An auto. industry bail-out?

Andy Rowell (in this post) -

"After years of growing fat on the back of profits building ever bigger cars, trucks and SUVs, the executives of Detroit’s 'Big Three' automakers – GM, Ford, and Chrysler – are expecting seriously lean times ahead. Some say they might not even survive.

[On November 6th,] with cap in hand they raveled to Washington to ask for financial aid from the federal government because of the bleak prospects for their industry. They asked for federal aid for up to $25 billion in loans, which is in addition to the $25 billion in low-interest loans to be available from the Energy Department to assist them in developing more fuel-efficient vehicles. That is $50 billion in total.

They met the [(supposedly)] Democratic big guns such as the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid. Afterwards, Pelosi issued a statement saying the group discussed 'how to protect hundreds of thousands of workers and retirees, safeguard the interests of American taxpayers, and use cutting-edge technology to transform blue-collar jobs to green-collar jobs for generations to come.'

But the industry has to take some blame for this: they have been busily building bigger cars and SUVs on which they make more money. Go to any car show and yes there would have been a couple of token green concept cars, but the main show was still built around sex, speed and power."


Saul Landau (in this article) -

" 'A healthy automobile manufacturing sector is essential to the restoration of financial market stability, the overall health of [the U.S.] economy and the livelihood of the automobile work force,' wrote [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi and Senate majority leader Harry Reid to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. (NY Times, November 8, 2008)"

"In the global warming age, to juxtapose the words 'automobile' and 'health' as they do in their letter seems incongruous."


Dan La Botz (in this article) -

"The Big Three [U.S. auto. company] boards and CEOs have shown us, over the last 30 years since the Chrysler bailout of 1979, that they are only capable of running these companies into the ground. They failed to respond to the challenge of producing fuel-efficient vehicles. They failed to respond to the environmental crisis that has now become global warming. They failed to produce a humane work environment for their employees. And when the industry went into crisis, they began to take away workers' health and pension benefits, to attack union contracts, and generally to take out their problems on the workers."


Julian Darley (in this post) -

"A contracting auto industry is likely to mean less cars on the road, less petroleum used, and less GHG emissions, all of which has been predicted and all of which will help the climate, the environment, and in theory could lead to a much better world for humans. The trouble is this contraction is happening amidst more or less blind ignorance" (generally speaking).


Joseph Romm (in this article) -

"When you bail someone out of jail, there is no guarantee [they] won't jump bail, and even less of a guarantee [they] won't ultimately end up back in jail anyway. And when you bail out water from a leaky boat, everyone still sinks until you plug all of the leaks."

"In the past quarter-century, G.M. has spent millions of dollars lobbying to stop [the U.S.] Congress from increasing fuel economy standards -- standards that might have forced them to build the kind of cars people actually want when oil prices are high. And despite the recent temporary drop in oil prices, there's little doubt we will be above $4 gasoline in a few years, headed for $6 and higher within the decade.

Also, reducing greenhouse gas emissions to avert catastrophic climate change requires cutting automobile oil consumption." "Yet [U.S. auto. companies have] been waging a four-year legal battle against efforts by [the California government] and other states to regulate tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases.

In other words, [U.S. auto. companies have] not only been suicidally lobbying against [their] own inescapable future, but [they] has been lobbying against the future of all Americans who want to end our oil addiction, and against the future of all humans who want to preserve the health and well-being of our planet for future generations.

And for this they are to be rewarded with billions in taxpayer money?"

"The potential risks the bankruptcy of Detroit poses pale in comparison with the all-but-certain risks of continuing on our path of ever greater oil consumption and ever greater greenhouse gas emission."


Richard Littlemore (in this blog post) -

"The Detroit auto industry has spent the last decade lying to its audience and, apparently, to itself. People like GM's Bob (climate change is a 'total crock of shit') Lutz have told auto dealers and auto buyers across [North America] that oil would remain forever cheap, that climate change was an unproven theory of no concern, and that trucks and SUVs were the only safe conveyance for American families.

Ford backed think tanks like the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which were busy misleading the public about the nature and danger of climate change. And having paid the think tanks to say stupid, self-serving things, the automakers apparently bought into their blather, making no plans for a world in which the F150 truck was [rejected as] a hugely and unnecessarily wasteful version of the personal automobile."

"Propping up businesses that have been incompetent and disingenuous - that have endangered themselves, their shareholders, their employees and the world environment; well, that seems like a fabulously bad idea."


P. Sainath (in this article) -

"It's unfair to call the US auto industry dinosaurs, as some now do. It's certainly unfair to the dinosaurs. The 'Terrible Lizards' did not lay the basis for their own extinction or that of myriad other species. The original dinosaurs (who scientists now tell us were neither all that terrible nor lizards), were great examples of success and adaptation, good enough to rule the planet for 150 million years. The US auto industry is the opposite. It's not just that the Terrible Metal Lizards opposed fuel efficiency standards. Of course, they did. They also promoted gas-guzzling SUVs as a lifestyle must. They cranked out cars many did not want to buy. They wielded heavy clout in Congress, and were able to sponge off [state] funds in the name of saving jobs as they have yet again. Having received $ 25 billion earlier, their hats are in their outstretched hands again."

"The Metal Dinosaurs of Detroit"'s "asteroid hit will impact on far more than the nearly quarter of a million workers directly stranded on their turf. There are also more than a million retirees and dependents in trouble."

"Meanwhile, the logic of 'too big to fail' keeps Big Auto and others of its ilk going. There is never any debate here of whether they should have been allowed to get as big as they did. President-elect Obama says he will aid the auto oligarchs who he calls 'the backbone of American manufacturing.' Sure, with that many jobs at stake, any government must worry about the consequences of letting them sink. No question about it. It's on the basis of that very fear that the Terrible Metal Lizards are able to bargain for handouts from [state] money."

"There is a good chance that more [state] money will be thrown at the auto giants, and that, without larger strategic shifts being imposed on them. Yet ... this does not mean an industry saved. They could be back soon with demands for still more. At which time, with things being even worse (quite likely) the pressure to save jobs by pouring in [state] money will be still greater. This is the United States. The money given out in the bailout so far has delighted the tuxedo dinosaurs -- CEOs and senior executives."


Another post about the automobile industry -
"General Motors automobiles in Oshawa, Ontario"

Additional posts about automobiles -


Toban Black

Transition Initiative - Peak Moment Conversation coming

This coming Saturday (Nov. 29) we'll be videotaping a Peak Moment Conversation with Jennifer Gray, who's conducting the Transition Initiative trainings in San Francisco and Portland. It's our first show introducing TI. If you have topics or questions we might cover, please reply.

Janaia Donaldson, producer & host
Peak Moment Conversations
online at Global Public Media and

Suburbs: Not Necessarily Death Traps

Not a real blog of my own, but a link to something good. Enjoy!
A Resilient Suburbia? 3: Weighing the Potential for Self-Sufficiency


I am now convinced that the only way out of the current mess we face is to let the current system go down whilst creating another parallel universe. Much of this being done in a variety of formats around the world. One of the better examples of this on a larger scale is the transition town movement in England with their efforts to relocalize their economies which includes the printing of there own regional currencies. However what has finally convinced me of this necessity of an alternative universe is an Email I received from the current president of the USGBC (The US Green Building Council).

I applaud the work of the USGBC, there work in developing the the LEED building standards which has been a great boon to those working to create a "green" built environment. But the organization still functions within the insane norms of the current insane universe. I don't use the word universe lightly because I believe the currently unfolding universe, or alternative paradigm is that different, or needs to be. A different universe with an entirely different set of rules. In the face of the current economic crises, the USGBC's president Rich Fedrizzi, sent out a letter urging members to not give up implementing green building practices due to the economic crises. The thinking or fear that Fedrizzi is trying to address is that now that there is this economic down turn upon us, and because there is an additional cost associated with implementing green building practices, green building practices will be abandoned. Within the context of the current insane universe this is perfectly logical. If you are building a building today, the price that you will pay for a greener building today will be more than if one were to build a building as cheaply as possible today. And after all, we need to save money today. This is insanity!

The thinking and actions that created the economic down turn are the same thinking and actions that Rich Fedrizzi's pleas are directed at. That universe that holds sway today demands a large return on investment now! The current universe thinks only of today and thinks only in straight lines. The feminine principle is not present nor is the living green conscious natural world. It is a rocky and barren materialistic world that knows only the pleasure of instant gratification, joy and meaning are absent.

We must live our time within the decay of our current time while breathing life into newly evolving reality. The right thing to do will never be the cheapest or the most convenient, but it will always be the most meaningful and satisfying. When we fall into bed after a hard days work we will be tired but deeply satisfied. And we will sleep well. Fedrizzi's pleas are directed at a listener with no ears, that knows no quiet evenings rest!

(His letter should have said that our current refusal to address these issues has created this crises and it is of even greater importance to implement "green" measures now to stem the current slide before things get worse. But that would have been a voice from the other universe.)

Preparing for the Cold

Halifax snowYesterday marked the first snowfall of the year in Halifax. As I biked home through the blustery snow, I couldn’t help thinking about how fortunate I was to come home to a house with electricity and hot running water. Grabbing my thickest knit sweater and layering on some woolly socks and leg warmers, I settled down to think about this month’s newsletter theme: heating.

What to do when it gets cold out?

Many of us live in temperate climates where winters are cold. Since we are not able to take the route of hibernating for the winter season (appealing though it might be sometimes) most of us must rely on some kind of fuel to keep us warm. Indeed we have been doing this for thousands of years, and now the rising cost of fuel is making this dependency ever more apparent. Fewer daylight hours mean less potential to soak up heat from the sun and more time with the lights switched on after the sun has gone down. For this month's newsletter, Sonya Wallace of the Sunshine Coast Energy Action Center and Transition Sunshine Coast in Australia, took another look at applying permaculture principles to heating in her recent blog post.

Wondering just how much of a difference taking energy saving measures will make to your home? Here are some home heating stats courtesy of Treehugger:

  • 10 percent: Percentage of your heating bill you can save in the winter by using a ceiling fan, which circulates warm air from the ceiling to the floor.
  • 8 percent: Amount of heat that escapes through your chimney when the fireplace damper is not closed.
  • 5 percent: Amount of heating costs you save by cleaning your furnace filters monthly. Dirty filters restrict airflow and increase the amount of energy used.
  • $115: Amount of money saved per year by installing an Energy Star thermostat. [What is Energy Star?]

In shifting away from our fuel dependency, we will be returning to one of the fundamental lessons that we learned in kindergarten: it’s better to share. When it comes to staying warm, inviting people over to your home is like carpooling with shared costs and shared benefits. Nothing heats up a house better than fresh bread in the oven and bodies chatting! Increasing social ties and developing strong community networks is essential to relocalization and building community resiliency. If you have an elderly neighbour or relative, keep a special eye out for them in the winter months and make sure they are safe and well.

Come together - here in Halifax, people gather in cafes, halls, pubs and the like, and wait for the cold of winter to pass. These small community hubs make it much easier to brave the cold, and while people are gathered together, the need for heating separate spaces is reduced. These are similar to the socially-oriented programs that have been established to provide shelter for those most in need, including emergency warming shelters for the homeless (see Laurel Hoyt's recent blog post on Post Carbon Cities). Even on a neighborhood scale, regular gatherings can be organized around food, books, and film screenings. Read about what members are up to this month.

More broadly, the question of what to do when it gets cold out becomes one of overall health and happiness. When it gets cold out we start to crave fatty foods, spend more time indoors and can easily succumb to stress. Surely a resilient community must start with a resilient immune system.

Bundle up - layer on the sweaters and extra socks. Eat well - food is a key source of warmth and having regular hot meals and drinks throughout the day will go a long way. Keep moving - moving around generates extra body heat, and regular exercise helps to fight depression. When exercising, endorphins are released by the body, which help to reduce stress, boost self-esteem and improve sleep.

Take special care these few months to stay healthy!

Home heating permaculture style II

In Australia another winter is over. As they prepare for summer Sonya Wallace shares some tips for those of us preparing for winter.

[This blog post appears in the November Relocalize Newsletter. See all past newsletters here.]


Heating your home during winter – how do you do it in a way that is sustainable and least harmful to the environment? I was faced with this dilemma a couple of years ago. Okay, I’ll admit upfront, I live on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland Australia. It never snows here, although we do get a night or two of frost each year. By many people’s standards, it’s not cold at all. But it’s all relative.

At home

wood pileOur homes in Queensland are built very much for our sub tropical climate and lose heat quickly – which isn’t good during winter when it is cold.  This winter we had a visitor from the UK staying here and she found it very cold so I did feel justified! We needed to stay warm in winter, but I didn’t want to contribute to carbon emissions, climate change and be reliant on declining supplies of fossil fuels – what to do?

I did like the idea of a wood fired heater, but thought that would be out of the question – that was until I read an article by David Holmgren in 2005. David Holmgren is the co-originator of permaculture together with Bill Mollison.

Permaculture is based on ethics and principles that if applied, provide efficiencies, energy savings, responsible resources management and care of the planet.

The article (which is available on an interactive e-book of David’s collected writings and presentations 1978-2006) was supported by research from the CSIRO (Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation - impact and use of firewood in Australia – CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems 2000).

Here Holmgren discusses the most effective way to use firewood for heating in Australia. He highlighted that about half of all Australia’s firewood is harvested from private land by private individuals (in contrast to the misconception that old growth forests are being used). He admits that harvesting this timber can range from being very beneficial to very destructive but emphasises responsibility and common sense in the process.

He promotes instead that home owners firstly buy the most efficient heater they can – in Australia there are now emission ratings for heaters (Australian Standard 4013) and buying a heater that is appropriate to the size of the space it must heat (could you shut an area off to heat thereby reducing energy and increasing efficiency?) – don’t overheat yourself!

And you do have control over how you fuel your heater. Choose environmentally sustainable, gathered timber or consider growing your own woodlot, ensure all the wood is well seasoned and well dried, use it sparingly and burn it efficiently. But even before all of that, ensure you have insulation and heat escape spots covered (windows, gaps around doors etc).

Rugging yourself up or exercising to increase your own bloodflow is one of the simplest and most environmental sound things you can do.


stoveWhen we came to choose our new wood heater we wanted to apply permaculture principles to the purchase. So it had to have multi-functionality. We decided on the Nectre Bakers’ Oven. Made in South Australia it is a robust, strong little (we only have a small house) heater.

It has an oven for baking roasts and vegetables and a cooktop for winter soups and stews. We could have added a water jacket for hot water but we already had a solar hot water system, so we didn’t need that particular feature.

So, now when the heater is on it’s serving many purposes. It heats our house (we move our bed into the main living area to take advantage of the valuable warmth), it cooks our food, makes great wood fired pizzas, roasts our home grown coffee beans and provides a lovely ambiance too.


But probably the best thing you can do to heat your home is to have a home designed to capture and store heat.  A house facing the right way is the most fundamental thing – north in the southern hemisphere and south in the northern hemisphere, rather than a house facing the street.

The right sized eaves, ones that take into account your location’s sun angles from summer to winter solstice, the right sized windows that have heavy drapes for winter and pelmets, insulation in the roof, the walls and under the floor if you’re building off the ground.

A very clever idea that can be included in the building process is factoring in the use of thermal mass - creating a heat ‘bank’ within the home – a floor made of concrete or stone that is in full sun during the day in winter or a wall built specifically for the purpose in just the right place. As late afternoon comes around, closing windows and drawing the curtains ensures the heat stored in the floor (or the wall) is slowly released overnight adding to the ambient warmth inside the home.

Capturing heat, storing it effectively and minimising loss of heat are all key in keeping your home warm and comfortable. Be clever and innovative – use design principles and save money in the process.

What ever you choose ensure it is the most efficient, most effective, most environmentally sound choice you can make – then use it only when you absolutely need it!

David Holmgren Collected Writings & Presentations 1978-2006 available
Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture – Rosemary Morrow

burge5000 attribution


Have been putting together the talk I decided that I would give in the near future and I am struggling. Putting the thing together is easy as my brain is full of information and I know what I want to say and I know why I want to say it, the problem is that I can't switch my thoughts off at the moment and have had a couple of sleepless nights. I have been ploughing through all of the information on the net and find that when I look at 'peak oil' related articles and video clips my mind starts racing and I am reminded of all the things I need to be getting on with, some of the information out there is truly unsettling. I was looking at some of Michael Ruppert's talks on just to get an idea of how I might go about getting some of the information across effectively, I haven't looked at this stuff for a while and had forgotten how powerful his speeches are. I had decided not to look at his presentations some time ago as I completely understood what he was saying and felt that I needed to look at solutions and be as positive and proactive about it all as possible. I still feel I have a long way to go before I will be in any way prepared for future problems and need to keep on plugging away and spread the word, I sometimes occasionally question what I have learnt and need to preverbally(?) pinch myself by looking at some general information about 'peak oil' on the internet, Mr Ruppert's presentations are more like a good kicking than a pinch and find that his style of presentation gets me really motivated and downright scared. I have been a regular user of the PeakmomentsTV postings on youtube which offer excellent advice and practical solutions to living in a post carbon world, they have a calm approach and that's good for me. Have been thinking about water today and feel the need to establish some kind of reliable and obviously clean water supply, the water I currently use is pumped up to a reservoir from the river and this could turn out to be a problem in the event of powercuts or technical problems, only a few months ago the pumps failed and all of the water had to be driven up to the reservoir by lorry. There is a well only a hundred metres or so away from the house which is pretty convenient, I just need to clean the area up and maybe get some kind of community 'friends of the well' scheme up and running, I'll add that to the ever increasing list of things to do.

Biodiesel Homebrew Class - Nov 23 - Seattle

I'm teaching this class on Sunday.. I do these every month or so:

Brew Your Own Biodiesel!
Sunday November 23, 2008 from 1 PM - 5 PM
Learn all the tricks to making high quality biodiesel- See class description below.
Includes visit to BioLyle's workshop after class
Fee: $50
Location: Lakewood Seward Park Community Club, 4916 S. Angeline, Seattle 98118
Class size limited! Please register in advance if possible.
Register at:
or by calling: 206-354-6802
More info: or

A hands-on workshop to learn all the basics to make your own high quality fuel for about $1 per gallon. In this workshop you will do titrations, make small batches of biodiesel with different oils, and learn the tricks to make quality biodiesel every time. We will also operate a small-scale "Appleseed" reactor during class. This system will be compared with the automated BioPro system which the instructor uses to facilitate fuel-making for a Bring-Your-Own-Oil type coop. The class will also cover topics, such as chemistry of the reaction, quality control, vehicle compatibility, cold weather issues, methanol recovery, disposal of wastes, and how to run a successful coop. Whether you just want to learn more so you can decide whether or not to use biodiesel, or you want to make your own brew, this class will help you get underway.

The End of Apathy

I founded this group over two years ago.

That was, until now, the end of my involvement.

While I am not here to share my catharsis, we as a society have moved into a do or die phase, and I do not intend to die. With the major national stage events that have taken place, I have decided to move in the direction of positive action, or at least occasionally stir from my couch.

Central Florida needs a coordinated effort toward relocalization. Orlando in particular is a city whose addiction to imported everything is choking it and threatening to take it apart.

But we know the drama. Here's what I intend to do:

My first goal is to establish Central Florida Relocalization - Orlando as a network for locavores and locafacturers and locaphiles. I will seek out the groups who have already begun much of the work (they are legion here) and facilitate their efforts by connecting disparate organizations to each other. I will communities who are currently unaware of the problem and of the work being done to mitigate it and involve them. I will meet regularly with community leaders and thinkers to develop new plans of implementation and spread the word on all upcoming activity.

My first overriding mission in all this is to establish a commuter/cargo rail system in Orlando and the I-4 corridor. Such a system must be more thorough in its coverage than the proposed (and now deceased) CSX plan. The plan should not be to provide for the occasional ride to the beach, but to replace commutes on S.R. 50 for UCF students working downtown; to make Winter Park, Sanford, Ocoee and South Orlando accessible to each other, broadening our economic base and thus creating more options in our quest to "shop locally"; to clear the air and remove stress and provide the time to read, communicate and relax enjoyed by the people of even modest European towns. To this end, the political arm of my mission shall be known as Vote for Trains until this goal is met.

Beyond these two far-reaching endeavors, I want to make my own life sustainable and spread that knowledge to whoever I can. (Anyone who wants to come over and show me how/where to start a garden, I'll make the cocoa.) I want to work in impoverished neighborhoods to start community gardens and get people making and spending their own money.

Okay, that's all a little far reaching, too. All of this will take planning. Each step must be practical, each milestone attainable. I welcome ideas on how/where to start.

And I want to apologize to those who have reached out to me who went unanswered. If you try me again, I promise I will be receptive and attentive.

Stay on my ass about this, people. I am not here to lead or save (largely because I can't, but also because even in the imaginary land of my ego, that still isn't what this is about). Our fight is not against the resources running out nor the ecological challenges that lie ahead, but with our (read: my) lethargy and inaction. We cannot enable that any longer.

Thank you all. I look forward to hearing from you. Good luck and take care!

Communicating with the community.

I made a decision yesterday to give a talk on 'peak oil' to anyone who wants to come and listen. I popped round to see my friend and ended up talking about peak oil and related topics , I told Jemma that I was feeling a little frustrated as I have a lot of information that I feel is important and have learnt that the only way I am going to create any kind of stable future is to work with my neighbours and local community. She suggested that I give a talk which I have thought of before but haven't followed it through as I have had more important things to be getting on with (?) and the thought of standing up in front of a group of people and giving a talk fills me with dread. I certainly have enough information to be able to give a talk on the subject, I guess I just need to get my thoughts down on paper and then organise them in a way that will communicate the seriousness of the problem and hopefully provide some solutions and answers to future problems that are going to arise. One thing I have learnt is that it is all very well letting people know what the problems are but without some kind of answers or solutions the information is all but useless. It is my intention to give a talk that communicates the problem and then gives some kind of idea of the consequences followed by possible solutions. I did think of inviting someone along but decided that I would personally benefit from the exercise and as I live and work in the area I am in a good position to be able to provide answers to the question 'now what do we/I do'.
Have been busily pressing apples again today and have very nearly used all the apples I have collected, yesterday I went on a little forage for rosehips which make a pleasent and vitamin C rich syrup. I also identified a plant called Brooklime, which is very similar to Watercress growing in abundance just at the back of the house. I reguarly go out and look for freebies in the hedgerow but have come to the conclusion that although at present there is an abundance of 'wild food' which I can make use of, as soon as any number of people started to use the resource in the way that I am it wouldn't take long before there literally wasn't any left.


This post is a response to hype about Obama as a supposed agent of 'change.'

(I've posted about that hope-hype here, here, here, and here.)


Marjorie Kelly and Paul Raskin -

"What is unfolding today is a systemic crisis, heralding the beginning of a large-scale shift at the deepest levels of [societal] organization."

"We need a new map of the world."

"Transitions announce themselves in the language of crisis. We are in a time of turbulence as old patterns give way and new ones form. The multiple crises today signal a system transformation operating at the scale of the planet."


Bill Vitek (who tends to focus on energy & carbon issues) -

"I see cracks and leaks growing, and ever faster. I see that the past half-century's ... blazing run on the carbon bank of coal, oil and natural gas, is sputtering out. But not before we clog our carbon sinks, particularly the atmosphere, triggering global climatic disruption that is already under way.

We want to see our current problems as part of the usual ups and downs of the business and climate cycles. But in the past three years oil [extraction] has remained steady while the price has doubled. Oil supplies will soon fail to keep up with ballooning world demand. Then the other fossil fuels will flare out too. But not before adding to atmospheric carbon dioxide already a third higher than pre-industrial levels and strongly tied to a long, abnormal rise in global temperatures.

I have come to this perspective reluctantly, but am now convinced: We are living in revolutionary times! We must change to a way of life as inconceivable to us as the invention of the modern factory or heart transplant would have seemed to a peasant or professor in medieval Europe."

" 'Well, change, yes,' you might say, 'but revolution? What about [new technologies] and efficiency? The environmental and sustainability movements? Isn't all that enough?' "

"Efficiency tweaks won't save us. Ever since England in the 1800s grew efficient with coal, only to use ever more of it, efficiency has led to higher consumption and more atmospheric carbon. Even if every car in the world were a hybrid, and every light bulb a compact fluorescent, growing demand would dwarf savings.

And though Toyota, General Electric and Wal-Mart tout their green efforts, their need to profit by increased consumption of their products is not questioned. This system can't fix the problems it has created or fit our emerging realization that Earth has limits, any more than King George could have encouraged independence-minded Colonials, or medieval scriptural authority could have embraced 17th century scientific discoveries.

Our challenge is to make a new Enlightenment, rejecting belief that we can master Earth and treat it as our unlimited supermarket, playground, laboratory and dumpster. Every human enterprise and standard needs reorientation to recognize the boundaries of our sun-powered planet.

We don't have to be violent about it. But we must be as single-minded and insistent as someone yelling 'Fire!' when there is, in fact, a fire." "That's prudent and morally required.

It's so much easier to hope for a miracle. But our best hope lies in embracing revolution."


Robert Jensen and Pat Younglbood -

"If being realistic has something to do with facing reality, then arguments for radical change are the most realistic. When problems are the predictable consequence of existing systems and no solutions are plausible within them, then arguing for continued capitulation to those systems isn't realistic. It's literally insane.

[Americans] live in a country that is, in fact, growing increasingly insane."


A couple of related posts -
- "We create the alternatives together"
- Industrial agriculture

As Stephanie McMillan notes in the cartoon in that "Industrial agriculture" blog post, "revolution" is just a word --
a word that can be imbued with conservative meanings --
much like anti-"war" messages.

Toban Black

Post-Carbon Refugee Seeks Temporary Housing

Hi, All.
I'm posting this for Linda Trujillo, who is fleeing Santa Barbara, CA, to come here and slip into the sustainability stream before Peak Oil descends in earnest. She is looking for a room to rent. Here is her appeal (please reply directly to her, NOT ME! Thanks!):

I'm relocating to Eugene next March, and want to rent a room for me and my indoor cat in a house working towards sustainability and building community. Please email me at with any questions.
Sincerely, Linda Trujillo

Hard pressed.

Spent a few hours pressing apples yesterday and managed to get around 25 litres of apple juice. I invested in a 10 litre fruit press this year and have been busily combing the area for apples for the last 2 months, it is truly amazing how many apples are left to rot on the floor. I have been making regular trips to a hospital nearby which has its own orchard which has around 30-40 apple trees in it, I first went there about two months ago to pick up any windfall and felt a bit naughty at first as I didn't have permission and thought maybe someone else would be using them. I was told about the orchard by my girlfriend who lived on the site last year, she insisted that nobody touched them and thought it would be okay to take some as long as I was discreet. I have been popping down every couple of weeks and it soon became clear that no one was actually using them, each time I turned up I was amazed at how many windfalls had been left and was becoming more confident that I was actually doing a good thing as myself and friends were benefitting from this colossal supply of apples. On my most recent visit with my good friend Joe I was in disbelief as we literally couldn't walk on the ground without standing on apples, my initial cautiousness turned into mild rage as the true scale of the waste started to sink in. The hospital is an old TB site and reckon that the trees are at least fifty years old, the trees that fruited this year had enormous quantities of absolutely perfect fruit on them, my initial feelings of being the one committing the crime have vanished and I am now of the opinion that the people committing any crime are the people who live and work on the site who just leave this truly wonderful resource to rot into the ground. I recently found out that the United Kingdom throw away about a million apples a day, most of which are imported from abroad, this equates to around 500,000 tonnes a year apparently and considering we have ideal conditions for growing world class apples the importation of mediocre apples is beyond my understanding. I can't do anything myself with the rest of the apples so have decided to go and collect as many as I can and donate them to the nursing home I reguarly cook at and anyone else who would like some. There is only so much apple juice and cider you can drink before the novelty wears thin, currently I have about 80 litres of cider on the go which should keep me in regular merryment for the next several months.

Re-imagining Cities: Urban Design After the Age of Oil unearths a crisis of imagination at Penn

The University of Pennsylvania and the Rockefeller Foundation marked the 50th Anniversary of their groundbreaking 1958 Conference on Urban Design Criticism by holding an international symposium on the Penn campus on November 6 - 8.

Fifty years after the first Urban Design conference at Penn, the subject was revisited on the threshold of at least two relatively unexpected events that will have a massive impact on life as we know it. Peak oil and global climate change threaten to overturn our notion of the normal, the usual, and the pace of change at the dawn of the third millennium.

Urban design after the age of oil may have to wait until urban designers get over their inability to wrap their finely tuned aesthetic minds around the Black Swans of the end of cheap oil, the possibility of global energy and resource insufficiency, and the vagaries and uncertainties of global climate change.

After two days at Penn, watching, listening, questioning and commenting in the company of a stellar cast of international speakers, precious little new information emerged to illuminate what urban design might look like after the age of (cheap) oil.

What happened to the topic after a promising opening by Professor of Urban Design, Dean Emeritus of the University of Pennsylvania's School of Design, Gary Hack, and Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, is anybodies guess. Although global climate change was mentioned a bit I didn't hear nearly as much about the end of oil except for a public complaint about it's absence. That came from Trudeau Foundation Fellow, William Rees of British Columbia's SCARP in Vancouver on the last day of the conference, and was greeted by applause.

As a sustainability advocate who has spent half a decade grappling with a host of related energy issues (and over twenty years coming to grips with environmental issues at a critical threshold, approaching phase change) the enormity of the design challenge seemed to have escaped the attention of most of the otherwise talented and often brilliant presenters.

A presentation at the start of the second day of the conference, Managing Cities After the Age of Oil, promised one inescapable topic that I had looked forward to hearing. I had hoped to be able to take home nuggets of sound advice to my second-class Pennsylvania township from the top leaders in managing cities. But, with the exception of Clive Doucet, a "maverick" Councillor from Ottawa, none seemed prepared for managing a city after the age of oil. Doucet seemed well aware of the need for a plan but admitted that Ottawa was, as yet, virtually unprepared for peak oil.

I posed a simple direct question on the subject to Andrew Altman, Deputy Mayor of Economic Development for the City of Philadelphia, arguably the eighth greenest city in America. "If Philly was threatened", I asked, "by a sudden, unexpected interruption of petroleum fuel supplies that could last at least for a month, what is the plan for coping? His answer was that there was none, and his facial expression seemed to confirm that fact.

Perhaps the answers to this egregious lapse of focus lie in two areas. Emotionally, few of us are prepared to accept the inevitability, let alone the uncertainties of the hazards that could accompany peak oil and global climate change. It's likely that the stages of grief (more appropriately known as "Stages of reaction upon hearing catastrophic news") come into play and can short circuit the even the best educated and experienced designers. The second is that fewer professionals have entertained what it might be like to create designs under the potentially dystopic conditions of life after the age of oil.

Is urban design after the age of oil an oxymoron? Will humanity survive?
I think both mislead in much the same way that E. F. Schumacher says these questions mislead. What is needed, he might say, is to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

What is the work we must do? The signs and symptoms are numerous enough to say that our best hope is to begin the real conversation on life after the age of oil, and life in the age of global climate change. This is a conversation that must include other stakeholders, as articulated in the Manifesto crafted by four working groups convened at the end of the last day.

Which stakeholders should be invited into this conversation? Many come to mind, but among the first must be Daniel Lerch, author of Post Carbon Cities, Rob Hopkins, author of The Transition Handbook, and the Natural Step innovators, Dr. Karl-Henrik Robèrt, and physicist, Dr John Holmberg. Other essential participants include Sandy Wiggins, ex-president of the United States Green Building Council, Amory Lovins, Paul Hawken, Hunter Lovins, (all originally from The Rocky Mountain Institute), Steven Nadel (From the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy), Dr. Wolfgang Feist, Passive House Institute, (Cepheus Project), Harold Finigan (arguably the best informed researcher of net-zero building in the Delaware Valley), and finally, Janine M. Benyus, author of Biomimicry.

During the symposium the idea of including potential consumers of urban design came forth. It was noted that social justice required that the least heard, most impacted, and least powerful should be given a voice to articulate their needs and their reactions to our work. Only when they are invited to take their seat, as equals, at our collective table will there be the full mind and heart power required to address these crucial challenges and perhaps answer the question of urban design after the age of oil.

New Sharon Astyk Book!!!

New Sharon Astyk Book!!!

A Nation of Farmers: Defeating the Food Crisis On American Soil

by Sharon Astyk

we could fill our grocery carts with cheap and plentiful food, but not
anymore. Cheap food has gone the way of cheap oil. Climate change is
already reducing crop yields worldwide. The cost of flying in food from
far away and shipping it across the country in refrigerated trucks is
rapidly becoming unviable. Cars and cows increasingly devour grain
harvests, sending prices skyrocketing. More Americans than ever before
require food stamps and food pantries just to get by, and a worldwide
food crisis is unfolding, overseas and in our kitchens.

can keep hunger from stalking our families, but doing so will require a
fundamental shift in our approach to field and table. A Nation of Farmers
examines the limits and dangers of the globalized food system and shows
how returning to the basics is our best hope. The book includes
in-depth guidelines for:

  • Creating resilient local food systems
  • Growing, cooking, and eating sustainably and naturally
  • Becoming part of the solution to the food crisis

book argues that we need to make self-provisioning, once the most
ordinary of human activities, central to our lives. The results will be
better food, better health, better security, and freedom from
corporations that don’t have our interests at heart.

This is critical reading for anyone who eats and cares about high-quality food.

Sharon Astyk farms in New York, and is the author of Depletion and Abundance.

Aaron Newton is a sustainable systems land planner in North Carolina, and is the founding editor of Groovy Green.

Brecon Beacons

I am back in Wales and have been here since April 2007 and have settled in the rural community of Brecon which is situated in the Brecon Beacons National Park. I have been keeping a very close eye on events I consider to be related to 'peak oil' and have been surprised how accurate the predictions of the peak oil theorists have been and have no doubts about the seriousness of the problem. Since I last wrote a blog I have been busy experimenting with lifestyle changes and have reached worrying conclusions. I moved back to Cardiff in South Wales last January and decided to see how little money I could survive on, I ended up squatting in a house and soon realised that without paying high rent I could survive on very little money indeed, not just survive but actually lead a happy and fullfilled existence. Cardiff is a small City with a population of around 200-300 thousand people and I soon realised that a place like Cardiff offers little in the way of free food and couldn't wait to move to a rural community which offers a great deal more in terms of growing land and free food. One thing I find really worrying is peoples' attitude to me with regards to my lifestyle choices and have been labelled an extremist by quite a few people. I have never seen the point in working long hours in order to be able to run a car, I always buy local or organic food and have been a passionate gardener for quite a few years now. Do these lifestyle choices make me an extremist?
The thing I am having most difficulty with at the moment is an inability to communicate all of the information I have learnt to friends and family. I often just leave little notes on peoples' walls on Facebook such as 'google peak oil' with the hope that they will find out for themselves what problems they may come up against in the future. I have been in touch with my local MP just to ask if he understands 'peak oil', which he says he does but have seen no evidence of him communicating his knowledge to his constituents. The local council have started to switch off a number of street lights in this area in order to save money due to rising energy costs, many local people are confused and scared and very few of them understand why this is happening. Local politicians are using this as a party political tool to get people on their side and all of them have failed to communicate the necessity to conserve our very precious resources. I have been working on my girlfriend and she is now aware of what is happening and is taking steps to coushion future blows and seems to accept that we will be living a very different life from the one she had planned.
I am currently trying to set up a market garden and have produced a business plan but have had no success in finding a plot of land, it is hard to get people to take me seriously and it is especially hard as the local farmers have a very particular approach to farming and see my idea as a bit of a pipe dream. The idea is to rent about a 1/4 of an acre to start with and produce Staples, fruit and veg, plants and processed goods for sale at the local Farmers' market. It's early days and I just need to be patient.

last years blog.

06 Mar 2007

I have learnt so much over the last few weeks that I can no longer ignore what is staring us all in the face. That leads me to answer the question of what exactly I am going to do about it and what changes am I going to make to my life to coushion any future blows?
I lived in Cardiff for 7 years before moving to Peterborough and while I was there I had already made small changes to my life, I had an allotment, I bought my food at the local farmer's market and I ate food that was in season for most of the time. Since I moved to Peterborough all that stopped, there is no local farmer's market and I haven't yet got myself an allotment. I have started to volunteer at the Glass Onion garden and decided not to bother with an allotment as I soon realised that Peterborough really wasn't the place for me. I think I will be moving back to Wales as I really miss the place and there are many more opportunities available to me there, especially concerning sustainability and local politics.
Wales has much less of the urban sprawl that will suffer when fuel prices start to rise and there are many communities living there who have sustainability at the front of their minds. I have given myself a maximum of 6 months here in Peterborough and I am now investigating future opportunities in South and West Wales. I am especially considering working on organic farms with WWOOF who are an organisation who will put you in touch with organic farmers, you work on the farms for food and board. I see my future in the production of food and already have experience growing my own food and see a life in farming as a very positive move.
I got up quite early this morning and was sat in the kitchen listening to the wonderful sound of a car alarm in the distance. My housemate got up and asked if there had perhaps been an accident as it didn't really sound like a car alarm. I poked my head out of the door only to find a Police van up in flames at the end of the street. Peterborough really is the pits and I can't wait to leave.

I did something very odd yesterday.

I did something very strange yesterday, I was on a web site called They Work For continuing my interest into 'peak oil'. The web site is basically a place where you can see what our politicians are up to and see what issues they are discussing, I was looking into the rising concern over our present dependence on cheap oil and the war in Iraq. I located my local MP and actually mailed him a couple of questions. This is a little unusual as I have never communicated with an MP before. (except for a nod to the R.Hon Rodri Morgan in Cardiff). I was the 65th person to contact my local MP using this service.

David Milliband the Environment Minister gave a speech in Cambridge last night about the prospect of Britain becoming an oil free society in 20 years time, this really made me sit up. David Milliband is a familiar face on our TV screens and is a high profile member of our government and for him to be giving a speech on such a prospect is quite something and I was quite relieved to hear that the issue was being discussed by him. I heard about the speech on the World Tonight on BBC Radio 4 and it was suggested that the government has a poor record on executing effective environmental policy. MPs are here to serve the general public and although I have a certain amount of faith in certain MP's knowledge and ability to make good decisions they generally only respond to pressure from the public as a whole.

04 Mar 2007

I have been investigating the current energy issues regarding the peak in oil production recently and have found some disturbing facts. The first fact is that oil production has almost certainly peaked and if not then the peak in oil production is very, very near.Current estimates show that oil production will peak between 2005 and 2010. Figures produced by BP show that if oil consumption continues at the current rate then we will run out of recoverable oil in 40 years
. The problem with a peak in oil production is that prices will certainly rise meaning an end to the cheap oil we are so used to. Cheap oil is the foundation of our current economic system and all projected economic growth is based on the continued use of cheap oil. Oil is currently around $70 a barrel, once it reaches around $100 America's and Britain's economy will go into recession.
I am now convinced that we are very close to a very serious social and economic change on a level that has never been seen before. The end to cheap oil will have such a dramatic effect on the way we live that few of us will be prepared for it.
The advice given to cope with the end of cheap oil is quite simple. Firstly we should get out of debt as many jobs will be lost and if you have debt then you will quite simply not be able to pay back the money you owe. Americans are now not allowed to declare themselves bankrupt as easily as they used to be, Britain may also change the rules on bankruptcy, what exactly will that mean for you? Secondly we should start to think locally as we will no longer be able to transport goods over long distances. This means that the food we buy should be grown in our local areas and we should work in our local area.
There are many more issues regarding the end of cheap oil and I have decided to completely change my life in preperation for the changes that are certainly going to affect me. I have already started to worry some of my friends when I have talked to them about it. The reactions are quite surprising as my sanity has been called into question when I have communicated my future plans. All I can do is present the facts and let them decide for themselves. My main advice is to type Peak oil into any search engine, especially Youtube which will give an uncompromising account of the problems we all face.



By Jim Miller
November 9, 2008


Central Willamette Valley Peoples Utility District, dba Central Peoples Power, will become the pre-eminent model for a locavore source of energy, initially electric energy, and eventually, all forms of energy. Its holistic approach includes local financing and redirecting, as much as possible, all spending to: (a) First within the District, (b) secondly, within Oregon, and (c within the United States. CWVPUD will be a political subdivision of the State of Oregon and thus no part of its net income is taxable. Its real and personal property will remain taxable as if it were a private corporation, thus ensuring that it pays its fair share in support of local schools, city, county and fire district operations. The District will attain a high level of generating capacity using local fuels and will control its distribution of energy.

Those who control the majority of renewable energy sources will dominate our lives -- economic, political, cultural ... you name it. The Seven Sisters are putting millions/billions into renewable energy in hopes of getting as much patent protection as possible so they can hammer small energy firms into the ground or buy-up competing technology to kill it. Chevron did this with a superior battery used by GM in the EVA 1 and EVA 2 cars before they killed them.

We need to develop our defenses to the Seven Sisters plan which is: Create as many public utility districts as possible and then sell revenue bonds to build locavore power production units. A good start would be in the heavily forested areas of the northwest. The technology is here, up and running and affordable. We can start as did Ukiah, CA with the BioTen electric plant. See: BIOTEN Plant is Moving West'

In Oregon, I'm exploring the law and merits of using the Peoples Utility District Law. I am doing a plan for the CENTRAL WILLAMETTE VALLEY PEOPLES UTILITY DISTRICT. The plan is in the first draft stage. Let me know if you want in on this planning and I'll add you to my wikiweb. The purpose of CWVPUD is to create large number of small size genset using syngas from woody matrials and giant grasses, then create a MESH connection and distribution system, mostly on a local basis. We can rent transmission ln capacity. PUD's can issue both revenue and GO bonds for creating and distributing electricity. Same for domestic water.

If you folks will join with me in getting this PUD up and running, then we can replicate it in all of the western states if not across the nation. By having thousands of these in-place, the Seven Sisters and the massive electric industy cannot touch us. If we can get electric cars built,, we can then take on the auto industry which is wedded to the ICE and either kill GM, Ford and Chrysler or, better, force one or more of them to build and sell EVA's. Thus we will control our own future and not let the Oil and Auto industries and their banker friends control our lives.


2.1 The district will be formed pursuant to the Oregon Constitution, Article XI, Section 10, Oregon Revised Statues,Title 46, Chapter 261, and implementing administrative regulations.

2.2 The territory will be all of the remaining territory in Benton, Line, Lane, Polk, Marion and Lincoln outside the service areas of Consumers Power, Inc., a private, investor/member owned cooperative. The map of CPI's highly fragmented territory is at:

2.3 At this point, it is unclear how much of the CPI territory is actually served by CPI owned facilities and how much on contract by other utilities. Pacific Power and Light presently serves the areas which CWVPUD would take over once formed. A gradual, phased-in takeover would seem prudent, mainly because of the unfavorable bond market. We need to find out why Corvallis, Albany, Lebanon and Sweetwater were not included in CPI's territory.

2.4 There is nothing to prevent CWVPUD from offering service outside its district boundaries. CPI would not have exclusive rights to serve its territory. If it owns transmission facilities in their territory, that would seem to enable them to dominate those areas.

2.5 Our objective is to co-locate our generating plants in many different locations with energy intensive companies and generate electricity excess to the needs of the company for mostly local distribution. Again, federal law will require CPI and other utilities to transmit power to our customers, wherever located, even if outside our district boundaries. Thus our district could overlap the service territory of CPI and any other utility. Since nearly all of our energy will be “Green”, we can probably make out overlap work. Since are not energy resellers, but prime producers, our margins will allow us to sell green energy at par with fossil energy. Such will give us a greater reach than just our district.


3.1 Oregon law permits CWVPUD to sell revenue bonds to raise money for capital and start-up costs. The CPP will also have the right to levy a tax on the district. If we propose a tax levy along with the formation, it would increase the risk of a “NO” vote. So we need some bridge financing, probably from a private group as a loan or a government grant. Once formed, getting revenue bonds approved which do not involve any property tax levies, will probably be doable.

3.2 We should begin by creating our electrical generating capacity using the BIOTEN syngas, diesel-electric generators. As a public entity we will probably be able to get used, large generators from GSA as the Iraq war winds down. We can provide our customers over the Pacific Corp transmission facilities. We can phase in the purchase of sections of our transmission facilities on a local basis. Instead of having one huge, monstrous, complex distribution system, we will have a series of small modules with a few connection points to the next unit – a “MESH” system, similar to IT Mesh network technologies which are now emerging.


As stated above, we aspire to become a “locavore” energy generating company. We will be vertically integrated from raw materials to delivery of consumer energy. We will endeavor to keep all of out purchases as local as possible. These policies will tend to distribute the locations of power generations. It will also “right size” the power yields from our generators. Most likely, this will require a wide range of types of power generation. We will be open all forms of energy generation, including biomass-to-ethanol, syngas with biochar, wind, solar, wave, geothermal, algal oil-to-biodiesel, and as yet undiscovered sources of energy. With these policies in mind, our initial choices are:

4.1 Sawmills. Sawmills are consumers of large amounts of energy. They are also large producers of waste wood which is good for direct combustion, syngas and biochar, and compost wood wastes. Sawmills have the potential of being a new exporter of energy.

4.2 Dairy. Dairy operations also consumes large amounts of energy. It produces cow flop which is a source of syngas and biochar as well as methane. Like sawmills, dairies have the potential of producing excess energy.

4.3 Lumber yards have inputs and also can logically produce net energy.

4.4 Biological waste. Waste which have cellulose content will have value for energy production. The cost of collection and transportation may wash away net energy for sale.


5.1 General. Many of the energy production plants will be purchased and used by industry. Our push is to provide the technology to private industry which hopefully will produce surplus energy which can be sold by the industry to another customer in which case our role will be that of transfer for a fee. We need to facilitate this “small producer” to “small customer” since it reduces our capital costs, creates a more distributed generating capacity and potentially provides us with additional backup potential.

5.2 Direct combustion. Most direct combustion systems produce steam for a steam turbine generator. The inlet-compression fan takes about 50% of the horsepower generated by the turbine. Otherwise, the system is popular, well understood, has many vendors and produces a great deal of the nation's electricity. Wood, coal, gas, oil and geothermal are common inputs. Direct combustion wastes extreme amounts of heat and contribute substantially (except for geothermal) to GHG. See: BIOTEN Plant is Moving West'

5.3 Wind. Wind has much potential in eastern Oregon, but not in Willamette Valley.

5.4 Solar. Solar has much potential in eastern and southern Oregon, but not in the western part of the state.

5.5 Geothermal. No geothermal or little geothermal exists in the proposed district territories.

5.6 Coal. No comment.

5.7 Atomic. No comment.

5.8 Pyrolysis. Syngas and its co-product, biochar, offers great potential, primarily because it can use a wide range of inputs and in just about any combination: wood chips, giant grass, consumer paper and cardboard, construction waste, straw, and timber slash. One great potential for Syngas is that the reactors can be mounted on a trailer and taken to the source of the input. Transporting wood chips to the plant is much more costly than transporting the syngas (producer gas or producer oil) from the pile of chips to the consumer or next level of refining. The savings is tremendous and competitive as against a coal-fired plant or a hydro-eclectic plant which can lose up to 50% or more of the energy during transmission. See:

5.9 Hydro-electric. A combination of hydro-electric with other generators, especially wind, could produce considerable savings in generating capacity. To the extent that wind generated electric energy can be stored in large water reservoirs at high elevations (1000 feet plus), then the amount of generating capacity can be reduce, thus savings on both capital costs and operational costs. There would be some possibility that wind energy could be harvested in eastern Oregon, stored in place and then when load demands are high (and energy prices are high), the stored water can then be used to generate salable electric power. The cost of transmission and transmission losses would have to be considered if the location is distant from the CCP market. Alternatively, a local reservoir could store water pumped uphill by electric pumps powered by syngas diesel electric generators.


6.1 District organizational costs
6.2 Capital costs
6.3 Start-up costs
6.4 Operational costs
6.5 Bond costs



Those who control the majority of renewable energy sources will dominate our lives -- economic, political, cultural ... you name it. The Seven Sisters are putting millions/billions into renewable energy in hopes of getting as much patent protection as possible so they can hammer small energy firms into the ground or buy-up competing technology to kill it. Chevron did this with a superior battery used by GM in the EVA 1 and EVA 2 cars before they killed them.

We need to develop our defenses to the Seven Sisters plan which is: Create as many public utility districts as possible and then sell revenue bonds to build locavore power production units. A good start would be in the heavily forested areas of the northwest. The technology is here, up and running and affordable. We can start as did Ukiah, CA with the BioTen electric plant. See: BIOTEN Plant is Moving West'

In Oregon, I'm exploring the law and merits of using the Peoples Utility District Law. I am doing a plan for the CENTRAL WILLAMETTE VALLEY PEOPLES UTILITY DISTRICT. The plan is in the first draft stage. Let me know if you want in on this planning and I'll add you to my wikiweb. The purpose of CWVPUD is to create large number of small size genset using syngas from woody matrials and giant grasses, then create a MESH connection and distribution system, mostly on a local basis. We can rent transmission ln capacity. PUD's can issue both revenue and GO bonds for creating and distributing electricity. Same for domestic water.

If you folks will join with me in getting this PUD up and running, then we can replicate it in all of the western states if not across the nation. By having thousands of these in-place, the Seven Sisters and the massive electric industy cannot touch us. If we can get electric cars built,, we can then take on the auto industry which is wedded to the ICE and either kill GM, Ford and Chrysler or, better, force one or more of them to build and sell EVA's. Thus we will control our own future and not let the Oil and Auto industries and their banker friends control our lives.

Pee on Your Plants

I just did a bit of research on using urine to fertilize your garden and even house plants. Seems urine works even better than commercial fertilizers.

Despite the 'yuk!' factor, urine from healthy individuals is virtually sterile, free of bacteria or viruses. Naturally rich in nitrogen and other nutrients, urine has been used as fertilizer since ancient times. Urine fertilization is rare today. However, it has gained attention in some areas as farmers embrace organic production methods and try to reduce use of synthetic fertilizers.

In the new study, Surendra K. Pradhan and colleagues collected human urine from private homes and used it to fertilize cabbage crops. Then they compared the urine-fertilized crops with those grown with conventional industrial fertilizer and no fertilizer.

The analysis showed that growth and biomass were slightly higher with urine than with conventional fertilizer. There was no difference in nutritional value of the cabbage. "Our results show that human urine could be used as a fertilizer for cabbage and does not pose any significant hygienic threats or leave any distinctive flavor in food products," the report concludes.

How to apply...

Dilute urine to 10-15 parts water to 1 part urine for application on plants in the growth stage. Dilute to 30-50 parts water to 1 part urine for use on pot plants as they are much more sensitive to fertilizers of any kind.

Trees, shrubs and lawn should cope well without dilution. Withhold the use of urine liquid fertilizer on all food plants at least two weeks before harvesting. Apply under fruiting plants, not directly on foliage.

Don’t use urine older than 24hours on your plants as the urea turns into ammonia and will burn your plants. If it’s not fresh, add it to your compost heap. Adding undiluted human urine to your compost heap will help heat it up quickly as it is an excellent activator and will add to the final nutrient value.

Below are some links...

Grass fed beef

Hello, everyone or no one. I think I might be the first one to post on this sight.
I am new to the Transition Whidbey group and want to be involved in the Food part of things. I have a special interest in Grass Fed Beef and Chickens. I believe there is at least one person who raises this type of beef. It is more expensive than beef fed regular grain or other who knows what else.
If you know of any one who has info about this topic please let me know.
Best, Christopher

Boise City Utility Billing Customer Satisfaction Survey

Anyone else getting the survey? It sounds like they want to move the customer service out of Boise and not have city employees handling the customer service. It sounds like the opposite of relocalizing to me!

Carbon-Precious One

Carbon is essential to all known living systems, and without it life as we know it could not exist (see alternative biochemistry). The major economic use of carbon other than food and wood is in the form of hydrocarbons, most notably the fossil fuel methane gas and crude oil (petroleum). Crude oil is used by the petrochemical industry to produce, amongst others, gasoline and kerosene, through a distillation process, in refineries. Cellulose is a natural, carbon-containing polymer produced by plants in the form of cotton, linen, hemp. Cellulose is mainly used for maintaining structure in plants. Commercially valuable carbon polymers of animal origin include wool, cashmere and silk.

Plastics are made from synthetic carbon polymers, often with oxygen and nitrogen atoms included at regular intervals in the main polymer chain. The raw materials for many of these synthetic substances come from crude oil.The uses of carbon and its compounds are extremely varied. It can form alloys with iron, of which the most common is carbon steel. Graphite is combined with clays to form the 'lead' used in pencils used for writing and drawing. It is also used as a lubricant and a pigment, as a moulding material in glass manufacture, in electrodes for dry batteries and in electroplating and electroforming, in brushes for electric motors and as a neutron moderator in nuclear reactors.

For Sale By Owner

Transition Town Maleny - a short report

The Transition Town workshop was a wonderfully inspiring afternoon. Thanks to the 40 or so participants who came and joined in on the somewhat chaotic, yet strangely exhilarating meeting of minds. With Morag and Evan's guidance, we have begun to sketch out the path ahead of us, from here to sustainability.

We started with introductions around the circle. Many of us have been moved by the opportunity presented by the crises unfolding on the world stage: climate change, peak oil, and financial breakdown.

We then had a quick brainstorm to list all the things Maleny has already achieved; our community has already built some wonderful institutions, systems and relationships which put us in great position to start this project. Co-operatives, community organisations, a wealth of volunteers, a long history of successful collaborative action.

Next we passed around slips of paper of different colours. We were asked to visualise walking down the main street of Maleny in 2030, and imagine what it might be like if we continued down this road towards sustainability. On the green paper, we wrote about where Maleny 2030 gets its food. On the blue, we wrote about how we get around. On the yellow, we wrote about where our energy comes from. And on the orange ones, we wrote other 'wild card' ideas.

We then broke into small groups and discussed what we'd wrote. I found this a lot of fun, as people had come up with a remarkable variety of visions, which I enjoyed hearing about. Of course, there were several strong threads of commonality too -- an encouraging sign that there are some strong paths forward.

The results of this brainstorm have been typed up (thanks Franklin!) and you can download them here (257KB Word Doc). The highlighted text was unclear; feel free to send through corrections. Have a look through there and see if it produces more sparks; if it does, then please bring your ideas to the next workshop!

After a break for tea and snacks, we moved into a discussion about how to move the Transition Town project forward. We tried to list the major elements of the project (eg food, water, energy, waste, economy, etc, etc) but this turned out to be quite difficult because there are so many important areas to cover! If we can break things down in some way, we should be able to organise ourselves into sub-groups of 3 or more to focus on a particular topic or project.

Morag and Evan may only be available to help us for these first two workshops, so we need to find a way to organise ourselves to operate without them!

A short video of the day can be viewed on YouTube here:

There are also a few pictures here:

If you are interested in coming to the next workshop on November 8th (2-5pm), please contact us to reserve your place.

Thanks everyone who turned up to the first one for a hugely enjoyable and inspiring day!

Various socio-environmental crises

Robert Jensen and Pat Younglbood -

"It's no longer helpful to speak about 'environmental issues,' as if we face discrete problems that have clear solutions. Without major changes to the way humans live, we face the collapse of the ecosystem's ability to sustain human life as we know it. Every basic indicator of the health of the ecosystem is cause for concern -- inadequate and dwindling supplies of clean water, chemical contamination in every part of the life cycle, continuing topsoil loss, toxic waste build-up, species loss and reduced biodiversity, and climate change."


Thomas Kostigen (who seems to be focusing on Americans) -

"There is more to being green than the fight to stop global warming. All of our [biosphere is] in peril because of what we do and what that does to our planet. Yet, to hear the battle cry of environmentalists these days you'd think there's only one war to be fought -- over our energy supply and its consequences.

We are facing a fresh water crisis. We are facing a food crisis. We are facing a crisis over deforestation. And we are facing crises in our oceans. While carbon emissions from fossil fuels pollute the air, so does a lot of other stuff."

"We must increase our freshwater supply by about 20 percent by the year 2025 to meet [projected] world demand, and 90 cities still dump sewage into the Great Lakes, which supply water to 10 percent of the US population."

The price of most food has doubled over the past year, forcing millions deeper into poverty and malnourishment. There is now six times as much plastic as zooplankton in parts of the Pacific Ocean, and 90 percent of the big fish on Earth have disappeared.

Meanwhile, we have an ever-increasing waste and electronic-waste burden on our hands. We each create twice as much trash per day as we did 40 years ago. The average size of our landfills has multiplied 25 times in that period as well. And our e-waste burden is so bad that we ship 80 percent of it overseas to countries with weak environmental standards. These countries in turn make products from our discards and ship them right back to us. (And we wonder how lead paint gets in toys.)

As well, up to 40 percent of global wood production is from illegal timber operations. Deforestation not only displaces people and endangers species, it is the second biggest cause of climate change. (It isn't only fossil fuels that cause global warming.)

To be sure, an alternative energy supply is needed and important. But let's not forget the importance of other environmental factors crucial to our health and well-being, not to mention the [biosphere]'s."


A couple of related posts -
- "Socio-environmental refugees"
- "Social and environmental problems and opportunities"

Toban Black


The Financial Times front-page headline on Tuesday, October 28th, 2008 declares, "World will struggle to meet oil demand: Output falling faster than expected", reinforcing the MIT vetted Royal Dutch Shell report (Davos, Feb. '08) that global oil demand will exceed supplies within seven years.

The FT lead article by Carola Hoyos and Javier Blas will trigger fears but could spur efforts to deal with the crisis before Shell's "Scramble" scenario becomes more of a reality. "Scramble" will certainly be bad for business and the original report hints at resource conflicts that could easily dwarf the current oil wars in the middle east.

"Output from the world’s oilfields is declining faster than previously thought, the first authoritative public study of the biggest fields shows.

Without extra investment to raise production, the natural annual rate of output decline is 9.1 per cent, the International Energy Agency says in its annual report, the World Energy Outlook, a draft of which has been obtained by the Financial Times.

The findings suggest the world will struggle to produce enough oil to make up for steep declines in existing fields, such as those in the North Sea, Russia and Alaska, and meet long-term demand. The effort will become even more acute as prices fall and investment decisions are delayed.

The IEA, the oil watchdog, forecasts that China, India and other developing countries’ demand will require investments of $360bn each year until 2030.

The agency says even with investment, the annual rate of output decline is 6.4 per cent."

The Financial Times concludes, "This is the clearest indication yet that the focus of the industry on the demand – not just the supply – side is moving away from the US, Europe and Japan, towards emerging nations."

The entire article can be read online at:


I recently screened The End of Suburbia again and was surprised to notice how well that documentary predicted the current economic crisis would be triggered by a crisis in housing. Comparisons to the Great Crash of 1929 and the depression are becoming more common in the media but from a Post Carbon perspective, that too, misleads.

The end of cheap oil will likely resemble a "Black Swan" event. The NYT best-seller by Nassim Christopher Taleb is beginning to emerge as the best guide to the major unprecedented events of today.

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