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†LIVING OFF THE PLANET†
†Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Food†


The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 2nd, 2013 at 12:37:14 PM EST
Storms on US Plains stir memories of the 'Dust Bowl' - U.S. News

Residents of the Great Plains over the last year or so have experienced storms reminiscent of the 1930s Dust Bowl. Experts say the new storms have been brought on by a combination of historic drought, a dwindling Ogallala Aquifer underground water supply, climate change and government farm programs. 

Nearly 62 percent of the United States was gripped by drought, as of Dec. 25, and "exceptional" drought enveloped parts of Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. 

There is no relief in sight for the Great Plains at least through the winter, according to Drought Monitor forecasts, which could portend more dust clouds. 

A wave of dust storms during the 1930s crippled agriculture over a vast area of the Great Plains and led to an exodus of people, many to California, dramatized in John Steinbeck's novel "The Grapes of Wrath." 

While few people believe it could get that bad again, the new storms have some experts worried that similar conditions -- if not the catastrophic environmental disaster of the 1930s -- are returning to parts of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado. 



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 2nd, 2013 at 03:22:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Storms on US Plains stir memories of the 'Dust Bowl' - U.S. News

Farming practices have vastly improved since the 1930s. Farmers now leave plant remnants on the top of the soil and less soil is exposed, to preserve moisture and prevent erosion. 

Oh, really. That's OK then.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 3rd, 2013 at 02:59:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Short grass prairie should never have been plowed.  Precipitation is too low to support cropping.  With depopulation, dwindling economy, depletion of the Oglalla Aquifer and initial affects of Global Warming the region is starting to enter terminal decline as an field crop agriculturally productive area.  

Alternative land use policies have been suggested, the Buffalo Commons being the best known.  It has also been pointed out the region is would be a good place for establishing renewable energy production.  (No cite.)  Although attitudes are slowly changing, to date the inhabitants are too set in their ways to make a change.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Thu Jan 3rd, 2013 at 12:49:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Opposite of Mining: Tar Sands Steam Extraction Lessens Footprint, but Environmental Costs Remain: Scientific American
CONKLIN, Alberta--The challenge of pulling oil from sand near here has typically required scraping away the boreal forest and underlying peat to expose the tar sand deposits below. The thickened sand is scooped out, then boiled to separate out the bitumen, with the leftover contaminated water and muck dumped in vast holding ponds the size of small lakes. From orbit the enormous strip mines and tailings lakes created by this process stand out, like a spreading sore--a scar on the planet evidencing the American thirst for oil. But the future of this Canadian province's oil sands leaves less of a visible mark, as can be seen near this town that is not so much a community as an intersection of roads that lead to camps for oil sands workers. That means fewer strip mines, tailings lakes and even giant trucks, but it also means more of the invisible greenhouse gas carbon dioxide accumulating in the atmosphere and warming the planet.

This future is melting bitumen where it lies at least 200 meters below the surface rather than mining tar sands. In 2011 more than 11,000 barrels of bitumen were melted out of the frozen ground not far from here each day, where the airstrip sees more human traffic than the town as workers commute in and out by plane from as far away as Newfoundland.

"Most of what's going on happens 375 meters below the surface," says Greg Fagnan, director of operations and production at Cenovus's Christina Lake oil sands production facility, during a recent tour. Cenovus extracts bitumen by employing a technique called steam-assisted gravity drainage, which can be thought of as the opposite of mining. Instead of melting the bitumen out of sand in an industrial plant after clawing the tar sands out of the ground, Cenovus melts it out in place with steam. That means Christina Lake is, in a sense, a giant water-processing facility "that happens to produce oil," Fagnan says. "It's not a complicated business, it's just complex."

Conklin is one of the frontier towns of a new tar sands boom, given that 80 percent of the at least 170 billion barrels in the Canadian province's tar sands are only accessible this way rather than by mining. In 2011, for the first time, oil production from such in situ operations surpassed that of mining for oil in the tar sands--a trend that is only likely to increase as more oil sands production comes online in Canada. Already, plumes of steam billow from the boreal forest across northeastern Alberta where a host of developers work--from Nexen, recently acquired by the China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC), to oil majors such as Royal Dutch Shell--like mushrooms springing up from the ground after rain.


The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 2nd, 2013 at 03:22:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]


'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jan 2nd, 2013 at 09:10:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Boing Boing

I always forget that Los Angeles has a subway at all, let alone the fact that it used to have a much more extensive one.

Parts of that old subway have sat, abandoned, beneath streets and buildings for decades. They've become part of the stratigraphy of the city, as humans do what humans have always done -- build the new on top of the old and forget about what we covered up under there. It's no different than the way Rome was built, with the columns of old buildings serving as the foundations of new ones.



'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jan 2nd, 2013 at 09:20:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Every once in awhile people go down there and I've seen some cool pics, but I could only find the one at this link.

http://allanellenberger.com/las-first-subway/

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 3rd, 2013 at 02:24:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
http://www.gelatobaby.com/2012/05/11/las-original-subway/

great to see ya posting here again Izzy!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jan 3rd, 2013 at 06:33:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the LA public transport system was once the envy of the world. City planners used to regard it as the model of how it should be done

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jan 3rd, 2013 at 03:33:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
GravityLight: lighting for the developing countries on Vimeo

GravityLight is a revolutionary new approach to storing energy and creating illumination. It takes only 3 seconds to lift the weight which powers GravityLight, creating 30 minutes of light on its descent. For free.

Following the initial inspiration of using gravity, and years of perspiration, we have refined the design and it is now ready for production. We need your help to fund the tooling, manufacture and distribution of at least 1000 gravity powered lights. We will gift them to villagers in both Africa and India to use regularly. The follow-up research will tell us how well the lights met their needs, and enable us to refine the design for a more efficient MK2 version.

To achieve this we launched a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo and we have been thrilled by the support shown during the first 24 hours of the campaign start. But it's not yet over we still need your support by contributing to the project and spreading the word.

Contribute to this effort here: indiegogo.com/projects/282006/x/1848870



'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jan 3rd, 2013 at 06:15:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A human can output perhaps 1kW peak.  3s*1kW = 3kJ, about the same as a lithium coin battery.
by njh on Fri Jan 4th, 2013 at 12:47:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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