April 22, 2005

   (click photo for larger image)
A Visual Thesaurus

Energy II   

This is the SECOND of several efforts to profile global energy issues and relate that to similar challenges with water, climate, and food.

In this issue

  • Craig Newmark "How to Sell Your Sofa"
  • Energy - Oil & Water - read it now
  • Toyota Prius - see it now
  • Visual Thesaurus - see it now
  • Prairie photos - view them now
  • Wes Jackson - read now
  • Read KF News at web site - click here or click the KF button at upper left
  • Subscribe to KF News - sign up now
  • Send KF News to a friend - send now
  • Prior KF Newsletters - view list now

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    Earth Day - TODAY!
    Read a tribute to Earth Day by Kathy Hutman, (ma femme) HERE

    Craig Newmark

    Also attending the World Affairs Conference in Boulder, April 4-8 was Craig Newmark, founder, manager and daily customer support specialist, of craigslist.org. Begun in 1995, it now has 8,000,000 users per month and 2 billion page views per month in 100 cities and 20 countries. What is it? - "craigslist provides local community classifieds and forums - a place to find a job, housing, goods & services, a social life, advice, and just about anything else.".

    Craig's own description of his beginnings and his mission included:

  • It began as a community service devoted to how to sell your sofa.
  • It is focused on things that can actually get done.
  • It has a moral compass that believes that people are reasonable.

    Considering "global energy" it is difficult to get a handle on how we, as part of our day to day life, can affect the bigger picture. We need simple and direct ways to get a grip on issues, similar to what Craig Newmark did with his "how to sell your sofa" approach.

    A theme of this newsletter is to promote knowledge transactions on important issues. Please use persuasive advocacy when you can and make daily dollar investments to promote sustainability.

    Web Link - craigslist.org

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    Global Energy / Resources - Oil & Water

    Last week, one of the bulleted items which highlighted oil as a finite resource said, "Consumption is at its global peak - there is no spare capacity left." To expand on this briefly, it has been estimated by various students of the problem that at the present rate of "upward spiraling" consumption oil reserves will be steeply falling in 5 to 10 years. A rather jarring thought to say the least. Better start dusting off the old bicycle.

    Some facts:

    US Department of Energy "Ask a Scientist" web page says: A barrel of oil contains 42 gallons. After refining, it makes about 19.5 gallons (46.4%) of gasoline in addition to numerous other products such as heating oil, plastics and on and on (there are hundreds).

         Production of Oil and Gasoline
    • 82,500,000 barrels of oil world wide per day* = 38,280,000 barrels gasoline of per day (46.4%)
    • 38,280,000 barrels of gasoline = 1,607,760,000 gallons of gasoline per day (38.280 x 42)    Consumption of Gasoline
    • 9,000,000 barrels of gasoline are used per day in US** = 378,000,000 gallons per day in U.S..
    • 36,000,000 barrels of gasoline are used world wide (approximate)*** = 1,512,000,000 gallons per day.
    • 94% The consumption of 1,512,000,000 GPD is 94% of production of 1,607,760,000 GPD

    * In 1996 OPEC said 71.7 million barrels world wide. In 2004 US DoE projected 121 million in 2025
    Data shows increases of about 1 million per day per year in recent years and expect 1.7 million per
    The calculations use a 1.2 million per day per year increase from 96 to 05 = 82.5 million per day per year
    ** Graphs show 8.7 to 9.2 million, so I am rounding off to 9 million.
    *** U.S. is consuming about 25%, so world wide is 4 x 9 = 36 million barrels

    Web Link - USDE - Ask a Scientist

    The best answer to not running out of gasoline - literally - is to ramp up to very serious conservation RIGHT NOW. To invest time and/or money in alternative energy and conservation - RIGHT NOW - see the ACTION LIST below.


    As if the oil issue isn't bad enough, prospects for its natural resources cousin, water, may be worse. The rapid depletion of underground water resources poses a greater threat than oil depletion. There are substitutes for oil but there are none for water. Humans lived without oil for thousands of generations, but we can live only a matter of days without water.

    There are no substitutes for water. We need vast amounts of it to produce food. The water needed to produce the food consumed by one person in a day is 500 times what that person drinks in a day. No wonder that 70% of the world's fresh water is used for irrigation for food production.

    River water is fully exploited world wide. Some large rivers, like the Colorado River in the U.S. and the Yellow River in China are 100% depleted before reaching their coastal deltas. With rivers fully exploited the world has turned to underground water in recent decades to meet irrigation needs. These underground aquifers are of two types, replenish-able and fossil (the greatest of the latter is the Ogallala of the North American Great Plains). The rate of water use world wide exceeds the rate of replenishment in the first and will soon exhaust the second.

    So far no country has succeeded in stopping the fall of its water tables. Eventually this situation may result in food shortages.

    The water issue is very difficult to get a grip on for most people because such a huge proportion of the problem belongs to agriculture and its use of water for irrigation. Because of population growth of 70,000,000 persons per year, the world needs higher food production and yet it also needs to dramatically reduce water consumption. This may be a less volatile issue than oil but is a more perplexing and potentially more dangerous issue than oil.


    Expanding awareness of the finite nature of our primary resources such as oil and water has created a tidal wave of interest, talk and embryonic advances in "sustainability".

  • Sustainability
    Think about "sustainability" as the notion of an earth where perpetuity, sempiternity, and ceaselessness prevail. (my definition)

  • Renewable Choice
    Purchase wind credits from Renewable Choice

    "Renewable Choice connects wind power producers with wind power consumers. This is a key service to expanding the wind power market and maintaining the explosive growth in the industry. Renewable Choice aggressively markets wind power everywhere in the United States and Canada."
    Web Link - Renewable Choice

  • The Land Institute
    Become a supporter of The Land Institute
    Your contribution supports work on perennialization of food grains. This approach to food grains emulates the native grass prairie and thus could save enormous quantities of both WATER and OIL (gasoline).

    Web Link - About Land Institute's work
    Web Link - Contribute to Land Institute

  • Center for Rural Affairs
    Become a supporter of The Center for Rural Affairs
    "The Center works to direct agricultural research and education programs to support strong family farms, ranches, and rural communities, and a healthy environment. We're advocating for research that enables family farmers and ranchers to substitute their own skills and management for high-cost inputs, brings them higher on-farm profits, and protects the environment."

    Web Link - About Center for Rural Affairs
    Web Link - Donate to Center for Rural Affairs

  • Suggestions
    Use this reply link to send suggested actions to KF
    Suggestions will be posted in the upcoming Newsletter(s).

  • KF Newsletter
    Expand the KF News mailing list
    Use the "Send to a Friend" box at bottom of this page.

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    Toyota Prius

    It has been pointed out that I seem to be "advertising" the Toyota Prius. I admit it's true. Frankly it is the only way I know of personally to cut your gasoline consumption in half. I'll give it a rest soon.

    Web Link - Toyota Prius web page
    Web Site - Prius Home Page - book a test drive

    Web Site - Yahoo Prius E-Mail Group

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    Visual Thesaurus

    Once in a while you run across something that is the embodiment of what you have wished you could invent. It can be a "Eureka" moment or, if you are seriously trying to invent that something, it can be a great let down. For me most recently it has been a Eureka! The Visual Thesaurus is a wonderful conceptual model of what I have been dreaming KnowledgeFarm could do with associating ideas about sustainability.

    Kathy (ma femme once again) actually found this gem - she is the real word person here - and passed it on to me. It is a marvelous thing, this wonderful little wizard of a program. It displays related words in a map like configuration that adds another dimension to understanding how things connect. Talk about connect-the-dots, you must see this in action.

    Visual Thesaurus is created by a company called "Think Map".
    The web site offers a quick and easy to use demo. And for $29 you really can't go wrong in ordering it for your own enjoyment.

    Web link - www.visualthesaurus.com

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    Summer thunderstorm

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    Wes Jackson

    Founder of The Land Institute
    quoted from his book
    Altars of Unhewn Stone

    "The prairie counts on species diversity and genetic diversity within species to avoid epidemics of insects and pathogens. The prairie sponsors its own fertility, runs on sunlight, and actually accumulates ecological capital, accumulates soil. Observing this, I formulated the question: Is it possible to build an agriculture based on the prairie as its standard or model? I saw a sharp contrast between the major features of the wheat field and the major features of the prairie. The wheat field features annuals in monoculture; the prairie features perennials in polyculture or mixtures."

    If I may elaborate...
    A perennialized food grain agriculture, like wheat, would conserve water and require little or no tilling. The result could be vast reductions in petroleum fuels used for farm machinery, in soils lost to erosion, in water used for irrigation, and in fertilizer use.

    If you wish to assist in supporting this important work, go back to the
    ACTION LIST and then to the The Land Institute web site.

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    PDF Links

    This is a list of prior issues of KF newsletters.
    All are available for reading online at the web site and as PDF files   GO TO WEB SITE

    April 22, 2005 - Energy II - "how to sell your sofa"
    April 15, 2005 - Energy, Global Energy - Part I
    April 8, 2005 - Quiet Pandemic II, Why pick (on) corn?
    April 1, 2005 - A Quiet Pandemic, Obesity and Food Ethics
    March 25, 2005 - Special, Downsized Dreams
    March 18, 2005 - Mission, Modeling Diversity - Part V
    March 11, 2005 - Limits, Modeling Diversity - Part IV
    March 4, 2005 - Grasslands History, Modeling Diversity - Part III
    February 25, 2005 -Native Grasslands, Modeling Diversity - Part II
    February 18, 2005 - Polyculture Grains, Modeling Diversity
    February 7, 2005 - Photojournalism, A Model of Diversity

    George Beggs 4/2005 - Feedback is welcome

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