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Messages - Bruce Steele

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Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: January 05, 2019, 07:00:27 AM »
Sebastian , GMO open field tests risk unknown unknowns so testing tobacco before you test corn might have a certain wisdom , no?  If we really screwed up tobacco no big loss. 
 Increasing the efficiency of plant growth has a bit of potential upsides if indeed the plant better utilizes CO2 . Worth some more work IMO even if GMO is scary stuff.

Consequences / Re: The Holocene Extinction
« on: December 27, 2018, 04:31:01 AM »
Vox, Thanks for the link to the seed source. Also appreciate all of Sidd's experience with farming and oil crops. Wish there was somewhere that would serve as a primer to others interested in small scale bio production and could offer up working examples. Because I approach farming from a micro scale that uses very little equipment I doubt I have much to offer most farmers but I probably could educate someone like a gardener ramping up to feed dozens. Sidd uses oil seed crops and oil presses for bio feedstock to power equipment .I let lard hogs ( they are different than meat hogs ) do what they do best ,eat and get fat. So my bio feedstock is self propelled and biologically motivated to replicate.
 Anyway extinction and all the damage currently taking place should inspire more ideas about how we can individually and collectively move forward. Counterintuitively  it has a tendency to cause people to bury their heads which is just one more tragedy . I have younger relatives who refuse to read up on the subjects that are everyday discussed here on the ASIF. They make it clear they would prefer to Not hear. For me problems are challenges looking for solutions but for others they are threats to their preferred lifestyles. This is where I am conflicted . Yes reality is profoundly sad but that is no reason to give in . I am not a wreaking ball however . I hope to make a farm that works to both feed and educate
people not yet ready to walk back their expectations . If there were multiple examples of others farmers and their working farms I think it might find an audience. Sidd and his efforts are one example , I am another. There must be many others but I couldn't point anyone to a place where our separate but similar experiences and farms can be showcased. A serious media effort isn't my forte but I suppose I need to up my game. Someone needs to search out good examples... for the living things passing.


Consequences / Re: The Holocene Extinction
« on: December 21, 2018, 07:54:08 PM »
SH, I find different agricultural emissions numbers ranging from 9% to 17% for the US. I think we are energy hogs with agriculture contributing less here than other parts of the world only because we fly, and drive and live in big houses with big appliances .
 From the EPA ,agriculture contributes 9% with cattle contributing one third of the total . Even if total agriculture is more like 20% I would think the one third from cattle is probably a fair assessment . I keep saying I agree that reducing meat consumption is a good idea but it is far from enough.
 I have sincere doubts about livestock utilizing 93% of arable land however. Maybe part of the discrepancy of emission figures has to do with assigning an emissions number for the farming emissions from livestock feed production.
 My biggest disagreement is with your premise that meat is low hanging fruit.  No hamburgers, no milkshakes, and abject poverty for vast swaths of middle America.  I think food prices would be a potential disincentive that far exceeds volunteerism . Subsidies cause distortions in food choices and they are intended to do so. Keeping the public fat and happy may be a contributing factor. Again I am proposing a radical shift and telling farmers they need to forego 20 billion in subsidies is radical. Keeping those middle American republican votes requires the subsidies to be maintained and Trump threw an additional 5 billion to farmers yesterday to compensate for his trade war damage. At the same time he is shutting down the government to get a similar 5 billion dollar wall number. So democrats are willing to cooperate on ag subsidies ,not on a wall.
 None of this addresses the damage that subsidized commodity dumping has on artisanal farmers in the third world . Like I said earlier it sucks for vegetable operators also.
Dump the fuel and energy subsidies
Dump the agriculture subsidies
Wait for the chaos that follows to crash the GDP and resulting in meaningful reductions in emissions.

Yes I realize the fact that I can feed myself probably affects my suggestions but more people need to take up the challenge of feeding themselves. That to me is the real low hanging fruit but it is probably necessary to load the scales in people's decision matrix. Pain and hunger are big motivators..

Consequences / Re: The Holocene Extinction
« on: December 21, 2018, 06:10:13 AM »
Wili, Thanks . Not sure I deserve it . I have to get more info up as the annual start to my food challenge approaches . I got about three acres worked with the pig bio tractor this summer. There is a nice cover crop growing on it right now.  We have had a little rain and it's nice with everything green.
Squirreled away potatoes , dried corn, acorns, amaranth, dried summer squash, spelt and winter squash. I will put in a winter garden soon with what's left from last years compost pile. Really the only thing different from fifty years ago is the bio and the solar power. Otherwise very retro.
 Cannibus legalization has presented itself as a temptation . I think I will resist the money temptation but there is crazy big money going down around here. On good information over a million per acre in profit. I always thought that pot was for fun and any time it was for something else trouble was near.
Anyway I have my task ahead of me and getting rich isn't necessary to prove what I am trying to prove. What I am doing would easily scale to village scale food production. Cities are just such an incredible food challenge. Although I can't quite rap my brain around feeding the cities I still think feeding millions of small towns is a viable tragectory.
 Sorry if I get all dark sometimes. There is still a lot we can do for our part. I am sure planting my garden is part of what I need . I need to know one man can produce 20,000 lbs. food without fossil emissions . I need to know what I am doing will scale. On those fronts things are rosy . You'd think it would temper my dark inclinations but one day in LA traffic and reality sinks in.

Policy and solutions / Re: Energy Efficiency: The “First Fuel”
« on: September 15, 2018, 04:26:04 AM »
What we desire and what we will settle for are of course two different things. When you can't keep living the life you've lived because resources have dried up and most of the alternatives will leave you cold and hungry you still have to make a choice. Welcome to life . Maybe we are just running out of resources ?
Genocide would imply someone planned
 such a thing.
A population crash isn't usually planned , not for humans or any other living thing, but it will happen when resources dry up.

What the world needs is good examples of how to live with diminishing resources and a changing climate. Successful examples might not include the comforts we think we are entitled to but desire and what we will settle for are two different things.

It would seem the comment I was responding to has already been deleted. Cool

Policy and solutions / Re: Policy & Solutions
« on: August 19, 2018, 08:53:15 AM »
Honestly it's not as physically difficult as it is mentally so.
In the rhythm of it, chores twice a day , my charges waiting . It is not bad , they are happy and they can raise my mood. The life death thing is really tough however , I mean they trust me ,hell they like me.
If the pigs and I can prove we can run a farm without fossil fuels to run equipment well for me that
makes the years efforts worthwhile .
It is squash season and acorns are coming soon.
I am lucky today ,
A family of Oaxacans are going to start farming/gardening with me.
I have been kinda lazy lately and having help, and children around is going to help.

Re. Vegetable Excess  I have tried honor system without much trouble. Money in a bowl, make your own change.
One thing about selling roadside is the people who bother to stop and bother to come back are  generally the neighbors you'd want to meet anyhow.

Land is very expensive, wells, tractors, trucks, solar.  Margins are very tight. You could live pretty well on the hundreds of thousands of dollars it costs to get started.
My wife and I are challenging ourselves to six months without a grocery store this year. Three months last year were not a problem. The annual challenge starts January first. Volunteers ?

You gotta think years in advance to think of famine reserves. I have enough dried field corn , acorns , pigs and laying hens to get through six months and that is before this years harvest comes in.
Again it isn't that difficult but some company while gardening will be nice.

We don't have hard winters Sidd but it only rained eight inches last year. Eight years into a drought.

The rest / Re: Poetry
« on: August 18, 2018, 03:11:33 AM »
And some of my efforts

Had I the space
And the time
The patience to wait
Had I a hope
And a beautiful smile
Had I the stride
Or stubborn persistence
To accept what is ,Had I every wish

Had I a room
Whether it the best
To live out every dream
Had I a love
With whom I might share it
Or fight the tempest
If choice had I , Had I every wish

The CCC camp has quince and grapes gone wild
Oaks and acorns being sustenance these days
  to the misery of what will be
Barrel staves hand carved , the grapes hand picked
Stars needing worship
Prayers being said
Glow worms , midsummer
And the tusk rasp of distant pigs

Known only ease
Dreamed only of
We did not look
 Or turned away
 From old truths
We didn't listen
 To the winds off the pacific
  Or send our sons there for testing
Trading the cold ocean of old
  For more

We have seen far into our darkness
 mistakenly called comfort
Not this
True, asteroids, volcanism
  the turning of vast scales
But never one life form
  over multitudes
Millions sacrificed , for a little comfort
No return to  innocence ours
As the acid eats away at the shell of life

There through the moving shafts of sunlight
  Move denizens
  Unseen, unheard
The inverted forest harbors our cousins
The seabed crawls with our genes
Cloned tunicates being close to us
From them
 life eventually moved forth, breathed air
 and burned the body mass of the ancients

                   Surface Tension
It is lifting facing a double gale
Leaning into it
The roar

Not something from nothing
 but the spin off the planet
 coming down

The wind takes the ocean
  Spits it, peaks it up
   but unbruised she settles in again
And you'd never know tomorrow
  the   heavens ever had a place here


Arctic sea ice / Re: The 2018 melting season
« on: August 13, 2018, 07:43:41 PM »
Although ITP 108 isn't working as a profiler it is still sending out it's location. It looks like it is going to exit the Beaufort Sea via the Amundsen Gulf. Too bad the profiler is broken , it would be interesting to see how much  fresh water is exiting with it. This is a strange track for a profiler buoy.

Bbr2314  Treating people like they're idiots and suggesting strongarm state government actions will get you more Donald Trump . Do you ever go stand up in public meetings or participate in public forums where you don't get to hide behind anonymity?

The New York Times article timeline perspective on our collective failure to act is a good job of journalism IMO. Makes me think back to when I had  my moment of realization...this is bad, real bad. For me it was 2005 and it came in the form of the first paper about subjecting biological specimens to acidified seawater. Shiryama et al 2005 . My wife got an education along with me because acidification and climate change is a big damn subject .We are both involved with fisheries and fisheries politics and we have struggled together to rise the awareness at least in the political circles we have some affect upon.
 Getting from the moment of realization to making some waves politically has taken long enough that the commensurate lifestyle changes we could personally take have developed as a corrolary. So my wife has struggled along with me , taken the "acorn challenge" , invested in solar and quit almost all air travel.
 Fisheries have only lately begun to look into adaptation . I don't think that is an adequate response so I am pushing for something more like adapting fisheries management to consider mechanisms to favor efficiency. It is where we will end up anyhow so operating fisheries utilizing less fuel for calories produced is where I am focusing.
 Politics is always disappointing but it is part of what I consider necessary pain. And posting here is mostly cathartic. Politics for the authors of the two articles cited above and most of the characters involved has also been painful I am sure . It isn't heroics , it's hard work .

Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: August 06, 2018, 08:41:02 PM »
My list might look a little different,
 Don't eat beef, goats , buffalo , or sheep
 Don't fly
 Don't eat food that used air transport
 Install solar panels
 Grow as much of your own food as possible
 Eat foods that are in season and local or bulk dried and transported ideally by rail or ship
 Every 100 gallons of gas is another ton of CO2 - remember that as you fill up the tank
 Very small family ... Or family plans
 Get your children on board with the above list
We in the 10% could change our destructive habits and our lives wouldn't be much different than they are currently until the effects of the last fifty years of accumulated extravagance finally catches up with us.


"My lifestyle has a carbon footprint of about 3 tonnes of CO2 per annum.  I've been living this way for most of the past 6 years.  I am interested in documenting a lifestyle that is "carbon neutral" today, using off the shelf equipment, traveling and living here in the USA."

I need to prove some math.

My question is: what amount of annual CO2 emissions from human activities would be possible without raising global PPM?

Sark, I agree that 3T CO2 per annum is commendable but if your goal is " carbon neutral " then at some level you will need to sink carbon. Same problem IPCC models run into as we approach 2 degree climate goals.
 To achieve " Neutral Carbon " first you must achieve something close to zero ff carbon emissions . This is I believe an achievable goal although I can think of very few examples . Primitivism or Amish agriculturists are two examples.
 Sinking carbon via agricultural practices is very labor intensive without fossil fueled equipment to harvest carbon feedstocks ( fast growing softwoods ) and accumulate nitrogen sources for composting i.e. manure.
 Finding someone who both lives without uses of fossil fuel energy and at the same time composting
hundreds of pounds ( tons ) of compost is going to be quite the search and maybe that's why there hasn't been
any suggestions on where you should look.
 I believe I could get somewhere near the "neutral carbon goal " with biodiesel , pigs , acorns and a serious garden effort. The gardening effort would require carbon feedstock harvest of of riparian softwoods and manure harvest from chickens and pigs.
 The big problem with using mechanical power and internal combustion engines or photovoltaics is the energy embedded in the manufacture of these tools. That is why I think an honest attempt at zero carbon will require tons and tons of compost to break even on the embedded carbon costs of tools.
If photovoltaics manufacture is powered by renewable energy this problem diminishes but you still need to think about energy costs of mining , smelting and transport of metals.
 So if anyone has examples of people living "neutral carbon" I'd be as interested as you are in the numbers involved. Thanks for asking answers to the biggest , difficult problem out there . What Does Zero Carbon Look Like?

Terry, They need a wallow.
I don't know how many other swallows died in the earlier heatwave that killed the ones in my window eaves . I think there is damage we just don't see but I think we would prefer to look away anyhow.
I have looked for the last decade into acidification and it will proceed without notice because it is even more obscure than dead barn swallows or stressed farm livestock.
 You'd think an old pig farmer might be toughened up to such things.
 And yes an old breed like the Mangalitsas I raise are hardier but on hot days I keep a vigil because all pigs are very sensitive to heat. I however get to sneak back into the AC between rounds.
 Maybe it's morbid but we should have reality TV in the slums of Mumbai when temps push human endurance so we can see it . Don't worry it ain't gonna happen but most of us need to open our eyes.
We watch the Barrow Ice Cam but maybe we need a Mumbai wet bulb cam .

Arctic sea ice / Re: The 2018 melting season
« on: July 10, 2018, 11:57:06 PM »
The Arctic cyclone last week passed over the only ITP buoy working this year.  It did register a small
.4 degree jump in Sea Surface temperature and a contemporaneous jump in salinity down to ~ 10 meters. The effects are short lived as conditions are currently returning to those before the little GAC.
See ITP T/S contours

Matt Powers , a permaculture teacher and author visited my farm early this spring. We talked about acorns, piggy bio, and living on a small farm. Matt wrote this article about Acorns for Permaculture Magazine. There is a picture of some Holm oak acorns drying in my drying shed.

Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: June 13, 2018, 09:23:07 PM »
Using compost to build soil health isn't anything new. Land that has been conventionally farmed will respond quickly to cover cropping and added compost. Worms return and after a few seasons the ground will get softer and retain water better . Farming takes time and effort. Moving tons and tons  of compost has it's own carbon footprint in trucking , or chipping, loaders, and spreaders. The trick is to produce tonnage of organic material close to where it can be used . Utilizing the waste steam of urban yard waste is better than putting yard waste into the landfill but it comes with a big carbon footprint attached.
 So ideally a farm could grow and coppice some trees and chip them with a biodiesel tractor fueled by biodiesel also produced with farm grown vegetable oil and animal fat. Chickens could be raised on the farm and their manure used to compost the wood chips. The resulting compost is used in increasing the carbon content of the land you use to produce fruit and vegetables for humans as well as forage and grains for farm animals.
 I am getting close to the above ideal farm. I rented a chipper for some brush clearing I had to do for fire abatement so that wasn't ideal . I also have many more farm animals than I can feed with farm grown forage and grains but that is because I also need to pay bills. If I only had to feed my wife and I and a much smaller number of farm animals I think I could get to that ideal farm where I didn't use fossil fuel and I increased my farms soil carbon.
 Getting to that ideal farm while at the same time earning a living is truly the brass ring. I don't know that farm or that farmer. Amish I would imagine are farming that farm ... Somewhere.

Policy and solutions / Re: If not Capitalism... then What? And, How?
« on: June 05, 2018, 05:59:40 PM »
Oren, I come here to listen, mostly lately. I am getting lazy because i find myself filtering out names ,  I haven't blocked anyone but there are names I just read over. In the longer haul I much value what so many well argued members of this forum have to say. It used to be easy and seemed so cordial .
 I would like to say I value your opinion, it is worth seeking out .
  Just a paranoid thought but if AI was malicious wouldn't it be easy enough to break up a cordial conversation , inject malice and with the tenacity of bots crush civil conversation ?

Policy and solutions / Re: Becoming Vegan.
« on: April 25, 2018, 05:32:36 AM »
Sigmetnow, " But most food is processed "
We choose to eat the way we eat. During this years "acorn challenge " I noticed that we didn't have trash for the weekly trash run. Food packaging is a ridiculous waste . Buying bulk dried foods and cooking at home can reduce carbon footprint and waste output. Takes more effort ,planning ,and time to soak some beans and cook them than using the can opener . So carbon footprint or ease of making dinner? It's not a concious choice for the most part but the cost of fast food adds up.

Arctic sea ice / Re: Arctic Ocean 'acidifying rapidly'
« on: May 18, 2013, 04:03:24 AM »
ICK,  I am a fisherman. I also have been very outspoken about the threat of ocean acidification. I have tried to warn of an impending change in ocean pH that will have impacts on the viability of important fisheries worldwide. I try to communicate my concerns with other fishermen, fisheries regulatory agencies, water quality agencies, and the public via a NOAA advisory agency. In over eight years of explaining ocean acidification to the public I have never had problems with the term "acidification." The public gets that part. I get a lot more resistance when I explain that acidification events in the past have resulted in extinction events.   So could I ask a question about whether you think arguing about semantics is more important than trying to present a reasonable explanation to people who are willing to think about the risks involved?   You can take this over to the carbon cycle page if you would like. 

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