Wednesday
Apr282010

Or design to not adapt: Oil Spill #472, to be followed by #473

Step 1: at great expense, locate ancient energy reserves deep within the earth's crust. 

Step 2: at great expense, develop and deploy tools to access these reserves.

Step 3: ignore energy free-floating on the accessible surface of the earth: wind, tides, sunshine. 

Step 4: when catastrophes occur don't change course, only the regulations and/or rhetoric.  Ensure that efforts toward disaster prevention are tiny relative to all other efforts, including publicity.

http://www.bizjournals.com/houston/stories/2010/04/26/daily22.html

Or it could be approached it like:

Friday
Apr162010

Northern Japan: Analogue for Vermont


Northern (read zone 4) Japan.
Imagine Vermont terraced...  (which may be the same thing as visualizing a livable society here in 100, 500, 1000 years).

Friday
Apr162010

Rice Paddy Establishment

First year rice paddy establishment at what is likely the coldest climate on Earth in which rice is being seriously researched.

This video shows stripped topsoil from the site being put back into the paddy before the 1200-1500 seed starts are transplanted into it in May.  It's interesting to see a high nutrient (ducks will fertilize the water input to the paddies), low flow system next to an aquaculture pond -they stay separate and no silt-laden water from the paddies ever leaves the land - it fertigates via gravity fed to tree and berry crops in the field below.  The water storage capacity of each paddy makes it apparent how much more intense flooding in monsoonal Asia would be if the landscapes did not contain massive amounts of paddies.  (They serve like wetlands for hilly lands).

http://sharing.theflip.com/session/ad4a2d02cdbd2909bf3c9b8274822a72/video/12817395

Oil to soil: we can't eat petroleum but we can eat for thousands of years off of the infrastructure we can make with it.
Nothing new of course, but such infrastructure used to take decades, centuries and slaves.  Now it takes less oil than a few commutes for many of us.  I figure about 20 gallons of diesel can power enough swale-mound and terrace earthworks for the typical small farm or homestead to capture, store and infiltrate 90%+ of the stormwater landing on site during the growing season, while greatly building soil and increasing food yields from the system in the process.

Cheers to spring and this nice space between ice ages...

Friday
Apr162010

Miners Die in West VA: Disaster by Design, What's the Surprise Here?

The recent mining deaths in West Virginia - tragic, every one of their lives, indeed.  A catastrophe for their families and communities.  But where's the context of this story in the press.  Coal mining kills hundreds (officially), probably thousands directly each year at the mine operations.  How many more die from vaporizing earth's crust into the atmosphere?  Coal mining is disaster by design, it's that simple.  A couple of dozen of guys dying in a mine in Appalachia is tiny fragment of the catastrophe that is the fossil fuel powered industrial base of America and the modern world.  Could we live well on safer energy sources?  Sure, let's at least try and see.  How many died in a wind energy related accident last year?  I am not sure that there was one documented case.  How many solar panels killed people in 2009? 

Monday
Mar222010

Did Climate Change Drive Human Evolution?

Makes sense of course, and it's the focus of a new Smithsonian exhibit.
As we design ways to adapt to current challenges we may remember how perennial this challenge has likely been.
NPR Climate Story