-growth Economy or the I Don’t Pay movement? Everything!

First, we humans have overtaken much of the Earth at the expense of other species and that can not continue. We either reduce our numbers voluntarily or we will find that our numbers will be limited involuntarily.  Second, as cheap energy comes to an end and other resource run out we will find that there is a natural limit to the amount of food we can grow when we can no longer spend 10 to 40 calories to obtain one calorie of food.

Herman Daly, an ecological economist, started in the 1970s to present, and publish books, on the topic of limiting grow and steady growth. His premise is that if an economy comes to a stead state, one that does not continue to grow, will eventually reach a state where it finds an equilibrium to remain below the carrying capacity of the planet. Currently we are consuming enough for two planets and if everyone alive were to live like a person in the U.S. we would need four to five more planets.

The idea of living within our means, the availability of natural resources, does not have to be a life in darkness or hunger as present delusional and misguided economists, and their followers, would have you believe. Where is it written that if we live within the Earth’s natural limits we have to go hungry or without anything? Nowhere.

If we look at Mondragon, Spain we can actually see an economic system that comes very close to being a no-growth economy. Everyone within the cooperative system of Mondragon is neither very rich nor poor. People have often said when driving through the city of Mondragon how nice it looks, how well off things look, middle-class. The businesses within the system are cooperatives which have a triple bottom line where the employees, the business and the community all share equally in any profits. When the financial crisis hit in 2008 the bank within the cooperative didn’t even take much notice. It is one of Spain’s most successful banks.

To have an economy that does not grow does not mean people go without, not do businesses or anything else. It just means no growth. No excess. A limit on greed. It also limits waste.

With Herman Daly’s no-growth economy all physical resource are recycled, repaired, or something else which keeps them within the system and not wasted. By doing away with waste you could naturally do away with pollution, environmental degradation and so forth. In other words, those things that current economics sees as externalities are no longer considered external to the system and are included so they can be dealt with.

With a system adopting a no-growth economy the current I Don’t Pay movement actually makes sense. Why should we pay twice for something that gets government funding and he out of our pockets. It only encourages waste. In a no-growth economy public transit systems would be as free as libraries and everyone would have equal access to them. Having free public transit would also encourage more people to leave their cars at home or not even own one if the infrastructure is there for public transportation. People would argue the opposite but look at European cities that currently have a surcharge to enter city centers actually helps to cut pollution and congestion. It works.

No-growth economics actually works with the limitations of Nature and all the natural resources. As fossil fuels run out there would be a move smoothly toward renewable sources of energy and the transition would be unnoticeable. That is not happening in the U.S. It would also encourage a move toward more local smaller economies as we once had not long ago. Food would be grown closer to home, closer to where it is consumed. In a no-growth society it would also separate industrial sewage from human to create energy, methane, and the resulting valuable fertilizer  would end up back on the land where it belongs.

This idea of closing the loop on resources means they would be recovered for recycling, repair, reviving them, re-purposing, or for remixing them in some advantageous way so they never end up in a landfill. The whole process of using resource would be rethought and reworked to one that leads to being more sustainable.

I’ve just taken you from natural die off all the way through no-growth economics. If we continue with business as usual then we will end up dying off. If we take the advice of people like Herman Daly, and other people like him, then we can follow the lead European countries have set moving toward something that is truly sustainable, without all of the green washing.

Ok, I admit it, I took Herman Daly’s ideas a little further, but they make sense in an economy that does not grow.

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There is a growing movement in Europe at the moment called I Don’t Pay! This post will be most controversial but it goes along with what I am trying to do with the overall Greenhouse Project.

We had Occupy taking over many major cities around the world. People camped out in good and poor weather to make a statement about the state of the world and the way things are being run. Even the major news outlets, blogs and websites keep taking about the 99% and the 1% and how the wealth has moved upwards. How it has been co-opted by few people for their sole greed and no social good has come of it. Phrases like, “too big to fail” have now become part of our lexicon and some have even said that they should have failed to help drag the top downward and broken up the “too big” into much smaller more manageable businesses.

Now I was sent a link to a YouTube video titled, Movement “I Don’t Pay” is spreading acrosss Europe (english subs) [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqeTGTU6FFg ] . The video is not even 5 minutes long and yet it has a powerful message, why pay for social programs. Why pay for things when the government subsides them? Why pay for something like public transit that gets government money? Why are people paying twice for things?

In the United States because our government offices at the state, federal or local levels don’t get audited or have to reveal where they spend their money we often don’t know how our tax dollars are spent or just how much a particular entity is getting. I suspect between the Occupy movement and the I Don’t Pay movement we are going to see much more information coming out to shine a light where there has been none.

Now I know what you are thinking, what does this have to do with food, food production, or the selling or buying of food. In the United States farmers, the big farmers, the corporate farms get huge amounts of subsides to either not plant crops, to plant particular crops, to manage the land as it is leaving it wild, or to produce a particular end product, like sugar. Food and non-food crops and end products are subsidized almost from seed to market, and in some cases they are when dumped onto the international markets.

When I came up with the Greenhouse Project I right away started wondering how can I produce food at the best price possible and even make good whole organic food affordable to people who don’t necessarily make a lot of money. What follows are just some of the ideas I’ve had.

Building the greenhouse where people are so they don’t have to go very far will reduce ‘food miles’ greatly. By reducing what it costs to get food from seed to table in this way will cut production costs. All people would have to do is walk, bicycle or if needed drive a very short distance to buy fresh food just picked moments earlier. People will also increase their nutritional intake by eating food that was harvested at the peak of ripeness.

Energy is one of the biggest contributors to the cost of food raised in a greenhouse. What if the cost could be greatly reduced or even completely eliminated how would that effect the price of food. By building the greenhouse as a passive solar greenhouse it takes advantage of the solar energy gain during the day storing excess heat underground in a heat battery which can help even out the temperature and reduce the need to heat the greenhouse. Now living in Denver, Colorado there will be times when heating the greenhouse in the winter is needed. In the summer there will be days when cooling will be needed or the greenhouse would overheat. How to handle this?

First, by having more than one method of extracting unnecessary heat and storing it. Heat can be stored under the greenhouse in what people now call a ‘heat battery’ which is a concept that came out of the 70s and has been updated a bit. Using fans excess heat is drawn downward underground and stored. When extra heat is needed the same fans transfer the heat back into the greenhouse. Simple actually. In the 70s a rock bed was used and today pipes laid underground are used instead. The same thing really.

Another way to deal with heating, or cooling needs, is to make use of a heat pump that can efficiently store heat in a large tank of water or use that heat for cooling instead. Either way a heat pump makes the best use of the energy input by returning about twice that in heating or cooling. If there is still excess heat on the very hottest days of the year vents and fans would help move the excess out of the greenhouse.

What if it’s the middle of the winter and there is not enough solar gain, then what? That’s where the passive design of the greenhouse comes into play. It doesn’t just rely on one source of energy to keep the greenhouse warm. To help supplement the need for heating small animals can be utilized, like rabbits. These rabbits can be housed throughout the greenhouse to distribute their heat output more evenly. People who work in the greenhouse would also contribute their body heat. These things would not be able to heat the greenhouse on their own so there has to be something more.

A methane digester could be utilized throughout the year to produce methane that is stored in ordinary LPG or larger tanks. The size of the digester would be determined by the amount of material added each day. A simple digester design used in India which holds about 2,500 liters of material would produce enough gas for a family of four to cook all three meals, heat water or produce light using a gas-lantern for several hours each night. Now this digester is small and meant for a single family, but the potential for producing enough methane is there. In the summer the gas would be compressed and stored and when it gets too cold it could automatically be tapped to keep the greenhouse well above freezing.

Combining the passive solar gain with storage, body heat, heat pump(s), and methane production the cost of heating the greenhouse could be reduced to nothing. Electricity could be produced on site using Photovoltaic panels and windmills. Excess electricity produced can be stored as compressed air in the same way methane is stored and when extra is needed it drives a turbine generator combination.

By reducing the cost of food production makes it that much more affordable. Along with these ideas there would also be the idea of Solidarity Economics. This is not a new concept but one that began in early 1990s which came out of ideas stated in the 1970s. It is all about being fair and less of a consumer driven society that is headed for self destruction.

Not one of these ideas is new. Everything I’ve present has been around for decades. Food shouldn’t need subsidizing it should be freely available to every person at a price they can afford.

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