Monday, December 29, 2008

Advocating a local currency.

In light of all these developments it's time to start thinking about this sort of thing, at the very least to provide a non-inflationary alternative to the status quo. Please take the time to educate yourself about how effective and powerful a means for constructive change a local currency can be, and has been over the years.

Here is a link to very well thought out commentary on successful local currencies:

Here is the link to the local discussion:

Sunday, December 28, 2008


It's becoming a bit hard to account for the fact of the explosion in wildlife around here in the last few months. All sorts of stuff is certainly moving in which a year ago simply wasn't present or was just uncommon. Now, it's just not the case. I'm sure a little chicken scratch lures a few like the cardinals and the pheasants, but to see the Io and now the Hawaiian bats moving in was a bit of a surprise. It's not a simple matter of not seeing them before--the bird population isn't even pretending to be illusive at this point--a year ago one would scarcely see a thing no matter how hard one tried.

Certainly this is a positive development but I'm curious as to what is indeed the root cause.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The point of all this:

You all NEED

. . .to start living sensibly

. . .and simply.

It is about to cease to be an option.

The Happy Ending

There are no happy endings. Endings are endings, and none of them are happy. An Epoch is in its death throes. It was a time of beauty, and I, this strange kid, got to see a surprising lot of it. The sea turtles were the big thing. I wanted to see those since I was the tiniest kid. I've now had the experience of them eating out of my hand. . .

Sadness in inherent in beauty, because comprehending beauty embraces the temporal nature of life.

And, or course, "Passion is Meaning." Some of you are familiar with that quote. . .

Take pictures. Love your people. Write about what is going on. It will be important at some point. I'm wholly with Mike that booze will be constructive. Whatever it will take to keep your heroism intact will be completely justified. . .

I spent the day planting trees. A pessimist does not plant trees. Why would I bother to mess around in the mud dealing with something I will see no benefit from in 20 years? Maybe ever? Why? Self indulgence? Delusion? Maybe. . .from the perspective in my own mind--no, not at all.

In some sense the future we face redeems us all from a kind of responsibility, perhaps, we should not ever have attempted to bear. . .

Jesus! Can't be!

Well, I didn't make up the rules, and personally over the years I've made a real attempt not to contribute to any of this mess but "facts is facts." We can pretty much expect that this next year, this next magic year of 2009, will be the one in which human-kind really fucks up. We will get behind the supply curve, due to frozen credit markets and incompetence, and make a future of peak oil and its ramifications--until now not really a certainty--inevitable. The ball was dropped, and we will suffer the consequences. As well, in terms of climate change, we needed to get on capping emissions. Does anyone really believe that the will exists in this society to reduce CO2 emissions by 90 percent by 2020? This is what it will take, optimistically even, or we're just buggered, and there is no going back. Technology? Bunk. Unless you can roll out a winning technology next week on a global scale, forget it. It would take 20 years to implement anything meaningful on a meaningful scale if we started with unlimited funding today. . .

Forget it.

So, what will we do!?

Here is the crux--

Whatever it takes. It's what human beings always do. A lot of it will be very desperate and poorly thought out. A lot of people have a lot of ideas about it all. Surely, one thing is certain--life is going to be very different that what it was like a couple of years ago. We are coming from a society in which there was very little profit motive--at least for most people--to actively disregard law and order as a means to survival. As well, we have had a very well funded police presence. This allowed some people to draw the conclusion that we lived in a civil society. We are going to move to a world in which for many there will be a lot of reasons--at least from their perspective--to disregard law and order. In fact, for a lot of people it may be necessary to make decisions like--pay my taxes and lose my house, or commit fraud and keep it? A whole lot of people will be out there ripping stuff off. This isn't going to be a lot of fun, in fact it's going to get very tiresome. This whole attitude isn't going to be helped by the fact that the ultra-rich will be mostly exposed as a criminal class what have committed theft on the epic scale and more or less will walk away without any repercussions. Within the baboon troop, this is a very bad precident--for what monkey see, monkey do, or at least begins to feel entitled to do.

And of course the police department will have a tough time fueling vehicles, or hiring staff, or anything else. Jails will be packed, and funding for new ones will not exist. . .so. . .

So, what will it mean for we "common folk."

Good question.

Lets say you're 65, you've lost 70 percent of the value of your investment portfolio, whatever that is, and half of what your house was supposedly worth.

Let's say you're 40, you've lost the same, whatever you were lucky to patch together, and you're worried about losing your job.

Let's say you're 25, and you haven't a dime, and can't get a job.

Let's say the cost of almost everything you are forced to buy doubles.

Your wages if you have any are frozen.

They raise your taxes.

And a government bailout is extended to Madoff's investors.

Meanwhile, in the feral human warrens around the country where the marginal--for whatever reason--living on whatever version in public assistance--in the household where Grannie Jones lives in a subsidized low income complex with 6 other somewhat or questionably related people, including a couple of boyfriends who make a living stealing tires and car stereos--whose budget has been hanging make or break by the value of one damn cigarette for years--suddenly sees a doubling in their cost of living.

GM folds up 20 billion dollars of blown money later.

Meanwhile, in California the state employees pension fund says, "whoopsie! we've got no money!" And checks quit coming.

Or in Hawaii,

Or any other state.

I suspect people will be pretty uptight, actually. . .

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Terra preta do haole and winter in Hawaii

It has cooled off a bit finally and a the rainy season has started a bit, yet the weather is significantly different than last year. The Ohia are just starting to bloom now--it was early November last season. The north Pacific has some business going on as those in Washington state are aware for sure. The ice will sometimes blow in high in the morning--as in the photo, and fall as a mist at dawn. Pretty spectacular.

Plugging away on the terra preta project, as it's a good project to mix in while getting rained off work. No information on how it works in the soil yet, as, of course, it isn't yet. But, I'm working away putting it into the soil on a regular basis. There are immediate changes one notices that I'll get to in a bit.

After doing the research one will find that the "bio-char" isn't something that one can just willy nilly sprinkle on. While small amounts may be advantageous, one needs relatively high loadings to get the real big effects that one equates with terra preta. That figure seems to be around 10% in the top foot or so of soil, in the aerobic zone. So, I'm assuming that one needs to put down at least 1 lb a square foot to be in the running, and that's a big project.

Not an insurmountable project, however, as in one run I make about 30 lbs of charcoal. It's not the sort of activity that takes a great deal of attention, so taking it on as a hit an miss sort of deal isn't a big problem. While the guava wood is nice, we're not shooting for a char like a hard fuel grade. Any old smaggy green will work if it has some cellulose in it. The soggier the material you process, the less complete a conversion you will get--in some ways that's apparently good. It's no big deal as if you have pieces in the mix that didn't completely burn you'll simply pitch them in to run the next batch.

It's simply a manner of lighting a fire in a barrel full of wood, and when it gets hot enough choking the air off so you get charcoal and not ash. There a little talent to it but precious little. In the process, however discover a few things about why it was initially done. First, you'll note that you're likely to be making the charcoal near your garden, and the process can make a fair bit of smoke. Especially as the wood is pretty wet the smoke is heavy, and it will blow all around the garden, in essence fumigating it. It may well be my imagination, but it seems it's done a pretty fair job of chasing the bugs off, and there's no reason to expect that it wouldn't. Stone age pesticide.

Secondly, once you apply the material, you find that you darken the soil appreciably. Of course, right? But the immediate effect is that the soil heats up a LOT faster in the sun and retains that heat. Higher earlier germination rates and a higher level of biologic activity can only result.

So, the big questions--is this an ecologically benign activity? We're going to hear a lot about terra preta from big institutions soon and it's worth asking before it gets rammed down our throats.

First, we have to admit--we are burning wood. Burning wood is bad for the atmosphere. Burning live trees is pretty questionable at any rate. The only way that terra preta is "green" is if it works--and that's likely a big if. The key is that you greate a soil so rich that it literally grows like an organism. Studies do show it can, and at a surprisingly high rate. Rather than the typical 1 inch a century in a wild environment that seems typical, the androgenic soils can grow at .5 inch a year. They do so by retaining and pumping down a lot of carbon which is near permanently sequestered. This is good. The data is incomplete, at this moment, but is perhaps the most encouraging technique I've seen in a long time, suggesting that it's actually a carbon negative activity, meaning there's less CO2 in the air when you're done, assuming you do the whole thing. At any rate if one were to cut a guava tree, char it, mix it in the soil, and plant some fast growing monster like a koa or monkey pod on the place, I doubt you could lose on that score.

Secondly, and key to my message in this forum--is terra preta a sensible survival option? Remember, we're assuming that a sensibly minimalist and self-sufficient lifestyle may well become necessary. I've assumed from the start that the biosphere is going to suffer widespread damage--and my goal isn't to save it, but rather encourage and personally create small "arks," if you will. From this perspective, terra preta is an obvious winner. To maintain my goal of being under a 3 acre footprint, I will need to consciously "eco-form" an anthropogenic environment that works at a healthier and higher level of functionality than it might left unattended, or, rather, merely tended by pigs and birds.


Things I've learned.

It's amazing what you learn by doing rather than theorizing.

Anyway, having worked in a whole bunch of charcoal into the soil now I've started to ask myself--why do I want this broke down? Isn't big chunks better than dust? In a tropical environ where rainfall abounds drainage is ofter a much bigger issue than fertility. . . I expect that a grain size much like that acetate shit they put in plants is about the place to be. It makes for quite a light and fertile soil very rapidly. Keeping it that way with annual loadings of new material that isn't mechanically degraded will contribute to the ultimate carbon load. In the mean time, however, there are near immediate effects to the ammendment.


Having significant char loads in test beds at this moment I can conclusively declare that the biochar works. The most noticable effect is that fertilizer needs are vastly reduced. In test patches in un-chared soil triple 16 is near ideal for most everything I have up here. With char in the ground the triple 16 is nearly lethally strong--exactly as advertised. Since the goal is to ammend soil while I can and rely on leaf mold once the potash in the world is all used up, it is clear that the char will be a huge help to avoiding soil depletion.

The ancient Hawaiians used char made from the false staghorn fern in the taro patches as a soil ammendment, by the way, and now so do I.

Monday, December 22, 2008


Keeping with being the clearinghouse for interesting and pertinent stuff, here's a timely bit.

Two hours worth, take the time!

And along the road to that, John Galt himself speaks.

You really ought to watch this: what an unbelievable sack of shit.

Atlas Shrugged

It may be worth noting, in the context of politics again, that the "performance of a choir is only a strong as its weakest voice."

As well,in politics, as is too often the case with web forums, the tone of the discussion is dictated by presence of contrary nay-sayers, who enjoy disagreement for disagreement's sake. And there are a lot of those, who simply enjoy the disproportional power that comes from contributing nothing of value to a conversation, but rather simply engage in argumentative "drive-by shootings." It's a simple manner to create a whole host of straw men play a silly game of obfuscation of the argument--it's vastly more difficult to counter arguments by offering well measured counter-arguments.

There is a real risk, and I'd go so far to say a real effect--in politics--that thoughtful well meaning people interested in progress--precisely the group that politics really needs--simply elect to drop out of the process entirely. When people "involved" aren't afraid to assert, without a blush, that they don't believe anyone with an education has any business in politics. . .well, there you go. I'd say that sort of thing sets a tone. The problem is Sarah Palin has an opinion about stem-cell research. Does she have any right to that opinion? No, of course not. Does that make any difference to her? Obviously not, not to her. To a kid with leukemia, well, it makes a difference.

The danger is, again, that the majority of problems we face as a society are complex issues that demand more than a cursory understanding of their intricacies. There are those who for personal reasons obviously want to alienate from the process those very people, ie., those people who take the time to remain informed, and who are needed to solve these issues. The result is, of course, more of the same.

It is a real mistake to take for granted the good-will of those who in a meaningful manner have capably and ably worked for a better world for years. It is and always has been a very small segment of society that effectually creates beneficial change, and for altruistic reasons shoulder on bearing that thankless task.

An awful lot of those people are becoming pretty jaded and are looking hard at shrugging. . .

It is ironic in the extreme that the modern crop of financiers have found "Atlas Shrugged" to be some sort of manifesto. There isn't a a CEO to be found that bears any resemblance whatsoever to John Galt. Most critically as a distinction, John Galt actually created things of value. The real John Galts of this world are not running GM or Lehman's Bros--in fact these are the ultimate examples of the parasitic sponges Ms. Rand despised. Rather, the real John Gaults of the world are slugging away planting gardens, figuring out how to live more efficently, and creating attitudes and expectations that allow society in large to suggestfully tranform, with as little carnage as possible, into a post-consumer driven society. It might well be well for some to ask, especially those with the deliberate attitude of ignorace so prevalent among those commonly called conservatives--what the hell anyone needs them for? What do they contribute to society? Why should anyone give a damn what they think, especially, when it's clear, they don't do much of it.

The heart of the progressive movement, the sole place in society where constructive reform is occuring, is one increasingly focusing on knowledge and productive self reliance. As such, it is one step every day closer to telling the rest of society that rides on their coat-tails and flicks shit at the back of their head while riding along--well, to fuck off.

If you want to see how god-damned stupid we've gotten--check out these interviews.
Can you imagine this sort of depth of interview or treatment in any forum today, let alone television?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Questions and thoughts

Staggering developments in the world lately, and it's important not to get so shellshocked by events that one gets numb to the sound of the bombardment. I posted those links yesterday to some very timely topics for a start, but it isn't going to take much for anyone to find more. We all know, it's a mess.

I'm concerned however, that few understand what this mess means, or are adequately informed about of the magnitude of this issue. This is for a couple of reasons, but the primary one is that the crisis as it exists only exists in its full form at institutional levels. While the housing market is certainly an indicator of a larger problem, when one looks at the global indicators of large business on the macro economic scale--the scenario is nothing short of apocalyptic. Whether it is the demand for crude, or any of the various shipping indexes, or at sum amalgam of financial activity in the world we're looking at declines of 75% or more, comfortably, in the given amount of economic activity occurring in the world. These are very very very big numbers, utterly unprecedented, and to most, unfortunately, utterly unimaginable.

We, most of us, in spite of perhaps being conversant in the details, sense something needs to be done. And yes, it sure as hell does. There is no lack of bright ideas out there either, a lot of them coming from well connected folks soaking up what's left of endowment or grant money. In Hawaii, there is a push here locally as well to get involved with local issues, and one can see the well intended efforts of of Freinds of Puna's Future and others as examples of people participating in what they personally perceive as constructive good for the community.

The question I'd like to ask is this: In light of the world economy, in context of the economy of Hawaii and where it's going to end up--Do you really believe that personal civic involvement or government in general even remains relevant to our future?

I don't ask this in a snarky manner whatsoever. I don't ask this in a rhetorical context either. I'm asking directly--can we in the forthcoming environment expect any constructive aid, or services, or leadership from government entities in general? Personally, I think not. Even if the good will was there, and the process allowed for timely policy that reflected real needs in a timely manner--and there was actually any sort of funding to do anything with--I might be able to be persuaded otherwise. As it sits, with a massive budget shortfall in this state, and the Federal government committing half of the GDP of next year already to bail out bad banks--not a chance.

The point of ask this question isn't to berate the attempts of those who might still seem some viability in the government sector. The point is rather to suggest, in fact insist, that the vast bulk of the work that is going to be required to keep society intact is going come directly from the hands of individuals--not from a government agency, and we may as well be prepared for that inevitability. That process of "keeping things running" is a large one, and there's much work to do. As far as I can see it, we really need to get started.

Representative government in general is very poor at dealing with crisis, and almost utterly incapable of dealing with crisis in a timely manner. If the crisis has any element of novelty to it, you can fully expect all government may be capable of is helping others to pick up the pieces. This is made much more difficult today in a complicated world dominated by complicated technical issues. Very few people are even capable of understanding the basic issues, let alone offering sensible leadership. In public discussion or in civic activities, the progress of the group isn't so much engendered by the amount of visionary leadership present, but rather by the relative lack of idiotic, self-indulgent hypocrites. Since for example, any meaningful local "policy" pertaining to global climate change will be forced to be a consensus process between the most knowledgeable climatic scientists involved in the discussion--as well as the astute observations of the right-wing fundamentalist flat earth society--one can quickly discover that there is no grand vision of a future for humanity that can't get simply stomped out by simple cold hard stupid.

We should be very afraid of this. We haven't time to make stupid choices.

But this is leading me to a new topic that I'll need to think about before proceeding with.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

In the Future, everyone will have 15 minutes of anarchy.

Here we go, let's get a little perspective.

First, a mere six months ago, as I was accused of being unduly pessimistic.

Today--all this news from today, from one source.

This is representative of how the US is viewed around the world:

This is why:

Here is the result for stupid Americans who stood by and let this all go on unchallenged:

This poor sucker still thinks he's relevant:

What is "meltdown, you might ask? Here's what the US is going to look like in by next Christmas.

Friday, December 12, 2008

But really, it's this one

this is the way the world ends
this is the way the world ends
this is the way the world ends
not with a bang, but with a whimper

Or this one,

Into the crystal chalice flowed
The immortal essence which glowed
With ethereal flavors so sublime
The taste of wine not yet realized
So did that nectar tantalize. . .

Drink, cried she, and at that my heart leaped!
Of course the choice grim was mine.
My heart was said to be proof against such magics
And so, bravely I fled, and won the day for fleeting righteousness.
But still
On nights, cold, dark and chill
I savor naught else but a bitter regret
Of that wondrous elixir my tongue never met.

Or this one,

Some say the world will end in fire.
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Apoclypse poetry,

Since I'm on it, and Charlie Rose the other night asked some goon pretty unworthy of his time--"the black swan" goon--what Roubini, or Soros, or Shiff, or elsewise mean when they say "financial meltdown." Well, I have MY definition, but I'll leave it to the poets to describe it. . .

How about this one, by another of my favorites,

Quite unexpectedly as Vasserot
The armless amidextrian was lighting
A match between his great and second toe
And Ralph the Lion was engaged in biting
The neck of Madame Sossman while the drum
Pointed, and Teeny was about to cough
In waltz-time swinging Jocko by the thumb--
Quite unexpectedly the top blew off.

And there, there overhead, there, there, hung over
Those thousands of white faces, those dazed eyes,
There in the starless dark, the poise, the hover,
There with vast wings across the cancelled skies,
There in the sudden blackness, the black pall
Of nothing, nothing, nothing -- nothing at all.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

and along the road to that. . .

Seems pertinent. . .take a deep breath. Maybe two, and read this out loud to someone you care about. . .

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stoney rubbish? Son of Man
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock
(come in under the shadow of this red rock)
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at the morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you:

I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

The Famine of 2009

I've been thinking about this whole deal for a while, but it's time to bring it up for all friends, sailors, and kindred spirits out there.

Had an elucidating conversation this morning over far too much caffeine that made this commentary critical. Now, over Merlot, the thinking is more staid.

There are conditions forming that may create epic levels of trouble next year in the agricultural markets. We saw a little of that with rice last year, and corn, and elsewise--mostly due to bio fuel intrusion on the food chain. None of this pressure has gone away, but additional pressures are likely to be added. They are worth thinking about.

1) We have a credit crisis. We as homesteaders/seasteaders at heart and practice may be better prepared than many, and more or less uneffected by such issues, but the rest of the world is reeling. Farming in particular is in trouble.

2) Farming is in trouble especially because modern farming, globally requires credit as much as seed. The seed is proprietary in most cases, co-ops must purchase their fertilizer contracts, and they must do so on an non-arbritrary time frame. Spring wheat must go in at the right time, period, or you don't have any spring wheat. While GM and AIG dominates the news, the fact is that farmers aren't able to plant. In many cases, at all. Do your research!

3) There is a very very good chance that next summer will be the warmest ever in the history of human kind. Why? We're all cutting back on consumption, all around the world. Oil is at barely 40 bucks a barrel as a result. The ecological result is while CO2 may be lower next year, our soot production--which has kept the world almost 3C too cool--may well be much less. The result may be a sudden and severe increase in global temperatures and drought.

Do a little bit of research and get back to me. What do you think?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Ecoforming III--the key?

If you're interested in such things, you must educate yourself about terra preta.

Does this, or does it not seem like an ideal solution--and for those of us concerned with carbon sequestration it does that too. . .

Of course one might need a more or less unlimited source of biomass ideally suited to charcoalization. . .guava?!? Of course!

I'm attempting to kill two birds--actually several--with one big rock. Control invasives, encourage responsible agriculture--and retain forestation. . .this seems like a solution to me.

Be sure you watch this video as well.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ecoforming II

So along the road to all that stuff pertaining to the last post, here's what I'm doing and what has worked well.

Obviously, when the figure of "3 acres per person" is tossed around, that doesn't really mean cropland, per se. It probably doesn't even mean crop land at all. Not that wild lands aren't productive, of course they are--more or less acting as the liver of the planet to suck up the wastes generated elsewhere and pump it down. The problem is, of course, we need "stomachs" as well as "livers," and certainly a doctor cutting out a liver to put in a stomach will kill a patient.

So, when one expands cropland at this point of human history, it must be done in a manner that allows the natural state of the land to exist more or less undisturbed. Of course, in my area, this means any sort of clearing or removal of significant trees, alien or otherwise, is simply not a sensible or responsible option. The trees are just too valuable as carbon sinks, and weather stabilizers, and lest we end up looking like Easter Island we'd do well to be very careful on that score. All, then is left as a viable food production strategy is to intercrop amidst the trees understory plants that can be selectively removed. This is labor intensive, for certain, but certainly not as much as one might think. This kind of "Ecoforming" gardening I'm working on walks the bare edge of wildcrafting plants--you mostly want your food crops to grow in an unattended natural state in a natural habitat. And, I'm happy to report, they do so very well if one chooses these species carefully.

The chief problem with farming the rainforest areas where I live is of course the mixture of rainfall and highly impermeable lava. While taro can grow in that poorly draining much not much else can. Even the native trees have a difficult time of it, and the anerobic layer of stinky poison often to be found a foot down is as rank as any in a ruined anchorage. What is generally recommended as a treatment for this kind of site is to blast and rip with a big cat, lay cinder and soil. Obviously, due to previous concerns, this is hardly a workable or responsible plan.

In poking around in the woods it didn't take me long to find the trick to finding cravases and lava tubes. They're hardly hidden. Look for the big trees. You will find stunted small growth in areas of impermable sheets of rock, but on the edge of such you'll find enourmous trees with roots deep in the cravases living almost hydroponically on the run-off. Indeed, some of the finest. To learn from that, the mucky soil isn't toxic, it's only overwet, and if drainage can be installed, it should be quite rich.

Of course draining fields is a time honored agricultural technique of which much has been written. A well drained field survives both rain and drought better than one that is not--and locally drainage seemed to be the issue. The problem here seems to be difficult at first glance, but when one realizes that one has ready-made drains about every 60 feet or so in the form of a bottomless pit--it's simply a matter of getting the water to the hole in the ground.

The solution is simple in the extreme. Your garden, the one that most everthing has died of root rot in, will have a path through it. That path will be an expression of lay of the land, and typically nicely graded, or at least as well as anything else. You will, by now, as well, have become tired, I expect, of that muddy path, and think a little rock there might be a nice idea. As well, at the edge of that path where you quit walking, is probably a pit, and it's all but certain there's a crack there just waiting to be opened up. Solutions present themselves. Mine happened to be right in the middle of the garden. I built a little bridge over it.

At this point you dig out the path, pitch the soil from the path(s) into the garden, creating raised beds, and backfill the path with large drain rock or even SD perf pipe if you felt the need or were too lazy to drag rock around, which may be sensible. The change in the productivity of the garden site will be marked, and it will not take long at all for the previously heavy soil to start becoming much much more healthy. I'd recommend planting U'ala Piko as a cover and reclamation crop, and 4 months out the whole of the site will be transformed. Plant bananas in drain rock for soil retention when you need to cap off the end of pit, if you need to, as they'll be pretty happy drinking up all that run-off.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sustainability again. . .

I'm getting a bit of "sustainability" fatigue.

One hears so much about "sustainability" ideas today and there are so many voices out there trumping amazing new ideas and technologies and visions--I briefly visited the "Sustainability" fair in Hilo a while back as well. All in all I was struck at the characteristic that all new "Sustainability" tech seems to share. Which is, that it isn't sustainable. When you look at the issue at all, with any sort of critical eye, it all becomes very apparent. An electric car is an expensive consumer device--and is very poor way and inefficient way to burn coal. Photo voltaic systems are expensive consumer devices--but aren't sustainable until you have solar stripmining, solar transportation, and solar factories that make panels. Without subsidies, either. Sir McCartney is all out of breath flying around the world advocating vegitarianism to save greenhouse gasses. . .you would laugh at this kind of bullshit if the situation wasn't so grim. What the sustainability movement is all about, really--is trying to sustain with gimmickry a lifestyle of consumption that isn't sustainable. And frequently to earn a good enough wage selling this crap that one can keep up with the once a year eco-vacation in Bali.

I get told--Jay, you're far too negative about this sort of thing. Ease up! People say that they understand that we're not really sustainable yet, but hybrid cars are a "step in the right direction," right? Actually, I reply, no they are not! They may be smaller steps in the wrong direction than others may be--but they are still steps in the wrong direction.

If we imagine our situation in terms of dallying near a precipice, we get a better and more complete metaphor and get a better sense of our reprecussions. In a very real way we are indeed standing on a brink of climate change and wholesale collapses of ecosystems. If we were aware of the danger of the brink, and were sensible enough to stay a goodly bit away, an occasional mis-step in the wrong direction might be forgivable. At this point we are teetering on the very edge, at the slightest mistep may have dire consequences. We've made some very big misteps in the name of "sustainability"--bio-fuels would be the big one, which at this point is the single largest deforestation industry in the world. The biofuels industry was a massive step in the wrong direction, and getting worse all the time. I'm entitled, I think, to be more than a little skeptical and negative, as I'm going to get shoved over cliff with all the rest.

Someone said to me not so long ago, "Jay, you just need to realize you have a different definition of sustainability than other people." Ease up! Actually, while apparently and sadly this seems to be true to some degree--there's only one definition of sustainability, which is, to be sustainable. Everything else is unsustainable. Sustainability isn't an attitude, or a philosophy, it is a practical emperical concept. There may be a bit of fudge in the way to define it, depending on what you're trying to argue for, but what is incontestable is that there are only barely 3 acres per person on this planet, at this moment, at this level of population. It would seem to me that the only just way to quantify sustainability is to hold these 3 acres as a conceptual common trust. If you are consuming more than 3 acres worth, you are living unsustainably, and not only that, you are necesitating some one elses deprivation. World GDP divided by population is barely 3000 US dollars a year: if you are living on more than that, you are living on more than your fair share of the sum output of the world's economy. And a share of an unsustainable economy at that, mind you.

So what to do? Unfortunately except for a handful of conscious and conscientious, people what passes for ecologically sensitive is a lifestyle typically consuming between 1 and 2 orders of magnitude more than what the planet can really bear. If this is the highest level of integrity we progressive can muster, one may as well prep for a swan dive into the abyss. As far as I can see, especially since the global economic collapse with dominate all issues for the forseeable future, meaning years--a major collapse of the biosphere and a massive extinction event is at this point all but inevitable. . .

So, where to go from here?

From my perspective, again, the lifestyle that I should be living out of a concern for the ecology as well as care for humanity in general--one of strict anti-consumerism, is the one that most effectively will prepare me for the now inevitable future--as the future will be one of strict anti-consumerism by necessity. It may be cute to talk "green" in gassy terms today, but in the same way the high flying financiers have been brought low, soon enough I expect the "Trust-fund-afarian" lifestyle will be coming to an end. There will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth as well. Times of affluence and ease tend to sloppy living and sloppy thinking--and we can see the results. I imagine that once the critical and attention grabbing task of feeding oneself comes to dominate one's life--there will be a great more attention to paid to real sustainability than there is at the moment. And rightly so. Living unsustainably may well mean not living at all.