Wednesday, 8 December 2010

More polemic

This video is very unfair to the vampire squid.

The minute-long animation is inspired by Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi's description of investment bank Goldman Sachs as a giant vampire squid "sucking on the face of humanity".




The animation is backed by a wide range of influential pressure groups including: nef, Compass, PLATFORM, ResPublica, 38 Degrees, WDM, Positive Money, Tax Research and the Post Bank campaign.'




Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Flying is not enough

 Filmed in Rio De Janeiro. Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to all readers. There. Who said positive thinkng never makes an appearance here?


Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Pedal to the metal

Metaphorically putting the pedal to the metal. Speed gliding (flying as fast as possible round a slalom course) was popular a few years ago but seems to be coming back. "Ordinary" hang gliding isn't as dangerous as many believe but competitions like this are...


OweGASN - Kaiserwinkl HammerDown from MatzeSki on Vimeo.

Music: The Ironweed Project / Down to my Grave
OnBoardCamPilots: Weissenberger Tom, Siess Wolfi, Dönhuber Gerd, Kurzthaler Matze
Location: Kaiserwinkl / Kössen / Tirol

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Aurora Borealis

Aurora Borealis time-lapse HD - Tromsø 2010 from Tor Even Mathisen on Vimeo.
Time-lapse aurorae in Norway. As the Sun wakes back up after its recent quiet period, we should see more spectacular ones in the next three years or so.
Definitely click on the image or link to see the original in full screen high definition. Either that or click on the four arrows icon next to the word Vimeo in the bottom right corner of the image.

Snippets from the Interwebs 3

China is installing the world's largest system (click link for Technology Review article) for generating electricity by collecting methane gas emitted by fermenting cow manure. Anaerobic digestion systems are very highly favoured in future to digest not only manure, which is what everyone is familiar with but also green and food waste – even special energy crops. It’s true that capturing methane and burning it produces CO2 but the carbon is from the planet’s “currrent account”, not the fossil fuel “deposit account” that contributes to altering the climate. Methane is also 23 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than CO2 so it makes sense to collect and burn it anyway, particularly if by doing so, the obtained energy substitutes for and displaces the use of fossil fuel carbon.
If all the toilet roll inner tubes produced every year in the United States were placed end to end they would stretch for a million miles, or 4 times further than the Moon
Scott paper have announced a new “tube free” toilet roll – click link to see original story
Ocean acidification
This article from the geological society (yes, the original British, established in 1807, one) has more on ocean acidification. Scientists, from the University of Plymouth and the University of Santa Catarina, Brazil have studied the effect, on foraminifera (a species of plankton with a calcium carbonate shell) of increased levels of CO2 in the ocean. They state that at a mean pH of 7.8, the pH level predicted for the end of the century, calcified organisms begin to disappear, and non-calcifying ones take over. The current level is about 8.07. The pre-industrial level was about 8.18, thus ocean acidification is actually a reduction in alkalinity. Sea water des not need to actually become acidic before very serious effects happen.
Unless we curb CO2 emissions (forget climate change for the time being) we risk mass extinctions, degrading coastal waters and encouraging outbreaks of toxic jellyfish and algae. Similar lowering of ocean pH levels were closely associated with massive extinctions in the past.  Plankton are right at the bottom of the ocean food chain and they also sequester colossal quantities of CO2 in their shells, not to mention replenishing the oxygen supply of the atmoshere. We shouldn’t do anything to change them - but we sure as h*ll are doing.
Peak Everything
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development reported, back at the end of last year, that an expert group had been set up by the European Commission  to screen a list of forty-nine "potentially critical" raw materials whose availability to industry could come under threat as global competition for natural resources intensifies. Of particular worry to Europeans are rare earths, collections of metals and elements found in a wide range of gadgets and consumer goods, including batteries used in electric cars. The Chinese are developing a stranglehold on supplies of many of the most important ones. Recycling will never mean as much as it will do when we can’t get enough stuff to make our stuff.
Blade Runner meets Babylon
27 story house
Text and picture adapted from from the New York Times 29/10/2010 (click picture for link to original story)
One family are going to live in this 27 story house in Mumbai. All five of them.
The tower, known as Antilia, is the new home of India’s richest person, Mukesh Ambani, whose $27 billion fortune also ranks him among the richest people in the world. And even here in the country’s financial capital, where residents bear daily witness to the stark extremes of Indian wealth and poverty, Mr. Ambani’s building is so spectacularly over the top that the city’s already elastic boundaries of excess and disparity are being stretched to new dimensions.
Here’s the understatement of the year:
A gawking city has greeted the new tower with a mixture of moralizing and astonishment, envy and condemnation, all sprinkled with Freudian analysis of the most basic question: Why did he do it?
“We are all sort of perplexed,” said Alyque Padamsee, a long-time advertising executive and actor in the city. “I think people see it as a bit show-offy.”
One way to do “food security”
Land grabbing… or at least buying up land.  South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, India, Saudi Arabia, China, Qatar, Kuwait. are buying up large areas in Africa to supply themselves with food and other agricultural products. Also leading the rush are international agribusinesses, investment banks, hedge funds, commodity traders, sovereign wealth funds as well as UK pension funds, foundations and individuals attracted by some of the world's cheapest land.  Here’s a link to an Observer investigation of this trend.
LONDON, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Scotland should produce enough renewable electricity to meet all its power demand by 2025, First Minister Alex Salmond said. "I'm confident that by 2025 we will produce at least 100 percent of our electricity needs from renewables alone, and together with other sources it will enable us to become a net exporter of clean, green energy”

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Plastic Fantastic starting to pall

Here’s another video with a catchy song, based upon Empire State of Mind by Jay Z/Alicia Keys.  I don’t particularly like most rap, but I’ll make an exception for this one.

Newsflash – Excerpt from - The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a preliminary ordinance that bans plastic bags at supermarkets, pharmacies and convenience stores in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. In addition to banning plastic bags, the ordinance would require stores that provide recyclable paper bags to charge 10 cents per bag.



AshEl Eldridge - Rapper
Jenni Perez - Singer


Spoof news report about the problems with plastic


Here’s a cute TV ad from Animal planet TV


And, just because I liked it, I’m republishing this Tim Minchin video that I first aired in a post in June 2010 – the existential life and not death of a plastic bag





That was then. What now?

A five minute video from the Post Carbon Institute.  Just about everything we have become used to over the last 300 years is dependent upon cheap, easily available, energy. What do we do now that “old road is rapidly aging” (Bob Dylan)?

In case people are thinking I’ve become lazy(ier) by just posting other peoples’ vidoes etc, rest assured I have loads of “draft” posts that just need a bit of polishing before they get posted. If other people can say stuff better, or in a different form, than I would, I’ll post them as well. The more the merrier.





Saturday, 13 November 2010

Double Crock of the week. Truth, lies and the Oregon petition and warnings about global warming go further back than many think

The famous “Oregon petition” of 32,000 so called scientists is roundly debunked.



This “Climate Crock” below resurrects an old warning from 1956 (54 years ago!!). This is an old science program recording, featured in the video. It portrays a few bits of the science in  rather misleading way but it is mostly correct by today’s knowledge – mainly the bit about water vapour is a bit shaky.

I reproduce Pete Sinclair’s introduction:

“Many climate deniers still seem to think global warming was invented by Al Gore, in 2006.  As this recently uncovered recording from 1956 shows, the outlines of climate change science have been clear for many decades.

I showed this to my 25 year old son, who happened to be home from school. He watched in silence, but I knew what he was going to say. ”It makes me angry. They’ve known about this for all these years.” I don’t have a good answer for him. I hope I have an answer for his children.”


Thursday, 11 November 2010

Zeitgeist - trailer

There seems to be a growing realisation (obviously not amongst our Treasury type politicans!) that the current economic woes of the world are not simply a blip or a simple recession or even a “double dip” recession or even a depression. Major thinkers consider that we have come to the end of a period of history and what we are seeing are simply the symptoms of the death throes of the existing economic system. Zeitgeist means the “spirit of the times” and here is a trailer to a movie to be released in January 2011.

As with most of the doom and gloom scenarios around, I am not saying we’re all doomed. We are not helpless in the face of these things. There are solutions to avoid the worst outcomes and come through to the other side in a better way but people have to listen, be aware of the truth and decide to do something about it. Above all else they have to realise that they are going to have to resist the siren voices telling them that everything will be rosy again if we just plan for more of what has brought us to this point.


SYNOPSIS: Zeitgeist: Moving Forward, by director Peter Joseph, is a feature length documentary work which will present a case for a needed transition out of the current socioeconomic monetary paradigm which governs the entire world society. This subject matter will transcend the issues of cultural relativism and traditional ideology and move to relate the core, empirical "life ground" attributes of human and social survival, extrapolating those immutable natural laws into a new sustainable social paradigm called a "Resource-Based Economy". THEATRICAL RELEASE - Zeitgeist: Moving Forward is planned to be released in 60+ countries and in 20+ languages starting January 15th 2011. This large scale release is not associated with any major distributor.



Sunday, 7 November 2010

LIVE FROM THE TED TALKS - the Great Pacific Garbage patch conference



tedxgp2 on Broadcast Live Free

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Getting things in proportion

Taken from “Information is beautiful” – a website which puts information into visual form – always intriguing, often beautiful, sometimes scary.
I leave it to your judgement to decide which this graphic is. Each figure e.g. “$227 African debt” is billions of dollars.   In case you miss it, the beige bit at the bottom is the colossal cost of the worldwide financial crisis dwarfing everything else – and how! It’s probably worth clicking on the image to see it at its original size, if the text is too small or it overlaps anything else.


Thursday, 21 October 2010

And the dumb shall inherit the Earth (what’s left of it)

A couple of days ago the JEP did an editorial about the “falling” standard of election candidates and the already existing elected members of the States.

Here’s a flavour:

“After years of steady decline, Jersey is on the brink of a crisis in the overall quality of the States. The sad fact is that too few current Members have consistently displayed the combination of intellect, integrity and good will required to represent Islanders effectively in what, for a whole complex range of reasons, are extraordinarily challenging times.”

Basically, they wrote that things are bad and getting worse. At the Durrell sustainability breakfast the other day (separate blog post to follow) I heard a new term – industrialised individualism – which refers to what I have loosely referred to as the “yuppie” zeitgeist, that has been cultured and promoted since the “greed is good” days of the late 70’s to 80’s. I am not going to go too deeply into this at the moment but I believe an awful lot of the roots of our current problems gain their sustenance from the “ideas” of that social development. More to follow on this.

As we increasingly see so many leaders, aided and abetted by their expensive advisers, speaking from positions of wilful ignorance, and getting (and staying) elected there must clearly be a democratic demand for it. As is often the case, it has fallen to the Americans to take the next step and finally come up with the ideal candidate who’s proud to admit his qualities and is not ashamed to trumpet that he is completely free of rationality, intelligence, knowledge, ethics, consequential analysis, morals or any of the rest of that Age of Enlightenment malarkey, that seems to be thought of by too many as sooo last millennium.

Laugh at this comedy clip whilst uncomfortably feeling the hairs go up on the back of your neck at the underlying reality.



Original here:



Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Scooping the mainstream media

  • In a Press release today (October 14th), from the Energy Efficiency Service  of the Planning and Environment department, Sir Nigel Broomfield, Chair of the Jersey Energy Trust  announced a proposal for an aerial thermal imaging map of the Island, in partnership with the Jersey Climate Action Network (J-CAN) to provide a visual assessment of how well heat is retained by business premises and domestic houses. This will be a very valuable tool that, should the initial hope to put the results online be realised, will let anyone see how well insulated their property is with a few mouse clicks. Not only will it be beneficial for the environment by showing just how much heat is escaping, hopefully encouraging people to insulate and draught strip, but it will also help people to stop wasting money too if their house proves to be, heating wise, as leaky as a sieve.


Here’s an excerpt from the Press Release:

“The Jersey Energy Trust will be discussing the details of their future plans at their Autumn Reception taking place on the 14th October. The event is kindly being hosted by Ogier at their new premises Ogier House at 44 The Esplanade”

The Ogier building is the first in the Channel Islands to achieve a BREEAM “very good” rating for general environmental friendliness. Apparently there were certain peculiarities of the local situation that meant they couldn’t go for the “excellent” rating for new build offices.”

I have to say that I had quite an input into this thermal mapping scheme happening. It might not have happened if it wasn’t for me catalysing it. Back at the beginning of the year, I noticed that  G-CAN (Guernsey Climate Action Network/Sustainable Guernsey) had done some research into getting a thermal imaging map of their island so that people could easily compare and contrast the relative heat losses of their buildings compared with similar ones or the surroundings. Their investigation had stalled somewhat but I saw the extremely useful information that could come out of something like this if the whole Channel Islands were to do it, so I contacted G-CAN. To cut a long story short, I introduced the concept of getting the aerial survey people to do Jersey as well to J-CAN (Jersey Climate Action Network) who picked up the baton. Negotiations have been taking place ever since with the Planning and Environment department and its offshoots. Guernsey’s efforts are still little further forward but, too late, G-CAN/Sustainable Guernsey were offered a joint quote for both Channel Islands, which may have ended up being a little cheaper (not necessarily better though – quality information is much more effective). This is annoying as Jersey had been through the tedious tendering process and the deal was done and dusted so the Donkeys missed out. Jersey 1 Guernsey 0! It was indeed the prospect that the two islands could  have worked togther on this project to potentially achieve savings that initially motivated me to push the whole idea… The States, every now and again, comes up with a wish list which includes working with Guernsey to achieve savings.

My Guernsey G-CAN contact (Richard Lord) told me tonight (Wednesday 13th) that he is “still looking at sponsorship in Guernsey to see if we can go ahead and do a thermal image of Guernsey this winter.  There is some interest from Guernsey businesses but it is too early to say if they will offer funds.” When Jersey has its digital online thermal image information up and running before the Donkeys are even out of the starting gate, we here can all look North West and pity them.

I did actually blog about this initiative back in mid August but inadvertently broke the “confidentiality” that often seems to surround things like this and had to cancel my blog post sharpish.  However, with computers and the Internet, it's very difficult to completely eradicate something so I dredged up the old post and used it as the basis for this one.


Lisette Jones Tel: 01534 441663

Programme Manager, Energy Efficiency Service

Sir Nigel Broomfield Tel: 01534 869219

Chair, Jersey Energy Trust

Nick Palmer Media spokesman for J-CAN

Tel 01534 863972

Sustainable Guernsey

Tel: 01481 700688


Here’s my previous post:

Jersey Climate Action Network, in association with Guernsey Climate Action Network, have been brokering a thermographic map of the major Islands so that people can easily assess how energy efficient their houses, offices or commercial premises are. This information will be extremely useful to our governments as well.

How it works is that a plane flies over the islands in the depths of winter taking infra-red photographs of the land below which gives an image showing which buildings are hotter and which are cooler; this image is married to a digital map of the islands so that a user of the system can type in the address of a building and will see precisely how well (or otherwise) they are doing, compared to the neighbours, at keeping expensive heating energy inside the building rather than letting it escape outside because of poor insulation or such strange practices such as opening the windows in winter because it's too hot rather than turning down the thermostat!

Here's a link to a video about the system which has been widely used in Belgium.

World Environment News - Infrared Maps Highlight Energy Use - Planet Ark


Here is the sort of result this method comes up with

thermal map



Image taken from


Thursday, 7 October 2010

Flying in Jersey

Well, this video is not particularly exciting and there is no radical stuff in it but… it is us flying in Jersey at La Pulente on quite a good day. On my second flight (after the other two hang gliders had landed on the beach) I was flying with up to 6 paragliders. My glider is the green fluorescent one - not the blue and yellowish green one which is John from Oz, who is a jet pilot in his day job. My first take off of the day is at 1.20.

Warning. There is a slightly rude bit near the end when one of the young paragliders (also called Nick) waters the rabbits.




Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Lies, damn lies and statistics

Of course, I am not suggesting that statistics are lies or damn lies but the way they can be, and frequently are, used to fool people is deceitful. Perhaps the best exponents of the art of pulling the wool over peoples’ eyes are those who themselves do not properly understand what the statistics mean – they draw false conclusions and confidently fool themselves - there’s nothing more convincing or reassuring than the person who blindly believes something and quotes what seems like hard maths to prove their point. Most people do not have a deep appreciation of statistics, maths, physics, chemistry or biology or general reality to spot the flaws that should ring bells loudly.

Here is a great cartoon which illustrates the problem.


cartoon credit – the excellent XKCD site

The confident statistics stickman in the cartoon has jumped to a false conclusion from the figures. The essence of his mistake is that the statistic he quotes relates to all Americans doing their normal activities for one year. Of these, 45 will get struck by lightning and die. He divides this number into the population of America and comes up with an extremely small chance of being struck by lightning in one year and then applies it to his current circumstances and confidently believes that the risk of “going on” is very small. This is incorrect.  The statistic he should have used is the one which defines how many people who walk around outside in violent thunderstorms get struck and killed. The cartoonist, for poetic licence reasons, quotes 1 in 6 to be the numbers he should have considered. Much more dangerous.

People do not seem to realise how easily they can be fooled by a skilled rhetorician, in a forum or debate, who may quote accurate figures but project IMHO entirely false or misleading ideas by using them. Examples of this type include Viscount Monkton of Brenchley, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck not to mention a huge number of politicians. Do these people realise when they are being misleading? Are they fools or are they liars or…?



Friday, 24 September 2010

Five years - if we’re lucky

Don’t even bother planning for what you’ll do “when the recession ends” - or totting up the temporary green shoots. The time is later than you think.

When the world wakes up to the peaking and decline of oil, gigantic economic and social forces will be unleashed.
A stunning two part interview with
Robert L. Hirsch on Peak Oil – brace yourselves for 2-5 years tops 
Part 1
Part 2

This "future news" is not from just one credible source either. There are many. Here’s a selection: a pdf from Lloyds of London about future energy security issues and also a Der Spiegel article about a report from a German military think tank - this particular study is a product of the Future Analysis department of the Bundeswehr Transformation Center, a think tank tasked with fixing a direction for the German military.

And yet few "leaders" are mentioning this in public. Why?  Maybe their personal reality filters have tuned out this inconvenient truth from their perceptions. Maybe they are scared by it. Maybe they think the public will be scared by it and lose what little confidence in the economy we have left. This fragile "green shoots" pseudo-recovery would falter and fail if people knew what was coming yet what we need to do to avoid the worst and re-engineer civilisation to cope with sustainability issues is so all encompassing that the sooner we start, the better.

If you like stretched metaphors, we could dredge up the Titanic once again. Our leaders lack of acknowledgement of the peak oil issues could be seen as like captains on a Titanic. Letting the passengers know about the possibility of danger from icebergs would send the wrong message to their well-heeled clients who would lose faith in the White Star line - the "unsinkability"of the ship - the navigation of the crew etc. Some captains, unconvinced of the iceberg reports, or overconfident in the ability of their ship to survive anything unscathed, would turn a blind eye, or a deaf ear, to the dangers because they would consider alarmism to be commercially damaging - far better for the company to let the passengers continue planning the valuable business they would be doing when they reached New York...


Monday, 20 September 2010

Underwater base jumping and ultra vertigo –the alternative Branchage

This film, although an edited together compilation of several dives, is stunning. Semi-fictional it may be but some of the shots are just incredible. The whole thing cannot be done in reality but most of the parts that were filmed to make it are also astonishing. Worth clicking through on the image to watch in full HD at Youtube 


FREE FALL: World champion freediver Guillaume Nery - a special dive at Dean's Blue Hole, the deepest blue hole in the world filmed entirely on breath hold by the french champion Julie Gautier. This video is a FICTION and an ARTISTIC PROJECT. Edited by BLUENERY (c). Music: ARCHIVE - you make me feel.

Dean's Blue Hole plunges 202 metres (663 ft) in a bay west of Clarence Town on Long Island, Bahamas.


The next film below is Vertige (probably best seen in glorious HD at Vimeo’s site) taken around, or more accurately above, the Chamonix valley. Close up flying to some of the most dramatic mountain scenery in Europe. I can do the type of flying these guys are doing but there’s one bit of the film, about 2 minutes in, which made the hairs on my neck go up. It’s before they take off when there is a shot of the protagonist’s boots walking along a very narrow ridge with a huge drop off a couple of feet either side. Ultra Vertigo. It’s bigger than the Coupée in Sark and without handrails...

VERTIGE from Stéphane Boulenger on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Snippets from the Interwebs 2 - the sequel

Yikes! This snippet is scary. I mean really scary. If you don’t think it sounds scary, then you don’t understand the world we live in. The amount of phytoplankton - tiny marine plants - in the top layers of the oceans has declined markedly over the last century, research suggests.
Writing in the journal Nature, scientists say the decline appears to be linked to rising water temperatures. The decline - about 1% per year – 40% over the last 60 years - could be ecologically significant as plankton sit at the base of the marine food chain. An additional cause could be ocean acidification or, in actuality, reduction of ocean alkalinity (to shut up the deceivers and nit pickers). Obviously CO2 dissolves into the top layers of the ocean, which is where the phytoplankton hang out. Land plants are very sensitive to the ph (hydrogen ion concentration, aka acidity) of soil. As any good gardener knows, changing the ph of your soil can have dramatic effects on how well or badly various plants grow. It doesn't take much to upset the plankton balance and good old Homo Sapiens has recklessly stepped up to the plate again and done it. And is carrying on doing it.

Worse, phytoplankton sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide, particularly species such as the coccolithophores so this could be a positive feedback loop in action. N.B. some coccolithophores actually grow better in water with increased CO2 so, as always, things are more complicated than they, at first, appear. Read this blog about the plunge in phytoplankton.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska— A new federal report out very recently finds there’s a 40-percent chance that the Pacific walrus, a species imperilled by loss of sea ice due to global warming, will be on a pathway to extinction by the end of the century. Scientists with the Center for Biological Diversity say even that estimate is far too optimistic because the U.S. Geological Survey relied on modeling that underestimates the effects of climate change.
story follows here:
Also a hair raising picture (from last years ice melt) of the mass “shore invasion” of walruses (walri?) which re-emphasises the current accelerating loss of multi-year ice in the Arctic. The walruses are suffering from the reduction in sea ice which they would normally be on or around.


An ice island four times the size of Manhattan has broken off Greenland

Lloyds of London, the insurance market makers have warned of "catastrophic consequences" for businesses that fail to prepare for a world of increasing oil scarcity and a lower carbon economy. Their report repeats warnings from Professor Paul Stevens, a former economist from Dundee University, at an earlier Chatham House conference that lack of oil by 2013 could force the price of crude above $200 (£130) a barrel. Peak oil featured on Newsweek with Paxman a few weeks ago so reality is seeping into the public arena.
A new study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) argues that Europe and North Africa can achieve complete independence from fossil fuels by 2050, and that all the technologies necessary for such a transformation are already in place.
The 100 percent goal could be reached even without nuclear energy or carbon-capture and storage technology, two controversial elements of the renewable energy debate, according to the report.
Portugal will get 45% of their electricity from renewable sources this year NY times - renewable Portugal
Germany could get all of its electricity from renewables by 2050 the country's Federal Environment Agency said very recently
China has probably surpassed the US in installed renewable energy or, if not, they will have by the end of the year.
greening China surpasses America
News from the Desertec plan to build large solar concentrating (mirrors) power plant in the Sahara desert. In June, European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger announced that Europe will start importing solar energy from the Sahara within the next five years.
solar energy from Sahara will be imported to Europe within 5 years
In 2009, Earth Overshoot Day was reached on September 25.
This New Scientist article is about a microbe that converts CO2 into methane using electricity. Well, what’s the use of that you might ask - apart from the coolness of the discovery?
Using some renewable energy for supplying the grid is not as reliable as, say, coal fired stations because sometimes the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine. Any grid system with a significant proportion of the load supplied by renewables would work much better with the ability to store energy for short periods and this is where this microbe may come in. At times of high availability of renewable energy (strong winds and sunny days) the surplus energy, if this research pans out, can convert CO2 into methane, at an efficiency of around 80%, which can be injected straight into extant natural gas pipelines or stored locally. Methane, of course, is a very useful source to supply domestic level fuel cells which can act as distributed microgeneration.

Bike Powered Cell Phone Chargers in Kenya

Half of Kenya’s inhabitants own a cellphone but many lack access to the necessary electrical infrastructure to charge their phones, forcing them to travel great distances and pay steep prices to juice up their phones at charging stations (around $2 a charge). Here’s news of a bike dynamo powered phone charger
Here’s a Newsy collection of items about global examples of zero waste aspirations to generate no non-recyclable or compostable waste. is a good place to see the same story from multiple media viewpoints and various countries as they present snippets gathered from many sources.
Environmental action documentary/movie The Cove. Flipper meets The Bourne Identity. An elite team of activists, filmmakers and freedivers embark on a covert mission to penetrate a remote and hidden cove in Taiji, Japan, shining a light on a dark and deadly secret.
Superweeds and super bugs. Monsanto invented the GM crops that had resistance to glyphosate (Roundup). Nature fought back. The RoundupReady gene is present in approximately 90% of the soy and 70% of the corn and cotton grown in the U.S. Now it’s in the weeds too. The “superweed” problem is bad and getting worse: according the International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weeds, there are now 348 different herbicide-resistant weed biotypes, 19 of which are specifically impervious to glyphosate. Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts President Andrew Wargo, III told the New York Times that superweeds are the “single largest threat to production agriculture we’ve ever seen”
Here’s an ABC news video about superweeds

Friday, 10 September 2010

Brazilian ballet


Tuesday, 7 September 2010

How much?

How Much Is Left? The Limits of Earth's Resources, made interactive.

This Web-only article (click image) is a special rich-media presentation of the feature, "How Much Is Left?" which appears in the September 2010 issue of Scientific American. The presentation was created by Zemi media. Click (or double click) the image to be taken to the presentation then just mouse and click around it.

Examined carefully, this SciAm interactive presentation will help even gung-ho “growthists” (and anti-environmentalists generally) to get past their prejudices and realise the extraordinarily sticky situation that 300 years of ever expanding growth has brought us to. Peak just about everything.

I have, as I put in my profile in this blog’s side bar,

“particular interest in how ordinary economics and business models start to fail (and what to do about it) when approaching the limits of growth (when the world starts to put up a "house full" notice). Which is now.”

Those who continue to preach the benefits of continued growth, and resist moves that will transition us to sustainable ways of doing things, are Yesterday’s Men. To me, I simply cannot comprehend how stupid or ignorant or callous or arrogant or short sighted the “business as usual” types are. And yet they are seemingly impervious to criticism and maddeningly cocksure in their crumbling beliefs. Their rhetoric no doubt sounds plausible because it is familiar – it sounds comfortably “right”.  This is because we have grown up with it – our entire civilisation has grown up with it. It always appeared to work before – look at what we have achieved with it... A constantly blown up balloon always gets bigger and more impressive. Until it bursts. We have to grow up and start acting responsibly. Humanity has reached the end of its adolescent economic growth spurt. Time to put away childish things and be wise. There is no sane Plan B.

How much


Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Wishful thinking stymied by reality

The peaking of available oil supply has already happened a couple of years ago or will happen by 2013 or 2020 depending on who you listen to. Few credible sources deny its actual reality, they just bicker about the timing. It will mean the end of the last 300 years of unending economic expansion – the end of conventional economic wisdoms and the end of the credibility of those who continue to promote them. Are you listening, Deputy Chief Minister Ozouf?

Here’s a video featuring someone smart, competent and famous who realises the threats. As a businessman, he knows that forewarned is forearmed. Conventionally, business foreknowledge can enable great fortune. Maybe not in this case. Knowledge of what is likely to happen may bestow certain protection against the annihilation that will engulf those who are unprepared for it because they are not expecting it.

Richard Branson, Chairman of the Virgin Group, speaking at the launch of the 2nd Report by the UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security

This next 28 minute video comes from Peak Moment TV. I just wish I had more time to watch more of their programmes.
Chris Martenson is interviewed about the fatal flaws in the foundations of modern industrial civilisation that will end “unending growth”. He speaks about the current financial crisis, peak oil, peak everything and touches on how few of the mainstream experts seem to realise (or dare say in public) the enormity of what we are facing.

"The next twenty years will be totally unlike the last twenty... We’ll face the greatest economic  physical challenges ever seen by our country, if not humanity.”

So opens Chris’ much-viewed online Crash Course (highly recommended insights into the irrationalities insanities and dangers with conventional economic thinking – NP) illuminating the relationship between economy, energy and the environment. Starting with the power of exponential growth, he tidily sums up our economic problems: Too Much Debt. Chris discusses the implications if we continue the status quo, and ways to prepare. He believes that if we manage the transition to a post fossil fuel, post growth era elegantly we can actually improve things.


Peak Moment TV is an online television series featuring people creating resilient communities for a more sustainable, lower-energy future. Programs range from permaculture farms to electric bikes, ecovillages to car-sharing, emergency preparedness to careers for the coming times. As of May 2010, over 170 half-hour programs are available online.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Climate crock time

Plants need CO2 to grow. Therefore, more CO2 must be good? Not necessarily. Very poor logic.
If you're a denialist, with limited morals or knowledge or thinking skills, spreading the idea that CO2 is "plant food", to discourage vital attempts to limit the overloading of our atmosphere with it, is one of those sound bite arguments that sound so plausible to the unwary. Like many generalisations, sooner or later it runs afoul of the real world. Here below is Pete Sinclair's "Climate Crock of the week". It features one of the most prominent of the denialists, "Lord" Viscount Monckton of Brenchley. A very articulate and highly dangerous propagandist - allegedly (litigious, too). The material and "arguments" in his presentations have been repeatedly torn apart, yet he still keeps on presenting them to new cannon fodder. What should we make of someone like that?

The "CO2 is plant food" denialist argument basically ignores that one can have too much of a good thing. Rather as 2500 calories a day intake of food is good, but 10,000 a day will soon lead to big health problems. Come to think of it, Monckton’s brand of urbane poison seems to resonate very well with a lot of Americans who are no strangers to Supersize portions whether of food, oil, rapacious, “too big to fail”, international finance or whatever.

Extra CO2 can, in certain circumstances, increase crop yields but it depends on the other things that plants need to grow such as water, fertilising nutrients, temperature etc being optimised at the same time. If we get increased drought and floods alternately drying and saturating land then crop yields are likely to fall, not rise, due to increased atmospheric CO2. Yet denialists keep promoting this piece of misdirection regardless of the truth.


Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Fuel’ish boy!

This is a great and inspiring trailer to the forthcoming movie “Fuel”. It’s slick – it’s American – it’s optimistic. It’s true that we’ll be lucky if “Annies” like this are correct - but ya gotta have hope haven’t ya?

Peak oil. Climate change. Whatever way you cut it, we’re in for big changes.





Friday, 13 August 2010

And there was no one left to speak for me…

Edit - I should have attributed this cartoon - it comes from Tom Toles, who is a political satirical cartoonist for the Washington Post Share/Save/Bookmark

Girl power

Girl power. The Spice Girls spread it in the 90’s. It was all a bit trivial. This isn’t.

Have a look at this website - The Girl Effect - click agree or disagree and see what happens. It’s a bit simplistic but there is a big nugget of sense at the root.




Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Zen and the art of freefall