Archive for the ‘Climate Instability’ Category

Overlooked Carbon Sequestration Opportunity in Urban/Peri-Urban Locations

Image courtesy of

The San Francisco East Bay Area is in the throes of an #earthquake ‘drought’. Over the past several years, the following enquiry has been posed to local, regional and State of California officials:

72 hours post-earthquake, what are the citizenry to do when they can’t flush their toilets? 

Dry composting toilet and urine diversion systems are a decentralized and waterless form of ecological sanitation that can address all the post-earthquake sanitation concerns. They work by turning the human excreta into humus, and urine into a treated fertilizer. When well designed, these systems:

  • Exploit the nitrogen, and mineral, and organics nutrient flows.
  • Use no electrical power, drinking water, or fossil fuels.
  • Discharge no pollutants into the environment.
  • Have low capital and maintenance costs.
  • Are comparatively easy to maintain.
  • Can reliably destroy pathogens and can be a reliable way of breaking down excreted pharmaceutical residues.

Centralized sewer systems are also subject to catastrophic failure in a natural disaster, where sewer systems are expected to fail and be inoperable for a period of months, and possibly up to a year, with physical wastewater infrastructure damage amounting to between 75% to 100%. 

Oregon and New Zealand have studied container-based sanitation as a preparedness measure, planning for excreta to be segregated into urine and dry fecal-additive stores during the anticipated sewer failure, that can allow later composting and treatment of the materials so they can be recycled back to the environment.

Due to their improved carbon performance, composting toilet systems can help to promote climate stability. Carbon sequestered in soil makes up the bulk of the Earth’s non-oceanic carbon stores. And so, the creation of humus compost from composted excreta can help replenishment of the Earth’s topsoil, as well as be an important way to sequester carbon. After all, (wo)man’s poop is just anaerobically digested carbon…

#humanure #compost #excreta #carbon #sequestration #urban #peri-urban #earthquake


The ‘Indifference’ of Mother Nature fascinates me, but confounds so many…

…everyday I check the weather forecasts in my area. I’d like to think I lack the hubris a great many others seem to possess when it comes to a stance they take, expecting Mother Nature to acquiesce to (wo)mans’ quality of life to which they have become accustomed. I mean we have Gortex to keep us dry, SPF-30 sunscreen to keep our epidermis from ‘frying’, can take siestas, ja?

For weeks now, the predicted forecasts have been persistently off when it comes to average local temperatures by upwards of 10 °F. I think folks need to learn how to start expecting the unexpected and PREPARE. to RESPOND.  to ADAPT., because the Good Mother Earth couldn’t give a rat’s ass about (wo)mans’ quality of life expectations.

Indeed, Earth almost certainly will become desiccated as the fusion of the sun ramps up. And since water vapor is a greenhouse gas, beyond a certain point, increasing the water vapor from the warming oceans will stoke Earth’s surface temperature—this in turn causes more sea water to evaporate, and thus adds to the warming, and so on and so on AKA a positive feedback loop. Here’s one interpretation of what global warming of the Earth will look like:

Citation: Goldilocks’ clue to habitable planets

Illustration credit: Jeremy Leconte of the Pierre Simon Laplace Institute, Paris, France

Simulation of the increase with time of the surface temperature (here at the spring equinox) caused by the increase in solar flux. Around 1 billion years, the runaway greenhouse climate instability is predicted to vaporize all the oceans until a very high temperature is reached (The mean temperature in panel 3 is an extrapolation of the temperatures after oceans are fully vaporized).

  • Bad news: The Earth’s oceans will evaporate away.
  • Good news: This won’t happen for another billion years or so.

For now, ‘comparatively’ smaller changes in the atmosphere are having grave impacts on our beloved space ship. And so to this I say…

…enjoy these rather ‘mild’ climate instabilities while you can, because I’m certain the variances are going to start vacillating more widely in the days, weeks, months, years, centuries and lifetimes to come.


CA EXCEPTIONAL Drought | Yeah, well, you know…

…just about 10 years ago during post-graduate studies at the Universiteit Utrecht, in one of my modeling classes, one of our assignments was to model the hydrological cycle of what our respective part of the world would look like in ten years. Alas, I modeled this very scenario:

Click me to go to the Drought Monitor web site

In a word, sobering.

In my opinion, this news should be on the front pages on a daily basis. The ‘indifference’ of Mother Nature, er climate instability and extreme drought, will have her way with us, sooner rather than later, I am afraid. That being said…


…I think it would be prudent and wise on the part of leadership if they spent more energy teaching and training (wo)man to PREPARE. to RESPOND. and ADAPT. to this ‘train wreck’ in the making. Such hubris on the part of humans who think we can stop climate instability. We’re about to get what we deserve, BIG TIME. Bring on the pain, because like civilizations from the past, we bipedal creatures defer to reactivity, and fail MASSIVELY to be proactive. Yeah, well, you know… Itiswhatitis…



THE AWFUL TRUTH | What no one wants to talk about—Climate Instability

Dang, I wish everyone would just catch up with me.

My focus has always been to deal with the pre-existing, shared values about climate instability and how it affects the Tragedy of the Commons (the atmosphereoceans, rivers, fish stocks, the office refrigerator, energy or any other shared resource which is not formally regulated); values such as:

  • Employment
  • Security
  • Good Health

Stuff everyone wants, right? Some time ago, I reconciled that the hubris of the humanities, religion is furtive. But one doesn’t have to be religious to believe some supreme being wants us to love and care for other people, and that this entity gave this space ship we call ‘Earth’ to people to care for it and every living thing. Problem is, I don’t think (wo)man have been doing a very good job minding the shop, ship.

Sadly, the people most affected by climate instability AKA the ‘indifference’ of Mother Nature, are people who do not have resources to ADAPT. And sadly, climate scientists, politicos and policy folks fear telling the truth for risk of losing their status. This, however, is not a problem for me, the outermost outlier on the curve, the anomaly on this space ship, I have nothing to lose. The truth is, humanity is in for some SERIOUS and AWFUL SHIT!

Ten years ago, during my post-graduate studies in Utrecht, NL, we studied and modeled all this shit that will be exacerbated by climate instability  i.e. extreme heat waves, reduction in global food stocks, lost of ecosystems and biodiversity, and increasing sea levels, unrest/wars, mass migrations. Ja, I and the Dutch get it, because of their ‘painful’ history–not to mention, on a day to day basis, their livelihoods’ are potentially in peril and at the moicy of Mother Nature and rising waters. The Dutch are pretty miff’d at the USA’s slovenly, satiated lifestyles bent on hyper-consumerism. And for the past ten years, I’ve tried to tell this story, but I’m perceived as a looney. Yeah, well, you know…

I mean, let’s look at the science. If we hold the increase in average global temperature to 2 degrees Celsius, it will still require an unprecedented level of global mobilization and coordination for a long time; decades. However, there is no sign of this happening, and unlikely to be plausible anytime soon. It doesn’t help that the purchase of plug-in electric vehicles was down and sales of SUVs/trucks are up in the USA. Why? Why…

…because all the politicians want to hear is good news and no one wants to hear about what’s really coming down the pipe. They only want to hear that the 2 degree Celsius metric is possible, so they can keep avoiding any near-term aggressive carbon emission cuts. They just can’t deal with or comprehend this positive feedback loop of a ‘snowball’ rolling down a hill. And the only thing that can reverse this is a negative forcing feedback splat on the windshield of Panzer Tank.

I mean if anyone’s been paying attention, for decades (since the 1990s), these ‘pundit’s have been spewing, “We only have 5-10 years to invoke mitigating measures!” Anyone with common sense knows, a 9 year old child understands, 5-10 years came along a long time ago. Fleh.

I’ve been saying for over 10 years, if we are to keep the temperature below this threshold, it means carbon emissions must decrease 6%/annum, implying:

  • Humans must change the consumptive behavior and conserve
  • Humans must not violate the laws of thermodynamics

Ok, I’m breaking the bad news. My stance has always been uncomfortable to those who would give me an ear. Pretty sure they think I’m wrong or crazy or both. Yet what’s happening is we are on a 4 degree Celsius increase that will be catastrophic. Yup, slow and certain disaster is on the way, but rarely rises above the background noise. Yeah, well you know…

As I say, better to invest in PREPARE. to RESPOND. to ADAPT. to the ‘indifference’ of Mother Nature. What’s great is today, I finally heard another scientist, a climate scientist during an interview today use my PREPARE. RESPOND. ADAPT. operatives. [Hearty pat on the back! Atta-gerly, Kimgerly!]

I’m going to go see MAD MAX Fury Road on Monday. Bring on the pain!

REST in Urban Agriculture

As the ‘indifference’ of Mother Nature, er climate instability continues intensifying, and when the price of petrol gets prohibitively expensive for foodstuffs to make their way to the markets, folks will be wishing for an achievable, sustainability developed schema like REST in Urban Agriculture  that includes:

  • hybrid renewable energy systems technology [HREST] for energy generation and capturing moisture from the air via atmospheric water generation
  • water resource management
  • waste management
  • affordable housing
  • access to fresh produce
  • employment opportunities
  • the 5 R’s – resiliency, redundancy, robustness, reliability, repair


Here’s the BIG PROBLEM | Energy literacy is the energy industry’s BIGGEST obstacle

This one is for all the VCs out there.

It’s taken me the better part of a month to draw the following conclusions and reconcile my latest position as a renewable energy ‘evangelist’…

For about ten years now, I have been searching for the lowest common denominators why MASSIVE deployment of renewable energy systems technologies is still not taking place. I have found over this past year that there are a great many empathetic scientists, engineers and economists echoing my sentiments about having a discussion about making fundamental changes in consumption of fossil fuels. And more importantly, that this needs to happen in tandem with deployment of renewable energy systems technologies.

The majority of (Wo)Men want it all, and has hubris that I find utterly confounding, expecting Mother Nature to acquiesce to certain quality of life expectations we have been accustomed w/o having to make sacrifices or change behavior. Indeed, we should do everything what we can to reduce CO2 emissions while implementing more Earth-friendly energy systems technologies. I, however, don’t think we’ll see the change required on a massive scale until everything breaks, HARD.  Hubris and greed are furtive ‘beasts.’ And so…

POINT ONE. I think until energy literacy is heightened, invoking renewable energy systems engineering proactivity on a massive scale is highly unlikely. Right, to foment this change, for at least ten years now, I’ve been suggesting we need guerrilla marketing–because, quite frankly the public’s complete and utter lack of energy literacy is the renewable energy industry’s, and for that matter, conventional energy of CONG’s [coal oil nuclear natural gas] biggest obstacle. The level of ignorance that almost everyone has about energy, such as how electricity gets to their house, or how gasoline gets into their automobile tank, is on par with children who don’t know where a Chicken McNugget comes from, or that manure from grazing animals can be used as fertilizer/compost.

And because governments have a difficult time developing effective policies, voters don’t understand the issues. These issues are exploited for partisan gain, experts are discredited, and so, terrible, terrible decisions are made. Water and power are taken for granted. And so they are considered entitlements, basic human rights–and as I have tried to raise, any heavily regulated company providing these services are despised when they don’t measure up to a certain entitlement expectation.

It’s interesting how some services are glorified (firefighters) and the ones we can’t live without (power linesmen) are ignored, taken for granted–that is, until the power goes out, then customers are angry. I think this is one area where the examination needs to occur, so this shift can evolve in a more pragmatic and prudent direction.

POINT TWO. Another problem is those who don’t understand thermodynamics don’t understand a physical system dealing with kilojoules or kilograms makes things way more difficult than say, working in the infinite space of the internet. And what’s unfortunate is a great deal of the venture capitalists  assumed energy was like the computer science industry. The laws of physics don’t allow the speedy progress we see and have seen in information technology. I was a participant contributing to the development of the web realm back of the days of the dot-com(edy).  The gains in the energy sector, however, come about incrementally. Energy has to be converted to a useful form, er usually electricity or heat, and the amount that can be obtained is limited, set by the laws of thermodynamics.

But let’s not forget the efficiency issue. Gasoline, diesel, LPG (liquified petroleum gas) and natural gas (NG) are efficient, they also contain an energy rich density no single renewable energy systems technology posses, are relatively easy to transport, store in large quantities and use in vehicles or power buildings/processes. I therefore think energy innovation will come about with revolutionary changes in energy extraction, storage, distribution and application. And so…

…at this juncture in time, I see a game changer being the glut of natural gas from tracking shale deposits in the USA. IF, HOWEVER THE GAS CAN BE EXTRACTED WITHOUT ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE, THIS COULD BE THE CLOSEST DISRUPTOR FOR THE NEAR TERM FUTURE. 

And so for now, the inertia of fossil fuel dependence continues, as do the escalations of ‘indifference’ of Mother Nature, er climate instability.

Energy is all around us and we consume copious quantities of it. We only question it when it’s expensive or not there. – Energy Abundance vs. the Poverty of Energy Literacy



A timely Dec. 2009 repost — Addicted to Nonsense INDEED! AKA Hubris of the humanities…

I forgot I had started blogging elsewhere before getting ambitious and learning to use WordPress. I thought the following deserved a repost. Not much has changed. *Sigh*

…it happened before in societies that collapsed, it’s going to happen again, I’m afraid. I speak of the Hohokam in AZ in 3BC who, in spite of not raising domesticated animals and only used wood modestly, a life ‘apparently’ based on sustainability, with the increase in population food became scarce, environmental changes, imposition of irrigation strategies/over-farming and social responses, er ‘ceremonial activities’ weakened their system’s resilience and made their system vulnerable to the climate extremes. And the Norse society in Greenland in the 1720s sticking to established patterns, elaborating on its churches and ‘ideological conditioning’ of the population instead of its hunting skills. And so it goes today…

After my mid-20s, I didn’t subscribe to this societal nonsensical crap that’s dished-out on the eeidiot boxes. I’m just trying to get my ducks in a row, and be ready to do what I can to start mopping up the mess that will invariably arrive one of these days in the (dare I say) near future. Unfortunately, there’s going to need to be A LOT of pain, strife and discomfort, before the ship can be up-righted, if that ends-up even being possible.

Chris Hedges offered a rather sobering ‘Addicted to Nonsense‘ account to the consumerism-bent mindset of the sheeople recently…

The juxtaposition of the impossible illusions inspired by celebrity culture and our “insignificant” individual achievements, however, is leading to an explosive frustration, anger, insecurity and invalidation. It is fostering a self-perpetuating cycle that drives the frustrated, alienated individual with even greater desperation and hunger away from reality, back toward the empty promises of those who seduce us, who tell us what we want to hear. The worse things get, the more we beg for fantasy. We ingest these lies until our faith and our money run out. And when we fall into despair we medicate ourselves, as if the happiness we have failed to find in the hollow game is our deficiency. And, of course, we are told it is.

…Many have lost hope. Fear and instability have plunged the working class into profound personal and economic despair, and, not surprisingly, into the arms of demagogues and charlatans of the radical Christian right who offer a belief in magic, miracles and the fiction of a utopian Christian nation. Unless we rapidly re-enfranchise these dispossessed workers, insert them back into the economy, unless we give them hope, these demagogues will rise up to take power.

The former in the last sentence ain’t gonna happen, is it? Rhetorical. I know the economist Richard Wolff has a great deal to say on the rapid re-enfranchising of dispossessed workers matter.


What if “Climate Change” is the next “Y2K”? [My Linked:Energy (Energy industry expertise) comment]

What follows below is a comment I offered up on the thread to the Post Subject Title: What if “Climate Change” is the next “Y2K”?

I want to formally call out two concepts I think would better serve this discussion:

Climate Instability — As much as I disagree with the operatives ‘climate change’, I think it would be better served to educate the dummied down masses with the usage of the more accurate operatives, ‘climate instability’, rather than ‘climate change’–for the very reason Larry aptly offered up. I think there is so much distrust by the general public because we scientists/engineers try to find a way to explain challenging concepts without speaking over their heads, and in doing so to make it more palatable, the actuality sometimes gets skewed. The current understanding of the many facets of climate ‘change’ science is pervasive and profound, with many unknowns, and unknown unknowns, that cannot be characterized in terms of a conventional probability distribution. Perhaps if there were not so much ambiguity in the science, ambiguity aversion by the masses could be averted. But alas, most can only handle absolutes, expect science to be exact, and so it goes…

Precautionary Principle – I believe worst-case scenarios should always be considered and planned for. We should NEVER wait until disaster happens to act. In this case, even if climate instability turns out to not be as deleterious as originally thought, the precautions put in place will be to our advantage no matter what the scenario. Is moving towards sustainable energy a bad thing? No. Is changing our consumptive, polluting behavior a bad thing? No.

A tactical suggestion: So I now try break out the precautionary principle, the argument stops and agreement begins.

Say, I think it’s past time to dispense the human hubris that we should expect Mother Nature to acquiesce to our human quality of life expectations to which we have become accustomed, eschew futile dichotomies (economics and environment), and instead focus on implementing measures to PREPARE. RESPOND. ADAPT. For quite a long time now, I have thought we should be instead looking at application of developments in the economic theory of ambiguity to climate instability policy that includes both mitigation policy (the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions) and adaptation policy (coping with the consequences of climate instability).

Ancillary note. During the Y2K ‘unevent’, I was charged with ensuring that the web server farm/systems to which I was entrusted managing, what was at the time the 3rd biggest e-commerce web site in the world,, did not suffer an outage on 01/01/2000. And yes, all the time and effort invested in shoring-up our uninterruptible power requirements infrastructure ended up being most advantageous afterward. This experience also catalyzed my ‘reinvention’ into the renewable energy world.


How far can we push the planet?

Several years ago, I was privileged to work for a company that was instrumental in optimizing the way the Carnegie Global Ecology Center, which is located on the campus of Stanford University, managed its day-to-day energy resources. Because of the nature of the research being performed by the scientists at this institution, they were keen to practice what they preach to minimize their carbon footprint in their work environment.

The other day, I heard one of the Carnegie Global Ecology Center climate scientists, Ken Caldera, interviewed on the local radio station, KPFA Full Circle program. The main question in this interview was should humans be able to control the weather? This only begs the question, in general, is this our role as human beings to manipulate and control Mother Nature?

What would happen if we do not curtail CO2 emissions and burn all of the fossil fuels available? The future would look a lot like how it did 100 million years ago, the age of the dinosaurs, which means high CO2 levels and a very warm planet. Ken Caldera, Climate Scientist, Chemical Oceanographer

Last year, he also offered his insights to Scientific America in his article titled The Great Climate Experiment. How far can we push the planet? 

The planet will be transformed by unabated CO2 mitigation–a 5 deg C temperature rise could raise sea level by 70 meters. A myriad of ideas are floating around that includes actions to withdraw CO2 from the atmosphere and/or reduce the amount of climate change, including:

  • Planting trees, burning the trees as biomass fuel and capturing and storing the carbon emitted
  • Fertilizing the ocean
  • Reflecting the sunlight into space
  • Make clouds wider or paint rooftops white
  • Giant reflecting satellites in space

What is wise, doable and morally responsible? And again, is this even our job as human beings to intentionally manipulate our climate? Personally, I agree with Ken, I think we are already overstepping our bounds. So now, what is the best way to act?


‘Climate milestone is a moment of symbolic significance on road of idiocy’

I recall sitting in my Energy Analysis class at the Universeit Utrecht in 2005, when we embarked on a discussion about this new, flagship mechanism, the EU Emissions Trading Scheme [ETS], a policy vehicle to promote reducing carbon emission in the aim of bolstering renewable energy systems technologies. I thought, perhaps, at that time, it might work at best and at worst be a baby step in the right direction. Mind you, this was around the time BP, British Petroleum had unveiled their Beyond Petroleum campaign. But like my pragmatic, solicitous Dutch classmates, I was skeptical. And now, today, I am sadly affirmed.

For some time now, I have been a firm believer that we need to quit emitting carbon, post haste if we are to attenuate the escalations of the ‘indifference’ of Mother Nature–climate instability, global warming and all the associated ‘undesirables’ that she will unleash. This, however, I am afraid will not happen–especially because oil companies short-term interests which are clearly valued more than long-term viability of preserving an ecosystem where a quality of life we have been accustomed can be maintained.

I think George Monbiot summed this parody of inaction up rather well in his latest article, ‘Via Dolorosa – Corruption and short-termism are pushing us along the path of sorrows.’


Return top

What is a Hybrid RE Engineer?

An engineering generalist with an understanding of sustainable development whose skills set are typically comprised of an amalgam of mechanical and electrical engineering. One who is able to design and assemble systems and components that are comprised of more than one renewable energy (RE) technology i.e. solar, wind, hydro-kinetic (ocean/wave/micro-hydro), biomass, hydrogen fuel cell, geothermal and storage (battery, fly wheel, pumped-hydro). The RE technologies selected depend on one's geographical predisposition, resource availability, the end-use need, practicing conservation (behavioral change) to name a few considerations...

Content © 2009-2017 by Kimberly King