What Will We Eat as the Oil Runs Out?

Richard Heinberg has a wonderful paper which discusses the direness of the oil crisis, and eloquently debunks the idea that biofuels are a viable solution to our energy crisis:

One factor influencing food prices arises from the increasing incentives for farmers worldwide to grow biofuel crops rather than food crops. Ethanol and biodiesel can be produced from a variety of crops including maize, soy, rapeseed, sunflower, cassava, sugar cane, palm, and jatropha. As the price of oil rises, many farmers are finding that they can produce more income from their efforts by growing these crops and selling them to a biofuels plant, than by growing food crops either for their local community or for export.

Already nearly 20 percent of the US maize crop is devoted to making ethanol, and that proportion is expected to rise to one quarter, based solely on existing projects-in-development and government mandates. Last year US farmers grew 14 million tons of maize for vehicles. This took millions of hectares of land out of food production and nearly doubled the price of corn. Both Congress and the White House favor expanding ethanol production even further - to replace 20 percent of gasoline demand by 2017 - in an effort to promote energy security by reducing reliance on oil imports. Other nations including Britain are mandating increased biofuel production or imports as a way of reducing carbon emissions, though most analyses show that the actual net reduction in CO2 will be minor or nonexistent.

Heinberg, unlike many alarmist environmentalists today, attempts to offer viable solutions to our impending crisis, which can be summed up with one word: conservation. I encourage everyone and anyone to peruse his article carefully; it provides a well-cited, insightful overview of the resource depletion crises which will affect every human on the planet. Most importantly, Heinberg stresses that “applying mere techno-fixes … will almost certainly lead to dire consequences.”

See you all on the farm.

I am in love with this town!

  • There is no sales tax.
  • Coffee shops have free wi-fi. Period. Oh, and my favorite americano and bagel combination costs less than at Juna’s in Ithaca as a result of the lack of sales tax. Oh, and the coffee here is good. Really, really good. Better than Gimme. Sorry, Gimme.
  • I pay $45 more per month for a house that is 1000% more livable than my previous apartment.
  • Pabst Blue Ribbon isn’t an option. It’s a staple.
  • I was at a crosswalk, and the cars stopped for me. They have to. By law.
  • There’s a multi-acre park on a main boulevard. The trees in the park are taller than the shops.
  • I have never seen greener grass in my life.

A smattering of holiday “cheer”

I was at the bank today, and sure enough, they had a television tuned to CNN. While waiting in line, I figured I would see what the rest of the country deems “news.” What I saw in the ten minutes I watched was a report about how Domino’s Pizza expects a 6% increase in profits today due to some tradition that claims tonight is a great night to eat pizza. This is not news. This is an overpriced commercial for pizzerias. We’ve entrusted the responsibility of rigorous appraisal and objective scrutiny of our government with the likes of CNN, and they offer us a report about pizza. Fuck you, CNN. Fellow Americans, you pay for this? You actually take out your wallets and say “Hey News Corporation, I want you to tell me about celebrities every minute of every day and neglect to address key issues like our energy crisis and our three escalating conflicts in the Middle East!” You should be ashamed. If you want to see change in the world, put away your wallets and open your notebooks, turn on your cameras, and start screaming.

Most eccentrics and radicals with opinions often offer little in the way of a solution. These are the rabid protesters at every WTO rally, the Democrats, the Republicans, Michael Moore and Bill O’Reilly. There is one thing all of these folks lack which I think needs to be addressed at a public hearing immediately: balls. No, I’m not talking in the physical sense — I haven’t checked whether rabid hippies have testicles and God would know I wouldn’t want to check under Michael Moore’s trousers… if I believed in God. The balls I’m talking about represent the ability for an individual or organization to stand up for what they believe in and be able to rigidly define those beliefs without succumbing to fear that their particular ideology will be shot down by another party. That certainly isn’t to say that women don’t have balls. As a matter of fact, many of the women I know have bigger balls than most men — they take action and do so with passion. Perhaps us men have become comfortable with our balls to the point where they have shriveled so far up into our abdomens that we have turned into a rowdy bunch of cowards: the Gonzalez’s, the Cheney’s, the Bush’s, the Murdoch’s, the Turner’s, and the Rockafeller’s.

This holiday season, I want each and every one of you to do something radical. Do not lavish your friends with expensive shit they will not use because the TV tells you to (and don’t pull the “the TV didn’t tell me to, I did it by my own volition” card. I stopped buying gifts for people at Christmas as soon as I rid myself of the propagandavision and I will never look back). Instead, take extra time to think of your family. No, not just your mother. Not just your siblings, your aunts, your uncles, your cousins. They’re all important, but they’ll do just fine without iPods. I mean your distant black cousins down the street whose mother is working Christmas Day because her children’s father left her. I mean your distant Iraqi cousins whose house just got destroyed in a raid and spent Ramadan fighting for their lives. No, don’t send them iPods — they don’t need them either. Meditate on the world and find peace within yourself. No amount of wrapping paper, pretty bows, and blister-packed electronics can possibly compare to the humility of awareness.

Change starts with you. I had a conversation with my brother I’d like to share with all of you. He told me he didn’t have any idea what he wanted to pursue in college. No subject of study seemed relevant to the world around him. I told him to look outside, and tell me who decided that there should be a traffic light at the intersection. He hesitated, and I told him a civil engineer probably decided that — a civil engineer that might retire soon and expect our generation to pick up where he left off. I explained to him that our generation is about to take the reigns of the sleigh of humanity, and that, to be quite honest, it looked as if we were heading straight into a tree. I could tell this started the wheels of his brain turning. Change starts with you. It is your world and your responsibility. Your XBox, CNN, ESPN, NFL, CBS, Wal-Mart, NASCAR world is a fantasy. It is a condition of a naive mind to believe that the problems caused by the machine of the world will be solved as a cog. You must be the operator of that machine. Consumption breeds corruption. Gluttony breeds greed. Ask any good-hearted Christian and they’ll tell you it’s in their Bible. It’s too bad we’ve all lost sight of the true meaning of it all.

The West Coast Departure Project

[revision 2 | mp3]

[revision 1 | mp3]

Casper’s Doppelgänger

[mp3]

They sold out.

So much nonsense.

Able Danger.

Last night I recorded music for the first time in 2 years. I’m a bit rusty yet but this is a good start. Click the image to listen.

I just traveled five hours to sit at Gimme! Coffee.

I’m sitting at Gimme! Brookyln on Lorimer St. in Williamsburg. Not surprisingly, it looks and feels identical to the Gimme! Coffee locations back home in Ithaca, boasting the same iconic stamped cups and white-on-black signage. There’s also the familiar ambiance of indie music playing in the background and kitschy artwork hanging along the white, black and red walls.

The lack of worthwhile eateries in Williamsburg is striking. The streets are littered with the usual fare: pizza, Chinese food, deli, deli, deli, pizza, pizza, pizza, Chinese food, Chinese food, and the occasional mom-and-pop Mexican restaurant also serving Chinese food as if it will drive more business. I settled on the greasiest slice of eggplant pizza I’ve ever eaten.

Tomorrow I’m going to McKarren Pool to see Modest Mouse in concert. Toodles.

Summer slack-off roundup.

It’s been awhile since I’ve managed to post. Here is a quick summary of what I’ve been up to, in one-word exclamations:

  • FLY! I returned from Europe in one piece.
  • MOVE! I moved off South Hill to a small apartment downtown.
  • PLAN! I planned a short trip to New York to see a Daft Punk concert and friends. I leave this Thursday.
  • PLAY! I played the drums and the banjo in Eric Stewart’s band Ghost In My Basement at No Radio Records. We lined up another show on September 1 at a Buzzsaw Haircut benefit show at Ithaca College.

So long, Dundee, and good riddance indeed.

Today was an adventure like all the others. I spent my usual hour in the morning finding my way to Buchanan Station in Glasgow; everything in this city looks the same! I boarded the bus to Dundee and slept most of the way there. Upon my arrival, I luckily tracked down a taxi to the conference so that I wasn’t stuck walking miles uphill as I was in the days prior. I was able to attend a few sessions for the first time the entire conference, and Ali gave our presentation. The presentation was fairly well-received by the conference attendees.

Following the conference, Ali and I made our way to the botanical gardens at the University for yet another refreshment session. The gardens were absolutely stunning:

Ali and I were having a jolly good time, joking and bantering down the street trying to find a restaurant that didn’t serve fish and chips or pizza. He was meeting some Norwegian fellows at a pub in Dundee at around 22:00. I had to catch my bus back to Glasgow at 20:40. At around 20:10, we settled on a Pizza Hut and made our way in. I lost track of time and, without surprise, missed my bus by thirty seconds in a rage running to the bus station. I walked the walk of shame back up the hill, pizza in hand, and told Ali the news.

I weighed my options. I could bum around town with Ali and the Norwegians and “figure something out,” or I could find another way home. Luckily, the folks working at the restaurant tracked down the next train to Glasgow that evening. We walked to the train station and I purchased my ticket. £20.40, which is approximately $40 USD for those of you keeping track at home.

The train station in Dundee is kind of like everything else in the city after 19:00: cold, dark, lonely, and terrifying. There was a young chap banging sticks up above the station looking down at me. The station was eerily quiet. To be honest, the only sense of security I had came from the CCTV cameras placed throughout.

It’s good to know that the only bus I have left to board is back to Prestwick to return to London.

I’m off to see Paul Strachan at the University of Strathclyde. Further updates to follow!