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  • in reply to: Those Dutch Tulips Ain't Looking All That Rosy #5527

    John Day –
    Please forgive me for being a bit non-educated in biochemistry. After taking a look at the RNA article, it seems that the genetic material would pass through the gut (e.g., of a cow) and then be incorporated into the blood stream of the consumer (i.e., eaters of cow). So, after it is in the blood stream, does it go through cell walls? This makes me wonder about us having portals on the surfaces of our cells that would take in DNA strands. Why would those exist? In basic biology, we are taught that the DNA processes in a cell are isolated and we don’t need DNA or RNA swapping among cells. But if the receptors are triggered and and micro-pores open and let it pass, I would imagine that it’s some type of vitally important communication system – one that we are junking up with crappy GMO genetic info, just like we are really junking it up with crappy endocrine disruptors.
    (People aren’t in the street with pitchforks, why?)

    in reply to: Those Dutch Tulips Ain't Looking All That Rosy #5525

    John Day –
    THANK YOU for your post. You ended with “Wheat, corn and soy are out, as is anything fattened on them.” Are you suggesting that the enzyme modification can be carried through another species (e.g., a cow “finished” on corn will transmit this DNA or these enzymes to the eater of the cow and that persons metabolism of starch will be reduced)? And are you concerned with the up- and down-regulators of genes (for the non-science geeks among us, I mean like those that may stimulate cell growth and result in cancer or cell death resulting in not having the cells we need to do x job) that we are only beginning to understand which are being moved freely into GMOs?
    “Shit!” indeed!

    in reply to: India Power Outage: The Shape of Things to Come? #5218

    Gurusid –
    That is a nice, very comprehensive, LCA. It is a bit out of date, though. It would be interesting to see how the major changes in technology would map out into a current LCA. I think the boundary conditions are the only thing that make nuclear in any way plausible, given the long-term (i.e., 250,000 years), high-level rad waste management requirements. In the reality that will occur, it is not financially or thermodynamically rational to use nuclear. Also, PVs seem to be lasting much longer than we thought they would, which affects and LCA greatly.
    I notice that the LCA is assuming large-scale installations of solar photovoltaics, whereas we might consider them as part of personal-scale systems, distributed generation, redundancy, etc. which changes the decision calculus significantly.
    While I understand the environmental effects would be the same, when I think of personal resiliency, PV needs to be in the mix. In fact, to be rather thermodynamically preposterous, even if the EROEI on PV were negative (which I do not believe), I think, well, if we are going to make negative EROEI investments (like shale or tar sands), then I’d rather those go to PVs which have a chance of flexibly contributing in a longer term to a better future than those sources that would be burned and gone in an instant.
    At the end of the day, without question, the best dollar investment on energy is still spent on improving the insulation and air sealing of buildings – energy conservation – which is half the price per kWh (3 cents USD) of our cheapest US fuel, coal (7 cents USD at least). (I can get the citation for that if you’d like, but it’s 2 km away right now.)
    But since we all need to be working on other energy sources, we’d best reduce what we need through energy efficiency and great clothing base layers like wool and silk and dead dinosaurs and then look to having a variety of energy sources. I think PV is still quite rational for individuals, especially on a very small scale – i.e., not necessarily for running a compressor – but certainly for lighting, charging, and so on.
    Thank you for your great post and the links to the ISIS project articles!

    in reply to: 350 Greek Tragedies in Athens in June Alone #5193

    Off topic –
    Regardless of economics, we need to make our energy systems radically more resilient.
    Here’s a great example of technology that could soften the landing: Solar pocket factory.
    Not sure about the haz waste generation issues, but HOW COOL IS THIS!?!? (Very!)
    This is from

    The NEXT Global Economy is Being Built Right Now, I’ll Help You Find It
    By John Robb
    Pssst! Here’s a secret.
    A new, resilient global economy is emerging and the timing couldn’t be better.
    How so? It’s amazing luck that a new resilient economy is emerging at the very same time the current economic system is in the process of being reset. Fortunately, this new resilient economy will make it increasingly possible to re-localize economic life and will radically improve the quality, stability and prosperity of its participant’s lives over the long run.
    Here’s An Example
    A good example of the emerging resilient economy is a venture called the Solar Pocket Factory, founded by two MIT grads. This venture is dedicated to finding new and better ways to manufacture Microsolar cards.
    What is Microsolar?
    As I mentioned in a previous letter on when to use solar electricity, one of the best uses for solar power (right now — and timing is everything) is to use it to power appliances that are either remote or mobile. A good way to do that is to use small and inexpensive Microsolar cards. It’s a card that you use to power or recharge small devices, lights, etc.
    Here’s Shawn Frayne, one of the venture’s founders. He’s holding up a cell phone that is being powered by a Microsolar card:
    The founders of this venture (Shawn and Alex) have found a way to make Microsolar panels that are 30% cheaper and can last at least ten years (over five times longer than the panels produced today).
    That’s great news. However, what is new and interesting about this venture isn’t that it’s going to produce better Microsolar panels, it’s HOW they are going to do it.

    The Solar Pocket Factory
    The first big departure from traditional business practice is that this venture isn’t going to outsource the manufacturing of the panels to China or India.
    Instead, they are taking advantage of rapidly evolving technology to build an automated factory that can produce Microsolar that’s small, cheap and powerful.
    How small? It can sit on a desktop.
    How powerful? It can produce as many Microsolar panels as any factory in China (a panel every 15 seconds or 1 million panels a year). Shawn and Alex have spent the last six months working on a prototype of the factory and this is what it looks like:

    In short, this factory is being built to be used in a community of nearly any size (we’re going to see many more factories this small in the NEAR future).

    Community Funding and Participation
    The second departure that’s interesting to us is how they are funding the venture. They cut out the extortionate middle men on Wall Street (and Sand Hill Road) and went directly to the online community for funding by using Kickstarter.
    Here’s their offer page on Kickstarter. They are currently raising only $50,000 to finish developing the pocket factory. Don’t be surprised at the cost. As factories shrink in size, the cost to develop them drops too, particularly if the instability of the financial sector can be avoided or marginalized (relegated to simple functions like funds transfer, etc.).
    Given their early success, I fully expect them to reach their funding goals.

    Hope you find this useful. I’ll keep you up to date on signs of the new economy as it emerges

    in reply to: 350 Greek Tragedies in Athens in June Alone #5175

    Garbage production and US GDP are closely correlated. Check out the brief story here.

    I could not figure out how to copy the graph into this post, but it’s a jaw-dropper. I’m sure that election-year politics are playing a part in keeping the bottom from falling out right now.

    in reply to: 350 Greek Tragedies in Athens in June Alone #5168

    Beautiful video! Much food for thought.
    I have several conflicting inner impulses ranging from my own strong Buddhist leanings to far less charitable ideas about turning banksters into organ donors.

    This reminds me of a fascinating little book by Robert A. Johnson called Transformation: Understanding the Three Levels of Masculine Consciousness.
    To grossly oversimplify, level one is exemplified by Don Quixote – the windmills he saw were monsters to him and nothing could change his mind. In other words, “The way I see it is THE way it is.” Period. And no other realities are possible to that individual than his own. He is Unconscious Man.

    Level two is exemplified by Hamlet, a tragic figure who could see that there are multiple ways to interpret a situation and, when he had the opportunity to kill the right man to avert great tragedy, he froze in his own confusion and questioning of his own perception. Tragedy ensued. In other words, There are multiple, legitimate ways to see things and who is anyone to say that their way is the right way? (Johnson says our culture is at this level now. It is dangerous and difficult place to be.)

    Level three is exemplified by Faust. There are numerous versions of this tale. The one Johnson uses to illustrate is different from the one I read, but the fundamental take-home is this: At level three, the Conscious Man can see things multiple ways, but is in a state of equanimity about his choices. He does not second guess himself and get stuck. He chooses, quite wisely, and moves along. He actually looks quite a bit like a man at level one – but with vastly different inner workings.

    I often end up swirling around in my own “what-to-do?” level two stuff. But my advice to myself is to choose something and take action. Learn to build a solar water heater today. Deleverage myself a bit more today. Build community. Whatever. Just take some action.

    In the words of an ancient Chinese Proverb: Many a false step is taken standing still.

    in reply to: Cuckoo in the Coal Mine #4414

    How do we change?
    Human behavior is something like 96% unconscious. Mostly it is driven by emotion.

    Human brains light up much more when we see images of or think about people we think are like us than when we see people who are different. The more they are like us (socio-economic status, family and religious background, etc.), the more activity in the brain. This is probably why it is easy for us do terrible things to people we perceive as different. Also why it’s important to not let anyone “other-ize” us.

    Then again, the desire aspect is also exceptionally powerful.

    We are persuaded by people we perceive to be attractive, have attributes we want ($, access to power, etc.), and who make us feel good when we are around them. Much of this is psychological projection of positive things we have put into our “shadow.” (Most of what we hear about the shadow has to do with the nasty bits, but there is all kinds of good stuff in there too that we are forced to dis-own by our oppressive society. See the books Owning Your Shadow and Inner Gold by Robert Johnson and Jung’s Dreams, Memories, Reflections for more on this.)
    See also the PBS and documentaries on the work of Clotaire Rapail for more info on unconscious associations if that is of interest to you. Fascinating stuff.

    in reply to: Cuckoo in the Coal Mine #4406

    Anyone who challenges the collective hallucination will be attacked.
    I’m a tenured environmental science professor and I have experimenting with explaining the environmental calamity we face – and are creating – since the 1980s. I have experienced countless failures and damaged some relationships quite badly. I’ve also experienced hundreds or thousands of successes. I will share some of what I’ve learned that WORKS. All one must do is to create a desire for more information. Make them hungry.
    Also, people do not need to agree with or understand that the markets are based on smoke and mirrors and even if they were to hold for a while, we are screwed because we are destroying ecosystem services. A KEY truth is that we can increase resilience if more people have food, cash and skills. Their motivation for this is irrelevant as long as they are ready for something.

    Before I go into it though, I want to say THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR THIS FORUM!!! Thank you folks who run the site and thanks to all of the thoughtful contributors to the discussion.
    *** THANK YOU ***

    First, don’t scare them by shoving the info into their faces. Bring it up when the opportunity arises. Opportunities are in the news daily – fires, crop failures, tornadoes.

    I have experienced good results with the following approach:
    “Wow! How about those tornadoes/fires/black-outs!? Holy shit! People are not ready for that even though we KNOW it happens. I think everyone should have some extra food and water stored. Hey, do you know how many days worth of food our grocery stores have on the shelves? (No.) Something like 2 DAYS! THAT’S IT! If there were a disaster here and we lost supply lines, we only have two days of food at the store! That’s the same everywhere in the US. I think that storing extra food if a form of responsible citizenship. I mean, we could be cut off during an ice storm or from (insert locally relevant natural disaster) for DAYS! But when you look it up, all the sites that tell you what to store or put in a “go-bag” or whatever are …who? People who look like nut-job malitia members or government conspiracy nuts or religious radicals. Who wants to be like them!? Nobody! But really, having some extra food and flashlights is just a form of responsible citizenship, right? It’s actually totally rational and reasonable, especially since natural disasters are increasing in frequency and intensity. So, isn’t it just what a rational human would have? Yes. But you gotta also think about the neighbors who probably aren’t ready and maybe just have some five gallon buckets full of dried beans stored in nitrogen – which you can just make and forget for 10 or 20 years. Just a few buckets of beans and rice. The end.” (Remember, this is a reframing and an invitation to the idea of prepping.)

    You get the picture. (Now, we know there’s more to it, but people need to become interested and think it’s the *reasonable,* *smart* thing to do and that it’s relatively *easy* – which is all true – then they can learn more. Just make them hungry to learn it.)

    It usually only takes about two conversations for people to ask for lists I might have… and do because I’ve had students collaborate on what to have under 4 different scenarios.

    When the power goes out somewhere (also in the news at least once a month), it’s also an opportunity to talk about that. I sometimes go on about solar PV systems that no one thinks they can afford because they’re all thinking of systems sized to meet most of their needs. But hell, a couple of 60 watt panels and a couple of batteries (inverter, etc.) can make it possible to have lights, charge the phone, use a radio, etc. We don’t HAVE to have a system that can run the AC and refrigerator. Actually, I think two separate systems are the way to go – one large and one small. I’m very into redundancy. I’ll stop here.

    in reply to: Shale Gas Reality Begins to Dawn #4290

    I did some back-of-the-envelope calculations and sensitivity analysis on the USGS and industry estimates of our US non-conventional gas reserves a few months ago. Using the USGS number and a higher estimate of the growth rate, it may be that – even using “official” data – we have something on the order of as little as 14 years worth of this resource. (Never mind that we also permanently contaminate enormous ground water resources.)

    At the same time, even though EROEI is really THE issue from a physics standpoint, if we are willing to put more energy in than we really get out, then we have “endless” supplies of energy. And the willingness is not measured by the physics of it all, it’s measured by whether the activity will give a good enough cash flow. Since that’s all rigged, I believe we will have a fair bit of negative EROEI energy sources developed. I think it is imperative that people become familiar with the EROEI because when most folks see that the emperor is wearing no clothes, they really will say, “Hey, that ain’t right!” In the meantime, we also need to expand people’s awareness of the options they have to face an energy descent future without thinking that our only possible version of that is quick collapse and loss of civil society.

    Does anyone know of other efforts (using sophisticated PR techniques, I hope) to get the word out to folks about how we can prepare for this?

    Thank you.

Viewing 9 posts - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)