SustainaBundy Guide Availability

There have been a number of enquiries on where to find copies of The 2008 SustainaBundy Directory and Guide: How to Live a Greener Life in and Around Bundaberg. Here's a list of exactly where you can purchase the little green book. Guides will also be available at SustainaBundy events.

AllSafe Energy Efficient Products, Burrum St.
Bundaberg Book Exchange, Bourbong St.
Bundaberg Marketplace Fruits, Maryborough St.
BMRG- Burnett Mary Regional Group Building, cnr. Bourbong and Maryborough St.
Jack Dempsey's office
McCracken's Newsagency, Bourbong St.
Nature's Emporium, Bourbong St.
Nature's Fresh Essentials, cnr. Takalvan and Heidke St.
The Good Guys, Takalvan St.
The Salad Bowl, Kolan St. North Bundaberg

To order more copies, call 4196 0043 or email

We, two, form a multitude

It looks like my weekly blogging habit is starting to settle in. If I keep this up for a month then it should be set in concrete.

This weeks post has no grand theme, just an update on progress.

The second community group meeting went well, with an even mix of new and familiar faces. I encouraged people to pick out one project they would most like to focus on, to help us identify focus points for groups of 2-4 people to persue. The blackboard idea was well recieved, so I will source some materials for it this weekend. A couple of interested souls came to visit my place afterwards. I am starting to pick up a strange sense of disbelief in people that I can manage so much cultivated space with just a decent hoe and a roll of black plastic.

The 28 spot ladybugs have arrived to pester my potatoes. I have been getting up early in the morning to crush them by hand, while the air is still cool and their reactions are slow. I deliberately squash them on the leaf surface and leave the carcass behind. This isnt to emotionally traumatise the survivors, rather the idea is that the decaying corpses give some encouragement to any diseases or predators that the ladybugs may harbor. A similar approach with cabbage white butterflies from last year seems to still be working- I spotted several rotten caterpillars on my broccoli despite no interventions this year so far. Timing is also important for managing these kinds of pests. If I had planted my potatoes any earlier then they would have been vulnerable to frost damage. Any later and they would have been defoliated by the ladybugs despite my best effort since they eat and breed much faster at higher temperatures. If I had planted my broccoli at a warmer time of the year it would have favoured the caterpillars as well. Another part of the ladybug problem comes from the prevalence of reservoir plants for this pest. My Dad is fond of Cape Gooseberry, that grows and fruits through the winter, and is a favourite food for 28 spots. Black nightshade and eggplants will do the job as well. Keeping these plants over winter gives the ladybugs a head start in spring on the potatoes. The upside is that you also can maintain ladybug predator populations by having reservoir plants around, though the dynamics of the system is more complex and unpredictable. There are a couple of other potato leaf eating beetles in the mix, but at much lower population levels. I am currently holding back on squashing these to test the theory that a diverse beetle population is a more stable one since they compete with each other, and more importantly can spread parasites and diseases between themselves. Ill keep a close eye on the other species and start crushing them if the balance shifts again and their numbers start to explode.

Another job finished last week was the planting of a large Roma tomato variety trial. I think I collected about 15 kinds from all over the place, with a view to finding the best 2-3 for my area and my tastes. I am opting to specialise in Roma types so I can grow a big crop simultaneously, harvest it in one big squashy orgy to bottle and dry for the years supply. Synchronising a crop like this is another strategy to manage disease problems. The pests that love tomato plants only get one short chance to do their thing, and for the rest of the year there is nothing for them to eat. The crop is started as early as possible to give the plants a head start on the heat loving insects. This approach is not the equivalent of a "monoculture" we hear so heavily criticised in the progressive media. It only works when carefully timed and included in a crop rotation process. It is much more closely comparable to the "safety in numbers" approach that nature itself uses all the time to protect the vulnerable, such as when baby sea turtles coordinate their breeding and hatching times so that opportunistic predators are overwhelmed.

The tomato planting this year was changed a bit from last year. For one thing the beds were raised about 6 inches above the original soil level by digging out about 12 inches of the narrow paths between the beds. The soil was moved uphill to counter the natural flow of erosion. These deepened paths serve a couple of functions. Mostly they are to assist drainage during extended wet periods- last year was so wet a lot of my tomatos struggled to grow and fruit. It also helps with extended dry periods since the end of the hollowed paths stops abruptly, interrupting water flow downhill and capturing run off. The subsoil exposed in the paths will be aerated by fork through the season as well to enhance this effect. Finally these hollow paths are being gradually filled with horse and cow manure as it becomes available. Walking on this regularly helps break down the lumps, and concentrating the weed seed prone horse manure in one place makes it much easier to clear the weeds out of it as they come through. For each tomato place space I dug down a hole ~18 inches in the middle of the bed, each hole about a meter apart, filled it with a couple of shovel fulls of well rotted horse manure, a couple of handfuls of coconut meal (copra or cool fuel) with a dash of aglime and dolomite, a couple of inches of soil, a few inches of horse manure again and one handful of copra/lime, then finally an inch or two of topsoil.

Into this a generous pinch of tomato seeds (~10-20) were scattered into a ~4 inch wide, 1/2 inch deep hole and covered over. I didnt bother watering as the soil was quite damp, and the seeds needed all the warmth they can get this early in spring. I sowed generously as experience has taught me that those remaining seed in the packet are of limited usefulness. The time spent waiting for germination of a smaller number seed to come is much more valuable than the "wasted" extra tomato seeds, and if a variety should prove to be worthwhile the seed I save myself will be far stronger and far more numerous than what was left in the original packet. In our hot climate stored seed doesnt last especially well, so old seed packages are really only good for three years at most. Sow generously once (10-30% of a packet). If germination is good then you have another year or two on hand. If germination is poor you have at most one more year's worth. If germination is nill check your season was right and then resow the entire remainder of the packet, if only to be rid of it so it doesnt clog up your seed store. Once the seedlings are at ~2 inches high I will thin them down to the two or three strongest ones that arent side by side. At this size they can still be leveled by a bird or slug. Then by ~10 inches high I will pick the one strongest, put in my trellis, and stand back. A few doses of liquid fertiliser (weeds and food scraps rotted in airtight plastic garbage bins for a month or two) and wood ash from the winter (rich in potassium essential for expanding fruit) will keep them powering along. By Christmas time I should be picking about 20kg or more per plant, so my 20 or so plants may be giving me ~400kg of fruit. This may seem like a lot but it is only about 1kg per day across the remainder of the year, so between the tomato sauce and dried tomatos it should nicely cover our years requirements.

The economics of the venture are worth considering. The space used is five 2 x 4m beds (40m2) and all up the crop will probably require about three solid days of establishment and maintenance, and processing, divided over the growing season. Crushed bottled tomato sells at ~$2 per 500 mL, so if I crushed the entire (presumed) 400kg crop it would be worth ~$800. Inputs of fertiliser, water and wear on tools would be worth less than $40, so labor is the most critical input. Three days worth of work (my main paying job, after tax) is worth ~$300, so even allowing for additional costs for the bottling etc I am turning a substantial profit of around $400, or a weeks after tax wage. All from 40 square meters. This doesnt take into account the savings in not driving to the grocery store, reusing bottling equipment, or the hedonic advantage in having better quality organic tomatos (priced typically at double conventional for industrial produce).

So three days worth of actual work save me from having to do eight days of wage work. This rough ratio of one day in, two days out seems to be typical for vegetable growing. Staple crops give even bette returns of about ten to one in terms of days worth of food energy produced versus days spent tending the crop.

When done properly growing your own food is far more than an indulgent elitist hobby.

It is a way of reclaiming a degree of financial and energetic independence.


Howdy everyone, just joined this morn so do not have a lot to tell you yet. I bike to work each morning at 6:30 to
two jobs in the automotive repair industry. Live in the Friendly Neighborhood.

We Can Survive, But Can We Communicate?

A couple of months ago Carolyn Baker and our friend Sally Erickson (producer of 'What A Way To Go') co-wrote an article entitled "We Can Survive, but Can We Communicate?

It's an article I highly recommend. They write "When we think of
preparing our minds, bodies, hearts, and living situations for
collapse, the focus is often on our individual or household living

And then,  "As
a whole we are ill-equipped to create cohesive and cooperative groups
and then to resolve ongoing issues and conflicts that naturally arise.
People often express cynicism, despair and helplessness around the
possibility of successfully creating and maintaining a sense of working
community within a culture of empire. Clearly, it is critical to
acknowledge the need for a sense of real connection, for the ability to
work through conflict, and to cooperate in effective and joyful ways
with others.  Once we have come to terms with the need to do so we can
begin to find others who have identified the same need and are ready
for the task. "

The above essentially puts into words why I decided, as busy as I
am, to work
part time with Alan Seid's Cascadia Training and Mediation Workshop
Production Team. Developing our interpersonal skills is essential for
navigating the difficult times that may lie ahead and for bringing
about the kind of change we'd like to see in the world.

Coming soon is our Fall Learning Series on Nonviolent Communication that Alan will
teach. My wife Angela and I took this class a
year ago and loved it. NVC has really helped us in all areas of our
lives, and Alan is an excellent teacher.


See the NVC Fall Learning Series Event Announcement here

Meet the Urban Sharecroppers

From the

Want to grow your own organic fruit and veg but don't have the time? Why not find a neighbour who longs to garden but doesn't have the space? Tanis Taylor reports on the rise of garden-sharing schemes.

It was a small notice, in between the ads for childminding and English lessons. "Free gardening. I will cultivate an abundant vegetable plot for you in your garden and we will share the produce 50/50." Then a number.

Full article:


No cash? No problem, if you barter

Great article from CNN at a time our economy seems to be . . . not so good.

Brown has always wanted to visit Cape Cod, but when she recently began to plan a trip and found out she would have to pay $200 or more a night for lodging, her dream vacation seemed out of reach.

Miriam Brown and her husband bartered their services for room and board on Cape Cod.

Brown, who lives in New Orleans, Louisiana, is an accountant. Her husband is a home renovations contractor.

Like many people dealing with a soft real estate market and high food and gas prices, they just don't have that kind of extra cash for a trip.

Full article:


Picking Strawberries in the Energy Garden

Surprisingly, the cool weather at the end of the summer has reinvigorated our strawberries.


Hey, I ran across this free online resource while I was investigating solar panels...Cooler, which is based out of Seattle, provides information for anyone considering a solar installation. They have this new integrated mapping feature for detailed solar analysis: its definitly worth checking out. I found it really helpfull in my search.
Best of Luck,
Yay for Solar!

Skeletons in the woods

While hiking through our newly acquired woods on Tuesday, we ran across a most disturbing site--rib bones, a leg bone and a pelvic bone. Imbedded in the dirt were even more bits of bones.

We figured, hey animal bones, right? Animals must die in the wild somewhere. You know, that's what we figured.

After researching bones on the Internet, we decided that the leg bone seemed awfully thick. We better call the sheriff.

So, yesterday, the sheriff met with us in the woods "just to make sure."

The procedure reminded me of when I was a kid and my parents would check for monsters under the bed. We were leading the sheriff and pointing.

"The bones are this way." "You'll see."

Have I mentioned that we are no experts at country life?

The sheriff took one look and said matter-of-factly, "deer."

Then he grabbed the pelvic bone and a leg bone and demonstrated how they used to work. Eww.

I told him to wash his hands.

Ah--city folk.

(These woods accompany our recently purchased hay farm of about 15 acres in rural Missouri where we are attempting to prepare for peak-everything by learning how to grow food, catch rainwater and power down. Maybe someday, we will be considered locals. We are no experts at country life.)


IPCC, the sequel: Ten years became nine years

I acknowledge the owners of the land upon which I type, the Kaurareg nation.

I had a peek at my blog this evening, and looked at one that talked about the IPCC reports. I recall at that time that some of the scientific pundits were saying that we basically had ten years to get this global warming thing rolled in.

Well people, that's now nine years - how time flies.

Any progress? Well, an incentive used to aid the solar PV industry, the much talked about rebate, was limited, slowing that industry's growth. We couldn't get a tax on luxury vehicles. I'm sorry to offend anyone, but if a farmer or tourism industry is really suffering, are they (would it be good business practise?) going to be buying brand-new 4x4s? We're getting a new coal mine in Queensland. However, the new federal government in general seems to be more proactive on climate change, including Kyoto ratification, even if it seems to be a bit of lip-service.

And today...a trade deficit. In short, Australia is living outside of its means.

$110 oil has made a dent in people's habits, and I notice more people cycling and walking to work. More people are talking about energy issues, including the mainstream media. A lot of people that I know have planted something to eat.

The number of people joining CASSC has increased.

Overall, it seems that the last year has been more or less balanced. The grass roots seems to be leading the way, whilst governments appear to be waffling. 20% by 2020 is a good start, but I think we need to be a bit more ambitious. Oil prices and the impending recession may not be the signals we wanted, but will impact on GW to a degree. I believe that these signals alone will merely slow the growth of the CO2, not reduce it.

Take a deep breath, pat yourself and each other on the back for the gains that have been achieved this year.

More work to be done this year and the 8 after that. Bring on the carbon tax...

Peace in our communities.

renewable energy co-operative ventures

I was watching a video from the library the other day, named e2 (e squared), hosted by Morgan Freeman. It looked to originate from the U.S. One of its segments was a half-hour production about wind farms in Minnesota, USA. A group of farmers and citizens got together and, through a co-operative structure, organised wind farming on conventional farms. Although most parts are shipped from overseas, they have started a manufacturing base of the turbine blades. Labour is sourced locally, and the profits from the grid remain in the community. It was very inspiring. Anyone out there considered, or inerested in, an energy co-operative? My personal interest is in emerging solar technologies.


Truckie strike

Well, the strike turned out to have a minimal impact up here. Still acted as food for thought and I thought that it was a useful exercise.

Relocalisation Cooran

Just last week something quite wonderful and unexpected happened.

In response to a small and unassuming ad in the back of our local permaculture group newsletter, and through word of mouth, twenty or so community members came together to sit in our local park and talk about ways of energising and coordinating our little community of Cooran to prepare for rising energy prices and a spluttering financial system. People brought along a wide range of concerns and ideas, but the general feeling seemed to be that having a mechanism for people in the community to reach each other was the foundation that was needed to bring us all together.

Another meeting will be held this coming Sunday, with extra advertising to go up at the small Saturday markets to spread the word further.

Our community needs a nervous system of its own if it is going to wake up from its long slumber. If we can give people a reliable and simple way to communicate with each other then they can spontaneously form the relationships they need to strengthen the community. My personal model is to have a community blackboard set up in parallel with the Saturday markets for people to use as a kind of low tech internet or local newspaper- but with no electric or printing costs. This way people can buy and sell, hire or share labor, organise skill sharing and social events. It will be interesting to see what the response is from others at the meeting....Ill keep you posted.

I took along some parsnips from my field to share with a couple of friends. They had gone from ~3cm diameter to ~10cm in diameter in just a month, despite getting zero rain and zero irrigation. Im not sure my friends really believed that I dont water them. From a 4x2m patch I weighed 16kg of parsnips, equivalent to ~8 tonnes per acre. At this rate the crop will sustain ten people per acre (not accounting for the additional 2-3 other crops that could be raised in the rest of the year).

In the field crops (so peaceful and simple compared to politics) my experiments continue. I am madly planting a large patch of buckwheat (~1/8 acre) and thought to try an experiment to see if I could save a lot of work. Normally I prepare hoed rows for sowing seeds, and scrape the soil back over the seeds to make sure they are well planted. With the buckwheat row the solarised kikuyu was still quite thick in the soil (though mostly dead up one end, the other end will need a touch of glyphosate to finish it off and stop me missing the planting season). This dead kikuyu made hoeing rows for sowing seed very hard work. I had been using my broadfork to start breaking up the soil, and as it had been quite dry these left quite deep channels in their wake. So instead of lots of fiddly sowing I just trickled my buckwheat seed down these cracks in a small section. I suspected they might be too deep, or too dry, so I sowed quite thickly. Two weeks on and the seed is germinating well, so I will continue the approach for the entire bed. Take away lesson- it never hurts to do a small experiment to see if you can get away with cutting corners. If I had planted the whole thing this way only to find it didnt work I would have wasted lots of seed and a fair bit of time. In another row pumpkins (on mounds of horse manure lightly covered with soil), maize and beans have germinated well despite being in apparently dust dry soil and getting no water, plus things still being quite chilly.

In the vegetable garden the crops are continuing to yield well. I finally relented and watered the garden after two months with no rain. Up until then things kept powering along, and by the end the lettuce was just starting to taste a little bitter. This is a consequence of doing deep decompaction and cultivation of the soil by gently cracking it open so it absorbs as much rain when it comes, and plant roots go as deep as possible. So I got a length of pvc pipe the same dimensions as my vegetable beds, sealed one end, glued a hose fitting on the other, and drilled holes along its length. This was attached to my large rainwater tank (still full from months earlier) allowing me to give each bed a long soaking for 20-30 minutes. It was propped up at one end with a brick to keep it level and stop one end of the bed getting all the water. The beds simply drank up the water- in fact with the deep cultivation you can pour a bucket on the slightly raised bed all in one go and it just drinks it up with no run off. The rains have finally come, but at least the tank has had a chance to fill up again, and the entire garden given a chance to have a drink. The timing of the rain is perfect for my large potato trial since they should be initiating tubers at the moment, so any stress at this stage can greatly reduce yields.

Spring is fast approaching and everything seems to be running early again, despite the light chill still in the air. Ill be rushing to get my tomatos in this weekend (several roma types to trial and pick out the best 2-3). The weeds have been doing their best to seem subtle and innocuous but they are due for another round up. Job hunting continues to be a puzzle as I allow myself to face the realisation that I dont really want to end up stuck in a cubicle farm, but the reality also is that I don't want to be unable to support my aging parents and struggling sisters, nieces and nephews during tough times. It is about time to break free of the job ads, really think about what I want, and start cold calling businesses.

It is really wonderful to see more comments on the post- I should be posting weekly. Keep responding and I should become more reliable for a look in!

The High Cost of Cheap Oil


The days when the US could kill, drill and consume its way out of crisis have ended. That new reality is made clear by the current conflict between Russia and Georgia, which is looking more and more like one between Russia and the US ... As they look into the abyss, Americans will need to ask themselves once and for all how much more they are willing to pay to scrape the bottom of the last barrel of oil ...

by Sandy LeonVest

The Empire That Couldn’t Strike Back

The exact moment in history marking the last gasp of the American Empire will likely be debated by historians for years. But there is little doubt that August 7, 2008 will be viewed as a turning point in that history. Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetia, followed by Russia’s predictable response, may have faded from the US media spotlight, but it is on the front pages of much of the international press - and for good reason.

On August 26, Moscow issued an extraordinary warning to the West. “If NATO suddenly takes military actions against Abkhazia and South Ossetia, acting solely in support of Tbilisi, this will mean a declaration of war on Russia,” said Russian Ambassador Dmitry Rogozin. Russia has also made it clear that it would consider any military assistance to Georgia an act of war. Ambassador Rogozin compared the current crisis to the atmosphere in Europe just before the start of the First World War. The extreme rhetoric from the Kremlin’s envoy to NATO came on the heels of President Dmitry Medvedev’s pronouncement that he would respond militarily to US missile defense installations in eastern Europe.

That same week Colonel General Leonid Ivashov, president of the Academy of Geopolitical Studies in Moscow, alleged that the US and NATO had been arming Georgia as a ‘dress rehearsal’ for a future military operation in Iran. ”We are close to a serious conflict,” he said. “US.and NATO preparations on a strategic scale are ongoing ...”

“The Georgia quarrel has all but derailed US-Russian cooperation on the Iran issue,” observed an August 30 special report on the DEBKAfile. “Moscow is not only pulling out of the diplomatic and sanctions front against Iran’s nuclear program ... [It] has decided to finally finish building Iran’s nuclear reactor in the southern town of Bushehr before the end of the year, after holding back for five years at Washington’s insistence.” Later that day, Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin, commented: “If nobody wants to talks with us on these issues and cooperation with Russia is not needed, then for God’s sake, do it yourself.”

Moscow has now committed to completing the reactor within four months. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the plant will enable Iran to operate a heavy water reactor and produce plutonium as an alternative to enriched uranium for building a nuclear bomb.

The dangerous scenario unfolding today in and around the Southern Caucasus of the former Soviet Union has exposed an impoverished and vulnerable US, with neither the political clout nor the military capacity to take care of its own, much less bully other nations into submission. The Bush administration, by behaving as if it were unaware of its diminished status, has placed a once-powerful nation at the mercy of hostile powers, made a mockery of US foreign policy and turned geo-politics on its axis.

Energy - the Weapon of Choice

Russia, with its wealth of petroleum and natural gas, has become an energy superpower. It is feeling that power right now - and with good reason. For starters, it is the single largest supplier of oil and gas to the European Union. A full 25% of Europe’s natural gas comes from Russia. Its leaders well understand that Europe’s continued prosperity - and that of many Western states - depends on the uninterrupted flow of liquid fuel and/or the lucrative energy contracts they bring.

Other countries that rely on Russia for energy include Belarus, Poland, Turkey, the Baltics, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Ukraine. Ukraine, a former Soviet state, is the conduit for 85 percent of the natural gas that Russia delivers to Western Europe.

The International Energy Agency predicts that by 2030 Europe’s gas imports will have doubled with much of it coming from Russia. Georgia, also a former Soviet state, occupies the strategically vital land bridge between the Black and Caspian Seas, making it vulnerable to both Russia and Iran. Georgia has not only clashed with Russia over its independence, but hosts the only transit route to the West for Azeri oil and gas that bypasses Russia. Georgia also depends on Russia for natural gas. A key factor in US support for Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili in his conflict with Russia has been Georgia’s emergence as a critical transit country from the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea basin.

The August 7 outbreak of hostilities between Georgia and Russia over South Ossetia is the predictable result of the US’ aggressive use of pipeline politics and proxy states to assert its commercial and military influence in Central Asia. This policy has dominated US relations with the former Soviet republics since the 1991 collapse of the USSR. Back then, US investors rushed in to grab what they could of the former USSR’s economy, most notably the oil and gas industries of the Caspian Basin.

From the outset, US firms and advisors pressed the ex-Soviet states to agree to pipeline routes bypassing ‘hostile’ countries like Russia and Iran. “Such pipelines not only deprived US rivals of transit fees and political leverage arising from their ability to cut off pipeline flows, but also gave Washington the opportunity to weld together pro-US regional alliances,” writes journalist Alex Lantier at

In the mid-1990s, the Clinton administration pushed hard for two main pipeline projects to export Caspian oil and gas while bypassing Russia, Iran and China. The first would export Turkmen gas through Afghanistan and Pakistan to ports on the Indian Ocean (which inspired the US to support the Taliban in the 1990s). That plan ultimately foundered on the Taliban’s inability to conquer northern Afghanistan. The other was to build a pipeline through pro-US states Georgia and Azerbaijan. Together with an undersea trans-Caspian pipeline connecting Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan with Azerbaijan, the Baku Tbilisi Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline would send Caspian energy to the Mediterranean. The construction of this pipeline was viewed as a major affront to Russia’s domination of energy routes from the Caspian to the West.

It is worth noting that some of the Bush administrations’ top officials were involved in US energy companies’ first serious oil negotiations with the USSR. Among them, then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, who served on the board of Chevron from 1991 to 2001 when Chevron was acquiring a stake in the Tengiz oil field and Vice President Dick Cheney, who served as CEO of oil infrastructure firm Halliburton and as a member of Kazakhstan’s Oil Advisory Board. The advisory board was put together by the Kazakh government after the fall of the USSR, and included CEOs of Chevron and Texaco.

Georgia subsequently became the site of the ‘Rose Revolution,’ during which its unpopular president Eduard Shevardnadze was ousted in December, 2003. The US-trained Georgian military reportedly stood by and watched while its top officials, including then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, personally intervened to order Shevardnadze to step down. This US-lead coup brought to power a series of former Shevardnadze associates who were closely associated with the US. One of them, Columbia University-educated lawyer Mikheil Saakashvili, formally assumed the Georgian presidency in January 2004.

From the point of view of US oil interests, the Rose Revolution could not have been timed more perfectly. It came only a year before the opening of the BTC pipeline, and the pipeline's value to US foreign policy was very much contingent upon the Georgian government being independent from Russian pressure. But developments in Central Asian pipeline politics since the Rose Revolution have not helped the US, which may at least partially explain the Bush administrations’ suport of Saakashvili in his reckless invasion of South Ossetia.

The growth of resistance to the US occupation of Afghanistan has preempted plans for constructing a pipeline south from Central Asia to the Indian Ocean. As a result, the Caucasian pipelines through Georgia now represent the only viable path for Central Asian oil and gas exports that is acceptable to Washington.

In December 2007, Russia signed an agreement with Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to build a new natural gas pipeline along the eastern Caspian Sea coast. That agreement effectively derailed US plans to convince Central Asian governments to commit substantial oil and gas resources to a trans-Caspian pipeline linked to the US-backed pipelines in the Caucasus. The two pipelines currently running through Georgia are the BTC pipeline and the Baku-Tblisi-Erzurum pipeline. The BTC pipeline alone can pump up to one million barrels a day of crude to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, where a bulk of it is shipped to the West.

The pipelines were the first routes to bypass Russia in transporting Caspian energy to the West. These issues are a key subtext to Russia’s conflict with Georgia. They are instructive as well regarding the Bush administrations’ motives for pressuring NATO to ‘fast track’ Georgia’s application to join the alliance.

A Vast Sea of Oil - The End of an Era

US wealth and power has long rested on the abundance of cheap petroleum. For many years, it was the world’s leading producer of oil, supplying its own needs while generating a healthy surplus for export. “Abundant, exceedingly affordable petroleum was ... responsible for the emergence of the American automotive and trucking industries, the flourishing of the domestic airline industry, the development of the petrochemical and plastics industries, the suburbanization of America, and the mechanization of its agriculture,” writes Michael Klare, author of ‘Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet.’

Without cheap and abundant oil, the US would never have enjoyed the historic economic expansion of the post-World War II era. ”No less important,” notes Klare, “was the role of abundant petroleum in fueling the global reach of US military power ... It has been oil above all that gave the US military its capacity to project power onto distant battlefields like Iraq and Afghanistan. Every Humvee, tank, helicopter, and jet fighter requires its daily ration of petroleum, without which America’s technology-driven military would be forced to abandon the battlefield. No surprise, then, that the US Department of Defense is the world’s single biggest consumer of petroleum.

“As long as most of our oil came from domestic sources and the price remained reasonably low, the American economy thrived and the ... cost of deploying vast armies abroad was relatively manageable. But that sea has been shrinking since the 1950s. Domestic oil production reached a peak in 1970 and has been in decline ever since -- with a growing dependency on imported oil as the result. When it came to reliance on imports, the US crossed the 50% threshold in 1998 and now has passed 65%.”

The Bush administration, having failed to implement an energy policy that might begin to wean the US from its dependence on foreign oil, instead became fixated on it. Its attempts to encircle the Southern Caucasus with NATO members and its’ courting and grooming of Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili seem only logical when viewed through such a distorted prism. Tragically, Saakashvili’s invasion of South Ossetia played right into Russia’s hands by providing just the excuse it needed to hit back - hard.

Russia has shown more than once that, when push comes to shove, it will not hesitate to make life miserable for its adversaries. In past disputes, it has cut off natural gas to Ukraine and halted oil deliveries to Estonian ports. Amid a trade row with its neighbor Belarus in 2006, it cut oil supplies to Poland, Germany and Ukraine. In July of this year, it cut oil deliveries to the Czech Republic by nearly half to punish Prague for its deal with the US to host a missile defense shield. In the past, both Poland and Germany have had their supplies threatened as well.

While the US does not depend on Russia to meet a significant share of its own energy needs, many of its NATO allies do. The conflict between Russia and Georgia is illustrative of what can happen when national security - and by extension prosperity - relies upon the good will of any foreign power.

There is little doubt that countries like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, both major US petroleum suppliers, are observing recent developments with great interest. They, along with Nigeria, Russia, Colombia and a host of other oil-producing countries have grown increasingly wary of - and hostile to - the US and its allies since the launching of the ‘global war on terror’ in late 2001.

“The pursuit of freedom, as defined in an age of consumerism, has induced a condition of dependence on imported goods, on imported oil, and on credit,” ex-Army Colonel and conservative historian Andrew Bacevich told Bill Moyers in a recent interview. “The chief desire of the American people ... is that nothing should disrupt their access to these goods, that oil and that credit. The chief aim of the US government is to satisfy that desire, which it does in part through the distribution of largesse here at home, and in part through the pursuit of imperial ambitions abroad.”

Of course, the current administration is in no position to ‘distribute largesse’ here or anywhere else, and it remains to be seen whether facts on the ground will temper its imperial ambitions.

You Get What You Pay For: The High Cost of No Energy Policy

Whether Americans fully grasp it yet or not, cheap gas is the least of their worries. Included in the Bush administrations’ legacy to the next president are an open-ended ‘global war on terror;’ a food and water supply that is neither secure nor sustainable; an economy in shambles; a disintegrating infrastructure - from the electrical transmission grid to national highways; institutions in freefall - including healthcare, the banking industry, the military and the US Constitution; and no coherent energy policy with which to tackle the threat of accelerated climate change or, for that matter, any other kind of disaster.

Its military having been squandered and its coffers laid bare by gross excess and a cynically-conceived war on terror, the US must now face a moment of reckoning, the likes of which it has never experienced.

Within a few short weeks, a new president will assume the responsibility of trying to piece together the ruins left behind by one of the most corrupt and destructive administrations in US history. If that new president is serious about change of the kind anyone can believe in, he will seize the moment to tell Americans the truth about the cost of energy dependence, drilling in environmentally sensitive areas and over-consumption. He will make it the first order of business to put forward an energy plan that favors and incentivizes de-centralized ‘energy farms’ and he will promote policies that encourage individuals, small businesses and/or communities to produce their own food and renewable energy. While he is at it, he should get rid of subsidies to Big Energy and Big Agriculture and hold the fossil fuel, nuclear and ethanol industries accountable for the damage they do.

For better or worse, another chapter in global history is about to begin. That chapter will need a radical re-write if the US is to emerge as anything more than a sycophant state.

Sandy LeonVest is a widely published journalist, radio activist and renewable energy advocate. She is the publisher and editor of SolarTimes, which can be found online at:

Hell -- In Alberta

See no evil; Hear no evil; Speak no evil

Protestors questioning the mainstream Albertan approach to tar sands 'development'


A blog post at Oil Change - "Welcome to Mordor"

"Oil Change’s Kenny Bruno has just visited the region as part of a delegation of environmental groups. Here is his first dispatch, which is the first of three posts from Kenny..

Kenny writes: 'As we approached the tar sands area in a small plane coming from the First Nation community of Fort Chipewyan in Northern Alberta, an experienced visitor tried to scare me: 'You Are Entering Mordor.'

For those unfamiliar with the Dark Lord Sauron’s dwelling place in The Lord of the Rings series, imagine the landscape He Who Shall Not Be Named might choose if he could vanquish Harry Potter and retire to Brobdingnag. Or just think of Hell.

'There are a lot of polluted places on this planet, but the nightmare vision presented by Athabasca tar sands is unique, because the area is a complex of three types of polluting facilities, all on colossal scale.'

There are the monstrous open pit mines, where the 'overburden' (aka forest, plants and soil) has been removed to get at the bitumen underneath. Nearby are the 'upgrader' plants, which look and smell similar to giant refineries you see in New Jersey, Louisiana, and Texas, though the material they process is much thicker. Finally, the 'tailings ponds' which might be better thought of as Tailings Seas, since they are veritable oceans of toxic glop.

All in all, the tar sands cover an area the size of Florida, which is therefore the area proposed for sacrifice by the Alberta government and the oil companies investing $100 billion in the 'dirtiest project on earth.'"


"Mordor" in a Google images search -

(As for the above reference to hell in the Harry Potter series, that meant next to nothing to me. I assume that it will resonate with others out there though.)


Kenny Bruno's follow-up posts about the Albertan tar sands -

“I Wouldn’t Dare Do That Now”
This post is mainly about what Kenny learned from Steve Courtoreille, a Cree councillor

The “You’ve Got To Be Kidding” Department
Some of the post is about public relations greenwash


At Joanne's Marginal Notes there are responses to the
'See no evil; Hear no evil; Speak no evil'
photo at the top of this post

(I left comments on the post at Marginal Notes, but I doubt you'll find them to be worth reading.)


Portions of the documentary The Refugees of the Blue Planet (which I highly recommend) address poisonous sour gas 'development' in Alberta. These fossil fuels are a form of natural gas that some describe as gas from hell.

The Refugees of the Blue Planet was brought up in this previous blog post -
Socio-environmental refugees --
almost all of which was lifted from Joanne's blog


Another relevant post at my main blog -
U.S. protestors; Canadian oil and tar sands?


Toban Black

For the love of a hay farm

Well, my husband and I just purchased about 15 acres in rural Missouri. It is but a humble hay farm with a little bit of bordering woods, but it is ours.

There is a ton of work to do. So far, we have cleared a spot for ourselves to "be." The rest can stay hay (ha, a rhyme).

Next on the agenda, before winter, is to build a shed/cabin to house implements. The shed will be large enough to provide a loft for sleeping and overnight camping trips. On the main level, a composting toilet will be installed.

There is no on-site water source. A well costs about $10,000 and we've decided to wait on that. Rainwater from the shed roof will have to do for a while. My husband has been thinking about a pumping system that I don't claim to understand. For now, jugs of water will be hauled from home for those longer stays.

Next spring, we will try our hand at growing edibles--like apple trees and berry bushes--things that maybe can ramble on their own, since we won't be around daily to tend to them.

Oh, and don't even think we know what we are doing. These visions will only materialize because of a lot of reading--and even more trial and error.

We aren't trying to "go it on our own." There are neighbors nearby. Three homes border the property. On down the street, there are maybe eight or so homes. A general store is about five miles away.

But, like we've all speculated about, one can't show up during times of trouble and expect to be welcomed into a community. Relationships can't be procrastinated and conveniently manufactured at the last minute.

I would love to get to know the locals and become one myself. It just takes time and some giving on our part--like extra apples or hay for the neighbors' horses.

In the meantime, we will "officially" reside in suburbia with satellite TV and a dishwasher, living a weird, dual life.

For our suburban community, will continue to gently convince cul-de-sac families to power down a little bit--if only in painless baby steps.

Nowadays, when we are in our "home" in the suburbs, our thoughts often turn to the country and how soon we'll go back.

Even if it's not possible to physically break away, our spirits are fleeing the strip malls, highways, box stores and me-first toxicity of our current environment.

I sometimes get overwhelmed, but I am always totally pumped about the future.

What a wild ride ahead!

Hop on!


Bicycle Musings

Triggered by another unfortunate conflict between myself as a car commuter (still need to in current job circumstances) and a bicycle, I thought I would lay out a few thoughts related to the current state of cycling from someone who is both a cyclist and a driver interacting with other cyclists.

Firstly, let me go on record as a strong and vocal advocate of cycling as an important means to reduce VMT and commute to work. Where, weather permitting, this is feasible, infrastructure should be rapidly built to accommodate and encourage this activity. Places such as Portland, Madison, and Davis show what can be accomplished here. I am a professional urban planner who has worked for several decades to ensure that bicycle facilities are considered in the transportation planning process.

I used to cycle frequently as a teenager with a pretty nice aluminum rimmed 1975 Raleigh Super Course. After my second bike was stolen at college, I was bikeless for nearly 18 years until I recently bought a fairly affordable ($800) road bike. My first widening of the eyes occurred as I was researching bikes and noted that there was no price equivalence between the bike I owned as a youngster and anything resembling that bike today. To approximate that $400 bike might require an investment of $1100 or more.

I rode in cutoff jeans and a ragged t-shirt and a pair of Adidas Vienna's but that would only elicit stares today as one needs the entire wardrobe of jersey, shorts, socks, gloves, helmet, and shoes with an outlay of hundreds of dollars to be part of the crowd. My observation is that cycling has morphed into an exclusive club-like social activity with standards for acceptable wear, behaviors, insider knowledge, and other mores. This is problematic because to have cycling acceptable as an across the board alternative to driving would require buy-in from all social groups. As I observe it, cycling today certainly does not seem approachable to the "common" person. One last note along this line relates to how many cycling jerseys worn by roadies are plastered with commercial insignia similar to the Sunoco stickers displayed by cars owned by NASCAR fans. Do we really need to be rolling billboards for these corporations?

Another issue I want to note, and this of course will ID me as an "outsider", is that of cycling etiquette. I ride my bike as far to the right on the pavement as I possibly can both for safety on the narrow New England roads I dare travel and also as a courtesy to drivers who need to get around me. I am particularly sensitive when hearing a car approach from the rear and move to the side quite consciously. I also stop at all stop signs, observe all yield signs and obey traffic requirements as State law requires. So let me throw it out there and ask as respectfully as I can of other riders, "why do I seem to be one of the few who acts this way?"

So often as a driver, I come upon cyclists riding two or three abreast in the narrow, windy roadway, taking up the entire lane, fairly slow on the uphill, forcing a cuing of several cars for quite a while before the cars, one at a time, must find a suitable straightaway to pass by going entirely in the opposite lane (often illegally with a double stripe). Could someone please explain this behavior to me? I have experienced it too often for it to be a coincidence. Relevant to me, Massachusetts General Laws (MGL) Chapter 85, Section 11B require riders to obey all traffic laws including single file riding unless passing (but I often see this violated as noted above).

I am also curious to have someone explain to me why so many cyclists charge full speed through stop signs without so much as a sideways glance. I can only surmise that they choose to break the law to maintain the hard earned momentum that cars use petroleum to obtain. It still appears to be dangerous and careless as well as illegal, immature, and uncivil.

On occasion, I have vocalized my dismay to cyclists who have exhibited the behaviors I have observed only to be rewarded with a middle digit and some more profoundly juvenile vocalizations. This only solidifies my feelings that many (but of course not all) cyclists today are spoiled and elitist. Thus my encourage cycling to be ubiquitous and egalitarian, these behaviors and mores need to be eliminated. Otherwise I see a huge social barrier to the change in culture necessary to get people out of their cars and on bikes. One final point. If you are a cyclist and see justifications for the behaviors I describe and the gear that you display, please feel free to respond and enlighten me. However, but please do so in a civil and mature manner and not what I often observe behaviorally from many cyclists in my community.

Busy weekend for SustainaBundy

SustainaBundy Banner

It's been a weekend of festivities and fun for SustainaBundy members, with the Cycle QLD launch on Saturday and the Bundaberg Multicultural Festival on Sunday.
1100 cyclists left the starting line near Main Post Office on Saturday, heading for Brisbane. It was a beautiful Bundaberg day and a great turnout to see the riders off. There were some very creative bicycles, even bikes with 3 riders!
Sunday's Multicultural Festival was also well-attended, with most of Quay Street blocked off for the event. There was a never-ending stream of great music, lots of food to sample and it was a good chance to bump into people you hadn't seen in ages. The SustainaBundy stall proudly showed off our newly-painted banner made by Wendy from the RSL. It looks fantastic! We sold quite a few guides as we talked about past and upcoming projects with interested members of the public.

But it's not over! This Tuesday is the Climate Torch Relay, where supporters of climate change solutions for our region will walk from the Big Turtle at Bargara to Mon Repos starting at 6.30am. If you're in town later in the day, come to Buss Park at 11.00am to see Nick MacLean receive the Climate Torch for Bundaberg. SustainaBundy members can come and grab a green SustainaBundy shirt to show our united support for this important issue. Hope to see you there!

I can contribute. I really can!

Hello again. I thought you might like to know what's happening on the relocalization front in our neck of the woods (i.e. cul-de-sac). Read on...

I see others doing such great things. Biodiesel users driving around on cooking oil, ecovillagers teaching others to think outside the box, and the Community Solution folks learning about Cuba's recent transition to a post-petroleum society.

All these people are inspirational, that's for sure. This may seem weird to you, but their actions are so big and wonderful, that I feel like there is nothing worthwhile I can handle. It's an almost paralyzing feeling.

What do I know? I was raised on supermarket food in a suburb. And, to the outside observer, I seem like I'm raising the next generation in much the same manner.

But things are different inside our cookie-cutter home. We discuss peak oil, edible landscaping and the ethics of corporations. Really, we do ponder these things--and the future.

Thinking and discussing are great places to begin, but eventually, something needs to be done and one must ask herself, "what can I do?"

In my case, I don't know anything about solar, wind or construction of any type. But the great thing is, we all don't need to know everything. So one must just start with what they know and what they are good at doing.

I look at my skills and desires and realize that if I were to go with my natural inclinations, I would focus on domesticity and community. A post-petroleum life will most definitely make use of resurrected domestic arts and community spirit will be vital.

I am also a writer and publish a community website. Look what I can do..I can spread the word!

A couple of days ago I took the "eat local challenge" and started writing about it. The project takes place in October and I'm a little concerned that our area's prime harvest time will be over by then.

Harvest time is probably one of those things I should already know about my community, right? How shameful that I don't know. But, I'll tell you November I'll know a lot about what was available during October. Hey, it's all about learning.

I will set out to learn all I can about where our foods come from around here and where our money goes after we spend it. I really hope most money sticks around our neighborhood for a when the baker advertises in the local newspaper, feeding that wonderful multiplier effect.

I will be writing about adventures in local living on this site, and the website (if they'll have me).

The other thing I did, in the spirit of relocalizing, was contact some people who have indicated an interest in peak oil. I took the first step by inviting them to meet and put our heads together. Still need to hear back from some people, but it's a start.

So, there ya go. It's what I'm doing within my range of skills and maybe just a smidge outside my comfort zone. Idealizing and pondering are great ways to start; but, eventually, stuff needs to happen.

No, I will probably never visit Cuba or take a class on solar panel installation, and that's OK. We each need to work with what we're given.

What are you working on?

Bike salutes

(Digitally edited image)

The logo for Bike Salute .com is on that sign. That web site has a collection of photos of people "salute"ing by holding bikes in the air in that way.


Here are similar photos that I've come across -

I've posted that last one here already.

The photographer -- Grant Neufeld -- has posted more bike lift photos here -


"70,000 wheels in the air: Bikelifting after the Hungarian Critical Mass, Budapest, September 22, 2007."
(From the Wikipedia critical mass page) -


This image may be from the same critical mass bike rally -

I don't know how I came across that photo, and I haven't managed to find any text about it, but that image may have been in a September, 2007 issue of Time magazine.


Toban Black

Janet Bike stencils

Selections from a set of photos of stencils about bicycling -



Those photos were taken by Martin Reis.

Janet lives in Toronto.


There are more of Janet's stencils at these Flickr pages -


Here's another one -


Toban Black

“You Never Bike Alone” documentary

(Click to enlarge)


I haven't seen this, but I'd like to.

Here's the beginning of the synopsis -
"a documentary ... looking at how cyclists are building critical mass in Vancouver, Canada, and changing the face of the city. It is the story of how a social movement grows and the people behind it."

And here's the trailer -


A couple of photos from the image galleries -


The Wikipedia page on critical mass bike rallies -


A related post at my blog -
Driving in isolation, in big machines, and on a lot of pavement


Toban Black

Regional Powerdown Blog

Meeting with David Holmgren

I was lucky enough to spend some time with David Holmgren this month discussing energy descent and future scenarios in the context of climate change and peak oil. How we approached it here via the regional model and how that is now unfolding in the community.

For those of you who do not know David, he is a co-originator of permaculture – together with Bill Mollison. In the ‘70’s David was a student of the University of Tasmania and he spent his time there working with Bill Mollison developing the permaculture concept as part of his environmental design degree.

David lives in Hepburn Springs in Victoria with his partner Su Dennett and their son Oliver.

My partner in energy descent action planning, Janet Millington and I travelled to meet with David to deliver our course curriculum (Time for an Oil Change – an energy descent planning course), the Energy Descent Action Plan (soon to be released into the community) and developments in relocalisation and transition movements. When we first decided to create the curriculum for the course early last year (2007) we committed to delivering the outcomes to David personally.

And the time spent with him was invaluable. His book Permaculture; Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability was the foundation text for our course and now his new website Future Scenarios will be an integral part of new courses we deliver in the community.

As a theorist and futurist David spends his time thinking, planning, discussing and contemplating how the energy issue may unfold taking into account economic, political, environmental and other influences – how it may affect us and what we can do to ensure we shore up our resilience so we not only survive but thrive.

Janet and I are on the other end of things – putting these ideas into place in the community and testing to see how they work. Making the ideas manifest in the community.

Being able to ‘close the loop’ of information – to report directly back to the source and discuss how it actually went was inspiring indeed.

We explored how we used the ethics and principles of permaculture as direction, checks and measures of sustainability and robustness of ideas that were raised in the course.

We looked at how we used his ideas to justify the action strategies in the Energy Descent Action Plan (EDAP).

We explained how the whole thing unfolded – from the PDC (Permaculture Design Course) I did with Janet in 2006 (with Andi Hazelwood of Sustainabundy) right through to being Australia’s first Transition Initiative and now finishing off Australia’s first community-driven EDAP.

Processing all the information he presented to us is another matter altogether (!) and I’ve been combating the flu since returning home to the relative warmth of the Sunshine Coast (it gets cold in Victoria!).

But I have no doubt that the ideas, information and seeds that were planted during our visit to Hepburn Springs will blossom in the future and significantly enhance our education courses and workshops for the next wave of energy descent actioners.

Nice to meet you

Hello everyone! This is my first post on this blog site, so I'll just introduce myself.

A few years ago, our family moved to a McMansion-type of suburbia. I found the people to be friendly only if they needed something. I couldn't believe the difference between these types of people and those where we came from (smaller town). I constantly wonder how people can behave so rudely and self-centered. Perhaps it's because no one has true roots here. This area used to be farmland. Everyone has relocated from somewhere else. No one knows your mother. No one cares. But, I don't think the residents are truly to blame. I believe they have bought into the affluence-equals-happiness line, but no one is happy. They all seem so lonely. Divorce is common. Both the men and women seem to value outward appearance and image. No one gets it. Image isn't real. The affluence isn't real either. Their whole lifestyle is on credit. (ok, maybe not all people...but I think most)

So, now that we are entering into a post-petroleum world, I am terribly concerned for our area. They will be looking for someone to blame, because of course, they have done everything right. They got a great degree. Got a great job. Caught a blond trophy. The world will soon not make any sense at all.

So, a few years ago I started a community website. It features human interest stories, and I am trying to sneak in some suburban homesteading topics as well. I have actually been told by one resident that "there is no way I will grow my food--I will always buy it from someone." I'm not making this up. Elitism is common. Attitudes need to change around here, big time. Princess will be so confused when she won't be able to afford a mani-pedi. And that will be the least of her troubles.

Please believe me when I say I'm not a griper. I just wanted to describe where I'm coming from and the uphill battle ahead.

Oh, by the way...I woke up to peak oil by watching the End of Suburbia and I love to catch Peak Moment on YouTube.

Nice to meet you all!


Holiday in UK shows Peak Oil decline is well on its way

Holidaying in Britain, the country of my birth from which I emigrated nearly 30 years ago, thoughts of sustainable planet were giving way to visits to the pub, fish and chips and long walks in the countryside. Not for long. Wherever I look I see Britain is about to enter a period of deep crisis the root of the problem soaring oil prices as production has peaked.

Maybe it’s because I have been writing about the crisis of sustainability for over five years, maybe it’s because I see this country of my birth with other eyes having lived away so long. But I am in a country sliding into the downturn of the industrial age. All the signs are plain to see. So plain, in fact that the newspaper reports over the space of three days are sufficient to chronicle the start of the inevitable slide into irrecoverable erosion of way of life for Brits and others around the planet.

THE TIMES Monday July 19 2008
Farmers ready to cash in on soaring land prices
The gist: Farm land prices have gone from Per hectare price of 6828 pounds per hectare in late 2005 to currently 12,965. farmers are more than willing to sell as they are feeling the squeeze from rising costs of fuel and fertiliser.
Also from the same newspaper:
]Hungry miners reap rich harvest from potash - the latest must have mineral
The gist: Potash, the potassium containing mineral, has risen from under 100 hundred usd in 1993 to nearly 700 USD/ton this year. Potassium is an essential component of fertiliser.

Cheap flights boom runs out of runway
The gist: the age of budget flights is coming to an end.
Developments are about to price more than five million Brits out of the budget holiday market fares going to go up and will do so for the foreseeable future.
Analysts expect some airlines to be pushed into bankruptcy or be bought by larger rivals.

THE TIMES Monday 25th July 2008
Energy Firms 'conspire to raise prices'
The gist: a report claims that minimum of competition has kept prices too high over the last few years, and that the re is in wholesale price of energy will result in millions of Brits unable to pay their energy bill.
Prices of energy paid by industry is above European levels already and is putting thousands of jobs in manufacturing at a risk.
Energy suppliers are signaling further price rises which is fuelling inflation and creating real concerns of the negative impact on the economy starting a vicious downward spiral in the economy.

THE TIMES Wednesday July 30 2008
Mortgage market paralysis will last for at least three years says Crosby.
The gist A report for the government by Sir James Crosby on the mortgage situation highlights how banks are unwilling to give mortgage loans for house purchase, and this is crippling the housing market as well as
The crunch in credit will give rise to defaults on repossessions.
The level of July is 70% lower than the equivalent period in the previous year.
Comment: TV commentators cite the report as evidence that the mortgage system is broken.

Retail sales slide at their worst rate for 25 years.
The gist; Sales during July are at their worst for 25 years. They believe consumers are reining in their spending in the face of seriously squeezed purchasing power.

THE TIMES Thursday July 31 20008 Millions face 100 pound a month fuel bills
The gist: coming hike of 35% on gas and 9% on electricity will put millions more into fuel poverty over 5 million.

THE TIMES Thursday July 31
[Work until you are 70.
The gist: 100 years after the introduction of state pensions, Britain is facing a crisis. With rising prices, longer lifespan and smaller percentage of the population working, the size of pension money is going to shrink, leaving many of the aged living in poverty and retirement age rising to 70.

THE TIMES Wednesday August 6 2008
Double decline in services and industry puts Britain on the brink of recession

The gist: Economists report the economy is grinding to a halt based on official figures showing manufacturing output fell for the fourth quarter in a row, and overall output fell in services for the third month in a row.

Other signs: wherever we go we see ”For Sale” signs outside houses. And my brother in law just came back form meeting an old friend, a building contractor. After 19 years he is forced to close the business down. There is just not the work for him or his employees.

So there it is, the whole drama of the counter-sustainable rut the nation is in, and the impending long emergency they all teeter on, is being played out, in news reports in the press and in front of me. There was even a TV drama ” Burn Up” about Peak Oil.

Unable to fuel the lifestyle that has grown up post-war with cheap energy, and with the money printing machine of home loans broken, the country is staring economic recession in the face.
This is not just a dip in a normal economic cycle, it is the signs that the country is in such serious difficulty that radical changes are called for before it gets worse.

Britain has enjoyed a long period of economic prosperity, partly endowed by the gift of North Sea oil and gas. Even during this period poverty, homelessness and were not addressed. Admittedly the Labour government addressed fairness issues, but if they were unable to succeed as government coffers were filed with tax income who can they be expected to succeed now. Now the situation is getting acute as millions face poverty.
They are now alone. I fear the same events are playing out in my new home, Sweden.
Except in Sweden such stories and drama tend to be downplayed by the media. Watch this space. Inventing for the Sustainable Planet

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