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Archive for the ‘Dirty energy’ Category

From Lester Brown, an important movie: Journey to Planet Earth — Plan B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization —  http://video.pbs.org/video/1864227276

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A temporary fix to buy time with the precarious gasoline-fueled auto system in the USA and elsewhere: all – and I mean ALL – of the auto companies in the world need to immediately start mass-producing 2-seater cars (sometimes called ‘smart cars’) because they are much more fuel efficient than other types of autos.

People can still own and use full sized autos, but they can use the 2-seater cars when going back and forth to work, for running simple errands, and in all other situations where only one or two people are in the car. Look around every day at rush hour and nearly every car only contains one person; that is a huge waste of fuel to transport one person back and forth to work daily, hauling all of that extra auto weight around for no reason. But if nearly everyone used a 2-seater smart car for trips where only one or two people were in the car (especially for going to work every day) it would save huge amounts of gasoline daily. The 2-seaters are just a step above motorcycles or mopeds in terms of fuel usage, and if large numbers of people used them it would make the roads safer and also majorly cut air pollution.

We need to mandate this in the USA and elsewhere, despite its implications as being ‘fascistic’ since it would save massive amount of fuel daily. People could still own regular sized autos for when they are needed to transport multiple people, but for all those trips where only one person is in the car (i.e., the daily drive back and forth from work) the 2-seater should be used.

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Despite the dire need to de-centralize and re-localize many aspects of modern human life, we must work together on a macro-level in order to implement national (or even global) programs and form organizations that would work assiduously to conserve, preserve, clean-up, and reverse the environmental damage that we have already inflicted upon our Earth.  We need everyone to begin working in some capacity toward combating the widespread degradation of our water, soil, air, forests, and so forth.  Organizations working toward these goals should be created first in local/regional communities, and then later linked up with others at the national as well as international level in order to better coordinate their activities.

We need to train many more people in ‘green-collar’ fields like sustainable/organic agriculture, soil science/erosion control, water conservation and protection, sustainable forestry, landscape/ecosystem protection and restoration, sustainable animal husbandry, protection of air quality, and so on.  If everyone was allowed adequate time/opportunity to educate themselves in one or more of the aforementioned fields and then encouraged to constantly apply the valuable skills and knowledge that they have gained therein, not only would environmental awareness be much higher in general amongst everyday people but we would all be demanding a better, cleaner, and sustainable environment and working together toward that goal.

We obviously must continue to press and work for major initiatives in energy conservation, waste reduction, and recycling.  Many countries have already made huge strides toward those goals in recent decades, and this is an encouraging development.  However, much remains to be done.  We should begin to retrofit as many old buildings as possible to be much more energy efficient; additionally, all new buildings should be constructed to be very energy-efficient and eco-friendly.  Reducing the amount of everyday waste we create can be massively reduced simply by reusing things more than once (if at all possible).  The overpackaging of goods (which is all too common in modern times) should be majorly reduced, and all packaging should be made to be recyclable.  In fact, everything should be made or manufactured with the goal in mind that it could eventually be recycled or reused in some capacity.  The amount of waste that occurs in all modern industrially-advanced nations is incredibly irresponsible and unsustainable, and it must be reversed.

In terms of the use of oil as an energy source, incredible waste is evident there as well.  A rather simple and quick (yet only temporary) solution to this problem could be to mass-manufacture very energy-efficient small ‘smart cars’ or ‘greencars.’  The widespread adoption of these very energy-efficient automobiles by a large percentage of the population would lead to a huge and almost instantaneous slashing of the overall consumption of ‘dirty energy’ like oil until cleaner transportation technologies can be invented and utilized down the road.  This would immediately improve our air quality as well as partially end the horrible environmental destruction wrought by the constant pumping of oil out of our Earth.  These small cars could quite easily be mass-manufactured cheaply and quickly using current technologies, and thus they would be simple and very inexpensive for nearly anyone (even the poorest people) to obtain and use.  However, even this would not be enough solve the energy crisis in the long-term and thus we will have to constantly keep working toward finding cleaner energy alternatives.

Learning to better utilize different forms of solar power is surely our best hope due to the fact that all forms of energy found on Earth originally came from the Sun to begin with.

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Dealing with the ever more flimsy food-supply chain(s) as well as the problem of energy availability and usage, the overall transportation system of the present era is increasingly obsolete, chaotic, primitive, and inadequate.  The current (and still growing) world population, as well as the compounding levels of complexity and sophistication which it takes to run our modern world, are making the problems related to transportation even more acute.

The flawed and unsustainable makeup of the current transportation network(s) in many countries is evident simply by observing only one busy intersection and/or highway in a single city, which is located in only one county, which is found in one state, in one country, on one continent, etc.  By taking the time to observe one single hectic, polluted, crowded, and frenzied intersection and/or highway, and then multiplying that by hundreds of thousands of not millions of similar intersections/highways located around the world in virtually every other area of dense human habitation, you can get a sense of the exceedingly unsound, unhinged, and frankly broken transportation situation that we currently find ourselves in.

An astonishingly large number of people in countries around the world are now finding themselves permanently stranded at home; an increasing number are nowadays either unable to afford a mode of transportation and its many associated expenses or they are stuck in an undeveloped/developing nation where the needed transportation infrastructure has not yet been built up to accommodate the rapidly increasing demand and use.  As a result of the oil-dependent transportation systems which so many countries currently rely on, many of these people are unable to participate at all in the socio-cultural, economic, and/or political lives of their own country or even their native region.  This of course leaves many destined to a life of poverty, alienation, and dispossession because they are unable to get where they need to go in order to try and secure a decent existence for themselves and their families.  This dire situation is already causing a great deal of economic, political, and general social unrest in many areas, and it is likely to get much worse before it gets any better.

It is clear that the many issues and problems related to transportation loom menacingly large in almost every area, region, state, and country, and unless many drastic, sweeping, and all-encompassing steps are taken fairly soon the chaotic gridlock will regrettably continue to deepen and spread.

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When it comes to energy, humanity has in many respects painted itself in to a precariously tight corner.  Humankind has become dangerously over-reliant on modern forms of dirty energy (such as oil, coal, natural gas, and so forth) in order to merely move around both ourselves as well as the goods and services we rely on.

The supply-chain(s) for water (often piped-in to many areas from many miles away), food (shipped, flown, and/or trucked in from hundreds or even thousands of miles away), and even the supplies of energy itself are under incredible stress and strain in this modern age.  Many communities rely on ‘just in time’ delivery for even their most fundamental requirements.  Stupidly, a massive amount of irreplaceable energy is wasted daily around the world because of economic, social, and/or political disorganization.

Meanwhile, in the midst of the this maddening and confusing scramble to secure our meager ration of daily bread, we too often forget that in doing so we are soiling our own nests through the irresponsible overuse of these dirty forms of energy.  Concurrently, we continue to deplete the world’s precious reserves of oil, coal, and natural gas, with some even presaging a coming period of ‘peak oil’ wherein the worldwide demand for oil or other forms of energy starts to outpace available supplies.  This is a troubling development, and if/when ‘peak oil’ occurs (even if gradually) it would certainly cause a host of new problems.  Put simply, without enough oil to go around, massive chaos and possibly even isolated incidences of societal collapse would likely occur as we are plunged back in to the pre-oil age for which so many modern humans, especially those most used to the ease and creature-comforts which are so ubiquitous and easily obtained in the most ‘advanced’ nations, are wholly unprepared.  This is a deeply troubling scenario which must be avoided and prevented at all costs.

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Ever since the advent of the Industrial Revolution and the resulting population explosion, the Earth’s air has slowly become more dirty, toxic, noxious, and injurious to the health of many living things on Earth.

Uncountable numbers of automobiles and a huge number of factories as well as energy plants worldwide have been belching and spewing toxic gases/fumes and related pollutants in to our atmosphere for decade after decade since the advent of the Industrial Revolution, and worst of all this is actually accelerating rather than abating due to the rapid economic development of numerous countries in Asia and elsewhere.

The incidence of various diseases and disorders related to bad air-quality are now becoming widespread in many nations, especially in and around various urban areas where the pollution, smoke, smog, and other airborne toxins congregate and congeal.

Even worse, this incessant spewing of pollution in to the atmosphere may be causing the Earth’s climate to undergo major shifts which could further endanger life on our planet.  Whether or not one believes that ‘climate change’ and/or ‘global warming’ is actually occurring, the constant as well as long-term discharge of enormous amounts of pollutants in to the air is obviously injurious to the Earth’s environment and everything that lives on it.

Meanwhile, widespread deforestation continues full-steam-head and shows no signs whatsoever of tapering off any time soon – thus not only are we continuing to recklessly fill our air with huge amounts of pollution but we are simultaneously removing the ‘lungs’ of our Earth (trees/forests) which help to naturally filter the air.

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Water is of course the most precious and vital resource on our entire planet.  It is the basis of not only human and animal life but all other forms of life found on Earth as well.  Nevertheless, this most crucial of resources is being overused, polluted, mistreated, and mismanaged by nearly every country on Earth.

Though water is a renewable resource, it has obviously not renewed/refreshed itself quickly enough to keep pace with the population growth which has occurred in the past few centuries (but most especially in more recent decades).  There is increasing freshwater depletion and pollution occurring all over the world; pristine ancient aquifers are being almost totally pumped dry for agricultural use as well as for industrial purposes, while at the same time we are ignorantly dumping much of our wastewater right back in to the fragile water cycle and causing enormous environmental damage as a result.

Many major rivers and lakes are not only being massively and perhaps even irreversibly polluted, but we are also over-damming many of them and thus horrifically interrupting the crucially important water cycle.  There is also massive waste of much-needed freshwater happening all over the world.

Additionally, as we continue to pave over more and more of the Earth’s surface in the name of ‘progress’ we are clearly preventing the natural replenishment of many important underground aquifers (due to the fact that water is unable to seep through concrete and recharge groundwater), which will certainly have extremely dire long-term implications.

Similarly, our oceans are becoming more and more polluted and overfished than they already have been in the last century.  Pollution and overfishing (in the oceans, rivers, lakes, streams, etc) has already led to the total extinction of a large number of aquatic species.  Raw sewage is wantonly and routinely dumped in to the oceans all around the world.  Industrial and agricultural chemicals/poisons run-off of factory sites as well as farm fields, and then funnel into many rivers which often have their terminus in the world’s oceans.

For example, many sailors as well as scientists have noted that a disgusting man-made ‘island’ is floating far out in the Pacific Ocean – this ‘island’ is composed entirely of human garbage and is approximately the size of the U.S. state of Texas.

Appalling and inexcusable damage has already been done to the world’s vital water resources, and it will likely take centuries if not millennia for the Earth’s water to return to a healthier and more sustainable/natural state.  Unfortunately, the situation in regard to water resources is likely to get worse as the human population continues to grow and increasingly overstrain the already fragile, interrupted, and badly damaged water cycle of our planet.

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