Review: Ubik by Philip K. Dick and The Langoliers by Stephen King

Those concerned about the world energy situation have long been preoccupied with the second law of thermodynamics and the concept of entropy. Entropy is a measure of the energy lost as waste heat whenever energy flows from higher concentrations to lower ones, as it always does when left to itself. An oft-cited example is the cooling of a cup of coffee left at room temperature. It’s a vital principle to grasp in thinking about energy resources, because it explains why the “replacements” for oil won’t cut it. In addition to its definition in physics, however, entropy also refers to how systems in general tend to wind down and become less complex over time. Indeed, Guardian columnist George Monbiot has called life itself “a struggle against entropy.”

How to eat cheap

Not everyone can eat cheaply in the ways I am proposing. Single parents with multiple jobs, homeless folks, those living in shelters or in motels with limited cooking facilities and those with no cooking skills at all have more limited choices. Still, many of us can do this – it isn’t terrifically time consuming or that expensive. Moreover, eating cheap means mostly eating lower on the food chain and focusing on what’s available with a minimum of packaging or processing and in season. Cheap eating can be a gift for all of us if we have the good fortunate to have a home or a place we can cook and store food – at the same time, let us recall that we are blessed, because not everyone does..

Garbage is a terrible thing to waste: How to reach zero waste

It all started innocently enough. Following the Holidays and New Year of 2007 we emptied out all of our garbage and recycling to clean up for the New Year. Many months later (May 14) it was time to put out our first bag of garbage and it dawned on me that in over four months we had only created a single bag of garbage. I wondered where could we take it to if we really dug in? Well …

There’s no place like here: Liberty Tool

Located in the middle of the state of Maine, the Liberty Tool store carries everything from teddy bears, containers of random “stuff”— screws and whatever else can fit into the mason-sized jars — to old tennis rackets, books, and records. But it is the first floor, dedicated to tools that span the length of the industrial revolution, that is the main attraction. “We’ve got tools that date from the earliest days of the revolution to just yesterday,” owner H.G. “Skip” Brack told us.

Brack’s main focus is to help support a sustainable local economy. By salvaging up to 1 ½ tons of tools each week from around New England and reselling at affordable prices, he’s able to do just that. “I price things intuitively, but I do it so people can afford it. People around here aren’t rich, and I’m conscious of that.”

(Wonderful short video – it’ll make your day!)

Nukespeak: the selling of nuclear technology from the Manhattan Project to Fukushima

Did the nuclear power industry ever learn and act upon the “lessons” of Three Mile Island? While it’s true that much has changed in the nuclear field since 1979, it’s also true that the more things have changed, the more they have remained the same…
Thus this 30th anniversary edition is inspired by yet another nuclear catastrophe, the partial meltdown of three reactors at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant in March of 2011—the third great nuclear plant accident, following Three Mile Island and the far-worse meltdown at Chernobyl in 1986. This new edition contains the entire text of the 1982 edition of Nukespeak, along with four chapters of fresh material written by two of the three original authors.

Should cheap phosphorus be first on an elemental ‘Red List’?

Phosphorus is already out of reach for poor farmers in many countries, and, as history’s economic lessons have shown, the costs of any monopolized resource can skyrocket. Dr. Elser is also concerned about the institutional vacuum regarding governance: “Who will establish regulations and incentive structures with regard to phosphorus use and waste given its impacts on food security?”

“Humans control the global phosphorus cycle, more than carbon, more than nitrogen,” says Elser. “Looking at how we’re doing with P, I’d have to say: this is no way to run a biogeochemical cycle.”