Modern Air & Water, Part 3 of 3

(Survival Manual/2. Social Issues/ Death by 1000 cuts/ Modern Air & Water)

Modern Air & Water topics:
1.  Air pollution (it hasn’t gone away)
2.  Water, with chlorine, fluorine, pharmaceuticals and more.
3.  Berkey water purification system, Royal model
4.  Mercury in food & vaccines
5.  Pollution causes 40% of worldwide deaths

3.     Berkey Water purification system, Royal model

(The advertisement) The versatile Royal Berkey system (see arrow in picture below, 3.25 gallon capacity)  is the ideal system for use at home with large families, travel, outdoor activities or during unexpected emergencies. This powerful system purifies both treated water and untreated raw water from such sources as remote lakes, streams, stagnant ponds and water supplies in foreign countries, where regulations may be substandard at best. Perfect for outdoor activities and a must in hostile environments where electricity, water pressure or treated water may not be available. The Royal Berkey system removes pathogenic bacteria, cysts and parasites entirely and extracts harmful chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides, VOCs, organic solvents, radon 222 and trihalomethanes. It also reduces nitrates, nitrites and unhealthy minerals such as lead and mercury. This system is so powerful it can remove red food coloring from water without removing the beneficial minerals your body needs. Virtually no other system can duplicate this performance. Constructed of highly polished 304 stainless steel, the system comes complete with two purification elements and utilizes the latest technological advances. This system has a storage capacity of about 3.25 gallons (12.3 liters) and when in use it stands 23″ in height with a diameter of 9.5″. The upper chamber nests within the lower chamber for transport and stands only 15.25″ in height. Configured with two Black Berkey purification elements the system will purify up to 4 Gallons (15.1 liters) per hour. This system can be expanded to use four purification elements and is capable of purifying up to 8 Gallons (30.3 liters) per hour.
Price: $283 + any additional Purification Elements.
[The Royal Berkey Water Purification System that I have and use continuously at home, see white arrow below.-lfp]

Black Berkey Water Filters
http://www.berkeywaterfilters.com/blbetesp.html
Each Black Berkey is able to filter up to 3,000 gallons per filter element, making it one of the most cost-effective filters on the market.
[My Royal Berkey using 2 Black Berkey elements can therefore filter up to 6000 gallons water-lfp]

We tested the Black Berkey purification elements with more than 10,000 times the concentration of pathogens per liter than is required by standard test protocol. This concentration of pathogens is so great that the post filtered water should be expected to contain 100,000 or more pathogens per liter (99.99% reduction – the requirement for pathogenic removal). Incredibly the purification elements removed 100%. Absolutely no pathogens were cultured from the effluent or were able to be detected, even under an electron microscope, setting a new standard in water purification.

Under normal conditions it is recommended that each set of two PF-2™ elements be replaced after 1,000 gallons. The Royal Berkey®system is about 3.25 gallons therefore the PF-2™ filters should be replaced after 1,000/3.25 or 307 refills. If the system is refilled about one time per day, the PF-2™’s should be replaced after 10 months, if the system is refilled about twice per day, the PF-2™’s should be replaced about every five months). Actual capacity is dependent on the presence of other competing contaminants in the source water. High levels of Fluoride, arsenic and heavy metals may reduce the capacity and efficiency of the elements.

The ‘Black Berkey’ purification/filter elements (a 7 Log device, 99.99999%) remove or reduce the following:
– Pathogenic Bacteria and Cysts (E. Coli, Klebsiella, Pseudomonas Aeruginosa, Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Raoltella Terrigena) – Reduced to > 99.999% (100%)
– Viruses (MS2 – Fr Coliphage) – Reduced to >99.999%
– Parasites – Reduced to > 99.9999%
– Harmful or unwanted chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides
ChlorineRemoved to Below Detectable Limits (99.9999999%)
– Detergents

Organic solvents removal
- THM’s (Trihalomethanes – Bromodichloromethane, Bromoform, Chloroform, Dibromochloromethane) – Removed to Below Detectable Limits (99.99999%)
– MTBE’s (Methyl tert-Butyl Ehter) – Removed to Below Detectable Limits
.
Table below: Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) removed:

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Removed to below detectable limits
Alachlor
Atrazine
Benzene
Carbofuran
Carbon Tetrachloride
Chlorine
Chlorobenzene
Chloroform
2,4-D
DBCP
p-Dichlorobenzene
o-Dichlorobenzene
1, 1-Dichloroethane
1, 2-Dichloroethane
1, 1-Dichloroethylene
cis 1, 2-Dichloroethylene
Trans  1,2-Dichloroethylene
1, 2-Dichloropropane
cis l,3-Dichloropropylene
Dinoseb
Endrin
Ethylbenzene
Ethylene Dibromide (EDB)
Heptachlor
Heptachlor Epoxide
Hexachlorobutodiene
Hexachlorocyclopentadiene
Lindane,
Methoxychlor
MTBE
Pentachlorophenol
Simazine
Styrene
1,1,2,2-Tetrachloroethane
Tetrachloroethylene
Toluene
2,4,5-TP (Silvex)
1,2,4-trichlorobenzene
1,1,1-trichloroethane
1,1,2-trichloroethane
Trichloroethylene
o-Xylene
m-Xylene
p-Xylene

- Cloudiness, removed.
– Silt, removed.
– Sediment, removed.
– Radiologicals – Radon 222 – Removed to Below Detectable Limits
– Nitrates & Nitrites, Greater than 95% reduction
– Heavy metals: Lead, Mercury, Aluminum, Cadmium, Chromium, Copper  – Greater than 95% reduction.
– Fluoride- With PF-2 fluoride filter, Fluoride reduced greater than 95%
– Iron
Foul tastes and odor.

PF-2™ reduction elements are designed for use in conjunction with Black Berkey® water purification elements to absorb the following unwanted elements found in drinking water:
•   Fluoride
•   Arsenic V and pre-oxidized Arsenic III
•   Other residual heavy metal ions

Heavy Metals reduced by up to 95% by the Black Berkey Filter:

Contaminant Health effects
Lead kidney, nervous system damage
Mercury kidney, nervous system disorders
Aluminum respiratory, nervous system disorders
Cadmium kidney damage
Chromium liver, kidney, circulatory system disorders
Copper gastro-enteric diseases

 .My estimated filter change periods:

Use rate

(gallons per day)

Black Berkey   days/yrs

 Mfg Suggested      My Actual

PF-2   days/years

Mfg Suggested       My actual

1/2 12000/32                       4 2000/5                            2
1 6000/16                         4 1000/2.75                       2
2 3000/8                           4 500/1.36                         2

Change PF-2 every two years and change Black Berkey every 4 years (at every other PF-2 change) . Change more often if, even after cleaning, the filtration rate does not increase, but continues to become slower. Have one set each of  PF-2 ($55/pair) and Black Berkey Filters ($107/pair) on hand for emergency backup.

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4.    
Mercury in food & vaccines

 A.   Dumbing Down Society Part 2: Mercury in Foods and Vaccines
July 9th, 2010, By VC
http://vigilantcitizen.com/vigilantreport/dumbing-down-society-pt-2-mercury-in-foods-and-vaccines/
Even though mercury is known to degenerate brain neurons and disrupt the central nervous system, it is still found in processed foods and mandatory vaccines. In this second part of the series examining the intentional dumbing-down of society, this article will discuss the presence of mercury in common foods and vaccines.

The first article in this series – Dumbing Down Society Pt 1: Foods, Beverages and Meds – looked at the effects of aspartame, fluoride and prescription pills on the human brain. These substances all cause a decrease of cognitive power which, on a large scale, leads to a dumbing down of the population that is ingesting them. This second article focuses on another toxic product found in everyday foods and mandatory vaccines: mercury.

Mercury is a heavy metal naturally found in the environment. However, it is not suitable for human consumption, as it is extremely harmful to the human body, especially the brain. While some people say that anything can be consumed in moderation, many experts agree that no amount of mercury is safe for the human body. Despite this and the many studies concerning the negative effects of mercury, the heavy metal is continually added to mandatory vaccines and processed foods.

Mercury is known to cause brain neuron degeneration and to disturb the central nervous system. Direct exposure to the metal causes immediate and violent effects:

“Exposure to high levels of metallic, inorganic, or organic mercury can permanently damage the brain, kidneys, and developing fetus. Effects on brain functioning may result in irritability, shyness, tremors, changes in vision or hearing, and memory problems.”

Most people do not come in direct contact with mercury, but are exposed to small doses at a time, resulting in a slow but steady poisoning of the brain. As the years go by, the effects of the substance impairs judgment and rational thinking, decreases memory and disrupts emotional stability. In other words: It makes you dumber.

Mercury has also the unfortunate ability to transfer from pregnant woman to their unborn babies. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, mercury passed on to the fetus during pregnancy may have lasting consequences, including memory impairment, diminished language skills and other cognitive complications.

It has been highly publicized that mercury is found in dangerous quantities in seafood, such as tuna, swordfish and tilefish. This creates a rather ironic situation: Instead of making you smarter because of all the Omega-3 they contain, the fish produce exactly the opposite effect on the brain due to mercury poisoning.

Unfortunately, mercury is also found in other products: vaccines and high-fructose corn syrup.

“I think it’s absolutely criminal to give mercury to an infant.” – Boyd Haley, Ph.D., Chemistry Department Chair, University of Kentucky

Mercury is found in great quantities in mandatory vaccines. Before we get into the details of it, here are some facts about vaccines in America as noted by Dr. Sherri Tenpenny:
•  The U.S. government is the largest purchaser of vaccines in the country. In fact, nearly 30 percent of the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) annual budget is composed of purchasing vaccines and ensuring vaccination is completed for every child in the country.
•  Private insurance companies, which do the best liability studies, have completely abandoned coverage for damage to life and property due to: Acts of God, nuclear war, nuclear power plant accidents and … vaccination.
•  Laws have been passed to protect vaccine manufactures from liability, while at the same time, state laws require parents to inject their children with up to 100 vaccination antigens prior to entering school. If a vaccine injury–or death–occurs after a vaccine, parents cannot sue the doctor, the drug company or the government; they are required to petition the Vaccine Court for damages, a process that can take years and often ends with a dismissal of the case.
•  Each state has school vaccination laws that require children of appropriate age to be vaccinated for several communicable diseases. State vaccination laws mandate that children be vaccinated prior to being allowed to attend public or private schools. Failure to vaccinate children can not only result in children being prohibited from attending school, but their parents or guardians can receive civil fines and criminal penalties. Schools don’t usually tell parents is that in every state, an exemption exists allowing parents to legally refuse vaccines while still allowing their children to attend school.
•  The medical industry advocates vaccines, often demanding that parents vaccinate their children in order to remain under their doctor’s care. A sizable portion of a pediatrician’s income is derived from insurance reimbursement for vaccinations. The ever-expanding vaccination schedule that includes increasingly more expensive vaccines has been a source of increased revenues for vaccinating doctors.

Thimerosal
A child receives approximately 21 vaccines before the age of six and 6 more before the age of 18, for a total of 27 shots during childhood. Many of these injections contain Thimerosal, a preservative added to the shots, made of 49% mercury. The unprecedented use of mercury on children has created a generation of cognitively impaired children.

      “The symptoms experienced by children exposed to mercury are real and can be directly linked to the vaccines they were given as infants. It’s ironic that the vaccines given to these young people are meant to protect them, when in fact they are adversely affecting their neurological development.”
On top of causing an entire generation of babies to have their brains damaged, the use of Thimerosal in vaccines has been linked by many scientists to the staggering rise of autism in the past two decades. Did the dumbing-down campaign go too far?

      “In children who are fully vaccinated, by the sixth month of life they have received more mercury from vaccines than recommended by the EPA. There are many similarities in symptoms between mercury toxicity and autism, including social deficits, language deficits, repetitive behaviors, sensory abnormalities, cognition deficits, movement disorders, and behavioral problems. There are also similarities in physical symptoms, including biochemical, gastrointestinal, muscle tone, eurochemistry, neurophysiology, EEG measurements, and immune system/autoimmunity.”

Due to the suspected link between vaccines and autism, more than 5,000 U.S. families have filed claims in a federal vaccine court against the companies producing the vaccines. In most cases, the plaintiffs received no compensation and all correlation between the illness and vaccines was denied by the defendants. A public relations war has been going on for years, as studies and counter-studies have appeared, proving or denying the links between vaccines and autism, depending where they originate from. The studies claiming that vaccines are safe have often been funded by the very companies that produce them.

Despite the denials, Thimerosal is slowly–and silently–being phased out of vaccines for babies. Not too long after the phasing out began, cases of autism have sharply dropped in the country.

“Published in the March 10 issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, the data show since mercury was removed from childhood vaccines, the reported rates of autism and other neurological disorders in children not only stopped increasing but actually dropped sharply – by as much as 35 percent. Using the government’s own databases, independent researchers analyzed reports of childhood neurological disorders, including autism, before and after removal of mercury-based preservatives.

According to a statement from the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons, or AAPS, the numbers from California show that reported autism rates hit a high of 800 in May 2003. If that trend had continued, the reports would have risen to more than 1,000 by the beginning of 2006. But the number actually went down to 620, a real decrease of 22 percent, and a decrease from the projection of 35 percent.
The phasing out of Thimerosal from vaccines intended for children is all well and good, but the preservative is still found in many vaccines intended for adults. Did someone realize that mercury in vaccines is too strong for children, making them sick and ultimately unproductive, but perfect to dumb-down fully developed adults? The ruling class is not looking to create a generation of autistic people who would need constant care, but a mass of “useful idiots” that can accomplish repetitive and mind-numbing tasks, while accepting without questioning what they are being told.

As of today, Thimerosal is still found in Influenza vaccines, commonly known as the flu shot. Those shots are seasonal, meaning that patients are encouraged to come back every winter to get their yearly vaccine/dose of mercury.

Makers of the Influenza vaccine say it boasts a “solid health record,” meaning the shot does not seem cause observable illnesses. What is NEVER discussed, however, is the slow and gradual brain neuron degeneration most individuals go through, year after year, due constant mercury poisoning. This process of slowing down brain functions is not easily observable nor quantifiable but it is still happening on a world-wide scale. If mercury can completely disrupt the fragile minds of children enough to possibly cause autism, it will, at the very least, impair fully developed minds.

Almost as if created to generate demands for vaccines, new diseases appear periodically around the world that, with the help of mass media scare campaigns, cause people to beg their officials for the miracle shot that they are told will cure everybody.

H1N1, also known as the Swine Flu, was the latest of those scary diseases that terrified millions of people for several months. When the shot became available, heavily promoted and massive vaccination campaigns sprung around the world. One fact that was not promoted: Swine flu was often easily curable, and not very different than the “regular” flu. Another fact that was not promoted: Most of the flu shots contained Thimerosal.

High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
A poison is a “substance that causes injury, illness, or death, especially by chemical means.”
Going by this definition, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is truly a poison. HFCS is a highly processed sweetner made from corn that has been used since 1970. It continues to replace white sugar and sucrose in processed foods and is currently found in the majority of processed foods found in supermarkets. Studies have determined that Americans consume an average of 12 teaspoons a day of the sweetner.

Here’s a graph depicting the rise of HFCS in our diets:

Due to its sweetening propreties, HFCS is obviously found in sugary products like jams, soft drinks and pre-packaged baked goods. However, most people do not realize that it is also found in numerous other products, including soups, breads, pasta sauces, cereals, frozen entrees, meat products, salad dressings and condiments. HFCS is also found in so-called health products, including protein-bars, “low-fat” foods and energy drinks.How can something that taste so good be so bad?
Here are some facts about HFCS:
•  Research links HFCS to increasing rates of obesity and diabetes in North America, especially among children. Fructose converts to fat more than any other sugar. And being a liquid, it passes much more quickly into the blood stream.
•  Beverages containing HFCS have higher levels of reactive compounds (carbonyls), which are linked with cell and tissue damage leading to diabetes.
•  There is some evidence that corn fructose is processed differently in the body than cane sugar, leading to reduced feelings of satiation and a greater potential for over-consumption.
•  Studies by researchers at UC Davis and the University of Michigan have shown that consuming fructose, which is more readily converted to fat by the liver, increases the levels of fat in the bloodstream in the form of triglycerides.
•  Unlike other types of carbohydrate made up of glucose, fructose does not stimulate the pancreas to produce insulin. Peter Havel, a nutrition researcher at UC Davis who studies the metabolic effects of fructose, has also shown that fructose fails to increase the production of leptin, a hormone produced by the body’s fat cells. Both insulin and leptin act as signals to the brain to turn down the appetite and control body weight. Havel’s research also shows that fructose does not appear to suppress the production of ghrelin, a hormone that increases hunger and appetite.
•  Because the body processes the fructose in HFCS differently than it does cane or beet sugar, it alters the way metabolic-regulating hormones function. It also forces the liver to kick more fat out into the bloodstream. The end result is that our bodies are essentially tricked into wanting to eat more, while at the same time, storing more fat.
•  A study in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute suggested that women whose diet was high in total carbohydrate and fructose intake had an increased risk of colorectal cancer.
•  HFCS interferes with the heart’s use of key minerals like magnesium, copper and chromium.
•  HFCS has been found to deplete the immune system by inhibiting the action of white blood cells. The body is then unable to defend against harmful foreign invaders.
•  Research suggests that fructose actually promotes disease more readily than glucose. Glucose is metabolized in every cell in the body, but all fructose must be metabolized in the liver. The livers of test animals fed large amounts of fructose develop fatty deposits and cirrhosis, similar to problems that develop in the livers of alcoholics.
•  HFCS is highly refined–even more so than white sugar.
•  The corn from which HFCS is derived is almost always genetically modified, as are the enzymes used in the refining process.
•  There are increasing concerns about the politics surrounding the economics of corn production (subsidies, tariffs, and regulations), as well as the effects of intensive corn agriculture on the environment.

Many studies have observed a strong correlation between the rise HFCS in the past years and the rise of obesity during the same period of time.
Obesity, on top of being unhealthy for the body, directly affects brain functions. Some researchers have even questioned the role of obesity in brain degeneration.

Research scientists have long suspected that a relationship existed between obesity and a decline in brain power. New studies now confirm the contention that being overweight is detrimental to the brain. Researchers at the University of California in an article published in the Archives of Neurology demonstrated a strong correlation between central obesity (that is, being fat around the middle) and shrinkage of a part of the brain ( the hippocampus) fundamental for memory.

This does not mean that obese people are dumb. It does however mean that their brain is probably not processing as effectively as it could be. But even if HFCS does not make you fat, it will still affect your brain. Recent studies have shown that the sweetener contains … you’ve guessed it … mercury!
•  “One study – published in the journal, Environmental Health – shows mercury in nine out of 20 samples of commercial high-fructose corn syrup.
•  The second study – by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) – finds nearly one in three of 55 brand-name foods contained mercury, especially dairy products, dressings and condiments. The brands included big names like Quaker, Hershey’s, Kraft and Smucker’s.”

Here is the table found in the IATP’s study called, Not So Sweet: Missing Mercury and High Fructose Corn Syrup, detailing the amount of mercury found in everyday products found in supermarkets.

Of course, companies who produce HFCS deny the results of those studies, claiming the sweetner is “natural”. But this is coming from those who, y’know, SELL the stuff. Corn refiners have even produced some strange PR ads to encourage people to keep ingesting their toxic product.

In Conclusion
Despite the existence of many studies describing the negative effects of mercury on the human brain, governments still push for the increased vaccination of the population with shots containing Thimerosal. Furthermore, governing bodies have protected the pharmaceutical companies who produce the vaccines and foods containing HFCS against any type of lawsuits. The fact that many high executives of these companies also hold key positions within the government, might provide an explanation. There are indeed a restricted amount of persons holding positions of high power in both the private and public sector. These people, in what are clear cases of conflict of interest, collide at the top to form what this site refers to as “the elite” or “the ruling class.” Most of these people have never been elected to governmental positions, yet they create public policies that further their agenda, regardless of the political party in power. Look at the membership of the Bilderberg Group, the Committee of 300 or the Council of Foreign Relations and you will find the CEOs of companies producing your food and medication … and the same people who pass laws governing your food and medication.

Since no public official is likely to betray his peers and fund-raisers to become a whistleblower, it is up to each one of us to learn about what we consume. The cliché saying “read the labels” is quite true, but if you have no idea what “monosodium glutamate” means, reading the label will not help you. This series of articles aims to raise basic awareness of the most harmful substances found in everyday products. I personally cannot claim to have a perfect diet … I grew up in the 80s and love the taste of processed foods like candy, sodas … even Hamburger Helper. But as you find more information and as you begin to realize that every step in the right direction really does make you feel better, each subsequent step becomes easier. No one can do it for you: It’s up to you to take that next step … whether it is toward your detoxification or to Burger King.

B.  Health: Foods Containing Mercury
eHow, By Alexander Grouch

http://www.ehow.com/about_5376461_foods-containing-mercury.html

Foods Containing Mercury
Mercury is a heavy metal that exists in many places throughout the earth. As a result, some of the food we eat contains traces of mercury. Fish in particular absorb copious amounts of mercury as they swim in the water. This is due both to the natural occurrence of mercury and various human actions that exacerbate the situation. While slight amounts of mercury usually will not have a noticeable effect on the human body, prolonged mercury exposure through food may lead to serious health problems such as methylmercury poisoning, vision problems and neurological disturbances in fetuses and infants.

Foods That Contain High Levels of Mercury
Although many foods may contain traces of mercury, fish and shellfish are known to have the most mercury overall. As mercury enters the water supply, all fish absorb some of it into their bodies. Fish that are higher on the food chain have especially high mercury levels since they consume smaller fish. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the largest fish often contain the most mercury. High-mercury fish include swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tile fish. Certain types of tuna also contain mercury well above U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s limits of 0.1 microgram per 2.2 pounds of body weight.

Other Foods That Contain Mercury
While fish gets most of the bad press regarding mercury, other food products also contain mercury. In early 2009, Environmental Health Journal reported on a study conducted by a team led by Renee Dufault that found high fructose corn syrup had high levels of mercury. Many mass-marketed food products contain high fructose corn syrup due the prevalence of corn production in America and the government’s corn subsidy. Popular products sweetened with high fructose corn syrup include most sodas, ketchup and even bread.

In the Dufault study, samples revealed 0.57 micrograms of mercury per gram of high fructose corn syrup. When you consider the large quantities of high fructose corn syrup that most American ingest, many people’s mercury consumption exceeds EPA or U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommendations. To find products free of high fructose corn syrup, read all the ingredients in food products. The earlier in the list you find high fructose corn syrup, the more of it that’s in the product.

Effects
In high doses, mercury wreaks havoc on the central nervous system. Pregnant women especially should avoid fish that may contain mercury. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, mercury passed on to the fetus during pregnancy may have lasting consequences such as memory impairment, diminished language skills and other cognitive complications. If you are pregnant, look for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or EPA updates on what foods contain high levels of mercury and avoid them to prevent possible damage to your child’s cognitive development.

Mercury Poisoning
In rare cases, some people may consume so much fish and other mercury-rich foods that they experience mercury poisoning. One of the most highly publicized cases of mercury poisoning occurred in 2008 when actor Jeremy Piven had to drop out of a play due to mercury poisoning.
Symptoms of mercury poisoning include impairment to your sight, hearing and touch. Some people who suffer from mercury poisoning report ambulatory trouble and tingling around the lips. If you have a diet high in fish and suffer any of the above symptoms, visit a hospital promptly for evaluation.

Fish Low In Mercury
Since several fish contain such powerful nutrients and healthy oils, the benefits of fish may outweigh genuine mercury concerns. If you want to balance the health benefits of fish with mercury risks, eat fish further down the food chain. According to the FDA and EPA, fish low in mercury include salmon, catfish and pollock. Canned light tuna also contains a relatively low amount of mercury per serving. However, other types of tuna such as albacore have higher levels of mercury. As long as you keep track of your portion sizes, you probably will not suffer any ill effects due to mercury in food. For optimal portion size, eat no more than 12 oz. (about two meals) of low-mercury fish a week.
Read more: Foods Containing Mercury | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/about_5376461_foods-containing-mercury.html#ixzz1MFy97JfQ
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5.     Pollution Causes 40 Percent Of Deaths Worldwide, Study Finds

Aug. 14, 2007, ScienceDaily
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070813162438.htm
About 40 percent of deaths worldwide are caused by water, air and soil pollution, concludes a Cornell researcher. Such environmental degradation, coupled with the growth in world population, are major causes behind the rapid increase in human diseases, which the World Health Organization has recently reported. Both factors contribute to the malnourishment and disease susceptibility of 3.7 billion people, he says.

David Pimentel, Cornell professor of ecology and agricultural sciences, and a team of Cornell graduate students examined data from more than 120 published papers on the effects of population growth, malnutrition and various kinds of environmental degradation on human diseases. Their report is published in the online version of the journal Human Ecology and will be published in the December print issue.

“We have serious environmental resource problems of water, land and energy, and these are now coming to bear on food production, malnutrition and the incidence of diseases,” said Pimentel.

Of the world population of about 6.5 billion, 57 percent is malnourished, compared with 20 percent of a world population of 2.5 billion in 1950, said Pimentel. Malnutrition is not only the direct cause of 6 million children’s deaths each year but also makes millions of people much more susceptible to such killers as acute respiratory infections, malaria and a host of other life-threatening diseases, according to the research.

Among the study’s other main points:
Nearly half the world’s people are crowded into urban areas, often without adequate sanitation, and are exposed to epidemics of such diseases as measles and flu.
With 1.2 billion people lacking clean water, waterborne infections account for 80 percent of all infectious diseases. Increased water pollution creates breeding grounds for malaria-carrying mosquitoes, killing 1.2 million to 2.7 million people a year, and air pollution kills about 3 million people a year. Unsanitary living conditions account for more than 5 million deaths each year, of which more than half are children.

Air pollution from smoke and various chemicals kills 3 million people a year. In the United States alone about 3 million tons of toxic chemicals are released into the environment — contributing to cancer, birth defects, immune system defects and many other serious health problems.

Soil is contaminated by many chemicals and pathogens, which are passed on to humans through direct contact or via food and water. Increased soil erosion worldwide not only results in more soil being blown but spreading of disease microbes and various toxins.

At the same time, more microbes are becoming increasingly drug-resistant. And global warming, together with changes in biological diversity, influence parasite evolution and the ability of exotic species to invade new areas. As a result, such diseases as tuberculosis and influenza are re-emerging as major threats, while new threats — including West Nile virus and Lyme disease — have developed.

“A growing number of people lack basic needs, like pure water and ample food. They become more susceptible to diseases driven by malnourishment, and air, water and soil pollutants,” Pimentel concludes. He and his co-authors call for comprehensive and fair population policies and more conservation of environmental resources that support human life.

“Relying on increasing diseases and malnutrition to limit human numbers in the world diminishes the quality of life for all humans and is a high-risk policy,” the researchers conclude.

We are affliced by and bringing on ourselves, a global human condition tantamount to ‘Death by 1000 cuts.’, Mr Larry

End of article, Modern Air and Water
Read also the 4dtraveler posts: Modern Competition, Modern Foraging, Modern Freedom of Choice and, Modern Living.

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Filed under Survival Manual, __2. Social Issues

Modern Air & Water, Part 2 of 3

(Survival Manual/2. Social Issues/ Death by 1000 cuts/ Modern Air & Water)

Modern Air & Water topics:
1.  Air pollution (it hasn’t gone away) .
2.  Water, with chlorine, fluorine, pharmaceuticals and more.
3.  Berkey water purification system, Royal model
4.  Mercury in food & vaccines
5.  Synopsis; Pollution causes 40% of worldwide deaths

2.  Water, with chlorine,  fluorine,  pharmaceuticals  and  more

[Photo above: Garbage concentration in a perpetual and growing trash vortex, located 800 miles north of Hawaii, in a 10-million-square-mile oval known as the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. This is an odd stretch of ocean, a place most boats purposely avoid. For one thing, it is becalmed. “The doldrums,” sailors called it, and they steered clear. So do the ocean’s top predators: the tuna, sharks, and other large fish that required livelier waters, flush with prey. The gyre is more like a desert—a slow, deep, clockwise-swirling vortex of air and water caused by a mountain of high-pressure air that lingers above it. The huge trash concentration began with a line of plastic bags ghosting the surface, followed by an ugly tangle of junk: nets and ropes and bottles, motor-oil jugs and cracked bath toys, a mangled tarp. Tires. A traffic cone. Out in this desolate place, the water is a stew of plastic. It is as though someone has taken a pristine seascape and turned it into a landfill.
Scientists refer to this area as the “Eastern Garbage Patch”, a place in the ocean where the trail of plastic goes on for hundreds of miles.
Yachts traveling through the Gyre sail for a week amongst bobbing, toxic debris, all trapped in a purgatory of circling currents in this 21st-century Leviathan. It had no head, no tail. Just an endless body. http://jonbowermaster.com/blog/tag/30-days-of-oceans/page/4/]
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A.  The Water Resources of Earth
Over 70% of our Earth’s surface is covered by water ( we should really call our planet “Ocean” instead of “Earth”). Although water is seemingly abundant, the real issue is the amount of fresh water available.
•  97.5% of all water on Earth is salt water, leaving only 2.5% as fresh water
•  Nearly 70% of that fresh water is frozen in the icecaps of Antarctica and Greenland; most of the remainder is present as soil moisture, or lies in deep underground aquifers as groundwater not accessible to human use.
•  1% of the world’s fresh water (~0.007% of all water on earth) is accessible for direct human uses. This is the water found in lakes, rivers, reservoirs and those underground sources that are shallow enough to be tapped at an affordable cost. Only this amount is regularly renewed by rain and snowfall, and is therefore available on a sustainable basis.

Water as a Resource
Since antiquity, irrigation, drainage, and impoundment have been the three types of water control having a major impact on landscapes and water flows. Since the dawn of irrigated agriculture at least 5000 years ago, controlling water to grow crops has been the primary motivation for human alteration of freshwater supplies. Today, principal demands for fresh water are for irrigation, household and municipal water use, and industrial uses. Most supplies come from surface runoff, although mining of “fossil water” from underground aquifers is an important source in some areas. The pattern of water withdrawal over the past 300 years shows the dramatic increases in this century.

[Human Appropriation of the World’s Fresh Water Supply
<http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/globalchange2/current/lectures/freshwater_supply/freshwater.html>]

A timeline of human water use:
http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/globalchange2/current/lectures/   freshwater_supply/freshwater.html
•  12,000 yrs. ago: hunter-gatherers continually return to fertile river valleys
•  7,000 yrs. ago: water shortages spur humans to invent irrigation
•  1,100 yrs ago: collapse of Mayan civilization due to drought
•  Mid 1800’s: fecal contamination of surface water causes severe health problems (typhoid, cholera) in some major North American cities, notably Chicago
•  1858: “Year of the Great Stink” in London, due to sewage and wastes in Thames
•  Late 1800s-early 1900: Dams became popular as a water management tool
•  1900s: The green revolution strengthens human dependency on irrigation for agriculture
•  World War II: water quality impacted by industrial and agricultural chemicals
•  1972: Clean Water Act passed; humans recognize need to protect water
•  The six billion people of Planet Earth use nearly 30% of the world’s total accessible renewal supply of water.  By 2025, that value may reach 70%.  Yet billions of people lack basic water services, and millions die each year from water-related diseases.

B.   The unHealthy side Effects of Chlorine in Drinking Water
http://www.pure-earth.com/chlorine.html
The U.S. General Accounting Office reports that there are serious deficiencies in water treatment plants in 75% of the states. More than 120 million people (about 50% of the US population) may get unsafe water according to a study conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

U.S. Health Officials estimate 900,000 people each year become ill – and possibly 900 die – from waterborne disease. The General Accounting Office estimates 66% of Safe Drinking Water Act violations aren’t reported.

The contamination of water is directly related to the degree of contamination of our environment. Rainwater flushes airborne pollution from the skies, and then washes over the land before running into the, rivers, aquifers, and lakes that supply our drinking water. Any and all chemicals generated by human activity can and will find their way into water supplies.

The chemical element chlorine is a corrosive, poisonous, greenish-yellow gas that has a suffocating odor and is 2- 1/2 times heavier than air. Chlorine belongs to the group of elements called halogens. The halogens combine with metals to form compounds called halides. Chlorine is manufactured commercially by running an electric current through salt water. This process produces free chlorine, hydrogen, and sodium hydroxide. Chlorine is changed to its liquid form by compressing the gas, the resulting liquid is then shipped. Liquid chlorine is mixed into drinking water and swimming pools to destroy bacteria.

Until recently, concerns about drinking water focused on eliminating pathogens. The chlorine used to reduce the risk of infectious disease may account for a substantial portion of the cancer risk associated with drinking water. Chlorination of drinking water was a major factor in the reduction in the mortality rates associated with waterborne pathogen. The use of chlorine was believed to be safe. This view is evident in an article, which appeared on the back page of the New York Times. The report stated that with the use of chlorine, “Any municipal water supply can be made as pure as mountain spring water. Chlorination destroys all animal and microbial life, leaving no trace of itself afterwards”. This statement reflected opinion accepted until recent years when halogenated organic compounds, such as chloroform, were identified in chlorinated drinking water supplies. Recent surveys show that these compounds are common in water supplies throughout the United States.

These concerns about cancer risks associated with chemical contamination from chlorination by-products have resulted in numerous epidemiological studies. These studies generally support the notion that by-products of chlorination are associated with increased cancer risks.

Chlorine is used to combat microbial contamination, but it can react with organic matter in the water and form dangerous, carcinogenic Trihalomethanes. According to Dr. Joseph M. Price, MD, in Moseby’s Medical Dictionary, “Chlorine is the greatest crippler and killer of modern times. It is an insidious poison”.

In a 1992 study that made front-page headlines, and was reported on in the July issue of the American Journal of Public Health researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee found that people who regularly drink tap water containing high levels of chlorine by-products have a greater risk of developing bladder and rectal cancers than people who drink unchlorinated water. The study estimates that about 9 percent of all bladder cancer and 18 percent of all rectal cancer cases are associated with long-term consumption of these by-products. This amounts to over 20,000 new cases each year.

Morris, with epidemiologist Thomas C. Chalmers and his colleagues at Harvard, used a new technique called meta-analysis to combine the results from the 10 best studies, yielding the new findings. They report that people drinking chlorinated water over long periods have a 21% increase in the risk of contracting bladder cancer and a 38% increase in the risk of rectal cancer. “I am quite convinced, based on this study, that there is an association between cancer and chlorinated water.”, says Robert D. Morris of the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, who directed the new study.

About 90% of the population is drinking water which may contain hundreds of these Disinfection By-products (DBPs), also known as Trihalomethanes. The Environmental Protection Agency lowered the Maximum Contaminant Level for Disinfection By-products but it will be years before the new standard goes into effect.

In his book, Coronaries/Cholesterol/Chlorine, Joseph M. Price, MD presents startling evidence that Trihalomethanes, are the “prime causative agents of arteriosclerosis and its inevitable result, the heart attack or stroke.” These Trihalomethanes are created when the chlorine that is added to the municipal water supply reacts with organic matter such as leaves, twigs, or chemicals from agricultural runoff.

Here’s What The Experts Have To Say
•  Drinking chlorinated water has finally been officially linked to an increased incidence of colon cancer. An epidemiologist at Oak Ridge Associated Universities completed a study of colon cancer victims and non-cancer patients and concluded that the drinking of chlorinated water for 15 years or more was conducive to a high rate of colon cancer. Health Freedom News, January/February 1987
•  Long-term drinking of chlorinated water appears to increase a person’s risk of developing bladder cancer as much as 80%, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Some 45,000 Americans are diagnosed every year with bladder cancer. St. Paul Dispatch & Pioneer Press, December 17, 1987
•  Although concentrations of these carcinogens are low…it is precisely these low levels which cancer scientists believe are responsible for the majority of human cancers in the United States.  Report Issued By The Environmental Defense Fund
•  Chlorine itself is not believed to be the problem. Scientists suspect that the actual cause of the bladder cancers is a group of chemicals that form as result of reactions between the chlorine and natural substances and pollutants in the water. (organic matter such as leaves and twigs.) St. Paul Dispatch & Pioneer Press, December 17, 1987
•  Greenpeace reports have found chlorine-based compounds to be the most common toxic and persistent pollutants in the Great Lakes.

Summary and Prevention Strategies
Contaminants may enter water supplies at many points before reaching the tap. The carcinogens in drinking water at the point of use may result from contamination of source water, arise from the treatment processes, or enter as the water is transported to the consumer. Varied carcinogens may contaminate the source water, but they usually exist in drinking water at low concentrations. However, chemicals that enter drinking water during water treatment are limited in number, but appear in drinking water supplies with greater frequency than most source water contaminants.

Under conditions of average temperature, humidity, and activity, the human body loses and, therefore, must replace about 2.3 liters of water each day. Two-thirds of this consumption is in the form of water or some other beverage. Concerns about the health risks or taste of drinking water may cause those who consume tap water to shift to bottled water, or other beverages. These beverages may include sweetened soft drinks and alcoholic beverages, which can pose health risks greater than those associated with drinking water.

To stop chlorination of drinking water to eliminate the elevated cancer risks from chlorination by-products would be foolhardy. Nonetheless, the data provide strong evidence to support expanded efforts in research and development of alternatives to chlorination for the disinfection of drinking water. Chlorination is particularly effective in preventing recontamination during distribution. Alternatives must provide a similar level of protection. Perhaps the most viable alternative is point of use water treatment units.

The weight of the evidence suggests that chlorination by-products pose substantial cancer risks that should be reduced.

Dr. Herbert Schwartz of Cumberland County College in Vineman, N.J. says: “Chlorine has so many dangers it should be banned. Putting chlorine in the water supply is like starting a time bomb. Cancer, heart trouble, premature senility, both mental and physical, are conditions attributable to chlorine treated water supplies. It is making us grow old before our time by producing symptoms of aging such as hardening of the arteries.”

Chlorine has been hailed as the saviour against cholera and various other water-borne diseases; and rightfully so. Its disinfectant qualities and economy of production have allowed communities and whole cities to grow and prosper by providing disease-free tap water to homes and industry. Some people have grown-up on tap water, and believe the taste of chlorine signifies purity and safety. Well, not necessarily so.

      Chlorine is, essentially, bleach. And what comes out of most municipally delivered faucets is, quite actually, a mild bleach solution. Consider some well-known attributes of chlorine. Let’s say, “the dark side” of the saviour. A PhD chemist friend put it this way: “If I were assigned to go into a lab and produce a menu of known carcinogens (cancer-causing agents), the first thing I would do would be to grab-up a cylinder of chlorine and start bubbling it through some water that contains naturally occuring organic acids (humic and fumic acids — as are found in all natural bodies of water like rivers, lakes, reservoirs, etc.).”

      Note the “chloro” part in the following: trichlorophosphate (TCP) and the trihalomethane group (THMs) which includes chloroform. You may recognize these known bad guys by the legally imposed requirement of your municipality to periodically make report to the public (newspaper) on the levels of these known or highly suspected carcinogens in the tap water being produced. There are others, but those are popularly known. And they’re all chlorine by-products.

      Another problem directly related to chlorine disinfection are the aesthetic properties imparted when chlorine is combined with organic compounds that are natural to open bodies of water (surface water). This regards the “taste and odor” problems many municipalities experience during certain times of the year (especially in four-season latitudes) which draw their water supply from surface water. Surface water includes ponds, lakes, reservoirs, rivers, etc., as opposed to underground sources (wells, aquifers). Bubble chlorine through humic and fumic acids common to surface water supplies and you produce the “fishy” or “musty” odors and tastes so common in the spring and fall, when the lake “turns-over.”

The good news is, you don’t have to drink it anymore. The most practical and efficient method for removing chlorine, chlorine by-products, and taste and odor problems, is to filter it with granular activated carbon (GAC) or other suitable chemical-removing filter media.

      The municipalities are stuck. Environmental and public safety laws require most to maintain a chlorine residual throughout the entire water main delivery system. This is to retain some disinfecting properties in the event of groundwater infiltration and other contaminations. Barking at your local water company or water department about the taste and odor will accomplish nothing. Chances are, they’re doing their best, and meeting the laws. The most practical solution to the problem is to take it back out at the “point of use” (POU) — your own home or office.

Environmental Systems Distributing
Sunday, 20 February, 2000, The Electronic Telegraph, London, England
An independent study into the use of chlorine-treated drinking water has been ordered by the Government because of fears that it may cause spina bifida and stillbirths.

Scientists from Imperial College, London University, will carry out the research after doctors in Norway, Canada and the United States reported higher levels of birth defects in areas where chlorine is used, compared with drinking water treated by alternative methods. All of Britain’s water companies chlorinate their supplies. The only people who have non-chlorinated water are those with their own bore holes or wells.

A Norwegian study of 141,000 births over three years found a 14 per cent increased risk of birth defects in areas with chlorinated water. Scientists have already found an association between chlorine and an increased risk of bowel, kidney and bladder cancer, but it is the first time that a link has been found with higher levels of spina bifida.

Last night the Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association said it was “concerned” by the findings and would be discussing them with medical advisers before considering making representations to the Government. British water industry experts have not dismissed the findings but said that the safety benefits of purification outweigh the risks of birth defects.

Dr Per Magnus, who carried out the Norwegian research, said: “This is an important finding because we know there are chemicals released by the action of chlorine on organic particles at treatment works. We have observed mutations in these chemicals which seem to tie up with mutations that are found in babies. We were in a unique position in Norway to make these observations because in some areas our water comes from the mountains and doesn’t require cleaning with chlorine.”

The Norwegian government has ordered more research. Concerned families there have been filtering tap water. A popular method has been to place sachets of coral sand, dredged from fjords, into water before it is drunk, removing all traces of chlorine in tap water in 15 minutes. In Canada, at Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, researchers found that high levels of trihalomethanes, a by-product of chlorine in drinking water, significantly increased the risk of stillbirth.

Dr John Marshall, of the Pure Water Association, a pressure group which has been campaigning for safer drinking water, said: “It shows we should be paying more attention to the chemicals we put in drinking water and be looking for other alternatives to chlorination. A number of safe, non-toxic options exist, such as treating water with the gas ozone or ultra violet.”

Chlorine is in the same chemical group as fluoride, which has been linked with cancer and osteoporosis. There is also a connection between fluoride and increased blood pressure and an increase in problems with the thyroid gland. John Fawell, a leading specialist on water quality, and an independent industry consultant, said the British Government and water companies were taking the danger of birth defects seriously. He said: “The people who have done this work in Norway and the United States are reputable researchers and the Government and water companies have commissioned their own research from London University.

“But at present the conclusion of the World Health Organization and other concerned bodies is that the risk from contaminated water supplies outweighs the risk to health from chlorine. Levels of chlorine and its by-products have been falling in water and the amount coming out of the average tap is half a milliliter per liter.”

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C.     Environment: Top 11 compounds in US drinking water
12 January 2009 by Rowan Hooper
<http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16397-top-11-compounds-in-us-drinking-water.html&gt;

A comprehensive survey of the drinking water for more than 28 million Americans has detected the widespread, but low-level presence of pharmaceuticals and hormonally active chemicals.
[Photo at left: Our image of the kind of polluted water you might expect to find under the worst conditions in a 3rd World rcountry. We need to realize it’s not just how water looks that idicates it’s not healthy. Tap water in the USA looks clean and pure, but in large percent of the country, various types and concentrations of chemicals are in our drinking water. Chemicals that we can’t see it or taste. Think of this in the same way as nuclear radiation, we can’t see it or taste it, but a slightly higher doases over a number of years can injure you, or in the case of ‘high tech’ chemicals in the water, can disrupt activities in your body’s biochemistry causing premature illness, disability and a reduction in your quality of life over the long term.  lfp]

Little was known about people’s exposure to such compounds from drinking water, so Shane Snyder and colleagues at the Southern Nevada Water Authority in Las Vegas screened tap water from 19 US water utilities for 51 different compounds. The surveys were carried out between 2006 and 2007.

The 11 most frequently detected compounds – all found at extremely low concentrations – were:
•  Atenolol, a beta-blocker used to treat cardiovascular disease
•  Atrazine, an organic herbicide banned in the European Union, but still used in the US, which has been implicated in the decline of fish stocks and in changes in animal behaviour
•  Carbamazepine, a mood-stabilising drug used to treat bipolar disorder, amongst other things
•  Estrone, an oestrogen hormone secreted by the ovaries and blamed for causing gender-bending changes in fish
•  Gemfibrozil, an anti-cholesterol drug
•  Meprobamate, a tranquiliser widely used in psychiatric treatment
•  Naproxen, a painkiller and anti-inflammatory linked to increases in asthma incidence
•  Phenytoin, an anticonvulsant that has been used to treat epilepsy
•  Sulfamethoxazole, an antibiotic used against the Streptococcus bacteria, which is responsible for tonsillitis and other diseases
•  TCEP, a reducing agent used in molecular biology
•  Trimethoprim, another antibiotic

The concentrations of pharmaceuticals in drinking water were millions of times lower than in a medical dose, and Snyder emphasises that they pose no public health threat. He cautions, though, that “if a person has a unique health condition, or is concerned about particular contaminants in public water systems, I strongly recommend they consult their physician”.

Christian Daughton of the EPA’s National Exposure Research Laboratory says that neither this nor other recent water assessments give cause for health concern. “But several point to the potential for risk – especially for the fetus and those with severely compromised health.”

Daughton says the contamination surveys help people realize how they are intimately and inseparably connected with their environment. “The occurrence of pharmaceuticals in the environment also serves to make us acutely aware of the chemical sea that surrounds us,” he says.

Modern life
While the US government regulates the levels of pathogens in US drinking water, there are no rules for pharmaceuticals and other compounds, apart from one: the herbicide atrazine. The atrazine levels measured by Snyder and colleagues were well within federal limits.
Snyder says water utilities could make drinking water purer. But the costs of “extreme purification” – far beyond what is needed for safety alone – are huge in terms of increased energy usage and carbon footprint. Ultra-pure water might not even be safe, adds Snyder.
The widespread occurrence of pharmaceuticals and endocrine disruptors reflects improved detection techniques, rather than greater pollution, says Snyder. Contamination is a fact of modern life, he adds.
“As we continue to populate and aggregate, our wastes will certainly accumulate where we live,” he says. “We as a species have decided to live a modern life, with pharmaceuticals, plastics, transportation – therefore we must accept that there will be a certain degree of contamination.”
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D.     Pharmaceuticals and ther Contaminants in Our Drinking Water?
http://health-compendium.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=121&Itemid=9
We can’t live without water…, tainted water may not seem like a big deal now, and without sounding to much like an alarmist it is an issue that will eventually affect all of us if something isn’t done soon (if it isn’t already). The issue of contaminants in the water that we drink has come to light lately in the press, and whether you believe the news or not, it is really an insidious detriment to society.

The reality of the situation is that we are completely dependent on water to survive; however we have a tendency to take this fact for granted. It is yet another environmental issue that lies just under the medical radar, and isn’t taken seriously because many ‘so called’ experts say we should not be concerned. Then there are the political issues; if the scientists that worked for the government and water treatment plants all over the U.S. let on as to how big an issue this is, there would be wide spread panic.
•  With that said; just to let you know how big a problem this is, contaminants such as pharmaceuticals and other chemicals in our drinking water has been shown to affect 41 million people that live in the U.S. Many of the largest cities in the country have reported that their water has been found to contain everything from antibiotics to anti-depressants, birth control pills, seizure medication, cancer treatment meds, hormones, pain killers, tranquilizers and derivatives of cholesterol-lowering compounds. This is only the tip of the iceberg, because when these meds come in contact with the chlorine that is already in the water, there is evidence that they become even more toxic than their original form.
•  These public water statistics are those that can be quantified because they are being extracted from documentation that comes from cities that keep these kinds of records. What about the folks that get their water from wells; this water isn’t filtered or treated in any way and therefore may contain higher concentrations of the above contaminants. So, where do these toxins come from, who is dumping them into the ecosystem? Well, the answer is fairly clear. Most of what is ending up in the system comes from the pharmaceutical industry, hospitals and millions of households around the country. When people are done with meds that they have not used up, they many times dispose of them by flushing what is left down the toilet, the other way they end up in circulation is by being excreted from the body as waste into the toilet, which then gets re-circulated in the water table. Most of these drugs pass through conventional sewage treatment facilities intact, and get re-deposited back into streams, lakes and even underground aquifers. The same goes for meds that have been tossed into the garbage, these pharmaceuticals often end up in dumps and landfills, and eventually again end up in our ground water. When researchers tested water from remote streams, they really didn’t expect to find much, but instead found as many as sixty different common pharmaceuticals…this really is shocking. The drugs they identified ranged from lipid-lowering drugs, antiseptics, antibiotics, beta-blockers, analgesics and contrast agents used to process X rays.
•  The information provided above has only touched on what comes from humans; the ‘other side of the coin’ are the hormones and other drugs that get deposited back into the environment as they are excreted from animals. Farm animals are also a source of contamination because they are injected with a host of drugs, and the rest they consume. An unknown fact is that approximately forty percent of the antibiotics used in the U.S. are fed to farm animals to increase yields. Many of the pharmaceuticals these animals excrete end up back in the ground water that surrounds many of our largest cities.
•  The above discusses only the pharmaceuticals, but there is much more to the story. Now take into account the millions of gallons of personal care products that people worldwide use every day, that end up in our bath water, septic tanks and sewage treatment plants. These chemicals are the active ingredients in soaps, toilet/shower cleaners, and shampoo’s which include an array of ingredients too long to list here. All of these also have a direct impact on the environment. Should we even talk about the pesticides, fertilizers and chemicals that are used on farms, in home gardens and those discarded by industry? It is mind boggling…

      There has been a considerable amount of press on this subject that has been printed lately, and some scientific organizations are just now starting to take note. However, much of what is being found isn’t getting much traction. You see; since a direct correlation between what is being found in the water that we are drinking can’t be directly tied to causing any specific disease, no one in a position of authority seems to want to take this issue on. It is really all about money, since there isn’t any monetary gain to be garnered from testing for these contaminants; it is difficult to get funding to do what is needed to make the case against the contamination that is on going.

      Some will say that these toxins were found only in trace amounts, which are in the parts per million or even lower range. This may be true, but what they don’t tell you is that many of these drugs are fat soluble and they will accumulate in the body over time. And if you are already taking some of these meds to treat a disease, ingesting extra amounts from external sources, even in small amounts can be toxic. This brings up the subject of antibiotic resistance; this occurs when the system becomes resistant to certain types and therefore doesn’t protect the body from what it is supposed to. Virus’s also become resistant to some drugs after long term exposure, they then mutate and the drugs no longer perform as they are supposed to.

      What is really disconcerting is that these contaminants also make their way into the food table, that is in fish and any other wild life that drink tainted waters, it can become concentrated in their bodies and then when ‘they’ are eaten as food, the recipient gets a much more concentrated dose than they would even get from water. So, you can see that it isn’t as simple as the people in charge make it out to be. When young girls start having their periods at age ten, and young boys start to appear with what is known as gynocomastia (man breasts), this is a problem and it is happening more and more each year. This doesn’t take into account the idiopathic pathologies that manifest in millions of people that the medical profession can’t treat, because they don’t make the connection between the environmental issue and the pathology that the patient is presenting with.

      So, you have to be the judge as to whether this is an issue for you and your children, you should read everything you can get your hands on that discusses this subject so you can make an educated decision. The only way that you can protect yourself as of right now is to purchase a reverse osmosis filtration system; this is the only sure way to ensure your drinking water is safe to consume. If you listen to the officials that claim there isn’t an problem, and that their treatment plants meet government standards for safety, well the standard right now really isn’t set up to show what levels are of concern, mostly because they claim it isn’t an issue to begin with. And even if it did, to filter and treat water at this level would cost millions, and no one wants to pick up the tab for that.

So, until such time that science can show that this issue can be tied directly to large groups of people manifesting a certain disease, those that are suffering from exposure and are presenting in the doctor’s office with sub-clinical symptoms that most doctors do not know how to treat or test for…,they will have to suffer. In the mean time, we will have to take charge and fend for ourselves. When it is all said and done though, your best defense is to drink clean water to start with.

Continued in Survival Manual/Social Issues/Modern Air & Water, Part 3 of 3.

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Modern Air & Water, Part 1 of 3

(Survival Manual/2. Social Issues/ Death by 1000 cuts/ Modern Air & Water)

Modern Air & Water topics:
1.  Air pollution (it hasn’t gone away) .
2.  Water, with chlorine, fluorine, pharmaceuticals and more.
3.  Berkey water purification system, Royal model
4.  Mercury in food & vaccines
5.  Synopsis: Pollution causes 40% of worldwide deaths

1.    Air pollution

[Above: US Air Quality maps present a visual picture of air quality for more than 3,000 US counties. This map shows United States air quality by county.]

 [Above: The global map of air pollution compares closely with this map of Gross Domestic Product Density.]

[Above: When the dominant airflow came from south and east Asia, the scientists saw the largest increases in   ozone measurements. When airflow patterns were not directly from Asia, ozone still increased but at a lower rate, indicating the possibility that emissions from other places could be contributing to the ozone increases above North America. The study used springtime ozone measurements because previous studies have shown that air transport from Asia to North America is strongest in spring, making it easier to discern possible effects of distant   pollution on the North American ozone trends.
We’re All In This Together: I think the take home message here isn’t so much that Asian pollution is affecting the US, but rather that the Earth is a closed system (well, not literally, but when it comes to pollution, it mostly is) and what happens in one place has impact on other places.
A lot of that pollution coming from Asia was created because goods bought by people in the US were manufactured there. A lot of pollution from the US affects other countries  (f.ex., coal plant emissions going up to Canada). It’s not about pointing fingers, but about cleaning up the whole system. We can’t expect that we can simply ship off polluting industries elsewhere forever; developing countries won’t accept that indefinitely, and once they get out of poverty they’ll also   be interested in clean air/water/soil, but also, political borders don’t matter to the atmosphere and the oceans.]
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A.     Smog – Who does it hurt?
What You Need to Know About Ozone and Your Health
Airnow, http://www.airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=smog.page1
In fact, breathing smoggy air can be hazardous because smog contains ozone, a pollutant that can harm our health when there are elevated levels in the air we breathe. This publication will tell you what kinds of health effects ozone can cause, when you should be concerned, and what you can do to avoid dangerous exposures.

On a hot, smoggy summer day, have you ever wondered:
Is the air safe to breathe? Should I be concerned about going outside?

What is ozone?
Ozone is a colorless gas composed of three atoms of oxygen. Ozone occurs both in the Earth’s upper atmosphere and at ground level. Ozone can be good or bad, depending on where it is found:
•  Good Ozone. Ozone occurs naturally in the Earth’s upper atmosphere-10 to 30 miles above the Earth’s surface-where it forms a protective layer that shields us from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. This “good” ozone is gradually being destroyed by manmade chemicals. An area where ozone has been most significantly depleted-for example, over the North or South pole-is sometimes called a “hole in the ozone.”
•  Bad Ozone. In the Earth’s lower atmosphere, near ground level, ozone is formed when pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, industrial boilers, refineries, chemical plants, and other sources react chemically in the presence of sunlight.

Should you be concerned about exposure to ground-level ozone?
That depends on who you are and how much ozone is in the air. Most people only have to worry about ozone exposure when ground-level concentrations reach high levels. In many U.S. communities, this can happen frequently during the summer months. In general, as ground-level ozone concentrations increase, more and more people experience health effects, the effects become more serious, and more people are admitted to the hospital everyone should be concerned about ozone exposure. Children and adults of all ages who are active outdoors are at risk from ozone exposure.

Scientists have found that about one out of every three people in the United States is at a higher risk of experiencing ozone-related health effects. If you are a member of a “sensitive group,” you should pay special attention to ozone levels in your area. z
This publication describes several tools that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in partnership with State and local agencies, has developed to inform the public about local ozone levels. These tools provide the information you need to decide whether ozone levels on any particular day may be harmful to you. When ozone concentrations reach unhealthy levels, you can take simple precautions to protect your health.

[Above: This photo shows a healthy lung air way (left) and an inflamed lung air way (right). Ozone can inflame the lung’s lining, and repeated episodes of inflammation may cause permanent changes in the lung.]

How might ozone affect your health?
Scientists have been studying the effects of ozone on human health for many years. So far, they have found that ozone can cause several types of short-term health effects in the lungs:
•  Ozone can irritate the respiratory system. When this happens, you might start coughing, feel an irritation in your throat, and/or experience an uncomfortable sensation in your chest. These symptoms can last for a few hours after ozone exposure and may even become painful.
•  Ozone can reduce lung function. When scientists refer to “lung function,” they mean the volume of air that you draw in when you take a full breath and the speed at which you are able to blow it out. Ozone can make it more difficult for you to breathe as deeply and vigorously as you normally would. When this happens, you may notice that breathing starts to feel uncomfortable. If you are exercising or working outdoors, you may notice that you are taking more rapid and shallow breaths than normal. Reduced lung function can be a particular problem for outdoor workers, competitive athletes, and other people who exercise outdoors.
•  Ozone can aggravate asthma. When ozone levels are high, more asthmatics have asthma attacks that require a doctor’s attention or the use of additional medication. One reason this happens is that ozone makes people more sensitive to allergens, which are the most common triggers for asthma attacks. (Allergens come from dust mites, cockroaches, pets, fungus, and pollen.) Also, asthmatics are more severely affected by the reduced lung function and irritation that ozone causes in the respiratory system.
•  Ozone can inflame and damage the lining of the lung. Some scientists have compared ozone’s effect on the lining of the lung to the effect of sunburn on the skin. Ozone damages the cells that line the air spaces in the lung. Within a few days, the damaged cells are replaced and the old cells are shed-much in the way that skin peels after a sunburn. If this kind of damage occurs repeatedly, the lung may change permanently in a way that could cause long-term health effects and a lower quality of life.
•  Scientists suspect that ozone may have other effects on people’s health. Ozone may aggravate chronic lung diseases, such as emphysema and bronchitis.
•  Also, studies in animals suggest that ozone may reduce the immune system’s ability to fight off bacterial infections in the respiratory system.

Most of these effects are considered to be short-term effects because they eventually cease once the individual is no longer exposed to elevated levels of ozone. However, scientists are concerned that repeated short-term damage from ozone exposure may permanently injure the lung. For example, repeated ozone impacts on the developing lungs of children may lead to reduced lung function as adults. Also, ozone exposure may speed up the decline in lung function that occurs as a natural result of the aging process. Research is underway to help us better understand the possible long-term effects of ozone exposure.

Who is most at risk from ozone?
Four groups of people, described below, are particularly sensitive to ozone. These groups become sensitive to ozone when they are active outdoors, because physical activity (such as jogging or outdoor work) causes people to breathe faster and more deeply. During activity, ozone penetrates deeper into the parts of the lungs that are more vulnerable to injury. Sensitive groups include:
1)   Children. Active children are the group at highest risk from ozone exposure. Such children often spend a large part of their summer vacation outdoors, engaged in vigorous activities either in their neighborhood or at summer camp. Children are also more likely to have asthma or other respiratory illnesses. Asthma is the most common chronic disease for children and may be aggravated by ozone exposure.
2)   Adults who are active outdoors. Healthy adults of all ages who exercise or work vigorously outdoors are considered a “sensitive group” because they have a higher level of exposure to ozone than people who are less active outdoors.
3)   People with respiratory diseases, such as asthma. There is no evidence that ozone causes asthma or other chronic respiratory disease, but these diseases do make the lungs more vulnerable to the effects of ozone. Thus, individuals with these conditions will generally experience the effects of ozone earlier and at lower levels than less sensitive individuals.
4)   People with unusual susceptibility to ozone. Scientists don’t yet know why, but some healthy people are simply more sensitive to ozone than others. These individuals may experience more health effects from ozone exposure than the average person.

Scientists have studied other groups to find out whether they are at increased risk from ozone. So far there is little evidence to suggest that either the elderly or people with heart disease have heightened sensitivity to ozone. However, like other adults, elderly people will be at higher risk from ozone exposure if they suffer from respiratory disease, are active outdoors, or are unusually susceptible to ozone as described above.

How can you tell if you’re being affected by ozone?
Often, people exposed to ozone experience recognizable symptoms, including coughing, irritation in the airways, rapid or shallow breathing, and discomfort when breathing or general discomfort in the chest. People with asthma may experience asthma attacks. When ozone levels are higher than normal, any of these symptoms may indicate that you should minimize the time spent outdoors, or at least reduce your activity level, to protect your health until ozone levels decline.

Ozone damage also can occur without any noticeable signs. Sometimes there are no symptoms, or sometimes they are too subtle to notice. People who live in areas where ozone levels are frequently high may find that their initial symptoms of ozone exposure go away over time-particularly when exposure to high ozone levels continues for several days. This does not mean that they have developed resistance to ozone. In fact, scientists have found that ozone continues to cause lung damage even when the symptoms have disappeared. The best way to protect your health is to find out when ozone levels are elevated in your area and take simple precautions to minimize exposure even when you don’t feel obvious symptoms.

How can I find out about ozone levels in my area?
EPA and State and local air agencies have developed a number of tools to provide people with information on local ozone levels, their potential health effects, and suggested activities for reducing ozone exposure.

Air Quality Index. EPA has developed the Air Quality Index, or AQI, for reporting the levels of ozone and other common air pollutants. The index makes it easier for the public to understand the health significance of air pollution levels. Air quality is measured by a nationwide monitoring system that records concentrations of ozone and several other air pollutants at more than a thousand locations across the country. EPA “translates” the pollutant concentrations to the standard AQI index, which ranges from 0 to 500. The higher the AQI value for a pollutant, the greater the danger. An AQI value of 100 usually corresponds to the national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) for the pollutant. These standards are established by EPA under the Clean Air Act to protect public health and the environment.

The AQI scale has been divided into distinct categories, each corresponding to a different level of health concern. In the table below, the AQI ranges are shown in the middle column and the associated air quality descriptors are shown in the right column. The left column shows the ozone concentrations, measured in parts per million (ppm), that correspond to each category.

Though the AQI scale extends to 500, levels above 300 rarely occur in the United States. This publication and most other references to the AQI do not list health effects and cautionary statements for levels above 300. If ozone levels above 300 should ever occur, everyone should avoid physical exertion outdoors.

When pollutant levels are high, states are required to report the AQI in large metropolitan areas (populations over 350,000) of the United States. You may see the AQI for ozone reported in your newspaper, or your local television or radio weathercasters may use the AQI to provide information about ozone in your area. Here’s the type of report you might hear:

 AQI Colors. To make it easier for the public to quickly understand the air quality in their communities, EPA has assigned a specific color to each AQI category. You will see these colors when the AQI is reported in a color format-such as in a color-print newspaper, on television broadcasts, or on your State or local air pollution agency’s web site. This color scheme can help you quickly determine whether air pollutants are reaching unhealthy levels in your area. For example, the color orange means that conditions are “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” the color red means that conditions are “unhealthy” for everyone, and so on.

This map shows ozone  levels in the south central United States on May 15, 2011. Ozone maps are updated several times daily to show how ozone levels change throughout the day.

Ozone Maps. In many areas of the country, measurements of ozone concentrations are converted into color contours of the AQI categories (green, yellow, orange, red, and purple, shown above) and displayed on a map (see example below) to show ozone levels in the local area. The map is updated throughout the day and shows how ozone builds during hot summer days. In some areas, ozone maps are used to show a forecast of ozone levels for the next day.

What can I do to avoid unhealthy exposure to ozone?
You can take a number of steps. The chart below, Health Effects and Protective Actions for Specific Ozone Ranges,” tells you what types of health effects may occur at specific ozone concentrations and what you can do to avoid them. If you are a parent, keep in mind that your children are likely to be at higher risk, particularly if they are active outdoors. You may therefore want to pay special attention to the guidance.

In general, when ozone levels are elevated, your chances of being affected by ozone increase the longer you are active outdoors and the more strenuous the activity you engage in. Scientific studies show that:
•  At ozone levels above 0.12 ppm, heavy outdoor exertion for short periods of time (1 to 3 hours) can increase your risk of experiencing respiratory symptoms and reduced lung function.
•  At ozone levels between 0.08 and 0.12 ppm, even moderate outdoor exertion for longer periods of time (4 to 8 hours) can increase your risk of experiencing ozone-related effects.

EPA recommends limiting outdoor activities as ozone levels rise to unhealthy levels. You can limit the amount of time you are active outdoors or your activity level. For example, if you’re involved in an activity that requires heavy exertion, such as running or heavy manual labor, you can reduce the time you spend on this activity or substitute another activity that requires less exertion (e.g., go for a walk rather than a jog). In addition, you can plan outdoor activities when ozone levels are lower, usually in the early

Health Effects and Protective Actions for Specific Ozone Ranges
Ozone Level:
1. Good:   What are the possible health effects?  No health effects are expected.
2.  Moderate: What are the possible health effects? Unusually sensitive individuals may experience respiratory effects from prolonged exposure to ozone during outdoor exertion.
What can I do to protect my health?  When ozone levels are in the “moderate” range, consider limiting prolonged outdoor exertion if you are unusually sensitive to ozone.
3. Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups:  What are the possible health effects? If you are a member of a sensitive group,(1) you may experience respiratory symptoms (such as coughing or pain when taking a deep breath) and reduced lung function, which can cause some breathing discomfort.
What can I do to protect my health?  If you are a member of a sensitive group, limit prolonged outdoor exertion. In general, you can protect your health by reducing how long or how strenuously you exert yourself outdoors and by planning outdoor activities when ozone levels are lower (usually in the early morning or evening). You can check with your State air agency to find out about current or predicted ozone levels in your location.
4. Unhealthy:  What are the possible health effects?  If you are a member of a sensitive group, you have a higher chance of experiencing respiratory symptoms (such as aggravated cough or pain when taking a deep breath), and reduced lung function, which can cause some breathing difficulty. At this level, anyone could experience respiratory effects.
What can I do to protect my health?  If you are a member of a sensitive group, avoid prolonged outdoor exertion. Everyone else-especially children-should limit prolonged outdoor exertion. Plan outdoor activities when ozone levels are lower (usually in the early morning or evening).  You can check with your State air agency to find out about current or predicted ozone levels in your location.
5. Very Unhealthy:  What are the possible health effects? Members of sensitive groups will likely experience increasingly severe respiratory symptoms and impaired breathing. Many healthy people in the general population engaged in moderate exertion will experience some kind of effect. According to EPA estimates, approximately:
– Half will experience moderately reduced lung function.
– One-fifth will experience severely reduced lung function.
– 10 to 15 percent will experience moderate to severe respiratory symptoms (such as aggravated cough and pain when taking a deep breath).
People with asthma or other respiratory conditions will be more severely affected, leading some to increase medication usage and seek medical attention at an emergency room or clinic.
What can I do to protect my health?  If you are a member of a sensitive group, avoid outdoor activity altogether. Everyone else especially children should limit outdoor exertion and avoid heavy exertion altogether. This information on ozone levels is available on the Internet at http://www.epa.gov/airnow.

What does exertion have to do with ozone-related health effects?
Exercise and outdoor activities can play an important role in maintaining good health. Physical exertion helps build up strength in the heart and lungs. But exerting yourself outdoors can actually increase your chances of experiencing health effects when ozone concentrations are at unhealthy levels. Why is this true? Think of it this way: Exertion generally causes you to breathe harder and faster. When this happens, more ozone is taken into your lungs, and ozone reaches tissues that are susceptible to injury. Research has shown that respiratory effects are observed at lower ozone concentrations if either the level or duration of exertion is increased. This is why EPA recommends decreasing the level or duration of exertion to avoid ozone health effects.

Examples of typical daily activities that involve moderate exertion include climbing stairs, light jogging, easy cycling, playing tennis or baseball, and stacking firewood. Outdoor occupational activities such as simple construction work, pushing a wheelbarrow with a load, using a sledgehammer, or digging in your garden, would also involve moderate exertion. Activities that involve heavy exertion include vigorous running or cycling, playing basketball or soccer, chopping wood, and heavy manual labor. Because fitness levels vary widely among individuals, what is moderate exertion for one person may be heavy exertion for another. No matter how fit you are, cutting back on the level or duration of exertion when ozone levels are high will help protect you from ozone’s harmful effects.

 What can you do to reduce ozone levels?
Ground-level ozone is created when certain pollutants, known as “ozone precursors,” react in heat and sunlight to form ozone. Cars and other vehicles are the largest source of ozone precursors. Other important sources include industrial facilities, power plants, gasoline-powered mowers, and evaporation of cleaners, paints, and other chemicals.

We can all help reduce ozone levels by taking the following steps:
•     Drive less. For example, instead of using a car, you may want to walk, use mass transit, or ride a bike.
•     Carpool.
•     Make sure your car is well-tuned. Take care not to spill gasoline when you fill the tank of your car or lawn or recreation equipment.
•     Make sure that you tightly seal the lids of chemical products-such as solvents, garden chemicals, or household cleaners-to keep evaporation to a minimum.
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B.   Air and Water Pollution an Increasing Threat to Human Life
Did you know: about 2 million premature deaths are caused each year due to air pollution in cities across the world? And over a billion people in the world do not have access to clean water?
Despite attempts by the United States and other countries to regulate air and water quality, pollution continues to present a major global problem. If not fully addressed over the next few decades, air and water pollution will continue to worsen the environment and endanger other living organisms.
It will also harm our health and ultimately threaten the existence of the human species.

Attempts to Regulate Air and Water Quality
The United States began regulating air and water quality several decades ago. While Congress began passing air pollution laws as early as 1955, The Clean Air Act of 1970 was the first legislation to establish comprehensive federal and state regulations that limited emissions from both stationary and mobile sources.
The Clean Water Act, enacted two years later, called for the restoration and maintenance of the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s waters.

The Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act have greatly improved environmental quality in the U.S.
These acts have greatly improved environmental quality in the U.S. For example, the six most common air pollutants have decreased by more than 50 percent, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, while air toxics from large industrial sources, such as chemical plants, petroleum refineries, and paper mills have been reduced by nearly 70 percent. New cars are more than 90 percent cleaner than they were in the 1970s, and production of most ozone-depleting chemicals has ceased. (Ceased in the USA, remember we transferred our most polluting industries-steel making to China, along with a lot of other manufacturing. lfp)
The rate at which wetlands are lost has declined some 90 percent since the early 1970s, and the amount of oil spilled annually into our waters has fallen to one-tenth of the level that once prevailed.

Worldwide Population Growth is Outstripping many of these gains
While substantial progress has been made, our worldwide population continues to grow, putting added pressures on the planet. The earth’s population has doubled from 3.3 billion to 6.7 billion in the last 40 years, and is expected to reach 9 million by the year 2040.

In the U.S. alone, energy consumption has increased by 50 percent since the 1970s, and vehicle use has increased by almost 200 percent, contributing to ever higher levels of pollutants in our air and water. 

Air Pollution Causes Global Health Risk
Studies have found that the risk of lung cancer and heart disease increases along with the level of air pollution. According to one study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, the risk of lung cancer death went up by 8 percent for every 10 micrograms of fine particles in a cubic meter of air.
Air pollution is usually concentrated in densely populated metropolitan areas, especially in developing countries where environmental regulations are lax or non-existent. For example, in China, which has all 10 of the 10 most polluted cities of the world, air pollution is believed to cause 1.75 million premature deaths per year.

[Photos above: Beijing, China, air on a day after rain (left) and a sunny but otherwise smoky day (right)]

Even in cities across the U.S., air pollution is taking a toll on human life. For example, a recent study of the health impacts and associated costs of air pollution in the Los Angeles Basin and the San Joaquin Valley found that if Federal air standards were being followed the savings would be about 3,800 fewer premature deaths among those age 30 and older; 1.2 million fewer days of school absences; 2 million fewer days of respiratory problems in children; 467,000 fewer lost days of work and 2,700 fewer hospital admissions in the state of California alone.
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C.  The Major Sources of Air and Water Pollution
So what exactly causes our air and water to become contaminated? There are many sources of air and water pollution, both direct and indirect. These include emissions from power plants and factories; sewage and storm water runoff; oil pollution and motor vehicle exhaust; pesticides, fertilizers and chemical solvents; litter that makes its way into our waterways; and military weaponry.

Power Plant and Factory pollution release tons of toxic chemicals each year
Every year U.S. factories release over 3 million tons of toxic chemicals into the land, air and water. This hazardous waste causes us to lose over 15 million acres of land annually, and leads to respiratory complications and other health problems. It also makes our rivers and lakes too polluted for us to swim in and drink.

Power plants, especially coal-fired plants, are a major source of air pollution. Despite the fact that coal is responsible for nearly 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S., coal-fired plants continue to be used for about half of all electricity in the U.S, according to the Sierra Club’s Dirty Truth report.

[Photo at left: The Amos coal powered electric plant at Winfield, WV]

Other industries, too, including paper mills, chemical companies, mining companies and manufacturing firms emit acidifying gases such as sulphur oxide and dioxide, carbon monoxide and dioxide, nitrogen oxide into the air. During precipitation, rainwater dissolves these gases, lowering the pH level and becoming acid rain.
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D.     Other forms of air and surface pollution
•  Acid Rain is reducing fish populations and decreasing biodiversity
•  Acid rain falls into lakes and streams, reducing fish population and harming plants and other organisms. A survey by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that acid rain caused acidity in 75 percent of the acidic lakes and about 50 percent of the acidic streams, reducing fish populations and decreasing aquatic biodiversity.
•  Acid rain also damages trees and forests by harming their leaves, limiting the nutrients available to them, and exposing them to toxic substances slowly released from the soil. In addition, acid rain takes a toll on human health. Many scientific studies have identified a connection between acid rain and increased illness and premature death from heart and lung disorders, such as asthma and bronchitis, according to the EPA.
•  Sewage and storm water runoff are also major pollutants. Every year, 1.2 trillion gallons of untreated sewage, stormwater, and industrial waste are discharged into U.S. waters.
•  Sewage pollution costs Americans billions of dollars every year in medical treatment, lost productivity and property damage, according to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
•  Stormwater runoff, caused when precipitation from rain or snowmelt flows over impervious surfaces such as driveways, sidewalks, and streets, also presents a major problem. Along the way, stormwater can pick up oil from automobiles, pesticides, fertilizers from gardens, micro-organisms from animal waste, and other toxic substances, depositing them into our waterways, where they damage plants, fish, animals and people.
•  Stormwater runoff is among the top sources of water contamination in the country today, according to the NRDC.

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Oil Pollution and Motor Vehicle Exhaust are major sources of air and water pollution.
•  Another major pollutant is oil, which makes its way into the water from automobiles, ships, industrial sites and tanker spills.
•  Each year, more than 700 million gallons of oil end up in our oceans worldwide, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Roughly half results from used engine oil and oily road runoff, while about a fifth comes from bilge cleaning and other ship operations.
•  Other sources include air pollution from automobiles and industry, as well as oil spills due to major tanker accidents. Not only do motor vehicles leak oil; they produce a variety of emissions that can have negative effects on humans, plants, animals and the environment. Vehicle exhaust contributes up to 60 percent of carbon monoxide emissions in the U.S., and up to 95 percent in larger cities. Hydrocarbons, which are made up of unburned or partially burned fuel, are a major contributor to urban smog, and can cause liver damage and even cancer. Other motor vehicle pollutants include carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, particulates and sulfur oxide.

Agricultural Pesticides, Fertilizers and Chemical Solvents contaminate land and drinking water supplies
Pesticides, fertilizers and animal waste generated by the agricultural industry are another source of pollution. Americans use over 1 billion pounds of pesticides each year to control weeds, insects and other pests.
Pesticide contaminates land and water when it escapes from production sites and storage tanks, when it runs off from fields, when it is discarded, and when it is sprayed aerially. In a study by the U.S. Geological Service, one or more pesticides were detected in 90 percent of streams and 50 percent of wells that were sampled.
Pesticides have been shown to harm birds, fish and other aquatic life, and even amphibians. The use of pesticides also decreases the biodiversity of soil, reducing its quality over time.
In addition to pesticides and fertilizers, household products such as paints, paint strippers, and other solvents; wood preservatives; aerosol sprays; cleansers and disinfectants; insect repellents and air fresheners; stored fuels and automotive products; hobby supplies; and dry-cleaned clothing emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which may cause cancer in humans, depending on the amount and length of exposure.

 Litter especially plastics pollute our oceans and rivers
Every year, 15 billion pounds of plastic are produced in the U.S., while only 1 billion pounds are recycled, according to the non-profit Greenpeace. Some of this plastic ends up getting swept into the ocean, where it accumulates with other trash to form huge, swirling vortexes. For example, one huge vortex off the coast of Hawaii has now reached the size of Texas [See Post: Modern Air & Water,Part 2 of 3]. Animals often mistake the plastic for food, and die after ingesting the toxic chemicals contained within it.
Because plastic decomposes only very slowly, it remains in the ecosystem for decades. As the amount of trash increases in our oceans, it is creating a crisis of epic proportions.
An estimated 100,000 marine mammals and turtles are killed by plastic litter every year around the world. Large marine animals such as seals and dolphins sometimes starve to death when trapped by plastic litter.

 Chemical Weapons Production, Testing and Use leach into the soil and waterways
Chemical weapons also pose serious threats to the environment. Despite numerous efforts to reduce or eliminate chemical weapons, many nations continue to research and stockpile them.
To date, about 70 different chemicals have been used or stockpiled as chemical warfare agents by several countries ranging from the U.S. to Russia to Iran.
In addition, nuclear weapons release enormous amounts of radioactive materials when they are exploded during testing, while the production of nuclear weapons generates large quantities of waste material and contaminates surrounding areas.

Millions of gallons of Radioactive Waste has made its way into soil and water
In the U.S. alone, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) lists more than 4,500 contaminated sites.
Nuclear weapons production and energy research have generated “millions of gallons of radioactive waste, thousands of tons of spent nuclear fuel and special nuclear material, along with huge quantities of contaminated soil and water,” according to a five-year DOE environmental management plan.
Pollution from weapons programs has been associated with millions of deaths, most of them cancer-related. For example, a 2003 report by the European Committee of Radiation Risk, an international body made up of 30 independent scientists, concluded that pollution from nuclear energy and of exposures to global atmospheric weapons fallout accounted for 65 million deaths through the year 1989.

Continued in Survival Manual/ Social Issues/Modern Air & Water, Part 2 of 3.


[1] Members of sensitive groups include children who are active outdoors; adults involved in moderate or strenuous outdoor activities; individuals with respiratory disease, such as asthma; and individuals with unusual susceptibility to ozone.

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 60,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 22 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Our Future, Part 4 of 4

(Survival Manual/2. Social Issues/Our Future, Part 4 of 4)

Section VII  considers reactions to the Energy Descent Scenarios

A.  Global and Local Perspectives
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/32/47/>
The scenarios as described are biased towards looking at the future for the billion or so relatively affluent persons who mostly live in the long industrialized nations mostly of Europe and North America but including Japan, Australia and New Zealand. For many people outside these countries the promise of benefits from global industrial culture are just that; promises. The general history tells of local and self reliant economies and communities decaying or collapsing as they are displaced by monetary economies, media and consumer ideologies. This is a process often associated with migration from rural to urban areas. The debate about the balance of benefits and disadvantages from these changes has been intense for thirty years.

Very few proponents or even critics of conventional economic development are yet considering energy descent scenarios, or the increased vulnerabilities to them which result from this loss of self reliance. Poor people crowded into barrios around super cities completely dependent on meager cash flows to maintain access to food and fuel are less able to provide for themselves when these systems fail. Five months in Latin America has given me cause to think deeply about these vulnerabilities that are already unfolding in many places where, compared to wages, fuel prices are ten times more than what they are in Australia.

It is not just the ability to cope with deprivation but more the pyscho-social capacity to accept life as it happens On the other hand one cannot experience life in many poorer countries without also considering how recent the changes have been. In many places people still know how to grow food and some cases can return to their home villages as soon as economic conditions suggest this will be more rewarding (even if it is only to labor on a relative’s farm) than hustling in the city for a dollar. Even when this is not possible, the sense of how resourceful and flexible people can be in what we might think extreme conditions, is a strength.

It is not just the ability to cope with deprivation but more the pyscho-social capacity to accept life as it happens without fixed expectation that lead to inevitable disappointment. While teaching a course in Mexico I was summarizing the energy descent scenarios session with reference to the house fire insurance analogy, that it was not necessary to believe your house would burn down to have fire insurance. The mostly middle class Mexicans laughed at my analogy because most Mexican homeowners don’t have fire insurance. It is this easy going acceptance of life that may be one of the characteristics that enables Mexicans to weather the storms that are surely coming.

In Australia many generations of steady growing affluence and high expectations have created a psychological and social brittleness.

On the other hand, in Australia and other long affluent countries, many generations of steady growing affluence and high expectations have created a psychological and social brittleness that suggests we may not weather the storms as well as we should. As a teenager I came to the conclusion that Australia was vulnerable to the attractions of fascism if and when social and economic conditions became much tougher. This early insight provided a foundation for the Brown Tech scenario.

In some nations, economic collapse and sustained conflict over the last few decades have simulated some aspects of energy descent. Most of the evidence is not good, with breakdown of law and order, food insecurity, falling life expectancy and mass migration. Russia, Argentina, Cuba, Zimbabwe and North Korea are examples of relatively affluent and industrialized countries that have experienced sustained conditions analogous to those possible from more general and global energy descent. An increasing amount of research and analysis within the Peak Oil network has focused on these countries to gain greater understanding of the hazards and opportunities of energy descent futures. Most notable is the Cuban experience that is remarkably positive and has provided a great boost to permaculture and other activists trying to show the opportunities from energy descent.

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B.  Cuba: Brown Tech, Green Tech or Earth Steward?
During the crisis of the “Special Period” in the early 1990’s the power of strong central government did not weaken, let alone fail. In some ways the government lead by Fidel Castro represents many of the elements of the Brown Tech world. On the other hand Cuba is not a very large country and can be considered as one bioregion with Havana as its capital so the scale of governance is more akin to that proposed for the Green Tech scenario. Further, many of the strategies for coping with the crisis from urban agriculture to bicycle and public transport are emblematic of the Green Tech scenario. Health and education statistics for Cuba also rule out the more severe conditions associated with Earth Steward, let alone Lifeboat. However while in Cuba in 2007 I became aware of some aspects of the crisis that did give insight into likely conditions in the more extreme scenarios.

During two trips in the countryside I observed extensive growth of Marabou (a spiny leguminous shrub) over large areas that appeared to have been farmland. The rapid spread occurred during the crisis and today cover about 20% of the farmland.  These species were previously common in the landscape mostly as a component of living fences and hedges. When the crisis hit, supplies of grains to feed the industrialized dairy industry collapsed and many of the dairy cows died in the dry season.

My hypothesis is that prior to dying, the cows would have eaten the dry pastures to bare ground and the living fences to sticks. The seeds of the Marabou consumed by the cows pass through in manure so in the succeeding wet season a complete crop of thorn shrubs would have emerged and dominated the recovering pastures. Despite the desperate need for food, the absence of fuel to plow the land for crops or resow pastures, allowed the shrubs to take over the land. This example illustrates how valuable resources can lie idyll in the face of desperate need.

The process of recovering the land from the thicket forests is a slow one even with better economic conditions but it also has produced benefits that are slow to be recognized. Increased carbon sequestration has been substantial and plant diversity and wildlife is increasing as the shrub legumes mature. The soil rejuvenating characteristics of these spiny legume shrubs may be building an asset that will be more valuable to Cuba as global energy descent begins to impact. Two low energy pathways to more productive and sustainable use of the land are possible. One is to use goats to reclaim the land back to pasture. Alternatively, accelerated succession to mixed food forest by selective seeding and planting could create agroforestry systems that continue to increase the woody biomass and food production both from fruit and nuts.

It is significant that both of these changes would require further changes in Cuban eating habits. This is connected to another sobering impression in the otherwise quite positive picture, that Cubans remained reluctant to change their traditional food habits even during the crisis and mostly have gone back to those habits after the crisis. The fact that a diet with less meat and dairy and a greater diversity of tropical vegetables, fruits and nuts could be more easily and sustainably produced will require continued efforts on many fronts and/or a longer cycle of deprivation to shift the deeply entrenched European food culture heritage in this tropical country.

Perhaps more relevant to countries with less government controls over the economy, Argentina provides some interesting examples of revitalization of local economies as central currencies and economies broke down, although most of these stopped once the monetary economy was re-established.

One of the uncertainties that emerges from reflecting on these examples of economic contraction is how different the situation will be when the dominant economic powers experience these problems. While this will create some more general global conditions it will also dramatically reduce the capacity to project power through globalization. Consequently we can expect conditions in local bioregions and nations to increasingly reflect the local resources, economy and culture, and be less driven by remote and global forces. As always this will precipitate new threats but also opportunities.

The next section considers how these scenarios can be both depressing and empowering, and can help us direct our energy towards positive change effectively.

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C.  Depressing and Positive Scenarios
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/48/67/>
Another reaction to the scenarios by some participants on courses is that the Brown Tech scenario seems a depressing but realistic assessment of the situation in many affluent countries while the Green Tech scenario looks more utopian and unrealistic, but one that could be almost be “sold” as a desirable future by Green parties of western democracies.

The argument that the distributed power provided by resurgent rural economies will ameliorate the centralized and inequitable structures that lead to the Brown Tech world may be seen as a weak one, especially for people who are suspicious of the concept that fundamental energy and resources drive economic, social and political systems. Similarly the relative positive nature of Earth Steward compared with Lifeboat is partly predicated on the distributed rather than concentrated nature of resources and wealth (and of course the gift of a relatively benign climate).

We can better shape our responses to each of the scenarios if we recognize the constraining forces that are beyond our control.

It is possible to see some good and bad potentials, depending in part on our philosophical bent, in all four scenarios. Perhaps as an act of faith in human values and maturity, I believe we can better shape our responses to each of the scenarios if as individuals and as communities and nations we recognize the constraining forces that are beyond our control. We can then consider how basic human values and needs can be sustained without wasting resources on projects or objectives that may have little chance of altering the fundamental dynamics of our world.

Of course this reaction can be seen as negative, defeatist or even contributing to the realization of these undesirable scenarios. In the ad hoc internet community of Peak Oil activism that has sprung up the last few years, the divide between the “doomers” and the “optimists” has been a notable one. Since 2005 the worsening evidence on climate change has led to more of the experts in that field moving towards a “doomer” perspective on the climate front. Part of the process of moving beyond this simplistic and mostly counterproductive debate, is to see some of the positive potentials that exist in energy descent scenarios.

Permaculture activism has a long history of being informed by a negative view of the state of the world. But these perspectives drive an optimistic opportunity-based response.

Permaculture activism has a long history of being informed by a negative view of the state of the world. But these perspectives drive an optimistic opportunity-based response that can empower people to creative action and adaption in the face of adversity. The fact that permaculture activists privately and even publicly look forward to some aspects of these scenarios may be seen by some as naive or even immoral. On the other hand, an increasing number of people around the world find permaculture an empowering focus for ethical and practical action.

My recent experience from presenting the Energy Descent scenarios in Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Cuba, Mexico and Argentina on permaculture courses as well as other gatherings of sustainability professionals, is that they can be very empowering, although I recognize the risk that they still pose, in triggering denial or depression and paralysis.

The next section considers how different regions look likely to tend towards different scenarios.

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D.  Different Scenarios in Different Places
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/46/68/>
Australia and New Zealand provide examples of two very similar affluent countries in the South Pacific that may already be on very different trajectories and that reflect the dynamics of these scenarios. As the previous Prime Minister John Howard, proclaimed, Australia is one of the new energy superpowers. This claim is supported by the fact that Australia is the largest global exporter of coal, one of the largest exporters of gas with the seventh largest reserves, and has the largest reserves of uranium as well as many other minerals.

Australia exhibits the essential conditions for the emergence of the Brown Tech scenario. On the other hand climate change modeling suggests Australia is perhaps the most vulnerable of OECD countries, a vulnerability highlighted by the recent and continuing drought. These are the essential conditions for the emergence of Brown Tech. The “debate” about nuclear power initiated by the Australian government and the rush to build desalination plants and super-pipelines to address the water crisis are emblematic of this trend. The change of federal government to the Labor Party is likely to further concentrate power at the federal level and could lead to a more rapid abandonment of free market capitalism, further entrenching the Brown Tech scenario.

New Zealand looks like a strong candidate for Green Tech. New Zealand on the other hand has very little in the way of minable energy and resources, but, relative to its population, has extremely rich biophysical resources to support agriculture, forestry and renewable energies. The local impacts of climate change are predicted to be much less severe, allowing New Zealand to take advantage of these distributed rural resources. This looks like a strong candidate for Green Tech.

Without going into a detailed analysis of the emerging trends in the Australian and New Zealand economies and politics, it is sufficient to say Australia and New Zealand have been diverging for some time. This suggests that these underlying differences between the energy and resource bases of these two countries may have been contributing to the emerging differences at the political and even the social levels.

The next section looks at how planning for these scenarios occurs at different scales.

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E.  Stepped Energy Descent Pathways Linking the Scenarios
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/51/73/>
As previously mentioned, energy descent may not be a continuous gradual process. Instead it could be characterized by an initial crisis that sets the conditions for a new order that is stable for some time before another crisis leads to further descent. The growth of energy and resultant technological complexity over the last two hundred years has involved varying rates of change, plateaus and even regressions during wars and depressions, but energy descent is likely to be much more variable than energy ascent. This is consistent with our common sense understanding that growth is a more consistent process than decline.

Natural ecosystems tend to maintain homeostasis under stress through the allocation of stored resources. If the conditions continue to deteriorate, then further stress can fracture the homeostasis. If the stress involves a reduction in energy availability, the system may collapse. But total collapse and system disintegration is rare, at least in the short term. More typically a re-stabilization at a lower level of energy processing and organizational complexity occurs. The new homeostasis will typically be stable for some time before declining energy availability precipitates another crisis. This may also be a model for how human societies respond to the crisis of resource and energy decline. It also makes sense that natural disasters, or a crisis such as war, rarely continue for very long but they shape the new state that emerges in their aftermath. If crisis does persist at an intense level for years then psychosocial systems reorganize around the crisis as the new normality.

The following conceptual graph shows these two pathways from Hubbert’s Peak of Oil (and net energy production). The discontinuities are periods of extreme crisis, conflict and/or breakdown. Each scenario represents a homeostasis that tends to be self-maintaining until further stress precipitates a further unraveling.

 ..

F.  Energy Descent Pathways
The red pathway is more extreme after continued growth leads to a precipitous drop through natural disasters, economic depression and/or war. Brown Tech emerges as the new world order allowing recovery and modest growth before further natural disasters/climate change and oil depletion precipitate another discontinuity leading to a Lifeboat world. The green pathway is less extreme with a lower peak and a gentler decline through the first discontinuity to the Green Tech scenario while the descent to Earth Steward is even more continuous driven by on-going depletion and decay of infrastructure from the Hubbert’s Peak and Green Tech worlds.

The chart also shows the relative levels of net energy availability per capita. This is much more speculative than the general concept of the stepwise descent or the relationships between the scenarios, because it depends on many variables. I’ve shown the Brown Tech and Lifeboat scenarios as processing more net energy per capita than the Green Tech and Earth Steward scenarios respectively. A range of factors contribute to this speculative maths, and hide some harsh realities. Depending on how net energy is understood and evaluated, a higher total energy base in Brown Tech may maintain greater organizational and technological complexity but Green Tech may be more energetically efficient at providing real human services.

A harsher discontinuity leading to Brown Tech may produce a higher death rate in the more urbanized populations while more severe controls on births may further reduce populations. The numbers of people the energy base needs to support strongly affects the per capita level so a higher per capita figure may reflect lower birth rates and/or higher death rates rather than a more energy rich society. Alternatively the lower death rate during the gentler discontinuity leading to Green Tech combined with a higher birth rate to tap the more distributed rural resources of the Green Tech world may result in overall higher populations. Although net energy per capita is lower, life may on average be better than in the Brown Tech scenario.

Similarly in the second discontinuity crisis, the death rate increases but more so in the red pathway to the Lifeboat. The lack of community capacity in the midst of massive material salvage opportunities, combine with the lower population, to deliver relatively high net energy per capita even though life is very harsh. The more abundant distributed renewable resources of the Earth Steward scenario leads to a higher birth rate (to tap those resources). Combined with the lower death rate, the higher overall population gives a very low net energy per capita. Efficient communitarian economies and a spiritual rather than material culture may make for higher wellbeing despite limited resources per person.

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G.  Nested Scenarios
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/34/29/>
Yet another way to consider these scenarios is as all emerging simultaneously one nested within the other. The following figure shows the scenarios nested with their associated organizational and energetic scale. This suggests that the four organizational levels represented by the scenarios from the household to the national will all be transformed as global systems weaken and contract but none will fail completely. In a sense this is implicit in each scenario in any case and resolves the difficulty in imagining the Earth Steward and Lifeboat scenarios with a complete absence of city and national level power structures even if their functions and influence are very weak or attenuated away from the centers of power.

In explaining this on the afore mentioned course in Mexico, I suggested that in the Earth Steward and Lifeboat scenarios there could still be a government in Mexico city issuing edicts, but that no one, outside the much reduced city, would hear or take any notice. Like the reaction to my insurance example, my Mexican students laughed and suggested that no one took any notice of the government in Mexico now. This humorous response actually reflects an ongoing process of fragmentation in Mexico where autonomous movements in some regions and drug lords in others already rival the central and state governments in the provision of security, extraction of taxes and provision of services.

It is natural for national governments and large corporations to implement the systems that characterize the Brown Tech scenario. The other reason for considering that aspects of all scenarios will simultaneously emerge in all regions is the structural commitment of each level of governance to systems that can work at their respective levels. It is natural for national governments and large corporations to implement the systems that characterize the Brown Tech scenario because these systems are commensurate with the organizational scale in which they work. Similarly it is natural for city and bioregional (state) governments to implement the somewhat more distributed, diverse and smaller scale systems of the Green Tech scenario. Middle sized business using regional resources and serving regional markets will naturally work to reinforce this scenario.

[Energy Descent Scenarios nested by scale of related system]

 Any planning for Lifeboats is mostly a private activity of people who lack total faith in the stability of our economy and society Following this logic we can see smaller forms of organization (small business and local government) could manage many of the strategies applicable to the Earth Steward scenario while the household or closed community is the natural level of organization to contemplate the Lifeboat scenario. This nested hierarchy of scenarios explains why any planning for Lifeboats is mostly a private activity of people who lack total faith in the stability of our economy and society. Similarly many community activists work towards strategies that level the playing field, develop communitarian cultures and would be potent in an Earth Steward world, just as earnest middle level managers and planners work towards the Green Tech world as the best progressive evolution from what we have. Many of the elite “movers and shakers”, often from long established wealthy families in affluent countries, who move between the upper levels of corporations, governments and global governance organizations, believe the Brown Tech world is the hard reality that must be worked with (although this can hardly be acknowledged publicly).

I think this is one of the most insightful and empowering ways to think about these scenarios because it helps us understand the apparent contradictions between different perspectives and motivations of different groups in society and even contradiction within our own thoughts and behaviors. For example, it is common for people to have private thoughts about the Lifeboats or perhaps Earth Steward futures, while most of people’s public behavior as workers and consumers reinforce Brown Tech or perhaps Green Tech. The private thoughts are often internally critiqued as anti-social or at least naïve, while the public actions are often internally critiqued as driven by powerful outside forces. This nested model can help us better integrate these different aspects of ourselves.

Section VIII – The assumptions of current mainstream sustainability
efforts and  their relevance within the four Energy Descent Scenarios.
  

A.  Relevance of Mainstream Sustainability to Energy Descent
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/47/69/>
Mainstream approaches to sustainability tend to assume stability if not expansion in the energy flows available to humanity even if there are major transitions in the nature of the energy sources. Consequently, continuity of many of the structures underpinning current social and economic systems is assumed.

For example, modern affluent urban life in a society dominated by service economies may be transformed by revolutions in efficiency but will remain the norm for future sustainable society. Further, it is widely assumed that food production and management of biological resources to provide for human needs will remain a minor part of future economies, and that geopolitical stability will allow globalised trade and other global governance regimes to become increasingly effective as instruments to establish sustainable systems.

These are not so different from the business as usual assumptions about constant growth, but they require not only herculean efforts to build a new energy infrastructure before energy becomes too expensive and unreliable, but also massively reducing our greenhouse gas emissions today, if not yesterday.

There is also the small problem of reforming the monetary system away from dependence on perpetual growth without inducing financial collapse. I say “small problem” with irony of course because growth in economic activity is essential to support the debt based currency which is the very foundation of our money and banking system stretching back to the beginnings of capitalism and its economic precursors.

For these reasons I feel the Techno Stability long-term future has even less prospects than the default future of Techno explosion. Maybe this also helps explain the deep resistance and antagonism in the centers of political and economic power to questioning of the logic of growth. Whether it comes from an ecological or sociological perspective questioning economic growth threatens the very basis of our economic system. The lip service to environmental sustainability – so long as it can maintain essential growth – reflects this understanding.

Consequently more idealistic notions of steady state green economics are automatically rejected as throwing the “baby out with the bathwater”. While I have been as critical of the concept of continuous economic growth as most environmentalists and scientists, I also recognize that attempts to avoid the ecological precipice by reducing economic growth could bring down the whole system just as Gorbachev’s Glasnost contributed to the unraveling of the Soviet system. The economic hard liners could be right. There is no way to stop the train of global industrial capitalism (other than by crashing).

[Relevance of Mainstream Sustainability to Energy Descent Scenarios]

Despite these doubts about the logic behind many mainstream approaches to sustainability, they have contributed greatly in spreading new environmental thinking. For example the Natural Step concept64aims to protect biophysical systems by creating closed loop industrial manufacturing through continual improvements in performance. It has been very influential in Scandinavia and has been adopted by some of the more progressive manufacturing corporations. Rapidly rising costs of energy and commodities will reinforce many of the Natural Step strategies but these will also increase the costs of adopting some of the more elaborate environmental technologies that have been used to ensure no contamination of natural or human environments.

Natural Step might work to some degree in the Green Tech world but would seem futile in the Brown Tech, technically and organizationally impractical in the Earth Steward, and meaningless in the Lifeboat. The vast majority of sustainability concepts and strategies to reduce ecological footprint and greenhouse gas emissions could be similarly analyzed as having uncertain relevance at best to energy descent scenarios.

In general, fundamental principles will have more utility than specific strategies and technologies The following table quantifies my view that mainstream approaches to sustainability have quite low relevance to energy descent scenarios. Low scores do not mean that these ideas will completely disappear but that they will tend to shift from their current status as the innovative cutting edge of the economy to reflecting a past era – rather than their objective of becoming the norm within a sustainable society. The table also shows that in general, fundamental principles will have more utility than specific strategies and technologies that are currently being applied as good examples of these concepts.

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B.  Examples of  Relevanced Principles

_1.  Renewable Energy Sources
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/49/70/>
A good example of likely greater relevance of environmental principles when compared with specific strategies and technologies can be seen in relation to future energy sources. In fossil fuelled global industrial systems, energy supply has been generally concentrated in a few big powerful sources. A common principle in sustainability thinking is that a greater diversity of smaller and more distributed power sources will replace current fossil fuel, large hydro and nuclear sources.

The current roll out of wind power and to a lesser extent solar electric are technologies that illustrate this general principle and are widely recognized as central to the Techno Stability future. But energy descent may see growth in these particular energy sources slow or fail while older distributed sources such as wood and small scale hydro could grow rapidly. In a rapidly changing world appropriate design principles provide more guidance than specific strategies and technologies.

_2.  Biodiversity in Natural Resource Management
In the field of natural resource management the general principle of valuing biodiversity is likely to persist to some degree, at least in the Green Tech world, but the examples of vegetation management exclusively focused on local indigenous species, which are common today, will seem very dated as reflecting a world of rising wealth and constant climate.

Arguably, the principle of valuing biodiversity may even grow in strength as the current economic drivers favoring monoculture in agriculture and forestry weaken and are overtaken by viral forms of polyculture better able to use soil and water resources without inputs, and better able to serve mixed local markets. This process will allow the principle of valuing biodiversity to spread from the relative “cultural ghetto” of conservation management in affluent countries, to a more powerful expression of the permaculture version of the principle “Use and Value Diversity”. This very change may be experienced by those wedded to the current dominant views within the field of Conservation Biology as heresy to be resisted.

Energy descent demands that we consider more radical approaches to achieving environmental and social objectives.

[Relevance of Permaculture to Energy Descent Scenarios]

This is just one example of how energy descent scenarios will challenge some cherished beliefs within the environmental movement, while making others natural and obvious. Energy descent demands that we consider more radical approaches to achieving environmental and social objectives.
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_3.  Permaculture Design Principles
Permaculture as an environmental design concept with a long and evolving lineage of action around the world provides one such framework for developing new and reinforcing existing strategies that should be adaptive in energy descent scenarios.

In Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability, I explain the importance of design principles as the basis for generating new strategies and techniques in a world of change and uncertainty. The following table shows how permaculture, especially when it is understood through its design principles more so than currently applied strategies, has a closer fit with energy descent scenarios than many other sustainability concepts that have achieved more mainstream acceptance in affluent counties. While the numerical scores compared with those for “Mainstream Sustainability” can be taken with a grain of salt, the broad thrust is clear.

This table may reflect a claim of permaculture’s central relevance to energy descent, but it also suggests an equal challenge to permaculture educators, activists and designers to more effectively use design principles to identify strategies, techniques and working models that are tuned to emerging rather than past conditions.

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_4.  Meta-scenarios of Permaculture
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/50/71/>
Each scenario presents quite different opportunities and challenges including ethical dilemmas for permaculture and related environmental and social activists. The analysis of the relevance of permaculture to the energy descent scenarios makes it possible to imagine meta-scenarios of how permaculture and related activism might influence society in ways different from today. Clearly these meta-scenarios are even more speculative than the energy descent scenarios, but provide a stimulus, especially for young people, to imagine oneself in the
energy descent future.

I imagine that permaculture – by principle and model, if not in name – will become the dominant paradigm in the Earth Steward scenario. I imagine that permaculture – by principle and model, if not in name – will become the dominant paradigm in the Earth Steward scenario. Those with a long track record of achievement will become the natural leaders within new emergent power structures, primarily at the local level, that will be more effective than higher levels of governance and organization. The ethical and design challenges will be those associated with leadership and power. Because “power” at this (and all levels) will be very weak, it will be more characterized by inspiration and wise council than the capacity to make binding decisions. Transparent and collaborative leadership that draws from the whole community and accepts slow evolutionary change and avoids the imposition of ideology is likely to be most effective in conserving resources and continuing to build a nature based culture.

•  In Lifeboats the focus of permaculturists is on provision of basic needs first and maintenance of seed and skills. Permaculture is also highly relevant to survival in the Lifeboat scenario. The focus on provision of basic needs first and maintenance of seed and other genetic resources and skills to salvage and ‘make do’ will all be essential. Those with considerable knowledge, skills and ability to provide for others, as well as having good communication and organization skills in difficult conditions, are likely to become natural leaders of lifeboat households and communities. The ethical and design challenges are less those of broader and collaborative leadership and more those represented by having to decide who to let into the lifeboat without threatening the survival of those already on board. The ability to integrate and defend the group without sentimentality while providing for the community and maintaining knowledge critical to long-term cultural survival, is the task of those able to think beyond everyday survival.

•  In Green Tech, the dominant paradigm is still focused in the economic and technological domains rather than the ecological. In the Green Tech scenario “sustainability” has become the dominant paradigm of more localized city and bioregional governance structures. Permaculture and related concepts have high status and receive resources from government and businesses to help further develop local food production and community economies that can buffer against further energy and ecological crises. For the permaculture activist this is a more familiar condition where there is ongoing, even rapid growth in influence but where the dominant paradigm is still focused in the economic and technological domains rather than the ecological domain as the source of wealth and meaning.

The primary ethical dilemma is that of comfortable co-option by the new sustainability elites, in the context of their heroic successes in avoiding the worst impacts of energy descent. Should permaculture activists quietly accept the status and resources that flow from these sustainability elites and focus on the slow change of society through practical works or should they critique the new elite for not accepting that energy descent will precipitate further crises unless we localize and simplify our economies further? The ability to lead by example and provide clear and persuasive articulation of values and goals beyond the prevailing mainstream lead to progressively more influence as the ongoing realities of energy descent unfold.

•  In the Brown Tech scenario the challenges for permaculture activists are somewhat analogous to those working in some poorer countries today. In the Brown Tech scenario, permaculture remains marginal to the mainstream, although it provides hope and some solutions for the increasing numbers of disenfranchised and alienated who reject, or are rejected, by the systems controlled by powerful central governments. The challenges for permaculture activists are somewhat analogous to those working in some poorer countries today; trying to assist the disadvantaged with simple technologies and solutions while avoiding threats from repressive central power.

Too much structure, organization and prominence could see such activism ruthlessly crushed as a threat to the system. Anarchistic and invisible modes of activism are likely to be more effective. Of course there are also those attempting to use ethical and design principles to reform the system from within (with all the attendant contradictions). Quiet and persistent collaboration between these two levels of activism could see a graceful descent to Earth Stewardship while failure could lead to the Lifeboat as the last option for the salvage of civilization.

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C.  Conclusion
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/37/45/>
This exploration of energy descent scenarios has been an organic one which began with a didactic intention to highlight how large scale energetic and environmental factors shape history more than ideologies and the heroic actions of individuals. But my purpose was to empower those committed to ecological values and social justice to be effective in their quest to create the world we want, rather than just resist the world we don’t want. Finally it has become about telling a story that can help bring that world to life, an apparent contradiction to the premise I began with. Although the primary lesson about the large scale forces that control the course of history may be true for the long periods of stability, during periods of ecological and cultural chaos, small groups of people have been instrumental in those transitions.

In nature, disturbance events (such as fire, flood or drought) or eruptive disturbances from within an ecosystem, such as insect plagues or fungal disease, are often understood as examples of system dysfunction. Alternatively they can be understood as either initiating another succession cycle that brings renewed life or a novel force that deflects the ecosystem in different directions determined by the chance arrival of new species or other factors. The ecosystems that emerge from these periods of disturbance can be quite different from those that preceded them and these changes can be characterised from a systems ecology perspective as either degradation of biophysical resources and productivity, and/or ones involving new evolutionary pathways. The lesson from nature is that evolution of life works in strange ways that cannot be fully predicted.

The historian William Irwin Thompson’s67 interpretation of creation of the world’s “first university” by Pythagoras suggests similar processes at work when civilization finds itself in a cultural dead end or design cul de sac. Pythagoras had been an initiate of the Egyptian mystery schools that were part of a decaying theocracy in the 6th century BC. Pythagoras and his followers secularized some of the hidden and arcane knowledge but his school in Calabria was burnt to the ground in some local political dispute. Pythagoras died a broken man but his followers, the Pythagoreans fled to Greece where they found fertile social conditions for their ideas and values. This was the beginning of the flowering of classical Grecian culture that we recognize as the origins of western civilization. In a similar story Thompson describes how the penniless monks of Lindisfarne converted the British Isles to Christianity in the 6thcentury AD. They had no power but their spiritual message shaped to reflect the Celtic traditions, was transformative in a country in the aftermath of the collapse of the Roman empire and where no one any longer knew the function of Stonehenge. For a couple of generations a form of free anarchic Christianity provided spiritual meaning, but the monastery was burnt to the ground by the Vikings.

Like Pythagoras and the monks of Lindisfarne we live in a world of collapsing culture where we have to choose what is worthwhile at this great turning point in history. We are faced with the mixed pieces of the myriad of broken traditional cultures of the world and the novel and shining bits of unraveling industrial modernity. All of this will end in the dustbin of history. Our task is to choose which pieces of these jigsaw puzzles will be useful in creating an energy descent culture, the boundaries, features and colors of which, we can scarcely imagine. What is worth saving? What are the limits of our capacity? We have little time to decide and act. We must commit to concrete actions and projects. We must stake our claim, not for ourselves but for the future. In committing to our task we should remember the stories of Pythagoras and the monks of Lindisfarne. It is not the project but the living process that will be the measure of our actions.

Let us act as if we are part of nature’s striving for the next evolutionary way to creatively respond to the recurring cycles of energy ascent and descent that characterize human history and the more ancient history of Gaia, the living planet. Imagine that our descendants and our ancestors are watching us.

End of article: (Survival Manual/2. Social Issues/Our Future, Part 4 of 4)

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Our Future, Part 3 of 4

(Survival Manual/2. Social Issues/ Our Future, Parts 1-4)

Section V considers the interaction of peak oil and climate change to consider four distinct energy descent scenarios.

Descent scenarios 

A.  Scenario Planning
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/26/40/>
The systems approach to the energy descent future can be taken further by using a scenario planning model that combines two fundamental, and largely independent variables that generate four scenarios, one for each of the quadrants of a conceptual graph. Scenarios in this context are plausible and internally consistent stories about the future that help organizations and individuals to achieve a broad and open-ended adaptability to inherent unpredictability.

In classic corporate scenario planning the two variables might be the growth rate in the wider economy and the regulatory framework that constrains or encourages business. Climate Change and Oil Production Decline are the variables I use as the primary drivers in creating the four energy descent scenarios because I believe these are the strongest forces shaping human destiny over the 21st century and beyond. Consequently they are central to consideration of the energy transition across nations and cultures and in both urban and rural environments.

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B.  Interaction of Peak Oil and Climate Change
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/42/52/>
Although both variables are caused by collective human behaviour and potentially can be ameliorated by human behaviour, they arise from geological and climatic limits beyond human control. The debate over amelioration vs adaption to climate change is often portrayed as a potent moral choice between burning coal and accepting a changed world, or a shift to renewable energy to save nature. The emerging evidence suggests that this choice was one that humanity collectively fudged in the 1980’s.

Similarly the actions necessary to make an orderly transition from oil to other energy sources has been assessed as taking at least two decades. Again society had the evidence from the peaking of US oil production in 1970 but with the return of cheap oil in the 1980’s the energy problem appeared to have simply gone away due to “better” economic policies. Now climate change is accelerating and peak oil is upon us.

As well as having to adapt to both of these new realities, we also grapple with the interactions both positive and negative. The accelerating shift to increased dependence on natural gas is often portrayed as a positive reduction in carbon intensity but this is simply accelerating the depletion of our children’s remaining inheritance of high quality transport fuel. Similarly projects developing tar sands and other low-grade sources of oil massively increase greenhouse gas emissions. Perhaps more surprising to some, the huge push in the US and Europe to make biofuels from corn and oil seed crops is increasing land degradation, resource consumption and contributing to driving up the cost of grains and oil seeds. Many authorities are a warning of global famine due to climate and energy crisis factors (including biofuels) coming together. The low ERoEI of biofuels, especially corn-based ethanol, suggest biofuels may be a way to deplete natural gas while degrading agricultural land and starving the world’s poor.

[Chart showing Average Per Capita Energy consumption going forward from Peak Oil]

On the other hand, radical reductions in consumption due to transformative lifestyle change, creative reuse of wastes generated by industrial and consumer systems, and a shift to truly productive work within revitalised home and community economies, show how we can both build local resilience and capacity to adapt to the destructive change at the same time as we make the greatest contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel depletion rates. While this strategy would be most productive and effective in the most affluent countries, it has increasing relevance world-wide.

The reluctance to seriously consider positive reductions in consumption in public debate about climate solutions could be swept away by the unfolding global energy and food crisis. Developing some of the harder and longer term ecological and modest technological adaption’s to ongoing and relentless energy descent will take decades to have widespread impacts (as do all high energy, high-tech centralized approaches) but radical and rapid human behavioral change is possible and even likely (given the right psycho-social conditions). The emerging energy and economic crisis will make these reductions a reality with or without a planned and creative response.

The alternate scenarios I have constructed provide more detail about how the Energy Descent future might evolve over the next few decades rather than the hundreds of the years of the long-term scenarios. As well as combining the effects of slow or rapid oil production decline, and slow or rapid global warming, they cover a very broad spectrum of human possibilities that can be recognized by various symptoms and signs in different places in the world today. They are all energy descent scenarios in that they depict possible futures with progressively declining net energy. This must be understood against the historical background in which energy use per capita globally has been on a bumpy plateau for thirty years after the previous thirty years of rapid growth per capita from the end of World War II. The graph below from the previously mentioned study suggests per worldwide capita energy use may continue to rise to about 1.7 tons of oil equivalent (toe) by 2020 before falling to 0.9 toe by 2050.

However when we use net energy ratios to convert these undifferentiated joules of energy, I believe that we are already into a global decline in net energy per person and will soon be into absolute global net energy decline.

C.  The Four Energy Descent and Climate Scenarios
Four Energy Descent scenarios are considered, each emerging from a combination of either fast of slow oil decline and either mild or severe climate change over the next 10-30 years:
1.  Brown Tech: (slow oil decline, fast climate change)
2.  Green Tech: (slow oil decline, slow climate change)
3.  Earth Steward: (fast oil decline, slow climate change)
4.  Lifeboats: (fast oil decline , fast climate change)

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D.  The Four Global Climate Change & Energy Descent Scenarios
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/27/46/>
While the characterization of the four scenarios is difficult and inevitably speculative, they do provide a framework for considering how Peak Oil and Climate Change could interact to reshape global and local energy resources, settlement patterns, economy and governance. They also provide some insight into what could be effective responses for aware activists to secure their own and family’s future while contributing to society in a positive way. Those responses might include potentially effective policies that could be adopted by relevant forms of government that might be functional in each of these scenarios.
Finally they clarify the relevance of permaculture principles in a world of energy descent and focus our attention on the strengths and weaknesses of various strategies in adapting to the differing scenarios.
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Section VI considers the first scenario, Brown Tech.

1.  Brown Tech: Top Down Constriction
(Slow energy decline rates, severe climate change symptoms)
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/28/48/>
The Brown Tech world is one in which the production of oil declines after a peak 2005-2010 at about 2% per annum and the subsequent peak and decline of natural gas is also relatively gentle, but the severity of global warming symptoms is at the extreme end of current mainstream scientific predictions. In this scenario strong, even aggressive, national policies and actions prevail to address both the threats and the opportunities from energy peak and climatic change. The political system could be described as Corporatist or Fascist (which Mussolini described as a merger of state and corporate power).

The tendency in existing systems for massive centralized investment by corporations and governments, give priority to getting more energy out of lower grade non-renewable resources (eg. tar sands, coal and uranium) and biofuels from industrial agriculture and forestry. “Breakthrough” technologies provide the constant promise of a better future but much of the investment in energy harvesting accelerates global warming, at least in the short term.

At the same time the cost of defending or replacing urban infrastructure threatened by storms and future sea level rise consumes more resources, while droughts and chaotic seasonal changes reduce food production from broadacre and small scale agriculture.

Flows of energy from more expensive sources such as tar sands, deep ocean oil, gas to liquids and coal to liquids slow the decline in fuels from crude oil. This transition requires a huge mobilization of the technical and managerial capacity held mostly by global corporations, along with the financial, legal and military security that only sovereign governments can provide. This resource nationalism by government  breaks down free trade and the faith in international markets that underpins the global economy.

By 2007, we had already seen the shift from a buyers to a sellers market for energy cascading through all commodities markets and reshaping geopolitical relations. The profits from both non-renewable resources and large scale industrial agriculture rise on the back of high commodity prices, reversing many of the economic patterns and trends of recent decades. The wealth of farmers and miners as well as corporations and nations in control of these resources increases even as depletion reduces the flows of resources and climate change causes chaos in farming and land management.

The demand for biofuels in affluent countries reduces world food stocks and raises prices to levels that result in famine and chaos in many poor countries unable to sustain subsidies for staple food. In other countries, food riots by the poor force government to pay for escalating subsidies. The wealth left over for education, health etc. collapses. Wars to secure fuel and food increase and refocus public attention on external threats. In richer countries, consumer led economic growth falters or is actively shut down by government policies to focus limited resources on food, fuel and climate security. Some type of global economic depression unfolds from the combined effects of high energy and food prices, superpower contest, resource nationalism and the fragility of the financial system.

Rapid onset of climate change also tends to support centralized nationalist systems for several reasons. First the consequences of chaotic weather, food supply problems, radical land use change and abandonment of marginal land, leads to demands for strong government action to protect people from high food and fuel costs, natural disasters, the consequences of strong action by other nations, and mass migration by displaced people. Rates of urbanization increase as climate change impacts and withdrawal of government supported services in more remote rural regions accelerates.

A decline of the middle class already evident in many western countries accelerates leading to discontent and suppression by government including internment camps either for migrants or homeless people. Strong approaches to population control, even forced sterilization are introduced in some countries.

A series of short but intense international conflicts confirm major shifts in global power balances while accelerating resource depletion. Control of non-renewable fossil fuel and mineral resources remains critical, while the (relative) importance of distributed renewable wealth from agriculture and forestry continues to decline as the climate deteriorates especially in my home country of Australia where greater severity of droughts hit hard. With food supply under threat, fossil fuels and other resources are redirected from personal mobility and consumption to intensive factory farming in greenhouses and other controlled environments, mostly clustered around urban centers and managed by agribusiness corporations.

Desalination and other high energy ways to maintain water supply systems are built at huge cost and further increase demand for energy. The threat of sea level rises leads to large scale urban redevelopment driven by strong government policies. Some very bold initiatives for energy efficient medium density urban development and public transport infrastructure are funded. A key characteristic of this scenario is the sense of divide between the reducing numbers of “haves” dependent on a job in the “system” and the relatively lawless, loose but perhaps communitarian “have nots” with their highly flexible and nomadic subcultures living from the wastes of the “system” and the wilds of nature. Security of the “haves” is a constant issue with gated communities, and apartheid style townships and barrios for the “have nots”. While economic depression and reduction in consumption slow greenhouse gas emissions, the rapid expansion of strategic investment by government in new energy and urban infrastructure more than replaces the reduced private consumption, leading to a positive feedback loop that accelerates global warming.
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[Photo: Left half of picture sprawling slums of  The Poor. Right half (beyond wall) with swimming pool terraced apartments, community pool and tennis courts of The Rich. Many wealthy neighborhoods in Brazil are gated and heavily secured to keep out the poor.  In many cases wealth and absolute poverty are only separated by a thin division as seen in the photograph above.

Pasted from <http://www.doctorhousingbubble.com/brazilian-style-living-in-southern-california-%E2%80%93-mls-inventory-creeping-up-section-8-vouchers-for-granite-countertops-and-california-budget-going-mayan-in-2012/>]

While the elites continue to be driven by a commitment to super rationalist beliefs, a sense of hollowness and lack of purpose characterizes the shrinking middle class, while fundamentalist religions and cults plays a stronger role in the lives of the working and unemployed classes partly through genuine reactions to the failures of modern humanism and partly manipulated by the elites to deflect anger and disenchantment. The Brown Tech scenario could be dominant and even more or less socially stable for many decades until ongoing climatic breakdown and reduced net energy return drive a shift to the Lifeboats scenario.

Top down constriction” summaries the essence of this scenario in that national power constricts consumption and focuses resources to maintain the nation state, in the face of deteriorating climate and reduced energy and food supply.
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2.  Green Tech: Distributed Powerdown
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Slow energy decline rates, mild climate change symptoms)
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/29/49/>
The Green Tech scenario is the most benign, in that adverse climate changes are at the low end of projections. Oil and gas production declines slowly as in the Brown Tech future, so the sense of chaos and crisis is more muted without major economic collapse or conflict. This allows resources to flow to a greater diversity of responses at the global, national, city, community and personal level. In some already densely populated poor countries, conditions worsen.

However higher commodity prices allows some poorer producer economies to escape their debt cycle while programs to empower women result in rapid reduction in the birth rate. The gradual reduction in capacity of countries to project power globally due to rising energy costs, increases national security and redirection of resources away from defense and resource capture to resource conservation and technological innovation. The consolidation of the global communication systems maintains global outlooks and understandings if not global economics.

As in the Brown Tech scenario, electrification is a key element in the energy transition but the renewable energy sources of wind, biomass, solar, hydro, tidal, wave etc. grow rapidly developing a more diverse and distributed mix. The relatively benign climate allows a resurgence of rural and regional economies on the back of sustained and growing prices for all natural commodities including feedstock for biofuels.

The principles behind organic agriculture and ecological management and resource allocation become the norm in many farming systems, helping to stabilize agriculture challenged by increasing cost of energy inputs and (albeit mild) climate change.

The accelerating conflict between biofuels and food is stabilized if not resolved by government subsidies to support food supply from agriculture, with biofuels coming mainly from forestry wastes. In many regions with prime agricultural land and small populations, wealthy farmers and agribusiness corporations are the main beneficiaries employing both high technology and cheap labor from migrant workers. In some regions, with poorer and steeper land and more diversified land ownership, smaller scale polyculture systems designed using permaculture principles spread wealth more evenly through local communities.

Continuous contraction affects large sections of the economy but the energy, resource and agriculture sectors along with recycling and retrofit industries experience rapid growth based on high commodity prices that are sustained despite economic recession in the main consuming economies. In some affluent countries, reform of monetary systems lowers the scale of financial collapses and refocuses capital on productive and socially useful innovation and investment.

Information technology continues to yield gains in energy and resource management; from real time pricing and self-healing electrical grids, to internet based ride sharing systems and telecommuting. Conservation yields the greatest gains with major public policies to change personal and organizational behavior. In other countries, especially the USA, the apparent opportunities for continued economic growth, combine with political policies to support a low carbon economy, leading to a renewable energy investment bubble followed by a severe recession.

State and city governments responsible for providing services are able to lead much of the restructuring to more compact cities and towns with increasing public transport infrastructure. Growth in large cities (especially in coastal lowlands) is reversed by public policies ahead of the worst effects of energy cost and global warming, while regional cities, towns and villages see modest growth on a compact urban model that preserves prime agricultural land and develops mixed use neighborhoods with more local work and radically less commuting.

The placing together of many of the more optimistic aspects of energy descent may seem artificial, but there are reasons to believe that the Green Tech scenario will tend towards a more egalitarian structure with the relative shift of power from control of oil wells and mines to control of the productivity of nature via traditional land uses such as agriculture and forestry and more novel renewable technologies.

The inherently distributed nature of these resources will lead to more distributed economic and political power at the level of cities, their hinterlands and organizations focused at this scale. For example, successful large scale farmers who have reduced their dependence of energy intensive inputs through permaculture strategies and organic methods may find new profits in more localized markets with prices sustained by policies that encourage regional self reliance. Any profits beyond farming are likely to be invested into local energy systems that generate more employment and further reduce economic dependence on central governments and large corporations. It is possible that these same processes could lead to highly inequitable, even feudal systems. However the universal focus on more sustainable production and reduced consumption that is not forced by remote and arbitrary central power, has the tendency to foster more egalitarian responses than in the Brown Tech scenario.

The substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that result from this scenario keep climate change impacts to a minimum, thus stabilizing and reinforcing the scenario’s basic characteristics for at least several decades.

The success in radically reducing consumption of resources while sustaining modest growth in some local economies combined with stabilization of the climate, encourages a new “sustainability” elite to consider further changes to consolidate these achievements in the face of ongoing net energy decline. The worse excesses of consumer capitalism are controlled by restriction and reforms of advertising and other dysfunctional forces.

Civic culture strengthens where further transition towards a non-materialistic society combines with the maturation of feminism and environmentalism, and a resurgence in indigenous and traditional cultural values. These trends stabilize the accelerating loss of faith in secular humanism allowing the evolution of more spiritual “cultures of place”. Over time an evolution toward the Earth Steward scenario seems an obvious and natural response to the inexorable decline of non-renewable resources. “Distributed Powerdown” summarizes this scenario by emphasizing both the distributed nature of resources and power, and the planned contraction involved.

At their extremes the Green Tech and Brown Tech scenarios also describe many of the elements that could be expected in the Techno Stability Long Term Scenario where new energy sources manage to replace fossil fuels without the stresses that lead to system wide contraction. The current levels of ecological, economic and socio-political stress are the indirect indicators that we are entering the energy descent scenarios rather than simply a transition from energetic growth to stability. Relative insulation from those stresses and the persistence of faith in the monetary accounting “house of cards” by the upper middle class (if not the global elites) continues the confusion. The lack of understanding of net energy accounting and disagreement amongst the experts on appropriate methods, combined with political pressures from the unfolding crisis lead to energetic descent being mistaken for “business as usual”.

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3.  Earth Steward: Bottom Up Rebuild
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Rapid energy decline rates, mild climate change symptoms)
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/30/50/>
In this scenario the decline in oil production after a peak in total liquids production before 2010 is at the extreme end of authoritative predictions (about 10%) and is followed by an even faster decline in gas production plus a simultaneous peak in coal production. The shock to the world’s fragile financial systems is overwhelming, resulting in severe economic depression and perhaps some further short, sharp resource wars.

This economic collapse and these political stresses, more than the actual shortage of resources, prevents the development of more expensive and large scale non-renewable resources that characterize the Brown Tech scenario or the renewable resources and infrastructure of the Green Tech. International and national communications networks break down.

Electricity grids become non-functional as cost and availability of fuels and spare parts reduce production and lack of paying businesses and customers reduces revenues. International tensions remain but capacity of stronger countries to use military force is constrained by unreliable energy and parts supplies and the strong evidence that war uses more resources than it captures. Global warming is slowed dramatically and reversed by the collapse of the global consumer economy and absence of large scale investment in new energy infrastructure.

There is a radical reduction in mass mobility of both people and goods. The food supply chain is severely affected both on farms and through the distribution system. Energy intensive large scale farming supplying central marketing chains is the worst affected leading to abandonment of even highly productive land. Shortages lead to rationing, black markets, and riots for food and energy.

Increases in crime, malnutrition and disease lead to a rising death rate accelerated in some countries by epidemics and pandemics that have a major impact on social and economic capacity. The collapse in the tax base available to national and state governments reduces their power and even city level restructuring of infrastructure is difficult, but local government retains some degree of effective services, decision making and possibly democracy.

Collapse of larger businesses and the difficulties in maintaining urban infrastructure leads to a hollowing out of the cities. Loss of jobs and houses leads to migration of people out of cities to smaller towns, villages and farms with more robust local economies able to take advantage of the influx of labor. Impacts and demands on local soil, water and forest resources increases, to severe levels in many poor countries as people move out of the cities to harvest fuel, wildlife and restart food production. In long affluent countries, the underuse of local biological resources in the late 20th century provides some buffer against these impacts.

Large numbers of homeless exurbanites form a new underclass lacking even the skills of poverty.

Large numbers of homeless ex-urbanites form a new underclass lacking even the skills of poverty. They provide basic labour in exchange for food and accommodation on farms needing the labour. Surviving structures of power may adapt to impose a more feudal structure based on concentrated control of productive farms and forests and built assets in large farming estates.

Organic and small farmers, close to markets and able to make use of labour and animal power, thrive (to the extent security allows) in a context of relatively benign and slow climate change. An explosion of home businesses based on building and equipment retrofit, maintenance and salvage starts to build a diversified economy. Further afield biofuels from crop waste allow farmers to continue to use machinery while wood and charcoal gasification based on regrowth forest resources near settlements and towns provide an increasing proportion of limited transport fuel. This small business growth in turn provides a new tax base for some form of effective local government. In some places new bioregional governments institute land reform and debt cancellation following collapse of financial institutions and central banks, allowing people to stay on their properties.

Suburban landscapes around smaller cities and regional towns with greater social capital are transformed with a booming and relatively egalitarian society sustained by bio-intensive/permaculture farming and retrofitting and reuse supported by resources from both the immediate rural hinterland and inner urban salvage.

This ruralization of suburban landscape to produce food on all available open space, private and public provides most of the fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy and small livestock products. Local currencies, food, car and fuel co-ops, community supported agriculture all grow rapidly. Informal and household economies provide an increasing proportion of basic needs as corporate and government systems fail to deliver.

Around the larger cities especially in countries where social capital and community capacity is severely eroded, most of these new developments are in gated communities providing the basic needs and security of their residents with trade outside the community being more difficult or dangerous. Outside the gated communities salvage, fuel harvesting and animal husbandry are the main economic activities with trade controlled by gangs and local warlords.

While the impacts on people and local environments of this scenario are severe there is also a cultural and spiritual revolution as people are released from the rat race of addictive behaviours. While the impacts on people and local environments of this scenario are severe, in previously affluent countries at least, there is also a cultural and spiritual revolution as people are released from the rat race of addictive behaviors and begin to experience the gift of resurgent community and the simple abundance of nature to provide for basic needs.

The biggest difference from the Green and Brown Tech scenarios is that the rebuilding and stabilization is no longer based on dreams of sustainability or restoring the old system. Instead people accept that each generation will have to face the challenges of further ongoing simplification and localization of society as the fossil resource base continues to decline. This simplification in the material domain is seen as the opportunity for growth in the spiritual domain. There is a resurgence in leadership by women and a celebration of the feminine in nature and people. “Bottom Up Rebuild” summarises this scenario by emphasizing the new growth from biological and community foundations. In some ways this scenario might be considered as the archetypal one of the Energy Descent future and the one in which permaculture principles and strategies are most powerfully applied.

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4.  Lifeboats: Civilization Triage
Rapid energy decline rates, severe climate change symptoms.
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/31/51/>
In this scenario, supplies of high quality fossil fuels decline rapidly, the economy fails and human contributions to global warming collapse, but lag effects and positive feedbacks in the climate system continue to drive an acceleration of global warming. As of 2007, an increasing number of scientists believe it may already be too late to avoid catastrophic climate change. In the Lifeboat scenario the adverse symptoms of the Brown Tech and Earth Steward scenarios combine to force a progressive collapse in most forms of economy and social organization. Local wars, including use of nuclear weapons accelerate collapse in some areas but the failure of national systems of power prevent global warfare. Successive waves of famine and disease breakdown social and economic capacity on a larger scale than the Black Death in medieval Europe leading to a halving of global population in a few decades.

New forms of oasis agriculture that are low input versions of the Brown Tech intensive systems evolve that stabilize food production as chaotic seasons make traditional field agriculture and horticulture almost impossible. Forest and rangeland hunting and harvesting become the predominant use of resources over large regions supporting nomadic bands. Warrior and gang cults provides meaning in a world of grief and violence, leading to the development of new religions and even languages that attempt to make sense of people’s lives.

Urban areas are largely abandoned and dangerous but remain valuable as quarries for salvaging materials especially metals. Suburban landscapes become ruralized into defensive hamlets making use of salvaged materials, urban storm water and surplus building space for mixed household economies.

The impacts are very patchy with worse effects in high density previously affluent and urbanized countries. In the most remote regions remnants of hunter-gatherer and pioneer farmer cultures are better able to weather the changes. The relative abundance and ongoing availability of high quality metals and other materials make a critical technological distinction from that of ancient traditional hunter gatherer cultures.

Mountain regions, especially with surviving glacier fed rivers allow hydroelectric systems to be maintained and rebuilt on a smaller scale. Nutrient rich glacier fed rivers also sustain intensive irrigated agriculture. In some localities, especially in favorable regions with accessible energy and agricultural resources, communities analogous to the monasteries of the early medieval period provide basic knowledge and skills to their surrounding communities and are thus protected by the locals from the ravages of local warlords and pirates. These communities, mostly in rural and suburban areas, and based on pre-collapse efforts of intentional communities or rich benefactors, pursue the task of saving and condensing knowledge and cultural values for the long dark ages ahead.

“Civilization triage” refers to the processes by which remaining social capacity (beyond meeting immediate basic needs) are focused on conserving technology and culture that could be useful to a future society, once energy descent is stabilized after a precipitous but limited collapse process. This is not the dominant process of the scenario but the most significant in terms of future cultural capacity. The Christian monasteries that saved many of the elements of Greco-Roman culture and later provided the foundations for the Renaissance of Western civilization is one historical example that could serve as a model for understanding how this process might work.

At its extreme, this scenario describes many of the elements of the Collapse Long Term future in which there is a complete breakdown in the lineage of industrial civilization such that future simple societies retain nothing from what we created through industrial civilization. Drawing a distinction between this scenario and total collapse may seem pedantic but the reasons are important. In the Collapse Long Term scenario, any future civilization that could emerge only learns from the lessons of ours via archeology and perhaps long attenuated mythic stories. In the Lifeboat scenario the retention of cultural knowledge of the past combined with a moderately habitable environment allow new civilizations to emerge that build on at least some of the knowledge and lessons from ours.

Three factors may prevent the continuous free fall to a very low global population of hunter gatherers surviving on the fringes of the Arctic of a hotter planet.
_1)  The first is the wild card created by the mixing of the world’s biota, most notable the large numbers of tree and other species that exhibit what foresters call “exotic vigour”. This allows new recombinant ecosystems to stabilize many environments that climate scientists are now saying will become uninhabitable in extreme climate change. The release of critical minerals, most notably phosphorus over the last 200 years into the biosphere may allow these new ecosystems to ultimately achieve biological productivity exceeding that possible from pre-existing systems.
_2)  Secondly the flooding of large areas of coastal lowlands complete with complex reef structures from flooded cities and infrastructure may also create the conditions for highly productive shallow waters and estuaries. These types of ecosystem are some of the most biologically productive ecosystems on the planet.
_3)  Thirdly, the precipitous drop in human numbers and their initial tendency to remain relatively aggregated to make use of the huge resources from industrial salvage materials (and for security) should see very large regions able to recover without harvesting and other impacts from people.

If the knowledge of ecological processes and their creative manipulation using minimal resources are retained and developed in the Lifeboat communities, then survival and resurgence of a more than minimalist culture may allow global human population to be sustained at perhaps half, rather than one tenth, of current levels. More importantly it may be possible to embed the wisdom of the lessons learnt so that unconstrained human growth does not repeat such an intense cycle. Clearly these last thoughts are highly speculative but build from the same linage of permaculture thinking developed over the last thirty years that informs the rest of the scenarios.

Summary of the Four Climate/Energy Descent Scenarios
The following table summarizes the main elements and characteristics of the four scenarios.

Continued in (Survival Manual/2. Social Issues/Our Future, Part 4 of 4)

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Our Future, Part 2 of 4

(Survival Manual/2. Social Issues/ Our Future, Parts 1-4)

H.  Energy Descent: The Ignored Scenario 
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/20/57/>
Public discussion of energy descent is generally seen as unrealistic, defeatist and politically counterproductive although many activists promoting sustainability strategies privately acknowledge that energy descent maybe inevitable. I want to expand the systems approach to future energy transitions by focusing on the most ignored of the long term scenarios for the following reasons.
_1.   We do not have to believe that a particular scenario is likely before making serious preparations. For example most people have fire insurance on their homes, not because they expect their primary asset to be destroyed by fire but because they recognize the severity of this unlikely event. Similarly, energy descent scenarios,  by their very nature, require more forethought and proactive planning than energy growth or steady state scenarios (to avert catastrophic consequences) .
[Image at left: Amish horse cart outside of SUV’s in auto sales lot, Raleigh North Carolina. 2005. A model for energy descent in more ways than the obvious. The Amish driver is likely to be a farmer, a symbol of the greater number of people who will be involved in food production both domestically and commercially in a future of less energy; in ironic contrast to the Burger King take away food sign in the background.]

_2.  The rapidly accumulating evidence on both climate change and peaking of world oil supply, to name the two most important factors, makes some sort of energy descent increasingly likely despite the deep structural and psychological denial of this evidence.
_3.  The likelihood that permaculture principles and strategies (not necessarily by that name) could inform societal-wide redesign and re-organization in an energy descent future. Since this scenario is the one in which permaculture is naturally at the fore, it is logical for those committed to permaculture to think more deeply about energy descent.

Ecological modeling suggests an energy descent path that could play out over a similar time frame to the industrial ascent era of 250 years. Historical evidence suggests a descent process that could involve a series of crises that provide stepwise transitions between consolidation and stabilization phases that could be more or less stable for decades before another crisis triggers another fall and then another restabilisation.

There is a desperate need to recast energy descent as a positive process that can free people from the strictures and dysfunctions of growth economics and consumer culture. This is now apparent to many people around the world and is far more fundamental than a public relations campaign to paint a black sky blue. It is a necessary process to provide a sense of hope and connection to fundamental human values expressed by every traditional culture throughout human history; that the pursuit of materialism is a false god.

One of the positive aspects of energy descent that is often overlooked is that it is a culture of continuous and novel change over many human generations. Ironically the growth culture of the previous several hundred years provides us with some conceptual and cultural experience at dealing with change that traditional peoples in more stable societies lacked. We are now familiar with continuous change, that we must do something different to our parent’s generation and that our children must do something different again. This may seem a small bright spot when considering the challenges of energy descent but it is a real asset that we must harness if we are to deal with energy descent in the most graceful way possible.
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Section II  Explores the relevance of permaculture design systems to an era of energy descent.

 A.  Permaculture
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/21/58/>
Serious and thoughtful responses to energy descent futures over the last 30 years (from both sociological and ecological perspectives) have received limited attention academically.  In affluent countries, movements advocating low energy lifestyles, such as permaculture, have contributed mostly to action and changes at the fringes of society. Permaculture has been stress tested in poor countries and in crisis situations, and as fossil fuel depletion hits levels of
affluence globally, its relevance will likely increase radically.
[Image at right: Melliodora central Victoria 2004. View over poultry deep litter yard, roof runoff garden, olive and fruit trees to house with solar clerestory showing above trees. ]

Permaculture was one of the environmental design concepts to emerge from the 1970’s debate over energy and resource availability and was founded on the assumption that the next energy transition would involve the re-emergence of biological systems as central to economics and society. The vision that informed permaculture design, teaching and action saw relocalized food and renewable energy production, revitalized household and community economies and bioregional political structures establishing a permanent (i.e. sustainable) human culture. The opportunistic use of fossil fuelled wealth and waste to fund the transition was an integral part of the permaculture strategy. I see permaculture design generating more appropriate biological and human capital in ways less demanding of physical resources and with low depreciation rates that are useful to a world of energy descent. In my book Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability, I explained the title in terms of the Energy Descent future undermining the steady state notions inherent to most thinking about sustainability and even permaculture.

Permaculture has spread around the world but has an extraordinary, perhaps unique role in Australia, as a concept, a collection of design strategies, and as an environmental movement. A definition is included in the Macquarie dictionary and it is almost a household word. As a “brand” it carries a great deal of good will but also much baggage and is generally regarded in policy and planning circles as marginal to mainstream decision making. Some more thoughtful people recognize it as tuned to a world of declining resources that will require adaptive strategies quite different from those being pursued currently.

Permaculture is already contributing to changing Australian suburbs and lifestyle via bottom up and organic processes. Increasing community awareness of environmental issues combined with rises in the cost of energy, water and food are likely to lead to an explosion in permaculture inspired activity in Australian cities, towns and rural landscapes. It is now essential that academics, educators, activists, planners and policy makers understand permaculture as both a factor in the social and physical fabric of Australian society and a conceptual framework for the organic redesign of society and culture for the energy descent future in Australia as well as globally.

Not surprisingly, Permaculture solutions have been more effectively applied in community and agricultural development work in many majority world communities where energy descent has been a reality for many people. While these conditions can be understood in terms of inequitable distribution of resources rather than fundamental limits, they provide models for behavior in response to energy descent. The most dramatic example is the role that permaculture strategies and techniques played in rapidly increasing urban food production as part of a multi pronged strategy to avert famine in Cuba in the early 1990’s following the collapse of the Soviet Union. What is particularly interesting about this model is that Cuba is a middle income country with a long history of industrialized agriculture and an urbanized and dependent population similar to many affluent countries. Today Cubans have life expectancy and other indices of development comparable with the USA while using one seventh the energy and resources.

Permaculture is, intuitively, most relevant to the Energy Descent scenarios in which there is a major decline in the power from non-renewable resources but many of the strategies are synergistic with those focused on appropriate responses to the Techno Stability scenario which demands a degree of relocalization of food supply and other key economies and a shift from centralized to distributed energy sources.

One way to understand permaculture is as a post-modern integration of elements from different traditions and modernity that involves continuous change and evolution.

Sometimes permaculture is understood as simply returning to traditional patterns from the past and is consequently criticized as impractical. While it is true that older, more traditional patterns of resource use and living provide some of the elements and inspiration for permaculture, it is certainly more than this. One way to understand permaculture is as a post-modern integration of elements from different traditions and modernity that involves continuous change and evolution. This builds on the human experience of continuous change rather than static tradition as well as the more recent emergence of design as a new literacy that allows us to effectively and efficiently respond to and redesign our environment and ourselves.

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B.  Climate change and Peak Oil as Fundamental Drivers of Change
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The simultaneous onset of climate change and the peaking of global oil supply represent unprecedented challenges driving this energy transition but historians may look back with the verdict that the efforts at transition were too little too late. The immediacy of the problems undermines many of the options for longer term restructuring around renewable energy and appropriate infrastructure. The systemic interlocking of human/environment systems suggests other apparently independent crises from the psychological to the geopolitical are being drawn together to reinforce an historic inflection point.

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C.  Climate Change
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While Peak Oil has remained a concept at the fringe of public debate and policy, climate change has gathered speed as the key environmental issue demanding attention alongside more traditional concerns about economics and security. The creation of the IPCC in 1988 reflected the scientific consensus in the mid 1980’s that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide was caused by human emissions but the realization that climate change was already happening began to take shape in the 1990’s and by 2007 even political leaders in the USA and Australia (who had become infamous for denying climate change) began to accept it as a reality. It has been the increase in drought and extreme weather events more than increases in average temperatures or subtle ecological changes that have spurred the political and public realization that climate change is already happening. The focus has shifted from impacts on nature to impacts on humanity.

Strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions have become almost synonymous with the sustainability concept. New financial instruments such as carbon trading have developed despite the uncertainty about international agreements to underpin and sustain them. Renewable energy sources have grown significantly especially in countries with the most progressive responses to climate change. At the same time geological sequestration of carbon dioxide has been strongly promoted as a way to allow coal-fired power stations to continue to provide the bulk of the world’s electric power without creating climate chaos. The nuclear industry has been recast as an environmental savior. Despite all the focus on the issue, the emissions of greenhouse gases worldwide has continued to parallel economic growth. Consequently the emissions increases have been higher than even the worst case (business as usual) scenarios produced in the earlier reports by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).  

The most recent evidence on climate change is showing that the rate of onset of warming in the Arctic make the IPCC’s fourth report look incompetent in its failure to be alarmist enough. Hansen’s report suggests that the onset of severe impacts from climate change are now inevitable even if there is a huge world wide effort at mitigation. Greenland ice cap melting and sea ice retreat are occurring now far faster than expected. This new evidence has been ignored by the IPCC’s ponderous processes for its reports. James Hansen’s research suggests that sea level rises could be 5 meters by 2100 rather than the 0.5m used in the IPCC’s fourth report. This suggests that the onset of severe impacts from climate change is now inevitable, even if there is a huge world-wide effort at mitigation.

There is also very little evidence that mitigation within the  context of modern affluent society will radically reduce greenhouse gas emission in any case. Most of the increases in efficiency and other  gains through technology have been countered by increases in emissions elsewhere. This may appear to be due to the small scale and spread of these gains but there is a more fundamental problem that is known to systems theorists as the “rebound effect” or the “Jevons’ paradox”. A gain in resource efficiency in one part of a system is immediately used to drive growth in another part. For example, the savings made in reducing Economic recession is the only proven mechanism for a rapid reduction of greenhouse gas emissions house heating costs is typically being spent on something like an overseas holiday by a householder. This suggests that without radical behavioral and organizational change that would threaten the foundations of our growth economy, greenhouse gas emissions along with other environmental impacts will not decline.  Economic recession is the only proven mechanism for a rapid reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and may now be the only real hope for maintaining the earth in a habitable state.

Further, most of the proposals for mitigation from Kyoto to the feverish efforts to construct post Kyoto solutions have been framed in ignorance of Peak Oil. As Richard Heinberg has argued recently, proposals to cap carbon emissions annually, and allowing them to be traded, rely on the rights to pollute being scarce relative to the availability of the fuel. Actual scarcity of fuel may make such schemes irrelevant.

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D.  Energy Reserves and Production Peaks
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Most of the comparative discussion about energy resources has focused on “Proven, Probable and Possible Reserves”. These are economic concepts about what can be profitably extracted using current technology and prices. Banks lend massive amounts of money to develop energy projects over long periods with risks of price collapses that can reduce or eliminate profits. The Proven reserves represent assets that can be considered as collateral by the lender. There is a long history of “reserve growth” of Proven reserves. While some of this is due to technology improvement, and more recently price rises, very little is due to finding more oil. Most is simply due to shifting reserves from the Probable to the Proven category driven by reporting policies and regulations.

Nationalization of oil reserves in the 1970’s allowed OPEC countries to report reserve growth with less scrutiny by western banks and in the 1980’s radical revision upward of reserve figures were made without finding any more oil. This hopeless corruption of reserve figures, of arguably the most important set of accounts in the world, was not exposed until the late 1990’s with the work of Campbell and Laherrere beginning the current debate about peak oil. It is still yet to be accepted or acknowledged by governments or intergovernmental agencies such as the International Energy Agency, charged with providing transparent and accurate information on energy resources.

The debate about Peak Oil has also highlighted the confusion in economic and political discourse about the importance of production rates and their potential to keep expanding. This collective myopia on the part of the intelligentsia is all the more stunning because it has been increasing rates of energy production (not reserve growth) that has underpinned economic growth. The orthodox view that healthy reserves, by themselves, can ensure expanding production has been show to be false.

The collective myopia on the part of the intelligentsia is all the more stunning because it has been increasing rates of energy production that has underpinned economic growth.
Similarly, the conventional wisdom that coal reserves are so great that we can expand coal based electricity with or without carbon sequestration, and make liquid fuel from coal is now being widely challenged. As with oil, we see that reserve figures are of dubious reliability and large reserves do not mean that production rates can necessarily increase. The slow rate of increase in oil production from the Canadian tar sands, despite massive investment, heroic logistics (and massive environmental damage) proves that large reserves do not necessarily lead to high production rates. The fact that Canada, overnight, became the nation with the largest oil reserves in the world because it was allowedto classify its tar sands as oil, highlights the arbitrary nature of the reserve concept. It is highly likely that nowhere near enough fossil fuels can be mined fast enough to generate the worst case emission scenarios of the IPCC. It is just unfortunate that climate change seems to be happening at much lower levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide than predicted in those same models.

The evidence on peak oil is gathering so fast that it is now certain that the world has already peaked in the production of cheap (conventional) oil and that the peak production of “crude plus condensate” (the standard measure of oil) may have already passed despite vigorous debunking of peak oil that continues in policy circles and the media. The steady climb in prices for eight years should have been enough to lift production if that were possible. The impacts of peak oil are unfolding all around us in the world but they are being regularly interpreted in the media as caused by more familiar (above ground) factors such as terrorism, oil nationalism, corporate greed or incompetence, speculators, etc. The combination of rolling crises and obfuscation of the issues is leading to confusion and inappropriate responses (from oil wars to biofuels from agricultural crops) that are compounding the problems.

The debate amongst peak oil analysts has now shifted from when, to at what rate, the world will decline. The debate amongst peak oil analysts has now shifted from when, to at what rate, the world will decline after we move off the current plateau in production. The decline rates in the UK and Mexico have provided progressively stronger evidence that the application of modern management and technology in oil production, while delaying peak, ultimately leads to faster decline rates than had been expected (based on past rates of national decline). If these higher decline rates follow through into global decline, then mitigation and adaption strategies, without economic collapse will be very difficult. Given the accelerating consumption of natural gas and coal we should assume peak production of both will quickly follow oil peak.
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Access to oil will likely decrease far more rapidly in importing nations as explored in the next section
Collapsing Oil Exports 
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Another factor is already accelerating the impact of global peak on the importing countries. Almost all of the oil producing countries have rapidly growing economies driven by large oil revenues and in many cases rapidly growing populations. Internal consumption in these countries is ensuring that after peak, the rate of exports declines much faster than production. The two largest producers and exporters Saudi Arabia and Russia are the prime examples.  Global economic growth may continue for some years in oil and resource rich countries, but not in the importing countries that have been used to affluence and continuous economic growth for the longest.
[Image at left: The rising cost of intercontinental shipping costs is threatening to reverse the globalization of manufacturing.]

Alternatively, a constant state of corruption, dysfunction and/or open war, in oil exporting countries can have the effect of enforcing exports in the face of shortages at home. Although this appears counter-intuitive, the failure of functional governance in the national interest combined with a shattered or stunted economy reduces the capacity of the national market to pay for oil and allows foreign oil companies to gain favorable concessions and military protection from corrupt governments. Aspects of this scenario are at work to maintain the flow of oil from Nigeria and Iraq to the USA and other large importers.

Thus, we can see both the collapsing exports, and enforced export scenarios unfolding simultaneously as the major expression of the struggle for declining production. This suggests at the very least, massive shifts in geo-political and economic power over the next few years, even if global growth continues.
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Section III considers one other compounding factor, that of decreasing net energy returns.

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A. 
Net Energy Return
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An even more fundamental issue is that of net energy return. It takes energy to get energy. Fossil fuel resources have been such an abundant source of concentrated energy that the investment of energy we make in exploration, mining, transport and processing has been relatively small. Even when we consider all the energy embodied in equipment and infrastructure, the net energy return or profit has been very high. Adding all the energy and resources needed to train and support all the engineers and other employees in the energy industries still leaves a huge net energy profit which explains why the oil industry has been such a profitable one. However now that we have passed the peak of production of conventional oil,  the net energy yield from new projects tapping the heavy, deep ocean, arctic and small remaining amounts in old oil fields, using advanced recovery methods, is less and less.

This decline in net energy yield results in an increasing proportion of society’s real wealth being devoted to the energy harvesting sectors of the economy, leaving less and less for all other sectors.

Other resources sectors with rapidly increasing demand for energy include mining and metal processing, which currently use about 10% of world energy supply, have an escalating demand as lower quality ore bodies are mined. The implications of declines in Energy Return On Energy Invested (ERoEI) are so shocking that there is much confusion and denial about the concept of net energy.

The idea that biofuels or coal to liquids will simply replace oil and gas the way oil and gas have replaced wood and coal shows an astonishing degree of ignorance of the concept of net energy. When we moved from wood to coal and on to oil, the increase in power available to humanity was not just from the increasing quantity of energy, but from the increasing quality. The quantity is easily measured in joules (heat energy released) but the quality is something scientists are more confused about. It is widely accepted by scientists that energy quality is real and determines the usefulness of energy, but without an agreed way to measure quality, it is largely ignored.

The net energy concept is just beginning to surface in the media and policy circles as a way to assess alternative energy sources and strategies, especially in the debate over corn ethanol in the USA. While different methods of accounting for net energy produce substantially different net energy profit figures, they all show a pattern of higher returns for current and past sources of fossil energy than new ones. Economic power and profit from past development of different energy sources also reflects these general patterns revealed by net energy calculation methods. This suggests they can be used to predict real economic impacts of future energy systems.

The declining net energy yields of our energy resources results in an increasing proportion of society’s real wealth being devoted to the energy harvesting sectors of the economy, leaving less and less for all other sectors.

[The above graph models gross energy availability.  Due to decreasing net energy yields of many of the above resources, actual available energy for society will likely decrease more dramatically.]

The promotion by the US dept of Agriculture of research showing a Energy Return On Energy Invested of 1.6 as a good result, indicates how the understanding of these issues is very poor, even by the scientifically literate. A society based on an energy source of this quality would be constantly investing 62% of its energy back into the energy industry (the 1 in 1.6), leaving only the remaining 38% of the total energy in society for everything else, ie. health, education, culture, food production, law, leisure and so on. Our modern industrial society has been fueled by energy sources with Energy Return on Energy Invested as high as 100 and at least 6 (requiring between 1% and 17% of the wealth created being invested to get the yield)

Ironically conventional economics is blind to this shift because one type of economic transaction is considered as good as another, so growth in the energy sector at the expense of say personal consumption is not seen as indicative of any fundamental problem.

My own tracking of these issues over the last thirty years leads me to the conclusion that the next energy transition is to sources with lower energy production rates and lower net energy yield which in turn will drive changes in human economy and society that are without precedent since the decline and/or collapse of previous complex civilizations such as the Mayans and the Romans.

The most sophisticated method of evaluating net energy, with the longest history of development, is EMergy Accounting developed by Howard Odum and colleagues. It has informed my own development of permaculture principles and strategies over the last 30 years but unfortunately it remains unknown or at best misunderstood in academic and policy circles. EMergy accounting includes ways of measuring energy quality (called “Transformity”). This makes it possible to account for small quantities of very high quality energy in technology and human services that undermine many of the more optimistic assessments of alternative energy sources including biomass, nuclear and solar.

To test the relative impact of net energy compared with declines in energy production rates, I used a recent assessment of global energy production through to 2050 by Paul Chefurka published and discussed on The Oil Drum website. The study was well referenced and its assumptions and methodology were clear. It took account of likely reductions from oil, gas and coal but included reasonably optimistic figures for future production from renewables and nuclear. It shows a peak in total energy production about 2020 followed by a decline to 70% of 2005 production by 2050. This is a very serious reduction given an expected global population of 9 billion. Below are the key production projections and energy mix pie charts from the study.

Using published EMergy accounting studies I multiplied these current and projected global energy sources by their net EMergy yield ratios. This shows that the energy quality of 2050 energy mix will be 58% of the 2005 energy mix. This suggests that declining net energy is a greater factor than projected declines in production. Multiplying these factors together suggests real energetic power available to humanity will be 40% of current yields. This does not allow for the energetic cost of carbon sequestration (still unknown) to ameliorate the otherwise disastrous impacts on the climate of the increased use of coal.

The net energy return from fossil fuels including coal will decline so that  the above calculation of humanity having about 40% of current net energy by 2050 may still be optimistic. Further it does not take account of decline (or increase) in the average net energy return for a particular source. While it is possible that net energy return from newer renewable sources (such as solar and even wind) could conceivably improve with time, it is more likely that they will decline as the embedded fossil energy contribution (to the new energy sources) declines. A new evaluation of the net energy return of gas production in North America using a methodology developed by Cleverland and Costanza suggests net energy return is in the process of a collapse so severe that net energy yield from gas in Canada will effectively fall to almost nothing by 2014 and that similar results apply to US production. This is very different from the official view that claims the USA has 86 years of production at 2004 levels based on production to reserves ratios.
The implications of some of this information is so shocking that the naïve and simplistic idea that we are running out of oil and gas (rather than just peaking in production) may be closer to the truth than even the most pessimistic assessments of peak oil proponents a decade ago.
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Section IV considers briefly some other major factors besides Peak Oil and Climate Change which will determine the future.
Associated issues 


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Many other factors beyond Climate Change and Peak Oil are increasing the stress on global ecosystems and humanity making some form of energetic descent if not collapse, seem inevitable. A few of the more fundamental ones need at least a mention.
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•  Critical materials depletion
Accelerating economic growth and energy extraction over the last decade has greatly increased depletion of other essential non-renewable resources, especially phosphates for food production and non ferrous metals for industry. Almost all the unfolding plans and projects for energy transition beyond oil will place more demand on these depleting resources. For example, the demand for nickel steel alloys required for high pressure natural gas pipelines is pushing up the price of nickel and further depleting the remaining stocks. As lower quality deposits of critical materials are tapped, energy demands for extraction and processing will escalate dramatically and production rates will fall.  The title of Richard Heinberg’s latest book Peak Everything sums up the situation.

•  Water depletion
Water is the most abundant resource used by humanity, but the growing demand, is so vast that the limits once specific to a bioregion, are now being expressed at the global scale. Although I don’t subscribe the view that global water shortage will constrict global growth before or more severely than liquid fuel supplies, the global water crisis is already quite severe. Even if we attribute the most dramatic impacts of droughts directly to climate change, other factors are independently contributing to the water crisis.  The loss of wetlands, perennial vegetation and forests as well as soil humus are all reducing the capacity of catchments and soils to catch and store water between periods of rain, which in turn, escalates demand for irrigation. Increasing affluence is directly and indirectly increasing water consumption especially through intensive livestock husbandry dependent on irrigated fodder crops. The extraction of ground water beyond recharge rates, including huge reserves laid down after the last ice age, makes many water resources as depletable as fossil fuels, giving rise to the term “fossil water”. Finally, the decline in water quality is increasing death and illness from water borne diseases, demand for expensive water filtration and treatment as well as bottled water supplies.

•  Food supply
The unfolding global food crisis can be largely attributed to the manifold interactions and knock on effects of energy costs and climate change including droughts and bad seasons, biofuel demand and escalating costs of (energy intensive) fertilizers, pesticides, and irrigation.  Other factors exacerbating the crisis include rising affluence increasing demand especially for beef and cotton, past low prices destroying farming as a livelihood and failure of the land reform agenda in most countries. Fixing these secondary factors is technically possible, but seems unlikely. But there is also evidence that agriculture is running up against fundamental yield limits for our main crops that, despite all the promises, genetic engineering has failed to break through. Widespread application of organic methods and permaculture design, especially when applied to small scale systems could reduce the impact of the crisis but this will not be simple or quick.

•  Population Pressures
The continued growth in human numbers is now pushing well beyond that which could be sustainably supported without fossil fuels. Although affluence, conflict and other human created factors are multiplying the impact of population, there are structural factors that make the large and growing human population more important than it might otherwise be.  The total size of the human population, its density of settlement in cities and the constant interchange of microbes due to travel and trade are all powerful factors increasing the likelihood of new and old diseases creating pandemics on an unprecedented scale.

•  Financial Instability
The accelerating growth and concentration of debt and financial assets especially in the housing and derivatives markets is destabilizing the global economy. The virtual impossibility that future growth in the real economy could ever be large enough to justify those debts and assets suggests a major and enduring economic contraction in the near future. Alternatively we may see the financial crisis in the USA trigger a collapse similar to that which happened in the Soviet Union. If China, India, Russia and other growing economies survive relatively unscathed,  completely new global power and economic systems could emerge quite quickly.

•  Psychosocial limits to affluence
The psychosocial limits of affluent consumer culture suggest that multi generational mass affluence may burn itself out in a few generations, through dysfunctional behavior, addictions and depression. While the “Roaring 20s” in affluent countries gave some examples of the excesses of affluence that were swept away by the Great Depression and Second World War, the three generations of affluence since then have stimulated lifestyles and behaviors that are amplifying unsustainable resource consumption to new heights. The onset of severe psychosocial dysfunction in the long affluent western world could be as powerful a force as the financial system instability.

•  Species extinction
The accelerating rate of species extinctions suggests humans have initiated a wave of extinctions on the scale of the asteroid that is believed to be the cause of the mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Apart from the ethical and psychological issues involved, it is hard to predict how, and when this will result in major adverse impacts on humanity other than to recognize that it is eroding the genetic base that we will increasingly depend on in the future, as well as increasing ecological instability that is undermining our ability to produce food.

Despite the severity of these and other associated problems I see climate change and peak oil as the most fundamental ones for the following reasons:
1. They both are inevitable consequences of the accelerating use of fossil fuels, the undeniable primary factor in creating the explosion of human numbers, cultural complexity and impacts on nature.
2. They both appear to be generating immediate and severe threats to humanity
3. They both show a long term pattern of accelerating intensity
4. They both contribute directly or indirectly to the impact of the other serious problems threatening humanity and nature.

To suggest that the next energy transition will fall well short of the past patterns of human collective expectations is a gross understatement. My quick overview of evidence around the most critical issues suggests we need to refocus our assumptions about the future around energy descent while developing the psycho-social and eco-technical capacity to respond to the range of possible scenarios that we could face.
While continued efforts to better understand the rate of onset of climate change and the decline in oil production is very useful, an equally important task is to understand how these factors will combine to create differing futures.

Continued in (Survival Manual/2. Social Issues/Our Future, Part 3  of 4)

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