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Posts Tagged ‘peak oil’

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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I talked about poverty and the need to grow more food locally, or give them the land so they can lift themselves out of poverty by first feeding themselves. Once poor people have full bellies they can begin to think about other things. Well there’s another community that is so often overlooked and that’s what this short piece is about.

In my Greenhouse Project, or any other project for that matter, I have not seen one mention as what do for, how to handle or how to address the needs of the disabled community as we run out of oil / energy.  We are seeing the end of cheap abundant energy right now.

This post will not pull punches I will instead head right in and be as honest as I know how. If some people find this not to their liking, too bad. This is an important topic and I will not apologize for it.

Over the last several years I have been doing a lot of reading and talking to people about peak oil, transitioning off oil, energy descent, renewable energy, Passiv Haus, localization, gardening, permaculture and much more. But no one has ever addressed what will happen to people with special needs, disabled people? What would happen if next week we wake up and there is no more oil? Where will people in wheelchairs get electricity to charge them? How will people with respirators breath? How will people with assistive devices communicate or function? If the energy stops, what happens to these people? Do they just stop too?

I have no easy answers as there are so many different types of  needs I can’t possibly address them all. But let me at least present this as a partial solution:

1) When there is a transition town meeting that a representative or members of the disabled community attend to be recognized and made part of the process.

2) When growing food locally is mentioned that any special dietary needs also be included.

3) People need to think about medical needs as part of the whole solution.

4) Members of the disabled community demand a presence in national and international discussions with regard to peak oil, peak water, peak land, energy descent and so on.

5) NGOs / Non-Profits and government entities need to address the needs of the disabled community beyond the basics and what happens when finally the oil runs out or becomes unaffordable.

Many people are seriously mislead by the energy companies into believing that energy is still abundant and we have nothing to worry about. Not so. That is so very untrue. There are so many experts now from many disciplines, and their numbers are growing, saying we need to prepare today. From their collective knowledge I believe we only have until 2030. No, that is not the date we run out of oil, but rather the date when oil will become affordable, because we will realize there isn’t as much as has been claimed. Oops. This will be a big deal to everyone. A very big deal but more so to the disabled community.

What are the answers? I don’t know. The disabled community needs to make their collective voices heard or they will be left out and the future will not be so happy for them.

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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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Aren’t we suppose to be the richest country in the world? And, yet we have millions of people living in poverty or are homeless. Why is that? (We currently have about 42,881,000 living in poverty in the U.S. (based on U.S. Census data).)

Before the whole collapse that happened 2007/2008 there was discussion among businesses, economists and the financial community whether or not moving the unemployment up to 10% would be a good thing. The outcome of that we are seeing today. Also, anyone believing the unemployment data, well I have some really prime land on Mars for sale, and you can start terraforming. Just because someone isn’t collecting an unemployment check doesn’t mean their employed. The data is faulty!

Bush Jr. while in office pushed some 1 to 1.5 million new people into poverty every year. By the time he left office there were some 13 million people who had joined the ranks of the poor.

Let’s not forget that Peak Oil (which occurred world-wide in 2008) looms over our heads and experts around the globe agree, we are in deep doodoo with this one and the U.S. is not preparing like Europe is. We can expect to see the rise of oil prices, and goods made or heavily influenced by oil, that includes food, to go up until no one can afford things anymore, except of course the wealthy. We only have about 15 to 20 years to go before most of us join the ranks of the poor or homeless because of Peak Oil.

So, back to my original question at the beginning. We have poor not because of some out of our hands event but by people who control money in some way or another. We can all argue about whether it’s the bankers, speculators, quants (quantitative analysts), day traders trying to make a fast buck, investors or investment banks, the fed, and so on. The thing you have to remember, it doesn’t matter who is at fault, but what are you going to do about it.

My solution is simple: put permaculture to work. My Greenhouse Project is just such an idea. Another is to create food forests, at first on a commercial basis, but once it is established the fence could be left open or taken down altogether to allow people free access to whatever is there (after they’ve been educated because is would be stupid to trample a helpful herb just to get at an apple).

Food, can be grown in parks, open lots, along highways or wild areas, in medians, wherever possible would do so much to help reduce the need of the poor and the homeless. Heck, plant some trees right in front of your house with a sign, “Please Help Yourself.” Be a ‘Johnny or Janis Appleseed’ in your area, but plant more than just apples, whatever grows in your climate, area. Tend the trees lovingly until they are fully mature and can continue on their own. Harvest some of the seeds and grow some more.

Look into planting a tree with a plaque in a park giving thanks to mom, dad, auntie, uncle, grams or just make up a name. The idea is that parks, and other public areas will allow it with a permit the planting of a commemorative tree and then the city tends the tree and won’t cut it down unless it dies.

It has been said, and I truly believe this, that if the poor, or homeless, were allowed to grow their own food then there would no longer be any poverty. All one needs is access to some land, water and seed that can be harvested from year to year and replanted. Once the poor have this then they can move out of poverty.

Until next time, be good to one another and plant something.

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