Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Growing Native


My first YouTube video, an export of a Keynote presentation about growing a native wildflower garden for habitat. An excellent way to reduce usage of water and fossil fuels by replacing grass with plants that are native to an area and better suited to that environment. No need for fertilization and less use of water after seedlings are established because the plants are usually satisfied by normal rainfall.



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Friday, December 14, 2007

Burden

Burden 7
From a series of images I just recently captured after a bit of freezing rain.


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Monday, November 26, 2007

Fall Light

Fall Light 5

This was taken a few weeks ago. There's no doubt that the fall weather was very late to arrive this year. We had mostly green leaves on trees up to the end of October. I suspect we will see very little snow this winter just as we've seen very little in the past four... far less than in years past. It is way too warm.


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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Summer Ends

Collected Sun

Northern Sea Oats in my garden.



It seems that fall may finally be arriving with a bit of cool weather. As I write this 95% of our trees are still very green. It's October 10th and we're just beginning to see fall color. The past few weeks have seen most days into the low 90s or upper 80s. Scary.

Like much of the midwest and southeast we've had a summer of severe drought so I'm doubtful that we'll have as much color as we've had in other years.


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Monday, October 08, 2007

An eco-friendly way of dealing with fall leaves

Four years ago I moved from the big city to five acres in the country. I soon discovered that many country folk have a nasty fall habit: they burn their leaves. At least in this part of the country it seems to be the universal method for fall yard maintenance. Given the current state of climate change burning leaves is a real no-no. As an avid gardener I've always made it a point to compost leaves so that all that organic matter is returned to the soil which completes the natural cycle.

Here is a tip for more easily managing fall leaves that is based on moving them rather than burning them. If you've got a big yard in a rural setting chances are you have a place where you can store a big pile of leaves for the winter so that they have a chance to decompose and not be in your way. The method is simple and requires a tarp and a rake. If you've got two people a bigger tarp will work better. Simply lay the tarp down and rake the leaves onto it. When you've got a huge pile fold the tarp over forming a big leaf taco and drag it to your compost or out of the way area. Repeat until finished. That's it. You'll get some exercise and will add zero emissions to the atmosphere.

Using this method is as fast as burning and much faster than bagging leaves or raking them into a wheel barrow. It may not be as fast as one of those fancy lawnmower-based leaf mulcher/vacuums but it produces zero pollution. Gas mowers are terribly inefficient at burning gas and produce gobs of CO2 (Carbon dioxide), much more than a car, because they do nothing with the emissions produced... they just spit it all out. So the gas mower/vacuum method should be avoided.


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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Chickory

Chickory

Chickory




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This is funny

Over at the Plains Feeder I'm listed as the "Bearded Commie" under the section "Manure Spreaders". As Borat would so enthusiastically say, Nice!

Ya gotta love those freaky "conservatives". Pause, pause, pause.... NOT. (Yes, that is a second Borat reference.)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Melting ice cap triggering earthquakes in Greenland

As a follow up to yesterday's post regarding an ice-free Arctic, there is this regarding the land-bound ice of Greenland melting so fast that it is now starting to cause earthquakes.

The Guardian reports that the Melting ice cap triggering earthquakes:

The Greenland ice cap is melting so quickly that it is triggering earthquakes as pieces of ice several cubic kilometres in size break off.

Scientists monitoring events this summer say the acceleration could be catastrophic in terms of sea-level rise and make predictions this February by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change far too low.

...

He had flown over the Ilulissat glacier and "seen gigantic holes in it through which swirling masses of melt water were falling. I first looked at this glacier in the 1960s and there were no holes. These so-called moulins, 10 to 15 metres across, have opened up all over the place. There are hundreds of them."

This melt water was pouring through to the bottom of the glacier creating a lake 500 metres deep which was causing the glacier "to float on land. These melt-water rivers are lubricating the glacier, like applying oil to a surface and causing it to slide into the sea. It is causing a massive acceleration which could be catastrophic."

The glacier is now moving at 15km a year into the sea although in surges it moves even faster. He measured one surge at 5km in 90 minutes - an extraordinary event.

Veli Kallio, a Finnish scientist, said the quakes were triggered because ice had broken away after being fused to the rock for hundreds of years. The quakes were not vast - on a magnitude of 1 to 3 - but had never happened before in north-west Greenland and showed potential for the entire ice sheet to collapse.

Dr Corell said: "These earthquakes are not dangerous in themselves but the fact that they are happening shows that events are happening far faster than we ever anticipated."



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Saturday, September 08, 2007

An ice-free Arctic in just 23 years?

Big fucking surprise. Or not. Look... how many times do we have to see these words over and over? "Sooner than expected", "much worse than previously thought". I've said it before, this is happening at a pace far faster than even the worst predictions. We have got to start thinking of climate change as RIGHT FUCKING NOW. This is NOW. This is not 100 years from now. This is not great grand children or the next generation. FUCK. Stop eating meat. Stop driving. Stop consuming. FUCKING STOP.

I hate humanity and truthfully, I think I'm starting to take pleasure in seeing people suffer from weather related catastrophes. If only that suffering were more focused on the U.S. and other primary contributors of atmospheric carbon. It's harsh I know but FUCK. How stupid, shortsighted and selfish can we be?

seaice1979-2007sep05.jpg
Comparison of sea ice area on September 5, 1979 and September 5, 2007.

Sea ice area in early September has declined 42% in the 28 years since 1979.
Image credit: University of Illinois Polar Research Group.



Jeff Masters over at Wunderground discusses the issue:

None of our computer climate models predicted that such a huge loss in Arctic ice would occur so soon. Up until this year, the prevailing view among climate scientists was that an ice-free Arctic ocean would occur in the 2070-2100 time frame. The official word on climate change, the February 2007 report from the U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), warned that without drastic changes in greenhouse gas emissions, Arctic sea ice will "almost entirely" disappear by the end of the century. This projection is now being radically revised. Earlier this year, I blogged about a new study that predicted abrupt losses of Arctic sea ice were possible as early as 2015, and that we could see an ice-free Arctic Ocean as early as 2040. Well, the Arctic Ocean has suffered one of the abrupt losses this study warned about--eight years earlier than this most radical study suggested. It is highly probable that a complete loss of summer Arctic sea ice will occur far earlier than any scientist or computer model predicted. In an interview published yesterday in The Guardian Dr. Mark Serreze, and Arctic ice expert with the National Snow and Ice Data Center, said: "If you asked me a couple of years ago when the Arctic could lose all of its ice, then I would have said 2100, or 2070 maybe. But now I think that 2030 is a reasonable estimate. It seems that the Arctic is going to be a very different place within our lifetimes, and certainly within our children's lifetimes." While natural fluctuations in wind and ocean circulation are partly to blame for this loss of sea ice, human-caused global warming is primarily to blame. In the words of Dr. Serreze: "The rules are starting to change and what's changing the rules is the input of greenhouse gases. This year puts the exclamation mark on a series of record lows that tell us something is happening."

The implications
The melting of the Arctic sea ice will not raise ocean levels appreciably, since the ice is made up of frozen sea water that is floating in the ocean. Sea ice melt does contribute slightly to sea level rise, since the fresh melt water is less dense than the salty ocean water it displaces. According to Robert Grumbine's sea level FAQ, if all the world's sea ice melted, it would contribute to about 4 millimeters of global sea level rise. This is a tiny figure compared to the 20 feet of sea level rise locked up in the ice of the Greenland ice sheet, which is on land.

The biggest concern about Arctic sea ice loss is the warmer average temperatures it will bring to the Arctic in coming years. Instead of white, reflective ice, we will now have dark, sunlight-absorbing water at the pole, leading to a large increase in average temperature. Warmer temperatures will accelerate the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, which holds enough water to raise sea level 20 feet. The official word on climate, the 2007 IPCC report, predicted only a 0.6-1.9 foot sea level rise by 2100, due to melting of the Greenland ice sheet and other factors. I believe these estimates will need to be revised sharply upwards in light of the unexpectedly high Arctic sea ice loss this summer.

One more point--global warming skeptics often criticize using computer model climate predictions as a basis for policy decisions. These models are too uncertain, they say. Well, the uncertainty goes both way--sometimes the models will underestimate climate change. We should have learned this lesson when the ozone hole opened up--another case where the models failed to predict a major climate change. The atmosphere is not the well-behaved, predictable entity the models try to approximate it as. The atmosphere is wild, chaotic, incredibly complex, and prone to sudden unexpected shifts. By pumping large amounts of greenhouse gases into the air, we have destabilized the climate and pushed the atmosphere into a new state it has never been in before. We can expect many more surprises that the models will not predict. Some of these may be pleasant surprises, but I am expecting mostly nasty surprises.





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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Saddleback Buddies

Saddleback Love
Saddleback Caterpillars in my garden.


Not sure what I want to say... if I want to say anything at all. I'm sad, derpessed, disgusted and I have a hard time getting the words out... have a hard time believing that the words matter anymore. As I said in my previous post, I feel that I've given up hope.

Rather than throw the blog away altogether, which is still something I'm considering, an alternative might be to turn it into a photo blog of sorts. I continue to post to Flickr so perhaps I'll start posting the best of those photos here once or twice a week. As with everything else these days, I'm not sure.


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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

On giving up

I've not been posting much recently in part because I've spent more time outside in the garden. But really, that's only half of the story. I suppose the truth is that I've just given up. Since leaving Memphis, and to some degree before that, I've lost hope. I can't help but think that it is over and there is nothing that can be done and I mean that on many different levels. The political system in the U.S. is completely fucked. Climate change is probably what I worry about most and it is on my mind constantly throughout each day. Peak oil and Iraq as well. Of course within each of these there are many layers.

I'm finding that I don't know how to feel. I'm depressed but really that's only part of my reaction. I feel numb. I want to hide. In fact, that is what I'm doing I suppose. I've come to the conclusion that all I can do is minimize my negative impact which means I don't go out much at all. I don't want to interact with people... we humans, at least those I know and have known in my life... we're selfish busy-bodies. MORE, MORE, MORE, MORE. We cannot be satisfied. We refuse to acknowledge the truth of our lives. We lie to ourselves and our children and our grand children. We humans are selfish, greedy liars.

I long ago made the decision not to have children. I cannot imagine bringing one into this world. Not only for the sake of the child, but also in terms of adding to the problem. In terms of ecology and planetary recovery we need about 4 billion fewer humans, not one more. Even better, I'd guess the planet would be best served by our extinction. If I believed in god that's what I'd pray for.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Dictatorship Directives NSPD 51 and HSPD-20

Kurt Nimmo at Another Day in the Empire offers more background information on Presidential Directives NSPD 51 and HSPD-20, Bush Pens Dictatorship Directive, Few Notice:
So much for the first three articles of the Constitution, designed to make sure there remains a separation of power between branches of government. “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition,” declared James Madison in the Federalist Papers. Madison, in his original draft of the Bill of Rights, included a proposed amendment that would make the separation of powers explicit, but this proposal was rejected, primarily because his fellow members of Congress thought the separation of powers principle was obvious in the Constitution. There was no way for them to read the future, or predict the wholesale selling and buying of Congress, a judiciary stacked with reactionary troglodytes from the Federalist Society, and a largely brain dead public apparently more interested in Britney Spears lip-sync concerts than preserving the Constitution, let alone comprehending it.

Bush, of course, takes his marching orders from higher up on the food chain, more specifically the World Economic Forum, the club of billionaires and transnational corporations that meet annually in Davos, Switzerland, where they plot our future. In January, the Forum, “with numerous links to business networks, policy-makers and government, NGOs and think-tanks,” at the behest of Merrill Lynch, Swiss Re and the Center for Risk Management and Decision Processes, and Wharton School, produced Global Risks 2007, a report containing various dire “global risk” scenarios, including “a full-blown [influenza] pandemic, with one million deaths worldwide.” Other possible “global risk” scenarios include “international terrorism” and “climate change.”


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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Bush Issues Directives Giving Bush Complete Power: NSPD 51 and HSPD-20

You may have missed it but on May 9 George Bush issued two "presidential directives" giving George Bush near dictatorial power in the case of national emergency. Who has the authority to declare such an emergency? Why, George Bush of course.

The Progressive covers the story, Bush Anoints Himself as the Insurer of Constitutional Government in Emergency:
With scarcely a mention in the mainstream media, President Bush has ordered up a plan for responding to a catastrophic attack.

Under that plan, he entrusts himself with leading the entire federal government, not just the Executive Branch. And he gives himself the responsibility “for ensuring constitutional government.”

He laid this all out in a document entitled "National Security Presidential Directive/NSPD 51" and "Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD-20."

You can check the official White House releases.

I've been saying for several years that there will be no 2008 election. George Bush thinks he's staying.


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Monday, May 21, 2007

Al Gore's climate change hypocrisy

"Al Gore's American Life" photographed for Time Magazine by Steve Pyke.

You know, he's got plenty of critics and with pictures like this it is as though he wants to give them more to critique. Damn Al, I mean... Really?? Do you need three 30" lcds? Do you? Three? NEED them? Al, let me keep this simple: you're being a dick and you're certainly not helping the cause. The problem of climate change requires that we humans change the way we live, particularly the way we use resources. I look at this picture, just one little part of Al's life, and I see someone using more than his share. Period.

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Cutting grass without gas


I mentioned in my last post that I had ordered a new gas-less reel mower and now that I've used it twice I'm happy to report that it works much better than I expected. We live out in the woods with 5 acres of mostly woodland and about 1/2 acre of grass. Of that 1/2 acre half is heavily shaded and the grass is very thin and is as much moss and wild flowers as grass. The other part of the lawn, is regular grass that gets plenty of sun. The reel mower handled it with ease and in about the same time it takes with a gas mower. It will tend to miss grass or weeds such as dandelions that have gotten too tall but if I cut every 5-6 days it won't be a problem. Aside from the fact that it does not use gas the other two things I really like about it is its light weight and very quiet operation. I detest the sound of gas mowers almost as much as the carbon they spew into the atmosphere, this reel mower makes grass cutting an almost pleasant experience.

This was $120 very well spent.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Of bees and flowers

While this is not a honeybee it is a bee and one of many that pollinates the flowers in our little garden. At the moment there are not many flowers blooming in the garden but there are plenty of dandelions in the lawn!

Speaking of lawns, I've ordered a new non-gasoline 20" reel mower so that the gas mower can be retired. I should have done this three years ago when I returned to Missouri but I can, at the very least, say that I've been shrinking the lawn substantially and replacing it with natives. Thus far I've added around 30 native species and 90 plants which have since multiplied by many, particularly Butterfly Weed, Purple Coneflower, Orange Coneflower, and Columbine.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Where Have the Honey Bees Gone?

Where have the honey bees gone? It's a question I've been pondering and I think it is certainly something we should be greatly concerned about. This is one of those many "little" details that isn't on the radar of most people yet it may prove to be very significant in the story of our survival as well as the story of our destruction of our planet. We humans are not very good at noticing the important details of the ecological systems we are destroying. We go about our lives and we assume that everything will be okay. In the U.S. we don't think much about where our food comes from and we assume that the store shelves will be fully stocked. We assume that the chemical pesticides and herbicides that are sprayed on crops or that we spray on our lawns are safe for us and the environment.

For many years we have assumed that the "civilized" world we were creating was of benefit, that it was "good". Most people trusted that those in power, government and capital, knew what they were doing, that they generally looked out for the public good. If we will pay close attention to what's happening to the honey bees we will ultimately find out that we have assumed far too much about our own survival. We'll discover that industrial processes, the technologies, that form the foundation of a consumption-based life, were never intended to be safe or sustainable. We've put our own survival in question as well as the survival of the other species that we share this planet with.

We'll start with a brief excerpt from an interview with May Berenbaum. An Entomology professor and department head at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she recently wrote an Op-Ed article in the New York Times about the collapse of honey bee populations.
How bad is the current decline in honey bee populations?
Honey bees have been through the wringer since the early 1980s, when a species of parasitic mite was accidentally introduced into North America. As of 2005, we had about one-third fewer honey-producing colonies than we did before the introduction of the mite. Between 2005 and 2006 there was another marked decline, and now it looks like the numbers are dropping precipitously. What makes the situation particularly critical is the fact that the demand for pollination services – not honey, per se, but pollination services – is exploding.

--
Have you ever seen anything like this before?
No, this is without precedent on this scale. Bees have died before, in vast numbers, but generally they leave bodies behind. Now, there are no bodies. That’s what’s so puzzling. People have suggested that colony collapse disorder could be the result of the combined effects of parasites, pesticide exposure and fungal disease. But where are the bodies? It is very strange, very sad.
Next we have two excellent articles by Craig Mackintosh of Celsias who has been following the story with great care. Colony Collapse Disorder - a Moment for Reflection?:
And, again, when considering the plight of the bee - let’s remove our blinders, and look around a little more. How are other creatures (some of them also pollinators, like butterflies and birds) being affected by our pesticides, our mechanisation, and our specialist systems? We focus on the honeybee only because of its direct and immediate threat to our livelihoods, and indeed our food supply - but, there’s a whole other world out there that’s suffering under our (mis)management. We’re just not paying attention.

--
If enough spokes in a wheel get bent or broken, the wheel will eventually collapse (there’s that word again). From appearances, at the moment, the livelihoods of beekeepers, farmers and agricultural industries are the immediate concern (estimates of 14 billion dollars worth of agricultural produce is at risk in the U.S. alone), but even this will become inconsequential if this problem progresses into a kind of biological meltdown. Insects, plants and animals, are all interdependent, and we rely on them (despite popular belief, and contrary to the PR broadcasts of the chemical companies). If pollinators are indicators of the health of our environment - our current canary-in-the-cage, so to speak - then isn’t it time we moved to safety?
Bee Colony Collapse Disorder - Where is it Heading?:
Here is an update to the brief bee story we did a few weeks ago. I’ve been keeping an eye on the Colony Collapse Disorder phenomenon that is causing a lot of furrowed brows in the U.S., as this may well become the biggest issue of 2007.

Things are getting dire on the U.S. agricultural front, and there are similar reports beginning to filter through from countries in Europe.
--


Huge monocrop farming systems and specialisations, and the spread of suburbia across natural habitat, are removing natural diversity. Bees have been lumped together in the millions, in a factory farm type environment not so unlike that of our chickens and other livestock animals. Many of these bees are transported across several states to perform pollinations in orchards and farms around the country. Today they are in contact with substances they shouldn’t have to deal with - pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, and pollen from genetically modified crops. Researchers are scrambling to find answers, and as the spring season is upon us, time is running out.

Honey bees, which are not native to the U.S. incidentally (they were imported for crop pollination), are tasked with the pollination of approximately one third of all U.S. crops.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Climate Change Round-up

I suppose it is a good sign that I'm having a hard time keeping up with all of the recent media coverage of climate change. I would like to point out though that while the coverage is now consistent via the web I'm not seeing it nearly as much on the television. I don't watch much but when I do flip on the TV and CNN I'm much more likely to see discussion of stupid, irrelevant celebrity gossip than I am discussion of climate change. That's just plain fucked up. Until the corporate media stop the daily bullshit coverage of Anna Nicole's baby's daddy and replace it with daily discussion of peak oil, climate change, and sustainable development they are as much a part of the problem as they have always been.

Summary of the latest installment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report: Climate Change 2007: Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability [PDF - 547KB]

Billions face climate change risk:
Billions face climate change risk

The impact of climate change has been a major source of dispute
Billions of people face shortages of food and water and increased risk of flooding, experts at a major climate change conference have warned.


Damage already done for some natural wonders
BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- While governments grapple with the politics of global warming, some of the world's greatest treasures already are being damaged and threatened with destruction.

Conservationists have drawn up priorities for action to salvage some of nature's wonders that are feeling the heat of climate change -- from the Himalayan glaciers to the Amazon rain forests and the unique ecosystem of the Mexican desert.

Many of the regions at risk were singled out in a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an authoritative body of 2,500 scientists. The report is undergoing governmental review at a five-day conference in Brussels.

On Thursday, diplomats and scientists were negotiating the text of a 21-page summary of the full 1,572-page scientific report. It projects specific consequences for each degree of rising global temperatures, which the IPCC agrees is largely caused by human activity.

On the sidelines of the conference, the World Wildlife Fund for Nature issued a list of 10 regions suffering irreversible damage from climate change. The group also listed where it has projects to limit further damage or help people adapt to new conditions.

"What we are talking about are the faces of the impacts of climate change," said Lara Hansen, WWF's chief scientist on climate issues.

The WWF is among the largest of many nongovernment organizations to take up the challenge of climate change.

The Nature Conservancy, based in Arlington, Virginia, is another. It has projects to protect coral reefs off Florida, in the coral triangle of Indonesia and in Papua New Guinea. It also is trying to preserve native alpine meadows in China and conserve vegetation in California's Sierra Nevada mountains.

Though climate change has been discussed for decades, Hansen said the effects were now becoming visible. "It's only in the past decade that we can go outside and see for ourselves what's happening," she told The Associated Press.

Some damage is reversible, Hansen said. Although melted glaciers cannot be restored, some coral reefs can recover.

But as natural landmarks deteriorate, she said more attention will have to be paid to adapting to change, not only trying to prevent it, and not enough experts are being trained to help people acclimatize.

"There's a massive void ahead of us in getting new people," she said.



U.N.: Warming ruining society, nature:
Top climate experts warned on Friday that global warming will cause faster and wider damage than previously forecast, ranging from hunger in Africa and Asia to extinctions and rising ocean levels.


Study: Climate change could bring new U.S. Dust Bowl
Changing climate will mean increasing drought in the southwestern United States, where water already is in short supply, according to a new study.

"The bottom line message for the average person and also for the states and federal government is that they'd better start planning for a Southwest region in which the water resources are increasingly stretched," said Richard Seager of Columbia University's Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory.

Seager is lead author of the study published online Thursday by the journal Science.

Researchers studied 19 computer models of the climate, using data dating back to 1860 and projecting into the future. The same models were used in preparing the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The consensus of the models was that climate in the southwestern United States and parts of northern Mexico began a transition to drier conditions late in the 20th century and is continuing the trend in this century, as climate change alters the movement of storms and moisture in the atmosphere.

The reduction in rainfall could reach levels of the 1930s Dust Bowl that ranged throughout the Midwestern United States, Seager said in a telephone interview.


Arctic lost part of its perennial sea ice in 2005: NASA
Global warming may already be having an effect on the Arctic which in 2005 only replaced a little of the thick sea ice it loses and usually replenishes annually, a NASA study said Tuesday.

Scientists from the US space agency used satellite images to analyze six annual cycles of Arctic sea ice from 2000 to 2006.

Sea ice is essential to maintaining and stabilizing the Arctic's ice cover during its warmer summer months.

But "recent studies indicate Arctic perennial ice is declining seven to 10 percent each decade," said Ron Kwok from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

"Our study gives the first reliable estimates of how perennial ice replenishment varies each year at the end of the summer.

"The amount of first-year ice that survives the summer directly influences how thick the ice cover will be at the start of the next melt season."

The team observed that only 4.0 percent, about 2.5 million square kilometers (965,000 square miles) of thin ice survived the 2005 summer melt to replenish the perennial cover.

It was the weakest ice cover since 2000, and so there was 14 percent less permanent ice cover in January 2006 than in the corresponding period the year before.

"The winters and summers before fall 2005 were unusually warm," Kwok said. "The low replenishment seen in 2005 is potentially a cumulative effect of these trends.

"If the correlations between replenishment area and numbers of freezing and melting temperature days hold long-term, it is expected the perennial ice coverage will continue to decline."

Records dating back to 1958 have shown a gradual warming of Arctic temperatures which speeded up in the 1980s.

"Our study suggests that on average the area of seasonal ice that survives the summer may no longer be large enough to sustain a stable, perennial ice cover, especially in the face of accelerating climate warming and Arctic sea ice thinning," Kwok added.
Scientists say Antarctic ice sheet is thinning
A Texas-sized piece of the Antarctic ice sheet is thinning, possibly due to global warming, and could cause the world's oceans to rise significantly, polar ice experts said on Wednesday.

They said "surprisingly rapid changes" were occurring in Antarctica's Amundsen Sea Embayment, which faces the southern Pacific Ocean, but that more study was needed to know how fast it was melting and how much it could cause the sea level to rise.

The warning came in a joint statement issued at the end of a conference of U.S. and European polar ice experts at the University of Texas in Austin.

The scientists blamed the melting ice on changing winds around Antarctica that they said were causing warmer waters to flow beneath ice shelves.

The wind change, they said, appeared to be the result of several factors, including global warming, ozone depletion in the atmosphere and natural variability.

The thinning in the two-mile-(3.2-km)- thick ice shelf is being observed mostly from satellites, but it is not known how much ice has been lost because data is difficult to obtain on the remote ice shelves, they said.

Study is focusing on the Amundsen Sea Embayment because it has been melting quickly and holds enough water to raise world sea levels six meters, or close to 20 feet, the scientists said.


Antarctic Glaciers' Sloughing Of Ice Has Scientists at a Loss
Some of the largest glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland are moving in unusual ways and are losing increased amounts of ice to the sea, researchers said yesterday.

--
Complicating the situation for those studying Antarctica, some parts of the continent are gaining ice depth through snowfall while temperatures on the tip of the Antarctic peninsula, the continent's closest point to South America, are rising faster than almost anywhere else on the planet. The surprisingly fast-moving glaciers are largely on the West Antarctic ice sheet.

Wingham, of University College London, and Andrew Shepherd of the University of Edinburgh said satellite radar readings show that overall, each year the ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica amounts to about 10 percent of the rise in the global sea level, which totals about one-tenth of an inch per year. The net loss of Antarctic ice is estimated to be 25 billion metric tons a year, despite the growth of the ice sheet in East Antarctica.

Because such a large percentage of the world's ice is found in those two locations, scientists are carefully watching for signs of increased ice loss. If that process accelerates, researchers say, it could result in a substantial, and highly disruptive, increase in sea levels worldwide.

In Greenland, glaciers appear to be moving more quickly to sea because melting ice has allowed the sheet to slide more easily over the rock and dirt below. In Antarctica, the loss is believed to be associated with the breaking off into seawater of ice deep under the ice sheet with little-understood internal dynamics that put increased pressure on the massive ice streams.


Southern Ocean current faces slowdown threat
The impact of global warming on the vast Southern Ocean around Antarctica is starting to pose a threat to ocean currents that distribute heat around the world, Australian scientists say, citing new deep-water data.

Melting ice-sheets and glaciers in Antarctica are releasing fresh water, interfering with the formation of dense "bottom water," which sinks 4-5 kilometers to the ocean floor and helps drive the world's ocean circulation system.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Gray Tree Frog

I'm not a frog or a frog expert but I can't help but think that these little critters are not too happy with the cold weather that continues to linger. After a week with lows in the 20s we're now having lows in the 30s which is warmer but still cold for spring.

I hope spring returns soon.


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Monday, April 09, 2007

John McCain's Iraq Delusions

It's been awhile since I posted about Iraq. I just have to ask, is the situation in Iraq really getting better? Is it? Have a look at the first 4 months of 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007:

Or, put another way:



Yeah, I know it is a simplistic analysis, just one aspect of the whole. So I suppose McCain has decided to throw in with the rest of the nest of lying White House war criminals.


I've estimated April 07 based on the first 9 days. Source of Data: Iraq Coalition Casualty Count

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Fly Away

It's been five days now since winter decided to return with lows near 20 and highs just above 40. I took this photo last Monday just before the cold set in.

I've kept my little veggie garden covered every night and it looks like most things have survived. Looking around the larger garden of wild natives and most things have survived but many do appear to have suffered a good bit of damage. Will be interesting to see how these damaged plants recover as spring returns. I'm also wondering about the frog and salamander eggs in our little pond which had a thin layer of ice a couple of mornings.

I'm looking forward to this week as the weather is supposed to warm a bit back towards "normal" but I cannot help but think that with climate change we can expect that normal is now a thing of the past.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Climate Change Roundup

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will be issuing another installment of its 4 part series of reports on Friday, April 6, 2007. It seems that with each day the mainstream media continues to report on climate change which I'm happy to see. More reporting means an increased awareness and in theory that means more people that will change the way they live their lives. If we don't we're fucked and it's as simple as that.

Via Yahoo/AP Panel: Warming will end some species
From the micro to the macro, from plankton in the oceans to polar bears in the far north and seals in the far south, global warming has begun changing life on Earth, international scientists will report next Friday.

"Changes in climate are now affecting physical and biological systems on every continent," says a draft obtained by The Associated Press of a report on warming's impacts, to be issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the authoritative U.N. network of 2,000 scientists and more than 100 governments.

In February the panel declared it "very likely" most global warming has been caused by manmade emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Animal and plant life in the Arctic and Antarctic is undergoing substantial change, scientists say. Rising sea levels elsewhere are damaging coastal wetlands. Warmer waters are bleaching and killing coral reefs, pushing marine species toward the poles, reducing fish populations in African lakes, research finds.

"Hundreds of species have already changed their ranges, and ecosystems are being disrupted," said University of Michigan ecologist Rosina Bierbaum, former head of the U.S. IPCC delegation. "It is clear that a number of species are going to be lost."

The IPCC draft estimates that if temperatures rise approximately 2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit more, one-third of species will be lost from their current range, either moved elsewhere or vanished.



CNN and the AP report on Draft of climate report maps out 'highway to extinction'
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A key element of the second major report on climate change being released Friday in Belgium is a chart that maps out the effects of global warming, most of them bad, with every degree of temperature rise.

--

However, the number of species going extinct rises with the heat, as does the number of people who may starve, or face water shortages, or floods, according to the projections in the draft report obtained by The Associated Press

Some scientists are calling this degree-by-degree projection a "highway to extinction."

It's likely to be the source of sharp closed-door debate, some scientists say, along with a multitude of other issues in the 20-chapter draft report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. While the wording in the draft is almost guaranteed to change at this week's meeting in Brussels, several scientists say the focus won't.

The final document will be the product of a United Nations network of 2,000 scientists as authors and reviewers, along with representatives of more than 120 governments as last-minute editors. It will be the second volume of a four-volume authoritative assessment of Earth's climate being released this year. The last such effort was in 2001. (Volume 1: Humans 'very likely' cause warming)

Andrew Weaver, a climate scientist with the University of Victoria in British Columbia, said the chart of results from various temperature levels is "a highway to extinction, but on this highway there are many turnoffs. This is showing you where the road is heading. The road is heading toward extinction."




From the Guardian Unlimited, World breaks temperature records:
The world experienced its warmest period on record during this year's northern hemisphere winter, the US government said today.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report said the globally averaged combined land and sea surface temperature for December to February was the highest since records began in 1880.

During the three-month period, known as boreal winter, temperatures were above average worldwide, with the exception of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and areas in central United States.


Michael Byrnes reports for Reuters Antarctic melting may be speeding up
HOBART (Reuters) - Rising sea levels and melting polar ice-sheets are at upper limits of projections, leaving some human population centers already unable to cope, top world scientists say as they analyze latest satellite data.

A United Nations report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in February projected sea level gains of 18-59 centimeters (7-23 inches) this century from temperature rises of 1.8-4.0 Celsius (3.2-7.8 Fahrenheit).

"Observations are in the very upper edge of the projections," leading Australian marine scientist John Church told Reuters.

"I feel that we're getting uncomfortably close to threshold," said Church, of Australia's CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research said.

Past this level, parts of the Antarctic and Greenland would approach a virtually irreversible melting that would produce sea level rises of meters, he said.

There has been no repeat in the Antarctic of the 2002 break-up of part of the Larsen ice shelf that created a 500 billion ton iceberg as big as Luxembourg.

But the Antarctic Peninsula is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth, and glaciers are in massive retreat



Back to CNN/APReport outlines global warming's effects
The harmful effects of global warming on daily life are already showing up, and within a couple of decades hundreds of millions of people won't have enough water, top scientists will say next month at a meeting in Belgium.

At the same time, tens of millions of others will be flooded out of their homes each year as the Earth reels from rising temperatures and sea levels, according to portions of a draft of an international scientific report obtained by The Associated Press.

Tropical diseases like malaria will spread. By 2050, polar bears will mostly be found in zoos, their habitats gone. Pests like fire ants will thrive.

For a time, food will be plentiful because of the longer growing season in northern regions. But by 2080, hundreds of millions of people could face starvation, according to the report, which is still being revised.

The draft document by the authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change focuses on global warming's effects and is the second in a series of four being issued this year. Written and reviewed by more than 1,000 scientists from dozens of countries, it still must be edited by government officials.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bloodroot

Ah yes, my favorite wildflower bloomed today. They are often hard to catch because the bloom comes and goes so quickly. In the wild I have gotten lucky a couple times. Last year I transplanted a couple from our family land to a little fern and moss shade garden on the north side of our house. They have done very well there and have multiplied quite a bit. Nice to know that I won't have a problem seeing them in bloom anymore!


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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Sea Level Rise Could Accelerate

Not at all surprising for those of us paying attention, the situation "might be worse than earlier thought." In a story by Michael Byrnes, Planet Ark reports that Sea Level Rise Could Accelerate:
Data from satellites is showing that sea-level rises and polar ice-melting might be worse than earlier thought, a leading oceanographer said on Monday.

Sea levels, rising at 1 millimetre a year before the industrial revolution, are now rising by 3 millimetres a year because of a combination of global warming, polar ice-melting and long natural cycles of sea level change.

"All indications are that it's going to get faster," said Eric Lindstrom, head of oceanography at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), told Reuters on the sidelines of a global oceans conference in Hobart.

Rapid advances in science in the past five years on polar ice-sheet dynamics had yet to filter through into scientific models, Lindstrom said.

He also pointed to huge splits in Antarctic ice shelves in 2002, then seen as once-in-100-year events that created icebergs bigger than some small countries.

The mega icebergs were first thought not to affect global sea levels because the ice broke off from shelves already floating on the surface of the ocean.

But the disintegration of ice shelves that had blocked the flow of ice from the Antarctic continent could allow sudden flows by glaciers into the ocean, raising sea-levels.

"What we're learning is that ice isn't slow. Things can happen fast," Lindstrom said.

"If the (polar) ice sheets really get involved, then we're talking tens of metres of sea level -- that could really start to swamp low-lying countries," he said.

A report by the UN climate panel released last month cited six models with core projections of sea level rises ranging from 28 to 43 cms (11.0-16.9 inches) by 2100.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change also said temperatures were likely to rise by 2-4.5 Celsius (3.6-8.1 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels if carbon dioxide concentrations are kept at 550 parts per million in the atmosphere, against about 380 now. The "best estimate" for the rise is about 3C (5.4F).

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Arctic could have iceless summers by 2100

Writing for the Los Angeles Times, Alan Zarembo reports that the Arctic could have iceless summers by 2100:

Climate models show a complete melting down to open ocean in warmer weather, maybe as early as 2040.

A review of existing computer climate models suggests that global warming could transform the North Pole into an ice-free expanse of ocean at the end of each summer by 2100, scientists reported today.

The researchers said that out of the 15 models they looked at, about half forecast that the sea-ice cover — a continent-sized expanse that shrinks and grows with the seasons — would seasonally vanish by the turn of the century.

"That may be conservative," said lead author Mark Serreze, a senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo.

One model predicted the Arctic would be ice-free each September as early as 2040, according to the article in the journal Science.

The remaining models showed the presence of some ice beyond 2100, although they agreed there would be significant ice loss if greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow at the current rate.

The computer models were included in a landmark United Nations report last month that blamed human activities for the "runaway train" of global warming.

The disappearance of the ice would lead to a dramatic reshaping of the Arctic that would accelerate warming of the oceans and potentially change precipitation patterns worldwide.

The Arctic's end-of-summer ice expanses already have been declining by about 9% each decade since the 1970s.

It is possible to see the difference from an airplane heading north from Alaska. "You have to fly a lot longer to get to the ice edge than you used to," said Josefino Comiso, a satellite imaging expert at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center who was not connected to the report.

He and other experts believe the melting will accelerate as more ice disappears and exposes the open ocean, which absorbs heat and melts more ice from below.

"With less and less ice, you have more and more heat," eventually contributing to further warming around the globe, Comiso said.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

One day a tomato

Ah yes, my first vegetable garden since moving back to Missouri! I planted a couple tomatoes and lots of basil last year but they were in pots. It was a bit of an experiment to see if the the deer would let them survive. This year I dug a small bed and have planted cold crops: broccoli, beets, radishes, lettuce, carrots, spinach, and swiss chard. Inside I've started tomatoes and peppers. If all goes well perhaps I'll expand the bed a bit next year. I've also got lots of native perennials so I may try interplanting a few veggies and herbs as an experiment.


My sister and her family have also put in a garden for a second year in a row so that's exciting.




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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Northern Spring Peeper

Heard outside my window tonight, the Northern Spring Peeper! From the Missouri Department of Conservation, Missouri's Toads and Frogs:
Northern Spring Peeper (Hyla crucifer crucifer)

A small, pinkish, gray or light tan treefrog with a dark x-mark on the back. This species has reduces adhesive toe pads, and spends most of the time on the forest floor or in low shrubbery. Spring peepers average from 3/4 to 1 1/4 inches (19 to 32 mm) in body length. This is a woodland species, living near ponds, streams or swamps where there is thick undergrowth. Spring peepers are active from early spring to late fall, but breed early. Their voices are a true announcement of spring. Small, fishless woodland ponds are required by this amphibian. Their high-pitched, peeping call can be heard on warm spring nights and also during the day in early summer and fall.

It's too dark to take a photo so I recorded the cute bird-like chirp: Listen


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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Tree Bud

I wrote a couple weeks ago about getting a new camera. Since then I've had lots of fun with it. I'm mostly interested in various forms of nature photography: landscape, wildlife, macro so I'll be much happier once spring arrives. Thats not to say that there aren't things to photograph in the winter, just that it is much more of a challenge. I've gotten a few good bird shots (we have a feeder just outside our office window) and I've just purchased a macro lens so I'm ready for the flowers and insects! Spent a few hours today trying it out, here's one of a tree bud. I've never actually had a dedicated macro lens even though that's probably my main interest.

My most recent 200 photos are on my Flickr page. For the older stuff I used Apple's iWeb to set up a more complete photo archive.

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Honeybees Vanishing

Last July I noticed that there were far fewer butterflies in my garden than in previous years. If there is indeed a drop in the butterfly population it won't be to surprising that other insects might also be having problems. Whether it is climate change, the increasing use of genetically modified crops, toxics in the environment or a combination of causes, it seems obvious that these massive drops of insect populations is not good. Not good for them and if we want to continue eating food, not good for us. I think most people forget that food production requires large, healthy insect populations. We take so many things for granted, we assume so much and that's a mistake. Back to the bees, The New York Times reports on the vanishing honeybees:
VISALIA, Calif., Feb. 23 — David Bradshaw has endured countless stings during his life as a beekeeper, but he got the shock of his career when he opened his boxes last month and found half of his 100 million bees missing.

In 24 states throughout the country, beekeepers have gone through similar shocks as their bees have been disappearing inexplicably at an alarming rate, threatening not only their livelihoods but also the production of numerous crops, including California almonds, one of the nation’s most profitable.

“I have never seen anything like it,” Mr. Bradshaw, 50, said from an almond orchard here beginning to bloom. “Box after box after box are just empty. There’s nobody home.”

The sudden mysterious losses are highlighting the critical link that honeybees play in the long chain that gets fruit and vegetables to supermarkets and dinner tables across the country.

Beekeepers have fought regional bee crises before, but this is the first national affliction.

Now, in a mystery worthy of Agatha Christie, bees are flying off in search of pollen and nectar and simply never returning to their colonies. And nobody knows why. Researchers say the bees are presumably dying in the fields, perhaps becoming exhausted or simply disoriented and eventually falling victim to the cold.

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The fish are dying

This is frightenenig: Massive fish dieoffs.
Tens of thousands of fish have been found in California, Oregon, Washington State, Pennsylvania, and the Potomac etc. Looking further, I found that this is happening world wide, from Romania to China! Combine these massive die-offs with thousands of dead whales, sea turtles, porpoises, birds, honey bees, and butterflies.well, it's not hard to reason that the planet is dying. These massive deaths appear to be reported only locally and never making it to the national scene or an all out alarm by the EPA or environmental (corporate sponsored) groups?

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Winter Sunset

After five years my Nikon CoolPix has finally called it quits. I've wanted a digital slr for a long while but put it off many times. Most of my photos from the past year were taken with a GL2 which is not bad for a video camera. Thanks to the GL2 zoom I've been able to get some decent bird photos. Still, it's a video camera and it shows. All this to say that I finally bought a dslr (a Canon Rebel XT and it rocks.) First slr I've had in 13 years and I'm remembering how much better it is to have complete control. So, here's one of my first photos.

I should have a zoom lens at my front door tomorrow... much better for bird and critter photos!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Climate change and the meat industry

With the exception of a handful of catfish I've been a vegetarian since 1989 but it's never been a focus of my activism. I think factory farming is a terrible thing for animals and the environment. I also think a meat centered diet is not healthy for humans. That's my reasoning and it still stands. However, in the future I think I'm likely to be a bit more vocal about the climate change/energy conservation benefits of a vegetarian diet or at least a diet free of feed-farmed cows, pigs, and chickens. Of course most meat eaters I know act as though meat is an absolute requirement for their continued survival and would throw themselves on on the floor crying at the thought of giving up meat. It's not a survival thing, it's a desire thing. They simply want to eat meat because it tastes good to them which is to say, it is a luxury not a need. I'll post this anyway but generally these kinds of people just don't care regardless of what information is placed in front of them. What they want is what is most important. The folks at Celsias have an excellent post regarding the meat industry and the environmental consequences:
This might hurt a little, but it’s for your own good. Put something between your teeth, bite hard, and watch (please, not for children - parental discretion advised):

What the Meat Industry Doesn’t Want you to See

Okay, still with me? Sorry to do that to you - but, hey, you’d rather know wouldn’t you?

Why am I sharing this? Aside from the horrific acts of cruelty, we need to realise the environment just can’t take this abuse any more (either). If you didn’t catch the recent release of the United Nation’s ‘Livestock’s Long Shadow’ report on the effect of our diet on the environment, please take a look. This information is, as mentioned, coming from the United Nations - not an animal rights lobby, or a sandal-wearing band of hippies.

A few concise facts from GoVeg.com:
Would you ever open your refrigerator, pull out 16 plates of pasta and toss them in the trash, and then eat just one plate of food? How about leveling 55 square feet of rain forest for a single meal or dumping 2,500 gallons of water down the drain? Of course you wouldn’t. But if you’re eating chicken, fish, turkey, pork, or beef, that’s what you’re doing—wasting resources and destroying our environment.

Animals raised for food expend the vast majority of the calories that they are fed simply existing, just as we do. We feed more than 70 percent of the grains and cereals we grow to farmed animals, and almost all of those calories go into simply keeping the animals alive, not making them grow. Only a small fraction of the calories consumed by farmed animals are actually converted into the meat that people eat.

Growing all the crops to feed farmed animals requires massive amounts of water and land—in fact, nearly half of the water and 80 percent of the agricultural land in the United States are used to raise animals for food. Our taste for meat is also taking a toll on our supply of fuel and other nonrenewable resources—about one-third of the raw materials used in America each year is consumed by the farmed animal industry.

Farmed animals produce about 130 times as much excrement as the entire human population of the United States, and since factory farms don’t have sewage treatment systems as our cities and towns do, this concentrated slop ends up polluting our water, destroying our topsoil, and contaminating our air. And meat-eaters are responsible for the production of 100 percent of this waste—about 86,000 pounds per second! Give up animal products, and you’ll be responsible for none of it.

Many leading environmental organizations, including the National Audubon Society, the WorldWatch Institute, the Sierra Club, and the Union of Concerned Scientists, have recognized that raising animals for food damages the environment more than just about anything else that we do. Whether it’s the overuse of resources, unchecked water or air pollution, or soil erosion, raising animals for food is wreaking havoc on the Earth. The most important step you can take to save the planet is to go vegetarian. - GoVeg.com

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Recreating society for the new tomorrow

Jim Kunstler of Clusterfuck Nation has written a great post on what needs to be done to move us in a sustainable direction. I could not agree more with his list which can be summed up as decentralization of everything. Social Ecologists and green anarchists have been saying this very thing for over three decades. We're going to need more deCleyre Co-ops in our cities and towns as we learn to live more simply and relearn new skills of self reliance. We're going to need to redevelop real communities that are inhabited by connected neighbors that produce and share the goods of everyday survival. The Agenda Restated:

Insofar as I just returned from a college lecture road trip, and heard the same carping all over again, I conclude that it's necessary for me to spell it all out a'fresh. I think of this not so much as a roster of "solutions" but as a set of reasonable responses to a new set of circumstances. (Not everything we try to do will succeed, that is, be a "solution.") So, for those of you who are tired of wringing your hands, who would like to do something useful, or focus your attention in a purposeful way, here it is.
Expand your view beyond the question of how we will run all the cars by means other than gasoline. This obsession with keeping the cars running at all costs could really prove fatal. It is especially unhelpful that so many self-proclaimed "greens" and political "progressives" are hung up on this monomaniacal theme. Get this: the cars are not part of the solution (whether they run on fossil fuels, vodka, used frymax™ oil, or cow shit). They are at the heart of the problem. And trying to salvage the entire Happy Motoring system by shifting it from gasoline to other fuels will only make things much worse. The bottom line of this is: start thinking beyond the car. We have to make other arrangements for virtually all the common activities of daily life.
We have to produce food differently. The ADM / Monsanto / Cargill model of industrial agribusiness is heading toward its Waterloo. As oil and gas deplete, we will be left with sterile soils and farming organized at an unworkable scale. Many lives will depend on our ability to fix this. Farming will soon return much closer to the center of American economic life. It will necessarily have to be done more locally, at a smaller-and-finer scale, and will require more human labor. The value-added activities associated with farming -- e.g. making products like cheese, wine, oils -- will also have to be done much more locally. This situation presents excellent business and vocational opportunities for America's young people (if they can unplug their Ipods long enough to pay attention.) It also presents huge problems in land-use reform. Not to mention the fact that the knowledge and skill for doing these things has to be painstakingly retrieved from the dumpster of history. Get busy.

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