|BlueJayWayBlog - The Environment
8/15/08 - "Mass Extinction Event On the Horizon"... Science Friday - Paul Ehrlich informs us with the truth that global warming and global toxicity is much worse than we are told and that scientists will have to get out of their ivory towers along with citizens and become political proponents for radical change.
8/15/08 - "Ethanol Power to the People"...on Science Friday sorts out the media propaganda gaming us about ethanol. The truth is, as usual, a simple but involving discussion requiring time to digest a holistic picture of the situation, which is skirted by our sound-bite-to-promote-mindless-profit paradigm. David Blume describes how we have been misinformed by economic and political lobbying, and how a reconfiguration of all the circumstances surrounding corn usage would result in ecologically sound and economically beneficial processes supplying us with localized ethanol fuel, adequate corn for human consumption, better feedstock, new fertilizers, new crops and farm products support, and alchohol.
8/10/08 - The potential of a new breakthrough discovery at MIT would allow cost effective, local storage of energy from renewables as hydrogen then used for off-hours electricity at home and in portable applications like transportation vehicles.
Daniel G. Nocera, the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy at MIT, has developed a simple method to split water molecules and produce oxygen gas, a discovery that paves the way for large-scale use of solar power stored locally in homes and businesses. "In a revolutionary leap that could transform solar power from a marginal, boutique alternative into a mainstream energy source, MIT researchers have overcome a major barrier to large-scale solar power: storing energy for use when the sun doesn't shine."
This discovery has the potential to free each citizen from the profiteering of utilities and the coal-oil-gas Corporate Tyrant Godzillas, and live peaceful, sustainable lives courtesy of the sun and the collective intelligence of humanity. But watch out for this project being coralled, obfuscated, blocked, marginalized, murdered or in some other way ported off to the black hole of their stupidity. I don't think they can do it this time, but guarding this initiative will surely be enlightening and fun. I can't wait to see them try to squirm and weasel themselves outta this one!
Just imagine... you've got a little windmill and solar panels on your roof producing more electricity than you need and so you store the excess as hydrogen in a tank in your basement that replaces your water heater (you won't need that anymore because the hydrogen you have stored will operate your new tankless or solar water heater!). With a weeks reserve of hydrogen you plug in your electric, hydrogen or air car at night and fill up for the next day. Vehicles such as this are shared in your community and fully paid for by your locally organized and owned co-ops.
Because the Energy Profit Pyramid has been put out of business by earthwide, free daily energy, the cost of life and the necessity to wage wars that cost 3 quarters the national budget, commute long distances to pay for the 3rd vacation home of some fathead snob from Zippo Corp, is over, and you can work from home half time and survive! What a relief, no? Grow your own food, use your own energy, have a party, make love, ...have the fun of your choosing on a regular basis...what a revolution! Yeehah...time to drive this stake through the heart of our Corporate Draculas and get on with Ecotopian Direct Democracy designed by you/us/we!!!
Capitailism is a dying, obsolete cocoon that has served it's purpose. It's time to evolve, move on, to redesign.
8/3/08 - Peak Oil or Peak Everything? 6 billion people living off an earth that can only sustainably support 1.5 billion without cheap oil, gas and coal! A clueless ruling class and a citizenry largely unaware of the problem's magnitude because their media keeps up a saturation bombing of the air and inkwaves with delusions of omnipotence. So where are we headed?
In a new book by Richard Heinberg, Peak Everything, the author addresses questions about what an overpopulated world's future might look like after shortages of such things as oil, gas, coal, grains, fisheries, climate stability, economic growth, fresh water, copper, platinum, uranium, etc.
This book, like many others discussing/selling the gloom and doom aroma of our Civilization Dystopia, skimps by potential renewable energy solutions like solar, wind, geothermal, etc. Why is this?
What is it about our current reality that makes a survey of all potential solutions, and any subsequent public discussion, verboten? This fact, I believe, is where the real problem with Civilization Dystopia lies.
This reality, our current civilization, is the product of a representative reality. All products and processes are the realm of, and composed of, images that propose a reality, then manifest it using earthian resources. The priority is the cohesion of the image of itself as eternally viable. The society is held together by a contract of illusions that fails to take into account the limitations of Earth. This state of mythological belief is only maintained by a socially mandated worship of the authoritarian nature of language and all systems of representation that have brought this civilization it's bounty. The ruling class that operate the levers of The Machine thereby assume the position of earthbound authority carrying out the will of the representational god, on behalf of the masses. In this way we allow the table of discussion to be limited to whatever the ruling class has determined to be positable. In essence, we the people have submitted ourselves to the dopes on top, and we, the people, are consequently getting what we are allowing to be real.
7/20/08 - California AB 1920 Solar Surplus Act would force utilities to buy surplus solar from customers. Email Senator Don Perata to get this bill passed! Imagine having your home be a clean, profitable micro power supplier, replacing those nasty coal & oil dragons!
3/23/07 - Environment
The following is a copy of a letter sent to the NY Times regarding a March 13 article attempting to deepfreeze Gore's Global Warming claims...
Dear William J. Broad and the New York Times Editorial,
The Times' March 13th Article "... Cool the Hype" is a perfect example of how US mainstream media marginalizes the value of the "best available information", in essence neutralizing what should be "the truth" into confusion for the reader.
The article asserts that of the scientific community - "many" whole heartedly agree with Gore's position; "many appear to occupy a middle ground in the climate debate, seeing human activity as a serious threat but challenging what they call the extremism of both skeptics and zealots'; and "part" of the scientific community "has serious doubts". The article goes on to say that "Typically, the concern is not over the existence of climate change, or the idea that the human production of heat-trapping gases is partly or largely to blame for the globe's recent warming. The question is whether Mr. Gore has gone beyond the scientific evidence."
Essentially, the article tries to assert that Gore's position, that the world must act now to stop global warming, is exaggerated. Even though "he has the bottom line right" and the "big picture right", his exaggerations are "scare mongering". Note how the middle ground is emphasized, which means in the Time's "big picture" journalism to inform the reader, the "truth" is, that for people who "don't have a political axe to grind" the jury is still out. Hint Reader: ...everything is ok, we're not sure yet, just hold tight consumer, you can continue consuming just like usual.
The Times would reply that they are only reporting on the dissenting members of the scientific community and this article is perfectly unbiased. If the article were truly unbiased it would have reported the reason that 99% of the scientific community agrees with Gore that human production of CO'2 is a significant global warming contributor that needs immediate reduction. Namely that the current 380 parts per billion CO'2 is the highest level in millions of years and has been precipitous in the last century. Anyone who has seen the "Inconvenient Truth", knows by the end of the film that global warming is an emergency that needs action by all humans now, and is an irrefutable fact.
The information Gore conveys in that film is an example of the "best available information" and is a service to humankind and the planet. The Time's article, like so many others from mainstream media, never clarifies the quantity of dissenters vs proponents of immediate action (>99% to <1%) so the reader can comprehend the value of the dissenter's information, or that the dissenters even think immediate action is not called for themselves. This is a great disservice to the truth and to your readers looking for clarifying information so that they can make good decisions as citizens of Spaceship Earth.
When is the mainstream media going to present the public with the truth?
The bio-fueled Earthrace now holds the world record for circumnavigating the globe in a powerboat. Credit: Earthrace team
7/6/08 - Finally some common sense good news to report! "The 10 Million Solar Roofs Act to be introduced in the US Senate - Monday July 7, 2008."
Sen. Bernie Sanders to Introduce Bill Aimed at Achieving 10 Million Solar Roofs. "Senator Bernie Sanders announced on Tuesday that he will introduce legislation to encourage the installation of 10 million rooftop solar units on homes and businesses... Rebates would cover about one-half of the $20,000 average cost of installing a solar unit that, depending on location, could provide up to one-half of the electricity for a typical home. The legislation's bipartisan cosponsors include Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), John Warner (R-Va.), and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.). The 10 Million Solar Roofs Act of 2008 [PDF, 6 pp] would encourage installation of 10 million photovoltaic systems over a ten-year period at private homes and businesses. Non-profit organizations, and state and local governments also would be eligible for rebates covering up to half the cost of systems. In order to qualify for the federal rebates, the homes and businesses would have to meet stringent energy efficiency standards... [The bill] will be formally filed when the Senate reconvenes on Monday."
Some experts say 10 percent of the existing rooftops in the United States, when equipped with properly installed and maintained solar systems, could supply 70 percent of peak U.S. energy demands during summer months.
- Climate Crisis Coalition Newsfeed
6/23/08 - Bucky Fuller Challenge 2008 Winner Announced! ...and...
Bucky Fuller Exhibition at the Whitney: Starting with the Universe, NYC, June 26, 2008-September 21, 2008
5/13/08 - Why is solar being labeled a "loser" by UC Energy Institute's Severin Borenstein and others? If we had invested $500 billion in free rooftop solar rather than the Iraq War could we have eliminated the need for oil altogether?
Mr. Borenstein has been the oil expert darling trotted out by the local media in the Bay Area every time gasoline prices go up, to tell all of us "what's really going on". Problem is he always tells us a point of view that would be written by an oil industry PR office as a pseudo non-partisan point of view. His comments always leave me scratching my head as to why doesn't he ever make sense to even the most naive consumer? He never counts long term costs to society nor admit that the oil industry is making record profits and subsidies from our taxes. He seems to just skim over this with "market" considerations as the real reason for rising prices.
I think it's time for the local media to start looking closer at Borenstein's assertions. The Mercury's article says the UC Energy Institute does non-partisan work, but fails to cite the fact that BP is giving UC $500 million for an energy "lab", to discover alternate energy sources from plant-based sources. In the UC press release on the Borenstein paper, Borenstein says: "We need a major scientific breakthrough, and we won't get it by putting panels up on houses," he said in a recent interview on campus. "It is going to come in the labs."
Labs like that funded by BP? Funny thing is BP sells solar. But now BP wants to find it from other alternate sources? Weird. What's even weirder is a few simple calculations and research that took me 10 minutes on the web.
According to BP.com's own declaration on their solar page 200 sq. mi. of solar panels would supply all the world's electricity needs. That means that if 250 sq. ft. of solar panels were installed on 22,302,600 American homes at a cost of $25,000 each, the US could supply all of the world's energy for a cost of $557,565,000,000, essentially what we have spent for the Iraq war. So, if we had invested all the money spent oin the war in solar panels installed for free to 23 million American homes, we would never need another drop of oil.
Ok, so what am I missing here? Why doesn't the Merc or the Chronicle or PBS or anybody, ever connect the dots and tell it like it is? Where is real investigative journalism challenging the corporate line that must find reasons to sell us what we don't need and obfuscate obvious solutions that won't make them infinitely rich?
4/18/08 - Truth #3 - The root problem blocking the possibility of a sustainable earthian civilization is overpopulation and the entire planet should place a solution to the problem on the implementation front burner.
Solutions currently on the table:
Making sure people around the world have access to family planning services.
Empowering women in developing countries economically, socially, and legally in a manner that results in them having an equal say (with their husbands) in reproductive decisions.
Modifying school curricula to include information on population levels and implications for the future (such as the scenario described below).
Reforming tax laws in a way that encourages couples to have no more than two children. (They would still be able to have as many kids as they want, but the sliding scale tax code would no longer subsidize more than one.)
These are pretty simple measures, so why aren't they being implemented? Wherever there is not rationality, there is hanky panky. So what hanky panky do we have? Why would the world's economic elites, who have total control over policy creation and implementation, not want to halt population growth? What happens when there are fewer consumers and fewer workers? When there is profit being made on each consumer's widget purchased and on each worker's widget created, this means less profit. Would the economic elites voluntarily institute policies that would reduce their profits? Would they EVER implement such policies?
What would happen with an attritive population decrease of 50% over the next 70 years?
The year is 2078 and the world population has returned to 1965-1970 numbers of 3.5 billion and there are 4 billion liveable housing units inherited from early century build-out. Reproduction stabilization methods used by indigenous peoples over the millenia, have been adopted sucessfully and a conscious goal of 50% reduction has been met. Monitoring of population changes are watched closely and local taxation policies are modified as needed to stimulate population balance by region.
Everyone has shelter. Millions have retreated from coastal inundation, but global warming has flattened out with projections of cooling soon ahead. Millions of acres of land have returned to localized rural and urban agriculture. Urban ornamentals were replaced with fruit, nuts & veggie plants & trees. Demand for food and raw materials has now dropped to levels that allow recycling, reuse and closed loop manufacturing to fulfill all human needs. Former employer-owned businesses collapsed from "pyramid scheme myopia", and businesses have been reconsttituted by worker collectives that make generic, non-propretary products for local/regional needs. Most citizens have assumed their own housing from the early century overstock and provide much of their own food and energy via community gardens and residential solar, with off-grid hydrogen tank backups available as needed for night-time use. Consequently, most basic survival needs are met outside commerce, so average "work" hours of employment are less than 20 hours per week. Most people spend their free time with specific pursuits and researches of their own inclination and these actually provide greater technological and artistic innovation which becomes part of the human collective knowledge and cultural library for further exploration.
Small, high speed, high increment, free trainlets provide pedestrians, bike and skate commuters safe and speedy transit 24 hours. Community electric autos, vans and business vehicles are available in sharing networks owned by the vehicle collective. Transnational high speed trains and non-toxic air travel are well established. Most high-rise buildings have been abandoned and reclaimed for art and cultural activities as needed. In the late '50's they were open-aired and retrofitted to be zero carbon/energy footprint buildings by volunteer collective refurb groups. (Apparently people prefer to live on the ground adjacent to gardens and nature, so these buildings have become backup housing for the temporarily displaced.)
With a little brainstorming and collective work on an ongoing basis, involving everyone here on earth, we could have real eutopia. If our Earth spent millions of years building a free life-support system for a sentient species like humans to evolve, and now that we have depleted/re-released the carbon energy that gave us our current technological slave-based life-support system, couldn't, shouldn't we use that previous "barbaric" development period to re-establish a free-based evolutionary eutopia more in sync with the human desire and proclivity towards joy and the pursuit of knowledge?
Why isn't this an ongoing pursuit?
12/21/07 - William Catton's "Overshoot" (1980) accurately predicted our current dilemma.
Politics, environmentalism, human rights, racism, genocide, justice, peace, democratic principles, war, pollution, civil rights, law, commerce, worker rights, employer rights, personal freedom, media reform, socialism, security, terrorism, authoritarianism, consumerism, religion, belief systems, or any "individual" aspect of our existing civilization which attracts attention for movements of social change, are only manifestations of our system's function as a total system. Dealing individually with any one component will just displace the problems to a different location within the system. Our earthian ecosystem is the actual "system" that is the life support for all of Earth's inhabitants. Unfortunately the above list with which we are currently obsessed, deals almost exclusively with the abstract system of commerce and it's surrounding support system of capitalist pyramid scheme, hierarchical class divisions and overuse of finite natural resources.
I frequently try to point out our current civilization as being adolescent in nature and that for homo sapiens to survive the oncoming crash diagrammed by Catton (if we haven't already entered well into it) we will have to have a paradigm shift to the adult. This would entail moving from a consumer culture of infinite growth and productivity to an ecological maintenance culture living by it's concurrent renewable resource income. Catton points out that homo sapiens have become "homo colussus" living well beyond our means. Homo sapiens lived on, and within the means, of the existing ecological bounty of Spaceship Earth. Homo colussus is to him a "detritovore" living off the dinosaur wastes of fossil fuels to create more people, more technology (to provide the "infinite" growth that capitalist pyramid schemes require to generate "generous" wealth to lower orders), more increments, demanding more oil and more increments, ad infinitum. In effect a cycle of increase that cannot continue within a finite system like earth.
We have all heard that to provide a first world lifestyle to all our inhabitants would require 6, or 16, or however many earths. Catton documents almost all the problems with startling data and analysis. The resource wars, over- booked lifestyles and loss of personal satisfaction and sanity, physical health and social problems related to high density living. ecological toxification, global warming and the ultimate problem - ever increasing over population, fueled by this very technological "success" exacerbating the problem with every passing minute.
We will not be able to avoid the coming or existing (hidden by American consumer culture cacoon) crash but if we don't change our ways the crash is going to be a nightmare tragedy. Once again, I prattle on, and I am sorry for the necessary expletive but, those who haven't done so, please...WAKE THE PUCK UP!!!
So you say, "but what can I do?...my gov't is unresponsive and headed like a train off the cliff, and I need to get to work before I get fired and fail my family obligation...but what can I do?". Catton suggests "ecological modesty", meaning, I think, withdrawl from any resource depletion. As far as energy is concerned he suggests residentially distributed solar. I concur. Our politicians continue with oil wars, resource depletion and the pyramid scheme empire, and of course try to micromanage all the resulting abominations that are resulting from their incompetence. "But what can I do?" Here's what I and many in the community around me here in Oakland are doing...
- Vote green party (Cynthia McKinney for prez...yeah!)
- Relocalize yourself - job, home, friends, purchase of provisions, music, entertainment, growing food, build sharing networks with neighbors
- Share - cars, books, tools, trailers, dvds, music, videos, etc. RRFM, Barter,
- Repair your stuff rather than throw away.
- Reuse and recycle everything!
- Bike!, walk and use public transporation for 95% of your transit needs.
- Urban Gardens
- Urban Fruit Trees rather than Ornamentals
- Free Public Transporation! It's YOUR system YOU'VE paid for it!
- High Speed Nationwide Passenger Train System that is competitive with air travel.
- Stop using non-renewables like oil, coal, metals and find renewable substitutes.
- Job Swap - Trade jobs to relocalize to your home.