Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Not to be tasteless or anything...

...but I would like to point out that Japan has survived large releases of radioactivity before. Two of them as a matter of fact.

Jesus wept! How about a sense of proportion here? Potentially ten thousand or more dead in an instant from a tidal wave and everybody's worried about a bump in thyroid cancers down the road? (And I'll point out that those '60s-vintage GE reactors compare to the current state of the art in the safety features department like a '60s-vintage Chevy does to the current product.)

Look, kids, it's nukes or nothing.

Solar's a supplement at best, and wind turbines are nothing but prayer wheels for suburbanite Buddhists. In the long term, it's either get comfortable with nukes or continue servicing King Abdullah, your choice.

58 comments:

Bram said...

The media hyperventilating is unwatchable. The big Chernobyl meltdown they are rooting for just isn’t going to happen.

http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/fear-the-media-meltdown-not-the-nuclear-one/

alanstorm said...

Well, there IS a third option: If you're against fossil fuels and nukes, you can always become Amish.

I expect to see a mad rush to PA and OH any day now, just like the horde of leftie celebrities who've moved to Cuba.

Any day now.

James said...

Meanwhile, in Libya...

John said...

"nothing but prayer wheels for suburbanite Buddhists."

I think you won the Internets today, Tam.

Tam said...

I'm sorry, we've toppled our quota of dictators in the Middle East for this decade. Let someone else go handle this one.

Anonymous said...

"nothing but prayer wheels for suburbanite Buddhists"

Ummm, pretend Buddhists perhaps. I don't see Seth and Jared giving up stuff.

Besides, windmills really help drain the white guilt.

Shootin' Buddy

Jay G said...

"...but I would like to point out that Japan has survived large releases of radioactivity before. Two of them as a matter of fact."

Coffee. Nose. Ouch.

Anonymous said...

For those interested in the straightest scoop I've been able to find, try BraveNewClimate.com Yes, the author is a pro-nuclear Green. He also has very good graphics and seems to be doing the best job I've seen at sifting the wheat from the media chaff regarding the Japanese reactor situation. He also updates fairly often as the data are becoming available.
LittleRed1

staghounds said...

Well there is a third choice, using the navy we already have to negotiate some really deep discounts from H. M. the King.

Standard Mischief said...

solar cells: They work great when subsidized with free money from the government. Otherwise the 30 year payback is a bitch in a world where mortgages track the 10 year T-bill.

Wind turbines are noisy and don't scale down as easily to a suburban home.

Micro-hydro would be awesome if you have a creek in your back 40. I'd like to note that interconnecting one to my provider's power grid is not allowed. You can connect the preceding two though, if you jump through enough hoops.

micro-cogeneration is some serious disruptive technology. You already heat your home with natural gas or oil. What if, instead, you used the fuel to run a stationary engine, (with a really good muffler) and fed the extra power back into the grid? You would get a useful amount of energy that would spin back your KWH meter at night and the 97-75% percent waste heat produced by the engine could be pumped directly into your home for heating or used to heat water in the summer.

As you can guess, this is also not allowed by my local utility.

Matt G said...

What are there? 2 problem reactors? 3? Mayyyyybe 4?

They have 56 reactors online.

The island of Japan is notably short of raw materials and power resources. Nukes are the way to go for them. By getting more than half their electrical power by nuclear energy, they've actually saved a lot of their Hokusai views. Srsly.

aczarnowski said...

wind turbines are nothing but prayer wheels for suburbanite Buddhists

Bravo. *dabs tear away* That's beautiful.

The recent media inanity makes it much more likely this hand basket we're in will be stopping at "freezing in the dark" before it arrives at its final destination. Bastards.

Kevin said...

First, how the hell did you find that video? I'd forgotten about it.

Second, can we now discuss thorium reactor technology?

Anonymous said...

Wind Turbines? Wind Turbines?
Are You Crazy?
Slowing the wind by taking energy out of it will change the air flow, hence the climate, of the earth?
The ONLY solution is the mass suicide of all who truly love Mother Gaia.
Al Gore should lead the way.

Bubblehead Les. said...

Alanstorm, having lived in Amish country for awhile, it's absolutely amazing how they use gasoline powered engines to move hay into the Barns, Propane to heat and light and run their refrigerators, and they have no problem riding in passenger vans to go to and from work in factories using someone else's electricity. Most of the Old Order Amish have died off, and with the Amish attitude of women getting married young, staying in the kitchen and cranking out babies every 9 months until they wear out, I don't think any Latte Drinking, Prius Driving Suburbanite Buddhist Women will be willing to join that society.
As for Nuclear Power, yeah, go for it. But while you wait for the 20 years to get one up and running, you could probably re-open some of those older Coal Plants that are sitting idle because they don't belch enough Green Ozone to keep the tree huggers happy. Besides, my cousins who are coal miners could use the work.

Anonymous said...

Zero people killed or actually harmed by reactors = DISASTER OMG STOP ALL NUKES 4EVA!!

1000 people trapped in a train, washed away and killed = WE MUST HAVE HIGH SPEED RAIL NOW!!

To... be high speed enough to get away from the tsunami, perhaps?? Or something.

Anonymous said...

The Amish carpenters who worked on our friends home had Crackberrys and laptops.
As long as it was work related they said they had a pass.

I think they just buy indulgences.

Gerry

Tam said...

The Amish aren't anti-technology, they're anti-frivolity.

Crotalus (Dont Tread on Me) said...

I do believe you're right. These leaks just don't measure up to half the Pacific Ocean humping itself up into a Godzilla of water and then going on a rampage across Japan.

K said...

"Solar's a supplement at best, and wind turbines are nothing but prayer wheels for suburbanite Buddhists."

Or, if you're me, solar & wind supply over 80% of your electrical base load, with the grid being an occasional supplement on a (rare) overcast yet windless day when the batteries are depleted.

But, hey, who am I to argue? Don't let my reality get in the way of your opinions.

staghounds said...

"The Amish aren't anti-technology, they're anti-frivolity."

Which is why they always happen to drop by and visit when the good television shows are on.

Crotalus (Dont Tread on Me) said...

Oh, yeah, forgot to add this: turbines are not totally useless, but they are niche machines. Useful for individual houses in remote areas with persistent wind, but not economically viable yet. In San Gorgonio Pass, where many commercial turbines are installed, there once was a homeowner who installed his own household turbine. Word has it that it paid for itself in five years, and then made money for the homeowner for 15 more, because the utility had to buy the electricity, at wholesale rates. This is apparently the exception to the rule. Solar is probably also a niche thing, though some of these big heliostat (focused mirrors) assemblies that heat a receiver may be more feasable. Right now, the most useful solar power items I have are those little hanging and pathway lights, and a hybrid solar flashlight. The flashlight's actually useful; the others are pretty much mood lights for sitting out on quiet evenings.

Tam said...

K,

"Or, if you're me, solar & wind supply over 80% of your electrical base load, with the grid being an occasional supplement on a (rare) overcast yet windless day when the batteries are depleted."

Power a steel mill with it and then come back and tell me.

Like I said: Supplement.

Your house turbine is one thing, but I wonder how many years one of those big ones out in a cornfield has to spin before it generates as much power as it took to manufacture, transport, and install it?

SFlorman said...

In re. that car crash link . . .
I've played this video for dozens of those of us old enough to have ridden in, if not driven, those old tanks - and each of those folks predicted that the "solid old piece of good American steel" would completely destroy "the cheap little piece of plastic-y crap." My dad used to cart us kids around in two - count 'em, two - 1965 Chevy Belair sedans (my birth year) much like the car in this video, with lap belts only (unused by any member of my family) and a steel knife-edged dashboard on the passenger's side right over the glove box. I'd love to have one fully restored - but I'd retrofit it with shoulder belts and, if possible, airbags.

Old Grouch said...

Re: HS Trains (so much for that)

"Electricity Outages Amplify The Anger"
The Wall Street Journal, Tuesday March 15

"Anger in Japan is mounting at Tokyo Electric Power Co.... over its mismanagement of a series of planned blackouts that caused mass confusion and delays in the commute for many Japanese heading back to work on Monday...

"The [electric powered] train lines into Tokyo Monday morning were severely delayed, stranding thousands of commuters...

"A Japan Railways spokesman said the majority of lines were shut early Monday and that on average only 20% were running..."

Brad K. said...

Tam,

That video is just wrong.

Yes, I understand that they build cars to protect the driver in a wreck, that they make the steering column collapse instead of spearing through the driver's chest.

But hanging onto a good looking car for fifty years for a 2 minute video, and forever after not having that 1959 Bel Air, that is just wrong.

Tam said...

Brad K.,

That'll buff right out. :S

tickmeister said...

I lived the first 10 years of my life without electricity. Did not suffer. The human race survived until early this century without electricity. Some of them were occasionally happy. Maybe you all are not properly considering the alternatives.

Billy Beck said...

On nukes: I think we're doing it wrong.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWUeBSoEnRk

Jim said...

Like I said: Why isn't fusion the single national priority?

Jim

Kristopher said...

We can get by with heat depolymerization of hippies.

80 gallons of soylent Diesel from each metric ton of dead hippie.

John said...

Just need to rebrand it as a Nuclear Tsunami. Instant news coverage and a SyFy Original movie to go with it.

Bram said...

tickmeister - I seem to remember having electricity in the last century.

Anonymous said...

+1 for

"nothing but prayer wheels for suburbanite Buddhists."

winning the internets, maybe for the week, maybe for the month.

Kevin

Joseph said...

Humanity won't make make significant strides until we can harness the power of the Sun. That is fusion energy, not solar. Until then though, we should be building nuke plants, refineries, drilling on the continental shelf & the AWLR & extracting shale oil, wind farms, damns, solar farms, bike peddlin' monkey farms... whatever it takes, 'cause folks are going to get real tired of paying $800 a month to keep from freezing and $6 a gallon to get to work, assuming they have a job.

Joanna said...

tickmeister: Maybe you didn't have electricity, but a bunch of other people did. There's a big difference between a few homesteaders living off the land, and everybody living that way.

Look up the stats for daily horse manure removal in New York City, prior to the automobile, if you don't believe me.

Joe in PNG said...

Note: the following post may be a little "too soon":

I'd be worried about any kind of radiation release in Japan- the next thing you know you have 300' radioactive monsters stomping around*...
..At least that's what all those movies I saw as a kid seemed to indicate**.

*Does Japan really look like a model set in real life?

**And do Japanese people really speak english with badly mismatched lip movements?

tickmeister said...

Bram, by this century, I mean 1911 to 2011. You don't have to count centuries from numbers that end in 00. (OK, so I actually forgot that the century rolled over.)

Joanna, I hauled and pitchforked about 20 tons of manure from the local sale barn to my truck patch this winter. Manure is not a problem, it is a solution. New York City is a problem.


Not volunteering to go without electricity. Just pointing out that it is not a requirement for meaningful human life. Ingenuity will go a long way with any problem. Sometimes the solution is find more of a thing, sometimes it is to find a way to not need the thing.

Anonymous said...

Tick - IIRC, that 20 tons was about one day's load for NYC back then. As someone pointed out somewhere else, there was a reason that those old NY brownstones had eight-foot high front steps. Think heavy rain and manure mixing in the streets.

Tam said...

tickmeister,

"Not volunteering to go without electricity. Just pointing out that it is not a requirement for meaningful human life."

Depends on what we consider "meaningful human life".

If by "human", we mean "h. ergaster", all we need is fire and some bone fishhooks. I'd like to think that h. sap. sap. is meant for bigger and better things.

Anonymous said...

On nukes: I think we did it wrong:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqILSBrhLJk

Anonymous said...

"...if you're me, solar & wind supply over 80% of your electrical base load, with the grid being an occasional supplement on a (rare) overcast yet windless day when the batteries are depleted.

But...Don't let my reality get in the way..."

To paraphrase the great Ron White:

Lemmee tell ya what I'm lookin' for in an "electrical base load": I want to flip the effin switch and my light goes on...I want to snatch open the fridge and grab a cold one...I want to toss a bag of popcorn in the micro...and I want to tap the little icon on the laptop and catch up on some por...I mean some news.

I do *not* want to spend 80% of my time obsessing about 80% of my base load and how I can up it to 81%, and no Sir, I most certainly do not want your version of reality getting in the way of me trying to just live my life and pay a fair price for a good and dependable product like, you know, elecfuckingtricity.

I do like staghounds' plan for keeping that price fair, but I fear that at the moment and for the near future - like at least the next two years - our navy functions to defend H.M.t.K. *from* threat rather than pose any threat *to* him. :(

AT

tickmeister said...

20 tons is one days manure, but then I'm just one old redneck feeding my immediate family. Plenty of room for all the manure. Besides, why have horses in the city, you can still use them in 99% of the country.

The old argument that just because you don't see a need for the latest high tech whizbang, you must limit yourself to stone fish hooks is silly.

Both the above objections are examples of all or nothing thinking. This is what people do when they just don't want a solution for whatever reason.

For the record, solar, wind, geothermal, and turbines are marginal solutions for remote locations at best. If you can't run wire to your house, you might do better finding ways to not need electricity than you would messing with gadgets. If you can run wire, pour on the uranium and coal. If that becomes a real problem, adapt to less. That's why we got those big brains.

Anonymous said...

tickmeister:

The only reason you are even capable of doing it the way you claim you are doing it is because everyone else doesn't.

You're getting a free ride, piggy-backing on everyone else's work at such "unmeaningful" endeavers like advanced medicine, transportation to transport your goods to market, and all those nice little luxuries that you *can't* grow for yourself, like oranges, bananas, and a variety of other foods that everyone in this country takes for granted.

Those are just three examples. I'm betting that there is no part of your life that you could replicate without someone else having already provided the infrastructure, research, or development to make it happen, and ALL of those endeavers require burning the midnight oil, which in this day and age, means electricity.

I'm pretty sure you didn't manufacture that pitchfork you used on that 20 tons of manure, and if it wasn't a TRUCK that you used to haul it to the TRUCK PATCH, you probably didn't make the wagon you used to do the hauling either, and you for darn sure didn't post that comment on this blog using a manure-fired personal communication device communicating over a non-electrical comm grid. I'm pretty certain that the pitchfork, truck/wagon, and fancy computer all required electricity to make, let alone use.

So *maybe* you could have a meaningful life without electricity, but it would be short, hard, and brutal, just like it was for our ancestors, based on just the medical advances and facilities alone.

And just as an after thought - who do you buy your seed from, and how is it delivered?

BoxStockRacer

docjim505 said...

Tam - Depends on what we consider "meaningful human life".

Now, now! We really DON'T need electricity to have a meaningful life. Our not-so-distant ancestors didn't have it, and most of them lived well into their 50's. Plus, they got to enjoy a life much closer to nature. All their food was organic, too. And consider the other advantages: no more childhood obesity, no more tubby introverts LOLing or OMGing because there's no time for texting but PLENTY of healthful exercize while plowing the south forty behind Benjamin the mule, no more internet pr0n, no more being confused by talk radio or rightwing blogs... People would actually have to read actual BOOKS again (when they could get them, that is). Who WOULDN'T want such a utopia???

I admit that, yeah, their lives had their drawbacks: life sort of came to a halt with sundown unless one bought lots of candles or coal oil (with the attendent risk of burning down the house or even the entire city), but even that was an advantage because working hard to raise one's own food was tiring (but REWARDING!) work so there was no need to stay up late. And, yes, people died much younger because they didn't have electrical marvels like X-ray machines, CAT scanners, or even refrigerated vaccines but, on the other hand, they didn't worry so much about "death panels" or "end of life" issues: they got sick and died in pretty short order. Talk about balancing the federal budget!

/ sarc

In all seriousness, though, I wonder if it would even be possible to support our large urban populations without widespread use of electricity? COULD we go back to oil or gas lamps, ice boxes, horsecars and dogcarts, coal- or wood-fired furnaces and stoves, and all the other marvelous technology of 1870?

Roberta X said...

Give up electricity (aside from "sustainable" sources, sustainably built) and you'd have widespread starvation in weeks.

Next time you are at the grocers, look at where the nice, fresh food comes from, and consider how fast (and how cold) it had to travel to reach you still fresh. Now tell me how to do that with sail and candles.

Could "we" scale back? Sure -- there'd just be a gawdawful lot less of us after the transition and the survivors will have had a lot of experience operating shovels. This is good -- those wells and privies aren't going to dig themselves.

Anonymous said...

Re: giving up electricity...

This came up at Marko's a few days ago when the grid there in Cryogenica had to take a rest for a couple days...and again a few days later for a couple hours.

I commented there that the hurricanes of '04 and '05 and solemn predicitions of years on end of more of the same have resulted in about half the homes in our part of Fla (and we're inland!) genning up as it were, with stationary whole-house backup generators costing thousands and buried LP fuel tanks. And we had only lost power here for four days. It was a bit surreal...mandatory curfews, pretty much everything shut down, bottled water and ice being dispensed; it really felt as if it could be permanent and everything was different. And it was only four freakin' days!

Could we do without electricity? Sure, some could. But one thing is for sure, it scares the bejeebus out of us and causes massive disruption even in this relatively rural area just to get a taste of doing without...and life without it is difficult to comprehend.

Oh, by the way, Marko's generator shopping as we speak.

AT

Brad K. said...

Roberta X,

Giving up electricity, nationally, would be disruptive today. Do we have time to de-electrify in such a way that minimizes any die-off? Sure. With Peak Oil (continually spiking of oil prices due to international demand, and there is nothing the US can do about it), Peak Coal and Peak Uranium just ahead of us, it sure looks like planning ahead is the right thing to do.

As for longer life. The reading I have seen claims that sanitation - including keeping the septic tank or outhouse 100 feet from the well where you get drinking water - is the significant factor in lengthening life.

Doctors and modern medicine do much for certain, few people, in making them more comfortable and even more productive; historically many of those best helped would have lived about the same life span, but been bed-bound or severely incapacitated.

It is the sanitation end and health inspectors that limit devastating plagues and epidemics. Keeping sick people at home, instead of masking symptoms with over-the-counter meds to enable international and cross country business trips increases the need for modern health care.

With a bit of care, we don't need to give up simple 'wash the effing hands' tactics that benefit large populations.

If someone wanted to actually use less energy - move to walking distance to work and shopping, then walk. Unhook the water heater. Check the ArchDruidReport for home insulating and window treatments that seriously reduce your heating needs without making you all that uncomfortable. Replace most of the lawn with vegetable and herb gardens, and fruit and nut trees. And harvest and preserve what you grow, then eat what you harvest and preserve. If nothing else, your practice may become a significant community resource, someday.

Will said...

tickmeister,

NYC: 100,000 horses x 25 lbs (average) manure/day= 1250 TONS.

That's for a population of 3.5m, versus the current 8.25m. Even more horses needed for the increase(2.3x).

tickmeister said...

1250 tons per day is a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of fertilizer needed on farmland to feed 3.5 million people. Hell, it's a drop compared to the amount of fertilizer wasted on lawns and potted geraniums.

Sendarius said...

How many horses would be needed to move all that err movement to those places it could best be used?

I remember reading somewhere that the automobile saved the horse - because it allowed the equine to become a pampered weekend pet or hobby instead of an abused, overworked tool.

docjim505 said...

Roberta X - Next time you are at the grocers, look at where the nice, fresh food comes from, and consider how fast (and how cold) it had to travel to reach you still fresh. Now tell me how to do that with sail and candles.

Please don't misunderstand: I'm not a neo-Luddite plumping for a return to those thrilling days of yesteryear, but the fact is that populations did manage to survive and grow without electricity. My question - posed as a thought experiment and not an implicit endorsement of the idea - is could we / how would we do it if we had too? COULD it work at all? Could the populations of LA, NYC, Atlanta, etc. survive with the technology of 150 years ago? Sendarius hits on one as pect of the problem: how many horses would we need to transport all those people, goods and waste? Would it be possible for us to grow enough grain to feed them and us? How many rail cars of oats and hay would have to be brought into a major city just to feed the equine population?

Other questions:

1. Presumably, electricity makes the modern "megafarm" possible. Without electricity, what fraction of the population would HAVE to be farmers in order to feed everybody else?

2. Presumably, suburban living as we know it would be difficult / impossible; would the fraction of Americans who live in pure urban areas increase? Could we even house those populations without skyscrapers (and electric elevators!)?

3. How many miles of rail lines, how many rail cars, how many steam engines, etc. would be needed to service our population without electricity?

4. How would the coal industry be affected?

5. Without use of electrical refrigeration, is it possible to get enough ice from frozen lakes / ponds to provide for all the ice boxes that would be needed in homes and businesses?

The strange things I think of!

As a final note, it seems to me that most neo-Luddites also complain about the gap between "rich" and "poor", with the implication that mechanization causes (or at least contributes) to this. I suggest that electricity has reduced this gap in practical terms: even a "poor" person in America has many of the things that a "rich" person has: TV, cel phone, central heating, car, etc. Without electricity, it seems to me that we would return to a much more obvious division of the classes: those who can afford gas lighting and those who have one or two oil lamps or a bundle of candles; those who have an ice box (and thus can eat fresh meat more often) and those who don't; those who have a horse to carry them or pull their carriage and those who walk everywhere; etc.

The world of "My Side of the Mountain" or "Walden Pond" may be nice for the rugged individualist, but I think it would be a death sentence for millions of our people today.

Geodkyt said...

Brad K. --

Yes, sanitation is the FIRST step. Congratulations, you've now entered the Roman Republic. That would be in those years labelled "BC".

To tighten up the die off numbers much further, though, you need reliable base load power.

Anonymous said...

I think Tam's both basically accurate and overstating things a bit.

there's little doubt that nuclear is the only real solution on the table for US baseline loads that doesn't involve coal or moderate use of natural gas.

(we'll hold the fancy microorganism-based biofuel stuff on standby until we get more information and better numbers. But initial outlook is promising, even if just for places with serious power/weight/area constraints like jets where chemical fuel is essential and to produce petroleum-grade lubricants and chemical feedstocks.)

however, renewables are only getting cheaper to make and/or more efficient at extracting power.

realistically, an increasing amount of our power can come from them, especially for homes. There are already small industrial plants being powered overwhelmingly or only by renewables.

granted, these are not major steel mill/refineries, and many of these are plants producing renewable energy sources (windmills and solar kit), but it's a decent start.

I'm not a nuclear hater and I think our current coal-based system is in many respects awful, but while nuclear risks can be seriously limited with intelligent modern design, good operation, and quality maintenance and oversight, the truth is that solar PV and windmills are a hell of a lot inherently safer when deployed in the field, and tend to be seriously limited in the range at which they can kill folks if shit goes wrong, thereby lowering total risk.

the other thing is that we're increasingly getting better at doing the same basic thing while expending less energy.

instead of arguing about whether we should have air conditioning or steel refineries or not, we build new much more efficient ones or retrofit old ones to suck less efficiency-wise and reuse wasted sources of energy.

sometimes this does result in stuff that sucks (e.g. mandatory instead of selectable low-flow heads), but probably even more often, it results in things that aren't that functionally different.

smug Prius or Volt driver hate aside, is it really that functionally different from a Corolla, Camry, or Flex in terms of being an econobox, just one that uses less dino juice? not really. The main issue is cost, and it's only going to improve with time.

without going too Ed Begley Jr., you can do an astonishing amount to reduce home energy without expending a huge amount of money or effort or giving up comfort.

if you're starting with a new house, beginning by adding highly efficient appliances, great insulation, and a very efficient AC/heating system makes for a fairly easy way to make home power stuff much more realistic.

for a bunch of fellow gun nuts with at least moderate "preparedness" tendencies, I'm kinda disappointed in the lack of interest in this stuff.

Anonymous said...

(continued)

finally, efficient, annoyance-free (or at least annoyance-reduced) recycling can also do a heck of a lot to reduce total energy use without much personal effort.

as commodity and raw material prices go up (making recycling more worthwhile) and we get better and better at designing separation systems that take little or no effort on the part of users (instead of separating shit into 35 different bins, Scandinavian style), we're increasingly going to be able to recycle everything from trash to people excretions (hello, phosphorus!) with minimal annoyance.

even in times of flush and cheap raw materials at the industrial level, we recycle energy intensive materials like aluminum and steel. Only we call it "salvage".

the debate over healthcare is also kind of weird. While I'm all in favor of MRI's and CAT scans, the truth is that most of us that die early deaths are going to die from disease of affluence, or least diseases that are made a lot more nasty and likely by the way most of us live in modern society.

(I'm not immune to the temptation to sit on my ass and inhale Ho-Hos as a supplement to my continued air intake either, but I also don't have any illusions about which is more likely to kill those of us that aren't deployed to a war zone - that, or as Cooper put it, "goblins")

finally, while I don't want to get too butthurt over the Buddhist cracks, I'd point out that not a lot of US Christians are seeking martyrdom at the hands of their oppressors or doing the traditional moral equivalent when oppressive unbelievers are absent, dumping their possessions and running off into the desert or to a mountaintop monastery.

Similarly, there are a distinct lack of US atheists and pagans spending a goodly amount of time sharpening the good old fashioned Stoic virtues while hardening their bodies and their minds in the local boonies inbetween helping their fellow man at the agora.

no religion or faith practiced by humans I've yet seen is immune to half-hearted, incomplete, casual, or erroneous implementation, and most of them are honest enough to admit it and offer theories as to why.

Religions like Christianity and Buddhism and practical philosophical faiths like Stoicism do a surprising amount of good anyway, even when followed honestly yet minimally on the cruise control setting, and the faiths listed certainly have produced some excellent practical change in the world and I respect the heck out of them for it.

summary: tl;dr.

Brad K. said...

Roberta X,

About mid-1800s Paris was considered a garden hot spot. The people raising food inside the city limits were incredibly productive. Of course, they worked 16 hour days, and used a lot of hand-carried (back pack baskets) horse manure, composted, to fuel the gardens.

Hong Kong and other cities raise 20-40 percent of vegetables, and some of them fish and small livestock, producing significant food within the city limits.

Talk a few years back was that 'green' roofs were the way to go, where grass or gardens are planted on skyscraper and other building roofs, to insulate the building as well as harvest food and fiber.

In the suburbs, there is no reason that much lawn and landscaping cannot instead grow potatoes and hazelnuts or apples, peaches, apricots, beans, and squash. Tear out the swimming pool and use the space for a garden as a place to spend recreation time. Use a garden hose to clean up and wet down.

The thing with horses in town, is that few people ever owned horses in town. Many were rented or used for cabs - public transport. And if distances were horse close - many people could instead walk. You can see in really old neighborhoods today, many places had a carriage house, but kept the horse at a stable or rented one for the day, when desired.

I would not expect to replace each automobile with one or two horses. Instead, we would have to re-think the ability to commute more than a few miles to work, or to shop, or go to school. A lot of re-organizing could eliminate a lot of the travel we take for granted today.

Anonymous said...

you can do a lot with intensive, scientifically smart, distributed, small-scale gardening and farming.

even more if you have some space and can include techniques like zero-waste/low-waste agriculture or just slowly and subtly rigging un-leveled nature to produce lots of tasty stuff humans like to eat, like has been done in a few wooded areas.

there are still real issues with keeping these gardens and farms supplied with the Big Three plant nutrients without modern industrial and mining techniques.

many such gardens are currently supersaturated with the stuff due to abundant chemical fertilizers from the Haber Process (all gone without an sufficient supply of oil) and mined fertilizer, but after a few years to a half-decade, that would wear off, and yields would drop.

Tam said...

Brad K.,

Actually, living in an old "streetcar suburb" with multiple grocery stores and restaurants within easy walking and cycling distance, I'm doing my bit. :)