Post Carbon’s Top 5 reads for 2010

Simone, Post Carbon Institute

PCI’s fellows and staff have once again been looking into, behind and ahead of the news to provide you with commentary and insight on the issues in these challenging times. Here is just a small selection, to read many more see our publications page. 

WEO chart The IEA’s New Peak
Post by Tom Whipple
For two weeks now the peak oil portion of cyberspace has been abuzz with commentary on the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) newly released World Energy Outlook 2010. Without missing a beat and without much explanation, the world’s leading compiler of everything about energy has gone from denying that conventional oil production will peak in our lifetime to saying it happened four years ago… Read more
  More posts about energy
Tram Infrastructural Ecologies: Principles for Post-Industrial Public Works
Post by Hillary Brown
Economic localization offers the key to solving a growing number of global problems, including peak oil, climate disruption, and financial meltdowns. Yet the perception remains that this solution is very costly… Read more
  More posts about climate & government
Change ahead sign The End of Growth
Post by Richard Heinberg

The economic crisis that began in 2007-2008 was both foreseeable and inevitable, and it marks a permanent, fundamental break from past decades—a period during which most economists adopted the unrealistic view that perpetual economic growth is necessary and also possible to achieve… Read more

  More posts about economics
Oil leak 9 Global Experts Steer the Gulf Oil Spill Conversation into Fresh Waters

Post by Erika Allen, Tom Whipple, Bill Ryerson, Stephanie Mills, Warren Karlenzig, Zenobia Barlow, David Fridley, Gloria Flora, David Hughes
In an effort to broaden the conversation about the horrific Gulf Coast oil spill, nine Fellows of the Post Carbon Institute offer their perspectives on largely underreported aspects and outcomes of the disaster… Read more

  More posts about ecology, social justice, population & transportation
Candide Navigating between the best of all possible worlds
Post by Asher Miller

Maybe his time as editor of Skeptic magazine has taught Michael Shermer how to spin a yarn of complete and utter nonsense. That’s the only explanation I can come up with for the Panglossian drivel he published in the Los Angeles Times last weekend… Read more

  More posts about culture & behaviour

(22 December 2010)

The Best of 2005-2010

Nate Hagens, The Oil Drum
During the past 5 years we have had a continuing stream of energy-related content on these pages (Super G tells me 6,366 individual pieces). In the busiest of times, with a staff of over 20 volunteers, we were posting two articles or analyses per day. Oft times 50-60 hours of work (or more) on a post resulted in only 12 hours live on the main page.

We thought it might be a good idea to have one archive of some of this content that has ‘disappeared down the rabbit hole’. Below is such a list, containing, in the opinion of each author, their most important content from the past 5 years. It is a first pass at collating some of the still relevant material highlighted over the years here exploring the details and implications of an early peak in global oil production and other issues related to ‘Energy and our Future’.

The list is in alphabetical order, by last name of TOD contributor. Click on the author’s name to go to their list of articles.
(22 December 2010)

3 Documentary Films and 9 Ebooks about Natural and Green Building

Permaculture Media Blog
GARBAGE WARRIOR (2008) – documentary about Earthship Biotecture by Michael Reynolds
– What do beer cans, car tires and water bottles have in common? Not much unless you’re renegade architect Michael Reynolds, in which case they are tools of choice for producing thermal mass and energy-independent housing. For 30 years New Mexico-based Reynolds and his green disciples have devoted their time to advancing the art of “Earthship Biotecture” by building self-sufficient, off-the-grid communities where design and function converge in eco-harmony.

First Earth: Uncompromising Ecological Architecture (2010)- FIRST EARTH is a documentary about the movement towards a massive paradigm shift for shelter — building healthy houses in the old ways, out of the very earth itself, and living together like in the old days, by recreating villages. It is a sprawling film, shot on location from the West Coast to West Africa.

Natural Building and a New Sense of the Earth- This DVD takes you to visit: Linda Smiley and Ianto Evans who pioneered the use of building with earth, straw and sand called cob in the U.S. and who now run the North American School of Natural Building in Coquille, Oregon where they and their students have used natural building methods to create a little village.

(26 December 2010)

Post Carbon’s Must-see-media 2010

Simone, Post Carbon Institute
One to change the conversation…
Richard Heinberg Museletter #223 – on writing ‘The End of Growth’

One to share with everyone you know…
300 Years of FOSSIL FUELS in 300 Seconds

One to challenge the accepted wisdom…
Fridley, Heinberg Discuss ‘Peak Coal’ in NATURE Journal

…and one to make you laugh…or cry…
Oprah Winfrey saves the world
(20 December 2010)
See original for the videos themselves. -BA

Rare earth metals mine is key to US control over hi-tech future

Suzanne Goldenberg, Guardian
Approval secured to restart operations, which could be crucial in challenging China’s stranglehold on the market

It’s a deep pit in the Mojave desert. But it could hold the key to America challenging China’s technological domination of the 21st century.

At the bottom of the vast site, beneath 6 metres (20ft) of bright emerald-green water, runs a rich seam of ores that are hardly household names but are rapidly emerging as the building blocks of the hi-tech future.

The mine is the largest known deposit of rare earth elements outside China. Eight years ago, it was shut down in a tacit admission that the US was ceding the market to China. Now, the owners have secured final approval to restart operations, and hope to begin production soon.
(26 December 2010)

Three Car-Free Ways of Existence to Choose from

Jan Lundberg, Culture Change
#1: A bus rider in a big U.S. city trundles along on a polyester-petroleum covered metal or plastic seat, letting the big machine’s diesel fuel serve him on his way to his stop.
He takes a drink out of a plastic water bottle and puts it back in his disposable plastic shopping bag. With each bag, bottle and bus ride he unintentionally drives species extinct, and is a little closer to the end of his life of little apparent meaning. We can’t know what’s going on in his mind, but it’s probably something to do with money or the essentials it buys to get by in the city. Far off oil wars and pervasive cultural genocide at the hands of civilization are rarely if ever given a moment’s thought. His health has seen better days before the luster of youth was overtaken by the accumulation of fast food. The meds don’t quite work, but their side effects must mean he’s getting something out of his prescriptions. He doesn’t really miss being able to have a sex life, after that damn divorce anyway.

#2: A bicycle rider, not the sportif athlete or weekend warrior, takes a breath of car exhaust from just ahead. She curses the oblivious driver, but remembers that when she used to drive she never thought about what she was putting behind her for the plants, animals and humans to ingest. But her mind is actively spinning some stimulating ideas, such as putting together her own bike cart. She imagines taking it to the farmers markets that she frequents, and she hopes for their expansion that would block off more of the streets. She pictures being able to barter convivially every day. For now the rent she pays barely gives her a roof over her head, with the combined effort from housemates’ incomes. The nice guy living in the living room pays the least. Each day she reminds herself, “I have some skills and I’m adding to them, and might be sort of ready for petrocollapse. But will anyone be ready for climate extinction?” She says once again, “I want a lover but we can’t bring a baby into this world.”

#3: The hunter-gatherer draws back his slingshot to obtain the basis of tonight’s squirrel stew. As he patiently waits for the rodent to actually pause, he thinks of cheating the squirrels out of many of the acorns next year that the tribe could save and eat. Zap! goes the slingshot, and the poor head of the squirrel is knocked out forever. Back at the ecovillage, our hunter-gatherer’s mate and their children are getting ready to cook wapato from the bottom of the ponds, flavored with dandelion, plantain, rose hips — and squirrel meat. Later there will be a story around the fire and some dancing. Then they can forget that all the big trees are gone, and old style dugout canoes can’t be made again for a few centuries. But the old fiberglass sailboats still float, and they bring supplemental foods that are traded for by the tribe’s meager surpluses. One day, he dreams crazily, we’ll taste again the delights of coffee and chocolate brought from the tropics on the wind and waves.
(23 December 2010)
See original for graphics that won Culture Change’s Art contest for depicting lifestyles. -BA