Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Global Warming/Climate Change, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Rhamis Kent July 9, 2011
All photographs © Craig Mackintosh
I’d like to revisit a few points I brought up in a piece that appeared here at the PRI Australia website in April last year; “Things That Can’t Last Forever, and Things That Can: A Few Thoughts”.
I’d like to begin with the following premise:
Economics is a continuation of energy by different means.
Classical physics defines energy as the ability to do work. Money represents the ability to do work. Fossil fuels furnish the ability to do work — quite a great deal of it — and, for the moment, relatively cheaply when one accounts for the finite nature of its supply in relation to what it facilitates.Comments (6)
Consumerism, Courses/Workshops, DVDs/Books, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Medicinal Plants, Society, peak oil — by Isabell Shipard July 6, 2011
Planting a garden with food potential is one of the most valuable things we can do. Will we always have a free country with unlimited food supply? Could a major calamity or drought affect the supply and the price of food? Could rolling strikes disrupt electricity, water, telephone, transport and other amenities to shops and our homes… and how would no petrol affect every household? We need to encourage one another to be as self sufficient as possible… now… in our gardens, as this is the most nutritious fresh food… and is the cheapest way to live in these times of rising prices. Growing our own food is very satisfying as well as beneficial to our health and well-being.
Australia has truly been a ‘lucky country’ — plentiful food, running water in our homes, sewerage systems which take away our wastes, comfort and luxuries in our homes. We truly are blessed. However, it may not always be this way in the future. Would families be prepared if a catastrophic disaster struck?Comments (6)
Economics, Energy Systems, Health & Disease, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor July 2, 2011
Hungry for energy? Worried that oil is running dry and coal is getting squeezed out? Well, don’t panic — now we have gas on the menu (literally…)! It doesn’t matter where it is, or how hard it is to reach. We will just drill, baby, drill!
Hydraulic fracturing (otherwise known as ‘fracking’) is now all the rage — more, it’s the new frontier — and for good reason. It’s the hippest new way to get the energy we need to fuel our modern lifestyles. Yes, it may give you exploding drinking water and make your livestock radioactive, but imagine the fun you’ll have hosting parties — people will marvel at your flame-throwing kitchen entertainment before retiring to the porch with a cigar and whiskey to watch your glow-in-the-dark cows light up the evening like Chinese lanterns.Comments (7)
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Demonstration Sites, Developments, Economics, Education Centres, Financial Management, Food Shortages, Society, Urban Projects, Village Development, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor June 29, 2011
Warning — graphic protest content
The bad news:
Police have fired tear gas in running battles with stone-throwing youths in Athens, where a 48-hour general strike is being held against a parliamentary vote on tough austerity measures.
Thousands of protesters have gathered outside parliament in the capital where public transport has ground to a halt.
PM George Papandreou has said that only his 28bn-euro (£25bn) austerity plan would get Greece back on its feet.
If the package is not approved, Greece could run out of money within weeks. — BBC
I can certainly appreciate why the people are protesting. The situation is similar to what we’re seeing in Spain at the moment — which is yet another country on the brink of implosion. Here’s what protesters there had to say recently:Comments (15)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Community Projects, Food Shortages, People Systems, Society, Urban Projects, Village Development, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, GMOs, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Nuclear, Population, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor June 10, 2011
They say if we don’t study history, we’re destined to repeat it. Many of you will be familiar with Jared Diamond and his work. Author of Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, Mr. Diamond has put a lot of energy into studying various cultures that have come, and, significantly, gone again. Amongst these is the example of Easter Island, where it appears that despite the islanders’ major resources being clearly in decline, they continued to use these resources for their own particular, peculiar economy — that being to make their giant Moai idols. Not only that, but, over time, as the resources needed to create them dwindled, the Moai statues only got larger. Their economy not only had to continue, but it had to grow — regardless of their context, and despite what should have been obvious consequences.
Some dispute the exact nature of the collapse of Easter Island, but what we do know is that pollen samples taken from the island show that it was once covered in forest, yet by the time Europeans arrived the island was treeless. There are no pollen traces dated beyond around 1650, around the same time the statues ceased being made. Surviving clans after this time, no longer able to create more competing statues, instead took to pushing over those of rival clans — until by 1868 all the Moai had been toppled, and many beheaded.Comments (12)
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Population, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor June 7, 2011
In Melbourne, on April 5th and 6th, was held the National Sustainable Food Summit, where key Australian food and agriculture players and academics met to discuss the challenges and possible solutions for Australia’s increasingly vulnerable food security situation. Some of the talks were quite interesting.
The first video is where Julian Cribb (Adjunct Professor of Science Communication at the University of Technology Sydney and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE)) boils some of the main issues facing us down into a short, understandable presentation. He gives a good overview of the problems — like that we’re in dire need of increasing food production right at a time where, due to our past and present activities, we’re seeing clear evidence that we’ll have to do so with less energy, less land, less water, less phosphorus and all whilst enduring an ever-more-erratic climate response. I’m not in full agreement with all of his solutions though — for example I’m not keen to start eating algae biomass grown in a tank…. But, I think that given the nature of the issues we are and will have to grapple with, I don’t blame him for coming to such conclusions. Indeed, if we don’t start implementing real, lasting solutions soon, then eating algae goop may become more attractive to me in the future than it does today…. (hence my personal sense of self-preservation leads me to expend my energies trying to promote permaculture!)
Julian Cribb: What are the future challenges to our food system?
Consumerism, Economics, Energy Systems, Global Warming/Climate Change, Society, peak oil — by George Monbiot June 1, 2011
The public reaction to new power lines could kill renewable energy: they must be buried.
by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom
Why do those who oppose wind power insist on spoiling their case with gibberish? In his column on Friday, Simon Jenkins claimed that onshore wind farms were being planned “with no concern for cost.”(1) But the only reason for building them is a concern for cost. If it weren’t for this issue, they would be the last option governments would choose – God knows they cause enough trouble.
As the government’s Committee on Climate Change reports, large onshore wind farms are “already close to competitive” with burning natural gas, and are likely to get there by 2020(2). They are the cheapest renewable sources in this country by a long way. Offshore wind costs roughly twice as much, and its costs have been escalating. After attacking the high cost of wind power, Simon argued that we should instead invest in “sun and waves”. The committee shows that while the expected price of electricity from onshore wind in 2030 is between 7 and 8.5 pence per kilowatt hour, solar power is expected to come in at between 11 and 25 pence, and wave between 15 and 31(3). Talk about no concern for cost!Comments (3)
Biodiversity, Deforestation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Cate Faehrmann May 25, 2011
Editor’s Note: When preparing the recent post on the International Day for Biological Diversity, perhaps I should have gone to the state forests of the Pillaga in NSW Australia to take photos instead? As you all should know, energy is becoming a major worldwide problem. With all the low-hanging energy fruit having already been plucked, we’re now looking to mop up remaining dregs in all the very worst places. Below you’ll hear yet another sad tale of the lengths we will go to get our next fix.
Eastern Star Gas has applied for approval under both state and federal regulations to develop a massive coal seam gas field of around 550 gas wells in the State Forests of The Pilliga. Commonly known as the ‘Pilliga Scrub’, this unique woodland is near Narrabri in northern NSW. The gas project is set to clear over 2,400 hectares of native vegetation and will forever change the landscape of the Pilliga.
The Pilliga Scrub is a highly significant area in terms of the state’s biodiversity. It is known to be the largest continuous remnant of semi-arid woodland in temperate New South Wales and contains many threatened animal and plant species such as the Pilliga Mouse, Black-striped Wallaby and South-eastern Long-eared Bat.
Black-striped Wallaby, a mostly nocturnal animal under threat from
land clearing, and now, coal seam gas.
Interviews with Chris Martenson on Budget, Corruption, Economy, Investing, Energy & the Japan Nuclear Crisis
Economics, Financial Management, Society, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor May 17, 2011
Those who appreciated Chris Martenson’s Crash Course will no doubt want to take some time to listen to these interviews. The first, in two parts, is a video interview of Chris by the David Pakman Show, and at bottom you’ll find a podcast interview by Financial Sense’s Jim Puplava.
Comedy Break, Society, peak oil — by Marc Roberts May 16, 2011
Editor’s Note: This cartoon reminds me of the cool vivoleum prank from the Yes Men
Click for full view
Courtesy: Marc Roberts
Consumerism, Economics, Society, peak oil — by Lionel Badal May 12, 2011
How the IEA was silenced about the future of global oil production.
by Lionel Badal
12 years ago, the International Energy Agency (IEA) discovered that Peak Oil would threaten the prosperity and stability of our societies. Yes, they knew it. While some IEA officials tried to inform the world about this game-changing event, it appears that others had different priorities.Comments (11)
Consumerism, Economics, Society, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor May 4, 2011
In the past I’ve made fun of the International Energy Agency (IEA) for their inexplicably optimistic projections for oil
production mining supply capacity. And in similar fashion, the IEA has made fun of us gloomy ‘peakers’. Well, click on the image above, and look for the video titled ‘Fatih Birol’ — he being head of their Economic Analysis Division. In it he, on behalf of the IEA, concedes for the first time that conventional oil mining has already peaked; five years ago, in point of fact — back in 2006. Many of us have been pointing at around that date as being the beginning of our supply flat line for some time now….
Consumerism, Economics, Ethical Investment, Financial Management, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Population, Society, peak oil — by Jeremy Grantham May 2, 2011
Editor’s Preamble: This is a first for me. Who would have thought I’d be posting a quarterly newsletter written by the Chief Investment Officer of a large investment firm? "Jeremy Grantham is a British investor and Co-founder and Chief Investment Strategist of Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo (GMO), a Boston-based asset management firm. GMO is one of the largest managers of such funds in the world, having more than US $107 billion in assets under management as of December 2010. Grantham is regarded as a highly knowledgeable investor in various stock, bond, and commodity markets, and is particularly noted for his prediction of various bubbles." (Wikipedia). After reading this, you could be forgiven for thinking it was put together by someone like Dr. Albert Bartlett instead. But no…. When a stock guru starts telling his investors the same kind of things I’ve been sharing with you for years, then I’m only too happy to reinforce the message with his. How many of his peers are listening is the big question — I’m guessing not too many unfortunately. I think the underlying investment message I personally take from this is to put your all into natural capital, permaculture education and community building.
The purpose of this, my second (and much longer) piece on resource limitations, is to persuade investors with an interest in the long term to change their whole frame of reference: to recognize that we now live in a different, more constrained, world in which prices of raw materials will rise and shortages will be common. (Previously, I had promised to update you when we had new data. Well, after a lot of grinding, this is our first comprehensive look at some of this data.)
Accelerated demand from developing countries, especially China, has caused an unprecedented shift in the price structure of resources: after 100 hundred years or more of price declines, they are now rising, and in the last 8 years have undone, remarkably, the effects of the last 100-year decline! Statistically, also, the level of price rises makes it extremely unlikely that the old trend is still in place. If I am right, we are now entering a period in which, like it or not, we must finally follow President Carter’s advice to develop a thoughtful energy policy and give up our carefree and careless ways with resources. The quicker we do this, the lower the cost will be. Any improvement at all in lifestyle for our grandchildren will take much more thoughtful behavior from political leaders and more restraint from everyone. Rapid growth is not ours by divine right; it is not even mathematically possible over a sustained period. Our goal should be to get everyone out of abject poverty, even if it necessitates some income redistribution. Because we have way overstepped sustainable levels, the greatest challenge will be in redesigning lifestyles to emphasize quality of life while quantitatively reducing our demand levels. A lower population would help. Just to start you off, I offer Exhibit 1: the world’s population growth. X marks the spot where Malthus wrote his defining work. Y marks my entry into the world. What a surge in population has occurred since then! Such compound growth cannot continue with finite resources. Along the way, you are certain to have a paradigm shift. And, increasingly, it looks like this is it!Comments (6)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Economics, Nuclear, People Systems, peak oil — by Thomas Fischbacher April 29, 2011
One thing that often is forgotten in discussions about nuclear energy utilization is that it involves quite a lot of very dirty and dangerous work. According to Bill Mollison, Uranium mining companies in Australia often employed Aborigines as miners, knowing that they would not go to court should they develop cancer. The situation in the U.S. was fairly similar, with the Navajo Indians in the role of the miners (1).
Further down the chain, there is chemical processing of Uranium ore to "Yellow Cake" (Uranium oxide), which then undergoes isotope separation and is turned into nuclear fuel. While I would have an interesting personal story to share about Yellow Cake production in Germany, let us skip this step and look a bit further down the chain. The most interesting step in the life of nuclear fuel is perhaps when it is subjected to an environment in which fission occurs in a controlled way inside a nuclear reactor. Here, nuclear fuel becomes seriously radioactive.
Clearly, nuclear reactors are very complicated machines that need a lot of maintenance effort. Who are the people who do the dangerous tasks that involve serious contamination risks inside nuclear power plants? I was quite amazed when I first learned that professional divers can specialize in nuclear diving — which means you will end up diving and doing underwater welding in environments such as spent fuel pools (2). Who is doing such work?Comments (6)