Blog

Tom Wang/Shutterstock

We’re Not Going To Make It…

…without real sacrifice
Wednesday, March 30, 2016, 12:18 AM

Right now I'm on a Metro North train heading the NYC. I’ve been invited to sit on an advisory council at the UN on building a sustainable energy future.

I’ll let you know how the meeting goes, after I take a few selfies to immortalize the experience in case I'm not invited back. 

Why might I not? Because I can either be a good boy, hold my tongue, and get to serve on more committees (maybe); or I can speak the truth as I see it.

It's not a hard decision: I'll be going with the latter. I really don’t know how to do differently any more; it’s a matter of internal integrity.

Now, I may not understand the ‘truth’ any better than the next person. But I do have access to a lot of data that seems to confirm this one idea: Humanity is not going to painlessly wean itself off of fossil fuels.

Instead, we’ll hit some sort of a wall: be it a food/population crisis, a climate crisis, or a debt/fiscal/economic crisis.  Each of those candidates has it roots in our global society's addition to fossil fuels.

No growth in fossil fuels and we get no growth in our debt-based economy. Translation: we’ll have a debt/financial crisis.

No fossil fuels and our entire method of industrial agriculture breaks down. Food crisis anyone?

Now, we won’t suddenly run out of fossil fuels. But we are going to find it increasingly difficult to extract more and more of them. And other limits like oceanic acidification and climate change may force us to move away from fossil fuels for a totally different set of reasons.

No matter the path we take, we need to transition sooner or later. We should know that.

Poor Math

One of the things I did in the book version of The Crash Course was to run the basic numbers to make the case that, unless we immediate decide to pursue the equivalent of a Manhattan Project (times) an Apollo Project (times) some whole number like 10, we're not going to make anything even remotely resembling a seamless transition to alternative energy.

Fortunately, there are now more groups carefully studying the math and making the same case:

Renewable energy demands the undoable

Mar 27, 2016

LONDON, 27 March, 2016 – The world is increasingly investing in renewable energy. Last year, according to UN figures, global investment in solar power, wind turbines and other renewable forms of energy was $266 billion. 

But right now, the report says, renewable energy sources deliver just 10.3% of global electrical power. Neither the report’s authors nor anyone else thinks that is enough to slow climate change driven by rising global temperatures as a consequence of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels.
In the last century, this has already climbed by 1°C. In Paris in December 2015, 195 nations agreed on a global plan to limit global warming to a figure no more than 2°C above the long-term average for most of human history.

This will be difficult, according to Glenn Jones, professor of marine sciences at Texas A&M University in the US.

In 2015, the world installed the equivalent of 13,000 five-megawatt wind turbines. But to contain global warming to a figure less than 2°C nations would have to ramp up renewable investment by 2028 to the annual equivalent of 485,000 such wind turbines.

“That’s a 37-fold increase in the annual installation rate in only 13 years just to achieve the wind power goal,” Professor Jones said.

(Source)

There’s some really important information in this study, not the least of which is the realization that, to achieve just the wind power goal, the world would have to increase its rate of wind tower installation by 3,700% (or 37 fold).

This translates into going from installing 36 towers per day (the current rate) to 1,329 per day. Every day. 365 days a year. For 13 years straight. With no breaks.

But our fossil fuel addiction goes well beyond the desire/need for electricity. Transportation fuels are just as essential to our current human condition.

The article continues:

He and a colleague argue in the journal Energy Policy that during each hour of every day 3.7 million barrels of oil are pumped from wells; 932,000 tons of coal are dug; 395 million cubic metres of natural gas are piped from the ground; and 4.1 million tons of CO2 is released into the atmosphere.

In that same hour, another 9,300 people are added to the global population. By 2100, the world will be home to 11 billion of us.

“It would require rates of change in our energy infrastructure and energy mix that have never happened in world history and that are extremely unlikely to be achieved,” he says

“So the question becomes, how will they be fed and housed and what will be their energy source? Currently 1.2 billion people in the world do not have access to electricity, and there are plans to try to get them on the grid. The numbers you start dealing with become so large that they are difficult to comprehend,” Professor Jones says.

“To even come close to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, 50% of our energy will need to come from renewable sources by 2028, and today it is only 9%, including hydropower. For a world that wants to fight climate change, the numbers just don’t add up to do it.”

3.7 million barrels of oil per hour, along with nearly a million tons of coal and 400 million cubic meters of gas.  Every day, for 365 days a year.  

The numbers are indeed difficult to comprehend. But they just don’t measure up to our hopes for the future. At the current pace of energy transition, we’re not only going to miss the climate targets we've set, but we’re also going to miss the chance gracefully deal with the continued growth in both our debt pile and population.

This chart explains why.  As fast as renewable energy sources have grown, fossil fuels have grown, too. They remain ~80% of the world's total energy consumption:

(Source – Gail Tverberg)

While people excitedly point out the growth rates in energy renewables, they often fail to note either/both the scale involved and/or the fact that a tiny percentage growth in fossil fuels will utterly dwarf a large percentage gain in renewables.

This is the dynamic that the numbers in the above study are warning us of. Loudly.  

It’s nothing personal. It’s just math. But it’s going to get very personal over the next years and decades as the world is finally forced to confront the idiocy of attempting infinite growth on a (quite) finite planet.

And it's for this reason I am going to have a hard time being a good little committee member and sign off on some cheery report suggesting we can achieve a sustainable energy future if we all just try a little harder.

We’re going to need to try harder than any generation has ever had to try on anything, ever in all of history, to remake our energy infrastructure.

Meanwhile…

The Predicament That Stares Us In The Face

These days it’s very hard to scan the headlines without running into seriously troubling ecological data.

The two ocean related articles below recently jumped out at me, both of which are related to the implications of oceanic warming:

Underwater Heat Wave Devastates Great Barrier Reef

Mar 29, 2016

CANBERRA, Australia—An underwater heat wave is devastating huge swaths of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, marine researchers have found.

An aerial survey of the chain of 3,000 coral outcrops—a Unesco world-heritage site and the only living system visible from space—found 95% of its northern area, roughly half the reef’s length, had been hit by a bleaching event that began six months ago. Damage to the southern area is still being assessed.

“This has been the saddest research trip of my life,” said Terry Hughes, a professor at Australia’s James Cook University and expert in coral bleaching. “Almost without exception, every reef we flew across showed consistently high levels of bleaching, from the reef slope right up onto the top of the reef.”

(Source)

This bleaching is caused by the loss of the symbiotic algae upon which coral depends, causing the coral organisms to die from starvation.

Another important bottom-of-the-food-chain organism, phytoplankton, has been disappearing from a variety of ocean basins with the Indian Ocean being one that recently made the news:

OCEAN PASTURES OF INDIAN OCEAN DISAPPEARING RAPIDLY

Feb 2, 2016

Research reveals that phytoplankton stocks in the region fell an alarming 30 percent over just the last 16 years. This most recent tally of the collapse of this vital ocean pasture ecosystem compounds the observed collapse that has been documented since the early 1950’s!

The collapse of ocean pasture ecosystems is taking place in all of the world’s ocean, not just in the Indian Ocean. Indeed many of those ocean basins are in a much worse condition of pasture collapse than the Indian Ocean.

(Source)

As the study itself concluded, the cause was due to hot surface water blocking mixing with the nutrient dense(er) lower waters:

We find that these trends in chlorophyll are driven by enhanced ocean stratification due to rapid warming in the Indian Ocean, which suppresses nutrient mixing from subsurface layers. Future climate projections suggest that the Indian Ocean will continue to warm, driving this productive region into an ecological desert.

(Source)

These are by no means rare exceptions plucked from a sea of otherwise positive news.  The world’s ecosystems are having a really rough time absorbing the scope and the pace of changes that humans are creating.

The grief expressed above by the scientists who study these ecosystems tells the tale.   

Conclusion

The world is just not yet serious enough about the urgency of transitioning away from fossil fuels.  The math says that without a tremendous change in behavior, far greater than anything currently on display, we simply won’t “get there” waiting for market forces to do the job for us.

We’ll have to make and adhere to very different priorities. Such as completely redirecting our entire defense budgets to the process of retooling our entire relationship to energy.

We’ll need our buildings to use less energy. And we’ll need to live closer to where we work and play.

Our food will have to be grown differently. And it will have to travel less far to get to our plate.

Electricity will have to come from sources other than fossil fuels too.

Is it possible to figure this out in time? Well, whether it is or not is sort of beside the point because these changes are going to be forced on us anyways if we don't get our act together in time.

So I guess I could be an optimist on the UN panel by telling them that I have 99% confidence that humans will someday be powering 100% of their energy needs from the sun.

I’ll just leave out that what I mean is that, in 100 or 200 years, humans will have painfully reverted back to a 1600’s-style subsistence farming lifestyle.

The point of this article is to refocus our attention on the need for each of us to lead the way, to begin our own individual energy transitions without waiting for some top-down solutions to come forward. The calvary simply isn't going to show up.

In our podcasts with Joel Salatin, Singing Frogs farm and Toby Hemenway, we've been surfacing examples of the ways in which we can begin farming regeneratively and relationally today.  You can do this on your own if you garden. Or you can support local farmers/CSAs that will do this for you. 

Anybody paying into a pension or trying to manage an endowment that needs to be there in 30 or 40 years (or forever, as is the case for university endowments) needs to understand that projections based on prior rates of economic growth are fantasies, hatched when we had the luxury of pretending there were no energy limits.

The restructuring of our energy economy, if taken under our own terms and on our own timelines, will utterly crush traditional economic growth as we’ve come to know and love it.

If taken under more dire terms, there may not even be a recognizable economy for a very long time.  

These are serious matters. They deserve serious consideration and even more serious answers.

Every little step each of us can make, both for its direct impact and for its leadership effects, is actually vitally important.

So one question we might ask ourselves is: How can I use less energy today, enjoy life just as much (if not more), and be part of the solution?

The future is going to be very different from the past. And the only thing that could come along to ameliorate the situation from an energy-food-survival standpoint would be a brand new source of energy. Something along the lines of workable, scalable fusion or if LENR (Low-Energy Nuclear Reaction) pans out and is quickly adopted.

As long as we are collectively relying on ~80% of our primary energy coming from fossil fuels, we're on the opposite path from creating a world worth inheriting.

And the extent to which we fail to run he numbers and appreciate the scale and the scope and the timing involved, preferring perhaps to content ourselves with just the renewables side of the story, is the extent to which we are failing to appreciate the challenges we face.

So my challenge for myself is to see how much I can further cut back my own energy use -- something I've already done in good measure by heating my water using the sun, insulating my home, and having a relatively efficient vehicle.  But there’s still a lot more I can do. 

How about you?

~ Chris Martenson

Endorsed Financial Adviser Endorsed Financial Adviser

Looking for a financial adviser who sees the world through a similar lens as we do? Free consultation available.

Learn More »
Where to Buy Gold & SilverWhere to Buy Gold & Silver

We endorse this dealer as our all-around favorite for purchasing and storing precious metals.

Learn More »

Related content

136 Comments

Sharsta's picture
Sharsta
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 12 2009
Posts: 8
Good Luck Chris!

Good luck with talking to these UN guys Chris!

My efforts -

# Solar Hot water - tubes

# Grid connected PV

# Insulated the walls and roof, working on the windows

# Certificate 3 (CIT) in Nursery and Landscaping - back and front gardens in development - veggies as well as perennial herbs, fruit and nut trees

# Nissan Leaf car + Level 2 charger at home

# 4 (spoilt, pet) chooks in the back yard - I protect the veggies and small plants from them

# battery electric lawnmower, whipper snipper, sheers and blower

Currently working on reducing the current gas winter heating bill.....

(Most people I have spoken to don't really cope too well with the concept of serially nested bubbles - let alone the practical consequences!)

Yoxa's picture
Yoxa
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 21 2011
Posts: 209
Call 'em the way you see them

Congrats on the council invitation, Chris. Thank you for taking that on.

Find yourself a Teflon overcoat and call things the way you see them. Call that spade a spade! Many people/entities will resist or ignore but some will hear.

Some of our efforts:

  • Energy conservation upgrades in home and workshop, including triple-pane windows and 18 inches of attic insulation
  • Walking more, driving less. My car is a hybrid; my bike is a three-speed.
  • Gardening, of course; seeking out locally produced food
  • More cooking from scratch
  • More bartering, buying used, or making/fixing things ourselves
  • Less banking, more "credit unioning"
  • Making micro loans through Kiva.org (over 700 so far)
Daniel Hromyko's picture
Daniel Hromyko
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 6 2010
Posts: 4
Getting Serious

"gracefully deal with the continued growth" Nice style but wrong message.

"I have 99% confidence that humans will someday be powering 100% of their energy needs from the sun." Deceptive message. Brutal honesty is getting serious, Catering to the politically correct sensibilities of professional compromisers compromises you Mr Martenson. Manners and etiquette be dammed. Political Correctness was an Orwellian political agenda to protect/prevent calling a lying lowlife scum politician, a lying peice of sh*t, and it is a way for the corrupt to carry out their machinations together and amongst their peers in an environment where lying is spin,the mass murder of civilians is collateral damage, and my favorite, " he wasn't entirely forthcoming with the truth" is accepted as reality without costs. Political correctness is primarily cowardice hiding behind the skirts of prudence when it's coming from a politician, so why not "let them have it" with a little shock and awe of reality?  

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 4 2010
Posts: 3936
Rossi to the Rescue

Of Homo Capensis, not H.Sap.

Andrea Rossi
March 29, 2016 at 1:44 PM
 
DEAR READERS:
 
WE HAVE RECEIVED RIGHT NOW THE ERV’S REPORT WHICH HAS BEEN DELIVERED TO INDUSTRIAL HEAT AND TO MYSELF. While I cannot release the report publicaly at this time, I can state that I am very pleased with the results. I hope that Industrial Heat and I will be able to release the report publicaly in the near future.
May God help us for the hard work waiting for us all.
 
Warm Regards,
Dr Andrea Rossi,
CEO of Leonardo Corporation
 

https://www.lenr-forum.com/forum/index.php/Thread/2927-WE-HAVE-RECEIVED-...

jhutchison's picture
jhutchison
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 3 2014
Posts: 4
Energy efficiency combined with renewable energy can do the job.

-Heat pumps like this  http://www.daikinaircon.com.au/daikin-split-systems/daikin-ururu-sarara-split-system can replace gas space heating saving 90% energy

-Heat pumps can also heat water saving 75% energy http://www.sandenwaterheater.com/

-LED lights can save 80% lighting energy 

Combine this with home insulation, draft sealing, life style changes, thermostat settings etc and you can cut your energy (not just electricity) consumption by 90% (suddenly renewable energies job got a whole lot easier).

-Transport can be achieved within say 15 km ranges via electric bicycle which covers that distance in 30mins (if you stick to a legal motor size).

-Electric motor bikes can be used for longer distances. 

If you combine all these options with growing food more locally, upgrades to rail networks, telecommuting, electric freight vehicles, buses etc the transport task will shrink its energy requirements by over 80%.

It is not just about supplying the same amount of energy via solar and wind it is about cutting the huge energy waste which is the bulk of the job. 

LesPhelps's picture
LesPhelps
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 30 2009
Posts: 533
Professor Jones wrote:The

Professor Jones wrote:

The numbers you start dealing with become so large that they are difficult to comprehend,."

 
Al Bartlett would be pleased with your efforts.
 
I have two hybrids and a European style scooter that I ride exclusively when weather permits.    
 
Some retirees in Arizona drive Hybrids, but many more drive trucks, SUVs and muscle cars.  We've even seen a few of these running around.  They sell at RV centers and go for around $100K.  Their retiree owners seem to use them for day sightseeing trips.
 
 
I moved last fall, so this year I get to start a garden again.  I'm also going to look for people giving away old thermopane windows to build a greenhouse with.  
 
Increased attic insulation and storm windows for over my thermopane windows are on the list, as is an alternative heat source, but probably next year.
 
I'm retired.  Thanks to the Fed, I don't have much income and my medical insurance costs are rediculious and growing.  Thanks Obama, for the affordable health care legislation that bears your name.  
 
So there is a limit to how much I can do.  I'm thinking about taking a part time job at a building supply store, mostly to get an employee discount on building materials.
RoseHip's picture
RoseHip
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 5 2013
Posts: 139
Walk the talk

Upon some of the revelations of your other recent post and the subject of deception and some of its positive aspects. Sort of like the best way to cease smoking is to do more of it while paying close attention to how it makes you feel. 

I suggest an alternative strategy or approach other than being absolutely truthful, fact driven while exposing all the rational reasons why we should change, (that has been tried and I don't think you enjoy banging your head against a wall). Suggesting the opposite, the absurd. I think you have the mind and the now I know you have spiritual sense to fill in these blanks.

Maybe the most success isn't exposing the deception its creating your own.  

R

ckessel's picture
ckessel
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 12 2008
Posts: 444
The UN advisory council

Good work Chris,

You will obviously be delivering a message that the council will have difficulty receiving. The reaction should be a good litmus test of how this predicament will play out as regards global leadership.

The other day I was going through my old book library and came across a copy of  'The National Energy Plan' authored by Jimmy Carter in 1977. It lays out a course of action very similar to todays narrative regarding the need to limit our use of fossil fuels ..... or dire consequences await. Of course we know how that worked out. As a populace we remain in denial.

If someone wanted to know what life would be like with an 80% reduction in energy, take your electric and gas bill and calculate the amount you use and then turn off your meter main switches when you reach that number for the month. And stop driving your car when you have consumed 20% of your usual allotment. The present time good news is that you could simply flip the switch back on if you got into trouble ............... which most of us would IMHO.

I think things like lawns and electric lawnmowers, driveway blowers, heatpumps and rototillers would switch to vegetable patches, rakes and hoes and natural ventilation rather quickly. But available water and good soil ultimately will be an absolute necessity as the energy noose tightens.

I am very interested to hear how your visit goes. At the very least we know that there will be some discomfort from council members. Let's hope so anyway!

Coop

Vilbas's picture
Vilbas
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 14 2014
Posts: 20
Taking a bit of a different track...

My girlfriend and I both were growing increasingly discontent living in Austin working jobs we don't really like knowing we can't really do any of the homesteading and big picture things we really want to do.  On top of that, we both are interested in doing something different for a living that doesn't require us to commute and sit in front of a computer for 8+ hrs a day.  Our problem is that we don't really know where to head to next.  My hometown near Dallas is always a fall back but it and Texas overall leaves much to be desired on many fronts.

So, instead of continuing to self-loathe we made the decision to quit our jobs, sell most of our stuff and go on a cross-country many months long road trip adventure with our dogs.  The goal is to eventually learn how to bounce around without spending a ton of money.  We plan on camping, seeing friends/family, WWOOFing (working on organic farms for room and board), and generally finding some unique adventures and experiences along the way and maybe just maybe finding a place along the way that we really like and decide to move to. 

We are hoping that along the way on this trip we can really make some investments on the 8 forms of capital.  We have enough financial capital to allow us to take this risk at least for a little while.  We will be setting up a blog and social media presence to see if we can monetize some of our adventures and hopefully network well enough to find other interesting opportunities along the way.

Needless to say, if any fellow PeakProsperity folks need a hand with summer chores, gardening, special projects or just might be willing to let some friendly travelers stay at your place or camp on your land, let me know!  We hope to meet as many people along the way and do as many varied things as possible.

We are both as utterly disgusted with modern life as the rest of you so I hope we can make some connections along the way!  We opted out of Rowe this year because that $1200 we would have spent to attend will go a loooong way on our trip.

Tall's picture
Tall
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 18 2010
Posts: 539
Thank you Chris

It is hard to communicate that we may be facing 'less'. Not a popular message for people who are constantly seeking 'more'.

I am dissatisfied with just reducing my own carbon footprint and keeping the issue present in conversation with others. I do not know how to be more broadly effective.

richcabot's picture
richcabot
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 5 2011
Posts: 40
The practical issues of going electrical

The whole alternative power industry has some serious challenges. Not the least of which is that fossil fuel infrastructure uses steel. There's lots of iron and carbon around to make it.

Electric power depends on copper. There's not so much of that around.

Here's a back of the envelope calculation I just ran.

There were about 15 M cars sold in the US last year, about 70 M worldwide.

Electric cars take about 150-180 lbs of copper for their engine rotors and chassis wiring. Conventional vehicles use about 50 lbs. That's a 100-130 lb increase.

Multiplying these out, converting to electric cars would require 1.5-1.9 Billion pounds of copper for the US and 7-9 Billion pounds worldwide.

World copper production was 19 M metric tonnes in 2014 or about 43 Billion pounds. Cars alone would consume 1/6th of all the copper produced.

Now extend that to all the other fossil fuel engines used, like big trucks, bulldozers, cranes, airplanes (I'm not sure these are even feasible), etc. I haven't attempted the numbers, but I'll bet the copper consumption doubles.

With all those electric vehicles you will need to boost the distribution grid all the way down to peoples homes to handle the increased energy transmission. More copper.

Now consider that copper production is peaking. The US is at half its peak output (reached in 1997) and Chile has been flat since 2004. World reserves are estimated at 700 Million tonnes or about 38 years at current rates of consumption. Of course, consumption has been going up every year so the number of years left in reserve is going to be lower. If the electric vehicle conversion happens the reserves will be used up even faster.

Electric vehicles also need a way to store all that energy. The current favorite battery technology is based on lithium. I haven't attempted to estimate if there's enough of that around, but I doubt it.

Even if we could make enough electricity I'm skeptical that we'd be able to use it.

The obvious conclusion is what Chris alluded to in his article. There will have to be massive societal changes, bringing people closer to their places of work, bringing food production closer to those places, etc. A complete restructuring of society into numerous small sustainable villages.

This also means major changes in where people live. Places like Las Vegas are simply not sustainable in the long term.

In spite of all this we continue to build housing and infrastructure in these types of cities. Our political structure is such that it is virtually impossible to stop. These places have two senators with no shortage of seniority.

There's lots more to the problem than can fit in a comment like this.

gillbilly's picture
gillbilly
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 22 2012
Posts: 414
Contrary view

Hi Chris,

Congrats on the UN invitation. I expect just the opposite reception from them. My guess is they will be very receptive to and agree with your point of view. The problem will not be the message or conclusion but rather will be finding agreement as to how to reach agreed upon sustainable goals.  I look forward to hearing an update on how it went. - GB

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 25 2009
Posts: 978
When, as i approx.

when did we as a society become unsustainable? 1600's, late 1800's, I dunno, but think i'm close.

richcabot's picture
richcabot
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 5 2011
Posts: 40
The Train

Chris said: "So my challenge for myself is to see how much I can further cut back my own energy use"

You did lead the article with "I'm on a Metro North train heading the NYC". You didn't drive!

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 7 2007
Posts: 4622
Congrats!

Vilbas wrote:

So, instead of continuing to self-loathe we made the decision to quit our jobs, sell most of our stuff and go on a cross-country many months long road trip adventure with our dogs.  The goal is to eventually learn how to bounce around without spending a ton of money.  We plan on camping, seeing friends/family, WWOOFing (working on organic farms for room and board), and generally finding some unique adventures and experiences along the way and maybe just maybe finding a place along the way that we really like and decide to move to. 

Congratulations on the decision!   My wife Becca and I once took a year off and traveled the US in a VW camper.  I've never regretted that decision or set of experiences.

There's a great relief in finally making the decision itself, so revel in that too.  :)

While it would have been great to see you again at Rowe, I totally understand your priorities.  If you need any suggestions on places to go, I'd recommend putting Asheville NC on your list an being sure to swing by Montague MA so we can introduce you to our neck of the woods.

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 7 2007
Posts: 4622
UN update...

Well, I've just returned form the session and I can happily say that I spoke my piece.

The advisory panel I am on is charged with sifting through a pile of grant applications for a $1M pile with the intent of delivering a very short list to a senior group which will make the final call based on our recommendations.

The theme this year is "sustainable transportation."  I noted that I would be heavily favoring truly ground and mold breaking ideas that are both aspirational and have a strong means of shifting the narrative, because the time for nibbling around the edges has passed us by.  

While $1M (going to a single winner) is a drop in the literal ocean of money needed to address the energy predicament, the opportunity here is to really influence the direction of the conversation by selecting an awardee that is not just figuring out a slightly slower (i.e. more efficient) way of burning fossil fuels.    That is, whose project can help shape the conversation and shift the narrative far beyond what the award can directly support.

Of course, I am just one person on a sizable panel, so all I am doing here is explaining how I am looking at all this.  There are many other views in play.

It's a great group of people involved and they are all very prominent and established in their fields.  I was nominated by one of them because he had used Crash Course video chapters to introduce people on his staff to the topic of energy economics.

So this all feels like a good use of time, and I am very much liking the conversations so far, and I look forward to contributing where and how I can.

Kraski55's picture
Kraski55
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 30 2016
Posts: 1
Energy Nomad

Good Luck at the UN. Remember, to quote Ure, "it's all a business plan". 

I consider myself to be an "energy nomad". Whatever steps one takes to reduce energy usage leaves the 800 pound gorilla in the room, the high costs of heating and cooling. A simple solution for retired folk,  follow the birds! I keep two smaller condos, one in CT and one in SW FL. Leaves heating and cooling costs very close to zero. To remain in NE would cost at least $500/mo in winter. I have not found a good way around this. Plus its a forever summer!

It breaks my heart to think of the elderly suffering through the cold NE winter, especially when heating oil was $4/gallon. It will be there again. For that kind of money, with the tax savings, you can pick up a cheap condo down south and enjoy life. 

Just an idea that works for me.....

Yoxa's picture
Yoxa
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 21 2011
Posts: 209
Good to hear

Quote:
 I can happily say that I spoke my piece

Quote:
 feels like a good use of time, and I am very much liking the conversations so far

That's good to hear. Now put your feet up, have a drink of something interesting, and get ready for the next round! 

We'll be interested to hear more as this progresses.

DennisC's picture
DennisC
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 19 2011
Posts: 149
Ah, Meetings

I read through most of this last year, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development from the U.N.

https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015/transformingourworld

The key topics:

Sustainable Development Goals

  • Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  • Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  • Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  • Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  • Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  • Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
  • Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
  • Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  • Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts*
  • Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  • Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  • Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  • Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

The goals are futher detailed subsequently.  For example:

Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all 7.1 By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services
7.2 By 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix
7.3 By 2030, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency
7.a By 2030, enhance international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy research and technology, including renewable energy, energy efficiency and advanced and cleaner fossil-fuel technology, and promote investment in energy infrastructure and clean energy technology
7.b By 2030, expand infrastructure and upgrade technology for supplying modern and sustainable energy services for all in developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States, and land-locked developing countries, in accordance with their respective programmes of support

My favourite result from any meeting (particularly the ones that were not making much progress, i.e. many of them) was when someone said "I agree in principle with you" (on that point or topic). [Def: If you ​agree with or ​believe something in principle, you ​agree with the ​idea in ​general, ​although you might not ​support it in ​reality or in every ​situation].

Yeah, meeting over!  Time to head to the local watering hole or Kneipe and knock back a few rounds of Budweiser Budvar (the real deal).  An extra round for the poor bloke that gets to type up the meeting minutes.

thc0655's picture
thc0655
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 27 2010
Posts: 1169
It's just like the Titanic

Chris, I cheer your opportunity to inject some sanity into the international dialogue about "What To Do."  Even if the attempt ultimately fails (and I'm sure it will along the lines gillbilly suggested in #12), the attempt should be made if for no other reason than to take away the excuse of "No one could've seen this coming! Why didn't somebody say something sooner?"  The attempt to warn others, change our own personal courses, and change society's course is also a moral imperative for us (regardless of results) if we ever hope to consider ourselves people of compassion and integrity.

To me, the problem boils down to one of morality. The willingness to honestly face problems and predicaments with eyes wide open is a positive moral trait, one of the essences of "wisdom."  The refusal or unwillingness to face them is evil and foolishness.  It seems undeniable to me that the large majority of people all over the world are morally deficient in that they refuse to or "can't" (emotionally) face these problems and predicaments in any significant and constructive way.

We've been this way on environmental and energy problems/predicaments for decades, and we've only gotten worse.  I too remember working for Jimmy Carter's election and cheering his attempt to generate "an adult discussion" (as Chris often describes it) around these issues.  I also remember the push back he got from TPTB and I remember my neighbors and friends scoffing and laughing at his attempts (especially his sweater).  And here we are about 40 years later without much to show for the efforts many have made before and since.  (I'm not demeaning the many positive changes and efforts made. I'm just saying the problem has gotten bigger too, largely negating the impact of the good.)

In fact, I think it's much worse morally for us than it was in the 1970's and 80's.  We are still morally unwilling to face up to the problems and predicaments that are upon us, but now more than ever we are turning on each other in a million predatory ways.  We're just like the passengers on the doomed Titanic: proud, arrogant, refusing to see potential problems, and when disaster strikes there is chaos (from lack of adequate preparation) and the rich and powerful prey on the poor and weak (in the disgusting struggle for the inadequate number of seats on the life boats).  Just when we most need to put selfishness and greed aside and all work together, most of us, from first class on down to steerage, are stabbing others in the back for a chance at survival or even just for a tiny, temporary advantage.  We aren't rising to the occasion.  We're sinking to the lowest levels imaginable.

This is from today's Daily Digest:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/03/30/a-dozen-current-and-former-principals-of-beleaguered-detroit-public-schools-allegedly-took-nearly-1m-in-kickbacks/

When Ronald Alexander appeared via video conference on the “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” last month, he was described as “the most amazing man.” Alexander, 60, was the principal of Charles L. Spain Elementary-Middle School, a Detroit public school that became the recipient of a $500,000 donation facilitated by the show.

The episode, which aired in early February, played footage of the school’s crumbling roof and dilapidated gym. Virtually none of the school’s technology worked, DeGeneres told her audience, and the students were forced to take P.E. classes in the hallways.

Before a crowd of students and staff in the cafeteria, DeGeneres announced a slate of donations totaling half a million dollars from Lowe’s, the home improvement company, amid raucous cheers.

Then, the grand finale came in the form of Justin Bieber emerging from a box beside DeGeneres. The pop star announced that $1 of every ticket sold for an upcoming concert in the area would be given to Spain Elementary.

“Of all the people in the whole world, I am the happiest principal on Earth,” Alexander said into the camera with a wide grin. “I love you! I love you again! This is the best.”

His mood may have since changed, as Alexander was named on Tuesday as one of 12 current and former Detroit principals charged with taking bribes and kickbacks from a school supplies vendor and fabricating invoices from the city’s beleaguered public schools.

The alleged scheme began in 2002 and continued until January 2015...

statement from McQuade’s office accuses Norman Shy, the owner of school supplies vendor Allstate Sales, of conspiring with Clara Flowers, the assistant superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools’ Office of Specialized Student Services.

Shy and Flowers are also charged with tax evasion for failing to report income.

Flowers allegedly received $324,785 in kickbacks from Shy in return for using him as the district’s vendor. According to charging documents cited by the Detroit Free Press, these came in the form of cash, gift cards and payments to contractors who renovated Flowers’s house.

Flowers and Shy allegedly met regularly to discuss the favors that Flowers was owed, amounts which were carefully tabulated on a ledger that Shy maintained...

The arrangements with principals allegedly unfolded in a similar manner, but in return for kickbacks and bribes, the principals submitted fraudulent invoices — claiming costs for auditorium chairs, lined paper and supplemental teaching materials that were never delivered.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the financial compensation received by the principals ranged from a low of $4,000 to a high of $194,000. In all, the alleged payments from Shy to school officials totaled $908,518.

As the Detroit Public Schools were sliding below the waves, some people at the top were shamelessly skimming from the shrinking pot for their own benefit instead of working unselfishly for the good of all.  And these are just the ones who got caught and for whom there is enough evidence to bring criminal charges.  There were/are many others.

I'm all in favor of trying to warn others and alter the course we're all on, regardless of how few positive responses there may be.  I feel morally bound to do so, as probably all of us do here at PP.com.  However, I'm under no illusions about the possibility of good and glorious results.  So I'll keep trying, but in the meantime I'm working on this Ark I'm building.

"Welcome to the Hunger Games. And may the odds be ever in your favor."

mntnhousepermi's picture
mntnhousepermi
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 19 2016
Posts: 16
Vilblas - this summer

I will pm you

Helix's picture
Helix
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 20 2008
Posts: 58
The real conflict I see here

The real conflict I see here is that the steps that need to be taken really need to be from the bottom up.  Is the UN equipped to support bottom-up transformation? 

The fact is that the dilemmas we face are becoming quite well know -- thanks to you and others like you, Chris!  Despite that, I don't see much bottom-level action except by kooks like us.  So knowledge of the problem is not enough.  Concrete programs need to be put into place to facilitate the needed transitions at the local level. 

mntnhousepermi's picture
mntnhousepermi
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 19 2016
Posts: 16
energy use

I did this a few years ago, as part of the Riot For Austerity. The idea was that to keep the carbon emissions below 350ppm, it was estimated that the US needed to collectively lower its average energy usage by 90%.

Of course, we are well above 350ppm at this point. But, we still need to do this. It wasnt that bad, my household basically made it, and we still exist in a modern house and all. I mean, I do have  refrigerator etc...

Transportation is a huge thing. We carpooled extensively, and I drove a TDI running off of Biodiesel, locally made. Heat is a second. We heat with locally harvested bio-mass (wood) burned in a modern catalytic converter equiped freestanding wood stove. And did the insulate the Sill Plate thing, as well as encapsulating the crawlspace from the dirt and closing off vents to the  crawlspace. We wear used cashmere sweaters in the house and sleep under down comforters. We keep the electric hot water heater "off" most of the time right now as the solar hot water heater panel is broken. We cut our showers down to 1 or 2 a week, short, and wash inbetween using less water by the sink. No one except you all I just told, is the wiser.

Internet boxes turned off at night and for large swathes of time in the day while we go be more productive. We only have laptops, etc....

Grow food, by local produce if needed, buy dry goods in bulk, can my own tomatoes, jam, fruit, broth, etc.....

I dont want to do the whole list. We made our 10%

Even I can do more.

On the list: Fix the solar hot water; replace my broken solar PV batteries; Make warm window curtains; extend fencing to provide more forage to chickens and goats; We may finally get to Bio-Gas generation, look at Hestia for inspiration; Finish Caulking; Fix the various air-sealing problems between the downstairs bathroom and the garage; In the farther future will be: a better root cellar area; etc... to take dependence off of having a refrigerator.

The most important electrical appliance to me is my clothes washer. and well pump. These are the needs hardest for me to get around. I can cook in various ways, my solar ovens, woodstove, maybe biogas in the future. I can wash by dishes by hand. We would all live withe the internet gone. I like some refrigeration, given that we have dairy goats, but could be alot less, or direct solar, or absorbtion cycle off of bio-gas. Other people could wash clothes by hand, but I am disabled esp in the arm shoulder area. I could trade for it. Well pump could be run direct off of one of my solar panels, just needs to pump on sunny days as we have a water tank

DurangoDan's picture
DurangoDan
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 14 2015
Posts: 3
AGW/Ocean Acidification

Chris, You provide too much accurate information and analysis to continue to be a purveyor of the carbon based warming and ocean acidification fear mongering.  I just came across this site and I believe if you take the time to check it out your fears will be erased. http://nov79.com/gbwm/acd.html  This page explains the limits and drivers of acidification.  On other pages, he demolishes the radiative green house effect, which is the foundation of climate fear.  Thanks for all you do, but please keep the criminality of the banksters and politicians front and center.  The debt based monetary system is the real source of our problems.

Time2help's picture
Time2help
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 9 2011
Posts: 2062
Nice weather

It's sunny and 70 outside here in Seattle...in March.

Trun87114's picture
Trun87114
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 28 2013
Posts: 80
Bravo

Bravo, Chris.  This is the sort of article that keeps me coming back here.

While I thought the entire article was fantastic, the best part IMO was that you were nominated via someone with influence sharing The Crash Course.  The Crash Course is a genuine masterpiece and it's inspirational to think that it may be reaching more people.

Also inspirational was your challenge to us, your readers, and some of the responses to it.  In that vein, here are my meager efforts (all of which have occurred in the past 4 years.)

- 3.5 kW grid-tied PV system 

- geothermal heat pump for cooling/heating/hot water

- 5 chickens in the backyard, 7 fruit trees and the garden has now grown to > 200 sq ft

- this spring's project is installing drip irrigation to that garden

- I mostly work from home and when I have to drive I often ride my 650cc motto that gets ~52mpg

Where I need to improve most, I think, is in supporting and encouraging others to make similar steps.  I'm a private person and relatively new to my area.  I haven't built the social capital I need, not just for myself but to effective influence others to become the change I/they want to see.  

T.

Luke Moffat's picture
Luke Moffat
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 25 2014
Posts: 240
Roman Central Heating

Maybe this is a wild card but has anyone had any experience constructing roman style central heating systems (Hypocaust)?

In particular how easy is it to construct and how efficiently does it keep the house/room warm? I'm assuming it'll be wood fueled. What caught my eye from the wikipedia entry was the following;

Quote:

"With the decline of the Roman Empire, the hypocaust fell into disuse, especially in the western provinces. In Britain, from c. 400 until c. 1900, central heating did not exist, and hot baths were rare.In the Iberian Peninsula, the Roman system was adopted for the heating of Hispano-Islamic (Al Andalus) baths (hammams). A derivation of hypocaust, the gloria, was in use in Castile until the arrival of modern heating. After the fuel (mainly wood) was reduced to ashes, the air intake was closed to keep hot air inside and to slow combustion."

It would seem we have a choice between either hypocausts or modernised gas central heating systems. Anyone come across other heating alternatives?

climber99's picture
climber99
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 12 2013
Posts: 125
Reality check time. Life after fossil fuels.

It has been estimated the average US person consumes 250 kWh/day. So how much of this came from "renewable" sources?     Well 5 mins research can easily reveal that.

In 2013 the US produced 522.46 TWh of energy from all types of "renewables". Divide this by a population of 320 million over 365 days. Answer: 4.47 kWh/day per person or 1.8% of what an average American consumes.

Shocked ? You should be. Even if "renewables" were to go through 4 doubling from 4.5 to 9 to 18 to 36 to 72 kWh/day per person (which is highly unlikely in my view), it would still mean the average American would have to reduce their energy consumption by 71% (from 250 to 72 kWh/day). Forget running an electric car !

However it gets worse than this because not all the 72 kWh/day would be available to people. A proportion (perhaps all) of this 72kWh/day will have to be reserved to "renew" the "renewables" as they come to the end of their life spans.

(By the way, so that you can get a handle on the figures, 1 kWh/day is just enough to power a 40W light bulb for the whole day)

jhutchison's picture
jhutchison
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 3 2014
Posts: 4
Going electrical but also being much smarter

richcabot, when people say we need to go to the electric car the assumption is that we replace ICE cars for electric cars in a direct swap, that would be silly and probably impossible as you say.

Say the passenger task equals 100 transport units (passenger miles/kms etc) it could be achieved by by a direct swap i.e.  

like for like

99 units electric car

1 unit bikes walking etc OR

something like this: 

10 units walkable neighborhood

10 units telecommuting

20 units bikes/electric bikes

5 units electric motobikes

10 units electric buses

15 units electric trains 

5 units electric taxis 

10 units shared electric cars

15 units private electric cars 

or any other mix you like, much less materials required, much more efficient same goes for the freight transport task. 

mntnhousepermi's picture
mntnhousepermi
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 19 2016
Posts: 16
a challenge to all

One thing I have noticed is how much driving is done "for the children". We are dooming them to various troubles of instability by not changing.

My challenge to all is this : Try It. For One Year. You know it wont kill them, tell your spouse it is a learning and experiment, whatever you can excuse it as to do it. Say it is temporary, try for one year. Do not drive them to activities. Not to friends houses that is 20min, 1/2 hour away.  For one year, they can live without soccer, ballet, basketball, etc.... Instead do things right there at home, together as a family and with neighbors, for one year.

This year, do not fly somewhere for vacation, save the money aside. Do a staycation or go somehwere a lot closer.

Have fun. Make art. Play loud music. make music. Cook cookies in the solar cooker. Make lemonaide. picnic on the front lawn and invite passersby to have some.

Power down. Choose to simplify and have alot of fun. Be expansive. Make fun projects from local materials. Play board games. Play tag. Play in the sprinkler on the lawn this summer. Sleep on the lawn after a campfire there even on a work night.

Let the neighbor kids come over and give them homemade frozen juice bars. Make tea for their moms. Get to know your neighbors.

Hang your laundry outside. Shower less. Unplug the TV and video game players and put in a box in the garage. For one year.

Use the time saved from not driving them so much to cook homemade, garden a bit. Do not buy the boxed premade foods. For one year.

Assess and the end, report back

AKGrannyWGrit's picture
AKGrannyWGrit
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 6 2011
Posts: 276
Thumbs Up

Congratulations Chris for getting your foot in the door and being asked to contribute.  I hope you will become a permanent presence and advisor.

There continues to be articles in our local paper regarding the ongoing die-off of sea birds up here.  What does ecological disaster and sustainable transportation have to do with each other? I think it's the pursuit of "profit" and that means controlling resources. In my mind it's painfully simple.  Changing global focus away from profit to a healthy planet seems like a daunting task.  I can't think of anyone else I would rather have fighting for us and the planet than Chris.  I hope people listen.  

AK GrannyWGrit

mntnhousepermi's picture
mntnhousepermi
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 19 2016
Posts: 16
riot for austerity calculator

here is one link to the riot for austerity calculator

http://greenknowe.org/r4a/

Barb is nice enough to keep alink to it. The goal is to reduce your total to 10 or 20% of US average, there are many ways to do this, we all do slightly different mixes.

my present snapshot m

Riot for Austerity
Resource Calculator

Public Transportation: miles per person per
Waste veggie oil: miles per person per
Solar: kWh per household per
Wind/Hydro: kWh per household per
Propane: gallons per household per
Heating Oil: gallons per household per
Wood: cords per household per
Used stuff: dollars per household per

 

Transportation
Gas, diesel, biofuels: gallons per person per
  You have used
48.7 %
of the national average
for transportation fuel
US Avg. graypix.gif
Your Usage yellowpix.gif
R4A Target graypix.gif
Electricity
Conventional: kWh per household per
  You have used
22.1 %
of the national average
for electricity
US Avg. graypix.gif
Your Usage yellowpix.gif
R4A Target graypix.gif
Heating & Cooking fuel
Natural Gas: therms per household per
  You have used
4 %
of the national average
for heating & cooking fuel
US Avg. graypix.gif
Your Usage greenpix.gif
R4A Target graypix.gif
Garbage
Garbage: lbs per person per
  You have used
4.4 %
of the national average
for garbage
US Avg. graypix.gif
Your Usage greenpix.gif
R4A Target graypix.gif
Water
Water: gallons per person per
  You have used
0.0 %
of the national average
for water
US Avg. graypix.gif
Your Usage greenpix.gif
R4A Target graypix.gif
Consumer Goods
New stuff: dollars per household per
  You have used
2.9 %
of the national average
for consumer goods
US Avg. graypix.gif
Your Usage greenpix.gif
R4A Target graypix.gif
Food
Local, sustainably grown: %
Dry, unprocessed bulk goods: %
Wet goods & conventional: %
greenpix.gif Local & sustainable
yellowpix.gif Dry bulk
redpix.gif Wet goods
R4A Target greenpix.gifyellowpix.gifredpix.gif
Your Usage greenpix.gifyellowpix.gifredpix.gif
Overall (excluding Food)
  You have used approximately
13.7 %
of the national average
for non-food categories
US Avg. graypix.gif
Your Usage yellowpix.gif
R4A Target graypix.gif

ight be something like this, as my solar needs repair and I am not currently buying recycled veggie fuel, and I am driving an exchange student to school

mntnhousepermi's picture
mntnhousepermi
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 19 2016
Posts: 16
Why in the world would you

Why in the world would you think there are only these two choices ? what about solar heat , passive direct solar gain? What about a regular wood stove ? O, a wood stove with built in mass, of which there are many types and designs ? what about all the plans for Solar air, thermosyphoned heat ?

sand_puppy's picture
sand_puppy
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 13 2011
Posts: 1127
Building a Home Around a Russian Fireplace

Luke's Hypocaust reminds me of a Russian Fireplace, a central heat source that a small well insulated home was build around.   Exhaust heat and smoke from the firebox was routed through a circuitous path heating up a large thermal mass of masonry/stone/brick which would stay warm for many hours. 

These things are very heavy and are not easily added-on to an existing home.

richcabot's picture
richcabot
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 5 2011
Posts: 40
The date

I've read several papers that assert the late 1800's.

Weogo's picture
Weogo
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 6 2015
Posts: 41
ocean ph changing

Hi DDan,

The ph of the oceans is changing:

 http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php?p=2&t=63&&a=243

You might want to read this thread, from beginning to end; I did.

It is moderated by a real climate scientist :
 http://www.peakprosperity.com/forum/definitive-global-climate-change-aka-global-warming-thread-general-discussion-and-questions/71#comments

Thanks and good health, Weogo

richcabot's picture
richcabot
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 5 2011
Posts: 40
Electrical Alternatives

I agree that there are more intelligent solutions than one for one swapping of cars. Although it improves things, I suspect there will still be a vast shortage of copper.

Regardless of how this might shift the demand for copper, the impact on infrastructure design will still be immense. The traditional urban/suburban model with people commuting in cars and mass transit is grossly energy inefficient. However, that's how current housing is still being built today.

The required changes to come even close to sustainable living are far more fundamental than the vast majority of people understand. I think that was Chris's real point. The time for incremental changes is long gone. Revolutionary changes are required. We're still arguing with people who don't want to even make the inremental changes.

Tikky2's picture
Tikky2
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 24 2012
Posts: 4
What to do?

This is great (albeit horrifying) information but I never quite know what to do with it. I've personally done what I can to reduce my energy use, but I live in a condo with my husband in a city just outside of Seattle. I walk everywhere I can, and my husband takes the bus to work. I grow a small amount of veggies, berries and herbs on our patio. I have a small community garden plot (not within walking distance though) and grow more there. I freeze, dry and can some food to use during the year. Storage space is limited, but I do what I can. We do have cars but drive as little as possible. We have family in the area and have no desire to move far away.

My husband already owned this condo before I moved in (and I was unfamiliar with our current predicament at that time). I'd love to move to a small homestead, and there are houses/lots within 20 miles that would fit the bill perfectly. However, we don't have the 700K to 1.5 million (at least) we'd need for such a place (nor do I wish to take on such a mortgage). My husband also isn't remotely interested in that kind of life (he's a tech guy).

So I do my best to be at peace with the uncertainty of our future as we head toward collapse. I work on emotional and spiritual resistance on a daily basis. I am increasing my skill set and adaptability as best I can. I nurture the relationships I have in my life and make efforts to be on good terms with my condo neighbors (not an easy task at times). I'd love to do more, but at least I am doing something.

LesPhelps's picture
LesPhelps
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 30 2009
Posts: 533
mntnhousepermi wrote:Why in

mntnhousepermi wrote:

Why in the world would you think there are only these two choices ? what about solar heat , passive direct solar gain? What about a regular wood stove ? O, a wood stove with built in mass, of which there are many types and designs ? what about all the plans for Solar air, thermosyphoned heat ?

I'm thinking you don't live very far North.  As Al said, do the math.

There isn't enough wood to replace the energy supplies we are currently using.

In the book "Collapse," deforestation was frequently one of the last acts of a collapsing society.

What's the point in surviving, if we cut down all the trees and drive all the animals into extinction?

chipshot's picture
chipshot
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 15 2010
Posts: 14
We Have to Use More Human Energy

One indisputable conclusion is we have to use more human power and much less manufactured (for lack of a better term) energy, for there is no method of generating energy without harmful side effects.

Every other life form on the planet is limited by it's own energy.   It's past time that we do the same.  For the past 150 years the human race has been the beneficiary of a once-in-a-species-lifetime-jackpot of fossil fuels, and all the other ways of generating energy that fossil fuels enabled.  We've blown through much of that jackpot, and the consequences of doing so are reaching critical levels and tipping points.

Relying on our own energy will result in a vastly lower standard of living, to the point of requiring great sacrifice.  In practically all areas of our lives.  Our radius of travel will be significantly reduced.  We will experience a lot more physical discomfort.  The quantity and variety of food will shrink.  Many people won't be able to cope.

But...with changing priorities and the right attitude, our quality of life doesn't have to suffer, and in many ways could improve.  That's if we make this shift fast enough.  And if it's not already too late.  Not sure why anyone would realistically believe the former is likely, or that the latter is not, but it seems irresponsible, inexcusable and just plain evil not to try.

Why there hasn't been a movement to switch from cars to mopeds, scooters, e-bikes and bicycles is beyond me.  Never mind climate change, our dependence on foreign oil, or the likely oil price spikes/suppIy problems coming our way, I don't see anyway around the prospect that a majority of Americans are going to be financially unable to keep their cars in the not too distant future (with or without higher oil prices).  Whether that happens in 5, 10 or 20 years is anybody's guess, but we aren't going to make such a transition over night. And we'll never be able to afford mass transit for the masses.   

IMO switching over to 2 and 3 wheel vehicles should be a top priority.  It won't be pretty if millions have to give up their traditional cars without a feasible, quick to implement plan B.

Quercus bicolor's picture
Quercus bicolor
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 19 2008
Posts: 386
About those 485,000 turbines installed per year.

But to contain global warming to a figure less than 2°C nations would have to ramp up renewable investment by 2028 to the annual equivalent of 485,000 such wind turbines.

That's about 2.5 million megawatts total or 2.5 terawatts (trillion watts or TW) per year of capacity.  Assuming turbines operate at about 30% of capacity on average, that's an increase in power generated of about 0.8 TW every year.  The only problem is that one study that has actually looked at how many turbines we could have concluded that we'll be limited to 1-3 TW total energy production.  At that rate of installation, we're at the limit in a few years.

mntnhousepermi's picture
mntnhousepermi
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 19 2016
Posts: 16
les phelps

I was responding to someone who said there were 2 choices, wood fired hypocaust ( as the Romans used) or natural gas furnace.

There are more than those 2 ways to heat.

I live where it is cold in the winter, I live on top of a mountain. I know that we use too much enervy to het right now. SO, the first thing to do is to air seal and insulate and need less added heat. I know our spaces we are heating are too big. When the space is smaller, it needs less heat. I know we need to focus on heating hte person and not the space -- so, we wear things like used cashmere sweaters and wool hats inside so we dont need to add as much heat. I know I do not need to blast heat at night while we are asleep, although that does make it tough to get out of a warm bed in the morning.

" I'm thinking you don't live very far North.  As Al said, do the math.

There isn't enough wood to replace the energy supplies we are currently using.

In the book "Collapse," deforestation was frequently one of the last acts of a collapsing society.

What's the point in surviving, if we cut down all the trees and drive all the animals into extinction? "

This is a common thought -- But, we do not and can not go on using what we do now. We need to reduce what we are using, maybe doing somethings as I outlined above. We actually have to change our lifestyles and how we live.

Then, it is not so much energy that is added to stay warm. A radient heat source, like a wood stove, warms the people in line of sight of it without needing to bring the households air up to a high temperature.

Passive solar gain is very useful and adds alot of heat for us. Other people use solar heaters that make warm air. So, there are more options than wood hypocaust or forced air natural gas furnace.

I can live without much added energy -- we all can

mntnhousepermi's picture
mntnhousepermi
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 19 2016
Posts: 16
integrated processes are more efficient

The other thing that happens when lives are more integrated is that the same energy used to make food heats the living space. SO, instead of a factory cooking or canning the food, with alot of resultant waste heat, these things are done in the home where the energy and heat also warm the house. So, animal forage from perrenial bushes and coppiced trees, the goats eat the leaves and leave the branches. These waste branches are the only fuel that is needed to process foods and heat a small (insulated) house. No deforestation required. Just one of many examples would be Mulberry, a very, very fast growing, easily pollarded or coppiced, the leaves are super high protein feed for goats or chickens. 

Another very renewable fuel for cooking, and maybe even heating if you live where there is alot of organic waste would be Biogas. (anerobic digestion of organic wastes)

We actually get a ton of heat from passive solar gain, when it isnt pouring down rain. It is significant. 

mntnhousepermi's picture
mntnhousepermi
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 19 2016
Posts: 16
Tikky2 wrote: This is great

Tikky2 wrote:

This is great (albeit horrifying) information but I never quite know what to do with it. I've personally done what I can to reduce my energy use, but I live in a condo with my husband in a city just outside of Seattle. I walk everywhere I can, and my husband takes the bus to work. I grow a small amount of veggies, berries and herbs on our patio. I have a small community garden plot (not within walking distance though) and grow more there. I freeze, dry and can some food to use during the year. Storage space is limited, but I do what I can. We do have cars but drive as little as possible. We have family in the area and have no desire to move far away.

My husband already owned this condo before I moved in (and I was unfamiliar with our current predicament at that time). I'd love to move to a small homestead, and there are houses/lots within 20 miles that would fit the bill perfectly. However, we don't have the 700K to 1.5 million (at least) we'd need for such a place (nor do I wish to take on such a mortgage). My husband also isn't remotely interested in that kind of life (he's a tech guy).

So I do my best to be at peace with the uncertainty of our future as we head toward collapse. I work on emotional and spiritual resistance on a daily basis. I am increasing my skill set and adaptability as best I can. I nurture the relationships I have in my life and make efforts to be on good terms with my condo neighbors (not an easy task at times). I'd love to do more, but at least I am doing something.

I think you are and can do alot. You dont need to grow your won food right now to learn to process food, this is very helpful skill. So buy flats of fruit and dry or can. Buy staple foods in bulk (grains, beans). Etc... lots of skills to learn and do. You can learn to ferment or makes cheeses.

Learning to repair or make clothing is also a great skill to develop. Crochet or knitting is portable and small hobby. Sewing is good too.

I think there is a ton os self sufficiency skills you can nurture in a condo.

Ham radio for emergency communications.

Social Capital with neighbors is key.

You can power down the household alot. Hang your clothes to dry. All our clothes are dried inside on drying racks.

mntnhousepermi's picture
mntnhousepermi
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 19 2016
Posts: 16
Tikky2 wrote: This is great

Tikky2 wrote:

This is great (albeit horrifying) information but I never quite know what to do with it. I've personally done what I can to reduce my energy use, but I live in a condo with my husband in a city just outside of Seattle. I walk everywhere I can, and my husband takes the bus to work. I grow a small amount of veggies, berries and herbs on our patio. I have a small community garden plot (not within walking distance though) and grow more there. I freeze, dry and can some food to use during the year. Storage space is limited, but I do what I can. We do have cars but drive as little as possible. We have family in the area and have no desire to move far away.

My husband already owned this condo before I moved in (and I was unfamiliar with our current predicament at that time). I'd love to move to a small homestead, and there are houses/lots within 20 miles that would fit the bill perfectly. However, we don't have the 700K to 1.5 million (at least) we'd need for such a place (nor do I wish to take on such a mortgage). My husband also isn't remotely interested in that kind of life (he's a tech guy).

So I do my best to be at peace with the uncertainty of our future as we head toward collapse. I work on emotional and spiritual resistance on a daily basis. I am increasing my skill set and adaptability as best I can. I nurture the relationships I have in my life and make efforts to be on good terms with my condo neighbors (not an easy task at times). I'd love to do more, but at least I am doing something.

I think you are and can do alot. You dont need to grow your won food right now to learn to process food, this is very helpful skill. So buy flats of fruit and dry or can. Buy staple foods in bulk (grains, beans). Etc... lots of skills to learn and do. You can learn to ferment or makes cheeses.

Learning to repair or make clothing is also a great skill to develop. Crochet or knitting is portable and small hobby. Sewing is good too.

I think there is a ton os self sufficiency skills you can nurture in a condo.

Ham radio for emergency communications.

Social Capital with neighbors is key.

You can power down the household alot. Hang your clothes to dry. All our clothes are dried inside on drying racks.

Yoxa's picture
Yoxa
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 21 2011
Posts: 209
Warming the Person

Quote:
 heating the person and not the space

Some useful reading from Low Tech Magazine:

Restoring the Old Way of Warming: Heating People, Not Places

How to Keep Warm in a Cool House

 
LesPhelps's picture
LesPhelps
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 30 2009
Posts: 533
mntnhousepermi wrote: I can

mntnhousepermi wrote:

I can live without much added energy -- we all can

Some of us can, but the number may fall well short of 7.3 billion.

Can't say I'm looking forward to it.

mntnhousepermi's picture
mntnhousepermi
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 19 2016
Posts: 16
LesPhelps

LesPhelps wrote:

mntnhousepermi wrote:

I can live without much added energy -- we all can

Some of us can, but the number may fall well short of 7.3 billion.

Can't say I'm looking forward to it.

Well, first off, alot of those 7 million do not currently have central heat and air conditioning.

.... Inuit lived without central heat or burning wood in the fozen arctic. People live in Tibet without burning much wood, they dont have much. It is cold there. People live Nomadic in yurts on cold, treeless plains. We are adaptable so far as the various living environmental conditions found around the world without central heat or air conditioning.

It is nice to practice how to stay comfortable now while we can so easily turn on a modern convenience if we were wrong about a particular way to not freeze.

We should all, in our current environment practice things like making shelter. We should all try low to no energy ways to keep our respective body temperature regulated. Experiment with ideas like, can we stay warm if we..... are all in one room....have a tent in the room.....wear certain clothing items..... etc.... If nothing else, it is good practice for if there is an emergency and you cannot use your heat. Collapse doesnt come at once anyways, more likely to have intermittancy in service. breakdowns that arent fixed quickly. Inability to pay a much higher than now bill if laid off. Find out how you can stay warm enough in your location if you had to.

mntnhousepermi's picture
mntnhousepermi
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 19 2016
Posts: 16
Yoxa wrote: Quote: heating

Yoxa wrote:

Quote:
 heating the person and not the space

Some useful reading from Low Tech Magazine:

Restoring the Old Way of Warming: Heating People, Not Places

How to Keep Warm in a Cool House

 

Thanks for this, I had forgotten about this site.

They also have this one, on how  clothing makes so much difference. http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2011/02/body-insulation-thermal-underwear...

And, I have found this is true here. Right now I would be unhappy on this cilly evening if it wasnt for woll socks and wool sweater

Time2help's picture
Time2help
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 9 2011
Posts: 2062
Do we grow up in time?

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Login or Register to post comments