Archive for March, 2009

Seamless transition?

March 22, 2009

If you think that industrial society will seamlessly transition from fossil fuels as they deplete to another, equally rich form of energy then try this essay by Richard Heinberg.

For the non-peak oilers amongst you, Heinberg is the author of several peak oil books, including The Party’s Over, Powerdown, The Oil Depletion Protocol and Peak Everything.

Even as Heinberg writes this stuff, he admits (elsewhere) that he doesn’t see humanity’s future as being all that rosy.

Neither do I. Consider this:

We knew right from the start of the fossil fuel age that fossil fuels were finite and non-renewable. Yet we went ahead anyway and built a whole way of life dependent on them.

We were told, over a hundred years ago (by the Swedish chemist Arrhenius), that if we continued to burn fossil fuels we would increase carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and heat the planet. Yet we went ahead and did it anyway.

I can’t believe that an organism that is so lacking in wisdom (and seemingly intelligence, but that’s another story) is going to turn things around in the short time available and follow Heinberg’s suggested scenario to move out of the mire and into an acceptable quality of life for all.

I’m preparing for turbulent times ahead.

Nourishing nettles

March 18, 2009


My nettle patch is making its annual comeback so it’s time to think about drying and soup-making. Nettles are rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly iron—42 mg per 100 g—more than red meat!

I dry nettles by simply picking the leaves (warning: wear gloves!) and laying them out on a sheet of paper or a drying screen. When they’re dry and brittle (and have lost their sting) I crush them with a rolling pin and rub them through a coarse sieve. I add a spoonful to anything I’m cooking—casseroles, soups, bread, omelettes. A great way to boost the iron content of a meal.

I made nettle soup for the first time last year and we really enjoyed it.

Here’s a recipe.

Back to reality

March 15, 2009

Full page article in today’s Sunday Age ‘How will Victoria’s Economy Fare?’ about the recession and how it will hit Victorians in general and four Victorians (cited) in particular.

I learned that a recession is ‘technically speaking, two quarters of negative growth’ and that a recovery ‘will not come until the rate of employment remains stable for at least nine months’.

In the context of Planet Earth, which may be considered wholly as a single functioning ecosystem and on which evolution has been occurring for 4 billion years or more and which may continue for at least that long again, this is nonsensical. Totally unreal concepts invented by an organism with the brain power to invent unreal concepts while continuing to ignore the reality of life on this planet.

So what is 4 million years of steady, but slow, growth, followed by 10,000 years of increasing growth, followed by 200 years of explosive, exponential growth, called?

Suggested answer: overshoot and collapse.

The Sunday Age apparently surveyed five respected economists for their opinions on The Recession.

Pity they didn’t survey five respected climate scientists for their opinions on climate change; or five respected petroleum geologists for their opinions on oil (read energy) decline; or five respected ecologists for their opinions on biodiversity loss.

I could write an angry letter but they wouldn’t print it. Can’t be allowed to scare the horses.

Oh, well. Back to self-sufficiency and reality.

Thumbing my nose at TPTB

March 8, 2009

Further to my previous post about water use.

If water rationing comes into force, I assume we’ll get an allocation of the stuff and be allowed to use it as we please.

Since I’m allowed to use approximately 3600 litres per week on the garden at the moment, I don’t see why I can’t put it into one of the small tanks (4500 litres) and use the water more effectively from there. I certainly wouldn’t use that much from the tank each week with the fine spray I’m using, even running it all day. I’d use less water overall and I’d use it more effectively.

I don’t have a lot of time for TPTB. I don’t need to tell you what I did, except that I suddenly have a lot more water in one of my tanks.

Anyway, it rained today and we got 10 mm. First time in over two months. So there.

Slightly later edit:

I decided I’d Google Target 155 (the name given to the water-saving campaign) and see what was being said.  So here’s the link.  Humpf. I don’t think much of their methods.  They admit daily water use figures are only an estimate. So they look at overall consumption. Subtract a figure for non-domestic use (a real ballpark figure that is). Divide by Melbourne’s population (does that include tiny new-born babes?…..such a lot of water they use). Divide by 7 days. Somebody knows how many days in a week! That’s about the only accurate calculation in there!

No, I’d like some accurate through-the-meter readings, please.

Water anomalies—are we being conned?

March 6, 2009

Stage 3a water restrictions are in place in Melbourne at the moment. This means we’re allowed to water the garden on two days per week, for two hours, from 6am to 8am, hand held hoses only, with a trigger nozzle. I’ve been watering the garden (food plants only, please note; no useless lawns or rose bushes) from the water tanks with a fine spray because the garden is on a slope and the soil is so compacted that water has to be put into it slowly. If I used the hose from the mains, much of the water would run off and be wasted.

The Powers That Be (TPTB) are telling us to try and keep our water use to 155 litres per person per day. You can’t do that if you have a garden and you water it as restrictions allow. I decided to try a little test. I read the meter and watered for 10 minutes with the pressure at a level I considered ‘normal’ for watering, then re-read the meter. 150 litres.

So, standing and watering for two hours, twice a week, I would use 150 x 6 x 2 x 2 = 3600 litres, which averages out to 514 litres per day. And that’s not including water used inside the house for drinking, cooking and washing. For our 2-person household that’s 257 per person per day, just in the garden, just to grow food. More than Target 155.

TPTB are also quoting consumption figures for Melbourne households on a daily basis and giving figures which are either at or slightly above the target 155. How do they know this? We all receive quarterly bills. Our meters are read every 3 months. Unless domestic and non-domestic supplies are on different systems (a doubling of the water delivery infrastructure which I doubt), and the daily figures for each are knowable, then the figures are being fudged and we’re being conned.

Why would they like us to think we can and are, using less? I think it’s because ultimately water rationing will come into being. Having conned us into believing that everyone can get by on 155 litres per day, that’s what we’ll be rationed to.

Say goodbye to growing food.