The years biggest failure, and my biggest prediction

It’s been a few days since I blogged – bit hectic this time of year, and a few projects had to be readied before the holiday shut-down. Most notably, I have to re-build the catamaran (the Paper Tiger) for the Masters Games in Feb. Early Feb! This is the thing with no decks, sitting in the conservatory….

Along with that, was the pelton wheel, it’s pix and the inevitable attendant article. Watch Lifestyle Block magazine, March issue.

If that wasn’t enough, there was the ‘Eco-Hut’ project at Port school – a ton of fun, but we did do the last effort on the day AFTER school finished. It too will be a column article at some point, May or June issue.

Anyway…..the years biggest failure?    The lack of anyone engaging in the ‘limits to exponential growth’  has been head-and-shoulders far-and-away the worst memory I will keep of the year. Gareth Morgans pathetic (his words) little put-down of the Club of Rome’s ‘Limits to Growth’ (and presumably its 10 year updates) is the only one in print. All of them, including him,  tout unlimited exponential growth, without defending – or referring to a defence of –  that unsustainable construct.

I’ve hammered all media (well, not talk-back!) this year on the subject, and my New-year’s resolution is to make the debate happen. Of course, if they just looked around them, they’d understand it is already hitting the wall. Heads in (what’s left of) the sand, then.

My prediction:  you saw it at Copenhagen, and you’ll see it more and more in the next 5 (my guess) years. The USA doesn’t have the energy/time to repay its debt, now, and it’s 25% of a rate of global consumption which is at 3 times the sustainable rate. There isn’t the room for China to put her head up, without the USA pulling hers out of the hole first, and I doubt that will go down well domestically. Also, if you lose a war, debt is not your issue, and if you win it, you can decree that you have no debt….  From the Chinese leadership perspective, they need to deliver at home, or they vanish with a boot up the bum (actually, China has a track-record of disintegration/fragmentation after cohesive  groundswellings) so those two will have the face-off. You’d have to pick India going with China, Europe with the US, in fact, this may pan out to be a first-world vs third world scrap.

If that’s the case, the first world should go early, the third world late. Sad for a pacifist to predict such, but there are 3 times too many people on the planet, or the ones here now are using the resources at 3 times the sustainable rate – choose your view. The pacifist approach os to de-consume, and to de-populate, voluntarily and peacefully.

That won’t happen. So we will have a scrap over the residue. which will be ugly.

What the heck – have a good break. Some of us, of course, only know it’s a break because of the change in the traffic – less trucks and more towed boats. We just continue our low-impact, low consumption lives (productive ones, depending on your definition of same) and sleep with our easy consciences.

an Eco-Hutting we will go…

I’ve been having  a ball these last few weeks. The Port School kids wanted to have a go at the Eco-Hut challenge.

Guess who got roped in – and I’ve been thoroughly surprised, it’s become the high-point of my week!

You get to know the kids, of course, and they’re a great bunch. Willing workers, enthusiastic, thinking about it….

They chose straw-bale, which I have no experience of – and to make matters interesting, they have a $100 budget. We’re up to $13 so far, thanks to a lot of generous folk (I won’t thank them here – the kids and the School will do that in their own way). It’s been a ton of fun. A priviledge, really.

You can see what we’ve been up to on the School website:

http://www.portchalmers.school.nz/eco_hut_challenge_2009.html

As I write this, the mesh-covering of the bales, and the plastering photos, are not up, so keep visiting.

Copenhagen

I guess we had to mention it at some point!

Tim Groser made an interesting comment on Morning Report – he’s a slippery fish. He tried to align the ‘Greenies’ with supporting the Third World, or at least, the impoverished. That sounds, on the face of it, fair, but in reality, it is only to a very qualified point.

The fact is that there are too many people on the planet, and we are indeed in ‘overshoot’. It stands to reason that the more resourced will out-survive the less-so, which means that we will continue doing what we are currently doing to those on the African continent, and elsewhere.

They are but pawns in the game, at this point. The developed countries – and New Zealand is still in that camp- want to carry on business-as-usual (which is actually growth in business as usual) while paying as token a tithe as they can get away with. They also worry about the relative advantage they may or may not get over other advantaged countries.

All of which is so in denial of the other major issues, it makes you weep.

Fact:  we cannot afford to run this experiment on a global scale, with no Plan B, and no physical chance of enacting one.

Fact: If we address it, standards of life (if measured in consumption rates) will reduce substantially.

Fact: There is not the physical ‘Sink’ on the planet, to absorb what we emit, and peak oil will just be displaced by coal, if the Brownlee types keep attempting ‘business as usual’.

Fact: the Third World will be forced to be a carbon sink (we’ll give them money to plant trees, somebody other than the indigenous folk will pocket the money and ‘manage’ the forest, while the displaced folk will have nowhere to grow food…

Yes it will be ugly, but it was always going to be ugly, regardless of climate change. Overshoot makes it ugly.

Is climate change one way for politicians and financiers to obfuscate the end of growth?  I doubt it – they need to believe in growth themselves. That would just be a lucky spin-off.

Copenhagen is starting to show the inevitable standoff between USA and China – one I’ve long predicted. USA has the problem that they did the emitting so-far, and that even with that boost, are irretrievably broke. China, if it follows projections (it can’t) would have emitted by 2050, more C02 than has been emitted since the Industrial Revolution.

Clever argument from Uncle Sam, but the irony of counting a yet-to-be-emitted liability against an already-emitted one is worth thinking upon.

I still think we will go into a permanent fiscal tail-spin, before the effects of chemical change become behaviour-altering. The peak of readily available oil, the depletion of arable land, and other depletion factors, suggest there will be a scrap – a physical scrap – over the remainder.

NZ is a little unprepared for that. Rudd sees it coming. Hope he brown-tongues Uncle Sam enough to be looked after, and that we ride shotgun on that. He could, on the other hand, end up like Poland….

Will a deal come from Copenhagen?  Of course not. Nor will anyone abide by any real limits. They (and our lot certainly think like this) think they can just pay someone else to offset their emissions, and can grow on regardless.

Which won’t happen. Lack of land and presence of corruption, will see to that.

this is a goodie – hat tip to Greg

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/10/ocean-acidification-epoca

Gerry Brownlee Phil Heatley and Mike Moore – keeping the faith

There we go again. Mike Moore has a lightweight diatribe in today’s ODT – the gist of which is that environmentalism is a religion (but of course he gets the science of carbon….)

Back at you, Mike Moore. Environmentalists deal with the real planet, with its finite resources, it’s finite capacity to absorb impact, as dealt to it by us.

You of course, believe in a wholly man-made construct, called economic growth. If you could demonstrate that it can be had without impacting the physical environment, fine.

But if Gerry Brownlee’s assault on the DoC estate, and Phil Heatleys on the sea, are any indication, you can’t.

So rather than asserting that environmentalists are religious in their views, take a look in the mirror.

They are aware of a finite planet, finite resources, a species (us) in overshoot, and a need to hit the brakes before impact.

You of course, don’t believe there will be one. You believe in a man-made construct, called ‘economic growth’. Don’t worry, you’re not the only one as stupid – Phil Heatley actually mentioned ‘sustainable economic growth’ in his splurge about marine farming. Think on that, Mike. He is touting an unlimited construct – an exponential one – as a reason for impacting a finite geographical resource. How oxymoronic is that?  Do we need the ‘oxy’ part of the word at all?

Gerry, same day, comes out with a remedy for the electricity sector – chopping around the state sector players (bet the advantage goes to the outsiders) and promoting ‘competition. Same old, same old.

I’ll tell you where the bankruptcy is – it’s in the tired ideology you lot worship.

I guess a previous creed mentioned little children suffering, but we actually have the information to do better.

We are pleased to announce…. Parengo’s new Pelton wheel.

Well, finally. Mark four, two years is the gestation, and in the end so simple. We started out with a Rainbow (Aust) pelton wheel (they call them ‘runners’)  made of plastic. We mounted it on a car alternator, used a stainless shower-tray, and positioned three nozzles.

It sat around for a long time – as projects hereabouts can do. Often it is because the manifestation of the idea is somehow wrong, and it’s left aside to be cogitated upon some more.

Mark two was a second-hand commercial metal runner, built in small numbers by a fellow in Roxburgh, a couple of decades ago.

Ish mounted a small stepping-motor on it, and it certainly spun. We have a little vid clip of it, and will get it up on Youtube shortly.

It’s problem was a fall in voltage when you applied any load.

So to mark three. The well-popularised Smart-Drive F&P motor, chopped-down from a second-hand washing-machine. Ish did an excellent job of the machining, but it looked too big for the runner, and the  mounting and waterproofing looked difficult.

Another pause, and a visit to Mike Laba, who builds vertical-rotor wind generators. He shows me a Gentle Annie WM motor, a General Electric , all-metal, permanent magnet motor, and the penny dropped.

I left with one in the boot (thanks Mike) and now own a dozen.  With a kit circuit-board from Oatley Electronics (Aust) it looked the berries.

We mounted it on an aluminium ladder, which held it over the creek and above flood-level. Voila, it spun and charged. We are nudging 2 amps now, not much for most folk, but more that we use by a good margin. I think there is scope to double that, certainly in winter, when we get least sun.

It appears to  rev 3-4 times a second – which is a good speed, not one likely to wear the bearings out. Nor is it neighbour-noisy, not that we have any within earshot!  It started charging a very flat (4.6 volts) 12 volt battery, and started out at 36 volts. Over time, it dropped to meet the battery at 13.6. Just fine.

So – Eureka. Ish, of course, has bagged the Smart Drive, and turned it into a windmill.  We’re on a growth path…..

I think we’ll redesign the cowling, to have three good nozzles,  good f low, and no release friction.

Watch this space – we’ll get a couple of youtube clips up shortly.

Monbiot – worth a read.

http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2009/12/01/the-urgent-threat-to-world-peace-is-%E2%80%A6-canada/