Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Same Crew

After much delay, the Bush Administrations's report on climate change was released on Thursday. Here's the story from across the world in the Age:

US climate report fuels fears of drought
The Age
May 30, 2008

The Bush administration has released a climate change assessment - four years late and pushed forward by a court order - that says human-induced global warming will likely lead to problems like droughts in the US West and stronger hurricanes.

President George W Bush's stance on the issue has evolved from denying climate science to acknowledging that global warming is happening.

In March, watchdog groups said Bush's decision to intervene in setting air pollution standards was part of a pattern of meddling in environmental science.

The "Scientific Assessment of the Effects of Global Change on the United States" released on Wednesday synthesised previous reports, including those by the government's climate change science program and last year's work by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
It is intended to give US government agencies and MPs in Congress a single document to refer to when forming climate policy.

The assessment was praised by environmental groups at the forefront of the lawsuit that led to the court order forcing the administration to issue the report by the end of May. clip

A 1990 law, the Global Change Research Act, requires the government to do an assessment on global warming every four years. The last one had been issued in 2000 during President Bill Clinton's administration. (clip)

In 2006, the Bush government was accused of censoring its scientists on global warming, such as NASA expert James Hansen, which led to the firing of an official at the space agency.
Sharon Hays, the White House associate science director, said Thursday's document offered "a greater focus on what scientists know about climate change impacts in the United States" than the 2007 reports by the UN panel.

Siegel, echoing the sentiment of many environmental groups, said now that the government had an assessment, it should launch a cap-and-trade program on greenhouse gases and federal limits on emissions to slow climate change.

"Now it's time to actually do something about climate change," she said.

The Senate is expected to take up the leading climate bill next week, although few analysts expect it to pass before the next administration comes to power."

Yes, now it's time to actually do something about climate change and what is the response from our government? Here's the story from Fortune:

Chances dim for climate-change legislation

Business coalition splinters, and without widespread corporate support, the bill headed to the Senate is almost certainly doomed

By Marc Gunther

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- An influential coalition of Fortune 500 companies and environmental groups that was formed to support climate-change legislation has splintered over the Lieberman-Warner bill that is headed next week to the Senate floor.

The U.S. Climate Action Partnership formed last year won't take a position on the bill, although nine of its members - including General Electric, Alcoa , and four utility companies - signed a letter to senators backing the legislation.

The letter, also signed by big environmental groups and obtained by Fortune, says: "Prompt action on climate change is essential to protect America's economy, security, quality of life and natural environment."

But other members of the coalition known as U.S. Cap, most visibly Duke Energy, a coal-burning utility, are strongly opposed. "It's going to translate into significant electricity price increases," says Jim Rogers, Duke's CEO.

Without widespread corporate support, passage of the bill - already a long shot at best - becomes even more unlikely this year.

President Bush remains opposed.

House Democrats have been slow to act. (more)

If you were on a life boat in pretty rough seas,

and land was in sight, and the life boat was taking on water,

but the crew that was in charge,

would not give the order to bail out the water,

would you start bailing anyway,

or would you throw the crew overboard first?

After all, it's the same crew that

sunk the ship.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008


This letter came in last week from an old friend, activist, feminist, teacher, Eileen Lundy. I have been, like everyone, reeling on the heels of Clinton’s Bobby Kennedy remark. But that was just the coup de grace of a string of negative campaign tactics from the Clinton campaign which, as a feminist, I find offensive. I have been so discouraged by Clinton’s use of a feminism for political gain that I’ve wanted to delete anything that comes into my mailbox with the word “feminist” in it linked to politics of any kind.

And I have been a feminist my entire adult life.

First Lady is no job for a feminist. I have never been a Clinton fan. One friend wrote, “Hillary is not the first new woman leader, she is the last of the old ones.” Of course, political movements are always abused, sold out, corrupted in the end, and only if we remember the core values and necessities from which a movement was born, can we take back its essential significance. I am stopping myself – before I hit the delete button. I will not close my ears to the plight of women around the world just because one particularly ruthless one has tried to co-opt the movement so she can be an American president.

Movements change and grow. There was an instant when we counted on fingers and calculators the percent of women in high impact jobs and thought, maybe some thought, if we increased that the world would get better. It won’t. There must be a new paradigm. Patriarchal Capitalism is the problem, and women working in that system don’t offer much of an alternative. Men working outside of it do -- as does the sound of millions of people marching for an end to war, for human rights, keys clicking on computers world-wide, the wild and immediate information explosion that is the internet — there is another way of living in the world. Hillary doesn’t get it.

Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King died for it.

Sisters and Friends,

I am a 75 year old, still professionally active women, living and working in Austin, Texas. I support Obama for president, even though I have in the past held great respect for Hilary Clinton. That respect has dimmed somewhat because of her uses of race in some of her campaign remarks and especially in her statement that if Israel is threatened with nuclear weapons from Iran, she as president would see that Iran would be "obliterated." This is a call for genocide, a statement I can't believe she meant, I don't want to believe she meant, in the heat of the campaign, albeit in a quiet interview. The environmentally problematic call for a gas-tax-holiday and the throwing out of the almost unanimous disagreement of economists was another unfortunate heat-of-the-campaign statement. But that kind of "heat" or pressure is the nature of 3 am calls, too.

But what is most regrettable for me in Hillary's campaign is her apparent lack of understanding of what one writer has called the "cultural revolution" beginning, the movement of grassroots groups in enormous numbers. It is change from the ground up and not from the top down. She has yet to grasp this enormous change (see BLESSED UNREST: The Greatest Movement the World Has Ever Known" by Paul Hawkin--a book that begins to document this unparalleled global movement and does not have direct comments on any political campaign but was written before the campaigns began). Hillary is still working under old paradigms that are changing. The change is not ahead of us; it is ongoing already. I would so much like her to see that, but she does not yet show signs that she does, in spite of her keen intelligence and experience.

So I support Obama, who does appear to be much aware of the groundswell upon which we are all walking. And I am deeply disappointed with Emily's List or any other organizations of women that state or imply that support for other than a woman is treachery. I never did ascribe to "My country, right or wrong, my country" and neither can I ascribe to "Women running for office, right or wrong, I'll vote for women."

We women of the US have not yet come of age politically if we must vote for women unconditionally, just because they are women, just because they are strong women, just because a woman comes close to the White House, even if her statements are sometimes troublesome, sometimes directly opposed to the best calls to our society.

Eileen Lundy
American Studies Specialist
Austin, Texas


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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

North Pole Control

As you may remember, the ice at the north pole retreated to a record last year. Here's a new story from the BBC that indicates that the process is accelerating.

Vast cracks appear in Arctic ice
BBC News
By David Shukman BBC News

Dramatic evidence of the break-up of the Arctic ice-cap has emerged from research during an expedition by the Canadian military.

Scientists travelling with the troops found major new fractures during an assessment of the state of giant ice shelves in Canada's far north. The team found a network of cracks that stretched for more than 10 miles (16km) on Ward Hunt, the area's largest shelf.

The fate of the vast ice blocks is seen as a key indicator of climate change.

One of the expedition's scientists, Derek Mueller of Trent University, Ontario, told me: "I was astonished to see these new cracks. "It means the ice shelf is disintegrating, the pieces are pinned together like a jigsaw but could float away," Dr Mueller explained.

According to another scientist on the expedition, Dr Luke Copland of the University of Ottawa, the new cracks fit into a pattern of change in the Arctic.

"We're seeing very dramatic changes; from the retreat of the glaciers, to the melting of the sea ice. "We had 23% less (sea ice) last year than we've ever had, and what's happening to the ice shelves is part of that picture." (clip)

The rapid changes in the Arctic have reignited disputes over territory.

The Canadian military's expedition was billed as a "sovereignty patrol", the lines of snowmobiles flying Canadian flags in a display of control.

After the record Arctic melting last year, all eyes are now on what happens to the sea ice this summer. (more)

Of course, like the Canadians, some of the eyes are not just looking for geopolitical control, many are looking at the Arctic Ocean as a new shipping lane and as new happy hunting grounds for the discovery of more oil, so we can release more CO2, so we can melt the ice even faster.

But our radiative forcing from the increased blanket of CO2 that we have created will somewhat pale in comparison to the amount of energy that will be absorbed by the open blue water.

While the Canadians are sending troops to our north pole, the US is sending robots to the north pole of Mars. The Phoenix Mars Lander is now on the north pole of Mars, which may prove to have more ice than our north pole pretty soon. Maybe we are thinking we can control the Mars north pole, like the Canadians and the Russians want to control ours.

If you look closely at the picture, you can see the mini DVD that we brought them.

Perhaps they can buy the player at the Comp USA.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Too Much to Ask?

A good friend and reader sent this today. He is a veteran of the Vietnam conflict, once falling from a medivac helicopter face first into a rice paddy. He had plenty of time to think about things there before his miraculous recovery.

"The Citizen Soldier has been part of this country since it started. We have a call to arms and the men come forth to defend the land. Through out our history we have sent soldiers to war for many reasons.

"Soldiers have a responsibility to defend their country, and it is our responsibility as citizens to heal those who have put their lives on the line for us, even if they fought a war for the wrong reasons or for lies. As Tennyson said, 'Theirs is not to reason why, theirs is but to do and die.' And we are not doing that."

It is not enough to bring the boys home, because they aren't boys anymore, and getting them home physically does not do it. We need to help them heal and help them deal with their burden.
Healing has to happen at the deepest level of the mind, heart, and soul. We need public apologies, public confessions, and public grief for all that we have done to our veterans, to other nations, and to the earth.

To get off the suicidal path we are on, we have to feel the pain that we are in, that the Earth is in, that our communities are in. We can no longer stand by and ignore the facts.
So as Edward Tick says, "We pathologize everything. If a soldier comes home nuts we think we can cure him with a pill.

Americans have a profound alienation toward our warriors. The civilian class and warrior class have nothing to do with each other. In fact we don't even think that we have a warrior class and we teach that to our society. Never mind Annapolis and West Point.

The American veterans get honored when they are serving, to keep up the patrotic fervor, but when the war is done they are forgotten. The fighters of WWI were ignored and had to march on Washington to get any recognition at all and then they were attacked by "the army" led by none other than Douglas MacArthur. Some of the veterans were gunned down.

Only after WWII did the veterans get a reward for their service and were they honored. Veterans Day used to be called Armistice Day which held a scared meaning. Today, Veterans Day is full of speeches and parades and fireworks. Memorial Day is on us again.

Now once again there are rumblings of a new GI Bill to help the returned veterans. A bill that our president who quit playing golf to honor the soldiers serving thinks is too expensive. Nothing is too expensive to honor or help out a man or woman who put themselves in harms way. Is a college education too much to ask for a soldier who lost an eye or a leg?

Is it too much to ask for a good veterans administration with great medical care?"
Is a 10 cent flag the best we can do?


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Future Scenarios

David Holmgren, co-originator of the permaculture concept has created a new web page called Future Scenarios. The site is arranged as a long essay broken into micro-chapters. Ideally they suggest that you read it in order, navigating via the left hand menu.
The gallery contains extensive photographs and commentary which illustrate various aspects of the four energy descent scenarios. Please leave your comments in the guestbook.
Here is the opening introduction:
The simultaneous onset of climate change and the peaking of global oil supply represent unprecedented challenges for human civilisation.

Global oil peak has the potential to shake if not destroy the foundations of global industrial economy and culture. Climate change has the potential to rearrange the biosphere more radically than the last ice age. Each limits the effective options for responses to the other.
The strategies for mitigating the adverse effects and/or adapting to the consequences of Climate Change have mostly been considered and discussed in isolation from those relevant to Peak Oil.
While awareness of Peak Oil, or at least energy crisis, is increasing, understanding of how these two problems might interact to generate quite different futures, is still at an early state.
. presents an integrated approach to understanding the potential interaction between Climate Change and Peak Oil using a scenario planning model. In the process I introduce permaculture as a design system specifically evolved over the last 30 years to creatively respond to futures that involve progressively less and less available energy.
And this comes from the closing:
In nature, disturbance events (such as fire, flood or drought) or eruptive disturbances from within an ecosystem, such as insect plagues or fungal disease, are often understood as examples of system dyfunction. Alternatively they can be understood as either initiating another succession cycle that brings renewed life or a novel force that deflect the ecosystem in different directions determined by the chance arrival of new species or other factors.

The ecosystems that emerge from these periods of disturbance can be quite different from those that preceded them and these changes can be characterised from a systems ecology perspective as either degradation of biophysical resources and productivity and/or ones involving new evolutionary pathways. The lesson from nature is that evolution of life works in strange ways that cannot be fully predicted. (clip)
Our task is to choose which pieces of these jigsaw puzzle will be useful in creating an energy descent culture, the boundaries, features and colours of which, we can scarcely imagine.
What is worth saving?
What are the limits of our capacity?
We have little time to decide and act. We must commit to concrete actions and projects. We must stake our claim, not for ourselves but for the future. However in commiting to our task we should remember the stories of Pythagoras and the monks of Lindisfarne. It is not the project but the living process that will be the measure of our actions.
Let us act as if we are part of nature's striving for the next evolutionary way to creatively respond to the recurring cycles of energy ascent and descent that characterise human history and the more ancient history of Gaia, the living planet.
Imagine that our descendants and our ancestors are watching us."
Because you know

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Friday, May 23, 2008

The Seeds We Sow

Over the last many months of posts, perhaps even years now, EFA has settled into a pattern of posts that includes news and commentary about climate change, peak oil, advanced technology, political and personal philosophy, along with an occasional dose of culture as embodied in a new movie or book.

And thanks to SB and other artistic contributors, we have been able to lace this all together with poetry, photography, illustrations, and many of the great works of the creative muse.

Early on, when EFA first began publishing, I would speak of the Earthfamily and the need to create new inventions of social contract. Within the first few months of EFA, I wrote the Principles post. And even though it needs a little work to keep it up to date, it still stands up pretty well to the always brutal test of time.

And, the founding vision that appears in the top left corner in the hundreds of thousands of read EFA pages still rings true to me.

"With the advent of advanced global communication, new forms of social contract can be created which transcend the geographic state. These new cybercoops or cyberstates will bring humankind to higher levels of cooperation and understanding."

But perhaps this vision was a little abstract. For the "a priori" understanding here is that we must organize ourselves or perhaps more appropriately, reorganize ourselves. We must reorganize ourselves into food coops, transportation clubs, communication partnerships, and housing shares, with our friends, and our networks at the local scale, the regional scale and the global scale.
We must bring ourselves together.

Howard Zinn says it well in this interview in Counterpunch.

Ziga Vodovnik: From the 1980s onwards we are witnessing the process of economic globalization getting stronger day after day. Many on the Left are now caught between a "dilemma" -- either to work to reinforce the sovereignty of nation-states as a defensive barrier against the control of foreign and global capital; or to strive towards a non-national alternative to the present form of globalization and that is equally global.

What's your opinion about this?

Howard Zinn: I am an anarchist, and according to anarchist principles nation states become obstacles to a true humanistic globalization. In a certain sense the movement towards globalization where capitalists are trying to leap over nation state barriers, creates a kind of opportunity for movement to ignore national barriers, and to bring people together globally, across national lines in opposition to globalization of capital, to create globalization of people, opposed to traditional notion of globalization.

In other words to use globalization -- it is nothing wrong with idea of globalization -- in a way that bypasses national boundaries and of course that there is not involved corporate control of the economic decisions that are made about people all over the world.

Ziga Vodovnik: Pierre-Joseph Proudhon once wrote that: "Freedom is the mother, not the daughter of order." Where do you see life after or beyond (nation) states?

Howard Zinn: Beyond the nation states? (laughter) I think what lies beyond the nation states is a world without national boundaries, but also with people organized. But not organized as nations, but people organized as groups, as collectives, without national and any kind of boundaries. Without any kind of borders, passports, visas.

None of that!

Of collectives of different sizes, depending on the function of the collective, having contacts with one another. You cannot have self-sufficient little collectives, because these collectives have different resources available to them. This is something anarchist theory has not worked out and maybe cannot possibly work out in advance, because it would have to work itself out in practice.

Ziga Vodovnik: Do you think that a change can be achieved through institutionalized party politics, or only through alternative means -- with disobedience, building parallel frameworks, establishing alternative media, etc.

Howard Zinn: If you work through the existing structures you are going to be corrupted. By working through political system that poisons the atmosphere, even the progressive organizations, you can see it even now in the US, where people on the "Left" are all caught in the electoral campaign and get into fierce arguments about should we support this third party candidate or that third party candidate.

This is a sort of little piece of evidence that suggests that when you get into working through electoral politics you begin to corrupt your ideals. So I think a way to behave is to think not in terms of representative government, not in terms of voting, not in terms of electoral politics, but thinking in terms of organizing social movements, organizing in the work place, organizing in the neighborhood, organizing collectives that can become strong enough to eventually take over --

First to become strong enough to resist what has been done to them by authority, and second, later, to become strong enough to actually take over the institutions." (more)

We have all the tools we need to reorganize ourselves for the time and events that lay before us. We have the hardware, the communication skills, and the software to completely blur the disappearing lines between geographic and social space.

But we do not yet have the will.

For we are all too comfortable in the Matrix.

But when the Matrix fails,

We will find our new ways, and our new lives,

in tomorrow's strong branches,

of the seeds we sow today.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Moving Fast

Earlier today, I was in a meeting in which the subject of things moving "really fast" came up. For example, two years ago when we discussed the virtues and the benefits of plug in hybrid cars, one of those benefits considered was the fact that the car would not be limited by oil supply issues. We weren't talking about price, we were talking about supply. I would even use the word ration.

Back then, the notion seemed so remote, it received more than a few raised eyebrows. Gas Rationing? Impossible.

Today, it seems like prudent public policy management to think through these possibilities.

Especially now that the WSJ is finally willing to report the story:

Energy Watchdog Warns Of Oil-Production Crunch
IEA Official Says Supplies May Plateau Below Expected Demand
May 22, 2008; Page A1

The world's premier energy monitor is preparing a sharp downward revision of its oil-supply forecast, a shift that reflects deepening pessimism over whether oil companies can keep abreast of booming demand.

The Paris-based International Energy Agency is in the middle of its first attempt to comprehensively assess the condition of the world's top 400 oil fields. Its findings won't be released until November, but the bottom line is already clear: Future crude supplies could be far tighter than previously thought.

A pessimistic supply outlook from the IEA could further rattle an oil market that already has seen crude prices rocket over $130 a barrel, double what they were a year ago. U.S. benchmark crude broke a record for the fourth day in a row, rising 3.3% Wednesday to close at $133.17 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

For several years, the IEA has predicted that supplies of crude and other liquid fuels will arc gently upward to keep pace with rising demand, topping 116 million barrels a day by 2030, up from around 87 million barrels a day currently. Now, the agency is worried that aging oil fields and diminished investment mean that companies could struggle to surpass 100 million barrels a day over the next two decades. (clip)

The IEA, employing a team of 25 analysts, is trying to shed light on some of the industry's best-kept secrets by assessing the health of major fields scattered from Venezuela and Mexico to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq. The fields supply over two-thirds of daily world production.

The findings won't be definitive. Big producers including Venezuela, Iran and China aren't cooperating, and others like Saudi Arabia typically treat the detailed production data of individual fields as closely guarded state secrets, so it's not clear how specific their contributions will be.

To try to compensate, the IEA will use computer modeling to make estimates.

But the direction of the IEA's work echoes the gathering supply-side gloom articulated by some Big Oil executives in recent months. A growing number of people in the industry are endorsing a version of the "peak-oil" theory: that oil production will plateau in coming years, as suppliers fail to replace depleted fields with enough fresh ones to boost overall output.

All of that has prompted numerous upward revisions to long-term oil-price forecasts on Wall Street. Goldman Sachs grabbed headlines recently with a forecast saying that oil could top $140 a barrel this summer and could average $200 a barrel next year. (more)

Are you ready for $8.00 gasoline?

And for food to double ?

Things are moving fast.

And we need to be

prepared to move with them.

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San Jacinto courtesy of David Sanger


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It's not the Oil

Amid all the distractions, you may have missed this story from The Times:

Iraq could have largest oil reserves in the world
The Times
Sonia Verma in Sharm el-Sheikh
May 20, 2008

Iraq dramatically increased the official size of its oil reserves yesterday after new data suggested that they could exceed Saudi Arabia’s and be the largest in the world.

The Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister told The Times that new exploration showed that his country has the world’s largest proven oil reserves, with as much as 350 billion barrels. The figure is triple the country’s present proven reserves and exceeds that of Saudi Arabia’s estimated 264 billion barrels of oil.

Barham Salih said that the new estimate had been based on recent geological surveys and seismic data compiled by “reputable, international oil companies . . . This is a serious figure from credible sources.”

The Iraqi Government has yet to approve a national oil law that would allow foreign companies to invest. Mr Salih said that the delay was damaging Iraq’s ability to profit from oil output, robbing the country of potentially huge revenues. With oil selling for more than $125 dollars a barrel and demand rising, Mr Salih is frustrated that Iraq still struggles over the establishment of a regulatory framework.

“There is a real debate in the Government and among political leaders about the type of oil management structures we should have. I am for liberalising this sector and allowing the private sector to come in to develop these vast resources.”

BP, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell and Total have been queuing for rights to exploit Iraqi reserves. Mr Salih confirmed that Iraq was negotiating the outlines of two-year deals with some of the companies. He was optimistic that a draft law could be approved in the near future.

“We need to recognise after so many decades of mismanagement of the oil industry that we need to call a spade a spade,” he told a group of delegates at the World Economic Forum in Sharm el-Sheikh.

“We can regulate it, but we need private investment to develop Iraq’s production capacities.” He said that Iraq was pumping 2.5 million barrels of oil a day at present, earning about $70 billion (£35.9 billion) in revenue this year. more

As I walk around the old silver ruins in my mountain home in the state of San Luis Potosi, it boggles my mind to think of the labor (slave) and the effort that went into building the mine shafts, the roads, the giant walls, and the mansions that once existed when the Spanish came to the New World. (it wasn't new to the Huicholes)

With their Friars and Priests, and their civil engineers, they built churches and factories, and railroads and government buildings.

But, I imagine that the then King Phillip of Spain wasn't nearly as politically correct as we are today.

He probably never told anyone that his occupation forces in the New World were there to free the natives from the oppression of their brutal dictators.

He probably never told anyone that it's not the silver.

For it most definitely was. It was silver and gold that built his ships and his armies. It was silver and gold that made Spain rich and powerful. And they had come to the Americas... to mine it.

Yesterday, oil closed at almost 130.00. Even still, our oil man POTUS and our oil service man VPOTUS would tell us that"it's not the oil".

In the old days, it wasn't against international law to invade a country for its resources, for there was none. In these modern, more refined days, you have to make a pretense.

It's been somewhat common knowledge that the western Anbar province was a major unproduced region in Iraq and that these riches, perhaps 200 billion barrels worth, is the prize at the wrong end of our guns, and our blood and our empty public coffers.

But common knowledge is somewhat uncommon these days.

Because, you see , It's not the oil.
And if you believe that,
they've got another yarn to sell you.
It's not the oil.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Beyond Windows

It's a travel day.

And although I am thinking thoughts,

I will not have the time.

Here's an oldie from the first year of EfA,

based on the thoughts of J Krishnamurti.

"Thought is time.

Thought is born of experience and knowledge,

which are inseparable from time and the past.

Time is the psychological enemy of man.

Our action is based on knowledge and therefore time,

so man is always a slave to the past.

Thought is ever-limited and so we live in constant conflict and struggle.

There is no psychological evolution.

When man becomes aware of the movement of his own thoughts,

he will see the division between the thinker and thought,

the observer and the observed,

the experiencer and the experience.

He will discover that this division is an illusion.

Then only is there pure observation

which is insight without any shadow of the past or of time.

This timeless insight

brings about a deep, radical mutation in the mind."

A deep, radical mutation of the mind.

I have been thinking of this sentence all day.

What constitutes a deep, radical mutation of the mind?

What does it look like?

Let's start with love

"What is love?

The word is so loaded and corrupted that I hardly like to use it.

Everybody talks of love ,

every magazine and newspaper and every missionary

talks everlastingly of love.

I love my country,

I love my king,

I love some book,

I love that mountain,

I love pleasure,

I love my wife,

I love God.

Is love an idea?

If it is,

it can be cultivated, nourished, cherished,

pushed around, twisted in any way you like.

When you say you love God what does it mean?

It means that you love a projection of your own imagination,

a projection of yourself clothed in certain forms of respectability

according to what you think is noble and holy;

so to say, `I love God',

is absolute nonsense.

When you worship God you are worshipping yourself,

and that is not love. "

This a deep radical mutation of the mind.

It may be the basis of a new operating system

for the human biocomputer,

And the Earthfamily

Beyond Windows.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Worlds Largest Windfarm

Twenty seven years ago, the second largest windfarm in the world was built just north of Pampa Texas. At the time, it was a whopping 175 KW. I know because I built it. Except back then, I called it a windranch. We even shot a documentary of it which was premiered at the big solar wind convention in Houston that year. After about 7 years of operation, the project was scrapped, and the pieces were sold to West Texas University.

Now, according to this report, Pampa will once again be a leader in wind. And this time time, it's the largest. Here is the story from The Energy Blog.

Mesa Power LLP, a company created by T. Boone Pickens, has placed an order with General Electric to purchase 667, 1.5 megawatt wind turbines for the worlds largest wind farm, capable of generating 1,000 megawatts, nameplate, of electricity, enough to power more than 300,000 average U.S. homes.

The order is part of the $2 billion first phase, see previous post, of the Pampa Wind Project planned in the Texas panhandle by Mesa.

When all the phases of the project are completed it will become the world's largest wind energy project, with more than 4,000 megawatts, nameplate, of installed capacity. When completed, projected to be in 2014, the wind farm will be five times as big as the nation's current largest wind power project, now producing 736 megawatts.

Pickens said he expects that first phase of the project will cost about $2 billion. When complete, the Pampa Wind Project will cover some 400,000 acres in the Texas Panhandle.. (clip)

"You find an oilfield, it peaks and starts declining, and you've got to find another one to replace it," said Pickens, who once operated one of the largest independent oil and gas production companies. "It can drive you crazy. With wind, there's no decline curve."

An Austin-based Resource Inc. economic impact study, commissioned by Mesa Power, projects that the Mesa Power wind farm will bring significant increases in jobs and income for the five counties of the project investment zone (Carson, Gray, Hemphill, Roberts and Wheeler counties)."( more)

That is almost exactly what I was saying almost 30 years ago. But it's actually weirder than that.

Boone's big order is with the same wind company that I used to site for all through the nineties. Even weirder, Boone bought much of the land and the wind rights from the same cousins and relatives that the first wind ranch was installed on.

He even built a huge giant pandhandle headquarters on the same family ranch that I used to hunt turkey on as a kid.

Yesterday, I got an email from a cousin in Washington DC asking about the project. Earlier, two friends from Pampa called me to ask if this thing is for real.

I told them that it most definitely is.

In my work with the Utility, I'm also leasing in the Pampa area.

Boone is also buying up water rights in the Panhandle. Much of it from my relatives. He probably plans to run the power lines for this wind power right with his water lines, much of it going to the thirsty population centers to the east.

Pampa is also famous as the place that Woodie Guthrie left during the dust bowl. He sang about it in his "So long, it's been good to know you".

"It was in the town of Pampa, the county of Gray,
Nothing was standing, it was all blown away" (third verse)

Woodie would have been proud.

Except for the water part.


Friday, May 16, 2008

The Flying Man

I'm sitting in my room looking over the beautiful Pacific Ocean. I'm in Laguna Beach, which I like a lot for a beach town. From my corner perch I see the large waves roll in, and being only a few yards from the water's edge, the waves are loud and powerful.

Earlier today, a community enviro leader and friend called and wanted to chat. It seemed that another friend and often guest at my roomy house in Texas was concerned about the amount of lights that I leave on. It is true. I leave lights on all the time. One reason I do, is to confuse folks about my presence there. Being close to the University, it's not the best neighborhood, and I've had luck over the years creating the illusion that somewhere is there all the time.

And I almost always leave the radio on.

Since I'm a very good communicator and often good with words, I chose to respond to this apparent criticism with the well articulated response, "Tell her to go f#>k herself, I'm on the green rate"

Knowing that my friend trots off to Washington to lobby many times a year, that she drives in from the country, and knowing that she is not on any zero carbon green rate herself, (through no fault of her own, I doubt if her coop utility offers a green rate) I felt confident that her carbon footprint was well outside mine.

I live within 20 or so blocks of work, and I move around a fairly small area of the original city. I don't drive a hybrid, but my Chevy does drop down to 3 cylinders while on the highway, and I'm riding my bike more and more.

But really, if you want to grow your footprint. Fly.

Here's a
handy carbon calculator that will help make the point. It's simple and the numbers change as you change the values. Still, even with 0 carbon from my electricity purchases, my carbon footprint is about twice the national average.

And it's because I fly. (that's why we flyers should buy
carbon offsets)

part of a piece by Richard Heinberg that makes you think that we won't have to buy them for long, because the era of cheap flight is coming to an end.

Saying Goodbye to Air Travel
14 May 2008

The airline industry has no future. The same is true for airfreight. No air carrier has a viable plan to make a profit with oil at current prices—much less in years to come as the petroleum available to world markets dwindles rapidly.

That’s not to say that jetliners will disappear overnight, but rather that the cheap flights we’ve seen in the past will soon be fading memories. In a few years jet service will be available only to the wealthy, or to the government and military. (clip)

There are good reasons to cut down on air travel voluntarily: flying not only swells our personal carbon emissions but spews CO2 and other pollutants into the stratosphere, where they do the most damage. However, the worsening scarcity of the stuff we use for making jet fuel takes the discussion out of the realm of optional moral action and into that of economic necessity and personal adaptation.

I fly to educate both general audiences and policy makers about fossil fuel depletion; in fact, I’m writing this article aboard a plane en route from Boston to San Francisco. I wince at my carbon footprint, but console myself with the hope that my message helps thousands of others to change their consumption patterns. This inner conflict is about to be resolved: the decline of affordable air travel is forcing me to rethink my work. I’m already starting to do much more by video teleconference, much less by jet. (clip)

Our species’ historically brief fling with flight has been fun, educational, and enriching on many levels to those fortunate enough to benefit from it. Saying goodbye will be difficult. But maybe as we do we can say hello to greater involvement in our local communities."

I'm glad I can get up at six in the morning, drive to the airport, and arrive on the left coast before nine in the morning. I love flying to Paris on Christmas Eve day. I hate to think that the era that started when I was a child will only be a brief blip in history.

I suspect it won't be. But if we don't figure it out, it's going to be

Bye, Bye Birdie
to the Flying Man



Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Miracle before the Menace

If you think that humankind is not moving towards a new photonicly powered world, just take a look at this story from Renewable Energy Focus:

EU sets record installs of solar PV in 2007

PARIS, FRANCE. Installations in Germany, Spain and Italy have pushed the European Union to a new record for solar PV.

Total installed capacity of panels in the EU last year was 4,690 MWp, according to the latest barometer from EurObserv’ER. A total of 1,541 MWp was installed last year, an increase of 57% over 2006 installations.

“The European photovoltaic sector has given a strong signal to all those who continue to doubt its ability to develop,” the report explains. “Even if a large part of this capacity has to be attributed to the dynamism of the German market, an ever larger portion comes from the long awaited rise in importance of new markets” which “took the time to structure themselves well.”

Solar capacity per capita is 8.5 W and, more than ever, the European market remains focussed on grid-connected plants, which accounts for 99.5% of the new capacity. Direct consumption from off-grid connections (remote sites, public lighting, etc) accounted for only 8.4 MW of PV installations last year.

Of the 1,541 MW installed last year across the 27-nation EU, Germany was well in the lead with 1,103 MW, followed by Spain (340), Italy (50), Portugal (14), France (12), UK (3), Czech Republic (3), Austria (3), Greece (2), Netherlands (2), Belgium (2) and Sweden (1). All other countries installed less than 1 MW.

Of the 4,690 MW of installed capacity, Germany still leads with 3,846 MW, followed by Spain (515), Italy (100), Netherlands (55), France (46), Austria (28), Luxembourg (23), Portugal (17), UK (17), (clip)

The capacity of PV cells produced around the world increased by 51% last year, rising from 2,473 MW to 3,733 MWp, of which 29% were produced in Europe, 25% in Japan, 22% in China, 10% in Taiwan and 7% in the US.

The industry provided 70,000 jobs in the EU (40,000 in Germany alone) with annual revenue by the European sector doubling from Euro 5.7 billion in 2006 to 9.2 billion in 2007.

The full report is here.

Just seven years ago, when I wrote Silver in the Mine, world wide capacity of solid state photonic devices was less than 400MW. Now, it is almost 10 times that. At this growth rate, PV capacity will double every 18 months. That sounds a lot like another famous solid state doubling rate.

At this rate, PV production will meet this year's world consumption of electricity in 22 years. (please check my math)

If world consumption of electricity increases at 3 % year during that time, then consumption will double in 25 years.

Meeting that world consumption in 25 years will require about 24 years.

Meeting total world energy needs for all sectors would require another three years after that.
And at what costs?
Somewhere around the same amount of money we put into killing each other.
Sure, this occurs using the miracle / menace of The Doubling Time.

But we are going to need the Miracle,

before the Menace arrives.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Preserve the People

In a parallel universe in a galaxy not that far away.

Oil Hits 1000
by Max Stamp
EFA News Service

Oil soared to record highs again as traders and national governments bid up the price of the now dwindling commodity for a fifth straight week.

It was just five weeks ago, that the news of a newly developed genetically altered bacteria developed for cleaning up beaches and fishing habitats had somehow been introduced into the Gharwar field in Saudi Arabia. The bacteria, developed at Texas A and M University, is capable of eating the oil in the rocks and even the sand when introduced, thus converting the carbon to carbon dioxide.

Since the bacteria's introduction into the Greater Ghawar Uplift, there have been reports that the bacteria is now present in all of the leading producing areas of the world, including Cantarell in Mexico, the Mesopotamian Foredeep, and the Viking Graben (North Sea).

According to the inventor of the bacteria, Spiro T. Minderbinder, "once the bacteria has been introduced into the well head, it spreads like a wild fire into the producing zones eating its way through the formation until all of the oil has been converted into carbon dioxide. The only way to stop it is to cut the bacteria off from oxygen, which requires shutting the oil field in."

Even after the well and producing zone is shut in, the bacteria will remain dormant and will regain its vigor once the well is reopened. "The wells are effectively useless", said Minderbinder, who testified yesterday before a joint committee of Congress.

In what appears to have been a an extraordinary coordinated attack by an eco-terrorist group, which calls itself "The One", the world now finds itself in an extreme crisis and reevalation of its present consumer/corporate model of existence. Many are finding new ways to travel, new views on work, and a sense of community that had been lost.

All Airline travel has now been suspended except for government and public health needs. Gas rationing has proved to be unnecessary due to the 60.00 per gallon price. All highway construction projects have been stopped.

"It is actually cheaper to run my scooter on Mescal," said a Mexican farmer from Cedral.

As the airlines, car manufacturers, tourist industry, all prepare for bankruptcy or nationalization, other industries have seen their stock and profits take off. The Clean Energy Five Hundred, a list of the most actively traded renewable energy companies traded on the NY stock exchange, has quadrupled in price in just the last three weeks.

Local food coops and urban food plans are also experiencing rapid growth. Bicycle shops are popping up on every corner.

Another company called Light Airways, which creates virtual meeting rooms and living rooms for businesses and families allowing businessmen and families to virtually travel to their meetings and loved ones has also experienced exponential growth.

According to the web site of "The One", the following statement is the only post. (they do have a question and answer section which is very revealing)

When governments can not act to Preserve the People.

The People must act to Preserve themselves.

The group has been calling for a moratorium on coal plants and a complete departure from the fuels and processes that cause global warming and climate change.

When asked about how their actions will only force a global movement to electric cars powered by coal plants, the group leader simply reiterated the warning they issued six weeks ago.

"We must stop our fireburning wars and ways, or humankind will perish.
If our governments will not or cannot act,
We will.

President Aboma has indicated that the perpetrators of the eco-terrorist cell will be found and they will be brought to justice. However, it is rumoured that the group has a secret membership
of over 10 million.

Experts expect oil to top 2000.00 Euros a barrel by fall.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Peak Profit

A friend and reader sent this last week.

And this is from Tom Tomorrow.

And here's Colbert:


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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Social Epidemics

As we begin to move into the general election, and HRC begins to move into the background, here is an oldie from the first year of EFA

The Meme of Peace

I told some people tonight that we are at a tipping point.

Think of a scale.

One side is loaded with a pound of pebbles.

The other side is empty.

Every hour you add one pebble to the side that is up in the air.

Nothing happens.

Hour after hour,

Nothing happens.

Then one day, you add that last pebble, that last little rock,

and the whole thing changes, and it swings the other way.

Malcom Gladwell wrote a book about it in The Tipping Point .

It states that the tipping point is that dramatic moment in an epidemic when everything can change all at once.

It is the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point, a place where the unexpected becomes expected, where radical change is more than possibility.

Gladwell likes the social epidemic model. He describes his work this way,

It's a book about change. In particular, it's a book that presents a new way of understanding why change so often happens as quickly and as unexpectedly as it does. For example, why did crime drop so dramatically in New York City in the mid-1990's? How does a novel written by an unknown author end up as national bestseller? Why do teens smoke in greater and greater numbers, when every single person in the country knows that cigarettes kill? Why is word-of-mouth so powerful? What makes TV shows like Sesame Street so good at teaching kids how to read? I think the answer to all those questions is the same. It's that ideas and behavior and messages and products sometimes behave just like outbreaks of infectious disease.

They are social epidemics.

The Tipping Point is an examination of the social epidemics that surround us. "

Whether it is a social epidemic model, or my scale with the pebbles metaphor, it is clear that things can and do change, and often quite unpredictably.

We are at a Tipping Point's Tipping Point.

People are losing faith in this War.

They think the President lied about the need to fight it.

More and more People know about the concept of Peak Oil.

And they suspect that this really is a war about Oil.

More and more people know that the scientific debate

on Climate Change

is over.

Now we must do something about it or simply be irresponsible.

We can either try to mitigate it through global treaties,

adapt to it by beginning to prepare for its ravages,

or defend against with a more powerful military force.

Some people are beginning to see that we have another option.

We don't have to have a war for oil,

because even if we win it,

it won't solve the climate change problem.

In academic circles,

there is this concept of memes

A meme is a idea that behaves like a virus

that moves through a population,

taking hold in each person it infects.

Moving away from the carbon and nuclear energy we use today,

letting go of our home made big fires,

and embracing our god given fusion reactor,

is a meme whose time has almost come.

More and more people are beginning to see

the reality of these forcing agents.

And as they do,

As they become infected with this meme of hope,

they will spread it to their neighbors,

And to their friends,

and to their partners.

They may even begin to believe it themselves.

And when we do,

hundreds of millions of lives,

will be spared,

And the War for Oil,

will instead metamorphose into a

Meme of Peace.

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