Archive for the ‘Deep ecology’ Category

Melting permafrost, gas hydrates – our future energy supply?

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Sept. 2008

Due to presumed global warming permafrost may melt and this will again lead to increased global warming.

Gases will be released from the ground – CO2, methane – calculated to be 1700 billon tons – double of what the atmosphere contains today! This will probably take 100 years.

Through the years thick layers of organic mass has been deposited and melting will let the gases go.

The gases can be used for commercial energy purposes, and research into these processes is taking place. A patent for producing natural gas from hydrate by means of CO2 injection has been granted (University in Bergen).

Gas hydrates are a potential energy source found in permafrost environments and under the sea floor. They form when water and methane gas come together under extreme pressure and in a cold environment. The water and gas are frozen together at a molecular level. One cubic metre of gas hydrates contains 164-cubic-metres of methane gas, and 0.8 cubic metres of water.

Heating the gas hydrates bring methane to the surface. Thus when frozen gas hydrates are heated or undergo a change in pressure, they melt. The water runs off and the methane gas is released.

At the seabed outside Japan gas hydrates estimated to be equal to 100 years Japanese energy consumption has been located.

Total Norwegian emission pr. year is 50 million tons.



July 2012

The Japanese are working on developing their methane resources, and tests are possibly being performed this year. It seems the potential gas hydrate resources are large enough to supply the country for several hundred years.

Commercial production will hopefully start in 2016. Nuclear power is going, and seismic mapping of hydrates are in progress and will continue for at least another 5 years.

It is a big technical challenge to get the gas from the hydrates, and it has to do with melting. There are several methods as you can use>

  • melting by energy
  • chemicals
  • pressure reductions

There is risk of collapse and loss of stability. One method being considered is to inject CO2 and at the same time take out the methane.

Surely there must be similar structures in many other parts of the world?

The food chains and webs – the ecological system around us

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Humans eat many things, there is diversity around the world, and diversity could even be much bigger. Some foods are considered basic – grains, meat – although nobody seems to know why. The reasons are probably historic, geographic, economic, social. It would be wise to think anew – the human food systems are not sustainable, health-wise non-optimized or unconsciously arrived at, even unhealthy. A big change must come, and we should start thinking about improvements now.

All organisms are naturally involved in food chains where the food is found naturally, it is produced as part of the system. Plants grow and are naturally harvested and nourished, organisms eat and get eaten, and humans may live off the abundance offered to them. If we combine food chains to see where organisms are found, and see the combinations and interactions, we have a food web. So everything is originally part of an ecosystem where organisms live off each other and support each other. Natural ecosystems provide food for all participating organisms functioning together.

Humans were once part of these systems too, finding food via growths, fisheries, hunting. This still goes on, but the extent of harvesting from nature’s  food chains is being reduced. Some say it will soon be reduced to near nothing.

The human food chain is becoming very special, and is largely made up by growing plants and breeding animals solely for human consumption. These plants and animals, including seafood are grown artificially by means of oilbased fertilizer, chemicals, large petrol based machines, masses of water and manpower.

We disrupt everything: large scale isolated breeding of animals, fish, plants, mining/quarrying, fuel use, artificial ecosystems, building cities, spreading chemicals, altering water lanes/rivers, transporting things all over the world, back and forth.

The ecosystems are taken away, food production is becoming fully industrialized. This is clearly not sustainable.

The alternative is harvesting natural ecosystems, nurturing them, supporting them, changing our ways of food production into natural ones. The recent emergence of permaculture, eco foods, small scale farming, city farming are showing the way.

This has to be combined with a better understanding of how foods  work in our bodies, how a sound diet really is put together. Many variations are possible, but the knowledge is not yet there. We must find what we really need to include in a good diet: It seems everything works, meat or no meat, vegetarian, fruitarians etc. and all seem to live well.

Food is all about energy and how fast it burns in our bodies and how much energy you consume via the activities you engage in. If you consume more energy equivalents than you need in a given space of time, long term your health will be affected. And all the rest – vitamins, minerals, trace substances – must be there too.

It is time to start putting human food into context of ecology again – get it into the food webs, make it natural. As usual it starts with each one of us – it comes from the individuals – do a little of your own food production – it will be a start and a help for you and all.

The ecological system is there – let us harvest.

A good whole life

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Many people feel that their lives should be changed – they want it different. The space for personal initiative is too small, habits and routines are heavy, making enough money is a heavy load, you are tied up in things you must do, there is little real action, no excitement, even too little money, insecure job. Life could be better.

So you must change, and trying to think about the good life, here are some considerations:

  • First you must have money, and paid activity is usually necessary. But it must not be your end all, your everything, as there are many worthwhile things to consider. And too much money is not really required. In work follow what you would love to do, they say. That gives you passion, interest, energy and moves you forward. And avoid big companies as they tend to tie you down, to involve you in bureaucracy, jobs are standardised.
  • You must eat so you must consider growing some food, get some food from close sources, or even take part in procuring food. Most people do not go near growing food themselves, but interest is growing in urban agriculture, small-scale projects, aquaponics in your home, even permaculture in your garden or backyard. This could be both healthy, wise and economical, even challenging and fine as a part of a diversified life.
  • You want to be a creative person, use you creative abilities, see that you can use your abilities, hands, feelings, make things grow from your hands, and using your creative side of the brain. So you must find activity that suits you, that you like to do, that is enjoyable or challenging. The possibilities are endless – it is all your choice. Goldsmithing, making dolls, calligraphy?
  • You must contribute to a better society by looking around, offering your services to needy people, personally or through an organisation, voluntary is good. Near you there will always be people, groups, institutions that need help, so go find out.
  • You must have free time to reflect, and you must educate yourself all the time  so you know what is good, what we know now and what would be good to know. The world is progressing, and there is always new knowledge to be had. See to it that you are active in this area – life will be fun, interesting and rewarding. Writing a blog or a book can also be rewarding in several ways.
  • Fitness is a good thing – and a daily routine is good, variation is good, and need not be heavy or a strain.
  • You must travel to see what others do, tell them what you do, tell them new things, what about travelling at least one month a year – the world is big and very interesting. You can see things, learn things new, even participate in local projects with local people, learn their language perhaps.

If you can manage to be active on all these fronts, life will be fine.

Time spent is another matter: you sleep about 8 hours a day, so you have 16 hours a day to do your living, or  you have about 3 or 4 hours a day for each of these things. That would be a great combination. It is rather radical to say that work for money need not be more than 4 hours a day?

In addition to 3-4 hours of paid work you could do:

  • permaculture or finding out about the new sustainable frontier of agriculture
  • play the flute, do photography or……
  • craftmanship of your choice
  • social work that is useful, an activity that you love to do.
  • free time, what you fancy, socialise, play, think, exercise or whatever – you have 3-4 hours on average every day for that
  • be a local politician in a transparent, sharing and loving society

These activities could also maybe add to your income?

Remember there is no time on or off, everything you do is part of living your life.  You have integrated what you do into a whole, a seamless life that is good. And a good life is superior to any career.

Well,  you should really think about doing it.

There is nothing to do here?

Monday, August 8th, 2011

The message about the industrialised future is crystal clear: there will be fewer and fewer jobs.

Industrialised production including industrialised agriculture is taking over everywhere – the growth, the yields are going ever higher, profits are doing well. We will not need more workers – the answer is less. Go home or to a city as we do not need you.

Much focus has been on jobs in agriculture, retail, the media, but it is the same everywhere – people are becoming a drag. Now the banks are cutting – relieving 10% of their employees.

Are we really thinking about what is going on here: large scale industrialised production being the norm everywhere? The consequences? What is more important – output or people? Who is going to buy the superoutput? Why do we make it? Can we fix the lack of jobs by being more entrepreneurial and more innovative – increase the speed of development? Do we need more output? Move capital from weakening economies – p.t. the West – to areas of higher growth – p.t. Asia, after that move on again?

We must rethink society and our economic system: People being left out in a world of ever growing production capacity is not the way forward.

There is also crisis after crisis, system breakdowns, and at the same time there is great technical progress everywhere.

The costs of this system are becoming increasingly visible: Large scale industrial and agricultural activity is not sustainable, it leads to enormous efficiencies of the wrong kind, huge concentrations of power and reduction of humans to mere operators with a grim future.

So we must change our ways: our methods are wrong, our calculations are wrong, the resulting concentrations and degradations are not what we want.

The farming must change, industry must change, what we use technology for must change, decentralisation must come, ecological principles must become the norm, ownership must be broadened and become common, production must primarily be suited to local communities –  i.e. small scale -, global transportation must be reduced to a minimum, the financial and banking systems should be totally changed.

The focus of what we do should be changed from ever increasing materialism to balanced deep ecology: The aim is small scale, local, human, fair, for all to take part – we are not the servants of some large scale operation – we have values, we are creative, we will not serve others, equality is the norm.

Economics is the sum of what we all do, it is not an abstraction for the politicians filled with incomprehensible numbers and unsure relationships. The economics should make sure that all people have a proper living standard, that nobody is left out. Every local society should be independent, organic, decentralised, empowered to solve it own matters. The degree of self-governance should be increased substantially.

The industrialized society must be built down, the huge inhuman large scale systems of finance, industry, agriculture, distribution must be done away with. Globalisation where big companies can rule the world must be ended. Globalisation should be known as the common heritage of principles of ecology and our common knowledge in all areas that is made available for all.

The world must be made manageable, megasystems are not.

The future is a renaissance of organics, small scale industry, conscious urbanisation, new small scale investments to support diverse small scale production, decentralised control, new small scale technology, individual creativity and production, humanising and democratising society.

Humans have a future after all – we are part of a grand system that will serve us well if we are sensible.

Local is in, global is out – the future is bright

Monday, July 4th, 2011

The climate challenge is still with us, and little progress has been made. The reasons are obvious: The big boys are pushing the little guys – like you and me – to do things that we are not sure will work, and some of it we do not like at all. Even worse is the recent talk from the IPCC about geo-engineering – halfbaked thoughts that scare people.

The big nations like the US, China, Western Europe won’t do much – they mostly talk and walk away. The positive side is that many local activities are coming up, and understanding is growing in many places.

So another approach must come: Climate change must be made part of the bigger ecological change we are going to have – we must make the world a sustainable place in the sense we have in deep ecology. Then climate will be included too – it fits well into this scenario.

There must also be a shift from global thinking to local thinking – followed by local action. Local is the only way as everybody live locally, everything we do is locally done. Global geo-engineering is a rather badly developed idea, technically it is unsound, democratically it is unacceptable.

So the only way is generating local action where members of all local communities play their part. We all have ideas about sustainability, we know a little and we must learn more, we must learn to see the consequences of what we do. We must learn to be the judge of what we should do.

Activities that are useful for the community must be started, including local industry, farming, transport, daily life.

This could be part of a common pool resource project of sustainable, deeply ecological local communities: administration based on local involvement by all stakeholders or inhabitants, local understanding and ownership of rules, deep involvement by all because it matters, continous and lasting involvement by all, local supervision and corrective action where necessary – so everything must be local of course.

It is all done separated from usual politics – only a coordinative function is required. All we need is a basic rule about sustainability. It has to be above ordinary politics – this is bigger  and wider than that – it is about everybody’s life – involvement is compulsory – decision making is all including – using the principles found in the old way of council – it is about all of us so you must participate.

Global thinking will never solve a thing – everything and everybody is local. There is nothing you can do about that so start local work on sustainability and deep ecology where you are – the only thing you should do is your own local bit. Being global can be good in the sense that you should travel widely, learn a lot, get to know a lot of people, see the beauty and character of other places, help others that are in need, develop new ideas, share.

And in the end – if we all take part and make this work – we will all be better off. Global rules with doubtful relevance pushed at us from an uncertain authority will never work. Build local ecology first, when that is fixed, maybe everything is all right?

Understanding will come – the future is bright.

Hydrogen the fuel of the future

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Hydrogen H is the most common substance on the Earth, about 75% of the mass around us is hydrogen. It is envisaged as the energy carrier of the future, delivering energy with no emissions – almost.

It was described in 1671 by Boyle, and Henry Cavendish found it was a separate substance in 1766. Hydrogen has been central in scientific work related to atomic structure and quantum theory.

There has lately been a lot of attention involving cars, buses, even planes and submarines. There are hydrogen burning engines being developed in several places, and Reykjavik has a bus service using hydrogen as a fuel, Norway has a hydrogen highway covering part of the country. Hamburg is at present building a large hydrogen facility for its buses.

Today hydrogen is used for many industrial purposes, e.g. for chemicals like fertilizer, refined oil products (hydrocracking) and cooling, production of ammonia etc. It is very light, and thus escapes the Earth’s atmosphere. It is involved in many chemical processes, and is used in production of electronics. The production of hydrogen in the world runs into the tens of millions of tons.

The production methods now are natural gas reforming, electrolysis, biomass reforming, water splitting and bacteria. Feeding CO2 to algae make them grow very fast making large scale production of biofuels possible – and then it can be made into hydrogen.

The energy carrier hydrogen may be made from many compunds, and all substances containing hydrogen could in principle be used: oil, natural gas, coal, biomass, other renewable hydrogen sources.

The idea is to produce it small or large scale to be used in a factory or in your home. Many techniques are feasible, and a promising one is microwave plasma technology.

The aim is a low cost energy carrier that can replace fossil fuels. There are challenges of many kinds, cost is one, general infrastructure is another, but the potential is clearly there.

So get costs down, build infrastructure and we have a widely available renewable fuel to replace fossil fuels. The hydrogen economy is moving in, the oil economy is moving out. The future is hydrogen!

Are you here?

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Humans see only a small part of the electro-optical spectrum, what our senses are made to give us. We know there is more, but we can not become aware of this via our senses. Microwaves can hurt you and damage your body, but you can not see these waves. Our ears can hear sounds of certain frequencies. It is hard to be completely at rest as there are  impressions reaching you, making you feel and think.

So our senses tell us only a partial story – there is more – the impression our senses give us is incomplete. Or saying it in another way is that we have not opened up our senses – there is potential of more. We have not started on our possible development. There are known techniques that can bring us closer – yoga, meditation – by letting us be aware of states of the mind that is not there in our ordinary activity. But surely that is just the start?

Meditation is to tune in with the larger cosmos, and we must try to be part of the larger cosmos – the oneness, and that can only be done via our senses. The oneness is felt as stillness in the middle of movement, and you find this stillness via your senses by being in the now – by being fully here.

We must learn to to be able to focus and see what is coming at us so that we can be attentive in the now, to find stillness.

You must start processes in your body and mind and let these processes grow and change you. Your senses must become active, you merge with the stillness and then you are fully aware, attentive and respectful. Now you can serve the cosmic purpose you are here for. You now can cooperate with the cosmos, with all beings, you can really be the servant of the cosmos.

The greater aim of it all is to ensure that the cosmic processes can grow and develop, to show love for the world and the processes we all are part of. By giving your attention to the cosmos you become part of the mystery of existence and find reality. If we withdraw we lose ourselves.

So learn to use your senses fully (we don’t really know the full meaning of that yet) – start the process and it will do you good – and the rest of us too.

(Reflections on reading Peter Kingsley)

Developing environmental practice near you

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Theories around environmental energy abound, and all sorts of new technologies are being tested. Often this is done via development grants, state funding, price support, research programs financed by many – the total costs are often very high. To gain future acceptance in the market the cost picture has to become clearer and lower. The practice of the environmental technologies has been lacking – many details must be found out to make a viable system.

And insight and experience are growing.

Electric cars are appearing in many places and charging points are installed in many cities. Special parking spaces are built. Batteries must be able to tackle winter conditions, and tests are proceeding. Pricing, taxes, emission controls and measurement, relations to petrol driven cars, the bureaucracy of electric cars is developing.

Solar photovoltaic installations have great promise, and costs of panels have been going down. New products like thin films are entering the market. But most installations are like prototypes. Plug in possibilities are not there yet, but progress is being made. Risk factors are being found out – e.g. wind, rain etc. Standards, higher volumes, integration, building permits facilitation – all are falling into place so that increasing use is on the way.

In other areas – wind power at sea or on land, geothermals, bioenergy – things are moving ahead.

Testing and finding new ways is what we have done so far – the just-plug-them-in society with reasonable prices are on its way. The process is long and tough, but in the end the viable systems will stand.

The indigenous world: diversity acknowledged

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

Cultural innovation and diversity comes together: We meet other people, we exchange ideas, goods, culture, learn languages, eat new foods, play new tunes, interbreed. Diversity grows, and we are all richer for it.

But culture is becoming one and the same – there is pressure from the big cultures with the power and money to make others succumb. A lot of people don’t like this, they like what they have and want it to stay, even developing it as part of a natural process in the community or in interaction with others. So the question of  cultural diversity is heating up, and many factors are debated, among them the question of indigenous people all over the world. Indigenous people came first to an area and have often been there for a long time, creating fine and simple ways to live, often living very close to the natural world, and often considered primitive by others. But indigenous culture is diverse, often with truly original sophisticated  content.

History shows us that indigenous people have been hit hard all over the world: The US, Africa, Asia, South America. Recently the question of Roma and Travellers people have had a lot of attention. Empire building and colonialism have been part of it. Today we still see forms of imperialism, colonialism, globalization, wars, revengeful action putting pressure on the few and small.

Newly evolving indigenous perspectives of language, culture, economic exchange show us that the richness of all people can be useful to all in a process of  being yourself and meeting others on their own ground. The western world should learn to respect, adapt, interact, leave people alone to do their own living, and at the same time look for good ideas for innovation and improvement.

There are 6-7000 spoken languages in the world, many indigenous people have a mobile lifestyle, there are human rights and property rights involved, and there are contentions coming up in many places, while others have agreements, deals, sharing in their own – centrally governed – countries. They often have deep knowledge about nature and how to interact with it beneficially.

The impact of what we do to mineral resources, forest, water, land is felt by many indigenous people, and should be handled considerately and respectfully – and ecologically too.

Nobody should force other peoples into change. Cultural richness and personal diversity go together and are sources of enrichment in peoples’ lives. The world is better off with diversity.

So differences must be perpetuated – it is good for everybody – and life becomes richer and more fun. See?

Deep geothermal energy into practice

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

The Earth is full of molten rock at temperatures over 1000 degree Celsius. There is obviously a lot of heat down there if we can find how to harness it. The practical problems are there, although many countries already have accessed the upper regions of the Earth and are producing geothermal energy: US, Italy, Iceland, Canada, New Zealand. Even the Romans used hot water springs to bathe.

Now we seem to enter a new phase of development where drilling much deeper is the intention. Oil companies are drilling down to about 5000 meters to find oil, and depths of 10.000 – 15.000 meters are envisaged. The technology for drilling is there, the costs and practicalities have to be found out.

The energy will be safe and clean, and there is enough of it. Pilot projects are under way, e.g. one in Oslo where the depth will be about 5500 meters and temperature is just under 100 degrees Centigrade.

A well will cool down after a while, say 20-40 years, but then it will build itself up again.

Researchers are now looking at the possibilities of drilling more than 10.000 meters down, temperatures near 400 degrees Centigrade, and high pressure of several hundred bar, supercritical water. Drilling technology is there but needs further development. The type of rock present matters. Size and economics also matters.

Geothermal energi is possible everywhere. Local power, no transport, no transmission lines. Maybe a geothermal powerplant in the basement or in the garden?

The heat of the Earth is coming to the rescue of the Earth?