Skip to main content

The Future Has Arrived

September 4, 2017 - Wildfires are burning throughout the Pacific Northwest. Hurricane Harvey has decimated the greater Houston area and parts of Louisiana. Hurricane Irma glowers out in the Atlantic. In other words, forecasts made decades ago are proving accurate. Four hundred parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was regarded as a tipping point, the point at which climate change would take on a life of its own. If no one ever drove their car another block, if farmers never used another ounce of chemical fertilizer, if not so much as one more acre of land was cleared with fire, climate change would continue on its way, wreaking havoc.

We passed four hundred ppm this year. I'm not sure where we stand right now; we were supposed to be at around 410 by spring. I'm not advocating giving up. Of course not. We must still - and at this point, will, whether we want to or not - consciously lower our standard of living, and stop enjoying the conveniences for which we are now so dearly paying. Mass transit, here we come. Our roads are falling apart anyway, and we can't afford to fix them. New buildings? A thing of the past. As Jim Hightower points out in the latest edition of his newsletter, The Lowdown, the world has reached peak sand mining. That's right: sand. And it turns out sand is a vital component of concrete and glass.

Food production? With the dramatic shifts in climate we're experiencing, coupled with flooding and drought, depending on where you live, it's looking uncertain. Everyone who has access to land should have a garden, that's for sure. Farmers' markets and community gardens will become more and more important. Obsolescence? Isn't it funny: it's obsolete. We're repairing and recycling like never before, and that will be a permanent feature of our lives, going forward. Health care will once again become a family affair, as cost continues to spiral out of control. I believe life expectancy is going to decrease, which is just as well. Living with aches and pains for which the only palliative is addictive painkillers stinks. On the other hand, herbs, hemp oil, and naturopaths will become main stream. Who knows - you may one day grow your own weed.

Family and friends are your support network. Talk now about the role each of you will play in a Houston-like scenario. The Great Plains, Midwest, and South have been flooding like crazy this year. It's only going to get worse. Have emergency stores of food to get you through the initial few weeks. At some point, the government will no longer be able to keep up with the demands placed on it. Yes, other countries will lend a hand, but that's not a permanent solution. Start living with less now. The cure for what ails us is going to be a very tough pill to swallow.

With thanks to the Jim Hightower Lowdown, and the Post Carbon Institute.


Popular posts from this blog

Dicamba Drift and the Monsanto Merger

March 15, 2018 -
A lesson in evolution: When farmers spray weed killer on their fields, there will always be a small number of weeds that survive. They have a natural resistance to the weed killer in their genetic makeup. Those are the weeds that go to seed that year, their children producing a crop of herbicide-resistant weeds the following year. By the next year, the farmer's fields are producing more and more herbicide-resistant weeds. What's a farmer to do? For those unwise enough to remain on the chemical treadmill, there's only one solution. Buy a stronger weed killer - to which a small number of weeds will, inevitably, be resistant.

This is precisely what happened to farmers that use Monsanto's weed-killer, RoundUp.  Monsanto's low-cost, highly ineffective solution to RoundUp-resistant weeds was to sell these farmers Dicamba, an old chemical weed killer with a tendency to drift. When pesticides travel on the wind, or drift, they damage crops and human health…

A Carbon-Free Grid

March 3, 2018 - Scientists at the University Of California, Irvine; the California Institute of Technology; and the Carnegie Institution of Science recently published an article stating that the United States could meet 80 percent of its electricity needs with solar and wind power. To sweeten the deal, the price of solar and wind have been dropping rapidly. The remaining 20 percent could be provided by alternate sources of energy such as hydropower, geothermal, and biomass. These sources currently meet 8.5 percent of electrical demand, and can be expanded. The remaining deficit would be met by managing demand.

The larger grid required for transmission of solar and wind power would have to be continental in scale, or 12 hours' worth of the energy would have to be stored in new facilities. This degree of expansion would require hundreds of billions of dollars in investment. Storing the electricity with today's cheapest batteries would cost a trillion dollars, although the price …