QUICK SUMMARY: Oil guru Richard Heinberg on life after fossil fuels. Marjory Wildcraft: why you may want to grow your own groceries. Radio Ecoshock 150408
Five percent of the world’s oil tanker capacity is waiting to load up near Basra Iraq, where production is way up. The United States has only one month of oil storage capacity left. After that, what comes in must go straight to market, likely for as little as $20 a barrel.
Is peak oil dead? And why isn’t the economy responding to cheaper oil? We’ll ask the guru, Richard Heinberg. He’s one of the people who popularized the oil squeeze, with his book “The Party’s Over”. Heinberg has a new book out: “Afterburn, Society Beyond Fossil Fuels”.
After that, during this Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, a couple of us hope to persuade you to grow some of your own food. Marjory Wildcraft, from growyourowngroceries joins us. There’s a lot of reasons we need to pay attention to the food supply.
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RICHARD HEINBERG: AFTERBURN
“We live in the time of what might be called the Burning” – Richard Heinberg.
In 2003, his book “The Party’s Over: Oil, War & the Fate of Industrial Societies” turned Peak Oil from an insider worry to a popular movement. Twelve years and eight books later, Richard Heinberg is still the go-to guy for what’s happening with world energy – and there’s a lot happening right now. Richard’s post in California is at the Post Carbon Institute.
Of course everyone wants to know what happened to Peak Oil and the way out of this fossil fuel mess. Richard gives us that update, and whole lot more, in his latest book just out, called “Afterburn, Society Beyond Fossil Fuels“.
“As energy issues become more critically important to society’s economic and ecological survival, they become more politically contested; and as a result, they tend to become obscured by a fog of exaggeration, half-truth, omission, and outright prevarication.”
– Richard Heinberg, “Afterburn”
We all thought high oil prices would grind the economy into a crash. Now oil has fallen to less than half price, and it looks like THAT could trigger some very bad things. What’s happening out there on the oil fields?
I’ve been reading that some big energy companies hedged their production at over $90 a barrel. There’s no way some Wall Street betters can pay half the world’s energy bill. Something has to give, yes?
Richard wrote about the fragility of the oil industry and it’s massive debt, especially in the fracking industry, in his recent book “Snake Oil”. Our second guest Marjory Wildcraft, who lives in West Texas, says she’s toured around in Texas, seeing exactly the oil blight, abandoned rigs, and depressed towns that Richard Heinberg wrote about.
I can remember, just five years ago, a big debate about climate change and peak oil. Some Peak Oilers said we’ll never get to full-blown climate catastrophe, because the oil will run out soon, very soon. Now we know humans can find and burn enough oil to wreck the climate.
Heinberg compare our rivers to the “rivers” of gasoline that flow along our highways, and throughout our society. I was struck by his observation on how open and visible water is, and how hidden the gasoline flow is at every stage. It’s underground, in pipelines, in our tanks, and never seen.
In his new book “Afterburn”, Richard Heinberg writes: “Quite simply, we must learn to be successfully and happily poorer.” Somehow, I don’t think we’ll hear that in the upcoming American election campaign…
Stanford professor (and Radio Ecoshock guest) Mark Jacobson and Amory Lovins of Rocky Mountain Institute say we can continue growing the economy powered by renewable energy. Why is Heinberg so gloomy? Can he really be sure we won’t find ways to continue the current wealth of civilization?
WHY UTILITIES AND GOVERNMENTS FIGHT OFF ALTERNATIVE ENERGY
In the new book “Afterburn” he says:
“When the government tries to provide people the basics, power is centralized — but as the capacity of the government wanes, it can feel threatened by people trying to provide the basics for themselves, and act to discourage or even criminalize them.“
Are we seeing signs of government resistance to self-sufficiency and going off-grid? Heinberg says yes, and gives a piercing analysis of the curious balance of big grids. At the beginning (now) only people with enough capital or credit can afford the up-front costs to install solar power systems. Then they get a free dividend, and can feed extra power back into the grid.
At some point, there is so much home-grown power, that a relatively small portion of the population (generally the poorest) are supporting a large and increasingly expensive big-grid infrastructure. Then the power companies use their leverage (read bribes to politicians) to get laws limiting local power, or making it very expensive in the permit process.
Heinberg says in the long run, the big grids will have to cave in, and become completely re-organized. For one thing, it leads to something much closer to an energy democracy, versus the current top-down monopoly structure.
Here is an RT news piece titled: “Local governments crackdown on residents going ‘off-the-grid'”. [starts at 3:30 ]
We talk all this through in a major interview with one of the great alternative thinkers of our times. I thought I was familiar with many of Richard’s ideas, but I enjoyed reading the new book “Afterburn, Society Beyond Fossil Fuels”. For me, it tied a lot of things together to create new insights and inspiration. For what it’s worth, our previous Radio Ecoshock interview with Richard Heinberg is the most listened to file we have on Soundcloud.
If you would like to Tweet out or Facebook this interview, to pass it on, you can use this “tiny url” for the Lo-Fi version.
To get in the mood for our next guest, let’s listen to a little plant music. This an ad from Peaceful Belly Farm. Watch the cool video (with that great music) here.
Yeah. Nature can sing. That’s Jamie Drysdale, Blackstreet, and the crew from Peaceful Belly Farm in Boise Idaho. There spring plant sale is over, but the music lives on.
Solutions? You want solutions? Here’s a prime Radio Ecoshock interview with answers. It’s what I listen to, and what I’m doing to prepare for the new future.
Alex Smith, by his winter garden (tucked in with leaves as ground cover). Note 7 foot deer fence and home made garden shed.
MARJORY WILDCRAFT – GROW YOUR OWN GROCERIES
Every time there’s a hurricane or a snow storm, we see news footage of grocery store shelves going bare in a few hours of panicked buying. Our whole food system, from giant corporate farms to just-in-time truck deliveries is shaky, very shaky. So is the economy. Toss in GMO food, sugared-up with corn syrup and pesticides, and its a public health mess. Then comes the drought, flood, heat waves and freaky weather from climate change.
All this yells at us: we should grow at least some of our groceries! And Marjory Wildcraft is the person to show us how. Her course DVD course “Grow Your Own Groceries” sold over 300,000 copies. Her You tube videos how-to get tons of hits. Now she’s organized a free online summit on Home Grown Food.
THE FREE ONLINE FOOD SUMMIT
First the big news: all this week (April 9th to 12th) Majory has organized a free online “Food Summit” stacked with video interviews with some of the world’s big names in permaculture, alternative gardening, and prepper gardening.
If you are reading this blog before April 12th, go ahead and sign up. It’s totally free with no gimmicks. I’ve been watching a bunch of presentations. So far my favorite is with the host of permies.com, Paul Wheaton. He gave an overview of at least 10 different gardening styles.
That’s what Majory says is the starting point for beginners. Find out what type of gardening appeals to you most. Is it growing in straw bales? Aquaponics? Permaculture? There’s lots to choose from.
In the beginning, Marjory’s husband and son were not interested. Now her backyard is a whole experiment, including aquaponics. Then husband and son got involved, liking the pumps and mechanics of aquaponics, to produce tomatoes, lettuce and fish. You need to find the technique you resonate the best.
Then she says: start small! If people take on too much right at the beginning, they may give up. A 50 square foot garden (4.6 square meters) may be all you need to start.
Majory says our current food production is a big mistake. It leads to heart disease, diabetes, obesity and more. The food industry is over $1 trillion business in the U.S. alone. Really, Majory tells us, most of those products in the supermarket, from baked goods to meat, are mostly twelve crops, reworked with sugar, fat, and chemicals.
It looks like there is an abundance of food in grocery stores. Over 90% is imported from hundreds or thousands of miles away, depending on a just-in-time trucking and air system. People who can grow their own food have more resilience, making themselves and their community stronger.
There are at least 30 presentations from a variety of groups and authors in the online Food Summit. They include:
* John Jeavons, 43 years grow-biointensive gardening method, used in many countries around the world.
* Sylvia Bernstein, aquaponics.
* Joel Salatin.
* Toby Hemenway on permaculture.
* John Kohler’s “Growing Your Greens” from his strong You tube channel.
– and a whole ton more. Many have been guests on Radio Ecoshock.
The Summit starts Monday April 9, starting at 9 am Eastern, several up for 24 hours, so people in different time zones (all around the world) can tune in. Five new ones are posted every day. Find out more here.
If you would like to know more about Marjory, and learn from her, try some of her many excellent You tube videos. Like this one: “How to Grow Half Your Food in your Backyard in Less than an Hour Per day.” Marjory works through the numbers of what it would take to grow half of your food needs in a common backyard, spending less than an hour per day!
What about the time it takes to operate all this? About an hour per day. Occasionally more for special projects. Some systems can be automated for 2 to 3 days absence.
She is developing 5 different systems, including aquaponics, with fish, veggies and quail. She has another vegetarian system, based on root crops. She’s also experimenting with a backyard food forest, and polyculture.
In less than 2 generations we’ve lost the ability to feed ourselves, turning it over to big corporations. Now we can rediscover ways to grow food and medicine. Get lots of help online from web sites and You tube videos. Learn what works and what doesn’t.
Majory also offers a full DVD video course called “Grow your own groceries” in 2 DVD’s. It includes rainwater collection, gardening, rabbits (how to breed and butcher too), food forests, and more. There is a bonus CD with pdf documents, on rabbits, companion gardens, permaculture, and more. That’s at a pretty decent price of $37 plus shipping.
Here are some of my other favorite Marjory Wildcraft videos:
“Economic Collapse Survivor – Marjory Wildcraft Interviews Rita Ojeda” (in Cuba)
And of course my favorite, the video that led me to discover Majory: “Survival Gardening In The Heat with Marjory Wildcraft”. That’s had 77,000 views so far. The thing is: as global warming ramps up, we need to adapt what we can grow, being ready for heat waves. There are some good tips here.
If you want to Tweet or Facebook this interview, use this tiny url, which leads to the Lo-Fi version. http://tinyurl.com/qf87wwm
THE CALIFORNIA DROUGHT
Now that California has finally issued an emergency directive to save water, the world has discovered NASA scientist Jay Famiglietti. The Los Angeles Times quotes Jay and NASA satellite studies saying there is only one year of groundwater left in America’s most populous state.
I knew Famiglietti’s groundwater studies were dynamite when they first came out. Over a year ago, on March 5th 2014, Famiglietti was my guest in a special on the California drought. Here’s the scoop: NASA has twin satellites called Grace. One follows the other, and by comparing measurements, they can determine changes in ground mass. That works to show Greenland is losing mass as it’s ice melts, and so is Antarctica. But it also shows changes in the water underground, including in California. When that water evaporates, or gets pumped up, the world weights a little less in that spot.
When the snowpack is low, or missing, as it is this year in the Sierra Nevada mountains – California growers and cities make it all up by pumping from the ground reservoirs, from the Earth’s savings account. That works for a year or two, but with the drought now in it’s fourth year, that water bank is running dry. Already some farm wells have gone dry, and then whole orchards die, or fields lay dry and fallow.
Considering California produces about one quarter of America’s vegetables, fruits, and nuts, you may need to grow some food where you are. This could affect the global food market, and may force an exodus of millions of people from California.
Of course, I interviewed Jay Famiglietti and wrote about the California drought LAST year in this March 5th, 2014 Radio Ecoshock show blog.
Oh, Oh. We are out of time again. Be sure and join us next week for more science, tips, and disturbing news on Radio Ecoshock.
I’m Alex Smith, saying thank you for listening, and caring about your world.