Nov 6 2012

Will Texas be a climate/podcar leader?

Kal @ 17:54

From The Alcalde

13. Create a futuristic transit system.

Texas’ capital city ranks among the country’s most gridlocked, 2012 could be the costliest year ever at the pump, and our carbon footprint grows ever larger.

The chairman of UT’s Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering Department, Tad Patzek, proposes a solution: podcars.

Podcars are driverless vehicles that run on electricity-powered guideways suspended over existing highways. The concept may seem futuristic, but such cars have already been launched in countries like Sweden and England.

“Podcars cost 10 times less to operate and are 11 times more energy-efficient than today’s vehicles,” Patzek points out. “Also, photovoltaic panels can be installed on the guideways to augment power supply.”

Patzek is moving the concept forward in the U.S. by collaborating with Ron Swenson, one of the scientists leading the charge on podcar development. They both serve on the board of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil, which examines the issues around fossil fuel production.

Podcars are already transporting people at one of the world’s busiest airports, Heathrow in London. Given that, Patzek says, “there is no reason why they couldn’t move people between the main UT campus in Austin and the Pickle campus 10 miles north. This would be a convincing demonstration project for the city.” Katharine Grieve

Tags:

Category: Climate Change | PRT | Peak Oil | Sustainability

Nov 6 2012

Its later than you think!

Kal @ 17:38

From Climate Progress:

A new report by PricewaterhouseCoopers finds humanity has its foot on the accelerator as we head toward a cliff. The only hope is very rapid deployment of  carbon-free technology starting ASAP.

If Romney wins we appear to be done for. If Obama wins the chances are somewhat better, but I would not go so far as to call them good.

Tags:

Category: Accounting | Climate Change | Sustainability

Oct 30 2012

Carbon Tax?

Kal @ 15:24

Taxes

by Bill Becker

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

That observation by Charles Darwin has interesting implications in these last weeks of the presidential election campaign. It suggests that both candidates may be missing what’s most important to keeping America safe, strong and competitive in the years ahead.

Jobs, education, tax reform and energy security all are important, of course. But the key to America’s success will be our willingness to adapt to the new realities of the 21st century.

One of those realities is that economic development as we have practiced it, and as it is now being replicated around the world, is rapidly pushing us toward several critical ecological boundaries and has already exceeded others. These boundaries are important not only because they threaten some species and some regions of the world; they’re important because exceeding them is an existential threat to continued peace and prosperity. These are not the relatively isolated and repairable environmental problems of the past. They involve global systems that support life, including the oceans, soils and freshwater resources. They also include the atmosphere’s ability to absorb man-made pollution without destabilizing the climate. The most available way to manage that risk is to reduce and eventually stop burning oil and coal to fuel economic development.

….

A central question in this election is whether we will be the architects of our future or its victims, to paraphrase Buckminster Fuller. The United States and its economy are not exempt from the fundamental laws of evolution. We must adapt if we wish to remain the fittest and the strongest of nations.

Tags:

Category: Politics | Resource Depletion | Steady-State Economics | Sustainability

Jan 21 2011

Has collapse already arrived?

Kal @ 12:32

 

Lots of food for thought in the latest post from John Michael Greer, The Onset of Catabolic Collapse.

Empires are expensive:

That America is a prime candidate for catabolic collapse seems tolerably clear at this point, though I’m sure plenty of people can find reasons to argue with that assessment. It’s considered impolite to talk about America’s empire nowadays, but the US troops currently garrisoned in 140 countries around the world are not there for their health, after all, and it requires a breathtaking suspension of disbelief to insist that this global military presence has nothing to do with the fact that the 5% of our species that live in this country use around a quarter of the world’s total energy production and around a third of its raw materials and industrial products. The United States has an empire, then, and it’s become an extraordinarily expensive empire to maintain; the fact that the US spends as much money on its military annually as all the other nations on Earth put together is only one measure of the maintenance cost involved.

More...

Tags:

Category: Sustainability | Resource Depletion | Economics

Oct 7 2010

Back Yard Sea Level – Your back yard

Kal @ 11:54

Click to view full size

Information is Beautiful puts some things in perspective. Sea rise due to Global Warming, for instance.

Two meters higher wipes out Los Angeles, Amsterdam, Hamburg, and St. Petersburg. Large parts of San Francisco and Manhatton are also submerged.

That is a lot of nice Real Estate that will be going to waste.

Tags:

Category: Climate Change | Beyond Petroleum | Economics | Population | Politics | Sustainability

Oct 4 2010

Physics Trumps Money

Kal @ 10:31

George Mobus  writing in Question Everything - When what is happening in your world doesn't make sense, when it doesn't conform to your beliefs about how things should work, it's time to ask hard questions.

Work, Exergy, the Economy, Money, and Wealth -- A Sort-Of Tutorial

This is something of a tutorial on the relationship between energy and the economy. I have been dismayed by how often people express their lack of knowledge about that relationship. Such expressions come in the form of beliefs that money is what drives the economy. Or the belief that human desire to accumulate monetary wealth is the motive force for economic growth. Indeed I doubt that most people ever think of physics when they think of the economy. But the reality is that the economy is very much a physical process that requires energy to continue operating. All of the money in the world will not suffice to maintain the motivation of the wheels of industry unless it can be used to exchange for energy flow. Here is a guide to how the real wealth of nations is created and a more concise look at the nature of energy flow needed to do so.

More...

Tags:

Category: Accounting | Conventional Economics | Economics | Resource Depletion | Steady-State Economics | Sustainability

Aug 16 2010

Full Employment – Gone forever?

Kal @ 23:05

A few days ago someone sent the following email with the subject: EMPLOYMENT MAP.....Shocking!!!

Incredible!
Wow!!!  Very sobering and enlightening.
Somebody spent a lot of time breaking this down by every county in the country.

Review this Unemployment map of the United States .
This is hard to believe! I had to review this map a couple of times to grasp the enormity of it.


Displayed this way sure brings the perspective up close and personal.
This is scary. If you have a job, be thankful!


Be certain to click the PLAY button in the middle of the map
and take note of the dates above the US map as it advances month by month
! ! !

http://cohort11.americanobserver.net/latoyaegwuekwe/multimediafinal.html

More...

Tags:

Category: Climate Change | Politics | Population | Resource Depletion | Steady-State Economics | Sustainability

Jul 2 2010

Beyond Petroleum – The Game Has Changed

Kal @ 21:39

The Oil Drum has a daily update article on The Gulf Oil Disaster. Today the article is named BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Some Less Technical Issues - and Open Thread, but it is a comment to that article that I found to be very interesting. It is by someone who signs himself as ccpo. Comment follows:

There are a lot of people on this forum who've not been here for the last several years, thus missed a LOT of discussion. We see that here in the blind allegiance to systems exhibited in this comment thread and zero acknowledgment of the limits we now face. I am not going to waste time trying to review years of discussion, but encourage all of you to consider carefully that you cannot discuss the spill or, for that matter, anything else in isolation. The game has changed.

What we know without doubt:More...

Tags:

Category: Beyond Petroleum | Resource Depletion | Sustainability

Jun 30 2010

Beyond Petroleum – The disaster continues!

Kal @ 18:17

From Population Growth Must Stop by Gary Peters

As Kenneth Boulding noted decades ago, "Anyone who believes that exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist."

Tags:

Category: Beyond Petroleum | Economics | Peak Oil | Population | Sustainability

Jun 4 2010

Beyond Petroleum – Can anyone still think more petroleum is good?

Kal @ 09:07

Petroleum related disasters everywhere. The Gulf is burning. The climate is deteriorating. Europe is broke. The US has nearly 20% unemployment. Other regions have even more. People are hungry and homeless.

Isn’t it about time to think about alternative ways to organize the distribution of goods and services? What we are doing is clearly not working.

But all I hear from officialdom is “more of the same”, possibly better, but more of the same basically.

No discussion of whether it is a jungle we live in, or a community? There is a lot of discussion of The Market, and how efficient it is. The Market looks a lot like a very complex jungle to me, where the strong win and the weak get eaten.

Tags:

Category: Beyond Petroleum | Climate Change | Peak Oil | Politics | Population | Solar | Sustainability | Steady-State Economics