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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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If you haven’t heard about Peak Oil you must not be keeping up or been living under a rock. We are running out. How fast is hard to say because all the data in the last couple of decades has been based on historical information or been lies by the oil industry itself and our U.S. government. Shell admitted to lying and even scaled back what it said it had paying some heavy fines for those lies. As for other big oil companies, they pass the buck to someone else claiming if there is any discrepancy it’s the other companies fault.

So, how long do we really have, pulling the curtain aside – decades at most. It’s not ‘when will we run out of oil’ but rather how long before there is so little the price becomes unaffordable. I am fifty this year and before I am seventy I will see real problems arise from the lack of access to oil and cheap energy. So, if you’re wanting to do something about that you had better act starting today and I’ll make my usual recommendations later on in this article.

Yes! There is a Peak in Natural Gas too. Peal Oil happened in 2008. Peak Natural Gas occurred between 2007 / 2008, really about the same time. That is why Cheney had secret energy meetings while in office and Haliburton has been busy fracking the nation to get at whatever is left in Natural Gas – it’s a last ditch effort to hide the truth.

We are on the downward slope for both oil and natural gas and running out very quickly. What can you do?

  1. Use public transit as much as possible. If where you  live you can buy a month pass then park you car, reduce the insurance on it as it’s a part-time vehicle and walk more too. If you are unlucky enough to live where public transit doesn’t exist or is very poor, move to where there is better public transit.
  2. Insulate your home. Add triple or quadruple window panes. Add a way to exchange heat with fresh incoming air to lose much less energy (it’s part of a typical Passivhaus design). Every two years increase the insulation until you are at PassivHaus design standards.
  3. Make as much use of Passive Solar gain as possible.
  4. Add Solar Photovoltaic panels to your home.
  5. Replace all the appliances in your home to use as little energy as possible.
  6. Do laundry only once a week by being more creative and not so wasteful. There is not need to do so many loads of laundry each week.
  7. Cut energy use in your home by shutting things off, putting things on timers or motion detectors.
  8. Replace all your lighting with energy efficient bulbs.
  9. Turn off you TV, permanently. You waste time and a lot of energy watching TV that only numbs your mind and adds nothing of value to your life. If you have trouble with this one, get counseling you are addicted and need to get over it!
  10. Look to Europe for energy saving devices and electronics. They are way ahead of the U.S.
  11. Every so often check online for news on what European’s are doing and on the price of energy while your bill stays level because you are prepared.
  12. Learn to grow your own food. If you don’t learn how to do this one forget doing anything else because it will all be for not. You will be warm, have electricity but no food or worse, you will have to stand in line for a meager morsel.
  13. There is no need to get a certificate in permaculture, just learn to grow organically and add some of the permaculture ideas, like a food forest or huglekultur (contoured mounds).
  14. For heat backup you can add a masonry stove on which you can also cook food. Learn to eat more raw food, it require no cooking therefore less energy.

It is very important to learn how to live with less, half of what you are currently using is wasted anyway. By cutting the waste you can still be comfortable, warm and have all the electricity you need if you don’t waste what you have.

In the Passive Solar Greenhouse Project I am looking to create uses as little energy as possible and quite possibly it will generate all the energy that is needed onsite to grow organic food as affordably. By making use of current technology right off the shelf the greenhouse could be self-sustaining with respect to energy right from the start. The additional up-front cost would pay for itself very quickly and the whole project could pay it’s own way by not using energy most greenhouses waste because they follow the old design model of too much glass and too little insulation. Many traditional greenhouses leak heat or cooling which causes them to run units to help regulate their temperature far more often than a greenhouse with a better design, like a passive solar greenhouse.

I hate to sound alarmist and I hope that my research is not correct but if I am correct then it is much better to be prepared than not prepared. We are running out of cheap energy that is a fact. It is just not exactly known how fast because it’s all become such a big secret. Besides what could it hurt for you to actually have a house that produces more energy than it uses selling the extra for an additional income. You will save by not using energy you are currently wasting which allows you to sell all the extra for a profit. Can that be so bad?

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This is a continuation on poverty.

In my last post I stated that to help do away with poverty we need to have access to land, water and seed we can save from one year to the next, because once food is taken care of then we can begin to move forward. As long as our bellies are not full, we are not happy people. [ I am talking about people world-wide in this case and yes there are people in the U.S. too who go hungry. This is not just a ‘third-world’ problem. It effects all of us, we are all touched by poverty and hence the use of  ‘we’ above. ]

In the U.S. there’s this ignorant push to include more protein from meat (land and sea), dairy, and egg as a way to help feed people when not eating this way actually provides more nutrients, is healthier, greatly reduces dis-ease, and is able to feed more people for much less money. I’m talking about vegetables! Soup kitchens could feed three times as many people on a mainly Vegetarian meal than a meat based one, and cost less.

Growing vegetables is more productive per acre, uses over all less water, depletes the soil less and if grown organically can help rebuild soil, have more nutrients than meat-dairy-egg diet and will keep you healthier throughout your life.

Vegetables are more productive:  growing a wide variety of vegetables will yield around 17 – 20 tons per hectare (1 hectare = about 2.5 acres), while meat yields less than 1/2 ton per hectare and takes longer to mature.

Vegetables provide protein (yes they do), macro-nutrients, micro-nutrients, minerals, vitamins and phyto-nutrients. Meat-dairy-eggs provide mainly protein and few other nutrients.  I’m not sure how many may have heard or read this story:  Stacy Irvine, 17, collapses from eating nothing but chicken McNuggest her whole life. This is not an isolated incidence, they all just don’t make the news or the cause of illness is given another label all together.

After vegetables we have fruits which provide mainly vitamins, most importantly the water soluble ones, like Vitamin C. Legumes and pulses are the next choice with some grains able to bring in a little more density to a diet. But these again take up much more land, resources and provide much less, about one ton per hectare, than vegetables.

Next, vegetables can be better for the environment. Since you can get so much more per hectare of land much less land  is needed to feed yourself, and everyone else. If the vegetables are grown completely organically then you are returning nutrients to the land, the soil, dirt, in which they are grown is not depleted. The land will remain productive forever. Modern farming practices do little to return nutrients to the soil and only add more chemicals which destroys all the various life forms, and communities that keep the soil healthy and productive. These include: bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, flies, beetles, worms and more. They all work together to create healthy soil out of anything that has died.

Meat, Dairy and egg production could be done organically which would not deplete the soil but that is not the case currently in the U.S. for the most part (there are few exceptions). If these three were produced in a traditionally, healthy, organic way there would be much less of it for sale and the price would reflect their true cost. In India people use milk quite a lot in their various meals because the cow is allowed to roam freely, not killed or eaten, and given that which people can not eat and are milked daily to add protein to their mainly vegetarian diet.

I’m not saying everyone needs to be a Vegetarian, or Vegan, but if the western world – U.S. and Europe, were to cut their meat (land and sea), dairy, and egg consumption by half it would allow hundreds of millions more people to eat affordably, more nutritiously. To feed everyone in the world the western world would have to consume slightly less than a quarter of what they currently do. This still wouldn’t require everyone being a Vegetarian / Vegan.  It would also greatly reduce the incidence of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, stroke and not kil half of consumers of meat-dairy-egg diet or western diet.

Research has shown time and again, a mostly vegetarian diet is better for the body, better for the environment and better for all life. It takes less land, smaller “footprint”, to grow vegetables and in a world that is running out of fossil fuels, out of water, usable land that has not been turned to desert or degraded, and doesn’t demand  heavy inputs, we need to change our ways.

To help remove poverty, wherever it is, not only is land, water, seed needed, but education as to what is easiest and best to grow – vegetables! We could eliminate poverty, it’s just too profitable not to. Let’s change that and eliminate needless suffering.

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