Links – Week 8, 2010

Photo by: Christolakis

Blogs

This week I want to feature the blogs of some fantastic urban homesteads. It’s inspiring to see what amazing things can be done on a smallish city or suburban block.

Little Homestead in the City

Eco-pioneers living a homegrown revolution on a sustainable, real-life original urban homestead in Pasadena, California.

Happy Earth

At Happy Earth, we’re on an adventure in urban sustainability, exploring how we can retrofit a typical house and lawn into a healthy, efficient home with an abundant food garden. For us being sustainable is really about living happier, healthier lives and feeling good about doing things that are good for us, the planet and our community. It’s about wholesome food and lower bills, meaning more time for family and friends, and less time working. Happy Earth is also about sharing stories and providing practical, independent information about sustainable living in Wollongong, Australia.

Down to Earth

I write about my ordinary day to day life of working in the home, vegetable and fruit gardening, slowing down and being mindful, cooking simple food, keeping chickens and worms, composting, green cleaning, stockpiling and preserving. I hope what I write about encourages and supports you towards your own changes.

Economy

There’s nothing quite like The Onion to add  some humour to the big issues:

U.S. Economy Grinds To Halt As Nation Realizes Money Just A Symbolic, Mutually Shared Illusion

WASHINGTON—The U.S. economy ceased to function this week after unexpected existential remarks by Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke shocked Americans into realizing that money is, in fact, just a meaningless and intangible social construct.

“You know what? It doesn’t matter. None of this—this so-called ‘money’—really matters at all.”

“It’s just an illusion,” a wide-eyed Bernanke added as he removed bills from his wallet and slowly spread them out before him. “Just look at it: Meaningless pieces of paper with numbers printed on them. Worthless.”

According to witnesses, Finance Committee members sat in thunderstruck silence for several moments until Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) finally shouted out, “Oh my God, he’s right. It’s all a mirage. All of it—the money, our whole economy—it’s all a lie!”

Ok….back to real news:

The Sovereign Debt Disaster

Wherever we look at the world economy today, we see a wall of risk…and potential financial catastrophe. We see a large number of virtually bankrupt major sovereign states (US, UK, Spain, Italy, Greece, Japan and many more) teetering atop a financial system that is bankrupt, but is temporarily kept alive with phony valuations and unlimited money printing.

Energy

The peak oil crisis: Some perils of 2010

Last week we discussed a new report outlining the outlook for global oil production and noted that the conventional wisdom in the peak oil community now says that global oil production will start its inexorable fall circa 2014. After that supplies will inevitably get shorter and oil prices higher unless the global economy has collapsed so far that the amount of oil that can be produced is no longer relevant.

This does not, however, mean that we will have smooth sailing with respect to oil prices during the next few years, as there are many geopolitical and economic events that could occur as early as this year. Most of these potential developments are likely to drive oil prices higher, but one or two could drive prices lower.

Peak Oil: Looking for the Wrong Symptoms?

If I were to ask 10 random people what they would expect would be a sign of the arrival of “peak oil”, I would expect that all 10 would say “high oil prices”. Let me tell you what I think the symptoms of the arrival of peak oil are

1. Higher default rates on loans
2. Recession

Furthermore, I expect that as the supply of oil declines over time, these symptoms will get worse and worse—even though people may call the cause of the decline in oil use “Peak Demand” rather than “Peak Supply”.

Preparing for 2014-15 “Oil Crunch” Forecast by UK Industry Group

What can cities, businesses and individuals do to prepare for such energy price volatility, buy hybrids? Actually, the report asserts, “there is real danger that the focus on technological advances in cars is making consumers and government complacent.” More urgent steps need to be taken by policymakers in particular to avert this impending crisis. 

What the Olympics Can Teach Us About the Price of Gas

This is the first Olympic Winter Games conducted on snow that was brought to the slopes by diesel trucks and helicopters — because not enough fell in British Columbia in the year of “Snowmageddon.” It’s also the first Winter Olympics that has featured athletes protesting the energy policies of the host nation — i.e. Canada’s increasing emphasis on the incredibly polluting process of producing crude oil from tar sands.

Environment

Avatar: The Prequel

The movie I have in mind (set in a world that Avatar hints at) would lack the blue-skinned Na’vi people, but it would still feature Jake Scully, this time in his real body, on the most intriguing planet of all: Earth. And given a global audience that can’t get enough of Cameron’s work, how many wouldn’t pay big bucks for a chance to take a Pandora-style, sensory-expanding guided tour of our own planet? It would be part of a harrowing tale of environmental degradation, resource scarcity, and perennial conflict in the twilight years of humanity’s decline. Think of it as Avatar: Earth’s Last Stand.

Green Roofs Are So Last Year; Rooftop Farms Are The Growing Thing

Green roofs are wonderful things, keeping buildings cool and reducing heat island effects. But you usually can’t eat them. Now, rooftops around the world are being put to productive use as sources of food.

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