Daily Digest

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Daily Digest 7/5 - Solar Panels Light The Way, The Energy Cost of Local Food

Saturday, July 5, 2014, 9:53 AM

Economy

For Sale: Vacant Lots On Chicago Blocks, Just $1 Each (Wendy SD)

The City of Chicago owns close to 5,000 vacant lots in the greater Englewood area alone, and is supposed to clean up, mow and maintain them. But residents such as Asiaha Butler say the city doesn't always stay on top of the job.

"So like right now, the kids over there are just playing in the lot, they're just running," she says. "I would hope that it would be somewhere where they feel a little more safe, a little more secure, that's a little more beautified than what we see currently."

Texas Set To Overtake Iraq In Oil Production (James S.)

America’s increasing reliance on hydraulic fracturing to recover energy trapped in shale will soon lead Texas to generate more oil than Iraq, OPEC’s No. 2 producer.

Texas produced just over 3 million barrels a day in April for the first time in nearly four decades, according to a new report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). That accounted for 36 percent of the United States’ total production for the month -- 8.4 billion barrels per day.

Gold Will Be the Final Currency – Yes or No? (GE Christenson)

On the other hand, many non-mainstream thinkers, such as myself, could be horribly wrong about their concerns for the viability of our financial system – the system might continue enriching politicians and bankers for many more decades. It is comforting, but often delusional, to believe all is well, especially when so much data indicates otherwise.

Marc Faber: Deflation ‘brainwashing,’ the most attractive precious metal & central bank shenanigans (Herman J.)

“I don’t quite understand why anyone would be disillusioned by the movement in the gold price,” Faber says. “In my view, there is no dock anymore because we have a money printing environment so we don’t really know where to park our boat or car,” he says. “With all this money printing, nobody – nobody – will trust paper money in the long-run.”

Solar panels light the way from carbon dioxide to fuel (Wendy SD)

Researchers have devised an efficient method for harnessing sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into a potential alternative fuel known as formic acid. The transformation from carbon dioxide and water to formic acid was powered by a commercial solar panel.

Virus Plagues the Pork Industry, and Environmentalists (jdargis)

“We know there is a lot of mortality from this disease, and we’re seeing evidence of burial in areas with shallow groundwater that a lot of people rely on for drinking water and recreation,” said Kelly Foster, senior lawyer at the Waterkeeper Alliance, an environmental group.

Waterkeeper has asked the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to put a mass disposal plan into effect, and wants it to declare a state of emergency. On its website and YouTube, the organization has posted photos of dead piglets barely covered with earth and boxes overflowing with the bodies of young pigs, although it is unclear whether all were victims of the virus.

The Energy Cost of Local Food (Eric G.)

As I point out in The Energy Basis of Food Security there’s a strong relationship between energy prices and food prices owing to the high energy demand associated with food production. As long as local food fails to gain an advantage over larger scale food production in terms of its energy intensity, it’s reasonable to expect the price of local food to trend with energy prices just like food from larger-scale operations. Perhaps the higher energy inputs often needed for small-scale farms partially accounts for why local food tends to be pricier than comparable mass marketed products? While food enterprises in general need to pay more attention to their energy intensity, this is particularly true for smaller enterprises that seek to market their products locally.

Californians Keep Up With Joneses’ Water Use (jdargis)

“You can hear people running their sprinklers when it’s dark because they don’t want to get caught watering when they’re not supposed to be — it’s maddening,” said Ms. Franzi, 61, a retiree. “You can tell the people who are conserving because their lawns are brown. The lawns that are really green, there’s something wrong.”

Gold & Silver

Click to read the PM Daily Market Commentary: 7/4/14

Provided daily by the Peak Prosperity Gold & Silver Group

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14 Comments

RNcarl's picture
RNcarl
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: May 13 2008
Posts: 382
With as much due respect as I can muster

And, it appears the respect I can have is very little.

Eric G posted (his own) blog about "The Energy Cost of Local Food" where he reports that his research has found that locally grown and distributed food is more energy intensive than, what? The industrial "food system?" He even goes as far as calling it a "myth" that locally grown and distributed food is more energy efficient. Calling something a myth does not sound very scientific. However, I will note that his comment was posted on his own blog and not from a peer reviewed article.

To support his opinion, he uses data gathered from the USDA (no bias there toward big Agri-business). He then takes his own data that he gathered from his own work doing audits of small farms over years. One can only assume that the USDA data was a "national" draw of data yet the author shares that the geographic area for his data was gathered at several small Vermont farms. Is there USDA data for the Vermont area? For the sake of argument, let's say the author's data is unbiased. I have no reason to believe the contrary. However, what bias does the USDA have?

Now let's look at another posting on the DD. "Virus Plagues the Pork Industry" Interesting that the "Pork Industry" may be "covering up" the presence of a virus that kills so many piglets. Was the energy involved in disposal of pigs included? Oh yeah, the data in the Blog was from 2002? I really am trying to contain my sarcasm.

Now, if what the author is saying is that the "Industrial Food Complex" is more energy efficient, maybe it is. However, at what other costs? Are all government subsidies (small and large farm) added into the cost?

I also understand that his blog tries to tie energy intensity alone into a veiled attempt to discredit localization of sourcing of food. At least that's the way I read it. - Don't bother "going local" you aren't saving energy. Stick with the industrial system, it's more efficient.

There are many reasons to "go local" with one's food supply. I don't drive any farther to my CSA than I do to the local industrial food store.

I would urge the author to share the whole picture of "going Local" and "Going Small" and not cherry-pick data that fits his assumption. How could the current "modern industrial food production system" be sustainable? Perhaps compared to small local farms that can't compete with the large industrial systems, they may not be as efficient, but at what other costs does that efficiency bring to bare. 

Does the term "Wal-Mart" come to mind?

C.

sand_puppy's picture
sand_puppy
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 13 2011
Posts: 1761
Local food production efficiency

Like much of what is discussed here on pp, it comes down to baseline assumptions:

 

If one feels that:

1.  the industrial agriculture and food distribution system is secure and will remain so, and,

2.  GMO foods are safe, and,

3.  pesticides are not a serious problem, and,

4.  leaving control of the food supply with a few for-profit corporations is not a problem,

then it makes sense to rely on the efficiency of the global agricultural system.

 

But if not, then you'll want to plant your own "inefficient" garden and find the local organic farmers.

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
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Posts: 1148
RNCarl and SandPuppy?

I wish there were more thumbs-up for your comments

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 4 2010
Posts: 3936
Blind Funk.

I went on my own coin to Daejeong, Korea to attend the 13th Cold Fusion conference in a blind funk. Why? because I found out that we convert 10 units of oil energy into 1 unit of food energy. (Link lost)

From Michael C Rupert's site.

In the United States, 400 gallons of oil equivalents are expended annually to feed each American (as of data provided in 1994).7 Agricultural energy consumption is broken down as follows:

My limbic responded to my Left Brain model. I had to go to allow my Right to absorb the reality of the Cold Fusion hope.

This is my limbic speaking: Do you get it yet?

We are led by the least amongst us.

McKenna.

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 4 2010
Posts: 3936
Wiki wars.

Just a note on Wiki.

Use it advisedly. It is a hotbed of Meme wars.

In order for a Model to be included the Idea has to be supported by two references. I have found many of the links to be empty or mere declarative opinions by some non-informed  person. eg "The Moon is made of green cheese." can be sighted as a reference.

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
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Posts: 3936
Link Found.

From the same site.

In their refined study, Giampietro and Pimentel found that 10 kcal of exosomatic energy are required to produce 1 kcal of food delivered to the consumer in the U.S. food system. This includes packaging and all delivery expenses, but excludes household cooking).20The U.S. food system consumes ten times more energy than it produces in food energy. This disparity is made possible by nonrenewable fossil fuel stocks.

and

the current U.S. daily diet would require nearly three weeks of labor per capita to produce.

In other words you would have to work 3 weeks to produce one days worth of food if you don't use fossil fuels. So how did our ancestors survive without FF? They didn't. All wars were a mandatory struggle over the Primary economy. Life was cheap-and short. (WW1)

Here is my lost link to Giampietro and Pimentel

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
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Posts: 5570
Facial recognition technology's first victims?

As wee move fearlessly into the age of electronic monitoring, you know there are going to be numerous glitches along the way.

Once you end up on a TSA no fly list, you're pretty much stuck there because the technology to create the  lists is there, but the ability to humanely and intelligently curate them is not.

However, once we move to facial recognition technology our individual uniqueness will help streamline this process, right?

Not for these people....

Photographer Shows Proof of Shocking Similarities In Human Templates Between Complete Strangers

 

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 4 2010
Posts: 3936
A Pattern Emerges.

Re: similar faces.

The case is strengthening for for Sheldrake's Morphic Resonance where the Laws are not immutable but are patterns, habits if you will. Once a pattern becomes "popular" it sticks.

Eric Garza's picture
Eric Garza
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Posts: 2
Energy Cost of Local Food

The USDA data reflects large-scale producers because that's who produces most of the food eaten in the US. It doesn't represent specific farms, but is probably best interpreted as an average for broad classes of farm-to-consumer supply chains.

Regarding the issue of full cost accounting, I would never claim that looking at the energy efficiency of turning industrial energy into food should be the only criteria we use to judge the value of local foods, just that it should be one. I also note towards the end of the post that I think there are plenty of low-hanging fruit that can help smaller farms gain an energetic advantage over large-scale producers. Thus far most small farms are barely keeping their heads above water, so they haven't been able to invest in efficiency in the way that larger farms that generate more surplus can. I'm a big supporter of local food production.

Last, I think the "10 kcal of energy to produce 1 kcal of food" figure is quite out-of-date, and likely incomplete. My figures suggest the number to be at least 15, if you account for food waste and spoilage. 

GM_Man's picture
GM_Man
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 4 2012
Posts: 74
Long Live the Inefficient Gardiner!

I guess you can tell that I am an Inefficient Gardiner from the subject title of my response.

My grand parents were too.  My Great Grand parents were even more inefficient.

Damn we do eat well!  I have three plots that I rotate our garden on.  They aren't large but they do provide some good food!  Healthy,  I rarely use any pesticides.  I do use natural fertilizers.  I compost.  I have chickens.  Free-Range one.  We love their eggs.  

I have a green-house.  I get the best sweet peppers and jalapeno's from that green house.  I get cherry tomatoes and plum tomatoes from the green house as well.  

We have apple trees (three varieties of apples), blue berries bushes, pears, cherries, raspberries, black berries, etc.  

You get the drift.  I apologize for any typos.  I just got in from weeding the garden and can't be bothered to get back up and find my glasses.  ;-)

We love being inefficient!  We have the best food.  Sorry to hear about the drought in Cali, Nevada, Texas, and the Midwest.  

We prefer to ensure the safety of my food the old fashion way.  We grow it.  What we don't have we source locally if possible.  

Look into it!  You won't regret going local!

Cheers

davefairtex's picture
davefairtex
Status: Diamond Member (Online)
Joined: Sep 3 2008
Posts: 5070
biometrics & facial recognition

I did a whole lot of work with biometrics back in the day - at that time, facial recognition was known to be really inaccurate.  It has improved since then (presumably, Moore's law allows systems to use more expensive algorithms to do the matching) but it is still wildly inaccurate for some applications.  For others, it seems to work pretty well.

Here's a paper describing current applications:

http://allevate.com/blog/index.php/2012/07/17/advances-in-face-recognition-technology-and-its-application-in-airports/

In the lab, tests suggest the recognition systems are reasonably accurate (i.e. "passport photo vs passport photo"), but in actual field trials in simulated non-compliance situations (i.e. "people walking by the camera" test), the accuracy is much lower.

Validating passports is the application of choice right now; the recognition engine is seen to be more accurate than border guards at verifying passport photos of travelers.  This is what's called a 1:1 match, which is the easiest task for a biometric system: "I claim to be this person."  The system's job is to say yes or no.  False reject rates (rejections of legitimate passport holders) are about 1:100.  For this application, that's fine - if your valid passport is falsely rejected, you "get" to talk to a live border agent who is likely a bit more enthusiastic than normal, but not dramatically so because this happens a dozen times a day.  And the 99% of people who were correctly identified by the system didn't have to suffer though a long line, etc.  And an imposter has a 1:1000 chance of passing the system, according to the performance numbers I saw.  In terms of reducing workload of border agents, it seems to be a total win.

From the above article (which seems to be a salesy-sort of industry-promoting piece):

Scenarios where thousands of cameras are scanning large crowds of people in day and night environments and from a distance to identify individuals of interest are still largely unrealistic.

And that's with "the positive spin" placed on it.  That's because the hardest thing for a biometric system to do is "figure out who someone is" (i.e. given a sample of unknown identity, find them in the database of known subjects, also called a 1:many search).  I think there is zero ability to reliably identify someone is by comparing two pictures alone if the data set is large enough - the error rate in face recognition is just too high.

From the live tests at airports in a semi-uncooperative setting, if you have a 0.1% "equal error rate" and 1,000,000 pictures in your test batch of (say) people who crossed the border this week, and you want to see if a single known bad guy is in that list, and you want to be 99% sure (with each comparison) to spot him, then you will get 10,000 (false) matches back of good guys.  These will be the stack of video that your security team must search through.  That's "facial recognition" performance with an EER of 0.1% in a large "identification" situation.  My sense: we're not there yet.  Maybe in another 12 years, with extremely high resolution cameras, but not today.

Identical twins?  Here's an article from IEEE Spectrum:

http://spectrum.ieee.org/computing/software/can-biometrics-id-an-identical-twin

Quick answer: mostly the system can tell the difference, but the failure rate with twins vs random other people is quite substantially higher.  As in, perhaps 18 times higher under "real world" conditions.  In other words there is an 18% chance the system will "pass" one twin, using the other twin's passport.  Likely that's better than an actual agent would do - but from a biometric system perspective, its horrible.  Twins win.

I can guarantee that the border security people in the US are keenly aware of false matches if they use facial recognition.  Regardless of how tightly or loosely they tune their system, they have false matches every single day, simply because the core engine is so inaccurate.  There would be a deluge of people denied entry every single day and/or identified as known terrorists if the agents simply accepted the facial recognition machine's ruling without question.

The only way the TV show "Person of Interest" (my favorite show, of course) could possibly work is if The Machine tied in the entire web of each person's daily activity with their photos.  It would need to know everyone's wardrobe, car, cell phone signal, as well as current picture, hair length, and so on.  Of course - on the show, it does know all that stuff, so that's why it can identify everyone.  But if all it had to go on was the pictures on the CCTV cameras, The Machine wouldn't be able to reliably identify anyone well enough to do its job without generating a huge number of false signals.

Bankers Slave's picture
Bankers Slave
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 26 2012
Posts: 519
Biometrics

is just the first step taken towards eventual full micro chipping. Lots of corporate profits to be made on this initial method first of all. Then later introduce the implanted chip and its "wash rinse repeat" for more profits, and their dystopian agenda is complete. 

 

sand_puppy's picture
sand_puppy
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 13 2011
Posts: 1761
Our cell phones ID us

Thanks for the summary of the facial recognition state of the art, Dave, especially the distinction between the 1:1 versus the 1:many matching problem.

One thing we all need to remember is that every cell phone "knows" its own location (+/- 30 feet) via an internal GPS.

Here is a commercially available program called Stealth Genie that can be used to track the location of "someone you think is lying to you about their location."  Heck, you don't even have to be Big Brother to track someone's cell phone or download their GPS location history.

 

davefairtex's picture
davefairtex
Status: Diamond Member (Online)
Joined: Sep 3 2008
Posts: 5070
requires physical access

sand_puppy-

Stealth Genie requires physical access, and permission to download & install an app.

On a whim I wrote an app that's similar, just to see if I could.  It took me a couple of weeks to get the basic structure working - and I'm not particularly good with android (my chosen platform), although network software is one of the things I do.  Stealth Genie is a particularly feature-rich app (it has a vast bag of things you can have it remotely do for you) but conceptually the basic platform is not difficult to write.  Maybe two guys and 3-6 months; one guy writes the on-phone piece, and the other guy writes the server & control website piece.

[I did not dare to actually DL this app.  I trust few enough apps, and certainly not monitoring apps.]

The key is, as always, is physical access.  You never want to leave anyone alone with your un-passworded phone.  Or computer either.  Physical access lets someone do pretty much anything to your hardware.

http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/definition/evil-maid-attack

Now if some app came with a zero-day exploit that would allow the buyer to install the app remotely, that would be impressive!  Interestingly, the same baseline app could be used, just with a different install vector.

 

 

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