Monday, July 31, 2006
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
I find it interesting to observe the ripple effects of peak oil beginning even before the big stone is dropped in our pond. There are plenty of people out there already responding in their own ways. Recently I discovered a website devoted to the study of the life-altering realization that occurs when someone stumbles across peak oil. www.peakoilblues.com describes itself as,
"a small but growing group of professionally trained psychotherapists who know the stress the dawning awareness of Peak Oil brings. We invite our readers to contribute to the growing body of knowledge regarding the unique social and emotional challenges we face in a post-petroleum age."
This website recently won second place in a contest hosted by www.beyondpeak.com. The goal was to write about post petroleum scenarios in which "Things Might Get Better" after oil peak. The hosts of the contest weren't looking for pollyanna situations. They were just tired of the gloom and doom. I found reading the contest winners an excellent exercise for envisioning possible positives; especially useful when considering such a momentous shift in paradigm. I am reprinting part of the second place essay below. For the essay in its entirety please visit Beyond Peak.
For more information contact the author Kathy McMahon at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.peakoilblues.com to learn more about the psychological effects peak oil is having on us silly humans.
The Silver Lining
By Kathy McMahon
It's 2050 and Grandnana and Leah, her teenaged granddaughter, are talking about what life was like when everybody found out about Peak Oil
Leah: Thanks for helping me with this assignment, Grandnana. I'll read you the questions I have to answer, and you tell me as much as you can remember, okay?
Grandnana: Okay, Honey, I'll tell you as much as I can.
Leah: Okay, I'll look up the rest, later. First question: "Were there any people aware that the planet was running out of fossil fuels, and, if so, what did they do to prepare?"
Grandnana: "Oh, my. That's quite a big question. Let's put it this way, the people who ran governments all over the world knew it. They had to know it, because scientists kept telling them over and over. I don't think they wanted to believe it, because it was such a massive problem. They knew they had to make big changes, but they didn't want to 'rock the boat.' You see, Honey, everything back then was run by huge corporations. They ran the world, really. They paid big money to the politicians to help them run their campaigns and so the politicians were indebted to them. And the corporations had just one focus: Profits."
Leah: But Grandnana, if they didn't take care of the fossil fuel depletion and come up with alternative sources of energy fast, they wouldn't have profits.
Grandnana: I know, it's hard to describe. It was like the people in power were on a fast moving party train and they wanted to stay on it as long as possible, because they were having such a delightful time. Even when someone said "That train is going into that wall up ahead," they would say "Yes, maybe, but not for a long time yet, and right now, we are going to keep partying!"
Leah: Question Two: What were your worst fears? What was the most difficult period for you, personally?
Grandnana: My worst fear was that nobody would have any interest in being in community with me. I was afraid I would just remain isolated with your Grandpapa, your mother, and grandmother and life would just get harder and harder. Of course, before you came, my biggest fear was that you wouldn't get out in time. Thank God my daughter finally started to listen to me. I just wish the rest of my extended family had. At least for their children's sake.
The most difficult period was when I started to realize that a large percentage of people were not going to do anything until it was too late to be effective. They were so used to what they were doing; they couldn't imagine a world where they couldn't keep doing that anymore. They just couldn't imagine it. And they paid with their lives for their lack of imagination.
Most of them died of the so called "pandemic flu," in the relocation camps. I think a lot more just starved to death waiting for the next shipment of food to hit the grocery shelves. For me, having a community by then, the worst of it was not knowing how the entire world was going to turn out. We were alright. We knew we would be, ten years before. It was those "good citizens" who "waited for direction" that got the worst of it.
Leah: Question Three: What items of the fossil fuel age do you miss the most? Which types of things do you think the Post Peak Generation missed out on by being born later?
Grandnana: Oh, that's a great question. Let me think: I guess overall I'd say it wasn't just "things," as much as it was the feeling that life was easy. It took no effort to have what you wanted. We never thought about how much electricity we used when I was a girl. You flicked a switch, and paid your bill, and there it was. We used to take "joy rides" for hours.
Leah: A "joy ride?"
Grandnana: It meant that you just got into your car with your friends and drove as far and as long as you wanted, until it was time to go home. If we were moving in a car, we thought we were getting somewhere. We had such a great variety of everything: isles of soaps and shampoos; ice makers built into these gigantic refrigerators, and you could just put your glass up and get all the ice and water you wanted. We used to give the dogs ice water too. Items from all over the world available every day: spices, cloth from
But short of that, what we gave up in consumer goods we got back in community. Not everyone has ipods to listen to individually, but we have instruments we can make music on together. We don't have rock stars, but we have sparkling stars over head, now that the night sky is seen so clearly. We don't have a lot of things, but we have a lot more time to be with our families. Working together for the common good. We never had that before the threat of Peak Oil. We were never challenged to learn what the true meaning of brotherhood and sisterhood�real participatory democracy, really meant. Now we do.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
For breakfast today I had 12 oz. of fresh fruit juice. For lunch and dinner I will have the same. I am in the fifth and final day of a fast. I have had no solid foods, no other liquids except tea and water. I feel fine. For any of those worried about my health you needn’t be. I have research this practice and performed it main times. I find it to be a tough but rewarding experience physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I am doing it in celebration of my family’s one year anniversary of television-free living. This time last year my wife and I were discussing the possibility of an experiment that would involve getting rid of our television. Three days later our TV set died and we took it as a sign. We never replaced the beast and one year removed we’re happy we haven’t. Before you begin to worry I am not here to try and convince you to give up eating or to condemn you for watching American Idol. I would however like to interject an idea into the growing critique of our way of life and its future.
I believe in our hasty, valiant effort to change some of the more ecologically destructive behaviors of our unsustainable consumer culture we’ve missed a step. We have not stopped to consider the excess of our present existence. We have become accustom to an ever-increasing availability of food, entertainment, travel and more- always more. This has become ingrained in us so much so that currently our argument is often over how to produce more fuel for our cars not about how to make less driving necessary. The discussion is frequently about how to produce more electricity without emissions not about how much power we really need. The conversation is commonly about technologies that will allow us to do more while hurting less not about how much we really require in the first place.
I am not suggesting a return to the Stone Age. I think technology can play a part in adjusting our lifestyles such that we may begin to do less harm to our environment and use fewer of our children’s resources. I do not however believe in the endless growth of consumption. In this I doubt I am alone. I am asking how much is enough? Have you ever asked yourself?
Strawberries in December, cranberries in June, and lettuce in august; we have become accustom to food from all over our planet, available to us at any time for a relatively low price. We have also grown accustom to being feed amusement and distraction at all hours of the day- whenever we want. Television has made this possible.
If one program does not deliver we simply flip the switch and give another channel a chance. Devices to record and replay these programs have made even the necessity of watching at a certain scheduled time a thing of the past. Cell phones make everyone available anytime almost anywhere. Cars provide cheap transportation to wherever we want to go. One must simply fuel with cheap energy and hit the road. To Wal-Mart we go to buy cheap toasters tents, fishing rods and fake finger nails. Our thirst for more, better and faster seems to have reached a fever pitch. In the midst of this whirlwind we have lost touch with just how precious our position is. The increase of our desire has removed the context of our situation historically and among those other citizens with whom we currently share this planet. We have available to us more of everything than any other population on the Earth at anytime- ever! And the end result is that it’s hard to hear myself speak above the bombs.
The sound of our way of life is deafening. Isn’t anyone else ready for some peace and quiet? My response has been to stop shouting if only for a little while so that I might hear my own voice and listen to what it tells me.
When you only eat strawberries in summer their specialness returns. You also begin to learn how to once again eat seasonally. When you turn off your television even for a week or so not only do you appreciate it more, but you recognize the importance of time spent doing other things. Leave your cell phone off for a weekend and you will be more grateful for this technology come Monday morning. You might also begin to communicate in a more thoughtful manner with those whom you share your weekends with. Give up that car for a day and you might have to bike to the store. Imagine that- getting exercise and spending time outside on the way to wherever you’re going. You will return more appreciative of your automobile and you might even enjoy the ride!
I believe as we examine the way we live our lives in an effort to do so more sustainably we have at our disposal an exercise that provides a more proper prospective for our affluent era. By purposefully going without we can again understand just how good we’ve got it. We can return the extraordinary to that which has become commonplace and we can learn a lot about what we need, what we want and just what is really important to us.
I will eat again tomorrow. I think I’m going to make a pizza- my mouth waters at the thought. I wish I could properly convey the experience of visiting an American supermarket after fasting for 5 days. As a family we probably won’t get a television again. That experiment just provided too much free time to go back, but we still go to the movies. How much more sensual they seem now that I can’t watch one every night. Overall I am pleased with my self-imposed limits. They are flexible, open for discussion and bound to take on new forms in the future. For now though I am content with life as it is and pleased to be awake and aware- more so I think- to the pleasures with which we are blessed. Going without might not be that only way to understand how much we have and how great those things are but I am thankful for the renewed perspective it provides me on how I live my life and what I truly value.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
I was having quite a bit of trouble deciding which articles to include. Being a new father and beginning to think about ways to teach my daughter about the Earth and how to live responsibly on it, I thought this would be a good opportunity for her to get involved. There are those that say a four month old is too young to host her first Carnival of the Green, but I say it’s her world we’re talking about and if she thinks she can do it (and she does) then why not?
Getting to The Holdouts. "Remember the legendary “holdouts” of the Japanese Imperial Army?" says John Laumer at Triple Pundit. Well Keaton doesn't. Neither do I for that matter. But I've heard about them. "Japanese Soldiers hid in mountain jungle caves of
Nathan at Greenthinkers thought this would be a great time to write about the cutest little GEM e4 no-emission vehicles on the road. Just the right size for Keaton she thinks. They were used in
As a way to help better understand the connected nature of economy, bio-diversity and the geopolitics surrounding global warming, Future Greek put together a post entitled: Why Global Warming Is Bigger Than You Think. Keaton thought the part about the migration of displaced people is particularly relevant given the current debate in America concerning border security and immigration control. She asked what would happen if whole sections of the planet currently inhabited became unlivable?
Keaton was fascinated and more than a bit sad about Interesting Thing of the Day’s article on light pollution. When she found out that there are twinkling balls of light in the night sky she can’t see she was understandably upset. When I tried to explain that she's born in an age when artificial night-light is misused, she just got even more worked up. We didn’t even get into the safety hazards.
Speaking of responsible lighting, Jennifer has a post over at Climate Crisis Action Team about, “Operation Bright Christmas”. It’s a growing campaign to give compact florescent light bulbs as Christmas gifts this year. She knows it’s only July but campaigns take a while to build. Keaton was curious about Christmas. I told her it’s a special time of year when everyone seems nicer and we all give each other light bulbs. She’s excited already.
It’s official. Riversider writes at Save the Ribble this week about The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) launching a wetlands creation project, the first of it’s kind in Essex. Keaton was especially pleased to learn of this effort to provide not only flood protection (a bit over her head) but also a place for fish and birds to live. She likes fish and birds. Who doesn’t?
While she’s not ready for that birds and bees discussion Keaton was pleased to hear more from Riversider about the birds and the bees living at Lower Brockholes. We were both displeased to learn about another quarry planned for this beautiful farmland location. We learned together about recycled aggregates, a construction concept I was unfamiliar with.
Nick at bird DC was livid about vandals writing objectionable material over prehistoric Native American rock paintings. Keaton, a descendent of the natives of North America, was noticeably bummed about it. When she asked me why “the federal agencies charged with protecting these lands (BLM, Parks Service, Fish and Wildlife, Forest Service) are continually having their budgets cut by the Bush Administration and can rarely afford rangers and law enforcement officials to do patrol and education”, I didn’t have a polite answer for her.
Steve and Keaton have been friends for about four months. She was amused by his recent article comparing the American obesity epidemic with the American oil addiction. America’s Big Fat Oil Problem compares dieting with the current rage in alternative liquid energy sources. Energy is the number one source of pollution here in the USA.
The affect on the environment is easy to extrapolate, even for a four month old. Rather than reduce consumption the hunt is on for the next “Nutrasweet” for our automobiles. Keaton doesn’t have a weight problem. Hopefully she’ll never develop an oil addiction.
Education and Environmental Impacts, by Dan Rhoads at Migrations considers something I’ve thought about as a father and Keaton has considered when she ponders entering our education system. Better education concerning the environmental impacts of both individuals and society in general could lead to positive change. And are we teaching at all about how environment impacts society?
While not a daredevil (yet) Keaton was excited to read a story about those who fly though hurricanes in Greener Magazine, written by Harlan Weikle. Of interest was this quote, “people notice weather, they don’t notice climate”. Keaton agrees. She’s not happy when it’s raining but just like with the rest of us slower changes tend to go unnoticed.
Wow was Keaton impressed with City Hippy’s news of the week. The NICE car for Londoners, Lewis Gordon Pugh swimming the Thames (I had to help her with the pronunciation of your river) to raise awareness of climate change,
Marks and Spencer pushing fair and appropriately green business practices, SUV’s being charged 3X the congestion charge (Keaton pushed mommy for a wagon) and even a bit about the new Green Mountain coffee cup liners made from sugar not plastic. She thinks you’re an overachiever Al.
"Most people have heard it said that you shouldn't believe everything you read in the newspaper. Well, let me tell you, if you've spent your time with PR people, you'd feel that very, very strongly.” As a father I feel one of my greatest responsibilities, after feeding and clothing little Keaton, is to teach her to think with an open mind. A large part of that in this modern world is learning about propaganda. David Beers of The Tyee writes this week about public relations and how it’s shaping environmental debate.
Keaton hasn’t seen “An Inconvenient Truth” yet, but that not because she’s a republican. She just eats too often. If you’re looking for a bright and plucky review of Al Gore’s film and it’s place in the battle between truth and um… fair and balanced, then check out this piece by Frank at Sludgie. We book marked him.
Green LA girl, one of Keaton’s heroes, has an article she’s just not ready for. It’s about sexy green bras and I have to admit, that’s not what comes to mind when I think about the environment. However here it is, a written review of what’s available in the name of environmentally sound support. She’s got what’s hot and what’s not. Check it out.
Lastly Keaton was able to stay awake long enough as Sally at Veggie Revolution slipped in just under the wire with this piece about recycling W.V.O. That’s waste vegetable oil to those of you who aren’t making your own bio-diesel. The article is responsible, we think, in that it discusses openly some of the flaws of corn-based biofuels. Keaton loved it because she’s already familiar with titration tests and she liked the subversive mindset of these dumpster diving fuel finders.
Well that’s it.
Time for Keaton to say goodbye and find her mommy for some fuel of her own. I want to thank all of you for indulging me in the inclusion of such a young environmentalist. Sure I want her to think for herself, but it doesn’t hurt to show her some responsible paths to travel. Thanks again to City Hippy and Triple Pundit for putting this together. Be sure to check out last week’s Carnival at The Ester Republic and next week’s at Myke’s Weblog.
Aaron and Keaton
Friday, July 14, 2006
I just wanted to follow up on the newsworthy and very interesting Discovery Channel show "Global Warming". The TV special airs this coming Sunday, July 16.
It would be great if you could possibly promote the show on your site and announce the premiere.
Click on the link below to find assets, including photos and a clip from the show.
Please let me know once the promotion goes live on your site.
Thanks for your consideration.
GLOBAL WARMING - premieres July 16th on Discovery Channel
Hosted by award-winning journalist Tom Brokaw and produced by the global alliance of Discovery Channel, the BBC and NBC News Productions, the two-hour special presents the facts and leaves it up to the viewers to determine their own truth about global warming.
Maria Park Crew Creative Advertising 1157 N. Highland Ave, Los Angles, CA 90038
In total I received two emails from Maria concerning this television program. The first had a grammatical error which led me to believe she was in fact an actual human. I checked into her company and they are in fact an advertising agency often hired to promote TV and Movie product. Personally I won’t be watching Discovery Channel’s “Global Warming” special this Sunday, July 16th. I would if I had a television but I don’t. I looks like it will be very informative and I applaud the Discovery Channel for continuing to chip away at the ignorance of the American public concerning this issue. I guess I could have said fighting corporate propaganda and let the American people off the hook. Lately though I’m feeling like we won’t really get anywhere until we begin again to take responsibility for our own actions; both as individuals and as a nation of citizens not of corporate stockholders. But I digress…
One reason I didn’t immediately post the information provided by Maria is that I was skeptical about promoting a show I had not seen just because I was asked to do so by some stranger. In truth it wasn’t the global warming special that intrigued me. The real eyebrow-raiser for me was the ad campaign being used to promote it. Stop for a second and examine what we, those of us writing on the internet, have become. We are powerful enough now that ad agencies are turning to us to help get their message out. Discovery Channel paid Crew Creative Advertising, who in turn paid Maria to find my little blog, with all of 16,000 hits to its name, and find my email address and send a message, albeit fairly generic, in hopes of getting the word out about an upcoming program.
It’s happening. This isn’t your 1990’s internet. Those who have a message (and who doesn’t) are onto us. Steve at deconsumption wrote recently about trolls- people paid to surf the web and steer conversations on the internet with the hopes of changing public opinion. Here I’ve experienced another, if less sinister and more straightforward, attempt to use the blogosphere to help the sheople, do what others want them to do.
I’ve heard it said that advertising is a sign of an unhealthy economy. What if there were no advertising? Imagine for a second going to the store and arriving on the alcohol aisle only to find 6 types of beer in exactly the same sort of blank bottle. The only way to tell them apart would be the number they have on the outside of the bottle. You could choose Bottle Number 1 or Bottle Number 2 or Bottle Number 3, etc. What would happen? Well if you were alone with no one to ask you might pick Bottle Number 5 and take it home to try. On your next trip you might decide Bottle Number 5 was great and buy more or you might decide you didn’t like it or it was too expensive and try Bottle Number 6. Maybe you would try them all to see which one was best or how they were different. Perhaps you’d ask friends and neighbors if they’ve had a chance to try Bottle Number 3.
Eventually you would probably form opinions about each of the bottle numbers. You could use these opinions to decide which bottle to buy when shopping for beer. Your information would be based on trial and error and perhaps information provided by other beer drinkers you know. In this climate I think good beer would be rewarded with an increase in purchases as it became apparent which beer was better or worth the price. In other words the positive and negative feedback loops that promote a healthy free market would do their jobs and product superiority along with price point would rule the day. What happens in the real world though? We are constantly bombarded with advertisers telling us which beer to buy. They appeal to us in ways completely unrelated to beer. They use humor, sex and sports stars to get us to believe that their beer is the best. They market beers to take advantage of the low carb crazy. They even put beer on the sides of race cars. I thought alcohol and automobiles don’t mix?I try and stay conscious of the fact that corporate
More on propaganda Part One
More on propaganda Part Two
UPDATE: Just after finishing my post I saw this article over at Grist. In it David Roberts says, "...Tom Brokaw is hosting the Discovery Channel's special, "Global Warming: What You Need to Know." This has enraged the hack factory that is the Senate Committee on Environment under the hacktastic proprietorship of Sen. James Inhofe (R-Clowntown)."
Apparently Senator Inhofe said, "Brokaw's partisan past and his reliance on scientists who openly endorsed Democrat Presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004 and who are financially affiliated with left wing environmental groups, has resulted in a documentary that is devoid of balance and objectivity." Now if that ain't propaganda talking I don't know what is.
How big would you say OUR Island is Senator?
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Being broody means a hen sits on her eggs and waits for them to hatch. If the eggs are in fact fertilized they will hatch after about 3 weeks. If they are not fertilized the hen will still sit on them for several weeks. Eventually she'll lose interest and leave the eggs. Ubie was broody for about a week when I decide to try and use her as a mother for the chicks. This past weekend I began removing unfertilized eggs from her nest and replacing them with chicks. By Monday all ten chicks were living with her in the hen house. They seem to be getting along well and Ninja, our other hen, seems fine with her new roommates. Yesterday Ubie ventured into the outdoor area with chicks running around her. She's turning out to be a better mother than the light bulb.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Monday, July 10, 2006
Suggestion: pick the Mac version of the video for fewer buffering problems. This is true even for those of you with PC's like me. Thanks go to Energy Bulletin.
Friday, July 07, 2006
A note to my mother: Yes I know white bread is only for special occasions like the first tomato sandwich of the year.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
I'm a resident of Knoxville, TN. Recently, 3 of our friends from distant lands (out west) have fled their arid landscapes and are heading for Asheville. We will be discussing buying land together in the western-north carolina region (or possibly east Tennesseeas land is cheaper). Anyone interested in being included in this discussion, please email me at email@example.com. We are looking for young families to join us.
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
I couldn't help myself though after being away from the keyboard for an extended weekend. So while I bang out several of the notions bouncing around in my head here's the global production picture from the EIA compliments of The Oil Drum.
I think we're above treeline.