Drawing and Writing about Deer

Some diversions from the more serious issues that surround us.

Roping a Deer – author unknown

I had this idea that I was going to rope a deer, put it in a stall, sweet feed it on corn for a few weeks, then butcher it and eat it. Yum! The first step in this adventure was getting a deer.

Since they congregate at my cattle feeder and do not have much fear of me (a bold one will sometimes come right up and sniff at the bags of feed while I am in the back of the truck four feet away) it should not be difficult to rope one, toss a bag over its head to calm it down, then hog tie it and transport it home.

I filled the cattle feeder and hid down at the end with my rope. The cattle, having seen a roping or two before, stayed well back. They were not having any of it.

After 20 minutes, my deer showed up, 3 of them. I picked a likely looking one, stepped out, and threw my rope. The deer just stood there and stared at me. I wrapped the rope around my waist and twisted the end so I would have a good hold. The deer still just stood and stared at me, but you could tell it was mildly concerned about the whole rope situation.

I took a step towards it. It took a step away. I put a little tension on the rope, and received an education. The first thing I learned is that, while a deer may just stand there looking at you funny while you rope it, it is spurred to action when you start pulling on that rope.

That deer EXPLODED.

The second thing I learned is that, pound for pound, a deer is a LOT stronger than a cow or a colt. A cow or a colt in that weight range I could fight down with some dignity. A deer? No chance.

That thing ran and bucked, it twisted and pulled. There was no controlling that deer, and certainly no getting close to it. As it jerked me off my feet and started dragging me across the ground, it occurred to me that having a deer firmly attached to a rope was not such a good idea. The only upside is that they do not have much stamina.

A brief ten minutes later, it was tired, and not as quick to jerk me off my feet and drag me. It took me a few minutes to realize this, since I was mostly blinded by the blood flowing out of the big gash in my head.

At that point, I had lost my appetite for cornfed venison. I hated the thing, and would hazard a guess that the feeling was mutual. I just wanted to get that devil creature off the end of that rope. But if I let it go with the rope hanging around its neck, it would likely die slow and painful somewhere.

Despite the gash in my head, and several large knots where I had cleverly arrested the deer’s pell mell flight by bracing my head against large rocks as it dragged me across the ground, I could still think clearly enough to recognize that I shared some tiny amount of responsibility for the situation we were in. I didn’t want the deer to suffer a slow death.

I managed to get it lined up between my truck and the feeder, a little trap I had set beforehand, like a squeeze chute. I backed it in there, and I started moving forward to get my rope back.

Did you know that deer bite? They do!

I never in a million years would have thought that a deer would bite, so I was very surprised when I reached up there to grab hold of that rope, and the deer grabbed hold of my wrist. Now, when a deer bites you, it is not like a horse, it does not just bite and let go. A deer bites and shakes its head, like a pit bull. They bite HARD and won’t let go. It hurts!

The proper reaction when a deer bites you is probably to freeze and draw back slowly. I tried screaming and wrenching away. My method was ineffective. It felt like that deer bit and shook me for several minutes, but it was likely only several seconds.

I, being smarter than a deer (though you may be questioning that claim by now) tricked it. While I kept it busy tearing the bejesus out of my right arm, I reached up with my left hand and pulled that rope loose. That was when I learned my final lesson in deer behavior for the day.

Deer will strike at you with their front feet. They rear right up and strike at head and shoulder level, and their hooves are surprisingly sharp. I learned long ago that when an animal–like a horse–strikes at you with its hooves and you can’t get away, the best thing to do is make a loud noise and move aggressively towards the animal. This will cause them to back down a bit, so you can make your escape.

This was not a horse. This was a deer. Obviously, such trickery would not work. In the course of a millisecond, I devised a different strategy. I screamed like a woman and turned to run.

The reason we have been taught NOT to turn and run from a horse that paws at you, is that there is a good chance that it will hit you in the back of the head. Deer are not so different from horses after all, other than being twice as strong and three times as evil. The second I turned to run, it hit me right in the back of the head and knocked me down.

When a deer paws at you and knocks you down, it does not immediately depart. I suspect it does not recognize that the danger has passed. What they do instead is paw your back, and jump up and down on you, while you are laying there crying like a little girl and covering your head.

I finally managed to crawl under the truck, and the deer went away. Now I know why when people go deer hunting they bring a rifle with a scope. It’s so they can be somewhat equal to the prey.

The Problems with Nuclear Energy

Here are some comments from a post on The Energy Blog that highlight several of the major problems with relying on nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuels.

Link: The Energy Blog: Yergin: Climate Change and Energy are Converging into New Era of Clean Energy.

1) Disposal of the hot fuel rods (95% U-238, <0.5% U-235, and the rest being plutonium (1%), americium, and a wide variety of fission products – the strontium, caesium, and iodine isotopes being the most dangerous). A main issue here is proliferation of plutonium-based nuclear weapons.

2) Potential for catastrophic failures exist – cooling systems and neutron-absorbing safety systems can both fail, resulting in Chernobyl-like events. In today’s world, we should also include susceptibility to bombings, etc.

3) Cooling water is a big issue! A 1 GW nuclear reactor sucks up massive amounts of cold water to cool the reactor and to generate steam for the power turbines. During heat waves and droughts, many reactors have to be shut down due to lack of cooling water. The American Southwest, or Sub-Saharan Africa, are thus poor sites for nuclear (but excellent for solar thermal and PV!).

The fact is that solar, wind and biogas-powered electricity grids are entirely possible. Put it this way: if we did not have access to uranium or fossil fuels, would we all be reduced to pre-industrial civilization?

…we can’t have an aggressive expansion of Nuclear energy is because of the overhead costs associated with proliferation…especially when you consider state sponsored terrorism where the operators are complicit.

Certainly it could be done, however it’d be rather irresponsible to act like that cost doesn’t/won’t/shouldn’t exist.

Just like new Coal Plants, Nuclear power plants CANNOT get financing, no matter how hard they try, unless it comes from TaxPayers.

Norway tunnel protects millions of seeds

This is good news, from Science on msnbc.com. These seeds will be handy when the genetically modified monoculture crops becoming common in the US get wiped out by disease.

Link: Doomsday vault tunneled into Arctic mountain – Science- msnbc.com.

LONGYEARBYEN, Norway – A "doomsday" vault built to withstand an earthquake or nuclear strike was ready to open deep in the permafrost of an Arctic mountain, where it will protect millions of seeds from man-made and natural disasters.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault was to be officially inaugurated on Tuesday, less than a year after crews started drilling in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) from the North Pole.

The vault, which Norway built at a cost of about 50 million kroner (US$9.1 million, euro6.25 million), has the capacity to store 4.5 million seed samples from around the globe, shielding them from climate change, wars, natural disasters and other threats.

British mining company to explore for uranium near Grand Canyon National Park

Jim Hightower describes another threat to our National Parks.

Link: Jim Hightower | FOREST SERVICE SERVES MINING COMPANY.

Grand CanyonVane Minerals Corporation will be allowed to drill seven exploratory shafts in the Kaibab National Forest, which abuts the canyon.

This whole dirty deal was a sneak attack on local residents, environmental groups, tribal officials, and park supporters – all of whom oppose the effort to dot the public lands with uranium mines. In addition to the sheer inappropriateness of this commercialization, locals recall the cancers suffered by those who worked in previous uranium mines on area reservations. They also have concerns about uranium trucks high-balling through the area, and about contamination of the region’s scarce water supplies.

The Forest Service, however, ignored these realities and gave the corporation a green light without conducting an environmental review and, worse yet, without even holding a public hearing. The agency arbitrarily ruled that Vane could be “categorically excluded” from the normal review process because its exploratory drilling would take less than a year. Never mind that mining companies can do some serious damage in a year.

Meanwhile, Congress has been dilly-dallying with an overdue reform of the 1872 mining law that let’s corporations run roughshod over our public land, putting their profiteering interests above the public interest. To learn more about this reform, and to see a report on the impacts of uranium mining in this unique region, connect with the Environmental Working Group at www.ewg.org.

“Clean Coal” Poisons Water and Land Instead of Air

The Coastal Post Online describes the many dangers of using coal for energy. Excerpts below.

Building more coal fired plants for electricity will sacrifice the future health of our country. But there are powerful forces who profit now and they are investing in political influence.

Link: Coastal Post Online Article January, 2008.

Big Coal and its cohorts envision a "clean coal technology" future fueled by liquifying and gasifying coal, capturing the carbon emissions and injecting them underground.

But scientists and environmentalists say "clean coal" does not exist; it is a misnomer and an oxymoron. The National Resources Defense Council says that using the term "clean coal" makes about as much sense as saying "safe cigarettes." The extraction and cleaning of coal inevitably decimate ecosystems and communities.

Nationwide there are grandiose plans for more than 100 new coal-fired power plants, but they all hinge on being able to sell the public and legislators on outfitting and funding these new plants with carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology. This process siphons off or "captures" carbon dioxide before it can escape into the atmosphere, contributing to acid rain, smog and warming the planet. The sequestered carbon would then be pumped and stored underground.

But is it really possible to bury our daily CO2 emission? Australia’s renown physicist, Karl Kruszelnicki, who is running for public office on the Climate Change Coalition ticket, told the Sydney Morning Herald on Nov. 1, "One cubic kilometer of CO2 to get rid of every day? It’s not possible! But they don’t tell you that that’s what they’ve got to get rid of. They make reassuring noises that they’re spending millions looking for underground caverns. But I’m here to tell you that they’re not going to find it … The point is that they can only store 1,000th of 1 percent, not all their daily output."

Not only do we not have the capacity to store all the CO2 we produce, but the technology isn’t there yet. The coal industry acknowledges that CCS is 15 years away, but continues to promulgate the myth of "clean coal technology" and guide generous government subsidies to themselves and to West Virginia universities, assigning valuable research money to dirty technology. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s 2007 report "The Future of Coal" stated that "there is no standard for measurement, monitoring, and verification of CO2 distribution. Duration of post-injection monitoring is an unresolved issue."

In other words, Big Coal is betting on a pipe dream with an entire ecosystem at stake. Adding CCS to plans for the more than 100 proposed coal-fired power plants on the drawing board would increase operating budgets by 50 percent to 80 percent. And the gasifying and liquifying of coal into syn-gas and diesel would create potential emissions twice as carbon-rich as petroleum-based gasoline or natural gas. If Big Coal gets its way, the U.S. Air Force will cruise the skies on liquid coal fuel — spewing dangerously concentrated CO2 into our fragile atmosphere, and we’ll be building more polluting plants based on false promises from an outlaw industry.

Exacerbating the water crisis

To many observers, the next natural resource wars will be waged over water, not oil or coal. People in the United States are waking up to the reality of a looming water crisis, but the coal industry is still advocating for a technology that is part of the problem, not the solution.

The U.S. Department of Energy stated in December 2006 that the demand for water to produce coal conversion fuels "threaten our limited water supply." Coal conversion — gasification or liquefaction — requires an absurd amount of fresh water. Each new integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) or coal to liquid (CTL) plant will require millions of gallons of fresh water every day. And these new plants will require even more coal.

Big Coal’s proposed plans will require a large increase in coal extraction — at least 15 percent more, though some reports quote as high as a 45 percent increase in coal production would be necessary to fuel "clean coal technology." The surge in demand for coal would be met with a surge in mountaintop-removal coal mining, which means more water pollution. Mountaintop-removal mining and the chemical cleaning of coal also threatens Appalachian headwater streams, which are the drinking water source for the southeastern United States — an area that has endured frightening water shortages this year in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

The coal-to-liquid plants that coal state politicians like Gov. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Gov. Ernie Fletcher of Kentucky are scrambling to site in their states would have one consequence that many observers underestimate or ignore: the increase in production of coal sludge — one of the least known and least regulated toxic wastes in the United States — a direct threat to water supplies.

Coal sludge, laden with heavy metals found in coal and released during extraction, like arsenic, chromium, cadmium and mercury, has been pumped underground in West Virginia for decades, with scant regulatory oversight. The sludge has intercepted underground water tables, from which mountain communities draw their drinking water. Coal sludge also contains carcinogenic chemicals like floculants, which are used to process coal.

In West Virginia, the second-largest coal-producing state in the nation, more than 470 mountaintops have been blown apart, 800 square miles of the most diverse temperate hardwood forest razed and replaced with more than 4,000 valley fills and 675 toxic coal sludge ponds. By 2012, the U.S. government estimates that we will have destroyed 2,500 square miles of pristine Appalachia. Currently there are over 107 trillion gallons of coal slurry stored or permitted to be stored in active West Virginia "impoundments."

The total mechanization of coal extraction epitomized by mountaintop removal/valley fill coal mining has buried thousands of miles of vital headwater streams and pumped previously mined lands full of sludge. The coal industry says that it has "elevated" some streams — after they’ve buried them upstream — relocating them and "repurposing" them into chemical spillways called National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) streams.

Coal sludge, the waste by-product of the chemical cleaning of coal in preparation for shipping to market, is initially put into surface ponds, but eventually this chemically concentrated, puddinglike waste leaches into the groundwater. In southern West Virginia, where the largest seams of coal lie, whole communities have been poisoned over years by mining waste that has contaminated their drinking water.

Coal sludge is a disaster waiting to happen, like the 2.8 billion gallons of toxic sludge that stand behind a 325-foot, leaking, unsound dam of slate, 400 yards from the Marsh Fork Elementary School in Sundial, W.Va. Or Brushy Fork in Boone County, W.Va., one of the largest coal sludge dumps in the world, holding back 9 billion gallons of coal waste.

Sludge is also injected underground into the sprawling abandoned mine works of decades past. Coal sludge is turning up in the water in Mingo County, W.Va., where documentation of this practice stretches back for more than 30 years. Residents of Mingo County have suffered catastrophic illness after the toxic sludge breached the local aquifers that feed home wells. More than 650 of these residents have signed on to a massive class-action lawsuit against the offending coal company, Massey Energy.

Pursuing "clean coal technology" will cause an increase in the production of coal and toxic coal waste, which contains dangerous levels of arsenic, barium, cadmium, coper, iron, lead, manganese and zinc. In some cases, there are no standards by which to measure contaminants because some have never before been found in drinking water.

While scrubbers on smoke stacks have cleaned coal-fired power plant emissions considerably, the cleaning on the combustion end causes the processing of coal for market to be exponentially dirtier. The coal going to market is cleaner-burning today, with lower sulfur and mercury content, but these dangerous elements are left behind in the coal sludge and in drinking water.

The dirty truth about "clean coal"

The environmental destruction caused by mountaintop-removal coal extraction is just one of many reasons to immediately transition out of coal. A plethora of substantial hurdles for the alternative coal industry include technological uncertainties, billion-dollar budgets, lack of project partners willing to invest in coal, growing concern about carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants, uncertainty about future environmental regulations, rising constructions costs and an array of water contamination issues.

But, we’ve been here before. In response to the energy crisis of the 1970s, the U.S. government invested $15 billion in a failed attempt to jump-start the coal-based synthetic fuel industry, including the infamous 1.5 billion syn-fuel plant in Beulah, N.D. In the end, the ’80s era attempt at coal gasification and liquefaction failed miserably because of volatile oil prices bankrupting the nascent industry, leaving taxpayers with a $330 million loss.

The newborn West Virginia Division of Energy — formed to put a better face on coal — would like to institutionalize all possible manifestations of coal production. The state agency says it would like to surround coal extraction sites and the coal-fired power plants with "additional advance coal opportunities" like the "production of ammonia nitrate from coal, as well as nitrates for fertilizer."

These processes require the same copious amounts of water as CTL and IGCC plants. WVDoE’s outline for an energy future goes hand in hand with what mountain people call the declaration of a "National Sacrifice Zone" fueled by a plan to depopulate the coal-rich region of the southern mountains. A similar strategy was publicly declared when the federal government found uranium under Native American lands in the Four Corners area in the 1970s. In the end, the uranium was deemed more important than the land and the people; vast regions of Native American lands were declared "National Sacrifice Zones," and people were forced from their homelands.

Massey Energy’s CEO, Don Blankenship, recently suggested the idea of a far-reaching coal industrial complex upon releasing a statement regarding the purchase of vast parcels of coal lands, increasing Massey’s reserve holding to 100 million tons in northern Appalachia. "This region is becoming increasingly important to the coal and energy industry, and this transaction will enable us to take advantage of the growth in demand for northern Appalachian coal," he said. Massey’s newly acquired coal lands are in West Virginia, across the Ohio River from Meigs County, Ohio, where a notorious cluster of coal-fired power plants are concentrated.

And momentum is building in the region. At a coal-to-liquids conference in Beckley, W.Va., in August this year, U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller sent word to the crowd saying, "We need the equivalent of the Apollo and Manhattan Projects that would provide billions in federal funding for research and development so that the best and brightest engineers and scientific minds can tackle carbon capture sequestration and CTL development."

It is time to stop the momentum and break our coal habit. Instead we need an Apollo and Manhattan project to replace coal with solar, wind and geothermal, or our kids will be stuck cleaning up after the dirtiest energy industry. Coal companies are notorious for leaving their mess behind.

via Fred First

Adapting to Peak Oil

John Michael Greer suggests that composted gardens and small farms provide a fallback plan for the industrial farms that are very dependent on petroleum for energy and fertilizer. Do not read this if you think that we can continue to consume energy like we have in the past. Excerpts below.

Link: The Archdruid Report: The Little Steps That Matter.

What makes these (ethanol and nuclear energy) and similar projects as destructive as they are futile is precisely that they are meant to allow us to continue living our lives in something like their present form. That fantasy, it seems to me, is the single largest obstacle in the path of a reasoned response to the predicament of peak oil. The hard reality we have to face is the fact that the extravagant, energy-wasting lifestyles of the recent past cannot be sustained by any amount of bargaining or any number of grand projects. Accept that reality, on the other hand, and redefine the situation in terms of managing a controlled descent from the giddy heights of the late industrial age, and the range of technological options widens out dramatically.

Is compost a replacement for fossil fuel-based fertilizers? In the straightforward sense of this question, of course not.

Instead, it’s a bridge – or part of a bridge – that reaches beyond the end of the industrial age. The industrial model of agriculture, for reasons rooted primarily in current economic and political arrangements, has established a stranglehold on food production in the developed world. Barring drastic political intervention – a new Homestead Act, say, meant to repopulate the abandoned farm country of the Great Plains – that situation is unlikely to change suddenly or soon.

At the same time, this doesn’t mean that the industrial model of agriculture will actually work well in a postpeak world. Far more likely is a situation in which soaring fossil fuel prices cascade down the food chain, turning industrial farms and their far-flung distribution networks into economic basket cases propped up by government subsidies, sky-high food prices, and trade barriers that keep other options out of the existing marketplace. In such a context, local microfarms and market gardens, and the cooperatives, farmers markets, and community-supported agriculture schemes that give them a market outside the existing system, are guaranteed steady and dramatic growth.

Does your state encourage Solar Energy?

The latest Freeing the Grid report from the Network for New Energy Choices rates the states.

I live in Georgia, a backward state for energy policy.

Link: Freeing the Grid

Ga netmeeting and interconnection

Net metering is a regulatory policy that allows people to sell electricity back to the grid from their own renewable energy facilities, such as a solar array or a wind turbine, incentivizing renewable distributed energy generation projects. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 pushed utilities to adopt net metering as a policy but enforcement and program design has fallen mostly to the patchwork of state utility regulators.

Interconnection: Each state regulates the process under which a generator can connect to the distribution grid. These policies seek to keep up the stability of the grid as well as the safety of those who use and maintain it. However, if not implemented properly, these policies may pose a barrier to the development of customer-sited renewable energy and other forms of Distributed Generation (DG). Customers who seek to generate their own electricity—with a photovoltaic (PV) system or wind turbine, for example—and hook up to the grid must first go through this interconnection process. Many customers encounter unworkable interconnection requirements employed by utilities. In some cases, the interconnection process is so lengthy, arduous and/or expensive that it thwarts the development of customer-sited generators—especially in the case of smaller systems.

Pervious Concrete – Sustainable Construction

Pervious concrete allows rain to soak into the ground instead of running off. This helps break the flood and drought cycles that plague so many areas these days. Water that seeps into the ground slowly runs out into streams and springs slowly, which provides much more consistent moisture for plants and animals.

Link: Pervious, Porous Concrete Pavement Environmental & Green Benefits.

Pervious concrete pavement systems provide a valuable stormwater management tool under the requirements of the EPA Storm Water Phase II Final Rule. Phase II regulations provide programs and practices to help control the amount of contaminants in our waterways. Impervious pavements– particularly parking lots– collect oil, anti-freeze, and other automobile fluids that can be washed into streams, lakes, and oceans when it rains.

By capturing the first flush of rainfall and allowing it to percolate into the ground, soil chemistry and biology can then “treat” the polluted water naturally. Thus, stormwater retention areas may be reduced or eliminated, allowing increased land use. Furthermore, by collecting rainfall and allowing it to infiltrate, groundwater and aquifer recharge is increased, peak water flow through drainage channels is reduced, and flooding is minimized. In fact, the EPA named pervious pavements as a BMP for stormwater pollution prevention because they allow fluids to percolate into the soil.

Another important factor leading to renewed interest in pervious concrete is an increasing emphasis on sustainable construction. Because of its benefits in controlling stormwater runoff and pollution prevention, pervious concrete has the potential to help earn a credit point in the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System (Sustainable Sites Credit 6.1), increasing the chance to obtain LEED project certification.

The light color of concrete pavements absorbs less heat from solar radiation than darker pavements, and the relatively open pore structure of pervious concrete stores less heat, helping to lower heat island effects in urban areas.

Trees planted in parking lots and city sidewalks offer shade and produce a cooling effect in the area, further reducing heat island effects. Pervious concrete pavement is ideal for protecting trees in a paved environment (many plants have difficulty growing in areas covered by impervious pavements, sidewalks and landscaping, because air and water have difficulty getting to the roots). Pervious concrete pavements or sidewalks allow adjacent trees to receive more air and water and still permit full use of the pavement (see Figure 2b). Pervious concrete provides a solution for landscapers and architects who wish to use greenery in parking lots and paved urban areas.

Although high-traffic pavements are not a typical use for pervious concrete, concrete surfaces can also improve safety during rainstorms by eliminating ponding (and glare at night), spraying, and the risk of hydroplaning.