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12.27.2009

City chickens going mainstream

Another decade down


From Winnipeg Free Press, December 26, 2009

A lot can happen in a decade.

In fact, many of the forces shaping agriculture and food industries today weren't even on our radar screens as the millennium turned a decade ago. Meanwhile, other forces that were expected to dissipate have remained stubbornly resistant.

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, was something farmers in the U.K. and Europe were confronting. No one seriously thought it would ever surface here, nor did they imagine the lasting impact the discovery of one infected animal in 2003 would have on this country's beef industry.

Not only have producers here suffered the economic consequences of trade disruptions, they have been saddled with the costs of implementing new protocols and regulations in its wake.

Manitoba's hog industry was still in the early stages of its explosive expansion and conversion from stability through a large number of independent producers to a centralized, intensive production system. The industry operated under the assumption Manitoba's wide-open spaces, friendly government oversight and its competitive advantage -- largely due to the currency differential -- would shelter its expansion indefinitely.

The Canadian dollar was around 69 cents US at the turn of the century. Today it is around 94 cents US. As for free trade, it seems that for every trade barrier removed, another surfaces, causing one industry analyst to refer to trade recently as "blood sport." Rules only matter if you get caught.

Full article here

12.23.2009

Joyeuses fêtes - Happy holidays

Post Carbon Greater Moncton wishes its members and visitors a happy holiday season!

Grand Moncton Post Carbon souhaite à tous ses membres et ses visiteurs une joyeuse période des fêtes!

Jeremy Rifkin on converging crises

sitestat

12.21.2009

Urban chicken bylaw labelled 'tragically bad'

National Post
December 21, 2009

Chickens might soon come home to roost in urban backyards, but potential owners should beware the fallout that goes beyond a tribute to food sustainability and buying-local initiatives.

One hundred North American cities have bylaws permitting residents to keep the traditional farm animal within city limits. The chickens are kept to lay eggs for consumption, dispose of kitchen scraps, eat bugs, turn soil and even weed gardens.

Full article here

12.17.2009

Peak oil notes - Dec 17

Source : Energy Bulletin

After falling for 9 straight trading sessions, oil reversed on Wednesday and climbed nearly $2 a barrel to $72.66 after the EIA reported that crude and distillate stocks fell considerably more than analysts anticipated. Earlier this week oil had touched $68.59. US crude inventories are now at 332 million barrels, the lowest since last January. With inventories still high, refineries operated at only 80 percent of capacity last week, down 1.1 percentage points from the prior week. US crude imports last week were only 7.7 million barrels, the lowest since September 2008 when the ports were shut because of hurricanes.

The EIA also reported that US fuel consumption increased by 6.7 percent to 19.6 million b/d last week. This was the biggest one-week jump in consumption in over five years. The AAA expects a 3.8 percent jump in holiday travel this year. Distillate stocks dropped by nearly 3 million barrels as colder weather enveloped much of the northern US.

The Iranian nuclear situation continues to fester with Tehran testing an upgraded long-range missile on Wednesday. This provocation, coupled with Tehran’s intransigence on the nuclear issue, increases the likelihood that stiffer sanctions will be imposed during 2010.

Car bombs continued to go off in Baghdad this week despite all the talk that Iraq will soon be the world’s leading oil producer. The oil facilities off northwestern Australia are about to be hit by a Cat 5 hurricane.

Article

12.12.2009

Le temps de l'économie post-carbone est arrivé

Par Dan Vogel
Le Monde
12 décembre 2009

Quelles que soient l'issue et les décisions prises lors du sommet de Copenhague, les entreprises vont rapidement prendre conscience des nouveaux enjeux liés au changement climatique... Leur avenir en dépend.

Les enjeux du sommet de l'ONU sur le climat vont bien au-delà du politique ou de l'écologique. Copenhague, c'est surtout l'entrée dans une nouvelle ère économique, celle du post-carbone.

Le contexte politique est favorable à l'avènement de cette nouvelle ère. Barack Obama et le premier ministre chinois, Wen Jiabao, seront finalement tous les deux présents à Copenhague, avec des objectifs chiffrés. Le gouvernement chinois annonce vouloir baisser son "intensité carbone" de 40 % à 45 % d'ici à 2020 par rapport à 2005, et on parle de 17 % de réduction des émissions de gaz à effet de serre (GES) pour les Etats-Unis. L'annonce à quelques jours d'intervalle de la présence des dirigeants des deux pays les plus polluants au monde est un signe fort. Gageons qu'elle redonnera confiance aux citoyens, qui n'attendaient guère de décisions d'un sommet qui se serait tenu sans les Etats-Unis ni la Chine.

Texte complet ici

11.09.2009

Oil Key oil figures were distorted by US pressure, says whistleblower


Terry Macalister
guardian.co.uk, Monday 9 November 2009 21.30 GMT

The world is much closer to running out of oil than official estimates admit, according to a whistleblower at the International Energy Agency who claims it has been deliberately underplaying a looming shortage for fear of triggering panic buying.

The senior official claims the US has played an influential role in encouraging the watchdog to underplay the rate of decline from existing oil fields while overplaying the chances of finding new reserves.

The allegations raise serious questions about the accuracy of the organisation's latest World Energy Outlook on oil demand and supply to be published tomorrow – which is used by the British and many other governments to help guide their wider energy and climate change policies.

Full article here

11.05.2009

Economic growth has let us down. What's the alternative?


Tim Jackson

2nd November, 2009
Tim Jackson's new book, 'Prosperity Without Growth', is an explosive indictment of the failure of economic growth to provide sustainable wellbeing for the world's population. But there could be another way forward...

Economic growth is supposed to deliver prosperity. Higher incomes should mean better choices, richer lives, an improved quality of life for us all. That at least is the conventional wisdom. But things haven’t always turned out that way.

Growth has delivered its benefits, at best, unequally. A fifth of the world’s population earns just 2 per cent of global income. Inequality is higher in the OECD nations than it was 20 years ago. Far from improving the lives of those who most needed it, growth let much of the world’s population down. Wealth trickled up to the lucky few.

Fairness (or the lack of it) is just one of several reasons to question growth. As the economy expands, so do its ecological impacts. In the last quarter of a century an estimated 60 per cent of the world’s ecosystems have been degraded. Global carbon emissions have risen by 40 per cent since 1990. Significant scarcity in key resources – such as oil – may be less than a decade away.

On the other hand, when growth stalls, as it has done over the past year, things go quickly from bad to worse. Firms go out of business, people lose their jobs and a government that fails to respond appropriately will soon find itself out of office. Dynamics are vital here. Continuous improvements in technology mean that fewer people are needed to produce the same goods from one year to the next. So if output doesn’t expand, there is a downward pressure on employment and a spiral of recession looms. Growth is necessary within this system just to prevent collapse.

In short we find ourselves locked between the horns of an uncomfortable and deep-seated dilemma: growth may be unsustainable, but ‘de-growth’ – a contraction in economic output – appears to be unstable. Questioning growth in these circumstances is deemed to be the act of lunatics, fanatics or idealists.

Full article here

Window Gardens

10.30.2009

French Ideal of Bicycle-Sharing Meets Reality



NY Times Oct 30, 09 - PARIS — Just as Le Corbusier’s white cruciform towers once excited visions of the industrial-age city of the future, so Vélib’, Paris’s bicycle rental system, inspired a new urban ethos for the era of climate change.
Skip to next paragraph

Residents here can rent a sturdy bicycle from hundreds of public stations and pedal to their destinations, an inexpensive, healthy and low-carbon alternative to hopping in a car or bus.

But this latest French utopia has met a prosaic reality: Many of the specially designed bikes, which cost $3,500 each, are showing up on black markets in Eastern Europe and northern Africa. Many others are being spirited away for urban joy rides, then ditched by roadsides, their wheels bent and tires stripped.

Full article here

Moncton Urban Chickens - Poules urbaines de Moncton





10.27.2009

Lasagna Gardening


From Mother Earth News

If someone told me years ago that he or she had found a way to do an end run around the sweat equity of traditional gardening, a way around digging, weeding, and rototilling, a way to produce more regardless of time constraints, physical limitations, or power-tool ineptness... well, I would have checked that person for a head injury. Yet such a system is actually possible, though I never would have believed it if I hadn't stumbled upon the basics myself.

Full article here

10.24.2009

350.org International Day of Climate Action in Moncton

350 Moncton! Represent!

Pas juste une constatation d'un fait. Nous souffrons déjà des actions environnementalements destructives de nos ancêtres. Allons-nous faire encore pire à nos propres enfants?

A beautiful group of people out in the cold fall rain to tell our Canadian deleguation to the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen that we want Canada to commit to reducing our emissions to move below the safe threshold of 350 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere.



Loosening up with a bit of laughter therapy.

Behold! Brussel sprouts!

Copenhagen or bust!


Like so many things in New Brunswick, Brunswick News is owned by Irving. Times and Transcript is a part of Brunswick News. It would seem that Times and Transcript supports Canada taking action on climate change. Can you guess what the next association is?

Un beau groupe du haut du pont de train


Un des posters...merci pour tout ton beau travail Françoise!


Being polite and not disturbing Main Street traffic...even though we should have

Paul Pellerin, Moncton City Councillor and President of the Environmental Committee (one of the good ones)

Françoise, notre organisatrice extraordinaire



There seems to be a theme to these signs...


350 pointing to our Canadian flag

Giving Steve-O a call!

Silver deers in support of politicians getting their act together.

Stephen Steeves, Green Party of Canada


Du haut de l'hôtel de ville de Moncton...cette photo et d'autres ont été envoyées pour afficher sur le site 350.org avec tout les autres de partout au monde


Chris Collins, Member of Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick supporting climate change initiatives

10.07.2009

Chickens are the new dog


From the Huffington Post - Oct 7, 2009

I'm completely fascinated by a recent phenomenon that I have not only observed, I have become an unwitting participant as well. It seems that chickens are the new dog. There are a variety of breeds - some beautiful, some homely, but whichever someone has, they are apt to be fiercely protective of their flock. Friends and associates are cordoning off space, whether it be a sprawling backyard field or a postage stamp city slicker's pen. Facebookers are updating the status of their laying, Twitter is seeing a cacophony of tweets about how to look after this canine replacement and entire sites are being devoted to the care of these domesticated birds (see TheCityChicken.com, UrbanChickens.org, and MadCityChickens.com). While the trend of urban poultry farming is clearly on the rise (without firm national statistics, we can point to the upwards of 30k members on sites like BackYardChickens.com, with an average of 100 new members a day!), the most interesting thing is that this meme seems to have many explanations rather than one specific origin.

Full article here

9.29.2009

Buh Bye Status Quo

Post Carbon Newsletter - September 2009

Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama had an opportunity to demonstrate bold leadership at the world's highest-level summit on climate change. Obama's stated commitment for the US to finally engage with the rest of the world in tackling the climate crisis was laudable. Unfortunately, his words belied a true understanding of the challenges we really face.

Obama spoke of ending subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, but then embraced "clean coal" technology—a boondoggle that will only make us more dependent on the most damaging of all fossil fuels. Worse still was his continued promotion of the fundamentally broken paradigm of unending growth: "Our goal is simple: a global economy in which growth is sustained, and opportunity is available to all." Until Obama and other world leaders see the correlation between unrelenting growth and crises like climate change and energy depletion, we'll be left with empty rhetoric and false solutions.

Full newsletter here

9.28.2009

Entrevue avec Robert Hirsch


Robert Hirsch est un spécialiste des questions énergétiques ayant travaillé pour l’État et le secteur privé. En 2005, c’est lui qui est à l’origine de l’étude sur le pic pétrolier du DOE (Department of Energy) des États-Unis.

Il est ici interviewé par Steve Andrew de l’ASPO.


Question : Quelles ont été vos principaux domaines d’activité au cours de votre carrière dans le secteur de l’énergie ?

Hirsch : J’ai débuté dans l’énergie nucléaire. Puis j’ai fait de la recherche sur la fusion [nucléaire], et dirigé le programme gouvernemental en la matière. J’ai passé beaucoup de temps sur les énergies renouvelables, y compris la gestion du programme fédéral des énergies renouvelables. De là, je me suis dirigé vers l’industrie pétrolière, où j’ai dirigé la recherche à long terme sur le raffinage puis les carburants synthétiques. Plus tard, j’ai dirigé la recherche et le développement sur l’exploration et la production du pétrole et du gaz. Puis ensuite, je suis passé dans le secteur de l’énergie électrique – tous les aspects de l’énergie électrique. Et puis j’ai mené des études sur l’énergie, dont plusieurs années pour la Rand, SAIC, et maintenant MISI. En dehors de cette carrière professionnelle j’ai collaboré avec les Académies Nationales [des Sciences] dans le domaine des études sur l’énergie depuis 1979 et j’ai travaillé sur pratiquement tous les aspects de l’énergie avec ces académies, que ce soit en tant que participant ou en tant que président du comité de leur conseil sur l’énergie et les systèmes environnementaux.

Question : Quand avez-vous entendu parler du problème du pic pétrolier ?

Hirsch : J’ai pris connaissance du pic pétrolier après ma sortie de l’industrie pétrolière, car on n’en parlait pratiquement pas lorsque j’y étais. Au début des années 2000, j’avais fait une étude pour le Département de l’Energie (DOE) traitant de la planification à long terme des recherches et du développement dans le secteur énergétique. Le pic pétrolier était l’un des six axes que j’avais défini. Auparavant, je n’avais jamais vraiment réfléchi sur ce sujet. C’est une sorte de bébé « goudron » ; une fois que vous mettez la main dessus, vous ne pouvez plus vous en détacher… Lorsque la production pétrolière déclinera, cela sera un enjeu déterminant pour l’humanité. Je suis donc impliqué depuis six ou sept ans dans l’analyse du pic pétrolier et des moyens de l’atténuer.

Article complet ici


9.14.2009

Inconvenient Truth on Coal

The Zero Growth Mind



As published on the OilDrum.com

We often think that we have a problem of scarcity of resources. It is not so: scarcity is not absolute. Whether we have enough of something or not depends on our perception of what we need. And, because we seem to think that we never have enough, we tend to use what we have faster than it can be replaced. It is the phenomenon called "overexploitation" or "overshoot". It is the main problem that we are facing and it is all because of the way the human mind works. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, overexploitation is all in the brain of the exploiter.

Nate Hagens has argued several times in "The Oil Drum" that the human mind is geared for growth (see, for instance here ). Apparently, we act on the basis of a series of neurotransmitters (e.g. dopamine) that make us search for continuously renewed stimulation. This way of functioning of the human mind is what generates our tendency of "discounting the future", that is of giving a lower value to the future than to the present. This rapidly declining discount function is the key of the mechanism of overexploitation.

Full article here

8.28.2009

Peak Oil? Urban Farms? Cuba's Been There, Done It


By David Tracey, Yesterday, TheTyee.ca

Last year all of us were afforded a frightening glimpse of how expensive fuel can trigger a global food crisis. And then, when zooming oil prices tumbled again (for now), causing food commodity prices to drop (for now), our news media moved on.

But I didn't. I became interested in Cuba as an example of how to adapt when the next, similar crisis comes -- and stays.

Peak oil hit the island with a crash when the Soviet Union imploded in 1989. A food system built on false economic pretenses -- subsidized oil and fertilizers from Russia which also paid inflated prices for Cuban sugar -- suddenly disappeared. So the country with the most industrialized agricultural system in Latin America, and a farming strategy built on monocrop exports, was left to fend for itself. It didn't help when the U.S. government tightened its trade embargo in 1992.

Full article here

8.10.2009

The English Encourage Urban Beekeeping


NY Times - Aug 10, 2009

A new and improved design of beehive could be used by city dwellers to harvest up to 20 kilograms of their own honey each year, according to Natural England, a British government conservation agency. The hives could also help stem the decline of bee populations.

Natural England will erect the so-called Beehaus on its roof in Victoria, central London, on Friday. The agency said the device should make it easy for anyone — from amateurs to seasoned apiarists — to help bees find a home in urban gardens.

“With the help of urban gardeners, bees can have access to a wonderfully diverse source of plants, resulting in fantastic flavorsome honey,” said James Tuthill, a co-founder of Omlet, the company that made the Beehaus, in a statement. The risk of city dwellers receiving bee stings would not be increased by the practice, officials said.

Urban beekeeping is already more than just a hobby just for gardening enthusiasts or dedicated apiarists.

Full article here

8.05.2009

Warning: Oil supplies are running out fast


The Independant (UK) Aug 3, 2009

The world is heading for a catastrophic energy crunch that could cripple a global economic recovery because most of the major oil fields in the world have passed their peak production, a leading energy economist has warned.

Higher oil prices brought on by a rapid increase in demand and a stagnation, or even decline, in supply could blow any recovery off course, said Dr Fatih Birol, the chief economist at the respected International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris, which is charged with the task of assessing future energy supplies by OECD countries.

In an interview with The Independent, Dr Birol said that the public and many governments appeared to be oblivious to the fact that the oil on which modern civilisation depends is running out far faster than previously predicted and that global production is likely to peak in about 10 years – at least a decade earlier than most governments had estimated.

Full article here

7.31.2009

Top 10 checklist: How societies can avoid ‘ecocide’


By Moises Velasquez-Manoff

In his book “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed,” Jared Diamond explores why some societies fall apart, and why others endure.

He uses the term “ecocide” to describe humanity’s penchant for ignoring signs that current behavior is unsustainable, environmentally speaking, and effectively committing suicide.

Accepting that the human sphere exists within the larger biosphere, you might further generalize Diamond’s idea to: “cultures that ignore the limits of the biosphere in which they exist tend to fall apart.”

But not every human society collapses. Some heed the warning signs, adjust their behavior, and keep on keeping on. Human cultures can evolve to fit within – rather than overstep – environmental limits. Mr. Diamond counts Java, Japan, and Tonga among his successful case studies; Easter Islanders, the Greenland Vikings, and the Anasazi of the Southwest failed, by his criteria.

So what made the difference? What do some cultures respond and change while others collapse? What are the attributes of long-term success?

Full article here

7.23.2009

Abeilles urbaines et miel de béton

Le Devoir - Édition du 4 & 5 juillet 2009 (Isabelle Paré)

Certains jours de la semaine, Mélanie Coates troque ces talons aiguilles d'attachée de presse de l'hôtel Royal York de Toronto pour enfiler sa coiffe métallique d'apicultrice afin d'aller rendre visite à des milliers de petites butineuses.

Pas besoin d'aller très loin pour rendre visite à ses nouvelles protégées. Au plus fort de l'été, près de 100 000 abeilles bourdonnent au coeur des gratte-ciel, sur le toit du célèbre hôtel Royal York de Toronto, dans l'une des quatre suites royales nichées au 14e étage.

Depuis l'an dernier, le Royal York, qui abrite un vaste jardin d'herbes et un petit potager sur son toit, a décidé de se convertir aux joies de l'apiculture urbaine. «Notre chef voyait des tonnes d'insectes et d'abeilles butiner ses plantes, même en plein centre-ville. Il s'est dit: pourquoi ne pas avoir nos propres ruches et produire notre propre miel?», raconte Mélanie Coates.

Ces abeilles urbaines, qui vont butiner jusque dans les îles de Toronto, sur les penthouses et les parcs environnants, ont produit pas moins de 160 kilos de miel à la fin de l'été dernier. Cette année, on prévoit en tirer 450 kilos. De quoi répondre à 70 % des besoins annuels en miel des cuisines du Royal York. Appelé «Rooftop Honey», ce miel de «béton», qui a remporté quelques prix, est maintenant servi avec l'assiette de fromage aux clients de l'hôtel. «Non seulement les abeilles ont survécu à l'hiver, probablement grâce à la chaleur du bâtiment, mais nous avons ajouté trois nouvelles reines cet été, ce qui accroîtra la production», ajoute Mélanie, qui se fait depuis apicultrice à temps partiel.

Article complet ici

www.urbanbees.co.uk

7.20.2009

Road Map for New Brunswick

By Roy MacMullin

Some provinces take modern autoroutes for granted. Not New Brunswick. Frank McKenna, then-Premier, began a major capital program in the early '90s to upgrade the Trans-Canada Highway to four lanes. It seemed like a good idea at the time. A number of deaths had been caused by collisions, and besides, didn't we deserve highways as good as Quebec and Ontario anyway?

With a small population of 750,000 people, road construction has left the province saddled with debt. The recent burgeoning debt load hasn't stopped our present premier, Shawn Graham, from proposing to spend another $1 billion expanding Route 11 between Shediac and Miramichi into four lanes. Before we allow him to bet the farm on highway construction, perhaps we should examine the implications of this adventure.

Read full article here


7.17.2009

Quand les citadins américains élèvent des poules

À la faveur de la crise, les poulaillers réapparaissent dans les jardinets de banlieue. Il n'y a pas de petites économies.

LE FIGARO - Édition Internationale

Pecky, Hattie et Lena sont bruyantes et ne sentent pas la rose, mais pour Greg Anderson, résident à Brooklyn, ce sont des compagnes irremplaçables. Elles pondent des œufs tous les jours et, en ces temps de crise, il n'y a pas de petites économies. Greg a rejoint il y a un an le club fermé des éleveurs de gallinacés en ville. Les poules sont illégales dans beaucoup de métropoles américaines, mais pas à New York, au contraire des coqs. Trop bruyants de bon matin, ils seraient responsables de surpopulation volaillère et de risques sanitaires.

«En Alabama, où je vivais quand j'étais petit, ma grand-mère avait des poules. Alors, avec la crise, on s'est dit avec ma femme : pourquoi pas un poulailler ? Surtout qu'on fait déjà pousser des légumes.» Les Anderson partagent un jardin communautaire avec dix autres personnes, qui n'ont pas été difficiles à convaincre, malgré des préjugés initiaux. «On leur donne des œufs régulièrement, ça aide», précise Greg.

Le New-Yorkais ne regrette pas son choix, même si ses «ladys», comme il les appelle, lui demandent du temps. Sa facture au supermarché est allégée. Bien sûr, il faut manger des œufs tous les jours, mais une fois qu'on a essayé un «vrai», on ne goûte plus aux autres, assure-t-il. Greg a reçu son poulailler gratuitement d'une association de «promotion de l'autosuffisance et de lutte pour la légalisation des poules en ville». Ses huit volatiles lui ont été offerts par un autre éleveur. «Mes poules ne sont pas très chères à entretenir», ajoute-t-il, le regard attendri.

Article complet ici

7.14.2009

Enjoying the sunset of the automobile era

Published in Times and Transcript
July 14, 2009
Tim Moerman

Last Friday I walked down Main Street, along with thousands of others out to enjoy the sunshine and ogle the dazzling array of classic cars at the Atlantic Nationals.

For all the merriment, to me it feels like the sunset of the automobile era -- the last couple of hurrahs before peak oil and climate change put the kibosh to this peculiar obsession of ours. And I'm not sure how I feel about that.

When I was a kid, I wanted to grow up (if that is the word) to be the Dukes of Hazzard, tear-assing around the countryside in a souped-up hotrod. I remember being very upset that by the time I was old enough to drive, the gasoline would be all gone.

My timing was off, but that day is coming, as surely as the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs. The fossil fuels we guzzled at pennies a litre are running out. We will soon face a whack of problems as a result. How to get our mini-vans to the mall may be the least of them.

Perhaps to the surprise to those who have read my occasional screeds in these pages, I don't actually hate cars. If I hate anything, it is what cars have done to our world. Or more properly, what we have done to our world, and to ourselves, in their name.

The Atlantic Nationals take place on Moncton's Main Street, a handful of lively, beautiful urban blocks of the type that were once commonplace across North America.

Full article here

7.13.2009

Gospel of Green


In case you missed this on CBC a few months ago

As the world confronts the reality of global warming and the inevitable end of oil, the questions of what to do and how to sustain energy without oil or fossil fuels becomes more urgent. Bob McKeown and a fifth estate team travel to Germany to meet Hermannn Scheer, called "Europe's Al Gore," a parliamentarian who is leading the way to increase Germany's reliance on renewable energy sources such as wind power and solar power. To date, 15% of Germany's energy comes from renewable sources. Scheer estimates that if Germany continues on this course, by 2030 that will be 100%. So, if one of the world major industrialized nations can achieve this, why can't a country like Canada? The answer may lie in the fifth estate's investigation of the influence, in this country, of conventional energy industry on politicians.

Video

7.12.2009

A Quiet Revolution in Bicycles: Recapturing a Role as Utilitarian People-Movers (Part I)


Bicycles were invented over 200 years ago and were used for many years as significant and efficient means of human transport. But over the past 40 years, bicycles lost their status in the US (and Canada) as human transportation vehicles, due to inexpensive oil and far-flung suburban development. Since both of those factors favored automobile usage, the bicycle industry responded by refocusing their marketing strategy to promote bikes as recreational objects, only to be carted out on weekends and vacation time.

For many years this has been the status quo, with the typical bikes available in many bike shops catering to the weekend warrior, not the utilitarian cyclist. But in response to concerns over oil dependency and the environment, a quiet revolution started brewing in the mid-1990s that produced new bicycle designs and features, reinventing the bicycle as a significant mode of transportation. These new developments include cargo-carrying capacity for passengers and their stuff, plus compact, quiet, efficient, electric-assist motors that can extend the biker's traveling range and encourage biking more often.

This article is intended to provide a broad overview of the recent developments that make the bicycle a practical utilitarian vehicle for daily transportation. In Part 1, I introduce the concepts of cargo bicycles and electrical bicycles and address the question, “Why do these developments help make a bicycle a great personal transportation option for those concerned about Peak Energy?” Then, in the upcoming Part 2, I will get into the nitty-gritty details of the products and designs available, addressing the questions, “What are the features, how much do they cost, and where can I buy one?”

Full article here

Part II here

7.10.2009

Happy Peak Oil Day


By Richard Heinburg

On July 11, 2008, the price of a barrel of oil hit a record $147.27 in daily trading. That same month, world crude oil production achieved a record 74.8 million barrels per day.

For years prior to this, a growing legion of analysts had been arguing that world oil production would max out around the year 2010 and begin to decline for reasons having to do with geology (we have found and picked the world’s “low-hanging fruit” in terms of giant oilfields), as well as lack of drilling rigs and trained exploration geologists and engineers. “Peak Oil,” they insisted, would mark the end of the growth phase of industrial civilization, because economic expansion requires increasing amounts of high-quality energy.

During the period from 2005 to 2008, as oil’s price steadily rose, production remained stagnant. Though new sources of oil were coming on line, they barely made up for production declines in existing fields due to depletion. By mid-2008, as oil prices wafted to the stratosphere, every petroleum producer responded to the obvious incentive to pump every possible barrel. Production rates nudged upward for a couple of months, but then both prices and production fell as demand for oil collapsed.

Since then, with oil prices much lower, and with credit tight to unavailable, up to $150 billion of investments in the development of future petroleum production capacity have evaporated. This means that if a new record production level is to be achieved, further declines in production from existing fields have to be overcome, meaning that all of those canceled production projects, and many more in addition, will have to be quickly brought on-stream. It may not be physically possible to turn the tide at this point, given the fact that the new “plays” are technically demanding and therefore expensive to develop, and have limited productive potential.

On May 4 of this year, Raymond James Associates, a prominent brokerage specializing in energy investments, issued a report stating, “With OPEC oil production apparently having peaked in 1Q08, and non-OPEC even earlier in 2007, peak oil on a worldwide basis seems to have taken place in early 2008.” This conclusion is being echoed by a cadre of other analysts.

Full article here

7.02.2009

Our idea of progress must change


The Sun Times - July 2, 2009

Everything comes from the land. Everything: the chair you're reading this newspaper in, this newspaper, the car or truck that delivered the newspaper, the gas in the car or truck, the computers used to typeset the newspaper, the reporters' desks and offices, you, me--everything.

We know this of course, and yet we don't.

That's because the more stuff we have, the more we are separated from where it all comes from. What does Wal-Mart or IGA or GM (General Motors aka Government Money) have to do with the land? Well, everything.

We've raised our standard of living to record heights -- so high, in fact that, if everyone lived like we do in North America, we would need three or four earths. To keep our way of life rolling along, we need to make more things. As the satirical newspaper The Onion put it, quoting a fictional Chinese worker: "Often, when we're assigned a new order for, say, 'salad shooters,' I will say to myself, there's no way that anyone will ever buy these . . . One month later, we will receive an order for the same product, but three times the quantity . . I hear that [North] Americans can buy anything they want, and I believe it, judging from the things I've made for them. And I also hear that, when they no longer want an item, they simply throw it away. So wasteful and contemptible."

But such is our personal measure of progress: whoever has the most stuff when they die, wins.

Full article here

6.30.2009

China Thirsty for Oil


Globe and Mail, June 30, 2009

China's dependence on foreign oil has surpassed that of the United States, as consumers race to the pumps to fill their new cars with gas and the country feverishly stockpiles supplies to take advantage of weak markets.

The country's increasing appetite has driven it to spend billions to acquire foreign oil producers and construct vast storage facilities to safeguard future needs. It also helps explain a rapid rise in oil prices this year, which many attribute to speculators gambling on an economic recovery.

"People trying to explain rising prices look at the West and see high inventory and low demand, so they blame speculators," said Paul Ting, president of Paul Ting Energy Vision LLC in New Jersey. "They are looking in the wrong place - demand is coming from China. And demand has been robust." (Emphasis is ours)

Full article here

6.24.2009

Big eggspectations - Les poules urbaines ont la cot



(Moncton, June 25, 2009) – The Greater Moncton Regional Planning Commission has granted a local group a one-year temporary permit to run an urban experimental farm. The project, sponsored by Post Carbon Greater Moncton, will involve the keeping of up to 4 hens within the city boundaries.

According to Michel Desjardins, spokesperson for Post Carbon Greater Moncton, the pilot project is a step towards more self-sufficiency and food security in the region. “We think food security and self-sufficiency will be a huge issue in the future. This pilot project is one of a broad range of public policy initiatives that need to happen to enhance our food sovereignty” he said.

The group sees the project as a way to mitigate the impact of the energy crisis that is expected to hit the world economy in the future. It is interesting to note that the City of Moncton passed a resolution recently acknowledging the challenge of oil depletion and the need for Moncton to prepare a plan of response and preparation.

According to Michel Desjardins, the pilot project is entirely consistent with the intent of Moncton City Council’s resolution. “Individuals, families and communities need to prepare for a new and more sustained round of oil price hikes. Higher energy prices imply more expensive food. Part of the solution is more local food production, consumption and storage,” he said.

The urban farm will be run by Anne-Marie Laroche and Isabelle Pineault in one of Moncton’s residential neighborhoods. They are delighted by the Commission’s green light and expect to get started immediately.

“We have been waiting for this for several months so we are ready to go,” said Anne-Marie Laroche.

“We are treating this as a research project. We will measure and document the process. We will consult with local stakeholders and look into other communities’ best practices” she said.

The urban farmers and Post Carbon Greater Moncton have promised do deliver a full report to the City of Moncton before December 31, 2010. This report will examine the optimal conditions for small-scale farming in an urban setting and may lay the groundwork for an effective municipal regulatory framework.

Anne-Marie and Isabelle have obtained their neighbors’ support for the project.

There will also be an educational component to the project. Post Carbon Greater Moncton expects to organize tours of the urban farm and hold public sessions on food security and self-sufficiency.

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(Moncton, le 25 juin 2009) – La Commission d’aménagement régional du Grand Moncton a donné son aval hier à un projet de ferme expérimentale en milieu urbain. La Commission délivrera un permis temporaire qui sera en vigueur pendant une période d’un an. Le projet, parrainé par l’organisme Grand Moncton Post Carbone, comprend notamment l’élevage de poules à petite échelle.

Selon le porte-parole de Grand Moncton Post Carbone, Michel Desjardins, le projet pilote constitue un premier pas vers une plus grande autosuffisance et une plus grande sécurité alimentaire dans la région de Moncton. « Nous croyons que l’autosuffisance et la sécurité alimentaire sont un enjeu important de l’avenir. Ce projet pilote constitue une première avancée dans cette direction », a indiqué Michel Desjardins.

Le groupe voit également dans ce projet un antidote à la crise énergétique qui pourrait frapper l’économie mondiale au cours des prochaines années. Fait intéressant à noter : le 15 juin dernier, la ville de Moncton a adopté une résolution reconnaissant le défi lié au plafonnement de la production pétrolière et la nécessité pour Moncton de préparer un plan d'action et d'entreprendre des préparatifs.

Selon le porte-parole de Grand Moncton Post Carbone, le projet pilote s’inscrit parfaitement dans la foulée de cette résolution. « Les individus, les familles et les communautés doivent se préparer à des augmentations plus soutenues des prix de l’énergie. Une augmentation des prix de l’énergie suppose nécessairement une flambée des prix des aliments. Une partie de la solution consiste à produire, consommer et conserver les aliments à une échelle plus locale », a-t-il ajouté.

Le projet pilote sera mené par Anne-Marie Laroche et Isabelle Pineault, deux résidentes d’un quartier résidentiel de Moncton. Elles se disent enchantées du feu vert de la Commission d’aménagement régional et comptent entreprendre le projet immédiatement.

« Nous attendons ce moment depuis plusieurs mois et nos plans sont prêts, » a souligné Anne-Marie Laroche.

« Nous traitons cette expérience comme un projet de recherche. Nous allons mesurer et documenter le processus. Nous allons aussi consulter plusieurs intervenants et étudier les pratiques exemplaires d’autres communautés » a-t-elle ajouté.

Les fermières urbaines et le Groupe Grand Moncton Post Carbone se sont engagés à livrer un rapport complet à la ville de Moncton avant le 31 décembre 2010. Ce rapport examinera les conditions optimales pour une ferme à petite échelle en milieu urbain et pourrait jeter les bases d’une réglementation municipale efficace.

Les résidentes ont obtenu l’approbation de leurs voisins pour mener cette expérience.

Il y aura aussi un volet éducatif au projet. Grand Moncton Post Carbone organisera des tournées de la ferme urbaine et tiendra des séances publiques sur les enjeux de la sécurité et de l’autosuffisance alimentaires.

Hoarding the coop


Globe & Mail - June 24, 2009
At first glance, the backyard in an upscale 1950s Toronto development seems to be typically Canadian. There's a barbecue, patio furniture, a well-kept lawn – and then there are the chickens.

Two hens peck at the grass, while a third broody one sits in the nest. With people in the yard, the curious chickens move toward the orange fencing of the run, their soft cooing barely audible over the hum of neighbours' air conditioners.

Their owner, a middle-aged woman wearing jeans and a black T-shirt with a stylish haircut and funky glasses – who wouldn't give her name for fear of being discovered by city officials – says she is one of about a half-dozen people in Toronto she knows of who secretly keeps chickens on their properties.

“It covers absolutely every type of person,” she says. “Young, old, every ethnic group.”

Full article here

6.23.2009

Moncton City Council Passes Peak Oil Resolution

On June 15 2009, Moncton City Council passed the following resolution:

WHEREAS, World oil production is nearing or has passed its point of maximum production (known as "Peak Oil") and will enter a prolonged period of irreversible decline leading to ever-increasing prices; and

WHEREAS, The availability of affordable petroleum is critical to the functioning of our transportation system, the production of our food and of petrochemical-based consumer goods, the paving of roads, the lubrication of machinery, and myriad other parts of the economy; and,

WHEREAS, Moncton has already demonstrated leadership in confronting challenges of global climate change, including participating in the Cities for Climate Protection program and establishing an Active Transportation and other policy initiatives, and has a rich diversity of citizens committed to maintaining Moncton's long-term viability; be it

RESOLVED, That Moncton City Council acknowledges the unprecedented challenges of Peak Oil; and, be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That Council supports the undertaking of a city-wide assessment study in order to inventory city activities and their corollary resource requirements, evaluating the impact in each area of a decline in petroleum availability and of higher prices, with the aim of developing a comprehensive plan of action and response to Peak Oil; and, be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That Council hereby requests that the Mayor take steps to establish a Peak Oil Task Force, comprising members of Council, the Planning Commission, City and Commission Staff, and the public, to examine the issue of Peak Oil and to develop a framework for adapting to fossil fuel depletion.

Résolution du Conseil de Moncton sur le Pic Pétrolier

Le 15 juin 2009, le Conseil de ville de Moncton a adopté la résolution suivante:


ATTENDU QUE la production pétrolière mondiale a presque ou déjà atteint son sommet (« pic pétrolier ») et qu'elle va entrer dans une période prolongée de déclin irréversible menant à un accroissement sans fin du prix du pétrole;

ET ATTENDU QUE la disponibilité du pétrole à un prix abordable est essentielle au fonctionnement de notre système de transport, à la production de nos aliments et des biens de consommation à base de produits pétrochimiques, à l'asphaltage des routes, au graissage des machines et à une myriade d'autres secteurs de notre économie;

ET ATTENDU QUE Moncton a déjà fait preuve de leadership en relevant des défis liés aux changements climatiques mondiaux, notamment en participant au programme Cities for Climate Protection (villes pour la protection du climat) et en établissant l'initiative de transport actif et d'autres initiatives stratégiques, et que Moncton compte une grande diversité de citoyens qui se sont engagés à maintenir la viabilité à long terme de cette dernière;

IL EST DONC RÉSOLU que le Conseil municipal de Moncton reconnaisse les défis sans précédent liés au plafonnement de la production pétrolière.

IL EST EN OUTRE RÉSOLU que le Conseil appuie la mise en œuvre d'une étude d'évaluation de toute la municipalité afin d'inventorier les activités de Moncton et leurs exigences en matière de ressources accessoires et d'évaluer l'incidence du déclin de la disponibilité du pétrole et de la hausse des prix sur chaque secteur dans le but d'élaborer un plan d'action détaillé par rapport au plafonnement de la production pétrolière.

IL EST EN OUTRE RÉSOLU que le Conseil soutienne la formation d'un groupe de travail sur le plafonnement de la production pétrolière qui sera composé de membres du personnel de la Ville de Moncton et de la Commission du district d'aménagement et de membres du public, afin d'examiner la question du plafonnement de la production pétrolière et d'élaborer un cadre de travail visant l'adaptation à l'épuisement des combustibles fossiles.

6.19.2009

Urban Farming, a Bit Closer to the Sun


NY Times June 19, 2009

THIS summer, Tony Tomelden hopes to be making bloody marys at the Pug in Washington, D.C., with tomatoes and chilies grown above the bar, thanks to the city’s incentives for green roofs.

Mr. Tomelden, the Pug’s principal owner, says he’s planting a garden to take advantage of tax subsidies the city offers in his neighborhood if he covers his roof with plants.

“If I can do something in my corner for the environment, that seemed a reasonable thing to do,” he said. “Plus I can save money on the tomatoes.”

Full article here

6.15.2009

Masse critique - Critical Mass

Reversing globalization



Soaring oil costs will localize economies, expand transit jobs - and green earth

The Hamilton Spectator
(Jun 15, 2009)

If Jeff Rubin had a sprawling house in the suburbs, he'd sell it and move downtown.

The author of Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller thinks the day is not far off when soaring oil prices will mean subdivisions in suburbia will be plowed under for farm fields and the average Canadian won't be able to afford to drive a car.

Globalization will be reversed, he says, with economies becoming much smaller and more local. No more cheap televisions from Korea, no more California strawberries.

Full article here