Politics Blogs - Blog Top Sites Blog Flux Directory Green Assassin Brigade: March 2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

We now interrupt our normal programing for this musical interlude

OK I fully admit I've reach my curmudgeon years which can be proven by the fact I've not bought a new album in several years. It's not that I'm stealing music its just I'm either too caught up in what I think are bigger things to go looking for new music or what I hear just does not inspire me. Face it Freddie Mercury is dead, New Wave, Punk, Ska and Rockabilly have been tossed to the curb, Shane McGowan can no longer stand or sing and Elvis Costello became boring and maudlin.

That said I would ask those of you who still have an ear for new music to drop and give my cousin some feedback on his ongoing project Suns of Blindness


Even the end of civilization needs theme music

.Recommend this Post

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Fruitless Fall: Book Review

I've just finished Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honeybee and the coming agricultural crisis, by Rowan Jacobsen. I found the book a fascinating look into the rise of Colony Collapse Disorder, Jacobsen explains a good deal about hive development, the life cycle of the Honeybee, the role of pollinators and their importance in the production of food, and of course the ecological and economic implications of a total collapse of the Honey bee.

The Author spends a great deal of time explaining and critiquing the various theories for Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), and comes to show that no one theory can be pinned down as the definitive answer yet many of the problems discussed are overlapping issues each adding another level of stress to the hives until they break down in total collapse. Mankind is poisoning the land and hence the bee hives with pesticides, we are breaking the natural cycles of the hives by such actions as feeding them sugar to keep them active and breeding out of season, shipping them across the continent to overwinter and pollinate for pay, forcing them to conform to presized uniformed brood cells contrary to their natural order, and feeding them on monoculture and/or months of unnatural sugar feeding which leads to malnourished and immune suppressed hives. Once hives are too weakened and stressed they more easily fall prey to parasites, bacteria, viruses, fungus or simply become so stressed they lose the cohesive hive mind and collapse.

A great many people accept that peak oil will hurt us eventually, some saying within years others in a decade or two. A majority believe that global warming needs to be tackled immediately but realize that the biggest effects are from decades to a century out. CCD is here now and if the collapse continues at the current rate in another year or two we could lose the majority of our commercial pollinators. Such a loss will mean commercial fruit and nut production will be wiped out, vegetable yields will drop, as will some types of forage. Various animals, birds, and other insects reliant on wild fruits and nuts could also suffer food loss and population declines. Various keystone species could be lost causing unforeseen consequences.

Unless we want to follow the Chinese example of having children pollinate fruit trees using homemade dusters made of feathers and cigarette filters, or that of Mexican Vanilla growers who have to pollinate each and every flower with toothpicks, we need to address many of the issues stressing our most valuable pollinators. In the mean time stop spraying your yards and plant nectar and pollen rich indigenous plants in order to support the myriad of wild pollinators that stand between us and starvation.

Of course the collapse of pollinators could also lead to a major collapse of human populations which in the long run might make peak oil and global warming a moot point. So never mind, don't read this book it's not important, we could use a good culling.Recommend this Post

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bad Bank, Nasty bank, Profitable Bank!

From the almost too stupid to believe category!

The FDIC has criticized a Massachusetts bank which has made no bad loans for being to cautious.

The bank, East Bridgewater Savings Bank was chastised for neither "lending enough" nor "promoting it’s loan products" enough.

We are in the middle of a world wide financial shit storm and the FDIC is complaining because a bank took too little risk, what the hell is going on at the FDIC is there acid in the water cooler, a full moon, air born rabies, infectious stupidity?

Has the FDIC forgotten that its already stepped in to cover the deposits of 17 failed banks so far this year? It's only March people!!!!

Rather than complain about this bank they should be offering their management new jobs at the treasury or giving them custodial control of AIG, or Citi

.Recommend this Post

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pope supports the needless deaths of millions of Africans

Once again we see that religion and dumb ass dogma is more important than reality and compassion as the beloved Panzer Pope and Sith Lord Benedict XVI says abstinence and not condoms is the answer against Aids in Africa.

"You can't resolve it with the distribution of condoms; On the contrary, it increases the problem."

What a Moron!

This guy can’t keep his priests from diddling the parishioners, but he knows that abstinence alone will solve the problem. Yeah right, Ask Bristol Palin how abstinence works!

Last week the Catholic church was excommunicating people who helped a 9 year old get an abortion even thought she was a victim of rape, incest and was very likely to die from the pregnancy. Of course there is no word on excommunicating her evil pedophile father.

Letting delusional old men pick other delusional old men for all the top church jobs is apparently not working; I think it’s time for democratic renewal in the Catholic Church, one Catholic one vote!

Hell I'd even lie about converting just to vote for a womanRecommend this Post

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Embracing the Doom Pt 2: How Doomy, how Soon?

Having arrived at the point were I’ve admitted I’m a doomer and have decided that that the only course of action for me is to adopt an “adapt in place” strategy I must start setting my priorities and start planning. To set my priorities and plan actions I must first analyse the threat, how long do I have to prepare and how bad will it get?

As with all survival planning one has to look at the possible crisis and decide how this will impact ones life. With peak Oil there has been a great deal written by the likes of Kunstler, Heinberg, Astyk and many others who have looked at the issue discussing economic impact and opportunities, social upheaval, and adapting to the new reality of a low or post carbon society.

Looking at all the scenarios put forward I’ve chosen to believe that peak oil will progress in a pattern of strong price spikes and retrenchment such as the one we are in now. The traders and markets know that a diminishing resource is a money maker but they don’t want to have just one kick at the can and will encourage volatility as a way of making the same play year after year. The pattern however cannot ignore the real decline in resources which will usually result in the top and bottom reached in any one cycle being higher than in the previous cycle. In a decade $150 oil may be considered the yearly low not the high.

While it’s probable that depletion will be more of a slow grind than some huge messy crisis there will still be fluctuations in supply and demand causing regional shortages, perhaps as soon as a year or two out. This is not just a lack of oil issue but an overall infrastructure problem as many pipelines and refineries are either too old or too poorly maintained to be reliable. Demand and refining capacity have been so closely matched in N.A. for nearly a decade that it’s been impossible to schedule full maintenance shut downs reducing both the level maintenance and upgrades on our refiners. This lack of maintenance increases the chance of breakdowns and accidents, and more accidents which are becoming a regular occurrence.

Refineries must also be designed or at least tweaked for a particular grade of oil. As more light sweet oil fields are depleted they are more often than not replaced by poorer quality heavy sour oils requiring more extensive treatments. Plant breakdowns or the lack of the right grade of crude can both cause major regional shortages even if the world market appears to have adequate supply. NA also imports a great deal of already distilled product like diesel making us reliant on someone else’s supply, refining capacity and stability. The first Crisis will likely be the end of next year when Mexico is expected to become a net importer of oil.

Of course there is always the danger huge messy crisis like a war, terrorism or political manoeuvring that cuts off supplies from the Middle East or North Africa….. yikes!

So how bad will it get?

I believe we will be living in a world where lack of energy, economic collapse and the damage done by climate change will impact food production, medical care, water supplies and even world charity to the point that a major die off of humans will occur. Yes, there will be new technologies that could mitigate some of the problems associated with peak oil and climate change but I don’t believe they will be practical, affordable, timely enough, or scalable to maintain a growing population of 6.7 billion people plus.

James Lovelock of the Gaia hypothesis fame has recently stated that he sees a world population of 1 billion people in 100 years. I wouldn’t argue Lovelock is wrong, in fact some days I actually hope he’s right and the sooner the crash the better so that the most diversity, carrying capacity and quality of life will be maintained for a smaller human race. I don’t believe that we were put here to breed the planet full and I would prefer a smaller population of healthy diverse cultures rather than a homogeneous mass of flesh choking on its own filth. A people to poor to have any culture but desperation.

Breeding is not a right that allows us to kill the beauty and genetic diversity of the planet in order to fill up all the empty space. As the only species without a natural predator and with the means to destroy it all, we have to temper all our actions even breeding with humility and responsibility. At least some of us are willing to acknowledge the need to curb rabbit like behaviour!

While shortages and crisis may or may not arise immediately, the price of heating our homes, driving, and manufacturing will continue trend higher for years if not decades before a new equilibrium is established by an entire population that has been forced to adapt. The rising costs for everything will create hardship and job displacements. Many “Normal” consumer goods will enter the realm of luxury goods and the age of consumerism will fade away. If you make your living selling anything but essentials you should expect that a change of employment will part of the adapting process.

Infrastructure and government services will both suffer as it becomes obvious that the constant growth required to sustain today’s perks on tomorrow’s earnings can no longer be counted on. Tough decisions will need to be made between roads and health care, education and social assistance but no mater what decision are made we will get less than we used to and we will be forced to become less reliant on state. (at least the libertarians will be happy)

In some countries it won’t take long for the complex systems of Western society to fall apart. In my opinion Mexico is just such country on the verge of becoming a failed state. As depletion causes oil exports dry up, Mexico will lose 40% of its direct government revenue, economic spin offs from the oil economy and lower remittances from family members working in the U.S.

Mexico is already in what can only be described as a civil war with drug lords taking over entire cities in the north as well as the treat of terrorism and insurrections in the south of the country. While some countries are destined to fail anyway for a myriad of otehr reasons, Peak oil in particular is a powerful force that will push some like Mexico over the edge quite quickly.

For us the biggest single whammy will likely be in food production where every step from planting, fertilizing, harvesting, spraying, processing, and shipping uses huge amounts of oil or Natural gas. Some farmers have found that a reduction in chemical fertilization and lower yields are better for business as the extra fertilizer costs were not justified by the yield increase. If farmers purposely lower yields to increase profit margins prices could go to the moon. Today we have increasing populations and increased asian afluence leading to higher meat consumption, any reduction in yields will quickly impact an already tight market for grain products.

Eventually, long term, labour will be foreced to move back to agriculture to offset inaccessible energy. The labour costs of food production will soar as will retail prices. Like Victorian times, we could go back to an era where food was one of the biggest parts of a household budget.

So do we have time to adapt?

Yes and No!

Yes, we do still have time but No you cannot put it off indefinitely. Indeed the sooner you start the process the more control you will have over how you adapt and trust me you want to have some control. The choice of ignoring the issue until you are forced to change is available, waiting however will not save you money now, will not lower your carbon foot print now, will not allow you to moderate the pace of change, and instead it will be like a bucket of cold water thrown over the shower curtain on an unsuspecting victim. Zyban vs. cold turkey! It’s your call, but the choice to change can only be delayed not avoided.

You also can’t just turn a switch and say “today I use 80% less carbon, I will become food independent on Wednesday, and on Friday I will bring about world peace and create an unlimited alternate energy source”. It’s just not that easy or that quick to achieve.

The process of adapting is a journey that could take a considerable amount of time and if you stall too long, you may not have enough time. To adapt you will need to learn new skills, routines, attitudes/expectations and incorporate them into your normal life

It’s not only you that must adapt to survive; society and the market place must all adapt together. If everyone decided to eat local today there would not be enough food available in stores. If everyone tried to buy tools and seeds for this spring the market could not meet demand, if we all go to the farmers market on the same Saturday all the stalls would be sold out by 9 am. A sudden panic with everyone tyring to adapt at once when the SHTF is destined to fail making it that much more important that we all start making some changes now even if they are only small ones. There are leaders, followers and victims, and your level of preparation will be a great determinator of what you will become in the future we doomers expect.

Learning to adapt is going to be different for each person. Some people may look first at those things that give them the most bang for their buck or the low hanging fruit, others may see adaptation as an opportunity to learn some long desired skill or perhaps take a hobby to the level of small business. Someone who is infirm or has no access to land may not be able to garden yet they have a house that is adaptable to passive solar. Some adaptors may have financial resources allowing them to go off the grid while others will have no choice but learn to do without 20 electric appliances. Adapting could mean renovations to make your house more efficient or suitable for more people, something that will take considerable time or materials you might need to save for. Adapting could also mean looking for a new career path that will be in demand in a lower carbon economy. Selling speed boats and snowmobiles are definitely dead end jobs while repairing things or installing solar water heaters may be in great demand.

Regardless of the direction someones adaptions takes them it will take a considerable amount of time to reach that goal, Start Now and embrace the doom!

Associated Posts

Embracing the Doom Pt 1: What Kind of Doomer am I

Embracing the Doom Pt 3: Urban Adaptors and FoodRecommend this Post

Monday, March 9, 2009

Stupidity reigns

Like a life long smoker who goes cold turkey on this death bed, the CAW has come to terms with GM over concessions meant to make the giant zombie corporation viable, ROTFLMAO!!!!! Not bloody likely! GM's burn rate will eat up the new money in 2 quarters (at best) and sales are still falling.

Even if the CAW ratifies these changes what right does the Federal and Provincial governments have to subsidize a failed corporation that is unable or unwilling to make a quality or environmentally sound product and one that is not even Canadian?

What sense is there in perpetuating bad business models? GM has shown it's incapable of judging or meeting the needs of the market. Unable to take emissions or fuel economy seriously until they are regulated.

GM has been losing market share and money for years, why fund a proven loser?

Why try to maintain jobs in an industry destined contract not only because of over capacity, recession/depression but also peak oil?

Our governments are so eager to appear useful and buy votes that they are throwing away our hard earned money on a company that is destined to fail. It's doubtfull that any level of concessions could make a company as far in debt as GM profitable and yet these concessions still don't make them competative with Japanese car makers let alone the Korean and soon to arrive Chinese cars.

Now I’m not anti labour(I'm unionized) but I am pro reality. The best way to save manufacturing jobs is not pay them to be inefficient. 3 N.A. auto makers are at least 1 too many and unless they agree to merge and drastically contract we must let one go under. GM would appear to be in the worst shape and it should be let to die that the others might live. If one gets money they all will demand it perpetuating the fallacy that the market can sustain 3 large bloated, inefficient car makers.

If you must spend money to look like your doing something why not give it to Zenn to make a highway capable electric car?

To Rail Power to build hybrid train engines?

To Bombardier and CN/CP/Via/Go to build efficient rail links?

All things that look to the future rather than supporting the Myth that things will return to normal.

Things are not normal folks,Recommend this Post