Consumerism, Economics, Energy Systems, Global Dimming, Global Warming/Climate Change, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Chris McLeod April 21, 2011
The series, A Solar Powered Life, is intended for those that have an interest in the generation and storage of electricity using solar panels. I’ve tried to write the series in such a way that it is accessible for everybody and not just for those that are technically minded. By the end of the series, if people have followed all of the parts, then they should walk away with a fair understanding of how a small scale independent solar power system works (in the real world), what components are required, and, even more importantly, why those components are required. This is pretty handy information.
I’m certainly not pushing products on anyone and solar power is certainly not for everybody. I also have no affiliations with any company or group etc. I am also discussing the limitations of solar electricity generation.
However, in discussing solar power, it is impossible to not touch upon current issues relating to energy in general. These issues impact all of us to a greater or lesser extent. There are many people that for a variety of reasons are highly sensitive to these issues and are highly critical of solar power. In fact it would be fair to say that some of the comments that I have received on the above-mentioned series are ideologically driven.Comments (58)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Consumerism, Economics, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, People Systems, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Earth Policy Institute April 20, 2011
by Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute
We need an economy for the twenty-first century, one that is in sync with the earth and its natural support systems, not one that is destroying them. The fossil fuel-based, automobile-centered, throwaway economy that evolved in western industrial societies is no longer a viable model—not for the countries that shaped it or for those that are emulating them. In short, we need to build a new economy, one powered with carbon-free sources of energy—wind, solar, and geothermal—one that has a diversified transport system and that reuses and recycles everything. We can change course and move onto a path of sustainable progress, but it will take a massive mobilization—at wartime speed.
Whenever I begin to feel overwhelmed by the scale and urgency of the changes we need to make, I reread the economic history of U.S. involvement in World War II because it is such an inspiring study in rapid mobilization. Initially, the United States resisted involvement in the war and responded only after it was directly attacked at Pearl Harbor. But respond it did. After an all-out commitment, the U.S. engagement helped turn the tide of war, leading the Allied Forces to victory within three-and-a-half years.Comments (5)
Consumerism, Energy Systems, peak oil — by Chris McLeod April 16, 2011
Editor’s Note: This is Part V of a series. To see all parts, click here.
Mick Jagger sang “I can’t get no satisfaction”, and that’s exactly what will happen if you use more than you produce in any renewable self sufficient system. It’s exactly the same for both energy or food as anyone who has worked towards self-sufficiency quickly realises. I know that even with my extensive and diverse orchard, a dozen vegetable beds and nine chickens, I wouldn’t want to have to eat only things produced on my farm as I’d eventually starve.
With a self-sufficient renewable energy system though you have no option but to live within your production means or somehow increase your production of energy. Living within your means may be something as simple as only running lights and a refrigerator rather than, say, having a computer running 24/7 for entertainment. You do get free power from the sun, wind or water but perhaps it’s not as much, or not delivered in the way that you are used to and it requires you to ultimately adapt your expectations.Comments (26)
Consumerism, Energy Systems, Health & Disease, Nuclear, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by I-SIS April 14, 2011
Fukushima is just one among many similar disasters waiting to happen worldwide; governments and regulators have systematically downplayed the risks and hidden the real costs of nuclear power; there is no place for nuclear in a truly green energy portfolio; furthermore, there is a lot we can do to put the nuclear genie back into the bottle.
A fully referenced and illustrated version of this report is posted on ISIS members website and is available for download here.
Nuclear crisis following earthquake & tsunami
On Friday 11 March 2011, Japan was hit by a magnitude 9 earthquake followed by a gigantic tsunami. The official toll by 6 April was 12 468 dead, and more than 15 000 missing , hundreds of thousands lost their homes, millions are still either without electricity or affected by shortages of electricity ; and most worrying of all, a nuclear disaster with no end in sight. The earthquake and tsunami were unstoppable, but was the nuclear disaster waiting to happen, and could it have been avoided?Comments (6)
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Nuclear, Population, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor April 8, 2011
Watch the full episode.
In this PBS-produced video, with actor and philanthropist Matt Damon narrating, Lester Brown gives a good overview of some of the current issues we face as a race. He connects the dots between the world’s rapidly melting glaciers, extreme weather events, and resource depletion, etc., and what it will mean to world food harvests, and the economic and social implications of wealthier countries outbidding poorer nation states for a share of these diminishing harvests, and water and energy supplies. Two of the key words he uses are ‘failing states’, a relatively new term that is quickly gaining in ‘popularity’ as we watch the present chain reaction of events occurring today.
Lester asks the question "How many failing states will it take before we see civilization itself fail?"Comments (4)
Consumerism, Nuclear, peak oil — by Anton Lo March 28, 2011
Bill Mollison groups the earth’s resources into five categories. These resources are:
- Those which increase by modest use. For example, green browse that is uneaten by deer may become hard and unpalatable.
- Those unaffected by use. Some examples are a view or a good climate, hydroelectric power.
- Those which disappear or degrade if not used. An example is an unharvested crop of an annual.
- Those reduced by use. Some examples are a fish or game stock unwisely used, clay deposits, coal and oil.
- Those which pollute or destroy other resources if used. Examples include radioactives, super highways, large buildings.
Click for more…
Consumerism, Economics, Global Warming/Climate Change, Nuclear, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor March 24, 2011
Given recent events in Japan, I wanted to broach the somewhat controversial topic of nuclear fission power plants, and the following video (thanks Thomas) — making the Fukushima nuclear situation a little easier for even little Japanese children to comprehend — makes a good lead-in to the topic.
At time of writing, water and food options are shrinking for residents of Tokyo and elsewhere in Japan, whilst the short, medium and long term consequences of this nuclear incident are a topic of much speculation. My heart goes out to the people of Japan, and particularly those in the Fukushima Prefecture.
There are several schools of thought on nuclear. Here’s a sampling. You may wish to add others:Comments (38)
Consumerism, Energy Systems, peak oil — by Chris McLeod March 10, 2011
When the band Bananarama penned the ditty, “A cruel summer” back in 1983, I’m sure they must have been singing about solar power. Well, upon reflection, they probably weren’t. Anyway, it is an appropriate metaphor for solar power generation in the Macedon Ranges in Victoria and indeed elsewhere across the country for this summer given the La Nina influence on our weather. In the article A Solar Powered Life – part II, I wrote about how many solar panels you would need in order to generate your average electricity requirements. These were all based on a best case scenario which is rarely achieved in the real world. Not to fear though, as solar power has plenty to offer people even in less than perfect conditions.
Solar panels are affected by all sorts of factors in the real world. Usually, anything that affects the performance of a solar panel will tend to reduce its electrical output, so it’s worth understanding these factors so that you can set-up your solar panels so that they provide the best possible output.Comments (21)
by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom
Should we reduce the speed limit to cut oil consumption? Should we impose new taxes on the banks? Should we stop hawking weapons in the Middle East? The answer in all these cases is obvious, but none of these reforms will happen until we’ve brave enough to tackle vested interests.
Earlier this week, Spain reduced the speed limit on its motorways by 10kph. The British government should follow it, and then go further. Here’s why.Comments (5)
Economics, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Earth Policy Institute
Editor’s Note: In addition to the post from Lester below, also check out this: "Warning Of ‘Food Price Riots In The UK’ — A senior economist at the worldwide bank HSBC has warned of civil unrest in Britain if food prices continue to soar."
by Lester Brown, Earth Policy Institute
In February, world food prices reached the highest level on record. Soaring food prices are already a source of spreading hunger and political unrest, and it appears likely that they will climb further in the months ahead.
As a result of an extraordinarily tight grain situation, this year’s harvest will be one of the most closely watched in years. Last year, the world produced 2,180 million tons of grain. It consumed 2,240 million tons, a consumption excess that was made possible by drawing down stocks by 60 million tons. (See data at www.earth-policy.org.) To avoid repeating last year’s shortfall and to cover this year’s estimated 40-million-ton growth in demand, this year’s world grain harvest needs to increase by at least 100 million tons. Yet that would only maintain the current precarious balance between supply and demand.
To get prices back down to a more acceptable level, it would take perhaps another 50 million tons for a total increase of 150 million tons. Can the world boost this year’s grain harvest by 150 million tons or even 100 million tons? It is possible, because we have had annual harvest jumps of 150 million tons twice over the last two decades, but this year it does not appear likely.Comments (0)
Economics, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Society, peak oil — by Rhamis Kent March 9, 2011
It seems as though the wheels are continuing to show signs of coming off as it concerns the issue of global food security. The recent unrest in the Middle East and North Africa are a testament to that. It has caught everyone by surprise — experts and laypeople alike. The article that follows, which was published by the UK Independent 27 February 2011, provides some of the detail. Click the link at bottom of the quoted paragraph here to read the whole thing:Comments (9)
Economics, Food Shortages, Society, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor March 2, 2011
Those who appreciated the very interesting articles by Dmitry Orlov (recommended reading!) will appreciate this clip also.
Duration: 29 minutes
The Need for Sustainable Agriculture – It’s So Obvious and Inevitable That Even The UN Has To Admit It
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Rehabilitation, Society, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Rhamis Kent February 25, 2011
Editor’s Note: Quite some time ago, I shared the big 400-scientist-strong IAASTD worldwide study that concluded that small scale, localised, ecological agriculture was an imperative we cannot afford to ignore any more. The post was titled The Food Crisis: “A Perfect Storm” – and How to Turn the Tide. If you missed it, do check it out, and if you’re already conversant in the multiple crises we’re dealing with, then simply jump to the ‘The Solutions’ section. Now, halfway through 2010, whilst I had my head down, working on a tool to help fast track the aforementioned solution — www.permacultureglobal.com — yet another study shares the same holistic, science-based vision. Read on.
The great need to stop burning out our soils, wasting precious water, and polluting both, is no longer open to dispute. A rapid transition to sustainable methods of agriculture simply needs to be implemented on a massive scale — and it needs to be done yesterday.
This is the great task of our age.
"Agroecology outperforms large-scale industrial farming for global food security," says UN expert. — The United Nations Office at Geneva
In the aforementioned article (first reported 22 June 2010), UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Professor Olivier De Schutter "makes an airtight case for a global policy shift toward agroecological production."Comments (1)
Building, Consumerism, Energy Systems, Urban Projects, peak oil — by Chris McLeod February 21, 2011
Photo of the house showing some of the solar panels and solar hot water system
I was happy to read that Zaytuna Farm had installed an off grid solar power system for their electrical requirements — “Advanced Solar, and independence, at PRI’s Zaytuna Farm”. However, upon reading the comments relating to this, I could see that there was quite a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation relating to solar power. This inspired me to write a series of articles covering pretty much all things solar power, what it’s all about and how it works.
My solar power knowledge is comprehensive and growing all the time. This is because I live in the Macedon Ranges in Victoria in a house I built myself which has an off grid solar power system. Having a mild dose of technical geekiness (although this is not necessarily a prerequisite!), I obtained and installed all of the components myself . This system now provides all of the electrical needs of the house. I received no government subsidies or RECs (Renewable Energy Certificates) in the process (because it was cheaper not too) and maintained electrical compliance and Australian standards relating to the power system.Comments (19)