Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Space Heating: A Proposal

Now that it’s warmer in the northern hemisphere, we are not hearing much about the expense of heating our homes. But now, when we have the opportunity and time, is the right moment to begin taking action in this area. One thing that is going to aggravate the coming space heating crisis is the practice of central heating, especially as implemented in the United States.

Americans have a sense of entitlement when it comes to consuming resources and energy, so it is going to be the hardest for them to give up heating their homes to shirt-sleeve temperatures in the middle of the winter. But it will have to be done, because such extravagance will be simply impossible as we begin to slide down the curve of declining energy production.

What I’d like to propose is a concept of heating which exponentially reduces the amount of energy needed. It’s what I call the Japanese model. Although space heating is now used in Japan, central heating is limited to public buildings, while residential space heating is achieved by heating individual rooms with small heaters, which are for the most part portable. Only rooms actually in use are heated.

This practice alone can save a lot of energy and expense, but in fact heating in Japan is traditionally not space heating. Stoves for space heating are new to Japan because the traditional idea is to heat the body, not the room or house. After all, if you yourself are warm, what is the sense in expending many times the energy to heat the room or the whole house? Thus Japan has used the kotatsu, the hibachi, the hot bath, and the irori to provide heat. Obviously, even the irori cannot heat the room or home, because one has to be sitting right next to it to keep warm.

Trying to maintain the practice of central heating with such high populations is going to lead straight down the road to disaster. But if people give up central heating and adopt the Japanese model of heating the body instead of spaces, they can stay warm with a far smaller amount of fuel.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Watching Your Calories

New York City will now — with the blessing of a court — require that calories be posted on menus. With the world food crisis already beginning, there is going to be a big change coming in the developed countries. Whereas people have until now been worried about getting too many calories, they will soon be wondering why they were ever worried about that, because everyone will be desperately trying to get enough calories.

Instead of bothering itself with a problem that will soon disappear, New York City should be concerning itself with how it will keep itself from completely falling apart once the requisite energy becomes too expensive.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


The Shift to Organic Fertilizer

I have predicted that farmers will begin to shift back to organic fertilizer as chemical fertilizer increases in price and decreases in availability. As a corollary, the increasing demand for organic inputs from farmers (and gardeners) will mean a clash with biofuel producers, who want organic materials for their feedstock.

Well, the shift has begun, and here’s one example. Do your own search and see how farmers around the world are on the cusp of falling back on organic inputs.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


The Great Fall-Apart Continues

As this blog has noted before, America’s infrastructure is badly degraded and getting worse. This is what I call the Great Fall-Apart. Here is an article on how the water distribution system is going to pot. Drinking water systems will apparently need an investment of $277 billion to fix everything up. But of course that money will not be found. Got a well?

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