Besides an increase in shoplifting, psychologists said retailers need to be prepared for more instances of violent behavior like that seen at a Wal-Mart store in Long Island, New York the day after Thanksgiving.
Unsustainable Energy Trends By Byron King
I’ve been getting a lot of calls and e-mails from people asking about the falling prices for oil in recent weeks. The immediate explanation is that world economic activity is decelerating. Demand is falling. OPEC announced cuts in output. But the markets still believe that economic decline will trump the ability of OPEC to prop up the price of oil. Enjoy it while it lasts.
Just over the horizon, things are about to become dicey. This week, the International Energy Agency (IEA) will release a new report on the future of world energy. In its World Energy Outlook, the IEA will state categorically that “Current global trends in energy supply and consumption are patently unsustainable.”
There’s not much wiggle room in that statement. According to the IEA, despite the recent fall in oil prices, the medium- and long-term outlooks for energy supply are grim. Conventional oil output is destined to decline. Demand will still grow, however, especially in the developing world. And the twain shall only meet by prices rising to clear the market. “It is,” as our Arab friends like to say, “written.”
Michael Pollan on why the next President needs to pay attention to food….
It may surprise you to learn that among the issues that will occupy much of your time in the coming years is one you barely mentioned during the campaign: food. Food policy is not something American presidents have had to give much thought to, at least since the Nixon administration — the last time high food prices presented a serious political peril. Since then, federal policies to promote maximum production of the commodity crops corn, soybeans, wheat and rice from which most of our supermarket foods are derived have succeeded impressively in keeping prices low and food more or less off the national political agenda. But with a suddenness that has taken us all by surprise, the era of cheap and abundant food appears to be drawing to a close. What this means is that you, like so many other leaders through history, will find yourself confronting the fact — so easy to overlook these past few years — that the health of a nation’s food system is a critical issue of national security. Food is about to demand your attention.
Can Electricity From Trees Power Gadgets?
A new sensor system is under development that runs on electricity generated by ordinary trees! Apparently trees are capable of self-sustaining a reliable source of electricity. While a tree may not seem like much of a powerhouse, the “trickle charge” can add up, “just like a dripping faucet can fill a bucket over time,” said Shuguang Zhang, one of the researchers on the project and the associate director of MIT’s Center for Biomedical Engineering (CBE).
MIT researchers now believe they can power a network of sensors connected directly to trees to perform a variety of tasks.
Trees could serve as “silent sentinels” along the nation’s borders to detect potential threats such as smuggled radioactive materials—with the sensors powered by the trees themselves. They could also prevent forest fires, among other applications, by sending early reports to the authorities.
Right now, the U.S. Forest Service says that manually recharging or replacing batteries in remote automated weather stations, which usually have to be located in hard-to-reach places, makes things impractical and costly. The new sensor system would bypass this problem by tapping into trees as it’s very own self-sustaining power supply. Each sensor is equipped with an off-the-shelf battery that can be slowly recharged using electricity generated by the tree itself.
The system produces enough electricity to allow the temperature and humidity sensors to wirelessly transmit signals four times a day, or immediately if there’s a fire. Each signal hops from one sensor to another, until it reaches an existing weather station that beams the data by satellite to a forestry command center in Boise, Idaho.
Scientists have long known that trees can produce extremely small amounts of electricity. Yet no one knew exactly how the energy was produced or how to take advantage of their capacity to generate power. So, how does it work?
MIT colleagues recently reported the answer in the Public Library of Science ONE. “It’s really a fairly simple phenomenon: An imbalance in pH between a tree and the soil it grows in,” said Andreas Mershin, a postdoctoral associate at the CBE.
To solve the puzzle of where the voltage comes from, the team had to test a number of exotic theories using a slew of experiments that proved, among other things, that the electricity was not due to a simple electrochemical redox reaction (the type that powers the ‘potato batteries’ common in high school science labs, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemon_battery). The team also ruled out the source as due to coupling to underground power lines, radio waves or other electromagnetic interference.
Testing of the wireless sensor network, which is being developed by Voltree Power (http://voltreepower.com), is slated to begin in the spring on a 10-acre plot of land provided by the Forest Service.
According to first author of the paper, Christopher J. Love, the bioenergy harvester battery charger module and sensors are ready. “We expect that we’ll need to instrument four trees per acre,” he said, noting that the system is designed for easy installation by unskilled workers.
“Right now we’re finalizing exactly how the wireless sensor network will be configured to use the minimum amount of power,” he concluded.
This is embarrassing, but the state of Hawaii is only now expanding their “pilot” recycling project at two locations to include more neighborhoods (like mine). The blue cans rolled out today on moving trucks, with a staging area taking up an entire side street. It is about time, given that our state consists of a few tiny islands with very limited space to pile up garbage.
Think space exploration isn’t worthwhile? Wondering what we will use for energy when the oil is all gone? Are you disgusted by all the garbage our society produces? Check out this juxtaposition of the three seemingly unrelated ideas…
Calgary-based AlterNRG’s plasma gasification technology uses a process developed for NASA to superheat landfill garbage and convert it into a highly energized gas, which can then be used to produce electricity.
Plasma gasification can be applied to almost any waste now put in landfills, and it produces fewer carbon emissions than standard power plants that burn coal or natural gas.
The process involves plasma torches capable of producing temperatures of 5,400 degrees.
It was initially developed by Westinghouse to help NASA test spacecraft at the intense heat of atmosphere re-entry, said Alex Damnjanovic, an AlterNRG vice president.
Two commercial plants using the process are operational in Japan.
Ask yourself why this isn’t something that the presidential candidates in the U.S. are talking about? Or consider U.S. energy use: *5 percent of the world’s population, consumes 25 percent of the world’s energy. *Transportation sector uses 70 percent of petroleum used for fuel and emits 30 percent of U.S. greenhouse gases. *Buildings account for 36 percent of emissions.
“The bottom line is that the quickest way to do something about America’s use of energy is through energy efficiency,” said Burton Richter, the chairman of the study panel and a 1976 Nobel Prize winner in physics. “Energy that you don’t use is free. It’s not imported and it doesn’t emit any greenhouse gases. Most of the things we recommend don’t cost anything to the economy. The economy will save money.”
The projected growth of energy use in buildings — 30 percent by 2030 — could be cut to zero using existing technology and what’s likely to become available in the next decade at the current level of research and development.
On transportation, the key is in more federal government investment in developing cheaper and more reliable batteries for electric cars.
“If you look at magically converting the whole fleet to plug-in hybrids” that get 40 miles per charge, greenhouse gases would be reduced by 33 percent and gasoline use by 60 percent, Richter said.
That would be the equivalent of cutting oil imports by 6 million barrels a day, Richter said. That’s the amount the U.S. imports from OPEC (largely from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Nigeria), out of a total of about 13.5 million barrels imported a day from all countries.
“So if you’re looking at energy security issues, which is government’s business, if you’re looking at the overall economy, which also ought to be government’s business, to spend a bit more on research and development to hasten the day when you’re going to get all these benefits is a good thing to do,” Richter said.
Very interesting, right? As oppossed to ‘lets ease environmental standards’ or ‘lets get more oil from Iraq’, etc. What about global population?
Some 6.7 billion people live on planet Earth today and close to 3 billion more may be in the mix by 2050. Given those staggering numbers, it’s easy to assume surging human population is the real root of the world’s evils, from global warming to poverty, starvation to habitat loss. Not so fast. Three recent books by renowned experts on the subject paint a far more complex portrait of the world’s population and what it portends. It’s by turns dire and hopeful
Today we have one of the most robust ideological state apparatuses in the world with our vast web of media outlets. Turn on your television and you’ll find several hundred cable channels eager to shape how you think about the world. (I’m using the word “think” loosely here since an active brain seems to be the antithesis of what television producers want to inspire.) Yet, I won’t just pick on TV here…that would be too easy, too overdone, too, well, TV…newspapers, magazines, radio, and even the Internet are all part of this ideological apparatus.
There is certainly no denying that the rise in food prices worldwide is creating problems though.
Rising food prices are partly to blame for adding 75 million more people to the ranks of the world’s hungry in 2007 and lifting the global figure to roughly 925 million, the U.N.’s food agency said on Wednesday.
Water is also an issue in many places, but perhaps it doesn’t have to be.
Brad Lancaster is the author of Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond.
As Lancaster explains, harvesting rainwater means to “capture the rain as close as possible to where it falls, and then to use it as close as possible to where it falls.”
The easiest method is to use the soil to capture the rainwater. “You create these bowl-like shapes in the landscape that collect water. You mulch the surface and plant them so the water quickly infiltrates, and then the plants become your living pumps.”
“So you then utilize that water in the form of a peach, a pomegranate, an apple, wildlife habitat and beauty,” Lancaster tells Renee Montagne.
A second, better-known version of rainwater harvesting is collecting rainwater from a roof in a tank, or a cistern.
The third example is harvesting wastewater, also known as graywater, from household drains, including showers, bathtubs, bathroom sinks and washing machines. (Other drains — such as the toilet, kitchen sink and dishwasher — are high in organic mater, such as food or bacteria, and are not suitable for reuse.)
Household wastewater is “an excellent source of rainwater that we can reuse to passively irrigate our landscapes in times of no rain,” Lancaster says.
Lancaster says that 30 percent to 50 percent of potable water consumed by the average single-family home is used for landscaping. But nearly all of the irrigation water needs can be met just with rainwater and graywater, he says.
Rainwater harvesting can be useful even in areas that are not affected by drought, helping reduce flooding downstream, for example, Lancaster says.
For five happy years they enjoyed simple lives in their straw and mud huts.
Generating their own power and growing their own food, they strived for self-sufficiency and thrived in homes that looked more suited to the hobbits from The Lord of the Rings.
Then a survey plane chanced upon the ‘lost tribe’… and they were plunged into a decade-long battle with officialdom.
Yesterday that fight, backed by more modern support for green issues, ended in victory.
The eco-community in the Preseli mountains of west Wales was set up in 1993 and lived contentedly away from the rat race round a 180-acre farm bought by Julian and Emma Orbach.
In 1998, it was spotted when sunlight was seen glinting off a solar panel on the main building, which was built from straw bales, timber and recycled glass.
When the pilot reported back, officials were unable to find any records, let alone planning permission, for the mystery hillside village surrounded by trees and bushes.
They insisted the grass-covered buildings should be demolished.
The eco-community endured a decade of inquiries, court cases and planning hearings.
The 22 villagers fought planners even when they were within hours of the bulldozers moving in to demolish their eight homes.
Now, however, they can celebrate, thanks to the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s ‘sustainability’ policy.
With green issues now getting a more sympathetic hearing, the commune has been given planning approval for its roundhouses along with lavatories, agricultural buildings and workshops.
Community founder Emma Orbach, a 52-year-old mother of three, said yesterday: ‘We are really excited and happy as it has been a very long battle.
‘Even when planning inquiries and court hearings went against us we were determined to fight on.
‘The villagers are pioneering a new lifestyle and are determined to prove it’s possible for people to live more simply.’
Tony Wrench, 62, who lives in the original roundhouse with his partner Jane, said: ‘We are very relieved and delighted.
‘We have been able to prove to the planners that it is possible to have a sustainable and low-impact community in the countryside.
The original 180-acre farm was divided up into the area around the farm, a section around the original roundhouse known as Tir Ysbrydol (Spirit Land) where Mrs Orbach lives, and 80 acres of pasture and woodland run by a community known as Brithdir Mawr.
Each community is independent and they co-exist as neighbours in a more traditional style.
Brithdir Mawr continues to support sustainable living based around the original farmhouse, with eight adults and four children sharing communal meals, looking after goats, horses and chickens – and also holding down part-time jobs to raise the £200 per month rent they each pay Mr Orbach, who lives in a house in nearby Newport.
The current residents now run businesses such as courses in furniture making and sustainable living for around £95 a head.
Maybe you didn’t expect this post to end on a hopeful note, but there it is. We can change our reality and it is changing all around us all the time.
JUNK, a project of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, is a raft now on its way to Hawaii and constructed of 15,000 plastic bottles and a Cessna 310. Its mission is to raise awareness about plastic fouling our oceans. They’ve just hit the halfway point in the voyage. Check out the blog …. JUNK
In fact, I’ve never read The Holographic Universe, but as pointed out by Ryan G. it does begin to sound a lot like spirituality ala Gurjieff, Buddha, Watts, and Fuller.
The point of the theory is that our material reality is all an illusion. The proof of this is that nano particles are able to communicate instantly with one another regardless of distance in space or time. This is the heart of most spiritual teachings as far as I am concerned. Even from a pragmatic point of view, none of this is real if you are dead, right? What happens to your BMW when you die? Where was your home before you existed? Life is an illusion. I happen to think it’s a pretty good one, but I do believe it is something unreal.
Personally, I have a hard time thinking that life is pointless, just an accident. This is why I am not an athiest. To me athiests have to have more faith than anyone else. Watch a child or a sunset or a time lapse picture of a flower being born. Look at the atomic structure of anything. Fall in love. Is this an accident of chemicals? Even if it is, what is the genesis of those chemicals? Science itslef says that something cannot come from nothing…so there is something.
What or who is it? I don’t know. I don’t think anyone can know in this reality, this world, this plane of existance. It is why I’m not a Muslim, Christian, or Jew. It’s why I don’t listen to people that tell me that they have the answer. I prefer the philosophies that point towards it without knowing. Strip Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and other philsophical faiths of the added on trappings and you find they all really point to the same thing. We can’t know.Here is the first picture that comes up if you google an image of God:
But I choose to believe. There is something. A controlling intelligence, a cosmic soup, a collective I that the universe consists of. And in doing a little research on the Holographic Universe I like this sentence best:
In a holographic universe there are no limits to the extent to which we can alter the fabric of reality.
Maybe someone just imagined The Gas Men into being. They pay you to pump your gas. Or maybe you would rather get hit by lightning, survive and then win the lottery. It happened to 16-year-old BreAnna Helsel. The Michigan teen survived being struck by lightning and went on to win $20 in the lottery the next day. Coincidence is more than you think it is. Your subconscious soul is somewhere other than you think it is too.
In this world, you can decide to go to China with no money to buy a ticket and then win $1000 on the same slot machine two seperate times. I did it. Really. It’s how I went to China. You can read about it in 20 Weeks a Bum and Asia Tales of a Bum. Whatever you can dream you can do. Why does science fiction precede real science? It’s simply because the scientists haven’t begun to dream about the possiblities yet.
Like imagine John McCain debating himself…actually you can watch this one already.
Declare yourself sovereign I say. One way to do that is to start getting rid of your stuff. I’ve been working on it for a while and am still paring down my possessions at usdebooks.com. Other folks have gone even further and are calling it The 100 Thing Challenge! Can you live with just 100 things? I can tell you that while I don’t have much, I still have at least 100 things, probably several hundred.
Less stuff means you need less space, it means you can live more and work less. The Small House Society is a group of people dedicated to the idea. It’s healthier too!
On the subject of work, I’m enjoying the Nature Tour Job. Took a full vanload of people out this morning and showed them things that grow wild they can eat, shared the history of the Hawaiian Islands, and in the process sewed a few seeds towards the revolution of consciousness that is to come.
Six days into my fast. I feel good, but I may end it at a week. I am bored with not eating. I love to cook, I love to taste delicious things, and the mangos are almost ripe. So I give myself permission to end with 7 days.
CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (Reuters) – Wouldn’t it be nice to drive a car into town without worrying about finding a parking space?
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have devised just such a vehicle, a futuristic “City Car” that could even drive itself.
Once at your destination, the vehicle’s computers would, at the press of a button, look for a parking spot behind others like itself, then fold roughly in half so you could stack it there as you would a shopping cart.
“We have reinvented urban mobility,” said Bill Mitchell, a professor in architecture and director of the project at an MIT think tank in Cambridge, just outside Boston.
Are we actually so fucking stupid that we think letting situations like this continue to get worse and worse isn’t going to make the entire world more insecure? Here is a newsflash for those who haven’t figured it out yet…if we didn’t let situations like this fester, we wouldn’t be setting ourselves up as targets. Not to mention if we didn’t sell Isreal or other fascist states the weapons they use to kill innocent families or proived billions in military aid to the same regimes. We deserve to get bombed for letting things reach this level.
Gaza situation ‘worst since 1967′
Last week Israeli forces launched a bloody and destructive raid in northern Gaza, in which more than 120 Palestinians – including many civilians – were killed.
Gaza’s humanitarian situation is the worst since 1967 when Israel occupied it, says a coalition of UK-based human rights and development groups. They include Amnesty International, Save the Children, Cafod, Care International and Christian Aid.
They criticise Israel’s blockade on Gaza as illegal collective punishment which fails to deliver security and they call upon Israel to comply with its obligations, as the occupying power in Gaza, to ensure its inhabitants have access to food, clean water, electricity and medical care, which have been in short supply in the strip.
“Punishing the entire Gazan population by denying them these basic human rights is utterly indefensible,” said Amnesty UK Director Kate Allen.
“The current situation is man-made and must be reversed.”
The groups’ report, Gaza Strip: A Humanitarian Implosion, says the blockade has dramatically worsened levels of poverty and unemployment, and has led to deterioration in education and health services.