Theft in the Garden: Detective Advice Needed

My wife Ann has a large organic garden that provides fresh, tasty, and healthy food for us. In recent years, deer have been migrating to our neighborhood because the forests that they had lived in have been transformed into stores and subdivisions. The deer will take advantage of gardens as a food source.

We have been using a device called Nite Guard. Here’s a description from their web site:

  • Maintenance-free, solar-powered units require neither batteries nor electricity
  • Units are completely sealed, protecting against moisture and are high/low temperature resistant
  • Red flashing LED light automatically turns on at dusk and off at full daylight
  • Concept is simple, but it WORKS! Predators believe the flash to be the eye of another organism and feel threatened, so they stay away

It was designed to scare predators but we have discovered that it works for deer in our garden.

We used two units of four Nite Guards each (one for each direction) in our garden. Our neighbors have been very curious about the flashing red lights in our garden.

Here’s the problem: several days ago our Nite Guards disappeared. Someone came into our garden and took them.

We don’t know if it was a prankster or gardener.

I watch the detective/CSI shows on TV, but I don’t know how to find these culprits. Please leave suggestions in the comments.

Atmospheric Carbon Hits Record Levels

China exports more than manufactured goods to the U.S.

From 350.org comes some troubling news.

Link: Atmospheric Carbon Hits Record Levels:.

air pollution Way out in the middle of the Pacific ocean atop an 11,000 foot volcano, where researchers can get the most representative and clear atmospheric samples, the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii has been continuously recording atmospheric changes since the 1950s. Scientists at the observatory announced a few days ago that the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have now reached 387ppm, a level we’ve never seen within the past 650,000 years.

Studies suggest that the increasing growth rate of CO2 levels in the atmosphere can be attributed to a few things – a weakening in forests’, oceans’ and soils’ ability to function as carbon sinks, and the increased use of coal in China and other parts of the world.

The website 350.org is building a movement to tell the world that 350 is that target to avert climate catastrophe, and ensure a safe future for humanity.

via Fred First at Nameless Creek

U.S. Energy Policy: Get More Oil from OPEC

Our current energy policy: ask the Saudis for more oil. Unfortunately, the Saudis have other customers (China) who are willing to pay whatever they want to charge.

Chris Nelder at Energy & Capital describes how we became dependent on OPEC Arab countries, with almost no alternatives.

How can the U.S. get out of this precarious predicament?

Link: Peak Oil Consequences of Bush’s Failed Energy Policies.

When George W. Bush was first running for president in 1999, and oil had risen to the shocking price of $30 a barrel, he chastised President Clinton for it, arguing that he "must jawbone OPEC members to lower prices."

As his campaign went on, the "jawbone" solution became a regular part of his stump speech. In June 2000, the New York Times reported:

"I would work with our friends in OPEC to convince them to open up the spigot, to increase the supply," Mr. Bush, the presumptive Republican candidate for president, told reporters here today. "Use the capital that my administration will earn, with the Kuwaitis or the Saudis, and convince them to open up the spigot."

His pitch was essentially unchanged in the spring of 2005, with oil now trading in the $50s: "I’ll be talking to our friends about making sure they understand that if they pinch the world economy too much, it’ll affect their ability to sell crude oil in the long run," Bush said.

To be fair, Bush has sent his energy secretary, Samuel Bodman, several times to try to talk OPEC into producing more oil, but he too has been frustrated. "I certainly have made my views known. Whether they respond or choose to respond is up to them and not up to me. I’m doing the best I can within the limited sets of options that we have," Bodman recently remarked.

Neither Bodman’s efforts nor Bush’s have produced results. Not only has Bush earned no capital with Kuwait or Saudi Arabia, he’s been earning their disdain.

Last Sunday, on his second jawboning trip to Saudi Arabia this year, the president had the temerity to lecture the Saudis over their morality, social policies, and energy policy. He warned that "the supply of oil is limited, and nations like mine are aggressively developing alternatives to oil."

"Over time," he cautioned, "as the world becomes less dependent on oil, nations in the Middle East will have to build more diverse and more dynamic economies."

The Saudi leadership was swift to respond, chastising those "who are questioning our oil practices and policies." They were also quick to point out that their decision to increase oil production by 300,000 barrels a day by June was not influenced by Bush’s trip. That decision was made a week prior, and was simply calculated to meet anticipated demand.

The markets weren’t impressed, and responded to his trip by sending oil a few dollars higher, to over $126 a barrel.

"Bush’s credibility is zero anyway," remarked Walid Khadduri, a Beirut-based consultant, on the trip. "I really don’t know anyone who follows what he says, especially after what has happened in Iraq and then his Knesset speech the other day," he said, referring to Bush’s apparent swipe at Barack Obama at a recent speech to the Israeli legislature, wherein he said that "some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals."

OPEC knows the score on oil as well as anyone. They are basically correct in asserting that the markets are well-supplied, and that global refining capacity for the ample supplies of heavy sour crude from sources such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela is limited.

They also know that, as I have written about previously, the skyrocketing price of oil in recent times has as much to do with the sinking dollar as anything else. But the Bush administration has done nothing about that, so why should OPEC make extraordinary efforts to increase oil production? They would rather simply limit their exposure to the Fed’s failed fiscal policy by trading more oil in euros and other non-dollar denominations.

Finally, OPEC knows that peak oil has arrived, and its members are becoming more focused on stewarding their black gold riches for their own countries’ benefit than they are on trying to prop up the U.S. economy. "I think it’s a mistake to have your biggest customer’s economy to slow down," Bush whined, but OPEC is looking at their biggest customers going forward: not the U.S., where petroleum consumption is slowly declining, but the emerging economies of the world, where demand is red-hot.

But President Bush has continued to pretend that we can drill our way to oil freedom, if only those damn Democrats and environmentalists would get out of the way…even though he knows that’s not true.

Water in the American Desert

Barbara Kingsolver, in her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (page 4), wrote about living in Tucson, Arizona:

If it crosses your mind that water running through hundreds of miles of open ditch in a desert will evaporate and end up full of concentrated salts and muck, then let me tell you, that kind of negative thinking will never get you elected to public office in the state of Arizona. When this giant new tap turned on, developers drew up plans to roll pink stucco subdivisions across the desert in all directions. The rest of us were supposed to rejoice as the new flow rushed into our pipes, even as the city warned us that the water was kind of special. They said it was okay to drink, but don’t put it in an aquarium because it will kill the fish. She was describing life in Tucson, Arizona.

She and her family subsequently moved to a small farm in Virginia, where they started growing their own food and wrote a book about it.

Beautiful Image: Pamukkale, Turkey

Pamukkale, meaning "cotton castle" in Turkish, is a natural site and attraction in south-western Turkey in the Denizli Province. Pamukkale is located in Turkey’s Inner Aegean region, in the River Menderes valley, which enjoys a temperate climate over the greater part of the year. (Wikipedia)

Pamukkale, Turkey

Photo by blue foot  on Flickr

Travertine is a kind of rock which is formed as calcium bicarbonate precipitates out of hot spring water. It may be formed in many ways under different atmospheric conditions. Geological activity of the past affected a large area in which the Pamukkale thermal springs are found. There are 17 thermal sources in this special area with temperatures ranging between 35-100°C. The source of Pamukkale is only one unit of that whole area. The thermal water flows to the top of the cascades by a 320-meter-long channel and then flows on the cascades about 240-300 m. CaCO3 begins to precipitate on the cascades as the carbon dioxide evaporates, but in the beginning the precipitate is soft like gel. It needs time to completely dry and harden. In order to protect the cascades from destruction and to preserve their natural beauty, entrance to the travertine area has been prohibited.

Talk about Energy Independence — But No Leadership

Gideon Rachman at the Financial Times provides some insight into how the U.S. became addicted to oil and how leaders avoid the tough love required to face the problem.

Link: Business Spectator – Oil’s slippery slope.

Mr McCain’s promise to eliminate American dependence on Middle Eastern oil is hardly original. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have made similar pledges. President Bush himself swore to end America’s “addiction to oil” a couple of years ago. President Richard Nixon made similar promises after the first oil shock of the 1970s. The reality is that things are moving in the opposite direction. In 1973 the US imported 33 per cent of its oil; today it imports about 60 per cent and this figure could rise to 70 per cent by 2020. America’s transport system is still completely dependent on oil.

American politicians have, so far, responded to this problem with a mixture of wishful thinking and anger. The calls for “energy independence” are all but universal. Money has been poured into the production of biofuels, which has helped push up food prices. But no leading politician is yet prepared to say that Americans may have to adjust their lifestyles to a world of permanently higher fuel prices.

Last week Senator Pete Domenici, a Republican, issued a plaintive appeal for “more oil and lower prices”. The Democrats are pressing for the US attorney-general to bring price collusion charges against members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. But any such action significantly overrates America’s power over the world’s oil producers. Opec members could retaliate by selling some of their huge reserves of dollars – which would hit the dollar and US consumers very hard. The world’s main oil producers have no shortage of potential customers. More than 50 per cent of Saudi oil is now exported to Asia.

Competition for the world’s oil supplies is intensifying. Chinese oil consumption doubled between 1994 and 2003 and will have doubled again by 2010. China’s foray into Africa is largely driven by its own search for “energy security”. The International Energy Agency predicts that in 2010 China will become the world’s largest consumer of energy. The IEA also thinks that the world’s energy needs will be 50 per cent higher in 2030 than they are today – and that we are going to become more, not less, reliant on fossil fuels.

This seems all too plausible. At present there are about 10 cars in China for every 1,000 people; there are 480 cars per 1,000 people in the US. But by 2015, China could be the world’s largest market for new cars.

While western politicians routinely worry about globalisation, they have yet to focus on a more plausible threat. It is not the outsourcing of well-paid jobs; or the inflow of cheap goods: it is the globalisation of western patterns of consumption. If the Chinese and Indians eventually eat and drive like Americans and Europeans, the current inflation in fuel and food prices could be just the beginning. The environmental implications are also obvious – and alarming.

So although the search for energy security is now central to American foreign policy, as it is for both the European Union and the main Asian powers, in the long run there is no real foreign policy fix for the problem. A future dominated by conflict over scarce oil resources – or truckling to oil-rich dictators – is not attractive.

The only plausible routes to “energy security” lie at home in the US – in the development of new technologies and in a change of lifestyles. Americans may have to drive their cars less. But it will be a brave presidential candidate who says that.