John Mayer’s new album Continuum includes ‘Bold As Love’

Scott Mervis at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette interviews John Mayer about this new album.Excerpts below.

Mayer covers a Hendrix song on this release.

Link: Music Preview: John Mayer takes strides with new record.

He also shows off his blues guitar prowess with a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s "Bold As Love."

A bold step for a young pop musician like Mayer?

"I’m in my third record," he says. "No one thinks I’m covering a song because I can’t write one more. Even if I don’t have what it takes, which I probably don’t, to cover a Jimi Hendrix song, I have at least proven myself to be true to the art and true to the message and true to the spirit. And I’m also coming at it as a singer-songwriter, because I believe Hendrix was a brilliant singer-songwriter and I’m defending that memory with ‘Bold As Love.’ And defending music as music. There are no musical hallowed grounds if you walk into them pure of heart."

Who Needs Oil, We Have COAL

Here’s an excerpt from a presentation at the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO) by Jeremy Leggett, who worked in the oil industry until 1996.

Link: Transition Culture » ASPO 5. Jeremy Leggett Intertwines Peak Oil and Climate Change..

The tipping point in terms of climate is 2°C above pre-industrial levels. This is the point of no return. We look set to go soaring through that. We need a mass withdrawl from carbon emissions. We must leave the coal in the ground. The bottom line is that coal is the killer. We have plenty of it, and we do have the option of seeing if every Government research lab IN THE WORLD is wrong. If we panic and use coal it will be our epitaph.

Most Biofuels Are NOT Viable for Producing Energy

Adam Fenderson at New Matilda describes why we can’t use corn and wheat for fuel for our cars. Excerpts below. Warning: These facts may cause indigestion.

Link: The Real Green Revolution | EnergyBulletin.net | Peak Oil News Clearinghouse

In searching for a green alternative to fossil fuels, everyone from Willie Nelson to the Governor of California , from prominent environmentalists to General Motors and Monsanto, has promoted ethanol or other biofuels. While it’s true that we desperately need alternatives, biofuels based on industrial agriculture, are in no sense ‘sustainable.’

Post-war technologies made possible the so-called ‘Green Revolution,’ or industrialisation of agriculture. From chemical warfare came the pesticide and herbicide industry, from military vehicles came the technology for improved farm machinery. They proved very effective. Between 1950 and 1984 world grain production increased a remarkable 250 per cent, while farm labour dropped, enabling the rapid rise in human population over the same period.

Unfortunately, the relationship between food and war does not end there.

The rise in agricultural production was particularly suited to grains. Grains are a special type of food. Excluding fossil fuels, they represent some of the most densely packed chemical energy in the natural world. As Richard Manning writes in his essay ‘The Oil We Eat: Following the Food Chain Back to Iraq ’, grains also lend themselves to very destructive farming methods.

Grains are adapted to disaster. In nature, they dominate land only after catastrophic events such as floods. Their short lives are devoted to putting as much energy as possible into their seeds, so that they may spring up first, as pioneer species. In order to grow them, year after year, we turn over the topsoil and spray for weeds to artificially create the conditions of catastrophe they favour.

Every time we plough, it is like a high stakes game of Russian roulette. Plants and soil organisms can (very slowly) create topsoil from the subsoil below. But, truly revitalising fertility on a large scale requires geological assistance in such forms as ash from volcanic eruptions, or rock-crushing glaciers.

A handful of good soil contains more living creatures than there are human beings on the earth. The little we know about these creatures reads like an Alice in Wonderland adventure — amoeba with temporary feet, vampiric protozoa, fungi with elaborate communication systems and symbiotic relationships with trees. When we pour nitrogen-based fertiliser and agricultural poisons onto the soil, or expose it to the sun, we destroy this life.

As the life dies, we lose the humus, the organic component of the topsoil. As it rots it releases methane, becoming a major contributor to global warming. Without the ecosystem services provided by the soil life, the soil is left as nothing more than a dead medium to hold plants upright in. We then have to supply more fertilisers artificially – and the sad cycle continues.

Each year, more and more virgin forested land and fossil fuel energy must be fed into the agricultural system simply to maintain current levels of production. Yet, each year, insects are becoming more resistant to pesticides, water must be pumped from deeper down in the earth, weather conditions are becoming less stable, and less ecosystem services are being provided by soil organisms, without cost. We are facing diminishing returns.

Despite the rapid growth in agricultural production over the past 35 years, per-capita levels of grain production peaked in 1985. Distribution politics aside, it is only this century, however, that the problem has become critical. In every year bar one since 2000, the world has consumed more grains than it has produced . Less than two-months worth of grains are now in storage around the world. Last time stores were this low, in the early 1970s, global wheat and rice prices doubled.

The promise, and perhaps the greatest challenge ever faced by our species, is that these destructive forms of agriculture cannot continue. The Green Revolution has increased energy inputs to agriculture to levels around 50 times those of traditional agriculture. Yet energy availability will soon fall. The increasing unavailability (and therefore increasing cost) of oil and gas means that we will need to begin to de-industrialise and re-localise our food systems.

To succeed is to survive – to avoid more widespread hunger, and develop sustainable, healthy food systems. We need great efforts to enable farmers to produce food with less energy and less destruction to their own land, encouraging innovative designs and techniques inspired by permaculture, incorporating traditional systems and modern science, such as keyline ploughing and swale building. We need to produce more food in and around the cities, while changing our relationship to food so we eat it fresh and in season.

We are lucky that one country has been through such a process and survived already: Cuba. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba lost most of its oil and fertiliser imports virtually overnight. With research, institutions turned over to low energy food production techniques, and organic food production encouraged in the cities, Cubans’ life expectancies and infant mortality rates now rival or better the United States, while using around one eighth of the energy per capita.

via EnergyBulletin.net | Peak Oil News Clearinghouse

More posts about Monsanto:

Are you eating Monsanto’s genetically modified crops?

Monsanto’s Government Ties

Monsanto Backs Off Bio-Wheat

Shining a Light on Agribusiness and It’s Poster Child Monsanto

Monsanto Files Patent for the Pig

U.S. Power Plants Slow to Clean Up

The ugly secret: An NPR study indicates that coal-fired power plants produce half of the US’ electricity and most of its air pollution, including mercury contamination and carbon dioxide emissions.

Link: NPR : U.S. Power Plants Slow to Clean Up Their Act

Most of country’s 420 coal-fired power plants still lack advanced pollution controls, even though the equipment to clean up their hazardous exhausts has been widely available for many years, according to Environmental Protection Agency officials.

Serious Health Hazards

The federal government has long known that the plants harm public health, but in recent years, science has shown that they are deadlier than Congress realized when it adopted major air-pollution laws.

The EPA now estimates that each year, tens of thousands of older Americans die early from heart or lung failure, and younger Americans suffer asthma attacks, as a result of tiny particles or soot from power plants. Both sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emitted by the plants form fine particles or soot.

Exhausts from coal-fired power plants also create haze, which mars scenic views, and cause acid rain, which kills trees and pollutes streams. Coal-fired power plants are the biggest emitters of sulfur dioxide and major emitters of nitrogen oxides.

Legal Loophole

A loophole in the 1970 Clean Air Act allows older plants to avoid installing advanced pollution controls that would slash these deadly emissions.

The Clinton administration tried to close the loophole by enforcing a long-ignored provision of the act: It requires plant owners to install advanced pollution controls if they modify or expand their plant. The EPA and states have been fighting power companies in court over the issue.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration’s EPA rewrote Clean Air Act regulations to favor the industry’s interpretation. But the change that would have been most effective in helping industry avoid installing expensive pollution controls on old coal-burning power plants was blocked by a federal court in March.

A Widespread Pollution Problem

Coal-fired power plants supply half of the nation’s electricity. In 2004, two-thirds of this power came from plants without scrubbers, devices that can remove up to 98 percent of sulfur dioxide from power-plant emissions, according to a recent EPA analysis.

Even more of this power was produced without the advanced controls that can strip 90-95 percent of the nitrogen oxides form the exhausts.

Recognizing the problem, the Bush administration put in place new regulations to force coal-fired power plants in the 28 states in the eastern half of the country to reduce emissions.

The system sets pollution caps for emissions for all the plants. It allows plants that reduce pollution faster to sell "pollution credits" to plants that are slower to clean up.

A Long Way to Clean Up

Still, by 2010, only 40 percent of the electricity generated with coal will be from plants with advanced controls for nitrogen oxides; less than half of it will be from plants with scrubbers, according to the EPA analysis. Ten years later, more than 40 percent still will come from plants without advanced controls for nitrogen oxides, and more than a quarter from plants that lack scrubbers.

Environmentalists say the EPA’s analysis shows that the Bush administration’s approach is too slow to clean up plants that so clearly threaten Americans’ health.

Too Many Exempt Plants?

…in 2020, 68 percent of the 1,041 total coal-fired, electric-generating units in the eastern half of the U.S. still will lack scrubbers or advanced nitrogen oxides controls.

EPA officials stressed that many of the power plants that haven’t installed scrubbers or advanced controls for nitrogen oxides have cut pollution in other ways. Some have switched to coal that contains less sulfur. Others have installed pollution-control equipment, but it’s less effective than scrubbers or advanced controls for nitrogen oxides.

Other Harmful Emissions Remain Unregulated

The federal government has done even less to control two other harmful air emissions from power plants: mercury, which falls into waterways and ends up in fish that people eat; and carbon dioxide, which contributes to climate change.

Coal-fired power plants are the biggest source of mercury air pollution, and one of the biggest sources of carbon dioxide. Last year, the EPA announced a plan to reduce mercury emissions, but it wouldn’t require advanced technology to cut the emissions for more than a decade. The federal government does not regulate carbon dioxide emissions.

The Amazing Team Hoyt

Dick Hoyt is strong, brave, and loving. Look at this 4 minute video: Team Hoyt.

Link: Team Hoyt

Dick and Rick Hoyt are a father-and-son team from Massachusetts who together compete just about continuously in marathon races. And if they’re not in a marathon they are in a triathlon — that daunting, almost superhuman, combination of 26.2 miles of running, 112 miles of bicycling, and 2.4 miles of swimming. Together they have climbed mountains, and once trekked 3,735 miles across America.

It’s a remarkable record of exertion — all the more so when you consider that Rick can’t walk or talk.

For the past twenty five years or more Dick, who is 65, has pushed and pulled his son across the country and over hundreds of finish lines. When Dick runs, Rick is in a wheelchair that Dick is pushing. When Dick cycles, Rick is in the seat-pod from his wheelchair, attached to the front of the bike. When Dick swims, Rick is in a small but heavy, firmly stabilized boat being pulled by Dick.

via Somnambulist

Bears and Humans

The challenges of designing products to be easy to use:

Link: Paul Thurrott Bitten by WGA

Back in the 1980s, Yosemite National Park was having a serious problem with bears: They would wander into campgrounds and break into the garbage bins. This put both bears and people at risk. So the Park Service started installing armored garbage cans that were tricky to open — you had to swing a latch, align two bits of handle, that sort of thing. But it turns out it’s actually quite tricky to get the design of these cans just right. Make it too complex and people can’t get them open to put away their garbage in the first place. Said one park ranger, "There is considerable overlap between the intelligence of the smartest bears and the dumbest tourists."

Fred is Foxy Lazy

Lazy Way advocate Fred Gratzon shows how laziness inspires creativity by coming up with an interesting twist on a famous song: Foxy Lazy.

Source: The Lazy Way to Success: Hard Work versus Smart (and Rich) Laziness

I use the word “lazy” but, except for a few enlightened souls who see the cosmic value contained within that word, laziness is generally regarded as a strictly negative trait. To fill this void, I have tried to create phrases that come close to what I am driving at. Some examples are smart lazy, effective lazy, and foxy lazy (for Jimi Hendrix fans). The definition for this powerful insight into laziness would be the ability to avoid work, yet still be able to get the job done and become wildly successful as a result.

What If Global Warming is not a Normal Cycle

Jeff Matthews describes the change in viewpoint about global warming by the Wall Street Journal.

Link: Jeff Matthews Is Not Making This Up

The newspaper in question which has reported such disquieting facts regarding global warming is none other than the Wall Street Journal.

And whatever the Journal’s editors think about the cause and effect of global warming, the central problem with the entire scientific debate over cause and effect is, in my view, as follows.

If the greens are wrong, and if global warming is no more than a temporary and self-correcting blip well within the bounds of statistical fluctuations, and if we spend zillions of dollars attempting to mitigate and reverse a normal self-correcting blip in the weather, well, we’ve spent a bunch of money unnecessarily and crimped the lifestyles of a lot of real estate developers and land speculators, to boot.

But if the browns are wrong, and if global warming is in fact the product of more than 600 million motor vehicles screwing up the works, and yet we do nothing about it now, then our grandchildren will be dealing with issues of unfathomable catastrophe—literally, the end of the world as we now know it.

So I sure hope the browns are right, although after reading my Wall Street Journal about shrinking ice caps and dying polar bears and retreating glaciers and happy Greenland farmers, I wouldn’t bet on it myself.

It’s a bet nobody, even the editors of the Wall Street Journal, can afford to lose.