Monthly Archives: August 2008

Melting Borders, Melting Icecaps

Smith, in the computer world of The Matrix.
In nature there is order, but not uniformity.

The president of Nabisco once defined the goal of economic globalization as “a world of homogeneous consumption”, in which people everywhere eat the same food, wear the same clothing and live in houses built from the same materials. It is a world in which every society employs the same technologies, depends on the same centrally managed economy, offers the same Western education for its children, speaks the same language, consumes the same media images, holds the same values, and even thinks the same thoughts: monoculture. – Breaking Up the Monoculture

The ‘one size fits all’ approach isn’t working, and in our myopic attempts at simplifying the world and reducing it to a factory-floor type environment, we’re reducing the natural bio-diversity of the world in a way never, ever, seen before.

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Posted in Geopolitics & Economics, Society

Peak Oil and Petrodollars

Peak Oil and a developing trend to switch international oil trading from the weakening U.S. dollar to the Euro (€) may fuel more oil grabs, economic collapse, and further disregard for climate change

World governments, many of whom currently pay lip service to the present and future problems associated with a warming planet, are eager to add to these woes by arguing (and perhaps soon fighting?) over anticipated new oil discoveries as the arctic ice continues to shrink. We know burning fossil fuels causes global warming, but we are tripping over ourselves to find more to burn. This makes it expedient to review some of the factors involved in our continued free-for-all over oil. Some of what follows may surprise.

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Posted in Energy, Geopolitics & Economics, Global Warming


Okay class – hands up all who live in a developing nation. Hmm… not so many. Now, hands up those that live in a developed nation. Aah… quite a few.

Developing. Developed. International media of every kind use these words constantly. They seem to be globally understood, at least if the frequency of their usage is anything to go by, but despite using these terms myself I must confess that I’m struggling with their meaning. I get the context okay; I’m pretty sure I’m placing the words in the correct place, using them in appropriate contexts – but when I stop to consider the base definition, that’s when the proverbial spanner is thrown into the whirring cogs and gears of my mind.

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Posted in Society

Last Days of Ancient Sunlight?

A very glum, serious looking energy advisor, Dr. Robert Hirsch, made some alarming statements on CNBC recently — statements you’d be unlikely to spot on Fox News.

It is estimated that by 2025 worldwide demand for oil will increase 50% over 2005 levels — much of this increased demand coming from developing China and India. Dr. Hirsch now says it is “very likely we are at the maximum of world oil production” (that’s 85 million barrels p/day — and worldwide demand is said to be 87 million barrels, and rising). The thought of $13 per gallon fuel is enough to send shivers down any thinking man’s spine. This will have significant implications for almost everyone, everywhere. And yet, it will only be the beginning.

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Posted in Energy, Geopolitics & Economics, Global Warming

Pesticides, and You

I promised to follow up on our recent Which Came First – Pests, or Pesticides? story with some info on how these nasties can affect your environment, and you. We’ll do so, specifically, by looking at the meaning of the term bio-magnification.

How many have heard the term? Hmm…, a few raised hands. How many of you can explain its meaning to others in the class? Okay, not so many.

It’s actually a pretty simple concept to understand, and it’s a little frightening to realise the implications once you have.

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Posted in Health, Pollution

Which Came First – Pests, or Pesticides?

The Pest or Pesticide question is a lot more interesting and relevant than the whole chicken and egg argument – and one that’s easier to prove too! Whether you’re a farmer, gardener, or merely a consumer that’s not so keen on ingesting poisons, you might find the following of interest.

I know what you’re going to say – “pests must have come first, or they wouldn’t have created pesticides”. Well, as you’ll soon discover, it depends somewhat on your definition of ‘pest’, and your perspective on the world around you.

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Posted in Insects, Pollution

A Refrigerator that Runs Without Electricity

Sometimes there are simple solutions to universal needs that don’t require coal fired electricity, fossil fuels, or even solar panels or wind turbines.

Around a third of the world’s population have no access to electricity. If you’re like me, you’ve spent your entire life being able to plug in. Do we ever give a thought to what life would be like if the various appliances we’ve come to rely on were to suddenly stop working? One of the most energy guzzling appliances in our carbon footprint portfolio is the refrigerator. But, unplug it, and the quality of your life will suddenly deteriorate. Take that thought, and imagine living in a hot dry country in Africa, without electricity, where food quickly wilts and rots in the sun, aided by onslaughts of flies.

One modern day genius, mindful of this basic need to preserve food, has solved the problem for many. Mohammed Bah Abba, a Nigerian teacher, invented the ‘device’ — a refrigerator that doesn’t require electricity!

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Posted in Design

Orchestrating Famine – a Must-Read Backgrounder on the Food Crisis

The era of cheap food is over — this means disaster for millions, and mega-profits for a few. How did we get into this mess?

Most objective observers of the current food crisis are understandably concerned. Around 45% of the world’s population live on two dollars per day or less. Skyrocketing food prices are now bringing stress to two billion people, and despair to millions — around one hundred million, actually. The situation is only expected to further deteriorate as: the price of oil continues to soar; climate change-related disasters increase in frequency and intensity, and as policy decisions such as mandated biofuel quotas in our fuel supply further strengthens the already strong price connection between fuel and food. It is a humanitarian disaster that’s well underway, and one which seriously threatens to destabilize international security. As I’m sure you can appreciate, a hungry man is an angry man.

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Posted in Geopolitics & Economics

Soil – Our Financial Institution

Soil — the substance you walk on, build on, and live from — provides your food, clothing, and even the air you breathe. It gives warmth, shelter, and the goods you possess. Soil is, I believe, a substance that is under-acknowledged, and also under attack, and its misuse is contributing greatly to the excessive release of CO2 into our atmosphere – making it a large contributor to global warming. Therefore, I felt it high time we came to its defense. Here goes.

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Posted in Soil