A little less than one year ago, the major environmental news pertained to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. From Wikipedia:
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill (also referred to as the BP oil spill, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the BP oil disaster or the Macondo blowout) is an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico which flowed for three months in 2010. The impact of the spill continues even after the well has been capped. It is the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. The spill stemmed from a sea-floor oil gusher that resulted from the April 20, 2010 explosion of Deepwater Horizon, which drilled on the BP-operated Macondo Prospect.
Of course, the huge environmental news today is the nuclear crisis in Japan, stemming from damage to the Fukushima Dai-Ichi power plants.
It occurs to me that both of these disasters have a common cause: they were caused by desperate efforts to wring cheap energy from nature. The Macondo well was drilled in very deep water. This is difficult and hazardous. We would not do it if we were not desperate.
The Fukushima Dai-ichi power units were built in the late 1960s to late 70s. One could argue that the continued operation of the units reflected a desperate need for more cheap energy. The units were old; their designs, obsolete .
Both BP and TEPCO have histories of malfeasance and cover-ups.
Debt-based economies require a positive growth rate in order to keep functioning. That is, if the economy does not grow enough for all the accululate interest-on-debt to be paid, defaults inevitably occur. But economic growth requires either even-increasing energy expenditures, or ever-increasing improvements in efficiency. Therefore, there is a great need to constantly increase energy supply, given the political impracticality of getting people to become more efficient. We are trying to increase supply, despite a stread decline in energy return per unit of energy invested (EROEI). Hence, the desperation, hence the disasters. We have had two major disasters now in less than a year. This is not a good sign.
There are several more photos on the Flickr page. This photo shows a detail of rammed-earth construction. It is a method of construction that strikes a compromise between using local materials, such as adobe (cheap, with minimal transportation needed, but very slow to build and very labor-intensive), and premade materials such as cinder block (cost more, takes a lot of energy to ship, but go up fast and with less labor.) The walls are 18 inches thick, so it has immense thermal mass. It is also very quiet inside. And bulletproof, literally.
Outline of the edible weed talk
We had little squall clouds today, such that there was interesting light and shadow in the yard. This made for a nice opportunity to photograph the nectarine tree blossoms. Emotionally uplifting, I would say. The only problem is that we now have to watch for frost warnings, then run out and cover the tree if it might freeze.
Yang was the first to come out as Yin looks on. Raisin and Smokie haven't peeked out yet.
The exposed seed is on the lower right; the others are unopened seed pods. Moringa oleifera is also known as the "Miracle Tree" because it is very heat- and drought-tolerant, yet is a good source of nutritious edible seeds. They are not entirely tolerant of frost, but are said to grow back from the (very deep) tap root if the freeze kills them.
We are hopeful that the roots can stabilize arroyo banks.
These seeds came from Eden Organic Nursery Services, http://www.eonseed.com/
Sharon Astyk mentioned the moringa tree in "Gardening in a Changing Climate." She thinks that more people should grow them.
Two Fig trees from cuttings, from http://www.hybridpoplars.com/ covered with Blue-x tree shelters (http://www.growtube.com/products/treeshelter/). The stakes are old yucca stalks. We will see how they do.
Growing xeric landscape trees/plants in a miniature greenhouse. Grown from seed: Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin, front-big pot), Palo Verde (Cercidium - unknown species, rear -small pots), Apache plume (Fallugia paradoxa left,-small pot) in a miniature greenhouse on the deck.
Blossom from the century plant , Agave americana. This specimen was spotted in Kingston, NM.
This will produce about 30 pints of hearty stew. That is enough for two people to have dinner for a month.
We bought these from the farm down the road from us where we have bought our chile the last 3 years. These are Sandia hot. The farm roasts them and does a great job. No effort peeling them later because they are roasted to perfection. They are huge, meaty, and addictive. I only bought 25 lbs today, but needed it ASAP to finish more salsa and apple-green chile pie filling. I'll buy at least another 25 lbs, and hopefully 50 lbs, which should last until next harvest. This was the best harvest in years. These are the biggest chiles I've ever seen. Yum!
I picked these little girls up at the post office this morning. They spent the first 3 days of their life in transit. No food or water. They are making up for it now. I have 6 Easter Eggers and 2 Dominiques. They are peeping in happy mode right now. They are all supposed to be girls. We'll see. Actually I wouldn't mind having a rooster by mistake, but had I ordered one, I may have ended up with more than one and that would be very bad. One rooster per flock, unless you have a much bigger flock.
This past April I got 6 Americaunas from the feed store. They were so precious, friendly and appreciative. They were so much fun. One was named Amelia. I didn't have the fencing right and a dog found them. He used them as a personal play toy. I think he had been attracted to Amelia's declaration that morning that she was instead an Emilio.
This time my fence is ready to zap any threats to my chickies, but I think I will still opt for more reinforcements. I have a few weeks before these girls are ready to go outside, but they grow extremely fast.
I pressure canned this for many reasons.
The pressure canner is cooler and takes less water, and less energy, plus I don't have to lower the PH with vinegar or lemon juice like I would need to do per USDA guidelines if I water bath canned them. The texture between the two methods is the same. Not fresh, but it will be very welcome during the winter.
FORT BLISS, Texas – As soldiers stream home from Iraq and Afghanistan, the biggest charity inside the U.S. military has been stockpiling tens of millions of dollars meant to help put returning fighters back on their feet, an Associated Press investigation shows.
Between 2003 and 2007 — as many military families dealt with long war deployments and increased numbers of home foreclosures — Army Emergency Relief grew into a $345 million behemoth. During those years, the charity packed away $117 million into its own reserves while spending just $64 million on direct aid, according to an AP analysis of its tax records.