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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

ENERGY 2050 BANKRUPTCY - Castes Dark Cloud on Future (Part 1)

Energy 2050 Bankruptcy  

World Energy to 2050 
Forty Years of Decline

Climbing the Ladder of Awareness

When it comes to our understanding of the unfolding global crisis, each of us seems to fit somewhere along a continuum of awareness that can be roughly divided into five stages:
  1. Dead asleep. At this stage there seem to be no fundamental problems, just some shortcomings in human organization, behaviour and morality that can be fixed with the proper attention to rule-making. People at this stage tend to live their lives happily, with occasional outbursts of annoyance around election times or the quarterly corporate earnings seasons.
  2. Awareness of one fundamental problem. Whether it's Climate Change, overpopulation, Peak Oil, chemical pollution, oceanic over-fishing, biodiversity loss, corporatism, economic instability or sociopolitical injustice, one problem seems to engage the attention completely. People at this stage tend to become ardent activists for their chosen cause. They tend to be very vocal about their personal issue, and blind to any others.
  3. Awareness of many problems. As people let in more evidence from different domains, the awareness of complexity begins to grow.  At this point a person worries about the prioritization of problems in terms of their immediacy and degree of impact. People at this stage may become reluctant to acknowledge new problems - for example, someone who is committed to fighting for social justice and against climate change may not recognize the problem of resource depletion.  They may feel that the problem space is already complex enough, and the addition of any new concerns will only dilute the effort that needs to be focused on solving the "highest priority" problem.
  4. Awareness of the interconnections between the many problems. The realization that a solution in one domain may worsen a problem in another marks the beginning of large-scale system-level thinking. It also marks the transition from thinking of the situation in terms of a set of problems to thinking of it in terms of a predicament. At this point the possibility that there may not be a solution begins to raise its head.

    People who arrive at this stage tend to withdraw into tight circles of like-minded individuals in order to trade insights and deepen their understanding of what's going on. These circles are necessarily small, both because personal dialogue is essential for this depth of exploration, and because there just aren't very many people who have arrived at this level of understanding.
  5. Awareness that the predicament encompasses all aspects of life.  This includes everything we do, how we do it, our relationships with each other, as well as our treatment of the rest of the biosphere and the physical planet. With this realization, the floodgates open, and no problem is exempt from consideration or acceptance. The very concept of a "Solution" is seen through, and cast aside as a waste of effort.
For those who arrive at Stage 5 there is a real risk that depression will set in. After all, we've learned throughout our lives that our hope for tomorrow lies in  our ability to solve problems today.  When no amount of human cleverness appears able to solve our predicament the possibility of hope can vanish like a the light of a candle flame, to be replaced by the suffocating darkness of despair.

How people cope with despair is of course deeply personal, but it seems to me there are two general routes people take to reconcile themselves with the situation.  These are not mutually exclusive, and most of us will operate out of some mix of the two.  I identify them here as general tendencies, because people seem to be drawn more to one or the other.  I call them the outer path and the inner path.

However, the inner path does not imply a "retreat into religion". Most of the people I've met who have chosen an inner path have as little use for traditional religion as their counterparts on the outer path have for traditional politics.  Organized religion is usually seen as part of the predicament rather than a valid response to it. Those who have arrived at this point have no interest in hiding from or easing the painful truth, rather they wish to create a coherent personal context for it. Personal spirituality of one sort or another often works for this, but organized religion rarely does.

It's worth mentioning that there is also the possibility of a serious personal difficulty at this point.  If someone cannot choose an outer path for whatever reasons, and is also resistant to the idea of inner growth or spirituality as a response the the crisis of an entire planet, then they are truly in a bind. There are few other doorways out of this depth of despair.  If one remains stuck here for an extended period of time, life can begin to seem awfully bleak, and violence against either the world or oneself may begin begin to seem like a reasonable option.  Keep a watchful eye on your own progress, and if you encounter someone else who may be in this state, please offer them a supportive ear.

From my observations, each successive stage contains roughly a tenth of the number people as the one before it. So while perhaps 90% of humanity is in Stage 1, less than one person in ten thousand will be at Stage 5 (and none of them are likely to be politicians).  The number of those who have chosen the inner path in Stage 5 also seems to be an order of magnitude smaller than the number who are on the outer path.

I happen to have chosen an inner path as my response to a Stage 5 awareness. It works well for me, but navigating this imminent (transition, shift, metamorphosis - call it what you will), will require all of us - no matter what our chosen paths - to cooperate on making wise decisions in difficult times.

Best wishes for a long, exciting and fulfilling  journey.

Bodhi Paul Chefurka

Next: Part 2  -  Introduction 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Top Economists Say Must Go Green To Succeed, & More #News

Solar technicians install solar panels on the roof of a house.

Turn Cities Green to Save 
Trillions of Dollars, Say 

Improving cities’ green infrastructure could save up to US$22 trillion and cut the same amount in carbon pollution as India’s entire yearly greenhouse gas emissions, economists predicted Tuesday.
The Global Commission on Climate and Economy, made up of former finance ministers and leading research institutions, discovered that climate-smart changes, like broadened public transport, energy-saving buildings and more efficient waste management, could boost economic development and improve quality of life, as well as reduce pollution.

“Coal is the fuel of the past and it’s no longer a wise investment” California assemblyman Rob Bonta, who presented the bill, said in a statement. “I’m pleased that my colleagues agree: it’s time to move on from this dirty energy source.”

Taking a cue from pope’s call to action, bishops ask legislators to say yes to proposed legislation that would reduce emissions and residents’ energy use

$us.23,000 to fly First Class.

The US was providing intelligence and logistical support for the campaign in Yemen, and that President Obama had authorized a ”joint planning cell” with Saudi Arabia to coordinate American support for the military offensive.

Nearly 14 million children across the Middle East and North Africa prevented by war and conflict from attending school.

New Study Shows How Climate Change Is Already Reshaping The Earth

A landmark study in the journal Nature documents an expansion of the world’s dry and semi-arid climate regions since 1950 — and attributes it to human-caused global warming.
This expansion of the world’s dry zones is a basic prediction of climate science. The fact it is so broadly observable now means we must take seriously the current projections of widespread global Dust-Bowlification in the coming decades on our current CO2 emissions pathway — including the U.S.’s own breadbasket.
The new study, “Significant anthropogenic-induced changes of climate classes since 1950,” looks at multiple datasets of monthly temperature and precipitation over time. The main finding:
About 5.7% of the global total land area has shifted toward warmer and drier climate types from 1950–2010, and significant changes include expansion of arid and high-latitude continental climate zones, shrinkage in polar and midlatitude continental climates….

A Passing Thought...

Monday, September 14, 2015

Disappearance Of Trees Advances Climate Crisis, & More


Trees Are Disappearing From The World At An Alarming Rate

Some tropical countries saw an “alarming” surge of tree cover loss in 2014, according to a new report.
The report, published Wednesday by the World Resources Institute’s Global Forest Watch, uses data on tree cover loss — a measure of the removal, natural or human-caused, of all kinds of trees, whether they’re in a forest or on a plantation — from the University of Maryland and Google. That data show that in 2014, the planet lost more than 45 million acres of tree cover, with tree cover loss in tropical countries accounting for more than half of that total. Tropical countries alone, the report found, lost nearly 25 million acres of tree cover in 2014, a chunk about the size of South Korea.

The data shows that tree cover loss in the tropics is speeding up. Brazil, which has reduced Amazon deforestation by 70 percent over the last 10 years, saw an increase in tree cover loss in 2014. Indonesia, too, experienced an uptick in tree loss after seeing a drop in 2013.
“This analysis identifies a truly alarming surge in forest loss in previously overlooked hotspots,” Nigel Sizer, global director of WRI’s Forests Program said in a statement. “In many of these countries, we’re seeing accelerating clearing associated with commodities such as rubber, beef, and soy, along with palm oil.”

Betting agency says rising seas are threatening the nation’s beaches and invited bets on the first to go, with Palm Cove in Queensland at 4-1 favourite 

More than 90% of the Gaza Strip’s water is undrinkable. The rest is quickly running out. A combination of factors is rapidly depriving the population of this most basic of needs. RT investigated day-to-day life under these conditions. 

Israeli settlers set fire to dozens of olive trees after West Bank shooting

The Israeli army had deployed around the villages of Beita and Einabus and completely sealed their entrances, preventing Palestinian residents from entering or leaving "until further notice."

The forces that have created this crisis are massive and historic in scale. The crisis is a symptom of the far greater and far more brutal reality - a new Holocaust we refuse to acknowledge. There is widespread genocide in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia. The US destabilises one country after another. It slowly builds and grinds. Areas that are lost to civil strife can never find peace. Cities reduced to rubble can never be rebuilt. Communities that are torn apart can never again knit together. Worse will come and it will not end until the US empire is destroyed. Please let us find a way to do that without another World War.

In 2014, nearly 78% of asylum-seekers occurred at sea—the most common being Syrians attempting to traverse the eastern and central Mediterranean. Eritreans were one of the most frequent along the central Mediterranean, while Afghans, Somalis, and Iraqis along the eastern Mediterranean. 

In Africa, More Smoke Leads To Less Rain

A new NASA study shows that agricultural fires in North Africa reduce the region's rainfall during the dry season, in a longstanding example of humans unintentionally modifying weather and regional climate. The study is the first to use satellite observations to answer the question of how smoke from these fires affects rainfall.
Each year, about half of all fires on Earth are in Africa. For centuries, Africans have been setting fires to increase agricultural productivity and clear land for farming. The smoke from these fires coalesces into huge plumes that have far-ranging impacts, influencing weather and precipitation patterns and supplying nutrients to land and ocean regions downwind.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite captured this image of numerous fires burning in the transition zone between the Sahara Desert to the north and the greener savannas to the south. The image, dating from November 2004, includes parts of Sudan, Chad and other nations to the south and west. Credit: NASA. View larger image.

A Passing Thought...

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Rays of Hope Beam From Solar Sunflowers? & More #News

Global Digest's Insights 

“Our Inalienable Primary Responsibility”

You may rest assured that our purposes do not aim to “rain on the parades” of those gallantly exploring and developing alternative energy hopes. We would be more than happy to take on the  role of delightful energising optimists. Unfortunately optimism alone cannot overcome the constraints of hard realities as we examine the possibilities of  ‘Solar Sunflower  Solutions,” amoung many others.

First question:  How many Sunflowers do we need?   Answer:  Lots – probably more than we could imagine. Why?

Here’s the simple math. If populations or economies grow at a mere 2% a year, so do energy needs naturally correlate to sustain their support systems. The 2% figure may not seem like much in your bank account, but it means that about every 36 years you double your energy needs – in 72 years you actualize a four–fold increase. By then, “all fossil  energy resources are effectively wiped-out.” Oil alone gives us 80% of our transportation energy needs, while we are  depleting 34 billion barrels each year for all  forms of  consumption. In 72 years, we will need 136 billion barrels of oil or  replacement energy  from “ Solar Sunflowers”’ or other sources to keep the global economic ship afloat. (You would have to be nuts to start thinking  about the further needs for the next 36 years and on wards, when there is only; say, an estimated 1.3 trillion in probable reserves  remaining –  e.g. 272, 544, and 1,088  billion barrels of future oil energy equivalents needed, annually. Scary!) The gist is that there is no way on earth, or anywhere else for that matter, that a bunch of sunflowers can ever provide a complete solution  to the pending and certain “Energy  Bankruptcy” facing global economic, social and political systems and their on-going growth needs to 2100 A. D.

Also, on the back of our envelope, there are two other very important concerns; 

All these sunflowers will require materials to fabricate. These materials or other non-renewable resources are also being exponentially depleted. That obviously constrains how many sunflowers you can make to remedy an insatiable energy thirst. Secondly, there may be dark days ahead for many reasons;  for instance, volcanoes, nuclear or climatic events where the figurative object turns into the literal experience and the lights go out and the party is over!

What is clear and optimistic from this brief analysis, however, is that a  more comprehensive approach is needed that encompasses all the major physical constraints including population variables,  to construct outcome probability models  to forecast  most likely situations in the next 36, 72, and 108 years, for starters.  Why? To, firstly, provide clearer and less subjective diagnostic tools and information. Secondly, and more importantly, ‘we all inherently share an inalienable primary responsibility ‘ to map  sensible possible paths  for all future life on this planet. 

And this, by all measure of words, is our "raison d’ĂȘtre" !  


Why again? There won’t be any second chances….

September 2, 2015

The Solar Sunflower: Harnessing The Power Of 5,000 Suns

 High on a hill was a lonely sunflower. Not a normal sunflower, mind you; that would hardly be very notable. This sunflower is a solar sunflower that combines both photovoltaic solar power and concentrated solar thermal power in one neat, aesthetic package that has a massive total efficiency of around 80 percent.

The Solar Sunflower, a Swiss invention developed by Airlight Energy, Dsolar (a subsidiary of Airlight), and IBM Research in Zurich, uses something called HCPVT to generate electricity and hot water from solar power. HCPVT is a clumsy acronym that stands for "highly efficient concentrated photovoltaic/thermal." In short, it has reflectors that concentrate the sun—"to about 5,000 suns," Gianluca Ambrosetti, Airlight's head of research told me—and then some highly efficient photovoltaic cells that are capable of converting that concentrated solar energy into electricity, without melting in the process. Airlight/Dsolar are behind the Sunflower's reflectors and superstructure, and the photovoltaics are provided by IBM.

The declining profitability of coal is an opportunity to save consumers money and reduce reliance on a dirty power source. Coal-fired power plants spew more than atmosphere-warming carbon dioxide. They also pollute the air with mercury and other toxins, as well as fine particles that contribute to bronchitis, asthma and heart disease, killing some 7,500 Americans a year.

More than half of the 264,500 people who have crossed the Mediterranean in the hope of settling in Europe this year have arrived in Greece - and most of those have landed on the five Greek islands closest to the Turkish coast. Photographer Fernando Del Berro watched some of them arrive on the northern shore of Lesbos.

“We would only die once in Syria,” Ahmed says at one point, after his brother-in-law is nearly hit by a car in Belgrade, Serbia. “Here we are dying 5,000 times.

Many migrants are crossing from Turkey to Greece, Macedonia and Serbia before entering Hungary and then moving on to wealthier countries in northern Europe. (There is an important legal distinction between a migrant who has fled his or her country and a refugee seeking asylum.) The conditions in which they would wait out approval of their applications in Germany and Sweden are better than in places such as Hungary or Greece.

That idea remains, and it means that, even today, the failure to maintain a “smiling lawn” can have decidedly unhappy consequences. Section 119-3 of the county code of Fairfax County, Virginia—a section representative of similar ones on the books in jurisdictions across the country—stipulates that “it is unlawful for any owner of any occupied residential lot or parcel which is less than one-half acre (21,780 square feet) to permit the growth of any grass or lawn area to reach more than twelve (12) inches in height/length.” And while Fairfax County sensibly advises that matters of grass length are best adjudicated among neighbors, it adds, rather sternly, that if the property in question “is vacant or the resident doesn’t seem to care, you can report the property to the county.”

As climate change threatens their way of life, natives in the Alaskan Arctic may soon be forced to leave their ancestral lands becoming some of the first climate refugees in the U.S.

Watch NBC News Video

A Passing Thought...

JohnSteinbeck TheGrapesOfWrath.jpg

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

US Wildfires 8 Million Plus Acres Tracking New Record, & More #News

Global Digest's Insights 

There is a headline out there that states the obvious " It's Global Warming Stupid! " However, what is not so self-evident is that these raging wildfires are setting historic paces  in many other places, such as;, Canada, Siberia, and even Africa, as the closing NASA based article here notes.

There are double perils in most places because these  wildfires lead to the use of precious fresh  water  that is also approaching a terrible critical decision point - stop fires or stop drinking?  Not good.

Also provided here are up-to-date facts - September 1, 2015 of all major wildfires currently being fought in the USA. And note that in just "one day" three new major fires were reported. This is a very bad joke, but  - "shouldn't someone be calling FEMA by now?"

Well, as Winston Churchill once wisely remarked  -  "a joke is a very serious thing."

September 1,  2015 

Wildfires Advancing To New US Record  

September 1, 2015

Nationally, three new large fires were reported. Firefighters contained three large fires including the Eldorado Fire in Oregon, Rapid Fire in Idaho and the Route Complex in California. Milder weather conditions will continue to help firefighters meet their suppression goals.
Northern Rockies resources:

  • 5 fire crews, 1 CL-415 scooper group from Ontario, Canada
  • 1 Convair 580 airtanker group from Saskatchewan and Alberta, Canada
  • 58 fireline management personnel from Alberta and Ontario, Canada
Northwest resources:

  • 68 fireline management personnel from Australia and New Zealand
  • 200 soldiers from 17th Field Artillery Brigade based out of Fort Lewis
Four MAFFS C-130 Airtankers are assigned to McClellan Airfield in Sacramento, California and two MAFFS C-130 Airtankers are assigned to Channel Islands, California in support of wildland fire operations.

The Balkans is in the grips of an unprecedented surge in migration fueled by war in Syria and instability across the Middle East. More than 100,000 migrants have entered this year

Police say overnight fire at a converted sports hall intended to house refugees the result of arson.

A profound and significant change has just occurred in the Levant – the Russian army has begun to engage against terrorism in Syria more or less coordinated with the White House.

Following Scotland's lead, Germany becomes latest in EU to pursue opt-out clause in GMO rules

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Aqua satellite collected this natural-color image which detected dozens of fires burning in southwestern Africa on May 21, 2015. The location, widespread nature, and number of fires suggest that these fires were deliberately set to manage land. Farmers often use fire to return nutrients to the soil and to clear the ground of unwanted plants.

A Passing Thought...

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