Winter weirding

This is a record setting January.  WinSol is buried in a winter wonderland of snow with more on the way.

 This is a record January with 237 inches beating the old record for January of 159 inches set in 1973.

The learning center dome has its first real test under heavy snows and seems to be holding up pretty good.  We’ll see what the 72 hour snow fatigue does to the Cupola soon.  It’s really a beautiful setting as long as one has adequate heating, food and water – AND – doesn’t need to go anywhere.


Feb 22nd update:  Yep, it’s been a record snowfall for February also.  Lake Tahoe lake level is at it’s highest level EVER.  Kirkwood (my fav ski area) got over 72″ of new snow just
in the past 7 days.

 I keep getting these email updates almost every other day of some ridiculous # of snow inches that just fell.  When you gotta DIG OUT the chair lifts… what can I say:

Unfortunately, the Carson Spur and the ski resort itself is having open/close issues – and this veteran skier is only a blue-bird.  Although I am on my 17th ski day already this year.

WinSol and the learning center came out of the deep snow just fine.  There’s only one small leak on the cupola and NO cracking… whew… gotta but some acrylic bars across that this summer for the next big snow weirding.

the Rebound effect

Latest research shows that a rebound effect cancels out most good intentions like:  carbon reduction, energy & fuel efficiency, etc.

A rebound effect is:  ‘buy a more fuel efficient car and drive more’.  It’s been proven that higher efficiency cars are driven more.

Changes in behavior more than offset energy savings.

The rebound effect has been well documented in the past, but is lately gaining more attention.  Europe first experienced this rebound effect with its carbon cap programs in the early 90’s when eastern coal plants started producing more CO2 after western utilities gained carbon credits from installing scrubbers.

Reductions to global warming, climate change goals,  air and water pollution reduction programs are not yielding predicted results.  The IPCC’s  Rio+20 report is an omen for future efforts.  So how does one impact human behavior?

Rebound Solutions    A recent study on German households  has concluded that any policy changes are offset by a 57-67% rebound effect.  What to do?   Some studies have shown that fuel taxes appear to be more effective at changing behaviors.    So when that proposal for a carbon tax comes around,  we should all be supporting it.  Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is… you know…

 

Energie Wende

that’s German for ‘Energy Turning’... which is well under way with the utility death-spiral already a reality in Germany, but we have our own ‘energy turning in the USofA’… so here’s annual op-ed on energy:

Exec Sum: It’s time to take a hiatus and chill in our warming planet: it’s all too damn confussing,  as our rubber band has exceeded its stretching limits:  Oil prices will continue to hover between $20-40, coal IS done – fini-  despite trumpian efforts,  wind and solar will continue to enlighten, and the USA will continue to gets its energy ass kicked by Europe and China… we are a laughing stock when it comes to energy policy: cheap oil at any price.  We hardly notice as the world moves on (to renewables).

Between falling oil prices and OPEC’s dysfunction (latest production cut agreement won’t hold long),  trumping around with uncertainty, Paris accords fading, Venezuela’s civil unrest, protesters turning into connected protectors,  fracking getting a pass,  more cars at less MPGs, Tesla’s stock shrinking as marriage to its incestuous cousin is approved, and Gaia keeps turning up the
heat on us frogs, what can I say that’s positive?   Hey – we’re waking up!  slowly but surely we are reaching a tipping point and I’m optimistic that our Big Brains will soon figure out that nature doesn’t really have an opinion and it’s better off without us – any questions?  There’s just one little issue with my optimism: Are we really that smart?  It only took us 5,000 years to put wheels on our luggage! And that was on top of 55,000 years without wheels!  something about chisels?… but I digress…

We have an energy solution right in front of us, but can’t seem to get past bi-partisan morass. Even NRG can’t figure it out… I get tired reading about the troubles in the renewable business… would the pop media wake up and get some balls – please?  Fossil fuels are not only messy, they’re guey, they stink, their supply chain is extremely inefficient (<5%), when they leak they kill, and we’re addicted like a heroin addict.  If you’ve ever driven up to an active fracking development area, you’ll be smelling and seeing methane clouds miles away; or if you’ve been with a wild-catting/leatherneck crew you’ll soon learn the messy business of dozens of 100ft long steel pipes swinging overhead waiting to be launched into the ground to send a diamond drill bit down,down,down (sound like I’ve been there? – yep in the 80’s… they were fracking then too in Oklahoma and I had a front row seat… but the fracking is WAY bigger & messier now).

(Newsflash on a recent Oil discovery: a HUGE – yes a trumpian huge – oil reserve in the Texas Bakken field was just unearthed that’ll keep oil & gas prices low for years more and renewables in the USA fighting for survival.)

renewables are messy...and renewables continue getting a dose of political uncertainty (again, sigh…) but what’s so messy about hooking up two wires to a solar panel, a couple water pipes to a hot water collector, or erecting a steel tower (once) for a wind blade? Compared to ANYTHING in the fossil fuel industry… absolutely nothing! (sing it Edwin Starr…. music tune: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpWmlRNfLck

Here’s an easy solution:  teach a kid how to heat water with a black soda bottle (just put some dark liquid in there and stick it out in the sun), or point out the solar PV panels on rooftops, and maybe even a wind turbine when you’re driving around… but hey! in order to be a teacher, y’all gotta be a good student… so study up and then teach the GOOD stuff to a young-un.

Note: if ya wanna be really cool, do this on the right… super heat a soda can!

——————————————————————

P.S. That’s what the LeLc is all about… FUN and PLAY… and the GREAT TURNING  (WTR)

 

DAPL protest

It’s the water.  We need it to live.  We really shouldn’t be mixing it with oil or natural gas or methane.  Ultimately the upstream solution is to totally disconnect ourselves from fossil fuels which are the real ‘alternative energies’.  el Sol is the only true energy source for Gaia.

So I went to a protest in dowimg_20161115_082203ntown SF… the second one in 5 years (occupy was earlier).  There were 2,000+ there – and mostly young-uns!  wow – that is so cool. I do hope this stuff about skipping generations is true, cuz the GenXers sure never woke up to protest our endless wars in the Middle East.

This protest ‘theme’ has my full attention and passion.  Not only is it VERY specific (about water)  and proposes specific solutions (no pipelines close to rivers & aquifers, but it is ALSO about not infringing on the sovereign rights of indigenous people – the ones we did a genocide on which we still have not dealt with!  So Standing Rock and all it’s supporters around the world … ROCK ON.  (note:  this is only the second of many, many pipeline protests to come… the first big-un was the Keystone Excel, this is gettin’ legs, babeee!)

So here I is….

dapl-protest

 

 

img_20161115_075048

 

DAPL = Dakota Access PipeLine

 

Lukewarming

Ok, I admit it:  I’m not really a climate change group thinker or believer anymore , BUT neither am I a  skeptic or climate denier – perhaps I am a lukewarmer,  What the heck is that, you ask???

When it comes to climate change – aka global weirding – I am classifying myself now as a lukewarmer. 

I’m a bit tired of the pop media and group think around climate change – it’s a bit too much – it’s like the environmentalism of the  80’s & 90’s:  let’s do less bad… and if you are not with us you’re against us. We’re about to battle this in Congress when climate science gets in front of Trump’s climate deniers. Oh such entertainment!

Climate change pundits and most scientists focus 100% on emissions.  This is wrong.   Climate change is redundant – it always changes.  And yes, humans are a major contributor – but I sure wish people would stop making us feel guilty about it.   Instead of doing less bad things,  how about we start doing some GOOD things:  like putting biochar back into the soil.  All climate changers keep doing is pounding us with having less CO2 emissions,  having a smaller carbon footprint: stop buying this, start eating that.

Like Dr. Braungart once told me:  if zero emissions are our goal, we should all be DOA (dead).  Humans are part of nature – we’re organic aren’t we?  So it’s quite natural for us to have ’emissions’.  His co-author in ‘Cradle to Cradle’     and partner Bill McDonough just published a paper on a new language for carbon — if we can change our carbon language to do more good, rather than less bad – perhaps we can design a world that will reduce carbon emissions as a by-product rather than declaring a WAR again…

Bill talks about living, durable and future carbon, rather than zero emission.   Here’s a synopsis: “The world’s current carbon strategy aims to promote a goal of zero. Predominant language currently includes words such as “low carbon,” “zero carbon,” “negative carbon,” and even a “war on carbon.” To show progress, according to McDonough, the design world needs values-based language that reflects a safe, healthy and just world. In this new paradigm, by building urban food systems and cultivating closed-loop flows of carbon nutrients, carbon can be recognized as an asset rather than a toxin, and the life-giving carbon cycle can become a model for human designs.”  http://finance.yahoo.com/news/william-mcdonough-offers-language-carbon-160000133.html Continue reading Lukewarming

GMO – here we go again…

…with another consumer scam sponsored by ‘Profits-R-Us’ corporate food greedies. BUT this time it’s a bit different: WE  HAVE A CHOICE.  Please pass this on to your friends…

IGNORE ‘non-GMO’ food labels.  Please, it’s good for you.

the story behind the story…

Consumers are starting to focus on buying non-GMO labeled products. This trend may decimate the organic industry.  Consumers unwittingly think that ‘non GMO’ is also organic. It is not. The dirty secret is non-GMO certified products have nothing to do with organic, and can freely use all industrial farming and heavy pesticide practices among other things.

Consumers are ‘eating up’ (pun intended) the non-GMO label more than the ‘organic’ label and are unwittingly increasing sales of industrial food conglomerates that use pesticides, …. other non-organic practices here….

It gets crazier: non-GMO labels are appearing on dairy and meat products. This is meaningless!

There have been several peer-reviewed scientific studies done debunking the notion that animals being fed GMO feed ‘transmit’ that GMO into their blood stream and into milk, eggs, and meat. There is NO DIFFERENCE between non-GMO labeled dairy and meat products and those that don’t have that label – except price (sometimes 2-3X higher). GMO grain fed cows, pigs, chickens do not produce GMO milk, beef, pork, eggs.

The new label of ‘Non GMO certified’ is a Trojan horse if there ever was one. It basically means it could or could not be organic (most aren’t) and everything else (besides the non-GMO) is industrial farm grade: pesticides, harmful practices, round-up, dirty water, etc.

Your better buy is to look for both labels, side by side (but they ARE duplicative since USDA organic already omits GMO):

Here’s details from an SF Chronicle article:

…organic farmers who objected to the label feel that the non-GMO designation takes away from organic certification, which already requires that farmers avoid using genetically engineered seed and animal feed. Meanwhile, some conventional dairy farmers said the term “non-GMO milk” makes their perfectly safe product sound scary…..

….. Eenennaam’s research has concluded that DNA from genetically engineered feed is not passed to milk or meat. Her 2014 scientific review of 30 years of livestock studies showed no difference in the health of animals given genetically engineered feed and those consuming unmodified feed, or a difference in the nutritional makeup of their meat or milk.

“We are really talking marketing here — developing a product line to differentiate it from a product that already does not contain GMOs,” she said. “As a company they of course can develop whatever products they want and if they see a profitable market — then it is a good business decision.”

It just doesn’t stop! Why do corporations continue to confuse, deceive and mislead consumers in the name of profit? Why is the media not more omnipresent and on top of these things?

On another note, the name ‘Monsanto’ is soon to disappear into ‘Bayer’ and everyone things that Bayer is an aspirin company. Bayer is almost worse than Monsanto when one looks at the ‘sudden bee collapse’ that Bayer’s nicotine based pesticides are mostly responsible.  More info here… link.

LeLc earthen floor

After nearly three months of hard work and one major physical injury (leg in root cellar manhole!) , the first layer of earthen plaster flooring is done in the Living Energy Learning Center (LeLc).  This is a major milestone.

Dome cupola
Dome cupola

There were four phases to the LeLc Dome:  Foundation and Floor, engineering design & dome frame, Skinning the Dome, and interior paint & earthen floor.

It’s quite exhilarating & calming to look at the emerging floor and its ceramic tile mandala, and the amazing ‘space’ as it evolves into something magical…

Pictures (click to enlarge):

1st layer
1st layer
work in progress
work in progress
root cellar hole
root cellar hole

 

 

 

dif wet vs. dried
dif wet vs. dried

 

 

 

 

as

 

with the LeLc Dome… this post is also under construction… stay tuned…

systems thinking & LeLc learning programs

Everything is interconnected.  Yes – and it’s complicated and simple at the same time.  I’ve been there.

With the LeLc (Living Energy Learning Center at WinSol) I’m going to be exploring the simpler side of this interconnectedness.

I spent five years on the complicated side:  (2001-2006) with some of the leading brains in the world from Peter Senge (MiT)and his SoL org and their first Congress in Vienna,  then with Dr. Andrew Ford at Eastern Washington U and his ‘environmental modeling’ work, and Dr. Braungart in Hamburg with his EPEA Cradle-to-Cradle.  I have fond memories of speaking at a Systems Design conference in Bergen, Norway and a ‘moose safari’ in the fjords with a executive friend from Det Norske Veritas in Oslo.

I worked with Peregrine Systems, PowerSim software, and Cisco Systems on developing some pretty advanced complex SD (System Dynamic) models for lease holdings and workplace productivity.  And the result?  Once again (sigh), I was too far ahead of the curve and couldn’t squeeze a profit to keep the business operations going.

But, man did I learn a lot!  Things are complicated and counter-intuitive, and they sure are interconnect
ed!  And it sure was fun teaching it at CSUS’s GBO program on sustainable business practices… carbon bathtub and all.

Fast forward a decade, and now I find myself deeply engaged with Joanna Macy’s WTR work – and trying to figure out how to leverage that for some good.  And by good, I mean RESULTS.  I learned as an auditor for the Senate Baldridge Quality Award, that results are what matters – the rest is mostly marketing (aka window dressing).

So the challenge with the LeLc (Living Energy Learning Center)  will be how to incorporate all of this SD modeling, educational intents, inspiration, ancients’ wisdom, Gaia’s pleadings: calling us to PLEASE STOP this destructive onslaught… into real RESULTS for LeLc attendees that effect real change.

Fast forward to experiental learning.  i think that’s the sweet spot.  All the lecturting, field trips, powerpoint & prezi shows are fine, but figuring out processes and exercises and DEMONSTRATING things in a lab type setting so that people can PLAY with things – that’s my new passion, and that’s where the LeLc (Living Energy Learning Center) is headed.

I ran across this interesting business playwheel (aka mandala? 🙂 about STEM and learning – what do you think?  is it worthwhile  pursuing?  stay tuned…

 

 

…  my opinion:   I think it’s a lot better than Bloom’s taxonomy – but that also has its purpose.  Sometimes I wish permaculture PDC and other programs would have some discipline in putting their learning programs together, rather than just follow some book or concept or brainstorming… but focus on REAL learning methods: like a taxonomy of learning?

stay tuned… now that the LeLc construction is winding down… the REAL thing begins… wheeeeeeeee……

 

my next civil disobedience…

The next civil disobedience I will participate in will  be in the Pacific Northwest either at Vancouver or Longmont, Washington.

These two areas are prime candidates for development of deep sea ports and sizeable increases of rail-yard volume to accommodate oil and coal rail cars from the Bakken fields of North Dakota and beyond (think Alberta tar sands). More pipelines are already being built unbeknown to most people, skirting around any opposition silently underground.

The little town of Mosier, Oregon experienced a close call oil derailment not too long ago.  On a Friday in early June, more than 40,000 gallons of Bakken crude spilled in a fiery oil train derailment that burned for 14 hours. Jerry Oliver is a port commissioner in Vancouver, Wash., and a vocal supporter of what would be the largest oil-by-rail terminal in the country, known as the Vancouver Energy Project.  If built, the terminal would more than double the number of mile-long oil trains traveling along the Columbia River, to about 46 trains per week.

The Mosier derailment has led the Oregon Department of Transportation torequest the federal government issue a moratorium on oil trains in the Gorge and elsewhere throughout the state.

Protests have already started, and are sure to get bigger.   More than 100 protesters blocked BNSF Railway tracks in Vancouver, Washington, on Saturday, June 18, 2016, to protest oil train activity in the Northwest. Police arrested 21 people who refused to vacate the tracks as they protested oil train activity in the Pacific Northwest.

————————————————————————————-The current volume of oil & coal being shipped is staggering, and there’s a lot more profits to be made by increasing this volume. Is this a good thing? Is it good to keep supplying our addiction to gasoline and to keep prices down?

We are all enjoying cheaper prices at the pump. But at what price? Are we leveraging our grandkids’ future for instant gratification today (cheaper prices)?

There may be some short term pain at the pumps, but the sooner we start paying the real price of climate change fossil fuels, the sooner electric/hydrogen cars and more renewable technologies will be sprouted and competitive.

Since our systems looks mostly at short term returns and risks, oil trains are once again coming front and center.

The Quebec derailment and tragedy is a distant (3 year)
memory. 42+ people were killed… here’s the wikipedia link.  

Do we really need to wait until we have a similar disaster before we act?  I think not!  And I’ll be doing my small part by helping block the tracks… join me if you dare.