Friday, December 31, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Prospects for Early Progress in Decarbonizing my Household

As regular readers of this blog know, part of the thinking around my move to upstate New York was to put my family in a position to move to a zero-carbon, or carbon-negative, lifestyle.  The goal here is to do this in a way that a) preserves or enhances our quality of life, but b) doesn't cheat.

The point of preserving our quality of life is so that there's some prospect of influencing others to follow us, and most people being highly motivated by their own comfort and convenience, we will be more influential to the extent we don't sacrifice too much of our own.  So this is not an effort at voluntary poverty, but rather an effort to figure out how to live a pretty comfortable middle class life while not using fossil fuels.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Krugman: Peak Oil has Arrived

His exact words are:
In particular, today, as in 2007-2008, the primary driving force behind rising commodity prices isn’t demand from the United States. It’s demand from China and other emerging economies. As more and more people in formerly poor nations are entering the global middle class, they’re beginning to drive cars and eat meat, placing growing pressure on world oil and food supplies.

And those supplies aren’t keeping pace. Conventional oil production has been flat for four years; in that sense, at least, peak oil has arrived. True, alternative sources, like oil from Canada’s tar sands, have continued to grow. But these alternative sources come at relatively high cost, both monetary and environmental.

Also, over the past year, extreme weather — especially severe heat and drought in some important agricultural regions — played an important role in driving up food prices. And, yes, there’s every reason to believe that climate change is making such weather episodes more common.

So what are the implications of the recent rise in commodity prices? It is, as I said, a sign that we’re living in a finite world, one in which resource constraints are becoming increasingly binding. This won’t bring an end to economic growth, let alone a descent into Mad Max-style collapse. It will require that we gradually change the way we live, adapting our economy and our lifestyles to the reality of more expensive resources.
Emphasis mine.  I would have worded it a bit differently: with a nuance here and a caveat there, but I think the broad thrust of what he's saying is helpful. It's good to see such a widely followed voice acknowledging these issues. I think the degree of political strain is going to be somewhat greater than he's yet acknowledging though.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Merry Xmas, or other seasonal festivity of your choice!

Regular blogging schedule will resume on Monday.  In the meantime, feel free to use this as an open thread for anything in need of discussion or report.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Few Notes on Winter Cycling in the Northeast

Yesterday's post reminds me that I meant to say a few words about cycling in winter here, mostly for the benefit of any other Californians reverse-migrating to the North East in pursuit of better housing options (or whatever other reason you might have).  I sold my car when I left California in July and since I have been a) wanting to get a house before a car, and b) holding out for a Volt, I have continued to cycle as my main transportation.  Now that I have made it through the solstice, it seems I might have enough of the season under my belt to have some initial clue what it means to cycle here in the winter.  Even after I get a car, I anticipate continuing to cycle for exercise.

The good news here is that it's entirely possible to cycle through the winter in Ithaca in reasonable comfort.  However, it does require some significant investment in clothing and gear, and it takes longer to transition from inside to outside.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Some Musings On the Bradley Manning Charges

The things that Bradley Manning is currently charged with are here.  The essence of it is that between Nov 2009 and May 2010, he used his access to the US classified secret network (SIPRnet) to download a number of things, move them to his personal unclassified computer, and then give them to other unauthorized parties (presumably including Wikileaks).  The things he is is accused of thus misusing include:
  • a classified video of a military operation in Baghdad
  • a classified PowerPoint video
  • more than 150,000 state department cables
He is also accused of uploading unauthorized software onto a SIPRnet computer (we don't know what software it was).  He is also a person of interest in the leak of dispatches about the Afghanistan war (and apparently boasted to Adrian Lamo that he did so leak).

For the purposes of this discussion, let's assume that he did these things, or at a minimum, that his position as a military analyst in Iraq, and his resulting access to SIPRnet, made it possible that he could have done these things.  There is also no indication at this time that Manning had any advanced hacking skills - all the coverage I've read indicates that he just downloaded this stuff and burned it onto CDs.  Let's assume that's true also.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010