Race to mine the Pacific Ocean

SUBHEAD: Rare valuable minerals to be strip-mined from ocean floor by drones will endanger environment.

By Jon Letman on 29 August 2018 for National Geographic -

Image above: Polymetallic nodules like this one, made of layers of iron and manganese, sit on the deep seabed. Deep-sea mining companies are hunting for these nodules to use in the technology industry. From original article.

Closer than the moon, yet less well-mapped than Mars, the Earth’s seafloor is home to otherworldly creatures befitting a science fiction movie. Their remote habitat has caught the attention of humans, who are lining up to begin mining the bottom of the deep blue sea.

As technology and infrastructure drive the demand for minerals, and terrestrial resources grow harder to mine, the materials in the deep ocean are starting to look increasingly attractive to countries and companies.

“Deep-sea mining could end up having the largest footprint of any single human activity on the planet in terms of area of impact,” says University of Hawaii oceanographer Craig Smith.

It’s already underway: pioneer excavations in Papua New Guinea and Japan have taken advantage of advances in remotely operated vehicles, robotics, and communications technology to pioneer excavations. And companies like Lockheed Martin subsidiary UK Seabed Resources are eager to embark on a new deep-sea bonanza.

Over one million square miles of abyssal plain 12,000 to 18,000 feet deep is peppered with polymetallic nodules—vast fields of lumpy, black, potato-shaped mineral deposits.

Nodules range in size from a pea to a soccer ball and are rich in manganese, iron, copper, nickel, cobalt, and rare-earth elements, though they can take millions of years to grow a few millimeters.

The idea of mining these nodules, in part, led to the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1982. It also resulted in the establishment of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) which oversees exploration claims in international waters.

Over half of those claims, some nearly 29,000 square miles in size, are in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ), a region 75 percent as large as the continental United States that stretches some 3,000 miles across the equatorial eastern Pacific between Hawaii and Mexico. In total, the ISA recognizes 29 claims, although mining has yet to begin. Currently all activity in the CCZ is in the experimental or exploratory phase.

A reservoir for biodiversity

Craig Smith of the University of Hawaii recently led an expedition to study life on the seafloor in the western CCZ. “These are ecosystems that are counter-intuitive to us,” says Smith, describing an environment rich in biodiversity.

Smith explains that as many as half the animals living on top of nodules are related to the mineralogy. Mine those nodules, and you remove habitat for species before they’re even described.

Those creatures offer potential resources for pharmaceuticals and can provide new insights to how life begins. Smith calls them “the raw material for evolution.” But they evolved in waters as deep as 18,000 feet that are largely free of ocean currents or the light, vibration, and noise that would result from mining.

What’s more, mining will produce sediment plumes that may inhibit life on the seafloor and other habitats at varying depths.

“It’s recognized that this mining will inevitably impact very large areas of the seafloor,” Smith says, noting that modifying it could also have long-term impacts on how the ocean regulates the climate.

Carbon sequestration and the modulation of ocean acidity occur in the CCZ and elsewhere. Blanketing large areas of seafloor with sediment may affect the ocean’s ability to buffer against climate change.

“You can’t say that’s environmentally benign,” says Smith. “Society may decide it’s an acceptable impact given the tradeoffs, but it’s not benign.”

Smith argues that the time to establish protected areas and integrate them into deep-sea mining claim management is now. The seafloor, he notes, represents the largest ecosystems on the planet, adding, 
“It may be that Deep Sea Mining [DSM] can be done in a way that doesn’t cause species extinctions or major loss of ecosystem services, although we still don’t know enough to be able to say that.”
Others worry about the effects on humans. A UN resolution passed in the 1970s put deep-sea minerals in international waters outside the jurisdiction of any single country, limiting the power of countries—particularly island nations—that may see the most potent effects of pollution and marine debris.

“While the harmful effects of DSM on the marine environment are increasingly documented, far less attention is being paid to the potential effects of DSM on the human environment, specifically on the people living along the coast of Pacific Island nation-states,” says Julian Aguon, an environmental lawyer in Guam.

The unknown deep

Cindy Van Dover, a deep-sea biologist and professor at Duke University Marine Laboratory, and Daniel Dunn of Duke’s Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab are part of an international team that has developed guidelines to help the ISA establish a conservation strategy for deep-sea mining along the Atlantic Ridge and elsewhere.

Adopting a precautionary approach, they hope to see 30 to 50 percent of potential mining areas set aside as “no mine” zones to protect deep-sea biodiversity, while still allowing some mining.

“Our big concern is that we know so little about what’s happening in the deep sea and about the species down there,” says Dunn.

Without understanding the connectivity between species, both he and Van Dover warn of the risk of seriously damaging biodiversity.

“I’m not sure if we have an idea of how the industry is going to compensate for damage to the environment,” says Van Dover. “Because clearly it’s going to damage the environment.”

Distributed nuclear mini-reactors

SUBHEAD: Energy Department teams up with Bill Gates to move mini-nuclear plants into your neighborhood.

By John Siciliano on 23 August 2018 for Washington Examiner -

Image above: Bullshit Alert! Is this what TerraPower showed the Energy Department to get their 2016 $40 million go ahead money. On the TerraPower website this image is labeled "first phase of system-level simulator". To me it looks like somebody closed the windowblinds,  added a soft-warm spotlight on the wall, and found an unemployed busdriver to sit in as a "nuclear engineer" working a touch screen that was ganged with two LCD flat displays for promo purposes.  From (http://terrapower.com/technologies/progress).

The Energy Department is participating in major push with electric utility Southern and a company founded by Microsoft founder Bill Gates to develop small nuclear power reactors that are less expensive and more efficient than their much larger cousins.

“Molten salt reactors are getting a reboot,” the Energy Department tweeted late Wednesday, offering a schematic of a battery-like power plant module that “could power America’s energy.”

On Thursday, the nuclear industry showed its support for the effort. The new nuclear reactors “could be the energy systems of the future” as companies like TerraPower, backed by Gates, are working to build design and build them, the Nuclear Energy Institute tweeted.

The Department of Energy linked to a detailed description of how its Oak Ridge National Laboratory and other federal labs are teaming up with Southern Company, a big coal utility with several nuclear plants, and Gates’ TerraPower to test and develop a type of reactor that uses liquefied sodium “as both coolant and fuel.”

Image above: Old wrinkled billionaire monopolist, Bill Gates, trying to use a nuclear magic wand to save capitalism from energy and resource depletion. From original article.

These liquid-metal reactors are sometimes referred to as nuclear batteries because they are small, self-contained units, which theoretically can be deployed anywhere, although the version being tested at Oak Ridge appears to be one requiring a permanent structure and housing.

TerraPower was awarded a $40 million award by the Energy Department in 2016 to pursue the project.

Almost 60 years after the first designs for this type of reactor were unveiled, several companies are now starting to develop them as “energy systems of the future,” the agency explained.

The Department of Energy has so far invested over $28 million in cost-shared funds for the project to identify and test materials used in the reactor.

Southern Company and TerraPower are currently in the early design phase of testing, supported by Oak Ridge, Idaho National Laboratory, Vanderbilt University and the Electric Power Research Institute, a utility industry-funded research group, to assess the viability of liquid-sodium reactor’s for commercial use.

The companies expect to begin testing at a $20 million test facility in 2019, which will help validate the reactor’s safety systems for license certification by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

After testing, Southern Company and TerraPower plan to develop and license a test reactor before developing a 1,100-megawatt prototype by 2030.

See also more news of the collapse of the nuclear energy industry:
Ea O Ka Aina: Tepco Fukushima ice Wall Failing 3/8/18
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Coverup 11/14/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Hot particle update 7/27/17
Ea O Ka Aina: E-Fukushima bosses on trial 6/25/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Tepco plan to dump tainted water 7/14/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Stop Fukushima as Olympic venue 5/10/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Continuing Fukushima danger 4/14/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Continuing Fukushima danger 4/14/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Stop Fukushima as Olympic venue 4/8/17 
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima worse than ever 2/5/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima radiation on West Coast 1/13/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima cleanup cost to double 12/9/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Tokyo damaged by nuclear pellet rain 9/24/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Nuclear Power and Climate Failure 8/24/16
Ea O Ka Aina: High radioactivity in Tokyo 8/22/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Nuclear Blinders 8/18/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima and Chernobyl 5/29/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima radiation damages Japan 4/14/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima's Nuclear Nightmare 3/13/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fifth Fukushima Anniversary 3/11/16
Green Road Jounral: Balls filled with Uranium, Plutonium 2/19/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima impacts are ongoing 11/8/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Petroleum and Nuclear Coverups 10/21/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radiation Contamination 10/13/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Radioactive floods damage Japan 9/22/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fir trees damaged by Fukushima 8/30/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan restarts a nuclear plant 8/11/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima disaster will continue 7/21/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Too many fish in the sea? 6/22/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima prefecture uninhabitable 6/6/15
Ea O Ka Aina: In case you've forgotten Fukushima 5/27/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Radiation damages top predator bird 4/24/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukshima die-offs occurring 4/17/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Impact Update 4/13/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima - the end of atomic power 3/13/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Where is the Fukushima Data? 2/21/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fuku-Undo 2/4/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima MOX fuel crossed Pacific 2/4/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima worst human disaster 1/26/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan to kill Pacific Ocean 1/23/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan's Environmental Catastrophe 8/25/14
ENE News: Nuclear fuel found 15 miles from Tokyo 8/10/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Earthday TPP Fukushima RIMPAC 4/22/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Daiichi hot particles 5/30/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Japanese radiation denial 5/12/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Entomb Fukushima Daiichi now 4/6/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Disaster 3 Years Old 4/3/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Tsunami, Fukushima and Kauai 3/9/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Japanese contamination 2/16/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Bill for Fukushima monitoring 2/9/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Tepco under reporting of radiation 2/9/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Fallout in Alaska 1/25/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima engineer against nukes 1/17/14
Ea O Ka Aina: California to monitor ocean radiation 1/14/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Demystifying Fukushima Reactor #3 1/1/14
Ea O Ka Aina: US & Japan know criticality brewing 12/29/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Forever 12/17/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Brief radiation spike on Kauai 12/27/13
Ea O Ka Aina: USS Ronald Reagan & Fukushima 12/15/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Pacific Impact 12/11/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Berkeley and Fukushima health risks 12/10/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Madness engulfs Japan 12/4/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Edo Japan and Fukushima Recovery 11/30/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Reaction to Fukushima is Fascism 11/30/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Radioisotopes in the Northern Pacific 11/22/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima cleanup in critical phase 11/18/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima fuel removal to start 11/14/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima, What me worry? 11/13/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Remove other Fukushina fuel 10/29/13
Ea O Ka Aina: End to Japanese Nuclear Power? 10/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima & Poisoned Fish 10/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fuel Danger at Fukushima 9/27/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Reactor #4 Spent Fuel Pool 9/16/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima is Not Going Away 9/9/13
Ea O Ka Aina: X-Men like Ice Wall for Fukushima 9/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima House of Horrors 8/21/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Apocalypse 8/21/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radioactive Dust 8/20/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Cocooning Fukushima Daiichi 8/16/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima radiation coverup 8/12/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Leakage at Fukushima an emergency 8/5/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima burns on and on 7/26/13
Ea O Ka Aina: What the Fukashima? 7/24/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Spiking 7/15/13
Ea O Ka Aina: G20 Agenda Item #1 - Fix Fukushima 7/7/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima and hypothyroid in Hawaii 4/9/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan to release radioactive water 2/8/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima as Roshoman 1/14/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushia Radiation Report 10/24/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Fallout 9/14/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Unit 4 Danger 7/22/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima denial & extinction ethics 5/14/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima worse than Chernobyl 4/24/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima dangers continue 4/22/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima children condemned 3/8/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima fights chain reaction 2/7/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Tepco faking Fukushima fix 12/24/11
Ea O Ka Aina: The Non Battle for Fukushima 11/10/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Debris nears Midway 10/14/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radiation Danger 7/10/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Abandoned 9/28/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Deadly Radiation at Fukushima 8/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima poisons Japanese food 7/25/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Black Rain in Japan 7/22/11
Ea O Ka Aina: UK PR downplays Fukushima 7/1/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima #2 & #3 meltdown 5/17/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima sustained chain reaction 5/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Ocean Radioactivity in Fukushima 4/16/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan raises nuclear disaster level 4/12/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima No Go Zone Expanding 4/11/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima to be Decommissioned 4/8/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Poisons Fish 4/6/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Learning from Fukushima 4/4/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Leak goes Unplugged 4/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Stick a fork in it - It's done! 4/2/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima reactors reach criticality 3/31/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Non-Containment 3/30/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Meltdown 3/29/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Water Blessing & Curse 3/28/11 

The Forthcoming Freezers

SUBHEAD: Our ability to refrigerate and freeze food reliably off-grid requires converting to chest units only.

By Juan Wilson on 25 August 2018 for Island Breath -

Image above: Our current 16cuft fridge next the front door. The new 10.6 cuft freezer will turned be transformed into a refrigerator (set at 33 fahrenheit with a GE thermostatic switch. Note the microwave on top of the fridge is used only for storing open bags of chips and crackers. It's not plugged in because it will trip the PV inverter if turned on. Photo by Juan Wilson.

[IB Publisher's note: We are facing a problem with our 16 cubic foot refrigerator - it's not efficient enough to run on the the batteries charged by our solar PV system. We are looking to convert a 10 cubic foot freezer into a refrigeration unit and live with the inconvenience of organizing and searching the bin for its contents. We'll let you know how that goes.]

We have been off the power grid long enough to have learned a few things. Perhaps the toughest lesson was finding it really difficult to keep refrigeration going 24/7/365. A lot of things that require power can be episodic. That includes wi-fi internet access, electric lighting, and entertainment systems.

We have moved up from 8 120 amp-hour 12 volt deep cycle marine batteries to 8 405 amp-hour 6 volt AGM batteries. That's the same size array of batteries that run all out power outlets and switched lighting. After struggling through several seasons of darker than summer days we realized we could not run conventional refrigeration. That being an upright unit with a front door. The unit simply loses most of its cold air every time you open the door merely to see what's inside.

We had to go to a chest refrigerator. We also needed a bigger freezer to store all the food we process and store (like a year's worth of macadamia nuts, and packages of pre-cooked and seasoned cassava, taro and breadfruit.

We read about this solution in Kendra's post "Convert Freezer into Fridge" (http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2018/07/convert-freezer-into-fridge.html), from New Life on a Homestead on 7/21/18.

Since July we have taken steps to rid ourselves of and upright refrigerator and expand our capacity to freeze for for long term storage.  The plan included purchasing two 10.6 cubic foot freezers. One would be converted to a refrigerator using the technique in the referenced article linked above.  The other would be a straight up freezer.

We purchased the freezers from Home Depot.  They are General Electric model FCM11PH Chest Freezer (garage ready) with an Energy Guide estimate of $26 estimated yearly energy cost. Of course that $26 is totally unrelated to the actual energy cost from Kauai's KIUC power company opr the fact that we will be running them off batteries charged from solar panels.

What the $26 does indicate is that this freezer is in a sweet spot being less energy costly than any of the smaller freezers we considered. Of course, we'll see what find out the actual consumption only when we are up and running.

We were notified yesterday that the two freezers had arrived on Kauai and would be delivered on August 31. So we are beginning now to execute changes we'll need to accommodate the switch over. Will have Home Depot remove the 4 cubic foot freezer in our garage the 16 cubic foot refrigerator.

One of the new freezers (the one we'll user as a fridge) will be placed in our kitchen/dining area where the old fridge was. It will be wider, lower and a bit less deep and requires some storage changes - like no storage on top of the fridge like now.

The other freezer will be on our lanai, just outside the the kitchen/dining area. That means no more trecking down and outside to get to the garage and our current freezer.

More on the installation and use of these units as we go.

On re-reading the specs again I realized that these new freezers have built in lighting. That is great, in that I won't have to install additional lighting on each unit that would be foot operated (or something).

More on this effort when the freezers arrive.

Image above: Our current 4 cu ft freezer is closer to the weather than the lanai location we intend for its replacement. Note rust at front right corner closest to the outside of our open "garage" (washroom, shop, storeroom, etc). Photo by Juan Wilson.

Winners will lose - Losers will win

SUBHEAD: The consolation, perhaps, is that there will be plenty for all those who survive the collapse.

By James Kunstler on 20 August 2018 for Kunstler.com -

Image above: Detail of poster for the 1949 movie "The Life of Riley" based on the popular radio show and later hit 1950's TV show. From (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041590/).

Who doesn’t want to think that they are a good human being? That they are a person of good intentions, clear conscience, fair-minded, generous, loving, and merciful? On the other hand, who wants to be a loser?

The current political predicament in the USA has America’s winners turned losers and the consequent pain of that flip-flop has propelled the new designated losers into a fury of moral indignation.

The deplorable Trump insurgents were supposed to be put in their place on November 8, 2016 — stuffed back into their reeking WalMarts — but instead, their champion with his gold-plated hair-do presides over the nation in the house where Lincoln, The Roosevelts, and Hillary lived. “Winning…!” as the new president likes to tweet.

What a revoltin’ development, as Chester A. Riley used to say on “The Life of Riley” TV show back in 1955, when America was great (at least that’s the theory). Riley was an original deplorable before the concept even emerged from the murk of early pop culture.

He worked in an aircraft factory somewhere in southern California, which only a few decades prior was the mecca of an earlier generations of losers: the Oakies and other Dust Bowl refugees who went west to pick fruit or get into the movies.

Chester A. Riley supported a family on that job as a wing-riveter. All the male characters in the series had been through the Second World War, but were so far removed from the horror that the audience never heard about it.

That was the point: to forget all that gore and get down with the new crazes for backyard barbeque, seeing the USA in your Chevrolet, enjoying that healthful pack of Lucky Strikes in the valley of the Jolly Green Giant… double your pleasure, double your fun… and away go troubles down the drain….

As Tom Wolfe pointed out eons ago, the most overlooked feature of post-war American life was the way that the old US peasantry found themselves living higher on the hog than Louis the XVI and his court at Versailles.

Hot and cold running water, all the deliciously engineered Betty Crocker cake you could eat, painless dentistry, and Yankees away games on Channel 11, with Pabst Blue Ribbon by the case! By 1960 or so, along came color TV and air-conditioning, and in places like Atlanta, St. Louis, and Little Rock, you barely had to go outside anymore, thank God! No more heat stroke, hookworm, or chiggers.

It was a helluva lot better than earlier peasant classes had it, for sure, but let’s face it: it was kind of a low-grade nirvana. And a couple of generations beyond “The Life of Riley” the whole thing has fallen apart.

There are few hands-on jobs that allow a man to support a family. And what would we even mean by that? Stick the women back in kitchen and the laundry room?

What a waste of human capital (even for socialists who oppose capital). The odd thing is that there is increasingly little for this class of people to do besides stand near the door of the WalMart, and if the vaunted tech entrepreneurs of this land have their way with robotics, you can be sure there would be less than nothing for them to do… except crawl off and die quietly, without leaving an odoriferous mess.

What political commentator has failed to notice that the supposed savior of this peasant class is himself a sort of shabby version of Louis XVI, with his gilded toilet seats, brand-name pomp, and complex hair?

A happy peasantry needs a good king, and that is the role Mr. Trump seems to have cast himself in. I assume that he wants very earnestly to be considered a good person, though all his efforts to demonstrate that have been startlingly clumsy and mostly ineffective.

The one thing he has truly accomplished is driving his opponents in the overclass out of their gourds with loathing and resentment. (The term, overclass was minted, I believe by the excellent essayist Michael Lind.)

It’s a wonderfully inclusive term in that it describes basically everyone who is not in the underclass — that now-dreadful realm of tattooed diabetics moiling in the war memorial auditoriums and minor league ball parks for their hero and leader to descend like Deus ex Machina in the presidential helicopter to remind them how much they’re winning.

Meanwhile, the class of former winners-turned-losers — the Silicon Valley executives, the Hollywood movers and shakers, the Brooklyn Hipsters, the Ivy League faculties, the Deep State guideline writers, the K-Street consultants, the yoga ladies of Fairfield County, Connecticut, the acolytes of Oprah Winfrey and Elizabeth Warren — resort to righteous litigation in their crusade to restore the proper order of rule in this land. When they come to power, the shining city will be at hand….

I kind of doubt it. The truth is, all current winners and losers are living in the shadow of a financial system that doesn’t really work anymore, because it doesn’t represent the reality of wealth that is no longer there.

The consolation, perhaps, is that there will be plenty for all those who survive the collapse of that system to do when the time comes.

But it will be in a disposition of things and of power that we can’t possibly recognize from where we stand these days.


Get off the Grid now!

SUBHEAD: Advice for survivors - Find a place with soil and a source of water. 

By Juan Wilson on 19 August 2018 for Island Breath -

Image above: Living off grid in Hawaii is likely our future. From (https://www.hawaiibusiness.com/off-the-grid-2/).

We got an email from Ed Wagner, on Oahu, this morning. It read:
Aloha Kakou,

Isn't it time for the Hawaii Public Utility Commission to shut down the only coal plant in the state of Hawaii (on Oahu) owned and operated by AES Corporation and move toward geothermal energy and a hydrogen economy ASAP?

Original Business Insider 1912 story about coal predicting future climate change. See (https://www.businessinsider.com/newspaper-in-1912-linked-coal-to-climate-change-2018-8).

The video is at bottom of above story in case you missed it from my last email. The video shows bubbles of methane gas leaking from Alaska lakes and a demonstration of its flammability.
Northern Alaskan lakes are leaking a greenhouse gas that's 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Ed Wagner
I agree with Ed on closing down the AES coal plant, but strongly object to moving further into producing "grid" energy with geothermal. See Fracking Hawaii by Henry Curtis (http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2013/01/fracking-hawaii.html) from 1/30/2013.

It is quite possible that fracking at the Kilauea geothermal site may have triggered or exacerbated volcanic activity currently reeking havoc on the Big Island. See Kilauea Volcanic Update (http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2018/06/kilauea-volcano-update.html) 6/5/18. It is certain that fracking on the mainland has caused earthquakes and other underground disturbances in places where those events are rare or unheard of.

My response to Ed was:
Aloha Ed,

I'd say geothermal is a fracking disaster. 

Yes coal is to be stopped, but so is diesel and biomass grid based "solutions". It's time to get off the grid and out of the cars.
That's where we are going anyway. Might as well have a headstart on our real future.

Juan Wilson
Hawaiians lived on these islands without a power grid or industrialization for over 500 years (see "When did Polynesians settle in Hawaii"). More than that, they thrived without metal or a even written language.

Our modern dependence on industrialization has been an environmental disaster. And more recently our dependence on "high tech" telecommunication, computerization, and electronic record keeping has made us vulnerable to a devastating collapse with even a short discontinuity of the grid.

The long term "solution" for Hawaii is getting off the grid and growing our own food. However, unfortunately, we have overpopulated the islands. Since 1950 the population has tripled from 500k to 1.5 million.

Oahu alone has almost a million people. The outer islands may only be able to absorb a fraction of that number to achieve a sustainable population distribution across the archipelago.

As our resource consuming civilization winds down we will have to make uncomfortable adjustments or suffer worse - catastrophic collapse.

As of now, with our heads buried in the 18 cubic foot fridge looking for a frozen snack while the AC chills the room and the flatscreen cable channel fills the room with false adventure we seem on track to go down with the grid once the fuel tanks are empty.

Advice for survivors: Find a place with soil and a source of water. Know your neighbors; Plant fruit trees; Grow food; Raise hens; Catch fish; Produce some energy; Gather tools; Make things; Trade things. Be happy!

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Kilauea Volcano Update 6/5/18
Ea O Ka Aina: Mistakes to avoid going off-grid 1/9/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Failing to live Off-Grid 1/3/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Living off-grid becoming illegal 11/7/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Off Grid living is illegal 1/26/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Kicking the KIUC habit 5/1/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Hawaii utilities fighting customers 1/6/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Off-grid handcrafted life 12/5/13
Ea O Ka Aina: KIUC afraid of residential PV 10/8/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fracking Hawaii 1/31/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Island Breath is off the Grid 7/6/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Off-Grid Night Lighting 8/14/09
Ea O Ka Aina: Rural, not Suburban, Kauai 4/2/09
Island Breath: Solar Energy - A case study 5/12/04


Breakfast with a dose of Roundup?

SUBHEAD: Weed killer is found in most of the oat cereals and granola bars tested, including some organic.

By Alexis Tempkin - Toxicologist on 15 August 2918 for EWG.org -

Image above: A child pouring Cheerios into a cereal bowl. From original article.

Popular oat cereals, oatmeal, granola and snack bars come with a hefty dose of the weed-killing poison in Roundup, according to independent laboratory tests commissioned by EWG.

Glyphosate, an herbicide linked to cancer by California state scientists and the World Health Organization, was found in all but two of 45 samples of products made with conventionally grown oats.

Almost three-fourths of those samples had glyphosate levels higher than what EWG scientists consider protective of children’s health with an adequate margin of safety. About one-third of 16 samples made with organically grown oats also had glyphosate, all at levels well below EWG’s health benchmark.

 Glyphosate does not belong in cereal. Act and urge the EPA to restrict pre-harvest applications of glyphosate and tell companies to identify and use sources of glyphosate-free oats.
 Report on samples tested indicates even organic oat products contained measurable amounts of glyphosate, but none were above the EWG's Health Benchmark of 160 parts per billion.
Samples Tested Conventional   Organic
Samples Tested 45   16
Glyphosate Detected 43   5
Detects above EWG’s Health Benchmark       31   0
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, the Monsanto weed killer that is the most heavily used pesticide in the U.S. Last week, a California jury ordered Monsanto to pay $289 million in damages to a man dying of cancer, which he says was caused by his repeated exposure to large quantities of Roundup and other glyphosate-based weed killers while working as a school groundskeeper.

EWG tested more than a dozen brands of oat-based foods to give Americans information about dietary exposures that government regulators are keeping secret. In April, internal emails obtained by the nonprofit US Right to Know revealed that the Food and Drug Administration has been testing food for glyphosate for two years and has found “a fair amount,” but the FDA has not released its findings.

Each year, more than 250 million pounds of glyphosate are sprayed on American crops, primarily on “Roundup-ready” corn and soybeans genetically engineered to withstand the herbicide. But when it comes to the food we eat, the highest glyphosate levels are not found in products made with GMO corn.

Increasingly, glyphosate is also sprayed just before harvest on wheat, barley, oats and beans that are not genetically engineered. Glyphosate kills the crop, drying it out so that it can be harvested sooner than if the plant were allowed to die naturally.

Roundup was produced for decades by Monsanto, which this year merged with the German pharmaceutical company Bayer AG. In the case decided last week, the jury found that Monsanto knew for decades of the product’s hazards and not only failed to warn customers, but schemed to publicly discredit the evidence.

The California case that ended Friday was the first of reportedy thousands of lawsuits against Monsanto. These suits have been brought by farm workers and others who allege that they developed cancer from years of exposure to Roundup.

In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, reviewed extensive U.S., Canadian and Swedish epidemiological studies on glyphosate’s human health effects, as well as research on laboratory animals. The IARC classified the chemical as probably carcinogenic to humans, and has steadfastly defended that decision despite ongoing attacks by Monsanto.

In 2017, California listed glyphosate in its Proposition 65 registry of chemicals known to cause cancer. The state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, or OEHHA, has proposed a so-called No Significant Risk Level for glyphosate of 1.1 milligrams per day for an average adult of about 154 pounds. That level of exposure is more than 60 times lower than the safety level set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

California’s level represents an increased lifetime risk of cancer of one in 100,000 for an average adult. But for many cancer-causing drinking water contaminants, OEHHA’s lifetime risk factor is set at one in 1 million.

Additionally, because children and developing fetuses have increased susceptibility to carcinogens, the federal Food Quality Protection Act supports including an additional 10-fold margin of safety. With this additional children’s health safety factor, EWG calculated that a one-in-a-million cancer risk would be posed by ingestion of 0.01 milligrams of glyphosate per day.

To reach this maximum dose, one would only have to eat a single 60-gram serving1 of food with a glyphosate level of 160 parts per billion, or ppb. The majority of samples of conventional oat products from EWG’s study exceeded 160ppb, meaning that a single serving of those products would exceed EWG’s health benchmark.

As part of a glyphosate risk assessment, the EPA estimated potential highest dietary exposure levels for children and adults. The EPA has calculated that 1-to-2-year-old children are likely to have the highest exposure, at a level twice greater than California’s No Significant Risk Level and 230 times EWG’s health benchmark.

Studies suggest that glyphosate-sprayed crops such as wheat and oats are a major contributor to glyphosate in the daily diet. In EWG lab tests, 31 of 45 samples made with conventionally grown oats had 160 ppb or more of glyphosate.

The highest levels, greater than 1,000 ppb, were detected in two samples of Quaker Old Fashioned Oats. Three samples of Cheerios had glyphosate levels ranging from 470 ppb to 530 ppb. Twelve of the food samples had levels of glyphosate lower than EWG’s health benchmark, ranging from 10 ppb to 120 ppb. Only two samples had no detectable glyphosate.

Glyphosate was also detected at concentrations of 10 ppb to 30 ppb in five of 16 samples made with organic oats. The five samples came from two brands of organic rolled oats: Bob’s Red Mill and Nature’s Path.

A third brand of organic rolled oats and all other organic oat products tested did not contain detectable concentrations of glyphosate.

How does glyphosate get into organic foods? It could come from glyphosate drifting from nearby fields of conventionally grown crops, or by cross-contamination during processing at a facility that also handles non-organic crops. Nature's Path explains:
While organic farming certifications prohibit the use of glyphosate, organic products do not always end up completely free of glyphosate residue. While this news may come as disappointing, it is not entirely surprising. Glyphosate use has skyrocketed in the past decade, and it maintains the ability to adhere to water and soil particles long enough to travel through the air or in a stream to nearby organic farms.
The problem of glyphosate contamination of organic foods underscores the need to restrict pre-harvest uses of glyphosate and the need for more data on glyphosate levels in products, an area where U.S. federal agencies are falling short.

Two years ago, under pressure from the Government Accountability Office, the FDA began testing for glyphosate in a limited number of foods. At the 2016 North American Chemical Residue Workshop, an FDA scientist presented data showing that glyphosate has been detected in several oat-based food products.

After a Freedom of Information Act request by US Right to Know, earlier this year the FDA released documents that said the agency has found “a fair amount” of glyphosate in several processed foods. The results have not been released, but could be made public later this year or in early 2019.

In 2016, the non-profit Food Democracy Now tested for glyphosate in single samples of a variety of popular foods. “Alarming levels” of glyphosate were found in a number of cereals and other products, including more than 1,000 ppb in Cheerios. More recently, the Center for Environmental Health tested single samples of 11 cereal brands and found glyphosate levels ranging from about 300 ppb to more than 2,000 ppb.

EPA has denied that glyphosate may increase the risk of cancer, and documents introduced in the recent California trial showed how the agency and Monsanto worked together to promote the claim that the chemical is safe.

EWG has been urging the EPA to review all evidence linking glyphosate to increased cancer risk and other adverse health effects in human and animal studies. The EPA should limit the use of glyphosate on food crops, including pre-harvest application.

Oat-based foods are a healthy source of fiber and nutrients for children and adults, and oat consumption is linked to health benefits such as lowered cholesterol and decreased cardiovascular risk.

Parents should not have to wonder whether feeding their children these heathy foods will also expose them to a pesticide that increases the risk of cancer.


The narrow vision of futurists

SUBHEAD: They appear to be blind to climate change, resource depletion and  capitalism's greed.

By Kurt Cobb on 12 August 2018 for Resource Insights  -

Image above: Artist Bruce McCall painting of a spring activated roof launch of a flying car - the ultimate expression of lunatic 1950s self-centered techno-utopiansim with propellers buzzing over quiet asbestos-sided suburban homes. From (https://ideas.ted.com/wheres-my-flying-car-well-probably-at-ted-at-some-point/).

Most people know the tale of the blind men and the elephant. Each describes a part of the elephant. The elephant is said to be like a pillar by the blind man touching the elephant's leg. The one touching the elephant's tail says the elephant is like a rope and so on.

Now, let's substitute so-called futurists for blind men in this tale and you get something even less reliable. Futurists are the soothsayers of our age. Of course, futurists have eyes to see at least. But they, like the blind men, almost never see the whole picture.

And, in this case they are giving us a description of something that is not even there for them to examine. The future doesn't exist. It's a mere concept. Unlike the blind men, futurists aren't really describing part of a whole.

Typically, they imagine the future as a more magical version of the past where all kinds of new powers are made available to the individual: the ability to transmit emotions and memories through a worldwide "brain-net," 3D-printed human organs based on our own DNA that replace damaged or diseased ones, re-creations of loved ones who have passed away with which we can interact as we did when they were alive.

Naturally, some futurists put the first humans on Mars in the 2030s. NASA apparently has a contest for 3D-printed designs of habitats suitable for humans on Mars.

The idea that colonizing Mars will enhance the chances that humans will survive well into the future is already part of the culture. (Wait a minute! You mean really bad stuff could happen on Earth in our benign technology-laden future. But I digress.)

Unfortunately, there is the nagging problem that cosmic radiation is likely to turn anyone living on Mars into a cancer-riddled dementia patient. No problem! We'll just engineer a whole new race of humans designed to resist the cosmic radiation they will be subject to on Mars and during any space travel.

Image above: Illustration of the plan of a future Spacex Mars colony envisioned by Elon Musk. Seems unlikely that has any chance since modern Earthlings seem incapable of sustaining life even on the friendly planet they evolved on. Looks a bit like current day Phoenix, Arizona - with the same destiny - a deserted desert. From (https://www.cnet.com/news/elon-musk-spacex-mars-colony-published-in-new-space/).

For all their imaginative and storytelling powers, futurists—the ones who imagine an unlimited, happy future with vast technological change but not those who see dystopia and destruction ahead and who are instead labeled "alarmists"—these happy futurists cannot imagine dramatic change in our social and political systems.

Capitalism as we know it remains intact, apparently even on Mars. Democratically elected governments are still around; but their choices are increasingly limited to what to do with all our future abundance and the savings that will come from licking most acute and chronic diseases for good.

And, there is another really, really big thing they don't seem to be able to imagine: a civilization crippled and possibly destroyed by climate change. Well, of course, technology will solve the climate problem, they say.

My retort continues to be, "If humans are so clever and our technology so powerful, why haven't we solved the problem of climate change, a problem we already knew 30 years ago was a civilization-threatening emergency?"

The answer, of course, is that climate change cannot be solved by merely applying technology. It is a multi-dimensional, complex problem that is above all political. Those who hold power do not want to pay either in the form of foregone revenue or higher taxes what would be required to solve the problem.

And, the consumer society that is now spreading throughout the world is so profitable and appealing to just about everyone, that there is simply not the necessary constituency to support those few in the power elite who are ready to make such expenditures and sacrifices.

So, as this existential problem literally burns our forests, scorches our crops (thereby threatening a global food crisis) and brings drought to those thirsting for water and floods to those who already have too much—even as we continue down this path of destruction, the artificial intelligence labs and 3D printing equipment makers are predicted by futurists to be racing forward to a future that doesn't include the possibly fatal ravages of climate change.

The stability of governments is at stake. The viability of whole nations hangs in the balance in the future that climate change has already imagined for us.

There's a reason that most so-called futurists either don't take this into account or dismiss it as a minor problem that will somehow be fixed. The reason is that they either work for or consult with the world's corporations.

And, the corporate imagination of the world we live in and will live in is entirely dominated by visions of continuing corporate control of our lives (but in a benign way, of course).

No revolutions, no social upheaval, no mass migrations, no food or water crises and above all, no redistribution of wealth or power. Nothing to get in the way of continued economic expansion and resource use directed by the world's corporations.

As I've written before, "The Future" is a sales pitch designed to keep us locked into existing institutions and power relationships. It has nothing to do with solving our real problems or liberating us from the increasing power of corporations and the governments they have captured. It is, in fact, an elitist vision of a future entirely run by wealthy technologists who find politics and environmental disruption inconvenient.

Trying to put things into perspective for me, my landlady suggested that in the future only a fool would rob a bank in person. Why not get a robot to do it for you and have a drone play the role of the lookout? The answer from the technologists, of course, is that we won't need actual physical banks or paper money in the future.

That may or may not be true. But I have a feeling that the criminals will figure out other purposes for their crime robots and drones (and artificial intelligence squads for that matter), purposes not currently discussed in the speeches and white papers of the world's corporate-funded futurists.

These futurists, I predict, will be too busy forecasting the ways in which our attention and income will be monopolized by new technologies in the wondrous world to come.


'Hothouse' Future for Humanity

SUBHEAD: This is the biggest political issue. It is the one thing that will affect everyone on the planet.

By Jon Queelly on 7 August 2018 or Common Dreams -

Image above: Los Angeles, California as a smoggy urban heat island. From (https://www.wired.com/story/urban-heat-islands-can-be-deadly-and-theyre-only-getting-hotter/).

[IB Publisher's note: Unless you are living as an indigenous person or hermit off the grid, you are more than likely part of the problem. Too many humans taking too many resources from nature and turning them into poison. Either we (you) mend our ways or we (you) go extinct. There is no negotiation with physics. There are no iPhones in Heaven.]

Scientists behind terrifying climate analysis hope they are wrong.Why isn't everyone shouting it from the rooftops?

Warning of a possible domino effect as multiple climate feedback loops are triggered within a dynamic cascade of rising temperatures and warming oceans, scientists behind a frightening new study say that for the sake of humanity's future they hope scenarios explored in their new models do not come to pass.

"I do hope we are wrong, but as scientists we have a responsibility to explore whether this is real," Johan Rockström, executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, where the research was done, told the Guardian. "We need to know now. It's so urgent. This is one of the most existential questions in science."

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the new study, while not conclusive in its findings, warns that humanity may be just 1°C away from creating a series of dynamic feedback loops that could push the world into a climate scenario not seen since the dawn of the Helocene Period, nearly 12,000 years ago.

The research, according to its abstract, explores "the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabilization of the climate at intermediate temperature rises and cause continued warming on a 'Hothouse Earth' pathway even as human emissions are reduced.

Crossing the threshold would lead to a much higher global average temperature than any interglacial in the past 1.2 million years and to sea levels significantly higher than at any time in the Holocene."

As Rockström explains, the "tipping elements" examined in the research "can potentially act like a row of dominoes. Once one is pushed over, it pushes Earth towards another." And in an interview with the BBC, he added, "What we are saying is that when we reach 2 degrees of warming, we may be at a point where we hand over the control mechanism to Planet Earth herself.

We are the ones in control right now, but once we go past 2 degrees, we see that the Earth system tips over from being a friend to a foe. We totally hand over our fate to an Earth system that starts rolling out of equilibrium."

Such feedback occurences, the authors of the study write, would pose "severe risks for health, economies, political stability, and ultimately, the habitability of the planet for humans."

With Arctic ice and glaciers melting away; increasingly powerful and frequent storms in the Atlantic and Pacific; coral reefs dying from warming oceans; record-setting wildfires in the U.S.; unprecedented heatwaves in Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere—climate researchers have been at the forefront of sounding the alarms about the frightening path humanity is now following.

"In the context of the summer of 2018, this is definitely not a case of crying wolf, raising a false alarm: the wolves are now in sight," said Dr. Phil Williamson, a climate researcher at the University of East Anglia, about the latest study.

"The authors argue that we need to be much more proactive in that regard, not just ending greenhouse gas emissions as rapidly as possible, but also building resilience in the context of complex Earth system processes that we might not fully understand until it is too late."

In order to avoid the worst-case scenarios, the researchers behind the study say that "collective human action is required" to steer planet's systems away from dangerous tipping points.

"Such action," they write, "entails stewardship of the entire Earth System—biosphere, climate, and societies—and could include decarbonization of the global economy, enhancement of biosphere carbon sinks, behavioral changes, technological innovations, new governance arrangements, and transformed social values."


Absurd fantasies of the rich

SUBHEAD: Reciprocal relationships with others are ultimately the most important possessions we have.

By Kurt Cobb on 5 August 2018 for Resource Insights -

Image above: No matter how luxurious the furnishing, living underground in a refurbished nuclear bunker waiting for the starving hordes on the surface to die and the environment to reset itself for life on Earth won't be convivial. For almost a decade companies like Terravivos have been offering the wealthy "life rafts" or "escape pods" from Mother Earth. Note the gold leaf finish on the outside of the underground access hallways into the dining and recreational center of this "luxury" survival condominium.  From (https://inhabitat.com/7-eco-shelters-for-surviving-the-12-21-12-apocalypse/).

Professor and author Douglas Rushkoff recently wrote about a group of wealthy individuals who paid him to answer questions about how to manage their lives after what they believe will be the collapse of society. He only knew at the time he was engaged that the group wanted to talk about the future of technology. (See IslandBreath: Survival of the Richest)

Rushkoff afterwards explained that the group assumed they would need armed guards after this collapse to defend themselves. But they rightly wondered in a collapsed society how they could even control such guards.

What would they pay those guards with when the normal forms of payment ceased to mean anything? Would the guards organize against them?

Rushkoff provides a compelling analysis of a group of frightened wealthy men trying to escape the troubles of this world while alive and wishing to leave a decaying body behind when the time comes and transfer their consciousness digitally into a computer. (I've written about consciousness and computers previously.)

Here I want to focus on what I see as the failure of these people to understand the single most salient fact about their situations:

Their wealth and their identities are social constructs that depend on thousands if not millions of people who are employees; customers; employees of vendors; government workers who maintain and run the law courts, the police force, the public physical infrastructure, legislative bodies, the administrative agencies and the educational institutions—and who thereby maintain public order, public health and public support for our current systems.

Those wealthy men aren't taking all this with them when they die. And, while they are alive, their identities will shift radically if the intellectual, social, economic and governmental infrastructure degrades to the point where their safety is no longer guaranteed by at least minimal well-being among others in society.

If the hunt for diminishing food and other resources comes to their doors, no army of guards will ultimately protect them against the masses who want to survive just as badly but lack the means.

One would think that pondering this, the rich who are capable of pondering it would have an epiphany:

Since their security and well-being ultimately hinges on the security and well-being of all, they ought to get started helping to create a society that provides that in the face of the immense challenges we face such as climate change, resource depletion, possible epidemics, growing inequality and other devils waiting in the wings of the modern world. (In fairness, some do understand this.)

At least one reason for the failure of this epiphany to occur is described by author and student of risk Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Taleb describes how the lives the rich become increasingly detached from the rest of society as arbiters of taste for the wealthy convince them that this detachment is the reward of wealth.

The rich visit restaurants that include only people like themselves. They purchase larger and larger homes with fewer and fewer people in them until they can spend whole days without seeing another person.

For the wealthiest, neighbors are a nuisance. Better to surround oneself with a depopulated forest than people next door.

The rich are convinced by this experience that they are lone heroes and at the same time lone victims, pilloried by the media as out of touch and heartless.

These self-proclaimed victims may give to the Cato Institute to reinforce the idea that the individual can go it alone and should. They themselves have done it (or at least think they have). Why can't everyone else?

The wealthier they are, the more their fear and paranoia mounts that others not so wealthy will try to take their wealth; or that impersonal forces in the marketplace will destroy it or at least diminish it significantly; or that government will be taken over by the mob and expropriate their wealth through high taxes or outright seizure.

And, of course, there are the natural disasters of uncontrolled climate change and plague, just to name two.

It's no wonder some of the super rich are buying luxury bunkers to ride out the apocalypse. These bunkers come with an array of amenities that include a cinema, indoor pool and spa, medical first aid center, bar, rock climbing wall, gym, and library. High-speed internet is included though one wonders how it will work after the apocalypse.

But strangely, even in these luxury bunkers built in former missile silos, dependence on and trust in others cannot be avoided. The units are actually condominiums.

And while they contain supplies and ammunition said to be enough for five years, it will be incumbent on the owners, whether they like it not, to become intimately acquainted with their neighbors in order to coordinate a defense of the compound should that need arise.

The irony, of course, is that this is precisely the kind of communal entanglement which their wealth is supposed to allow them to avoid. Society, it seems, is everywhere you go. You cannot avoid it even when eternity is advancing on your door.

And, you cannot escape with your consciousness into a computer (assuming that will one day be possible) if there's no stable technical society to tend to computer maintenance and no power to keep the computer on.

It turns out that we are here for a limited time and that trusting and reciprocal relationships with others are ultimately the most important possessions we have—unless we are too rich or too frightened to realize it.