Notwithstanding a couple of wars, the Europe we know and take for granted was created on a surplus of very cheap fuel. namely oil coal and gas. These hydrocarbons provided the power that not only fought our wars, but built our cities, healthcare, transport systems, cheap food supplies leading to a seven fold population explosion, pensions, and all the other ‘stuff’ we take for granted. But on the downside, created infinite debt and along with that the insane notion that we can go on paying off that debt into infinity.
by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, originally published by The Guardian Earth Insight blog | TODAY
A conference sponsored by a US military official convened experts in Washington DC and London warning that continued dependence on fossil fuels puts the world at risk of an unprecedented energy crunch that could inflame financial crisis and exacerbate dangerous climate change.
The ‘Transatlantic Energy Security Dialogue’, which took place on 10th December last year, was co-organised by a US Army official, Lieutenant Colonel Daniel L. Davis, operating in a private capacity, in association with former petroleum geologist Jeremy Leggett, covener of the UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security.
Participants, who addressed one another via video link, consisted of retired military officers, security experts, senior industry executives, and politicians from the main parties – including two former UK ministers. According to US Army colonel Daniel Davis, a veteran of four tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq, and regular contributor to the Armed Forces Journal: Continue reading
by Erik Lindberg, originally published by Transition Milwaukee | TODAY
America was not infinite; it only seemed that way to early European explorers, conquerors, and settlers for whom the size of the known world had suddenly doubled and the quantity of effectively unclaimed resources increased by far more than that. This sudden immeasurable and unearned abundance, it is clear, authorized a new set of cultural practices that would not have been deemed appropriate by a people confronted by visible boundaries and limits. But I am less concerned with past crimes than I am with the beliefs and expectations that lead us into the future. The stories we continue to tell ourselves about the discovery of America, its conquest and settling, the Enlightened awakening from an age of unreason are similar to those that helped develop and profoundly shaped a new way of thinking about the world whose main contours are still in place today. The remaining question is how deep beyond these specific practices and habits of consumption does the false image of the infinite run? Our way of life is clearly not sustainable; but what if our way of perceiving reality–our fundamental political, economic, even scientific categories—were also inalterably deformed by the false image of an infinite land? Is philosophical Liberalism compatible with a finite planet and a way of life designed to live on it? How fundamental are the changes we must make in order to recast the American way of life to fit on a finite, increasingly crowded, planet? Continue reading
BY KATIE VALENTINE
cross posted from Climate Progress ON NOVEMBER 4, 2013 AT 2:35 PM
Climate change will seriously damage the world’s ability to feed itself in the coming decades, according to a leaked report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The draft report, which is set to be released in March but was leaked online Friday, also confirmed previous studies’ findings that climate change could exacerbate poverty, strain water supplies, make extreme weather more common and increase conflict around the world. Cities are most vulnerable to climate change’s effects, according to the report, along with the world’s most impoverished communities. Continue reading
By Kurt Cobb
21 October, 2013
Energy independence sounds good, and that’s why politicians and oil company executives love to say the words. It’s so easy to say, but oh so hard to actually accomplish, which is why the United States has been a consistent importer of oil since the late 1940s.
Recent overblown statements about U.S. energy independence from the oil industry, its paid consultants and the fake think-tank academics it funds simply aren’t supported by the numbers. I have discussed this issue in two previous pieces, “The Oil Industry’s Deceitful Promise of American Energy Independence” and “Oil and gas industry uses deceptive energy independence message to push U.S. exports”. Continue reading
US debt surges $328 billion in single day, surpassing $17 trillion for first time
Published time: October 19, 2013 09:32
Reposted from Russia Today
Just one day after President Barack Obama signed into law a bipartisan deal to end the government shutdown and avoid default, the US debt surged a record $328 billion, the first day the government was able to borrow money.
Fasten your seatbelt, because the US debt rate is racing out of control and nobody seems to know where or when the spending will end: The US debt now equals $17.075 trillion, according to figures the Treasury Department posted online on Friday.
The one-day increase of $328 billion to the US debt load smashed the previous record of $238 billion set two years ago. Continue reading
Now We Have ‘Default Deniers’ But The Real Danger Remains A Climate Shutdown
BY JOE ROMM ON OCTOBER 16, 2013 AT 6:41 PM
Unlike the budget and debt crises, climate change is not a problem that allows 11th-hour solutions. When a livable climate shuts down, it can’t be fixed for a millennium.
Tea Party extremists shut down the US government. Their economic brinksmanship made clear many were ready to shut down the global economy by refusing to pay our nation’s debts.
And their ability to wield power nihilistically greatly increases the chances of a climate shutdown — a debt they want to leave our children and all future generations, but one that is far more dangerous than the fiscal debt because it is both catastrophic and irreversible. Continue reading
After Sparking Outrage In Detroit, Koch Brothers’ Tar Sands Waste Now Piling Up In Chicago
By Kiley Kroh on October 15, 2013
Petroleum coke, a byproduct of tar sands refining, is building up along Chicago’s Calumet River and alarming residents, reported Midwest Energy News.
Petroleum coke is a high-carbon, high-sulfur byproduct of Canadian tar sands that are shipped from Alberta to the U.S. to be refined and is rapidly becoming a cause for concern in Chicago. “It’s growing by leaps and bounds,” Southeast Environmental Task Force member Tom Shepherd, told Midwest Energy News. “It’s coming at a breathtaking rate.”
The pet coke is owned by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch whose operations drew similar outrage from residents and elected officials in Detroit earlier this year. In July, a large black cloud of pet coke dust was spotted over the Detroit River and caught on camera by residents across the border in Windsor. Members of the communities in close proximity to the piles were complaining of respiratory problems as the thick, black dust was blowing off the piles and into their apartments. Continue reading
from Huffington Post 14 10 13
America may be on the verge of a catastrophic default on its national debt. There would be no real reason for this default — it can easily be avoided, and is only being considered because our politicians, particularly Republicans in Washington, have gone insane. So what should you do, in the meantime, to prepare yourself? Continue reading
Reposted from Newsmax
Diesel exhaust fumes alter the flowery smells that guide bees when they forage, potentially sending them off course and putting the food-growing industry at risk, a study said Thursday.
Honeybees rely heavily on their sense of smell to locate flowers from which they harvest life-giving nectar — transferring pollen grains from one bloom to another in the process.
The new research shows that diesel exhaust fumes from cars, tractors or power generators can chemically alter the smell of flowers and render them undetectable to bees.
This, in turn, threatens the insects’ crucial role as a key pollinators of human food crops.
“Somewhere in the region of 70 percent of world crops require pollination services, and… about 35 percent of our current food production is reliant on pollination,” study co-author Tracey Newman of the University of Southampton told a press conference ahead of the report’s release in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.
Pollination services have an estimated economic value of 153 billion euros ($208 billion) a year.
For the study, Newman and a team created a synthetic odour blend mimicking the complex chemical mix that make up the smell of oilseed rape flowers.
The synthetic blend of eight chemicals was released into a sealed glass vessel with clean air, and another that contained diesel exhaust at levels similar to rush-hour, roadside fumes.
The fumes contained high concentrations of NOx gases: nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide, as well as carbon monoxide.
Within one minute, the chemicals alpha-farnesene and alpha-terpinene, which comprised 72.5 percent and 0.8 percent of the blend respectively, were “rendered undetectable” in the diesel-polluted air.
The other chemicals were also considerably reduced in volume while there was no change for the blend in the clean-air vial.
Next, the team tested whether bees would notice the difference.
They trained the insects by exposing them to the eight-chemical synthetic odour blend and feeding them a sugar solution at the same time to build an association of reward — as the smell of flowers hold the promise of nectar.
Over time, the trained bees would start sticking out their tongue-like proboscis in anticipation whenever they recognised the odour.
The scientists then removed chemical elements from the synthetic odour to create a depleted mix like the one left over after diesel exposure.
When they removed alpha-terpinene, the insects’ ability to recognise the odour dropped to less than 30 percent, said Newman — demonstrated by the bees no longer extending their proboscis.
When alpha-farnesene was taken out too, the ability dropped even further.
“This isn’t just about a bee getting confused because there is a new smell around. This is actually that the chemistry of the odour itself is being chemically altered,” she explained.
If the foraging bees are unable to find nectar, the entire hive will suffer for a lack of food — as will the plants that depend on pollination to reproduce.
“And without efficient, effective pollination, there are going to be consequences for human health,” said Newman.
Bees account for some 80 percent of pollination by insects, but their numbers have slumped in Europe and the United States in the past 15-odd years due to a worrying phenomenon dubbed colony collapse disorder (CCD).
The mysterious plague, often characterised by a rapid loss of adult worker bees, has been blamed on everything from agricultural pesticide use, a loss of wild bee habitat, a virus or fungus, mites — or a combination that may now also include diesel fumes.
The disorder has killed off about 30 percent of bees annually since 2007.