Archive for the ‘Sustainability’ Category

Disasters are never fun and neither is having your daily routine upset in order to survive one. It can be stressful and full of things that can go wrong.

I’ve been checking out a variety of blogs and websites advocating a variety of ways to survive a disaster. Most people who prepare for a disaster tend to follow textbook advise by supplying themselves with modern conveniences and technology. For a short-term disaster that is often fine but not if it should last six months or more. What do you do then?

Here is an example of what someone might do to prepare themselves:

Buy a diesel powered electric generator, either a tracktor or plow and stock up lots of canned
food and other personal care items. So along comes someone who didn’t prepare but has weapons and takes what you have which took you so long to stock up in the first place. Then what?

If your scour blogs like I do you will come across those people who advocate that you militarize yourself with weapons and follow military survival techniques. Although helpful will not help you survive if there are also other people competing for the same resources in which case you both fight it out until one is dead, one gives up or you both decide to work together. That’s a lot of wasted energy and it only perpetuates the very mindset that created the problems in the first place.

Here is why I don’t recommend following prescribed plans for surviving a disaster:
For all modern things that require a liquid fuel such as a generator or tractor need a huge supply
of liquid fuel which means a large tank to hold it. Eventually you will run out then what?

Then people think about getting a plow and an animal, horses or buffalo to pull the plow which requires a large amount of feed (namely grasses and other plants) or large enough field for them to graze in. Don’t forget you have to train the animals and yourself too. That only adds to the work needed.

Instead here is what I recommend:
I say do away with conventional thinking and do the work yourself in small manageable sized plots. Figure out how much you can work in a day then figure out how much you need to feed yourself and that is the amount of land you need. Masanobu Fukuoka – a Japanese Permaculturist – said anyone can feed themselves on a quater acre by following his [permaculture] principals.

It is actually not that hard to feed yourself by building a quarter acre food forest which grows a large variety of edible plants which has built in resiliency. What does that mean?

When the potato famine happened in Ireland it wiped out the single type of potato they grew. If on the other hand they had grown a variety of potatoes like Peruvian people do then they would have survived the potato famine because not all of the potatoes would have been effected. That is what resiliency is about. If one thing fails not everything fails that means you don’t fail either.

So, if you are going to prepare yourself to survive a long-term disaster, which means you can also survive short-term disasters, you prepare yourself in such a way that includes resiliency in your plans. It also means not relying on any modern techniques, machines, technologies and so on. That way if someone with weapons should pass your way you stand a better chance of surviving because you don’t have anything worth stealing.

Read Full Post »

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).


Read Full Post »

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.


Read Full Post »

[ Sorry about the way this article looked. I am not sure what happened to the font. ]

Can we feed ourselves after the oil is gone?

This article is in response to an article in Permaculture magazine Spring 2012 issue, No. 71. The article,Can We Feed the World? Five experts give their views on the best methods of eco-farming, page 54 to 56.

These five experts each have their views with some cross-over. The five experts are, Bethan Stagg, Colin Tudge, Peter Harper, Patrick Whitefield, and John Ellison.

First there is Bethan Stagg who says we need to put into a practice techniques that take into account
local environmental conditions using intensification to get the most output possible. Saying it another
way, it is a type of polyculture farming technique.

Next Colin Tudge just says what I’ve have been hearing for some time now, we are growing enough to feed 14billion people but it all goes toward increasing profits rather than feeding people. Not completely true
as some of the food stuff are not meant for people but cattle or other farm animals because the grain has been genetically altered so people can’t eat it. He mentions the problem of wastage some of which can not be helped and that which can be helped should not be dumped but fed to people. People in industrialized
nations have been brain-washed into buying only the best looking and ignore blemishes or slight defects.
That needs to change.

Peter Harper talks about producing food in a post-carbon future. In other words, food production without
fossil fuels.

Patrick Whitefield is a strong promoter of Permaculture.

John Ellison and Bethan both agree that we can’t afford to rely on just one approach to solve our food
needs in the future.

They are all correct. We need to stop relying on mono-culture large factory farms and change the way we
farm altogether. This means we go back to the way we used to not too long ago. Also, we need to do away
with chemical inputs, tractors and so on to move away from oil and other fossil fuels, even biodiesel.

Based on their input and my views the answer to growing enough food is this:

  • We get away from the corporate farm and go back to many smaller farms.
  • We need to incorporate many approaches to grow the food we need.
    • Masanobu Fukuoka from Japan gave us no-work farming where there is no tilling of the soil, no
      fertilization, all organic and he has yields the same or better as farmers using tractors and
    • Sepp Holzer from Austria gave us poli-farming techniques. He combined fruit trees, herbs, grains, vegetables, hogs and fish all on the same land requiring again no equipment, no fertilization, and it is virtually self maintaining. He mostly spends his time harvesting and selling what he grows and does most of the work establishing his method and then there virtually no more work.
    • Polyculture at the most intensive manner possible geared to a local environment. This comes up in Permaculure in designing a Food Forest were in a small space you can feed more people than using traditional farming methods. Usually every three acres of Food Forest can feed around 8 to 12.
  • We need to produce food closer to where it is consumed. Places like the U.S. need to consume less calories overall, start by cutting the meat consumption by at least 50% the first year and again
    another 50% a few years later. Cows, pigs, chickens and other factory farmed animals need to be set free to feed the way they were originally intended, without hormones.
  • We need follow models like Cuba as a way to transition off oil and produce enough food for ourselves
  • The profit needs to be taken out of growing food, and feeding the people of the world.
  • Corporations like Monsanto need to be put out of business so food can again be put in the hands of

Everyone needs to decide what happens with their food, how it is grown and treated before it gets to theirtable. People also have to realize that for decades corporations (or governments) who have controlled their food have not had their best interests at heart only their own. That needs to stop. Our ancestors were either Vegetarians or near Vegetarians because they realized that it was a matter of survival and feeding an animal came second to their own survival. This meant that meat consumption was low.

Traditional methods of growing food need to be brought back and taught to everyone growing food if they
are to survive after the end of fossil fuels. Otherwise we will need to prepare ourselves, especially in the U.S., for food wars, riots, and uprising because people will want to eat and not know how to feed themselves in any other way than to steal it.

Read Full Post »

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.


Pictures of the Tar Sands:


Read Full Post »

This is going to be a short and not so supportive article of nuclear energy.

Nuclear energy is not carbon neutral. Nuclear energy is not clean. Nuclear energy is not 100% safe. Nuclear energy is not going to be way to power the future.

Nuclear energy is not carbon neutral. Nuclear energy is not clean.
Let us start at the beginning. Mining the raw material requires huge amount of dirty fossil fuels to extract from the earth, process and finally refine or later reprocess into material that can be used in a nuclear power plant that produces electricity. All along that path there are huge amount of pollution released and carbon dioxide. Anyone claiming it is carbon neutral are only talking about there not being a smoke stack – they literally have blinders on and only see through the very small slit in their blinders.

Then, after the material is all used up and is no longer usable to produce electricity it is sent to a plant that can reprocess it taking out the spent parts and reform the usable material, which is a good idea but it requires energy to do so. It then has to be shipped back to the power plant and this can be repeated several times before the nuclear material ends up in a pool of water for storage on site where it stays until we can figure out what to do with it.

Nuclear energy is not 100% safe.
Nuclear material is unsafe for more than a one thousand life times (1,000 x 80 years = 80 thousand ) and possibly longer depending on the material and the way it is stored. This means that it is radioactive and harmful to all life forms on the planet for the entire time it is radioactive. Not only that there is the problem of tailings from mining and other sources along the path of processing or reprocessing.

Then there is the plant itself which after about 40 or so years becomes unsafe for people to work in as the whole plant becomes increasingly more radioactive. The only safe thing to do it to dismantle it and bury it. We have no other solution at this time.

Nuclear energy is not going to be way to power the future.
I have scoured for articles or any information on how much longer we can expect to mine material for our nuclear power plants and I have found varying time frames. Some say we have nothing to worry about we can use it well into our future while other’s say we will run out around the time we run out of oil, coal and natural gas – around 60 to 100 years. Just because it will be around for another 100 years does not mean we can sit back and do nothing, it means just the opposite. As we get closer to running out we can only expect the cost of it go up, and up as supply declines which means that near the end it will be so costly we just won’t turn on our lights or heat our homes any longer. We shouldn’t be complacent but rather act right now to overt the high costs we can expect in the coming future.

My Solution:
Follow what most of Europe is doing right now, moving toward a sustainable future with renewable energy and conservation. Europe has a three prong approach to the future: make use of all the current available measures that help to cut energy consumption by the maximum, like the Passivhaus. Then add Solar heat (and cooling), Solar Photovoltaic panels and a wide variety of windmills, from large windmills out at sea to smaller helix windmills on roof tops within cities or not as large windmills in the countryside. And last, add measures to help store excess energy in the form or pumped water or with biogas plants built near or on farms.

This is exactly what Germany and Sweden,  among other European countries, are doing to produce all of their own energy within their own borders. Automobiles are also being replace with public transit and bicycles.

Nuclear energy can play a small part as we transition toward renewable energy sources but not for the long-term for the one big issue so many people brush aside – where are we going to keep radioactive material that is harmful to all life forms for such a long time. Some try to mislead you by saying it has a half-life of such and such but that is only represents half of the time required for us to store it safely. What about after that? Nuclear material and everything form tailings to the power plant itself need to be dealt with. The sooner we can close them down the sooner we can move on to something less dangerous to life on planet Earth.

A few references:

Read Full Post »

Joyce, sorry for the wait on your question on magnetic motors. No, I have no information on them. I did some searches and found some videos but really no information. The people who claim to have built them say they are producing more energy than is going in. That would violate the laws of physics. Now if it is somehow possible then why aren’t these people building them quietly to produce all of their own electricity, and for their family and friends? They could literally be making electricity to could sell to the utility company each and every month, but that is not happening. I want to see such a motor, have it tested and if it is for real I would produce them at cost for anyone that wanted one.

Until I can verify it for myself I don’t think they work the way some claim and there is no free electricity. It would be better to follow the European example, convert your home to a Passivhaus design (much, much better than Leeds) and then add Solar Photovoltaic panels or helix windmill. With conservation you would produce so much energy each and every month you would be paid by the utility company instead of paying them.


Another thing. I do have to apologize for the not so good article on hydrogen but I just find the whole thing one big fat joke. It will never power any economy much less your car or home. It is such a scam! Hydrogen is, 1) not a source of energy but an energy carrier, 2) all along the energy path you are losing energy and what you get back in the end is no better than an internal combustion engine, 3) you are better off using the electricity, natural gas (methane or biogas) directly rather than waste energy to convert it to hydrogen. Hydrogen at best may play a small part as a form of energy storage, but a very small part because compressed air and water pumped uphill have better returns. Not only that recently a professor at MIT came up with a battery that can store a good amount of energy for a good price.

We need to stop wasting energy and money persuing hydrogen as a source of energy.

That would have not made a good article either but I dare anyone to look at the data, the research and see for themselves and they will have no other conclusion. Anyone pushing for hydrogen never back what they say with data, they only talk in fantasy, dream like statements of possibilities. They are just full of hot air and if we could harness that we would be energy independent for sure.


And lastly. I have decided after some thought that I need to add something to this blog to help bring in some, even if it’s small, income. I’ve decided to look at adding some books from Amazon to my posts as a way to make money. I know, I know. I’ve done my research and found that people are no longer making a so called living at blogging, unless they have more than a handful of them each bringing in some money. But, being unemployed and finding it hard to find work that would actually pay the bills I need to look at having more than one income source and this blog is going to be one of them.  I am also looking to teach classes with regard to sustainability, around the Greenhouse Project itself, and what we have to look forward to in the future with regard to peak oil, peak water and peak land. Anyone interested in hiring me to speak at their event please email me. Thanks.


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »