What have you done today to lower your impact?

We are washing away the foundations of our existence on every front. It is high time we move from crashing about on the planet like a bull in china shop and find a way to go forward with intent. We must find systems of living based on sustainability. The systems and tools exist, it is up to each of us to adopt them.

Blog Archive

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

The roaring twenties, again. - by Robb

In a recent interview with Bill Moyers, Holly Sklar, columnist and author of the book "Raise the Floor" and director of "Business for Shared Prosperity", made the following points.

• US Wages adjusted for inflation are lower than they were in the 1970's

• US Minimum wage adjusted for inflation is lower than it was in the 1950's.

• The US has the highest spread of financial inequality of any industrialised nation.

• The US has the highest rates of poverty in the developed world.

• 39 other countries in the world have lower child mortality rates than the US.

• Lack of universal health care is killing small businesses.

She goes on to say,

"We've been living the American dream in reverse.....income and wealth inequality have gone back to the 1920's, back at levels we saw right before the great depression."

Here are some more points I noted from that interview. This reversal is the result of the significant gains made in worker productivity going not to the workers but to the wealthy. The richest get richer as the poor working class struggles harder to make ends meet. The middle class is disappearing.

Leaner and meaner has not led to making the US more competitive, rather the US economy has been driven into the dirt, corporate raider style, to enable the rich to skim off every last ounce of value for themselves. Infrastructure is crumbling, R&D is declining, education is failing, adequate health care is only for the elite. Much of this is due to the union busting strategies created by Ronald Reagan and improved upon ever since. The political system now accepts that hourly wage jobs keep people in poverty rather than lifting them out of poverty. By keeping the minimum wage down the politicians are keeping all the hourly wages above that level down as well. 80% of the workers in the US are hourly wage workers. In 1968 the minimum wage adjusted for inflation was $9.88, it is now $5.85.

Americans have compensated for this situation by increasing personal debt. The credit crunch is proving that practice unsustainable.

Now here are some thoughts of my own. The US can bounce back. The US can move toward sustainability, here are just a few things you can do; first increase your own resiliency by leading a more sustainable life, get out of and stay out of debt, build local economy, then get active on a national scale. Support the adoption of universal health care, support your local union, bring in a reasonable and just minimum wage. Support investment in the infrastructure of the country, including renewable energy to create low carbon jobs. Help the country shift away from unsustainable business/corporate practices that encourage war, global warming, and the plundering of the commons by the wealthy. Demand campaign finance reform. Get involved.

Get government out of the pocket of the corporations and give it back to the people.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

James Hansen is the man! - Robb

He warned congress about global warming and climate change in 1988.

He's dealt with the Bush administration's attempts to muzzle him and the truth he speaks.

He has remained a shining light of rationality and scientific veracity attempting to illuminate our dire situation for over 20 years.

He continues to draw attention to the folly of coal fired power plants as well as the failure of the IPCC to call for strong enough steps towards mitigation of climate change and resultant sea level rise.

He maintains that the safe level of Co2 in the atmosphere is 350ppm. We are now at 385ppm.

Yesterday he told congress that Big Energy executives who have waged a war of disinformation and caused delay in dealing with this issue, much the same as the tobacco industry blurred the connection between cancer and smoking, should be put on trial for crimes against humanity.

This puts me in the difficult position of disagreeing with George Monbiot who agrees with Hansen on most things but not that these executives should be prosecuted. See his article at the Guardian. Read his book Heat.

People will die as a direct result of human caused climate change, they are already dying in the poorest countries on earth due to drought, a large factor in the conflict in Darfur, brought on by global warming. Hundreds of millions will be facing drastic water shortages, and the conflict this brings, as the himalayan glaciers disappear, likely by 2030. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi's, thousands of Americans, and over a hundred Brits have died due to our lack of response to our addiction to oil. Had we accepted our impact on the climate through our burning of oil back in 1988 as James Hansen suggested, we would likely never have gotten involved in a war for oil.

Until the developed world accepts that it's levels of consumption are destroying the foundations human survival and culture rest on we will continue to kill. We are not likely to accept it as a people as long as we are subjected to the sustained campaign of disinformation driven by the big energy companies. Even the US intelligence agencies view climate change as a security threat as reported on NPR.

I agree with James Hansen on this one.

Sunday, 22 June 2008


This was posted on the community gardens listserve. It is so good I couldn't resist re-posting it here. Here is a bit of bio on Mrs Boggs from the Milwaukee Renaissance blog,

"Grace is 92 and still going strong. She won a PH.D. in philosophy from Bryn Mawr in 1938, partnered with C.L.R. James in a highly signficant “anti-communist” left tendency in the 1940s, married renowned Detroit auto worker/philosopher Jimmy Boggs in the 1950s, was a major leader in the labor, civil rights, peace, black power, Asian American women’s and environmental movements in the 1960s and 1970s, and, since the 1980s, has been a major planetary actor of the permaculture movement."

Look for her interview on Bill Moyers on PBS.

By Grace Lee Boggs
Michigan Citizen, June 22-28, 2008

A lot of people are angry these days about the high price of gas. But one hundred years from now our posterity may bless this period when soaring gas prices finally forced Americans to bike or take public transportation to work and to start dreaming of neighborhood stores within walking distance.

An interview with Enrique Penalosa by Deborah Solomon in the June 6 New York Times Magazine inspired this thought. My eye was caught by his statement that "The 20th century was a horrible detour in the evolution of the human habitat. We were building much more for cars' mobility than for children's happiness."

Never having heard of Penalosa, I googled him and discovered that he was a journalist born and educated in the United States. Elected Mayor of Bogota Colombia, on his third try in 1998, he served until 2001 when he was forced out by term limits. Since then he has become a senior fellow at the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy and is advising other world cities on transportation.

Penalosa believes that "We need to walk, just as birds need to fly. We need to be around other people. We need beauty. We need contact with nature. And most of all, we need not to be excluded. We need to feel some sort of equality."

To make Bogota a city that could be enjoyed by the carless majority, he closed 120 kilometers of roads to motor vehicles for seven hours every Sunday. This enabled a million and a half people of all ages and incomes to come out and ride bicycles, jog, and simply gather with others in the community.

Penalosa views children as a kind of "indicator species." "A quality city is not one that has great roads but one where a child can safely go anywhere on a bicycle. If we can build a successful city for children, we will have a successful city for all people."

"When we tell a three-year-old child anywhere in the world, 'Watch out -- a car' the child will jump in fright -- and with good reason because more than 200,000 children are killed by cars every year? In any month today there are more children killed by cars than were eaten by wolves all through the Middle Ages. But we have come to think that that's totally normal. As soon as our children come out of their houses, we are afraid they might get killed. 5,000 years of cities, is that where we are?"

Penalosa learned from Jaime Lerner, who was the maverick mayor of Curitiba Brazil, for 3 four year terms between 1971 and 1992. The three keys to a livable city, according to Lerner, are Mobility, Sustainability and Diversity.

Believing that a livable city begins with children respecting the city, Lerner gave Curitiba children the responsibility for separating and recycling garbage. He gave the Curitiba homeless a stake in a clean city by offering them a bag of food in exchange for a bag of litter. He speeded up the buses by building stations where riders could pay fares before boarding.

You don't need a lot of money to come up with measures like these What you need is the courage to think outside the box of "economic development" or trying to catch up with the cities of the Global North which are in deep trouble.

After the splitting of the atom, Einstein warned that we were drifting towards catastrophe because we had changed everything but the way we think. Imagination, he said, is more important than knowledge.

Penalosa quotes a Danish urbanist, Jan Gehl, who says that a good city is like a good party ? people don't want to leave. It is a city where people want to be out of their houses. The good city is the one where people want any pretext to be in the parks, on the sidewalks, in the cafes.

We have a choice: between a city that is friendlier to cars or a city that is friendlier to people, especially children.

Small farms are better

The quote I used in the last post is from an excellent article, "Small is Bountiful" over on celsiasÂș
from George Monbiot. Thanks to Dave Oxford for the link. Click on the word celsiasÂș above or the title of the post.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Quote from George Monbiot

"Big business is killing small farming. By extending intellectual property rights over every aspect of production; by developing plants which either won’t breed true or which don’t reproduce at all, it ensures that only those with access to capital can cultivate." -George Monbiot

Thanks to the Greenhorn website, the irresistible fleet of bicycles, where I found it. Increase your personal sustainability, find a way to purchase your food from small local non corporate non GM family farmers. Here's another tip, the animal agriculture industry does more harm to the atmosphere than all the worlds transport combined. Eat less meat! Particularly red meat and dairy. Pledge to have a meat and dairy free day once a week. Here's a link to a more detailed report on the topic from EarthSave

Greenhorns Trailer video

I ran across this blog for the Greenhorns film and watched the trailer. It is a film about young farmers in America. I'll be keeping an eye out for it. Good stuff!

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Rob Hopkins Transition video #3

From the International Forum on Globalisation September 12 2007
Rob Hopkins - Transition Town

Rob Hopkins Transition video #2

From the International Forum on Globalisation September 12 2007
Rob Hopkins - Transition Town

Rob Hopkins Transition video #1

From the International Forum on Globalisation September 12 2007
Rob Hopkins - Transition Town

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Simple solutions to the food crisis - video

In the midst of a commodity prices boom, high volatility in the oil marker, and record high food prices, the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) sets a new agenda for global food production. Al Jazeera's Tanya Page says a new report will suggest that modern agriculture will have to change radically if the world is to avoid social breakdown and environmental collapse.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Vertical farming w/video - By Robb

If the population continues to grow as predicted, something I don't personally believe is possible, we will have nine billion humans, give or take half a billion, by 2050, mostly in cities. How will we feed them all? It is obvious the current methods of food transport are unsustainable and we would need 10 billion more hectares of farmland to do the job. So would we cut down all the remaining forest, the only effective carbon sequestration we have and are likely to have in the next fifty years, and plow under an area the size of Brazil with all the attendant water pollution, loss of diversity, and global warming effects of current industrial farming? I don't think so. Even if we hold the population at current levels cities need to become sustainable just as a households do. This means local food for one thing, closing the nutrient cycle by recycling waste for another.
I don't tend to favor high tech solutions but this urban farming concept, a 30 story tower that could feed 50,000 people is all organic, provides local food, recycles waste, and provides jobs is attractive. I wonder, could it be retrofitted to appropriately situated towers already in existence? Even if purpose built it would certainly be a better allocation of resources than some multinational headquarters full of computers. Here's a more in depth article on this concept over at Plenty magazine.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Transition towns......in the US?! - by Robb

The transition town movement is a UK based intiative that aims to bring towns and cities into a sustainable and more self sufficient way of living. Utilizing careful planning, a locally specific energy descent plan, local food production, and an inclusive non political approach to organizing, this permaculture based movement is growing rapidly. From their website,

"A Transition Initiative is a community working together to look Peak Oil and Climate Change squarely in the eye and address this BIG question:

'for all those aspects of life that this community needs in order to sustain itself and thrive, how do we significantly increase resilience (to mitigate the effects of Peak Oil) and drastically reduce carbon emissions (to mitigate the effects of Climate Change)?'

The resulting coordinated range of projects across all these areas of life leads to a collectively designed energy descent pathway."

The list of towns involved include over 50 communities across England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, some large like Nottingham and Bristol, as well as small villages and towns like Ottery St. Mary and Mayfield. There are transition towns in Australia, New Zealand, and now even 2 in the US. Boulder Colorado and Sandpoint Idaho have become transition towns.

As more folks realize that gasoline isn't going to get significantly cheaper, water is going to get more precious, food is going to get more expensive, and the natural systems that support our excessive way of life are going to continue to collapse, cities and towns will need coherent plans to provide for their citizens and prevent chaos. The transition town movement is a functioning model of communities working together to deal with the twin threats of climate change and peak oil. It will provide those that pursue it a level of resiliency and flexibility in the face of hard times to come that those who pursue business as usual will not have.

Perhaps it is time to dredge up the old 60's chant "United we stand, divided we fall". Check it out, think about it, could your town become a transition town? The time is now to get started.

Friday, 13 June 2008

US failure to act - by Robb

Once again the US federal government has failed to act on climate change while many states are forging ahead with emissions trading schemes independent of increasingly marginalized Washington. The sponsors of the current failed bill talk of the need to show leadership in cutting greenhouse emissions. This is not possible. The EU has long been the leader in this effort and the US states that are moving forward are learning from the EU policies, both the ones that went awry and the successes.

The US bill that failed was proposing 70% cuts from current levels of emissions by 2050, a mere 2% drop per year.

In the UK the climate change bill currently going through Parliament, having passed through the house of Lords already,

" contains provisions that will set a legally binding target for reducing UK carbon dioxide emission by at least 26 per cent by 2020 and at least 60 per cent by 2050, compared to 1990 levels."

Bush said he would veto the US climate change bill because it would impose huge spending on the American treasury, Other republican opponents called it a massive transfer of wealth. They should know something about all that, they are experts. Check out the BBC Panorama investigation Daylight Robbery.

I applaud the states that are pursuing emissions reductions in any way. It points out that local action is what is needed to get Washington on board. Don't wait for the election! Cut your own emissions now! Make it clear to your local and statewide politicians that this is a priority.
Start your move to sustainable living or speed it up if you've begun. Talk to your neighbors, make visible obvious changes to your behaviour to set an example, organize, protest, whatever, just do it sooner rather than later.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Off grid living, well!

Life off the electricity grid, using renewable energy, with best selling author William "Bill" Kemp and his wife, living the good life with a low impact on the planet.

These folks live an average western lifestyle in a cold climate with all the comforts but they do it completely off grid; highly sustainable, low carbon (relative to the usual family in Ontario), and obviously quite happy and comfortable.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Batteries or the grid? - Robb

Does the implementation of a small scale grid tied photovoltaic array have any effect on fuel consumption at the power plant and thus on GHG emissions?
Would implementation of grid tied photovoltaic/battery based systems make more sense if reduction of carbon is the primary goal?

William vonBrethorst is the president of Planetary Systems, a design and installation firm specializing in battery based renewable energy systems. He also has over 20 years experience as a project engineer in the power generation field. This paper investigates his ideas regarding integration into the grid of simple PV systems compared to PV systems with battery storage. He posits,

“Simply putting some PV power back into the grid DOES NOT result in a net scale back of CO2 from the utility source...this is physically impossible ... Most power sources... are always at max output, both to maintain voltage and frequency based on potential load, and because it takes about 16 hours to bring a plant online from stand-still.” 1

Using grid tied PV coupled to a battery based storage system that is appropriately sized to supply the entire house with 80-100% of its electricity needs effectively removes the house from the grid. This method of embedded generation creates a much more significant drop in demand and has more likelihood of causing an effect at the power plant, particularly when adopted on a large scale.1

If this is true then it has implications for policy planners and micro-generation professionals regarding grid operation and the effect of intermittence, renewable energy subsidies and system design, and climate change amelioration. It also can help inform homeowners as to logical choices when considering home based RE systems and carbon footprint.

Several factors need to be examined when comparing the carbon impact of simple grid tied systems to grid tied battery based systems; the ability of the grid and power plants to respond to small changes in demand, the overall efficiency of both systems and their ability to create a significant reduction in demand and the environmental impact of added batteries compared to the increased likelihood of GHG reduction.

Current Response Ability

“... burning of coal or natural gas, and steam production are totally decoupled from the spinning turbine and the electrical output. Steam is needed constantly, at a constant pressure and must be up all the time due to the load demands which can change rapidly. There is no direct relationship between the fuel consumption for steam and the spinning turbine and its electrical output except that, if this plant is a base loading plant, there always needs to be a full steam output and pressure available. Electrical load is a relative constant to keep potential applied to the grid to maintain voltage and frequency regardless of actual load. Essentially in the case of coal, gas and nuclear plants, the fuel rate is constant.”
3- William vonBrethorst

Even in the case of very large deployment of RE, the ability of the power supply and transmission system to respond is doubtful.

...all generators, especially large base load plants, have limits to the rate at which they can ramp up or down...there are fundamental limits to how much base-load plants can reduce output, particularly if they need to increase output a few hours later.” 4

Coal, gas and nuclear power plants have a minimum output. If

“ plant output needs to be reduced below this minimum load, it may need to be completely shut down, requiring a costly and... lengthy restart process. Given the relatively short window of high PV output, it is unlikely that these plants will be able to respond to the reduced demand.” 4 - P. Denholm, R. Margolis Solar 2006 Conference Paper NREL- 27/03/07

A reduction of fossil fuel use appears unlikely to happen at existing base load plants due to the operational restrictions just discussed. Similarly at peak load plants which are also responding to projected load the inflexibility of the current design hinders progress. GHG emissions reduction will more likely come about through massive reductions in demand causing the shut down of fossil fuel power plants altogether or through the replacement of those plants with centralized RE plants coupled with large scale storage systems.


“ A new coal fired 600MW plant may have a thermal efficiency of nearly 40%...may take 8 hours or more to reach full power and efficiency... run at part load...its thermal efficiency may...only reach 35%. It is obviously best if this kind of station is run continuously at full power. At the other extreme a small 30MW open cycle gas-turbine station may have thermal efficiency of under 30%...such a station can be run up to full power in a matter of minutes...and may only be...run for a few hundred hours a year.” 2 - Bob Everett 2003 Energy Systems and Sustainability: Power for a Sustainable Future

The effect of efficiency within the current system is debatable. Other slightly more optimistic sources indicate that coal fueled power plants can be up to 46% efficient.2 In addition the grid is operated at very high voltages and loss estimates vary widely. They are reported at 7% 5 up to 70%.3 This wide disparity is a source of concern about the data but the nuts and bolts of the system still mean that electricity arriving at a household has been through at least 5 transformers, each with an affiliated loss, not to mention the losses involved in hundreds of kilometers of cable. This has relevance to the usefulness of embedded generation.

A typical home based simple grid tied PV system outputs its maximum power at midday, off peak, usually when the owner has transferred her load to a work environment. Once the amount used in the house at any given moment is subtracted, the remaining quantity is fed into the grid through a synchronous inverter. This small output cannot even begin to overcome the high voltages in the grid. As Mr. vonBrethorst states,

“Rooftop generation from homes is absolutely useless to the grid...The small inverter CANNOT force even a few hundred watts back in to the grid in any way that benefits anyone else. The generation source is TOO SMALL... Even if the inverter ... could push voltage into the grid through the transformer, it would not be enough to keep the neighbor’s house going... Even a thousand such units would have the same problem since they can only synchronize to the grid and not each other.”

In addition, consumer behavior is critical. A marketing report from BP Solar states, “Most potential grid tie customers are affluent consumers who pay no attention to their electrical usage.” 6 The validity of this statement requires further research both here and in the US, as the prevailing belief seems, anecdotally, to be just the opposite. Recent research indicates a 6% improvement in conservation behaviours of homeowners who install grid tied systems. (Kierstad)

The design of an affordable grid tied battery based PV system requires appropriate efficiency efforts. In order to live off a reasonably sized bank of batteries, the usage in the house must be brought to a minimum. Mr. vonBrethorst suggests,

“Energy management is the key...We use our... systems as energy management tools... wise energy choices can reduce any home’s nominal load by about 80%. This is much different than just selling back, in that the load is reduced 24 hours a day. If a simple majority of homes did this, we would actually be able to shut down plants using old fuels because the larger base loading systems would not be needed. With grid-tie and no energy storage, they are needed because, any day that there is no sun, less wind, all energy sources are needed and especially base loading plants because this grid-tie energy simply is not available - suddenly and for quite a while”. 1

Clearly if all homes merely undertook extensive efficiency improvements it would significantly reduce demand whether or not they ever pursue renewable energy.

Small scale battery based renewable energy systems can achieve efficiencies of up to 96%.1 During the day while the owner is at work and the PV array is producing more than enough to keep the small high efficiency triple insulated 12v fridge ticking over, the excess will go into the batteries rather than into the grid where it is lost. Using the stored power at peak time, in the evening, then removes the home from the surge load on the grid. Another promising option is to direct the surplus power to plug-in hybrid vehicles thus achieving additional carbon reduction by supplanting petrol use.

Environmental Impact

Much of the environmental impact of batteries is attributable to the fossil fuel usually used to charge them; this is clearly mitigated by using renewables. Further, the impact of production is significantly mitigated by extensive recycling.7 The lead acid battery industry is mature, over 100 years old, with well developed, widespread and mandated recycling technology. The lead metal recycling rate is 98.3% with 90% recuperation of electrolyte. The remaining 10% is neutralized prior to disposal.7 Mr. vonBrethorst states that his company

“has installed about 1600 battery-based systems... all the systems we have installed ... are still in service, sometimes for over 17 years. AGM battery technology, in grid-tie applications can last over 20 years so battery longevity is not an issue even with lead-acid battery technology.” 1

Assuredly batteries have environmental impact, but it should be considered in light of the benefits of the increased likelihood of removing fossil fueled power plants.

The scope of this paper does not take into account the environmental impacts of the mining and transportation of coal or uranium, the drilling for oil and natural gas, nor the health effects of coal combustion. Neither does it address the life cycle analysis (LCA) of solar panels which have their own toxic waste issues or for that matter the lead mining industry or the production of sulphuric acid for battery electrolyte. Everything we do has impact, we must make decisions about how best to maximise the benefit from our impacts.

There is certainly debate about the issue of the effect of grid tied small scale RE on greenhouse gas emissions. I was unable find any research that could show a direct correlation between installation of grid tied small scale RE, whether battery or non battery based and reduction of greenhouse gases. However use of fossil fuels for generating electricity is increasing despite significant increases in wind and solar capacity. In the US in 2005, just under 87 percent of the 15 gW of new capacity to come on line was fossil fuel fired.8 At the same time 71,000 kW of grid connected solar PV capacity was installed.9 While this fails to prove that RE is not reducing carbon emissions, it does suggest that there needs to be a major paradigm shift in order to maximize the effect of installed RE.

Professor Mark Diesendorf of the Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of New South Wales in Sydney Australia stated in the debate on the Renewable Energy Access website,

“When RE substitutes for fossil fuel, it reduces CO2 emissions. Even PV without batteries can substitute for some intermediate and peak load fossil fuel...According to modeling by my group and others, wind power can replace base-load power stations with the same annual electricity generation.”

I was unable to gain access to either the modeling he mentions or any other research to back up his claims. However, in the UK, wind farms are able to compete on the power pool market which would suggest that they are replacing other types of generation. Perhaps they are replacing fossil fuel generators that have not been built as a result of their capacity, but it does not necessarily follow that existing stations are reducing fuel usage due to increased wind generation.

P. Denholm and R. Margolis at National Renewable Energy Laboratories in the US had this to say about energy storage. It

“represents the ultimate solution to the problems of intermittence. Not only could energy storage absorb excess PV generation, but it could also aid in increasing the overall flexibility of electric power systems by decreasing dependance on traditional base load generation.” 4

Anyone involved in micro-generation at any level would do well to consider techniques of energy storage as a means of improving the performance of systems and thus climate change amelioration. Should homeowners be made aware of the issues surrounding carbon impacts of installed systems? Should ecological footprints and energy performance reports assume that carbon reductions automatically occur with installation of grid tied PV or for that matter efficiency improvements? This debate raises questions about the effect of attempts to cut electrical energy use at any level. Would the political will to pursue efficiency targets and PV installation be diminished if it meant making drastic changes in lifestyle and shutting down power plants? Would increased grants and subsidies to cut fossil fuel use directly, such as solar thermal installations and public transport, be more efficacious?

Given the apparently short window of time we have to reduce GHG emissions it would seem prudent to consider ways to maximise the gains we can achieve through renewable energy installations. Efficiency with or without renewable energy has been seen as an obvious first step and made a priority based on the assumption that it is the quickest path to large scale demand reduction. Efforts at the commercial, homeowner and tenant level should include an understanding that small efforts could be delaying real reductions in emissions. If we are to pursue widespread embedded generation then schemes such as private wire networks that allow small scale generators to sync to each other as well as equally widespread use of storage technology should be installed. Such schemes would also multiply efficiency gains as the surplus power is stored or used locally thus avoiding transmission losses. We don’t need to wait for the hydrogen economy for this to happen. Battery technology is currently up to the task and whether it is utilized in the form of household battery banks, centralized flow batteries, or plug in hybrid vehicles it should be designed into systems from the household on your street to the households on Downing Street and Pennsylvania Avenue where policy documents are considered.


1 vonBrethorst, William 27/01/07 comment on Renewable Energy Access.com forum discussion “Grid-Tied or Battery-Based RE Systems?”, 25/01/07 (http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/podcast?id=47223#readercomments)

2 Bob Everett 2003 Energy Systems and Sustainability: Power for a Sustainable Future chapter-Electricity, 2nd edition, Oxford University Press, Oxford,in association with The Open University, Milton Keynes UK, pp 377-378

3 vonBrethorst, William (brethors@3rivers.net) RE:battery-based systems email to CR Worthington (crobbw@gmail.com), 20/03/07

4 P. Denholm, R. Margolis 04/06 Very Large Scale Deployment of Grid-Connected Solar Photovoltaics in the United States: Challenges and Opportunities Solar 2006 Conference Paper NREL- p 5, 27/03/07 http://www.nrel.gov/pv/pdfs/39683.pdf

5 US Climate Change Technology Program- Technology Options for the Near and Long Term, November 2003- Page 34, 01/05/07 http://www.climatetechnology.gov/library/2003/tech-options/tech-options-1-3-2.pdf

6 “Battery or no Battery” online fact sheet- p 35, 25/03/07 http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:jxagaxlSTwQJ:www.greenenergyohio.org/page.cfm%3FpageId%3D538+dankoff+solar+BP+Solar+battery+factsheet&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=5&gl=uk&client=firefox-a

7 J Matheys and W. Van Autenboer 2004 SUBAT: Sustainable Batteries Work Package 5: Overall Assessment Final Public Report - A "Specific Targeted Research Project"
funded by the "European Commission"- Vrije Universiteit Brussel - ETEC, pp 4-5, 26/03/07

8 Energy Information Administration website US Coal Supply and Demand 2005 review- Consumption, 2nd paragraph, 27/03/07 http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/coal/page/special/feature.html

9 International Energy Agency web-page table-Installed PV power as of the end of 2005:
in reporting IEA PVPS countries, 01/05/07 http://www.iea-pvps.org/isr/01.htm

Friday, 6 June 2008

A hopeful trend? - By Robb

Bill McKibben is one of my favorite commentators. Check out his recent article in " The Atlantic Online" about the forests of the east, the bio diversity they gently and tenuously hold, and the threats they face.

An Explosion of Green

Mr. McKibben wrote the first book for a general audience about the threat of climate change, The End of Nature, back in 1989. He organized Step it UP 2007, the largest day of protest about climate change in the nation's history.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Bill Mollison - permaculture concept 6 - video

Bill Mollison - permaculture concept 5- video

Bill Mollison - permaculture concept 4 - video

Bill Mollison - permaculture concept 3 - video

Bill Mollison - permaculture concept 2 - video

Bill Mollison - permaculture concept 1 - video

A thought or two from Bill Mollison

Quoted from the introduction to the book "Permaculture: A Designers Manual" by Bill Mollison

"The sad reality is that we are in danger of perishing from our own stupidity and lack of personal responsibility to life. If we become extinct because of factors beyond our control, then we can at least die with pride in ourselves, but to create a mess in which we perish by our own inaction makes nonsense of our claims to consciousness and morality."

"A person of courage today is a person of peace. The courage we need is to refuse authority and to accept only personally responsible decisions. Like war, growth at any cost is an outmoded and discredited concept. It is our lives which are being laid to waste. What is worse, it is our children's world which is being destroyed. It is therefore our only possible decision to withhold all support for destructive systems, and to cease to invest our lives in own annihilation."

" The Prime Directive of Permaculture - The only ethical decision is to take responsibility for our own existence and that of our children. Make It Now!"