Renewing a Weary Spirit

It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Peak Color In Fall At Picture Lake – Picture Lake, Mount Shukasan, North Cascades National Park, WA
Photo by Kevin McNeal (http://www.kevinmcnealphotography.com)

Developing a Sustainable Food System

Coldplay's song 'The Scientist' is performed by country music legend Willie Nelson for the soundtrack of the short film entitled, "Back to the Start" (which is a commercial for Chipotle).

Produced for Chipotle Mexican Grill by CAA Marketing Group and Nexus Productions, “Back To The Start” features a stop-motion animated trip from farm to table.

The film, by filmmaker Johnny Kelly, depicts the life of a farmer as he slowly turns his family farm into an industrial animal factory before seeing the error of his ways and opting for a more sustainable future. Both the film and the soundtrack were commissioned by Chipotle to emphasize the importance of developing a sustainable food system.

3D printer maker Stratasys said its Dimension 3D Printing technology created several of the physical models for “Back To The Start,” which has garnered more than two million YouTube views and a nod from AdWeek as one of the top commercials of the year.

Hope for the Small Farmer

Open Source Ecology (OSE) is a network of farmers, engineers and other supporters. The main goal of OSE is the eventual manufacturing of the Global Village Construction Set (GVCS). As described by Open Source Ecology "the Global Village Construction Set is an open technological platform that allows for the easy fabrication of the 50 different Industrial Machines that it takes to build a small civilization with modern comforts.

Groups in Oberlin, Ohio, Pennsylvania , New York and California are developing blueprints, and building prototypes in order to pass them on to Missouri.

The devices themselves are on the Factor e Farm in rural Missouri, built and tested. 

Link: http://opensourceecology.org/

What Happened to Self Reliance?

How often do you hear the phrase "Self Reliance" these days? I never hear it.

Apparently being self-reliant is out of style. It seems that we the people have become a nation of consumers, and consumers are not self reliant. Oil producing countries, advertisers, government, political parties, and employers, to name a few, want us to be consumers and not self reliant. They want us to spend our money and depend on them for information, compensation, energy, food, entitlements, loans, tax breaks, etc. (Likewise, the United States government consumes more than its revenue; it depends on purchases of debt by China and other countries to fund the endless overspending.) But the really ugly skeleton in the closet is our dependence on fossil fuels.

Cutting back on our energy use is critical. Leadership in this realm has been mixed at best. Many of the celebrity Americans who promote energy conservation and alternative energy don't walk their talk. Al Gore and his huge mansion are a glaring example.

Blogger and writer John Michael Greer is preparing for a future where fossil fuels are very expensive and scarce; he intends to be self reliant. He writes extensively about why and how to conserve energy. Does he walk his talk? He recently reported:

I've never owned a cell phone, a car, a microwave, a television, or most of the other conveniences so many Americans think of as essential to life. I do own a computer — it's essential to the way I make my living — and my compromise there is that I don't buy new computers; I take the old ones that would otherwise end up in a landfill, and keep them out of the ecosystem. I still use a very modest amount of grid power — our power bills run in the $30-$40 a month range — since my wife and I bought a home of our own for the first time in 2009, and we haven't yet raised the money for an off-grid system (or for several other improvements I have on the list, such as solar water heaters and composting toilets). 

Some of my food comes from a backyard organic garden; much of the remainder is from the farmer's market in season; almost none is processed and packaged, though that's as much because I have a hard time choking down standard American food products as anything else. Organic wastes, almost without exception, go into the composter out back. I don't use mainstream medicine, though that's a complex issue in its own right — I've had too many family members killed or harmed by MDs to trust my health to them, among other things. (see Comments)

His sacrifices are rather shocking to most of us in America. It's easy to say he's weird and ignore the fact that he is much more self reliant than anyone we know.

Most of the poor in this country own a cell phone and a TV. (Government programs often pay for cells phones for the poor.) Many of these same people are unhealthy, in debt, and utterly dependent on someone else's money to pay for their lifestyle. They are not self reliant and never will be.

Why am I bringing this up? Dependence weakens individuals and countries – self reliance strengthens. The US needs to be stronger to weather the storms that loom on the horizon. What if… Iran and Israel go to war. Would Israel destroy Iran's oil wells? Would Iran destroy Saudi Arabia's oil wells? The price of oil could jump to $400 – $500 a barrel. Gas prices in the US could be $16 – $20 per gallon. Heating and cooling our homes could quadruple in price. How quickly could our government adapt? How would unprepared people adapt?

Maybe self-reliant people can teach us a thing or two. What do you think?

We Are Stardust

Lawrence M. Krauss is an American Theoretical Physicist who is Professor of Physics, Foundation Professor of the School of Earth and Space Exploration and Director of the Origins Project at the Arizona State University. He is the author of several bestselling books, including The Physics of Star Trek.

http://99faces.tv/ met him at the World Economic Forum WEF) in Davos in January 2011. Eli de los Pinos, herself a great scientist, interviewed him about his research focus: the beginning and end of the Universe.

More info: http://99faces.tv/lawrencemkrauss/