Global Permaculture Solutions
permaculture for nine billion
from "Overshoot: The Ecological Basis
of Revolutionary Change"
abiotic oil: a claim that petroleum deposits are a natural formation of the Earth, oozing into the crust from deeper layers. The "abiotic theory" postulates that oil supplies are essentially unlimited and therefore the concept of "Peak Oil" is an oil company conspiracy to justify price gouging. However, there is no credible geological evidence for this view, and most "abiotic" arguments predate the theory of plate tectonics. The real scam of Peak Oil is that a tiny elite are deciding how civilization will cope with the crash, blocking efforts to implement for a graceful end to cheap oil. For details: www.oilempire.us/abiotic.html
active solar: directly harnessing solar energy, whether for electrical production or heating hot water. There are several technologies to make solar electricity, the most common is solar photovoltaic panels, but it is also possible to capture solar heat to spin turbines that generate power.
alternative technology: tools that are more efficient at consuming non-renewable resources (minerals, fossil fuels) than so-called conventional technologies. Some alternative technologies are means of capturing solar energy for heating hot water, generating solar electricity, wind power (a form of solar energy) or small scale hydroelectric power (solar energy is used to evaporate water that falls as rain which is used to convert gravitational potential energy into electricity. Alternative technology often cannot be made with local materials and skillsets, which makes its adoption in very local economies in the "third world" difficult at best. see "appropriate technology"
American way of life (AWOL): a method of consuming non-renewable resources that President Dick Cheney says is "not negotiable"
Amtrak: the national passenger rail system in the United States, a network primarily focused on the "northeast Corridor" between Boston, New York City and Washington, DC. Amtrak long distance lines in the rest of the country are largely dependent on usage of freight company tracks, and most of those routes are subject to extremely poor quality service. A serious effort for preparing the United States for Peak Oil would include shifting some of the federal transportation budget away from constructing new interstate highways toward improving Amtrak. The "Acela" service on the northeast corridor is the closest thing in the US to the high-speed trains in Europe, Japan and south Korea, although Acela is not as fast as its counterparts in those countries.
appropriate technology: practices that involve materials and practices that can be made entirely locally, not the same as "alternative technology"
Apollo Alliance: a liberal, Democratic organization in the United States advocating alliances between environmental groups, labor unions and neo-conservative establishment members. Apollo promotes renewable energy that will allegedly reduce American dependence on imported petroleum, but the group is hesitant to advocate changes in the "American way of life." While it would be good to radically increase larger investments in renewable energy technology, the techno-fix needs to be accompanied by reduction of overconsumption to be effective (efficiency is only a part of the solution). Apollo is working in alliance with a number of neoconservative political groups that are primary promoters of the "War on Terror" and does not advocate converting the military budget to free up the resources that would be needed to reach energy independence for the United States of America. Apollo Alliance is named to recall the spirit of technological innovation and national purpose from the Apollo space program announced by President Kennedy. If this Alliance discussed publicly why Kennedy was unable to implement his plans for turning off the Cold War, the goals of a renewable energy powered society would be more likely to be achieved. The real analogy for the Apollo Alliance and the broader goal of an energy shift is Apollo 13 - the mission that had a near fatal disaster coming home from the Moon (we are all living in a busted spaceship Earth, and its repair is the most important issue facing the inhabitants). For details: www.oilempire.us/apollo.html
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR): the most famous natural reserve in the United States that is threatened by proposals for petroleum extraction. ANWR is the poster child of pro- and anti-drilling forces, but neither side in the debate explains the real reason why it is proposed for oil production. The primary oil extraction region at Prudhoe Bay is past its peak (reached in 1987?). It takes a lot of energy to pump oil from the north slope of Alaska to the terminals at Valdez (on the southern coast of the State). The contents of the Alaska Pipeline travel over several mountain ranges, and need to stay warm enough not to gel into a giant oily popsicle. As Prudhoe Bay production declines, ANWR is seen as a means of keeping the Pipeline open a few more years, since there will come a point where it is no longer worth keeping the Pipeline running (despite the remaining oil in the ground at Prudhoe Bay). Most of the environmental groups focused on stopping oil extraction in ANWR were silent when President Clinton opened the nearby Naval Petroleum Reserve on the Alaska north slope in 1998.
Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO): an international association of petroleum geologists, many of them retired (and can now safely speak their truths). Founded by Colin Campbell, who lives in Ireland, ASPO is the most credible source in the world for scientifically accurate information about the peaks of petroleum and natural gas.
Barton Report: a report published by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Halloween, 1975 that analyzed the civil liberties implications of a plutonium fuel cycle economy (breeder reactors and nuclear fuel reprocessing). The report concluded that this technology - which would massively increase commerce in nuclear weapons ingredients - would require a police state that would suspend habeas corpus and require torture during nuclear emergencies involving theft of "special nuclear materials." Nuclear energy is incompatible with a democratic society, decentralized renewable energy systems are more respectful of civilized freedoms.
bicycle: the most efficient mode of transportation ever invented, it is about four times more efficient than walking. It is theoretically possible for bicycles to be produced sustainability if petroleum is not used in the manufacture (factories, plastics, tires, economics, transport of components) and production is relatively local (especially ball bearings needed for the wheels to spin).
biocide: the intentional destruction of life. Rachel Carson, in her path breaking book Silent Spring (1962), noted that pesticides and herbicides were more properly called biocides.
biodiesel: a form of liquid based fuels derived from plant matter that can be used in diesel engines and certain heating furnaces. Biodiesel cannot be used in gasoline engines, since it requires much more compression than is generated in a gas fueled internal combustion device. Rudolf Diesel, the inventor of the diesel engine, thought that his invention would use plant derived fuels to power farm machinery (the fuels would be grown by the farmers). In the United States, only a tiny percentage of personal cars are equipped with diesel engines (some European countries have about half of their fleets running on diesel). Generally, diesel engines are more fuel-efficient than gasoline engines but more polluting than gasoline, although nearly all pollutants are greatly reduced by using biodiesel instead of petroleum derived diesel. Biodiesel gels at cold temperatures (below 40 degrees F / 4 degrees C), so a mix of bio- and petro-diesel is needed for wintertime use in cold climates. While biodiesel has become increasing popular, and is a practical means of mitigating the energy crunch, there is no way that biodiesel could possibly replace existing consumption of petroleum products. The amount of oil consumed yearly is far more than could be provided for with spare or marginal agricultural land growing crops. Civilian and military aviation are not going to be powered by biodiesel. New technologies (algae producing biodiesel) hold promise for being much more efficient than converting soybean oil into fuel. Algae would not create a fight between food consumers and motorists. Any technological substitution will at best be a partial answer -- overconsumption and exponential growth are the real problems.
biofuel: fuels that are generated by solar energy and photosynthesis, either on an annual basis (crops, grasses, etc.) or over a period of a number of years (trees). Biofuels do work, but the scale of use is the main issue with them, since our overconsumption cannot be met with biofuels. Anyone promoting biofuels at a minimum should be a vegetarian (or raising their own farm animals on foods that are not edible by people) to reduce the acreage needed to support their own consumption. There is not enough agricultural land to replace our current use of oil, we are not going to be flying biodiesel 757s.
bioregion: a way to look beyond political boundaries to examine how ecological dynamics unite regions. Bioregions rarely overlap with counties, states, or countries -- most bioregions transcend these artificial lines.
Biosphere II: a prototype isolated ecosystem built in the Arizona desert to test whether it was possible to create a completely synthetic living environment. Biosphere failed to be sufficient to sustain the internal atmosphere (there was not enough wilderness to generate enough oxygen). There is no means for the ultra-rich to build bunkers that will survive a breakdown of the biosphere of the Earth -- we are all in the same leaky lifeboat and need to cooperate to hold it together.
blue gold: a book by Canadian civic leader Maude Barlow that describes the growing threat of water exports. Life can continue without petroleum (although petro-based agriculture cannot), but water is an even more valuable commodity.
breeder reactors: a type of nuclear reactor where irradiated nuclear fuel rods are "recycled." This sounds like a better idea than regular reactors until the details behind the rhetoric are examined. "Recycling" nuclear fuel involves "nuclear reprocessing:" dissolving the fuel in acids to chemically separate the unfissioned uranium and the plutonium synthesized via the fission process (the leftover "fission products" mixed with acids are the most toxic forms of hazardous wastes ever invented). Breeder reactors are supposed to create more fissionable materials than they consume (through the conversion of non-fissionable uranium-238 to fissionable plutonium-239). However, this creation of plutonium poses catastrophic risks to the environment, public health and civil liberties, because plutonium is fiendously toxic if inhaled or ingested, and only a few kilograms is required to make a nuclear weapon. If breeder reactors were implemented on a wide scale, a police state surveillance society would be required to prevent any diversion of plutonium fuel due to the unacceptable risks of trafficking in nuclear weapons ingredients (even the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has admitted this).
Bus Rapid Transit: a relatively cheap method of improving public transportation that provides buses with exclusive lanes on busy roads to ensure quality service levels that can entice some drivers to use buses instead. BRT systems are much cheaper than subways or Light Rail systems, since the required infrastructure is much simpler to build. BRT systems are easy to relocate if a major destination (a large corporate office, sports stadium) is closed or moved to a new place.
campaign finance reform:
car sharing: cooperative ownership of automobiles that share the costs between multiple motorists. Car sharing businesses in the United States usually achieve a car-per-person ratio that is close to the global average (an average achieved in very few countries - lower than the average in the rich countries, and higher than the average in the poor countries). A guide to car sharing efforts is at www.carsharing.net
carbon neutral: a marketing term used to entice consumers with guilty consciences. Carbon neutral claims are a form of subsidizing efficiency programs that are usually good projects, but do not capture and neutralize the carbon emitted by the original polluting activity supposedly being mitigated. Burning fossil fuels do not become "climate neutral" because the person who burned the fuel pays to subsidize installation of photovoltaic panels or other equipment in another location. Carbon neutral would be true if usage of carbon-based fuels was offset by capturing of an equivalent amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Most carbon neutral policies displace increases in combustion of carbon fuels but that merely slows the increase of atmospheric carbon (which is not "neutral").
Club of Rome: 1972 - 1990s would begin limits, oil shock pushed it back, society inoculated against idea after 1980s price drop
coal bed methane:
coal to liquids:
cold fusion: www.oilempire.us/free-energy.html
collapsitalism: a synonym for Disaster Capitalism, the word was created by cryptogon.com in September 2005, observing the no-bid contracts being doled out by the Bush regime to its financial backers. Collapsitalism is the economic paradigm used by the Cheney administration, seeking to profit from disaster and collapse -- they have apparently decided they can make more money, and gain more power, by exploiting petrocollapse, not using the remaining resources to benefit the most people in the most humane and effective means possible. It is likely that collapsitalism will not protect the priviledge of this small group, and the anger that this mean scheme will create is not going to safeguard this excessive status in the long run. There are no jobs on a dead planet.
community garden: a shared space in a neighborhood where residents who live in apartments or houses without suitable yards can have a place to grow vegetables.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA):
consumer: a euphemism for "citizen" often employed by corporate and government officials
Crossing the Rubicon: an irrevocable
commitment of resources. The term comes from Julius Ceasar's crossing
of the Rubicon river in ancient Rome, bringing military forces into the
Capitol city (where they had been previously prohibited from entering).
This move signified the transition from a the Roman republic to a military
empire, just as 9/11 is a transformative moment for the United States
demand destruction: a method of reducing energy consumption via economic recession (people who are unemployed or otherwise in financial problems use less fossil energy)
drilling on Wall Street: oil companies that increase their proven reserves by acquiring other companies instead of exploring for new petroleum deposits (since the whole planet has been mapped)
Easter Island: a island in the south Pacific that is one of the most remote inhabited locations on Earth, most famous for its enormous stone head statues. The civilization on Easter Island was thought to have "peaked" and then collapsed after the society cut down the native forests on the islands (this was a few centuries before European contact). Archeological evidence suggests that as the Easter Islanders destroyed their forests and the island's carrying capacity declined (they couldn't make canoes anymore to travel to other islands or to go fishing), the leaders of the societies engaged in greater and greater displays of wealth (more statues) that distracted from their collective predicament. After the crash, the society degenerated into cannibalism and their numbers declined. When the Europeans showed up a few centuries later, their descendents could not remember what had happened, that the island had been forested, and how the giant statues were installed.
Ecotopia: a 1975 novel by Ernest Callenbach that describes a steady-state society in northern California, Oregon and Washington after secession from the United States. Ecotopia was so successful that the word has entered the language, the book has been translated into numerous languages, and a "prequel" novel was subsequently written ("Ecotopia Emerging") to describe how the Ecotopia society came into existence. Hollywood film moguls have not chosen to portray this fictional world in a movie production that would popularize the concept of a society seeking to be sustainable.
End of Suburbia: a documentary film released in 2004 about Peak Oil that is one of the best introductions to the issues, the movie's website is at www.endofsuburbia.com
energy return on energy invested (EROEI):
exponential growth: a simple mathematical concept at the root of the ecological crisis. Compounding growth accelerates the rate of resource consumption (whether of renewable or non-renewable resources). Solving the Peak Oil problem and implementing sustainability would require shifting society from growth to steady state.
food not lawns:
From the Wilderness: a newsletter published by journalist and whistleblower Michael C. Ruppert with original analyses on the politics of Peak Oil, 9/11, international economics, and the laundering of illegal drug money by governments and transnational corporate entities. The website is www.fromthewilderness.com
fuel cell: www.communitysolution.org/fcf.html
Ghawar: the largest oil field on Earth, located in eastern Saudi Arabia. It was discovered in xxxx - contained xxx billion barrrels. Saudi oil engineers pump millions of gallons of water into the Ghawar field every day to keep the pressure high to be able to extract the remaining supplies. About 55% of the output from Ghawar is now the water injected into the ground.
Global Oil Depletion Protocol:
greenwash: the false claim of environmentalism by polluters, used as a noun and a verb. Most of the claims for environmental policies by governments and corporations are greenwash that distract from the goals of a sustainable civilization.
humanure: fertilizer made from composted human feces, which returns nitrogen back to the soil. Humanure can be microbiologically safe if properly composted (mixed with carbon containing material such as leaves or sawdust) at high temperatures to kill pathogens. Humanure from municipal sewage systems is unsafe for agricultural uses due to the toxic chemicals poured down drains, but if those behaviors were stopped (due to a combination of consciousness shift and prohibition of those toxic substances), then it would be very feasible to compost municipal sewage for agriculture. Future generations will probably regard dumping feces into water supplies as a barbaric practice.
hybrid car: a gasoline powered car that uses a battery pack to recapture some of the energy lost during braking to increase its efficiency. The "regenerative braking" allows some of this energy to be converted into electricity that can then be used to assist with the motion. A variation on hybrid cars is the "plug in hybrid" which relies more on the electric motor than the internal combustion motor, thereby increasing the efficiency of the car. Hybrid cars are more expensive and more energy consumptive to manufacture than conventional cars, and are not going to be able to replace the entire global fleet of regular cars and trucks before oil demand exceeds supply. Hybrids have an advantage over electric-only cars -- they do not need to worry about the batteries running down on a long drive, but they are still using petroleum. Most the electricity used for electric cars (or plug-in hybrids) is generated from burning coal, natural gas, nuclear power and other toxic technologies, and the electric grid in north America does not have the spare capacity to power tens of millions of new electric vehicles.
hydrocarbon: a hydrocarbon is a substance that is a mix of carbon and hydrogen, it is often used to describe fossil fuels (although there are hydrocarbons that are not created from fossil fuels)
hydrogen fuel cells:
just in time inventory:
Last Man Standing:
light rail: a form of urban mass transit that is a modern successor to the trolley systems widespread in the early 1900s. Light rail routes are usually a mix of urban streets (often in crowded downtown zones) and grade separated tracks (for faster travel to outlying areas). Light rail trains are powered from overhead wires, unlike the electrified "third rail" used by subways (which must be completely separated from street traffic). It is cheaper to build light rail systems than underground subways, but subways have a higher passenger capacity.
Liquid Natural Gas (LNG): a technique
of transporting natural gas from one continent to another in aircraft-carrier
sized tanker ships. LNG is cooled to about 259 degrees below zero (F),
or 161 degrees below zero (Celsius), roughly the temperature on the surface
of the planet Saturn. Most LNG is frozen methane, although there are other
trace components. LNG is not toxic, but a ship full of LNG is extremely
dangerous to nearby communities -- an accident or a deliberate attack
could cause an explosion comparable to a small nuclear bomb. Several communities
in the United States have successfully stopped proposals for LNG terminals,
which prompted the federal government to prohibit local and state government
oversight of these facilities (enacted into "law" in the 2005
energy bill). Only about two percent of US natural gas consumption comes
from LNG since transport via pipelines is much easier, cheaper, safer
and less consumptive of energy. The current efforts to substantially increase
LNG imports into the US might compensate for the decline in existing fields
in north America. The energy and finances needed to construct these LNG
terminals would be better spent on renewable energy facilities and retrofitting
buildings and transportation systems for hyperefficiency. Most of the
LNG consumption in the world is in Japan and south Korea, countries that
lack a domestic petrochemical industry.
mass extinction: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_extinction
megalopolis: a conglomeration of large metropolitan areas that have merged together. In the United States, this usually refers to the Boston - New York - Washington region.
methane: CH4, a colorless, odorless flammable gas. Natural gas is mostly fossilized deposits of methane. Renewable sources of methane can be produced through anerobic digesters of human wastes, although this production technique does not create as much gas as can be extracted through the petrochemical industry.
microhydro power: a form of small-scale renewable energy that involves temporary diversion of part of a creek to spin a turbine to generate electricity. Microhydro is the best form of local power production, but it is extremely site specific (there needs to be sufficient flow and drop to make the generator worthwhile). Microhydro has a tremendous advantage over solar electricity and wind turbines, since it runs 24 hours per day (solar and wind are intermittent sources). Microhydro installations that are seasonal are often coupled with solar panels (hydro power in the winter, solar power in the summer).
mycoremediation: the use of mushrooms to detoxify poisonous substances, the best research in this emerging field has been performed by Fungi Perfecti of Olympia, Washington
NAFTA superhighways: a series of proposed interstate highways (new and expanded) to facilitate truck travel through the United States between Canada and Mexico. The NAFTA superhighway system is designed to speed up the movement of factories from the US to the Mexico border areas, to further subsidize the "just in time" inventory systems of Wal-Mart and similar retailers.
nanotechnology: a new field of technology involving nano-meter (one billionth of a meter) scale manipulation of individual atoms. Nanoparticles have unusual properties not found in compounds made through traditional chemical processes (whether artificial or through biological synthesis). There has been almost no long term study of the potential health and ecological impacts of nanoparticles, but some of the initial evidence suggests significant toxic impacts. Conventional air and water filtration systems cannot block nanoparticles (they are too small to be filtered). Much of the nanotechnological research underway is conducted for military purposes. For details, see links at www.oilempire.us/nanotech.html
National Energy Policy Development Group: the "Cheney Energy Task Force" that met in early 2001, immediately upon the seizure of the White House by the Cheney / Bush administration. While the full details of the discussions remain secret, some of the information from the task force has been disclosed -- and it includes lists of oil fields and corporations active in the Persian Gulf region. Journalist Michael Ruppert hypothesized in his book "Crossing the Rubicon" that the deepest secrets of 9/11 lie in this group's records, since it seems obvious that they were discussing the imminence of Peak Oil, who had the oil, who needed to be bought or invaded in order to control the oil. (9/11 was allowed to happen in order to create the pretext to grab that oil.) One of the task force's participants was investment banker Matthew Simmons, who has become a prominent voice urging Corporate America to pay attention to the implications of Peak Oil.
neo-feudalism: the use of sophisticated technology to revive Medieval economic and political hierarchies (a reversal of the rise of Democracies). The combination of systematic surveillance, prisons, roll-back of workers rights (the decline of unions), unfettered corporate power and globalization, transnational oligarchical wealth concentration and the emergence of de facto elite family control in the "democratic" industrialized nations are leading toward a neo-feudalist world order.
neo-liberal: a political movement that has taken over the US Democratic Party which promotes moderate to conservative positions on "social issues" yet fully supports transnational corporate globalism in its quest to control the whole world. The neo-liberal position is best expressed by the Clinton Administration between 1993 and 2001, which feigned liberalism on many social issues yet worked hard to implement corporatist "free trade" agreements (NAFTA and the World Trade Organization) and gutted many environmental, health, safety and economic protections won over a period of many decades. The primary tension in the Democratic Party is between the elites of the Democratic Leadership Council (the neo-liberal faction) and the grassroots rank-and-file who support more traditional values.
nuclear power: the most complicated means of boiling water ever invented. Nuclear power reactors are slow motion nuclear explosions (using tons of uranium) to generate heat to boil water to spin turbines to generate electricity. Nuclear power is outrageously expensive, synthesizes about 500 radioactive isotopes not found on planet Earth before the nuclear industry was invented, makes plutonium that make nuclear weapons, and these byproducts are extremely dangerous to biological lifeforms. Current understanding of astronomy suggests that nuclear fission (in reactors and bombs) is unique to planet Earth, there are not any known (or hypothesized) locations elsewhere in the universe where fission can be found. Some nuclear proponents claim that reactors are a means to combat climate change, but the uranium fuel cycle (mining, milling, conversion, enrichment, waste storage) uses tremendous amounts of coal-generated electricity, and all reactors belch vast amounts of heat. The thermal pollution from reactors can cause significant disruption to regional climate conditions, ultimately shifting global meterological patterns.
nuclear recycling: a euphemism for nuclear reprocessing
nuclear reprocessing: a technology banned in the United States during the Ford administration due to the extreme danger of nuclear proliferation (United States elites were shocked that India exploded a nuclear bomb in 1974, and reconsidered their previous support for this technology after that happened). Nuclear reprocessing involves taking uranium fuel rods that have been irradiated in a reactor to a special facility to be dissolved into strong acids, and precipitating out the residual uranium that did not undergo fission as well as the plutonium generated during the fissioning of the uranium. This technology is probably the single most toxic practice invented in our species' history, since it creates concentrated plutonium (a synthetic element that is fiendishly hazardous and the "wastes" left over are a boiling mix of acids and extremely radioactive byproducts of nuclear reactor fuel.
oil independence: a sound bite that probably tested very well in Democratic Party paid for focus groups, but it is a cruel hoax to promote it as a concept without mentioning how the food and transportation systems are totally dependent on energy dense oil. The United States will remain oil dependent on foreign sources as long as it wants to continue an industrial lifestyle dependent on large sources of fossil energy.
Olduvai theory: a paradigm proposed by ecologist Richard Duncan, it is a hypothesis that industrial civilization is completely dependent on large scale energy consumption, and when that consumption begins to decline, complexity will unravel all the way back to pre-industrial, Stone Age technologies (and population levels). This theory is probably widespread in the collective unconscious of the Western World, and averting this outcome (mitigating the crash) is the most important task facing humanity.
omnicide: the killing of everything (human, other animals, plants). On a large scale, this is synonymous with mass extinction. www.oilempire.us/omnicide.html
organic agriculture: food production that avoids the use of biocides (petrochemical herbicides and pesticides) and synthetic fertilizers (made with natural gas and other non-renewable resources). Organic agriculture is the only sector of the food industry in the industrial world that has been rapidly increasing in size, which has prompted large scale agribusiness to invest in it. Other factions have sought to water down national organic standards to include sewage sludge (which contains toxins poured down drains), food irradiation (which creates toxic chemical changes to the food) and genetic engineering. Most organic food still requires considerable energy inputs to provide irrigation, to power tractors and other machinery, transportation and refrigeration. Organic production practices are only part of the solution -- relocalization of production is equally important.
Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC): an international cartel created in 1960 whose members are Algeria, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. Most of the world's remaining oil is located in the OPEC nations, but OPEC has lost the ability to set the price for petroleum, due to the lack of spare capacity in the extraction system as we reach Peak Oil. The seizure of Iraq by the United States means that the Bush regime is essentially now a critical part of OPEC.
overpopulation: growth of a species' population beyond its carrying capacity. In 2006, human population increases are estimated at about 10,000 per hour (births minus deaths). Solving any resource depletion problem is not possible without solving the core problems of overpopulation.
overshoot: exceeding the carrying capacity of the environment to sustain life. Most overshoots lead to sudden drops of population levels, and it is likely that this will happen to the species homo sapiens unless there is a profound reorientation of civilization to reduce our combined ecological impact on the biosphere.
pandemic: a disease that becomes widespread over a large region (such as the European Black Death in Medieval times, the spread of smallpox among American First Nations groups or the modern spread of AIDS in Africa). Many public health specialists have warned that the massive increase in human populations risks a new pandemic. There are several possible etiologies for a global pandemic: the emergence of a new disease spread from previously unentered natural areas (a hypothesis for the origin of the HIV virus), factory farming conditions breeding new pathogens (bird flu?), intentional biological warfare from smallpox (since populations immunized decades ago no longer have this immunity) or new diseases created through genetic engineering.
passive solar: capturing solar radiation for secondary purposes, such as proper design of buildings so that sunlight can be used to help heat rooms (via south-facing windows in the Northern hemisphere)
Peak Soil: a problem that would be created with massive efforts to shift from petroleum toward biofuel production, since industrial agribusiness is already depleting many of the best farm soils in North America.
permaculture: a word created by Australian ecologists Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, it is a contraction of "permanent agriculture" and usually refers to the inclusion of perennial agriculture (tree crops and food forests). Permaculture is a series of design strategies that can be applied to home gardens, large scale farms, metropolitan urban areas and the entire global economy.
permatopia: a word created in 2003 at the Earth Activist Training permaculture course in Sonoma County, California. Permatopia is a contraction of permaculture utopia, or permanent place (topia).
petroleum: literally "rock oil," it refers to deposits generally between one and two miles under the surface of the Earth in rock formations where plant accumulations were trapped over a hundred million years ago and kept at very specific temperatures and pressure. Oil deposits that have too much heat generally become natural gas.
photovoltaic (PV): electricity from the sun, perhaps the most elegant means to generate electrical power. PV panels are the best form of safe nuclear power, since the nuclear energy has a 93 million mile evacuation zone. Seriously, solar panels are an embedded use of fossil energy (it takes conventional power to make the silicon chips, to assemble them into solar arrays, deliver the panels to retailers and the installed location, and for the contractors to travel to the job site). Most solar electric panels last for decades - many manufacturers have 20 to 25 year guarantees. Several technologies are being explored for making PV panels with much less cost, energy and materials, although no solar panel can provide 24 hour power and electric grids do not have means to store excess electrical generation.
Post Carbon Institute: a non-profit organization with offices in Vancouver, British Columbia and Oakland, California that is dedicated to helping communities prepare for a positive outcome to Peak Oil. Their website is www.postcarbon.org
post petroleum planning:
Powerdown: a 2004 book by Richard Heinberg that describes ways communities could reduce overconsumption and prepare for a gentle way of using less in order to reach the best case scenario for Peak Oil. His website is www.museletter.com
rain water catchment: 1 inch of rain on 1,000 square feet yields about 550 gallons. A metric equivalent is 1 cm. of rain on a 10 square meter roof yields about 224 liters (a little larger than a 55 gallon drum). Rainwater catchment is practical in nearly every climate (apart from the driest deserts) as a free means to collect water. Rainwater is naturally distilled water, although in polluted areas it can contain contaminants from air pollution. Rainwater is great for irrigating gardens (especially on drip irrigation systems). Purifying rainwater to drinking water standards is easier than cleaning surface water - the main issues are whether the collection surface is an asphalt roof, bird shit on the roof, and if algae builds up in the tank (a dark tank is recommended to keep sunlight out). George W. Bush has 25,000 gallons of rainwater catchment at his "ranch" in Crawford, Texas. Rainwater catchment is popular in some parts of the world where surface water or groundwater is scarce, especially tropical islands and some desert locations.
secession: the separation of a smaller political unit or a region from a larger entity, usually referring to the creation of a new Nation state from a larger one. This can occur in a peaceful transition (such as the breakup of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia), or via violence (such as the American Revolution from the British empire or the failed effort by the Confederacy that led to the US Civil War). Many regions are experiencing forms of autonomy that have limited self-governance that are not quite at the level of secession and independence.
Smart Growth: an oxymoronic political slogan used mostly by Democratic Party officials who wish to construct more overdevelopment while placating constituencies who are mildly concerned by ecological collapse. Sometimes called "Sustainable Growth," it is a curious contradiction that blithly ignores the reality of overshoot, overpopulation, and overconsumption. Steady state economics are a prerequisite for any sensible economic strategy to achieve a harmonious balance with the natural world for a society likely to outlast the era of cheap oil. The difference between Smart Growth and Dumb Growth is mostly a matter of good taste. Whether one has a nice seat on the Titanic or not is not relevant for changing the circumstances of the collapse of the ship's seaworthiness.
"The hard path--the huge, centralized technologies created without
concern about their environmental impact--leads to nuclear power, chemical
agriculture, and high-powered cars. The soft path leads to technologies
more appropriate in scale and design to their human purpose and ecological
setting: cogenerators, solar energy, organic farming, small cars, mass
transit, and bicycles. This distinction is useful, but it is incomplete;
in fact, the road to the soft path of ecologically appropriate technology
is a hard, political one."
spent fuel: the nuclear industry's preferred term for irradiated fuel rods that have been retrieved from a nuclear reactor. A nuclear fuel rod containing uranium is only mildly radioactive before it undergoes fission in the reactor core, but after it has been irradiated for about a year, much of the uranium has been converted into extremely radioactive fission products. A minute's exposure to a fuel rod can be a lethal dose. The most serious aspects of the nuclear waste problem involve the fact there is no way to "dispose" of the fission products left over from reactor operation -- only time can detoxify these ultrahazardous materials, most of which did not exist on Earth before the rise of the nuclear industry in the 1940s. Each radioactive isotope has a unique "half-life," the amount of time it takes for half of the material to transform itself into a different isotope (usually of a different element). Ten half-lives are needed to reduce a radioisotope to one-thousandth of the original substance, twenty half-lives are needed for a one millionth reduction. Some isotopes become non-radioactive upon a single radioactive emission, others have several paths of their decay chain before ultimately becoming non-radioactive. Most of the nastiest fission products are radioactive for years or decades, meaning that the hottest radioactive wastes are dangerous for centuries. However, some of the wastes have half-lives of thousands of years, meaning they will be deadly longer than the lifespan (so far) of civilization. All of these wastes have been created to provide cheap electricity for essential and frivolous purposes (our great-great-great-great-great grandchildren will have these wastes because we wanted to have neon lights, billboard lighting, big screen TVs and skyscrapers lit up at night). Radioactivity is perhaps the most effective means of causing irreversible genetic damage that harms the future viability of all species: oak trees, whales, microbes and human beings. There is no known method of speeding up an isotope's half-life to reduce the time it poses a threat to life.
stakeholder: a euphemism for citizen used by governmental planning process. "Stakeholder" is a term from casinos, it refers to the person holding the stakes of bettors. Dealing with governments is often a form of gambling that logic, compassion and honesty will be respected in the public process -- perhaps that is the reason why many governments substitute the word stakeholder when they mean citizen.
steady state economics:
straight vegetable oil (SVO):
straw bale construction:
sustainability: a term that should apply to practices that can be continued indefinitely, after the oil is all gone. "Sustainability" is often confused with more efficient ways to use non-renewable resources, usually because it is too difficult for most people in industrial societies to imagine behaviors that will be able to outlast the Age of Petroleum. A 100 mile per gallon automobile is efficient, but it is not sustainable.
tar sands: a low grade form of
petroleum that is ripped out of the Earth in the world's largest strip
mine in northern Alberta (Venezuela also has some similar deposits). Tar
sands hold low quality oil that need lots of processing. It takes almost
as much energy to extract and process the goo as it contains - much of
the steam generated to separate out the oil is made with natural gas (another
depleting resource), although tar sand oil could be used to make the steam
(a nuclear reactor is also under serious consideration). There is not
a lot of natural steam in northern Alberta, especially in the wintertime.
terminator seeds: genetically engineered seeds that have been designed to be unable to reproduce properly to prevent farmers from using the seed to grow the next year's crops. This is a potential genocidal crime against humanity, since the trait could cause widespread starvation if terminator technology contaminates large scale food production. It is essentially a high tech form of indentured servitude (slavery) since farmers have been saving (and improving) seeds for ten thousand years -- terminator technology would force farmers to give money to agribusiness oligarchies to have the right to grow more food.
thermal depolymerization: a means of converting waste animal carcasses into petroleum
Uppsala Protocol: see Global Oil Depletion Protocol
vegan: diets that do not include animal products such as meat, dairy and eggs. Widespread adoption of vegan diets in the wealthy, urbanized parts of the world would reduce the demand for feeding grains to animals, which would reduce energy and water consumption. Vegan diets are a part of any practical "Powerdown" strategy to reduce consumption of petroleum, natural gas, soils and other finite resources.
voting machines: a technology employed by many local governments in the United States to disenfranchise the citizenry while pretending to allow democratic elections to be conducted. The solution is simple: paper ballots counted by hand.
War on Terror:
warehouse on wheels:
World War IV: a name created by neo-conservatives for the Peak Oil wars to control the remaining supplies of petroleum. World War III, in their view, was the Cold War from 1947 until September 11, 2001.
zero point energy: www.oilempire.us/free-energy.html