Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Why stimulus can’t fix our energy problems

July 11, 2019

via Why stimulus can’t fix our energy problems

Reblogged from Damn the Matrix

A Year of Deep Adaptation

July 8, 2019

Jem Bendell’s paper on Deep Adaptation is a year old and has been downloaded half a million times. It attempts to help people come to terms with the inevitable collapse of society— “the uneven ending of our current means of sustenance, shelter, security, pleasure, identity and meaning. Others may prefer the term societal breakdown when referring to the same process.”

Professor Jem Bendell

One year ago this month, our Institute at the University of Cumbria released my paper on Deep Adaptation to our climate tragedy. It has since been downloaded over half a million times, been translated into many languages, inspired Facebook groups (one with over 4000 people), many events, and been credited by commentators and activists as helping the Extinction Rebellion movement. Not bad for what one journalist suggested to me was a “career suicide note.” compendium

Over the past year I have sought to do what I could to channel the shock, anger, fear, despair, and passion of so many people who got in touch with me, into networks of solidarity, contemplation, inquiry and action. That has included the launch of the Deep Adaptation Forum for people who want to work through what this means for their day jobs – or whether to quit. I have also sought to…

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My new toy

June 28, 2019

As the owner of a bush block, I do a lot of burning off. When summer comes, bushfire is an ever-present worry, so keeping the bush free of fire fuel is a priority. A lot of pruning and raking of litter gets done on a regular basis throughout the year. I’ve always felt guilty about all that CO2 going back into the atmosphere when it should be sequestered in the soil and stored there.

Enter biochar. Some of you might have read about its value as a soil amendment and a means of keeping carbon in the soil. Here’s the Wikipedia entry on it. Making my own seemed like it wasn’t going to be easy, because of the need to burn material without oxygen to produce pure carbon and not CO2. So I gave the idea a miss.

Then I discovered you can actually buy a kiln in which to burn the material.

https://www.longleyorganicfarm.com.au/biochar-cone-kilns

I checked out the video at the site. It looked easy, so I took the plunge and ordered one. (Note: I wrote this draft a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t do any burning off to try the kiln, because it wouldn’t stop raining! When the weather finally dried up, I went back to the site to check out the video again and got a message saying it was unavailable. I’ve emailed the company to ask why, but if you can’t see it, there are plenty of still photos)

It came in a flat(ish) pack of four bent sections of heavy steel with a bag of nuts and bolts. It weighed a ton! I couldn’t lift the package! But all was OK; I opened it and put the panels one at a time into the wheelbarrow. It was obvious it was going to have to be put together at the final burning-off site.

I managed to do it without having to ask a neighbour for help (it’s awkward to deal with because it’s a cone, but I propped it against a tree).

Finally, I got to try it out.

Here’s the fire just about died down. I only managed to half fill it :

I added the water. A lot of steam….. :

…..and kept adding till the steam and the sizzling noise stopped :

It really is charcoal! It crumbles :

I’ll be using this as a soil additive in all the wicking boxes and tubs and the raised beds I’ve bought for more veggies.

Quite happy with my new toy!

Reality bites

April 25, 2019

This excellent piece from meteorologist Nick Humphrey says it all :

Our Faustian Bargain with the Universe is Up

This is long, but I waste no one’s time. I want to address some issues here as they’ve been stated on multiple groups I follow by commenters related to weather, climate change and the permanence of humanity. Particularly the idea that a) climatologists are the only credible scientists to deal with the problem and discussion of the problem; b) the credibility of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projections; c) how realistic the assessment is that humans face the likelihood of extinction as part of the ongoing 6th mass extinction already underway; d) the problem with the illness impacting our planet beyond just the changing climate.

1. Climate change is an interdisciplinary problem. Climate scientists are trained in various interconnections within the atmosphere-ocean-cryosphere systems…but they aren’t necessarily trained to understand biosphere impacts, societal impacts, or even all impacts on events in the real environment based on field work if they are more focused on modeling. Or real effects on extreme weather events. Such as the rapid collapse of sea ice and feedback mechanisms. Or the jet stream circulation or hurricanes. Marine biologists, conservation biologists, sociologists, political scientists, geologists, meteorologists, glaciologists, etc, really fill the gap where the climate scientists do not go because it simply isn’t their specialization or have the time to go in their research. I’m a meteorologist, not a climate scientist, but have some academic understanding of global climate and am doing interdisciplinary communication and focusing on extreme weather events and relationship to abrupt climate change.

2. While the IPCC does suggest there are paths to avoiding catastrophic climate change, the IPCC isn’t strictly a “scientific warehouse”.. It involves credible and well-seasoned scientists obviously, but also policymakers and governments who have varuous interests economically, politically and socially, as well as a desire to create a narrative with their populations. I feel like this should be common knowledge that even what the scientists put out (which is already overly conservative as the parties involved in the working groups must come to a consensus and it is based on research 5-10 yrs old), must be vetted by govt negotiators. This is actually one of the issues which tipped me off about how dire the situation was when the 5th assessment came out. Essentially making sure it’s not too dire or shows economic paths to success. Remember, the scientific consensus is already conservative and reality is much worse.

3. The paths laid out by the IPCC are based on the assumption that greenhouse gases can be removed from the atmosphere. Such tech does not exist to scale at this time for obvious regions of energy and land requirements. Paleoclimate records easily show that you aren’t going to simply stop global warming at +1.5-2 C by ending emissions (the current carbon dioxide equivalent concentration is 500 parts of million; 1700s concentration was ~275-280 ppm, even with other greenhouse gases). The 1.5 C report last autumn suggested another 0.6 C of warming was locked in based on recent emissions and we must be net zero carbon by 2050; but this is based purely on emissions from *humans*, removal of carbon on scales of hundreds of gigatons (basically removing what took plants tens of millions of years to sequester…bind as solid matter via plant growth…in *tens of years*…really? With what energy source…what land?) and fast feedback sensitivity. Water vapor…loss of sea ice and albedo…some effects from clouds…other feedbacks which are clearly showing an exponential behavior are simply neglected in models. Even the feedbacks which are easily seen and more quantifiable are accelerating much faster than expected.

4. Speaking of which…Permafrost is melting much faster than anticipated, methane is emitting at a higher rate than expected, nitrous oxide is emitting much faster than expected, sea ice is melting much faster than expected, alpine and polar glacial ice is melting much faster than expected, global forests are experiencing massive tree fatalities, globally acidification is accelerating, the ocean warming is accelerating faster than expected with extreme heat events increasing. The combination of thermal expansion and ice melt is causing a roughly 7 yr doubling time for sea level rise. And more.

5. Essentially, while “first-order” changes have been reasonably anticipated up until recently (carbon dioxide and fast feedback temperature response); however, the “2nd-order” effects of that warming…everything mentioned above and more are deteriorating much faster than modeled. But none of the IPCC projections include these accelerating 2nd-order effects. And these 2nd order changes are beginning to have profound feedback on the overall rate of the 1st-order changes (increasing the rate of global temperature rise) as well as causing their own more intense extremes not captured simply by looking at averages (massive Greenland surface melt in 2012, destabilizing jet stream circulation, weakening Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, extreme heat\drought in Europe in 2003 and 2018-19, decreasing forward speed and prolific rains of tropical cyclones, almost violent swings between polar opposite extremes in some places…extreme cold to extreme heat, extreme floods to extreme drought, etc). Much of these changes and trends are seen either in more detailed modeling or field research from the various disciplines. These changes threaten human civilization adaptability as well as those of other species.

6. One issue I find is consistently underplayed is the rate of change. Rising 2 C/3.6 F globally in a 1000 yrs is a big difference from rising 2 C in 250 yrs…most of which has occurred in just the past 30-40 yrs. Global land areas are experiencing temp anomalies of +1.6-2 C above preindustrial because of amplication of warming over land. Even worse in the Northern Hemisphere. The ability of ecosystems to adapt is stressed not by the different environmental conditions, but the rapid change and destabilization of the environmental conditions in what amounts to a blink of an eye.

7. Our global problems threatening our extinction and already causing global extinction are not just a climate change problem. It is an entropy and Jevon’s Paradox problem. The former from the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Entropy is the tendency for systems to evolve to disorder the more energy is transformed. More and more waste is being produced (greenhouse gases, plastics, industrial chemical, radiological, pharmaceutical, etc) which is literally turning the planet into a toxic soup, while forests, insects and large wildlife species are being annilhilated at accelerating rates. All in the name of “efficiency” of energy use, which ultimately accelerates consumption of resources (Jevon’s Paradox), but the energy efficiency is “local”, while the greater environmental system of Earth used to produce it is, as mentioned being flooded with useless waste, with the Earth “battery” being ground to dust. From the drive for more money (and worshipping those who take from so many, while those very people starve), to the dreams of electric cars, bigger buildings and artificial intelligence, to the desire to have the biggest, baddest militaries…there is a pathology of destruction which plagues so many humans on this planet. I am not immune to this…we are all complicit, some far more than others, but our increasingly raging planet does not know the difference. We all suffer.

On a personal note…I’ve been accused of being against advocating for “change”, being irresponsible for talking about dire impacts, being a member of a “doomer death cult” or asked “would you say that to the children of the world” as if they or me can do anything to change the outcome…and that’s just horrid things directed at me, not others I know.

No, I just know more than most and realize the full ghastliness of what we are facing in its totality and the humbling scale that most humans…who all strive…via their cars, cell phones, computers, internet, 4 to 5G services, planes and exotic vacations, buildings, or just their money…to arrogantly be gods over fellow humans and nature…in a universe governed by the laws of physics…have no appreciation for. Others are ignorant at the fault of those who wish them to be ignorant and stay in mental slavery and not demand accountability for their mistreatment and path to ruin. I live with this knowledge everyday and get on the hamster wheel like everyone else, raising my kid and making the most of life knowing our species will not last much longer, much like the others in the genus Homo.

I’m not an unhappy man (well most days) but I am a realist. I’ve made it my job to inform as many as possible who will listen or who wish to not be ignorant of what is happening to our once beautiful planet. We face the end of the reign of humans, many who are completely unwillfully ignorant and far less complicit on this path we are on, all while many other species are and will fall with us. We are perhaps special in that we are life in a Universe where complex life may be rare. But we were never so special so as to be immortal from its governing laws. The reality is that we did not appreciate those laws and now we have to pay our debt in the Faustian Bargain in the most unfair means possible.

-Meteorologist Nick Humphrey

Sustainable living on steroids

September 29, 2018

I just came across this hugely comprehensive website called Low Impact

I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface yet, but have (not unnaturally 🙂 ) started off with the ‘food’ section.

This is going to keep me going for weeks!

Have a look!

Wildwood tea

September 19, 2018

I used to be a regular tea drinker then went off it in favour of coffee. Sometimes though, I get sick of coffee and make a tea from herbs I’ve dried from the garden, usually single ingredients—sage, rosemary, lemon balm or (even more lemony) lemon verbena. (Note: sage tea with a spoonful of honey is great for a sore throat. Just sip and let it trickle down.)

I’m sharing this post on making wildwood tea from the excellent Milkwood Permaculture site. It’s something I’m going to have a go at. A variety of ingredients and flavours will be more interesting than just one:

Wildwood tea—your place in a teapot

 

 

A walk around the spring garden

September 13, 2018

Just photos.

Grevillea Clearview David

Grevillea rosmarinifolia green form

Borage

Dwarf Nectarine

Quince

Satsuma Plum

Nasturtium

Calendula

Dwarf peach

Rosemary Tuscan Blue

Philotheca myoporoides

Nutmeg Pelargonium

Mizuna

Epacris impressa pink form

Epacris impressa white form

Bossiaea cinerea

Leucopogon ericoides

Acacia brownei

Boronia muelleri

Acacia paradoxa

Tetratheca thymifolia

Eriostemon australasius

Hypocalymma angustifolium

Ziera sp.

Boronia polygalifolia

 

Sunday morning blues

July 8, 2018

Another 12 mm of rain overnight to add to the 13 mm on Saturday.

After being trapped inside all day Saturday by rain, I thought I’d better try and get some work done. I cleaned out the chook coop and put fresh straw on the floor. I took the bucket of poo+straw down to the compost tumbler.

Crack…thump. I was only 20 metres away when it went down :

I knew it would go eventually, of course. It was leaning too far to not go. Wet soil….centre of gravity too far to one side….roots won’t hold.

Why, oh why, do they always fall across a path? Two paths this time—the main one to the rear of the property, in front of the pools and a minor one behind the pools.

Just as well there weren’t any neighbours around to hear the stream of 4-letter words.

More work!!!! All the branches have to be removed first, then the trunk. I think I’ll be able to clear the main path by myself—it’s only branches there—but not the trunk across the rear path; it’s too big for my little battery-operated chainsaw. About half of the branches are sitting in the first of the 3 pools. It’s the shallowest one, but it’s going to be a gumboot job to clear it.

Life on a bush block is never boring!

June update…..brrr!

July 7, 2018

We had a really cold, wet start to winter this year. It was disconcerting to be reading about wildfires in California and the English moorlands, while shivering inside 3 layers of clothes, a scarf and gloves in Melbourne.

So far this season, I’ve found only 2 edible mushrooms. By the time the seriously rainy weather started to moisten the soil, the ground was too cold and any sort of fungi, let alone edible ones, were not wanting to show themselves :

I ate the small one and because the large one was a bit on the over-ripe side, I decided to try an experiment with it, to see if I could inoculate some soil with the spores and get them to grow in a pot.

I put the mushroom gills side down on a piece of white paper. As I’d hoped, plenty of spores dropped out :

What I’m going to do now is put some commercial mushroom compost in a pot, cut out the circle of spores on the paper and place it on the top of the pot, then cover with a thin layer of peat moss and leave the pot in a sheltered spot open to the elements. I’m hoping the spores will germinate (or whatever it is that mushroom spores do to begin growing), and I’ll eventually get a crop of mushrooms in the pot. This is after all what you do when you buy one of those mushroom farms in a polystyrene box. You get a bag of compost stuff which you spread in the bottom of the box, and a bag of peat moss inoculated with mushroom spores which you spread over the top and keep moist. Worth trying anyway.

I took a trip to the local nursery which sells bare-rooted fruit trees and bought some more for the food forest. I got another Stella cherry, an Anzac peach, another Satsuma plum, a Tilton apricot and another dwarf nectarine (that makes 3 of those I have now) :

I’m sold on these dwarf varieties like the nectarines (last year I put in a dwarf pear). It’s much easier to get a net over them to keep the birds and possums off. When I put in fruit trees at first, I just let them grow and do their thing. They grew too big to net and everyone but me got the fruit. So I’ve had to resort to pruning them back really hard, which doesn’t make for a particularly attractive tree (large truncated branches, with smaller growths sticking out everywhere). It’s much better to continually prune and keep the whole thing small and the branches in proportion, so I aim to do that with all these new trees that aren’t dwarf forms.

The turmeric died back and I harvested the tubers. Two plants were in pots and one in one of the baths. I was really happy with the yields :

Here’s what they looked like separated into tubers and scrubbed up :

Some of these will be replanted for next season. I’ll slice the rest, dry them in the dehydrator and grind them into powder in the Thermomix.

The new planter box I installed last year has been filled with weeds and prunings and other compostable stuff and might be ready to plant this spring :

I’ve been jumping up and down on the contents trying to compress them as much as possible and adding the liquid from the composting toilet to help with the composting process and increase the nitrogen content. I’ll buy a few bags of mushroom compost to spread over the top and try some planting this spring. Maybe cucumbers—the rabbits won’t touch those. The box is low enough for them to jump into, so eventually I’ll have to put a ring of wire around the inner edge. There was no point in buying a taller box, because of the extra cost and it will only be used for shallow-rooted veggies. Filling it would have taken longer, too.

We had 73 mm of rain for the month, compared with Melbourne’s average of 43 mm. It’s been cold and wet and not conducive to working outside, but the winter solstice has passed and the days are getting longer. And the asparagus will be up soon.

Time to get out the seed box and plan for the summer crops!

Watching asparagus grow

June 30, 2018

I just found a new blog which I want to share. It’s so nice to find there are people out there who think and feel as I do :

In Transition: exactly where I should be.