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Bacteria Can Build Better Roads for Our Peak Oil Years

Susan Kraemer, Clean Technica
Local jurisdictions in Red state America, increasingly unable to agree to taxes to jointly afford repaving at peak oil prices are simply letting roads decline – in the same way as after the fall of the Roman Empire, in the dark ages there, many roads in Europe returned to mud tracks.

But an innovative new oil-free way of surfacing roads could be on the way to save us from peak oil. This “sandstone” road surface is built by bacteria just using sand, so it’s cheaper. The idea from Thomas Kosbau + Andrew Wetzler is the winning entry in the Korean green design iida awards, announced by designboom.

The idea is to use an abundant resource – sand – and to mix the sand with a solution containing the microbe Bacillus Pasteurii, which cements the sand into a biologically engineered hardened sandstone. Then the sand-and-microbe solution is sprayed onto a layer of sand underneath and hardens the whole thing into a tough road surface made of bio-sandstone.

Currently roads are built of asphalt – a toxic material made of crude oil, that creates heat islands and is subject to peak oil. The advantages of replacing asphalt are both financial and environmental.
(32 October 2010)
Recommended by EB contributor Rick D. -BA

The food storage secret our grandparents knew

Sarah Elton, Globe and Mail (Canada)
They tuck them into the cold corners of urban basements. They put them in drafty cupboards in their downtown apartments. Some even dig them into their suburban backyards.

More than half a century after the mass proliferation of refrigerators and supermarkets, a new generation of Canadians are bringing root cellars back into their homes. And whether they want to eat local all winter or just save money, they’re spreading the message with blogs, campaigns and how-to workshops across the country.

But reviving the old practice isn’t always easy. When Louise Hanavan and her partner, with help from friends, wanted to transform the basement crawl space in their Halifax home into a root cellar, they first had to carve a shelf out of the rock the house was built on. “It was slate in there. We dug with pickaxes,” she said. “It was like a mining project.”

They now store their preserves in the space, as well as their potatoes and carrots – in a wire cage to protect them from rodents. Their hard work has paid off, Ms. Hanavan says. “We buy butter and toilet paper at the grocery store. We have what we need here.”

Pierre Clouthier, who lives on a rural property in Nova Scotia, hired a contactor to build a root cellar to store enough apples, beets, potatoes, carrots and parsnips to feed him and his wife from November to April.

“I’m not a survivalist fringe nut,” he says, but he is concerned about “peak oil” and buys from local farmers to support regional agricultural infrastructure.
(2 November 2010)
Related from the Globe and Mail: How to make an urban root cellar. -BA

New $1.1 million program to create urban farms in Cleveland’s Kinsman neighborhood

Mark Gillispie, The Plain Dealer
By next fall, a group of fledgling farmers could be harvesting the last of their crops on what today is a bleak stretch of vacant property in Cleveland’s Kinsman neighborhood.

Officials from the city of Cleveland, the Ohio and U.S. Departments of Agriculture and the Ohio State University Extension Service announced a three-year, $1.1 million pilot program Wednesday to create an urban farm at East 83rd Street and Gill Avenue.

These officials hope that the Cleveland Urban Agricultural Incubator Project will not only turn people into entrepreneurs but will help convert a food “desert” into an oasis of fruits and vegetables.
(27 October 2010)

First Canadian peak oil task force

Jesse Ferreras, The Tyee
The first Canadian task force to tackle “peak oil” is recommending that the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District work to reduce oil imports and exports by 2.6 per cent annually.

The “boldest recommendation” from the Energy Resilience Task Force is for the SLRD to adopt a peak oil resolution and the Oil Depletion Protocol, an international agreement that asks signatories to reduce oil imports and exports. The peak oil resolution would call for peak oil to be considered a serious issue; call for funding for assessments of oil use; and have the SLRD board endorse the Oil Depletion Protocol. The task force’s draft report was delivered to the SLRD board this week. It expects to hold public meetings the last week of November.

The task force was struck in March 2010 as part of the SLRD’s Climate and Energy Planning Process. Among other things, the aim of the task force is to review “current and credible” data with respect to peak oil, energy production and “related societal implications.”

An executive summary states that Peak Oil is defined as the point at which global oil production reaches a maximum output, peaks, and then begins to decline. The Task Force did not give itself a mandate to debate whether Peak Oil will happen. Instead it relied on “generally held” expert opinions that Peak Oil is inevitable and “may have already occurred.”

The report provides various recommendations on how to respond to Peak Oil and build resilience with respect to energy, particularly oil and gas.
(2 November 2010)

Transition Voice Covers Peak Oil, Zombies and Economic Crisis

Press Release
Transition Voice Covers Peak Oil, Zombies and Economic Crisis
The second issue of the world’s only magazine on peak oil features full coverage of the World Oil Conference held in Washington, DC this fall, and analysis of how the impending world energy crisis is already holding back the US economic recovery. The issue also features an essay on today’s zombie craze, reviews of important books on energy and the economy, and features like Thanksgiving recipes, a photo gallery of stunning barns from farms across the nation, and a report from Britain on pioneering work done to help communities plan to power down in the future while rebuilding their local economies and creating good jobs.

In the wake of hard-fought US mid-term elections, Transition Voice, the world’s first magazine on peak oil, launched its second issue today with coverage of energy shortages, global warming and their implications for the US economic recovery.

The November 2010 issue features extensive coverage of the 6th annual conference of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas USA. Highlights include features on why unconventional natural gas from shale via hydrofracking could be the most over-sold energy solution today; Ralph Nader’s take on peak oil advocates as the “provocateurs” of today’s energy scene; why environmental and human rights crusader Bianca Jagger sees peak oil and global fairness as inseparable; and how the US military is preparing to protect America in world of more wars for oil.

“In early October Team Transition Voice headed to Washington, DC for the ASPO-USA World Oil Conference, whose theme was Seeking Common Ground. But the real stars of the show were the many tirelessly devoted scientists, educators, analysts, food advocates, oil-industry insiders, social commentators, and others who presented a rock-star line-up of peak oil information,” said Lindsay Curren, the editor of Transition Voice.

Experts interviewed or covered in the issue include former Secretary of Energy James Schlesinger; energy analyst Robert Hirsch; authors John Michael Greer, Sharon Astyk and Chris Martenson; US Navy Rear Admiral Lawrence Rice; solar energy expert Ken Zweibel; and financial analyst Nicole Foss.

“We’re peek oil geeks, but in all seriousness, there is no craving to indulge in these topics out of glee. Yet there is a certain satisfaction that comes, after learning the facts, from meeting with others who have drawn the same conclusions and who, like you, are trying to make sense out of how it will all shake out. We hope readers will find a sense of community in this issue of Transition Voice,” said Curren.

Along with its extensive reporting and analysis of the ASPO-USA conference, the November 2010 issue of Transition Voice features a report from Britain on the pioneering work being done there to develop energy-descent plans to prepare communities for a future with less oil; advice from an emergency medical technician on what families need to do now to get ready for disruptions in the economy that could hit America harder than Hurricane Katrina; and an essay on what today’s zombie craze says about a nation struggling to deal with its addiction to oil.

“Zombies are what we can’t run away from. AIDS epidemics, impending economic collapse, climate change, peak oil, national debt, and the return of Newt Gingrich. Like irritable bowel syndrome, it all catches up with you eventually. And it comes from inside,” writes article author Brian Wimer, award-winning director of Eat Me: A Zombie Musical.

Recipes to make a healthy and easy vegan Thanksgiving feast entirely free of meat or dairy products that can help you cut your carbon footprint; instructions to create your own green roof to save energy and grow your own hyper-local food; advice from a therapist on building mental resilience in the face of economic crisis and other challenges; and book reviews and original art photography round out the issue.

The November 2010 issue of Transition Voice is available online at

About Transition Voice

Transition Voice is the online magazine for the peak oil community and Transition movement, covering areas ranging from the arts and living, to climate disruption and the environment, to the response of the religious community to issues of energy and equity. Of particular interest is the global Transition movement with more than 300 local groups worldwide dedicated to preparing their communities for a future after peak oil. Published monthly in Staunton, Va, the magazine is a project of Transition Staunton Augusta and can be found at
(3 November 2010)