our challenges of earth

2 billion people don’t have access to safe clean water. 3 billion don’t have access to toilets. Bottom of the Pyramid market = $32 billion.

317 million on the job accidents = 2.3 million deaths per year. Road traffic injuries cause 3500 deaths every day.

25% of people live without electricity. Solid fuel air pollution causes 4 million deaths per year. BoP market = $317 billion (Electricity = $137 billion).

By 2050 we will need 3 earths. GHGs increased 50% since 1990. Natural assets are 26% of emerging economy wealth.

World needs to produce 50% more food to meet demand. 70% of the world’s rural poor rely on agriculture for income. Food = half of BoP spending.

2.5 billion people live on less than $2/day. 4 billion are without basic goods & services. Wealthiest 5% earn the same as the poorest 80%.

870 million are undernourished. 1 billion people lack access to health care. 15 million die yearly from preventable infectious diseases.

124 million young people globally don’t have access to education. Only 49% of children attend secondary school. BoP Market = $193 billion.

[Source: ASME Innovation Showcase, link: https://thisishardware.org]

close to the coast, so few bugs

And boy oh boy, that’s something good. It surprises me there’s few articles or documentaries or blog posts or tweets about the bloody misery of mosquito clouds or black fly swarms or gnat attacks, i.e. Alaska, Canada. Worldwide, I shudder to imagine how people cope. I roped a metal bucket over my shoulder and lit a tiny smoldering fire of twigs, grabbing green branches to stoke the smoke billowing around me as I walked down the trail… what a sight to behold. So this gizmo must outright gotta be fun… fer darn sure.

[link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCOVzFaEpuk]

fires, forest fires

This picture is Polk County, Iowa,

It’s 755 square miles. 

If you were in Iowa, this is how much land might be on fire,

If you’re in Siberia, this area is on fire. 

Siberia’s 1,826 forest fires have burned about 755 square miles.  

And across eleven western states, nearly 2,000,000 acres have recently burned. That’s about 3000 square miles.

How big is that? Nearly the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined; four counties in Iowa. 

In 2009, we protected wilderness lands across the country adding up to more than 3,000 square miles. There’s 3,125 square miles allocated for possible oil shale development in just three states.

grid dancing through the ages

the power grid skips ropeIn 2006, Li and his colleagues began working on a hydraulic hybrid vehicle.

They were in the process of developing an energy storage system for that purpose when they realized that their idea was better suited to grid-scale energy storage.

And on the other hand….

Specifically, he teaches them that the food and bathroom waste they produce every day can be transformed by a biogas digester into fuel to clean and cook plus a compost to fertilize crops.


One flame in a room.

There once were 10s of 1000s in old rural China; so simple, so common, but now?


here’s all the water on earth

The blue sphere is all the water in the oceans, seas, ice caps, lakes and rivers as well as groundwater, atmospheric water, and even the water in you, your dog, and your tomato plant. 

do not rely on friendly gardens

February 14, 2012

Plants aren’t so cooperative after all

Posted by Linda Chalker-Scott

One of the underlying tenets of ecology is the principle of competitive exclusion.  This principle states that when two species compete for the same vital resource, the better adapted species will ultimately displace its competitor. Simply put, it’s survival of the fittest.


More recently, some ecologists have suggested that nature’s not quite so brutal – that the species composition in an ecosystem is determined more by random fluctuations in population numbers than by direct competition. 


But last month, this “neutral theory” was directly challenged by evidence on three continents which compared the abundance of particular tree species, both in the fossil record and in existing forest ecosystems.  The similarities were so close among all the comparisons that it’s most likely due to direct competition rather than random fluctuations.


While this information might seem pretty esoteric, it does have direct application to gardens and landscapes. 

Among your plants, you will have some that compete better for water, nutrients, and other resources. 

The concept of “companion plantings” as plants actively helping each other survive is a wishful projection on our part.


And this all ties into the discussions we’ve been having about mulch.  While living mulches – turf, ground covers, etc. – help protect soil structure and reduce erosion, they also compete with other plants in the landscape.


Maintaining landscapes with living mulches will require more water than the same landscape with organic mulches.  It doesn’t matter if the plants are native or not – it’s just a question of limiting resources and who’s going to be the most competitive in extracting them.

(Forgot to include the reference the first time I posted this – here it is:  Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen (LMU). “Jostling for position: Competition at the root of diversity in rainforests.” ScienceDaily, 26 Jan. 2012.)  16 Comments

this forest is not a fairytale

Beacon Food Forest:

Seattle’s vision of an urban food oasis is going forward.

A seven-acre plot of land in the city’s Beacon Hill neighborhood will be planted with hundreds of different kinds of edibles: walnut and chestnut trees; blueberry and raspberry bushes; fruit trees, including apples and pears; exotics like pineapple, yuzu citrus, guava, persimmons, honeyberries, and lingonberries; herbs; and more.

All will be available for public plucking to anyone who wanders into the city’s first food forest.

“This is totally innovative and has never been done before in a public park.”

Lambert Strether adds some motive and enthusiasm:

So, no wonder edible forests can give us absolute pleasure! And not a smidge of petroleum in sight, either. Funny, that.

So, having led you up the garden path, I’d like to circle back to political economy one last time, scattering some random thoughts:

1. Pleasure is important. So far as I can tell, our current dispensation don’t produce pleasure nearly as well as it produces, say, high fructose corn syrup, “innovative financial products,” anti-depressants, and debt slavery. But other arrangements can do better!

2. Begone, Thomas Malthus. I don’t accept the idea that we must have a massive human die-off to save the planet. (On bad days, I think that not only does the 1% of the 1% believe this, they’re engineering it.) Looking at edible forests, it seems clear to me that we have barely begun to work on systems that can sustain us all. Wildly optimistic? Perhaps!

3. To euthanize rentiers, abolish rents. In Seattle, Vietnam, and in the Amazon, you aren’t forced to cut some robber baron his 5% from the fruit you pluck from a tree. Isn’t that how life should be?

Teacher Geoff Lawton discovered a 300 year old Food Forest built on 2 acres of land and still functioning well in the same family 28 generations later.

we breathe tiny tar balls

Here’s most interesting links on overlooked [dangerous] tiny tar balls that are ‘created‘ within our atmosphere

1) Airborne pollution creates tiny tar balls that persist longer than anyone had thought.

2) The formation of aggregates and polymers in the atmosphere is much more widespread than previously thought.

We’ve been overlooking the transformation of organics in the atmosphere.

NY Times reports:
Scientists Find New Dangers in Tiny but Pervasive Particles in Air Pollution

Current models of fine particulates grossly underpredict “sometimes by as much as a factor of 10”.

Fine atmospheric particles — smaller than one-thirtieth of the diameter of a human hair — were identified more than 20 years ago as the most lethal of the widely dispersed air pollutants in the United States.

Linked to both heart and lung disease, they kill an estimated 50,000 Americans each year.

But more recently, scientists have been puzzled to learn that a subset of these particles, called secondary organic aerosols, has a greater total mass, and is thus more dangerous, than previously understood.

Read up on Atmospheric Chemistry. “The field of atmospheric chemistry is very broad, both in the problems addressed and in the approaches taken.”

The soot and tar deposits onto glaciers too.
The industrial revolution is recorded in the ice.

immediately slow global warming

In the case of rapid action to slow catastrophic climate change, the best alternatives appear to be: methane and soot.

“If the world pays attention and puts resources to it, we will see an effect immediately. I’m talking weeks, at most a few months, not decades or centuries.” —atmospheric physicist Veerabhadran Ramanathan of Scripps

Eliminate methane releases from coal mines—particularly in China—by capturing it and burning it.
Eliminate the venting or accidental release of methane co-produced by oil drilling (and, of course, gas drilling itself), particularly in Africa, the Middle East and Russia.
Capture gas from landfills in the U.S. and China as well as promote recycling and composting of biodegradable trash.
Occasionally aerate flooded rice paddies to prevent the growth of methane-producing microbes.
Stop leaks from natural gas pipelines, particularly in Russia.
Use bio-digesters—vessels in which microbes break down manure into gas—to cut methane from livestock globally.
Update wastewater treatment plants to capture methane.
Filter the soot produced by incomplete combustion of diesel fuel in vehicles, and attempt to eliminate inefficient internal combustion engine vehicles entirely.
Replace indoor cooking and heating fires with clean-burning cookstoves fired either by wood, manure or other biomass or, even better, methane.
Replace traditional brick kilns with more advanced firing methods.
Replace traditional ovens for turning coal to coke with modern technologies.
Ban the open burning of crop stubble and other agricultural waste.