Posts Tagged ‘consumerism’

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.


(MORE) About WTGs & those critters that sometimes have ‘inelastic collisions’ w/them

As an ardent and passionate supporter of the environment, which is usually sacrificed because (wo)man aren’t too keen, in general, to adjust their consumerism habits. To do this would require ‘compromising’ their quality of life. So, here’s my take on wind energy generation. And since my focus in graduate school was in wind, I couldn’t let this one slide…

An engineer doesn’t look for a perfect solution, s/he looks at the available trade-offs and chooses the one with the best balance of cost to benefit. Until wind farms are shown to have more environmental costs than their fossil-fueled and nuclear competition, they should be considered a positive addition to our energy portfolio.

Its In My Backyard!!

It's In My Backyard!!

BELIEVE ME, I am doing my best to compel the renewable energy (RE) technology industry to be more transparent about ALL externalities involved in the life-cycle cost analysis–something CONG (coal oil nooklar (natural) gas) have never been accountable to revealing.

Personally, I’m all for hybrid RE systems that produce power closer to where they are used, and perhaps only require the distributive energy network for access. Overall, distributive generation/micro-grid/power scenarios just makes more sense to me than behemoth centralized scenarios. I am confident the work will I am doing will facilitate more of the former.

Also, here is some information on bird kills as a result of WTGs (wind turbine generators)…

Mike Barnard covers this on his blog.

There is a great energy industry strategy input document that analyzed avian mortality across wind, nuclear and fossil fuel generation. Replacing all fossil fuel generation with wind turbines world wide would save roughly 14 million birds lives annually. Wind farms and nuclear power stations are responsible each for between 0.3 and 0.4 fatalities per gigawatt-hour (GWh) of electricity, while fossil-fueled power stations are responsible for about 5.2 fatalities per GWh.

Predators, plate glass windows on buildings, cars have a MUCH bigger impact than WT generators.

Not that long ago, I caught an article in a hunting magazine that explored the disturbance of habitat by the turbines. The article cited that wind turbiners create about a 20% decline in nesting success–that’s still 80% nesting success. Once the turbines are up and generating, there is some income for the landowner. Also, wetlands and grasslands will be preserved instead of conversion to housing developments (sprawl) or tilled for more corn. I understand, once urban sprawl or land tilling is instituted, the failure rate for nesting becomes pretty much 100%.

I’ll still choose a WTG, as a part of a hybrid RE system portfolio, over a coal-fire power plant for visual aesthetics, too. Even tho, I suppose the coal power plant cadre could argue they are creating more ‘business’ for the health care industry. Ah, hem…

Just think of all the jobs were creating...

Just think of all the jobs we're creating...


Some reasons why the public is not engaged on climate instability

I feel affirmed that I am not alone in my sentiments on climate instability/climate change and the inaction on the part of (wo)man to do their parts to take action to change behavior, to do their part to reduce emissions. And indeed, there are certain industries tethered to electricity production creating emissions that are so bad, that the impending effects from our consumerism-bent lifestyle are far beyond all our imaginations. Karen Barnes recently posted up on the web site: Accelerating the Glacial Pace of Consumer Behavior Change.

Karen asks the question, “So why aren’t we doing more if it’s not hard and if we see that consumer demand/desire for convenience is to blame for environmental problems?” She defers to a list of reasons posted by Cara Pike on her blog, “7 reasons why the public is not engaged on climate.” Highlights follow:

  1. We’re facing an unprecedented risk: You know, the kind that’s hard for our brains to process.
  2. The public is overwhelmed: It’s hard to know which voices in the cacophony to trust.
  3. Fatalism has set in: people don’t know what can be done, and how to be part of the solution on an individual level.
  4. Mighty Opposition: Big industries are spending big dollars to stave off the conversation and steer it in a way that benefits their interests.
  5. Science isn’t 100 percent accurate: So although most scientists agree climate change is real, skeptics and deniers have latched on to their slight uncertainty as proof that the results are invalid.
  6. The conversation hasn’t been about values: While facts are facts, facts don’t motivate people to change. Where’s the conversation about the moral imperative?
  7. Not taking the long view: Again, something our brains aren’t good at.

I would like to challenge item 7 the long view perspective. It’s not that our brains are not good at it, it’s partially because of lack of a mostly unwitting and unwilling leadership, and due to a mindset that has become entrenched in instant gratification for decades. People in Amerika are also rather dummied down and desensitized from thinking critically. I think this is a lame excuse for not understanding that one can either invest something now, or invest a WHOLE LOT more later…

So what to do? For one, I say keep the message simple (K.I.S.S. == keep it simple, stupid) story. When my scientific colleagues spew, “Everyone needs to reduce their carbon footprint by 5% by 2050”, this doesn’t equate into action by the lay audience. I think when scientists/engineers make such pronouncements, they need to either back it up with a metaphor, story or example that will resonate with the less informed, confused. Here’s how I would offer a suggestion for behavior change to the former pronouncement…

If you have a short 5-7 mile one way commute to work, try the following, at least once/week for starters:

  • Carpool — A great way for bonding with co-workers or making new friends. If you’re not the driver, great for minimizing stress, too.
  • Bicycle — Great for clearing one’s mind before starting work. Great for stress management on the way home. Great for managing ‘border expansions/manifest destiny.’ Oh, and there is Gortex for year-round commuting purposes.
  • Take mass transpo — And enjoy the ‘circus!’ or get some reading/studying done.

Seriously, that’s it! That’s all one has to do to reduce one’s carbon footprint by 5% by 2050.

I do not think it’s a big deal to practice time management, and sacrificing an additional 15 minutes, either way, to plan for implementing the aforementioned suggestions doesn’t require all that much pain. And on the flip-side, one can be come enriched in local culture, healthier (less stress from dealing with traffic if taking mass transpo, and ‘manifest destiny/border expansion management’ if bicycling). No excuses for divorcing oneself from the westernize slovenly, satiated, selfish, short-sighted, stoopid way of life and achieve a more sustainable path.

NB: I’ve always been an athlete, active, but I have been religiously practicing the suggestions above for over six years now, since I sold my VW Jetta. Nothing to it, to me. I’m healthier and have a better overall sense of well-being because of the lifestyle behavior changes I have adopted in my daily routine.

Epilogue :: The Vortex vs. Matthew Lynn’s comments

Ok, so I completed my graduate studies coursework last week. Anti-climatic, again. All of a sudden, my right brain is on fiyah…

I was (pa)trolling the i-net recently to see how well my Kimgerly brand-handle is fairing on the SEO (search engine optimization) returns. I forgot some three years ago, I started bla bla blogging, but lost my way due to the ‘prohibitive’ academic pursuits. I located my Saturday, 12 August 2006 OP, “The inspiration that lead me to this ‘place”… I totally forgot about ‘poke at the bear’ to my girlfriends DFILM The Vortex :: American Workaholics AKA I work a lot so I can shop, buy or I’ll die. Vapid consumerism, right.

I think Matthew Lynn has it right about the USA’s glutinous carbon-based life-style bent on consumerism; inherent due to our addiction to oil. Don’t get me wrong, I’m ‘poisoned’ to some degree, too. I like my computer toys/tools created with synthetic organic amorphous solids, er plastics, cooking with natural gas, and being able to hop on an ICE (internal combustion engine) ‘buggy’ bus, or utilize a Zipcar car share every now and then.

I am, however, a firm believer technological advances alone are not the panacea. Lest we learn to how start weaning ourselves off this petrol addiction and ubiquitously and comprehensively implement the practices of sustainability, conservation, energy efficiency measures on a MASSIVE scale, woe is the fate of our spaceship.

BP Needs to Tell Whining Americans to Take a Hike: Matthew Lynn

Ja, sadly I’m in agreement with Matthew Lynn on this topic. Until the USA comes to terms with it’s vapid, insipid and glutinous carbon-based life-style bent on consumerism, indeed, we get what we deserve.


U.S. Double Standards

Here are three reasons why it should:

First, the U.S. is guilty of crazy double standards. Hayward should go on TV and say: “Excuse me, which country is the biggest oil consumer on the planet? Who refused to do anything about climate change, or even to put sensible taxes on gas? Heck, your president even flies around in a 747 when a modest Gulf stream jet would get him there just as fast. So of course the oil companies have to drill in more and more dangerous places. If you insist on being addicted to cheap oil, you have to recognize there are risks attached. So grow up, and stop acting like children.

To top this all off, the moratorium on ‘shallower’ offshore drilling was rescinded a few days ago. Another missed ‘wake-up call’ opportunity to heavily invest in REs on a MASSIVE scale. *Sigh* I’m just sorry so many, like British Polluters, still feel the need to poke holes in, and compromise our space ship Earth.

My colleague at Green Explored offered up these comments and suggestions:

Come On let’s get real and face the fact we have to stop using so much energy. Our problem is not the fuel it is how we use the fuel! Like I said before there is nothing like an old fuel and fossil fuels are very old. I am working on how the US can reduce energy consumption by 20% in three years. First we need the massive carbon tax equal to $100 per ton of CO2 or $1 per gallon of gas. Second we need to reward citizens that carpool or take the bus or the train. Third we need to insulate homes, offices and businesses. Fourth we need to turn down the thermostat in winter and turn it up in summer. Fifth we need to impose import duties based on carbon emissions associated with these imports. Sixth we need to tax vehicles based on their MPG. Hummers and SUVs should be taxed at $20,000 a year and the Prius at zero.

When is the RE industry going to start marketing like the petrol-pharma companies?

We live in a day and age where so many are bent on consumerism. And although I am not in agreement with this notion, I think as scientists and engineers, we cannot continue approach appealing to the masses in a business as usual (BAU) manner to get our message across. The message that I/you/we/he/she/everyone wants (really needs) renewable energy incorporated into our lifestyles on a MASSIVE scale as a story.

Disclaimer: I don’t have a TV and I don’t have much time for entertainment, so I’m not sure what else is out there that I’ve missed over the past two years.

Go have a look at how Pfizer conveys their latest ‘Time to Quit‘ message to smokers.

You wanted…
Your plan…
You wanted…

However, I do give California’s PG&E utility campaign last year kudos for it’s ‘inter-generational disaster in the making’ ad campaign to the masses kudos.
Energy Efficiency Spot 2
Energy Efficiency Spot 3
Energy Efficiency Spot 4

I also rather dug the light-hearted MC Lar’s ‘I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas‘ last year.
And of course I can’t forget story telling maven Annie Leonard with her ‘Story of Stuff‘ and more recently her ‘Story of Cap and Trade‘ movies.

I also think the hubris of the humanities is holding matters up. It happened before in societies that collapsed. I think it’s going to happen again. 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 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…

Look, I think future barrage of messages about REs are going to need to be sexy and appeal to what people want. Sexy sells right now, ja? For example, pink BiPVs for all the soccer moms in the USA! Get it?

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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...

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