Immanentizing the Eschaton  

Posted by Big Gav

This week's "New Yorker" apparently has a feature on Amory Lovins called "Mr Green" - as far as I can tell its not online unfortunately.

In “Mr. Green,” Elizabeth Kolbert profiles Amory Lovins, a man who, she writes, “is routinely described, even by people who don’t particularly like or admire him, as a ‘genius.’ ” He’s the founder and C.E.O. of the Rocky Mountain Institute, a consulting firm in Snowmass, Colorado, whose goal is to promote “the efficient and restorative use of resources to make the world secure, just, prosperous, and life-sustaining.” Lovins’s father, an optical engineer, inspired in his son a love of tinkering. “While he was still in high school,” Kolbert writes, Lovins “built a nuclear magnetic-resonance spectrometer in his basement.” He studied a variety of subjects, including physics, at Harvard and Oxford, but chafed at straitjacketing graduation requirements and dropped out of both. He then went to work in London for the Friends of the Earth, where he wrote a book about a Welsh national park that proved instrumental in blocking a company’s plans to mine for copper there.

Lovins is a tireless deviser of both small- and large-scale ways of saving energy and increasing the efficiency of buildings, industrial processes, and even whole economies. He first came to national attention in 1976, when he was twenty-eight, Kolbert writes. “In an essay published in Foreign Affairs, he asserted that the United States could completely phase out its use of fossil fuels and do so not at a cost but at a profit.” He has remained unwavering in his conviction. Lovins, Kolbert writes, “maintains that the U.S. can eliminate its use of oil by 2050, even while reducing its coal and natural-gas consumption, enjoying unprecedented prosperity, and preserving the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.” Many of Lovins’s ideas, Kolbert writes, “sound radical and futuristic—ultra-light cars made of carbon fibres, vehicles that generate electricity when they’re not on the road, an economy powered by hydrogen.” But he has attracted major corporate clients like Wal-Mart and Texas Instruments, for whom his innovations achieve major savings. A Wal-Mart vice-president tells Kolbert, “In a room of ten people talking about why it can’t be done, Amory is the one working on the five ways to get there.”

Lovins also appears in this article on the slowly increasing use of lightweight plastics in the US car industry.
As the U.S. auto industry plots its turnaround, fighting foreign automakers for market share, a handful of industry observers say lightweight plastics are a key to rebuilding the nation's car companies.

Reinforced plastics, known as composites, are superstrong, superlight -- but still superexpensive -- materials. Composites can be found in fighter jets, race cars and even skis. They also make up some parts of the cars on display until Sunday at the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center.

The materials were key in Boeing Co.'s success under current Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally in improving the fuel efficiency of a passenger jet when reinforced plastics were used for half of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.

Can Mulally and others in the auto industry make similar gains with vehicles ? At a time when foreign oil dependence is seen as both an economic and a national security issue, advocates say high-tech plastics can be used all the way down to the traditionally steel frame -- resulting in a family sedan that can average at least 60 miles per gallon. "It's like finding a Saudi Arabia under Detroit. That's a business opportunity. Whoever gets there first, whether it's American or the Asian automakers, is going to own the industry," said Amory Lovins, the head of an energy research center and designer of a car made of reinforced plastics.

Insiders say the auto industry is headed in that direction, but slowly. They say the materials cost too much for mass-produced vehicles, and widespread use is years, if not decades, away. However, Lovins, a physicist who founded the Rocky Mountain Institute and has worked with the Pentagon and the U.S. Department of Energy, said automakers can match Boeing's gains. Boeing's decision has helped turn the company's fortunes. Boeing won more orders than European rival Airbus last year for the first time since 2000. The 787 is due out next year, five years before Airbus expects to deliver its first composite passenger aircraft.

Already many automobiles -- concept and production -- on display at the Detroit auto show employ some high-tech plastics. Look around the show and you'll see a high-tech plastic body on the Smart Fortwo, slated to hit U.S. roads in early 2008. Boeing-like composites lightened GM's Chevrolet Volt electric concept by 60 pounds, so it takes less energy to propel the battery-powered car. Reducing the weight of a car means less energy is needed to move it. That, in turn, has a direct effect on fuel efficiency. The Volt is expected to get as much as 150 miles to the gallon for a driver traveling 60 miles a day, recharging the battery pack with a gas-powered generator and plugging in the car at night.

Technology Review has an article on EEStor's "Battery Breakthrough ?".
A secretive Texas startup developing what some are calling a "game changing" energy-storage technology broke its silence this week. It announced that it has reached two production milestones and is on track to ship systems this year for use in electric vehicles.

EEStor's ambitious goal, according to patent documents, is to "replace the electrochemical battery" in almost every application, from hybrid-electric and pure-electric vehicles to laptop computers to utility-scale electricity storage.

The company boldly claims that its system, a kind of battery-ultracapacitor hybrid based on barium-titanate powders, will dramatically outperform the best lithium-ion batteries on the market in terms of energy density, price, charge time, and safety. Pound for pound, it will also pack 10 times the punch of lead-acid batteries at half the cost and without the need for toxic materials or chemicals, according to the company.

The implications are enormous and, for many, unbelievable. Such a breakthrough has the potential to radically transform a transportation sector already flirting with an electric renaissance, improve the performance of intermittent energy sources such as wind and sun, and increase the efficiency and stability of power grids--all while fulfilling an oil-addicted America's quest for energy security.

The breakthrough could also pose a threat to next-generation lithium-ion makers such as Watertown, MA-based A123Systems, which is working on a plug-in hybrid storage system for General Motors, and Reno, NV-based Altair Nanotechnologies, a supplier to all-electric vehicle maker Phoenix Motorcars.

"I get a little skeptical when somebody thinks they've got a silver bullet for every application, because that's just not consistent with reality," says Andrew Burke, an expert on energy systems for transportation at University of California at Davis.

That said, Burke hopes to be proved wrong. "If [the] technology turns out to be better than I think, that doesn't make me sad: it makes me happy."

Richard Weir, EEStor's cofounder and chief executive, says he would prefer to keep a low profile and let the results of his company's innovation speak for themselves. "We're well on our way to doing everything we said," Weir told Technology Review in a rare interview. He has also worked as an electrical engineer at computing giant IBM and at Michigan-based automotive-systems leader TRW.

Much like capacitors, ultracapacitors store energy in an electrical field between two closely spaced conductors, or plates. When voltage is applied, an electric charge builds up on each plate.

Ultracapacitors have many advantages over traditional electrochemical batteries. Unlike batteries, "ultracaps" can completely absorb and release a charge at high rates and in a virtually endless cycle with little degradation.

Where they're weak, however, is with energy storage. Compared with lithium-ion batteries, high-end ultracapacitors on the market today store 25 times less energy per pound.

This is why ultracapacitors, with their ability to release quick jolts of electricity and to absorb this energy just as fast, are ideal today as a complement to batteries or fuel cells in electric-drive vehicles. The power burst that ultracaps provide can assist with stop-start acceleration, and the energy is more efficiently recaptured through regenerative braking--an area in which ultracap maker Maxwell Technologies has seen significant results.

On the other hand, EEStor's system--called an Electrical Energy Storage Unit, or EESU--is based on an ultracapacitor architecture that appears to escape the traditional limitations of such devices. The company has developed a ceramic ultracapacitor with a barium-titanate dielectric, or insulator, that can achieve an exceptionally high specific energy--that is, the amount of energy in a given unit of mass....

The company announced this week that this year it plans to begin shipping such a product to Toronto-based ZENN Motor, a maker of low-speed electric vehicles that has an exclusive license to use the EESU for small- and medium-size electric vehicles.

By some estimates, it would only require $9 worth of electricity for an EESU-powered vehicle to travel 500 miles, versus $60 worth of gasoline for a combustion-engine car.

"My understanding is that the leap from powder to product isn't the big leap," says Ian Clifford, CEO of ZENN, which is also an early investor in EEStor. "We're the first application, and that's thrilling for us. We took the initial risk because we believed in what they are doing. And energy storage is the game changer." ...

"Ecology and Energy Production" points to a Ukrainian ultracapacitor producer - no news on who (if anyone) is using their devices.
A new ultracapacitor technology from APCT (US-Ukrainian start-up) provides an efficient, low cost means of managing power delivery for applications ranging from hand held devices to hybrid vehicles and power generating systems of all types. When integrated into battery powered devices, the APCT technology can extend battery life by as much as 400%, lowering the cost of batteries and reducing hazardous waste streams. Fast charge/discharge cycling with 95% efficiency improves performance and lowers cost for fuel cell vehicles and hybrid electric automobiles. High energy density and hundreds of thousands of cycles provides critical load leveling capabilities for wind and solar power generators while eliminating stacks of lead acid batteries supporting fragile power grids.
The unique construction and materials of the APCT ultracapacitor improves performance by 3 to 4 times when compared to current offerings. For the first time, the cost/benefit requirements for automotive, power quality and consumer electronic applications can be achieved in mass production.

TreeHugger has a post on cellulosic ethanol in Japan - BioEthanol & Celunol.
BioEthanol Japan became the first company to make cellulosic ethanol - the kind that is less controversial than corn ethanol - on a commercial basis.

"The plant in Osaka Prefecture has an annual capacity of 1.4 million liters (about 370,000 gallons US). In 2008, it plans to boost production to 4 million liters (1 million gallons)." The ethanol biofuel is made from wood construction waste using technology from Celunol, the key element of which being a genetically engineered Escherichia coli bacteria that can ferment both C6 (hexose) and C5 (pentose) sugars present in cellulosic biomass. The big benefit of cellulosic ethanol over ethanol made from food crops is that it can be made with waste biomass coming from forestry, construction and agriculture (corn and wheat stalks that are usually burned). It can also use fast-growing, low-impact plants such as switchgrass, hemp and kenaf on land that can't be used for food production.

This kind of ethanol should be carbon-neutral since the carbon present in it was absorbed from the atmosphere by the plant that produced the biomass. Some extra energy is required to turn the biomass into ethanol, but there is no reason why that process couldn't be optimized to have minimal impact (it is even possible to burn the hard lignen from the biomass to generate some of the energy needed in the ethanol plant, but the future probably lies with microbial catalysts).

In the best-case scenario, cellulosic ethanol can even be slightly carbon-negative if it is made from switchgrass and other grasses with deep roots that fix carbon from the atmosphere in the soil. Japan has announced that they want 10% biofuels in their vehicles by 2030. Cellulosic ethanol is definitely the way to go for that.

The Sydney Morning Herald has a report on a large Australian property trust that is moving towards using green energy for its towers.
WIND and waste will soon be powering the lights and lifts of some of Sydney's tallest buildings. In a move that will give a much-needed boost to the green power market, one of Australia's largest listed property companies, the GPT Group, has decided to buy almost a quarter of the electricity used in its offices in NSW, Victoria and South Australia from renewable sources.

In a deal with Origin Energy, GPT will pay a premium for the power, which is free of greenhouse gas pollution but more expensive than electricity generated from fossil fuels. owever, the company said a range of measures already in place in many of its office towers to increase energy efficiency and cut demand would offset the increased cost of electricity.

The deal comes not long after WWF Australia launched a campaign to encourage the corporate sector to curb the amount of greenhouse gas pollution associated with electricity used in CBD buildings and businesses.

In an effort to demonstrate the connection between the electricity used in homes and offices and the climate change pollution that coal-fired power stations generate, WWF last month launched a campaign to have many of the city's lights turned off for one hour on March 31. So far, the Harbour and Anzac bridges have agreed to turn out their spotlights, while 30 large businesses, including ANZ Bank, the insurer IAG and the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers have joined the campaign. ...

The National Manager Public Affairs for Origin Energy, Wayne Gregory, said the GPT contract was one of the largest deals it had struck with the corporate sector. He said the green power market was still small - of its 3 million residential customers only 150,000, or 5 per cent, bought green energy - but was growing rapidly.

Dan at The Daily Reckoning is pondering the fallling oil price and Saudi claims to be able to increase production to 14 million barrels per day.
In Genesis, man was punished for his hubris by a suspicious God. His tongues were confused and his tower to the sky abandoned. In markets, the process may be less dramatic, but the net effect is just as biblical: thousands-maybe even millions of people go broke as their chief financial beliefs are cast down to the ground by the reality that you can’t get something for nothing.

But since when has reality stopped people from trying impossible things? “Saudi Arabia plans to increase its crude oil production capacity nearly 40 percent by 2009 and double its refining size over the next five years to keep pace with growing global demand, the country’s oil minister said Thursday,” reports today’s International Herald Tribune. Take that, peak oilers!

We’re joking, by the way. We love the peak oilers, both for their exacting science and profound passion. And here’s a question for you: Can the Saudis really increase oil production capacity from the current level of about 10 million barrels to about 14 million barrels by 2009? Do they have the oil to back the boast? There are plenty of sceptics, including certain occupants of the Old Hat Factory, but oil minister Ali Naimi is not one of them. “Additional projects have been identified for implementation after 2009, if warranted by market conditions,” Naimi says.

With plenty of global demand for its oil, market conditions certainly support new projects. It’s just the oil has been awfully hard to find. But apparently the Saudis have plenty more where the last fifty years of oil have come from. And they certainly have plenty of uses for the money that comes from increased oil sales. After all, the proposed $100 billion expansion would be paid for with oil money. And then there is the coming war with Iran to pay for as well, you know, the one taking place in Iraq.

But wouldn’t this looming conflict between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran be bullish for oil, with or without the facts behind peak global oil production? Jim Rogers thinks so. “Oil will resume its march toward $100 a barrel after a `correction,'’ said Jim Rogers, who predicted the start of the commodities rally in 1999,” reads another Bloomberg article today.

Rogers continues, “I’m just not smart enough to know how far down it will go and how long it will stay, but I do know that within the context of the bull market, oil will go over $100. It will go over $150. Whether that is in 2009 or 2013, I don’t have a clue, but I know it’s going to happen.”

When you throw enough money into the global mix, anything is possible. We agree with Rogers. But in the meantime, crude oil’s correction has been ruthlessly efficient, falling 34% to a 19-month low after hitting nearly $80 per barrel in July. The real question is whether oil and energy stocks will regain their lustre even when crude regains its footing.

The Daily Reckoning also has some comments on the recent power cuts in Victoria.
--Something else that was difficult to believe last week was the power cut supposedly caused by the bush fires in north-eastern Victoria. As we mentioned at the time we do not profess to be the expert in the field of electricity generation. However, someone who does seem to be an authority is
Melissa Perrow, who may or may not have anything to do with NEMMCO, the National Electricity Market Management Corporation.

--Melissa writes to tell us that the Generators need to receive a steady income means it "creates a need to enter into over the counter (OTC) derivative deals with counterparties which act to hedge the floating pool price against a fixed price."

--And that "Cutting electricity supplies serves neither the interests of the retailers or the generators. Retailers lose customer revenue while the generators lose revenue from not generating."

--Our response would be that to say that there is a "hedge" in place doesn't necessarily mean that there cannot be any losses from either the physical and/or the hedge transaction. For a start, we don't know precisely what the "hedge" contracts are, only that they are probably some combination of SWAPS or Options, or some other derivative, the upside and downside risk of which we don't know.

--And finally, we would also make the comment that the famous energy trading company Enron was also in the habit of running positions to speculate and
hedge the energy and electricity market and look where it got them.

While I've never worked for any of the Mexicans, my experiences north of the border (and the interconnector) partly coincide with Melissa's email. The generators (who account for the vast majority of written OTC contracts) are very conservative. They mostly write swaps, and the swaps are basically forward sales of electricity that they can generate (up to a certain percentage - say 70% - of their total generating capacity, to protect against the plant outages that tend to cause the massive swings in price - if one of their own plants go out and they are fully forward sold, then massive losses will ensue - and have in the past).

Of course, when prices are really high, the marginal generation (that 30% or so which isn't forward sold - assuming its all still online) is massively profitable, so the generators do make a lot of money (quite a chunk of their yearly profits in fact) when unusual situations cause the price to max out at the limit of $10,000 (also known as VOLL) per megawatt. However, the generators don't have the ability to switch off the interconnectors, and Nemmco (who do), have nothing to gain (or lose) in such situations, so this is one conspiracy theory which probably doesn't hold much water...

The Motley Fool is asking what happened to the oil boom ?. The mild northern winter has obviously had an effect, but the tales of large excess Saudi oil producing capacity are pretty sketchy and should be taken with a grain of salt. Iraqi oil production obviously could be increased massively, but this is only a theoretical possibility and won't be happening until after the occupation ends - probably well after...
One thing that has changed in the market is that spare production capacity has increased. Saudi Arabia recently announced that when it implements production cuts on Feb. 1, its spare capacity will have risen to 3 mb/d. This is up from the roughly 2 mb/d a year ago that the Saudis claimed as spare capacity. However, spare capacity in the remainder of the world is very limited, and even 3 mb/d represents only 3.5% of global demand.

For now, it appears that the Peak Oil folks will have to wait. ...

Geopolitical uncertainty in several key oil-producing regions has added a "fear premium" to the price of oil in the past few years. There is little reason to be optimistic that this situation will change in the near future. Iran has increased its power and influence within the Middle East region, and agitations over its nuclear program, its support for insurgents in Iraq, and its support of Hezbollah could impact oil markets at any time. Iraq continues to produce oil at less than prewar levels, and its oil infrastructure remains a soft target for those parties who wish to disrupt the reconstruction effort. Russia has begun imposing its will on foreign oil investment partners and trying to control the former member states of the old Soviet Union. These strong-arm tactics will likely cause foreign oil executives to think twice about increasing investment in the region. Ongoing problems in Venezuela and Nigeria have kept production levels down in those countries.

Of all the problems out there, Iran and Iraq appear as though they will remain lingering issues for the next several years. However, were either country to become stable, allow foreign investment in its oil industry, and achieve full production capacity, the world would again be swimming in oil, and we could all go back to driving SUVs. For example, it is estimated that Iraq should have a production rate of 6 mb/d; instead, it languishes at about 2 mb/d. Likewise, despite some large discoveries in the past 30 years, Iran's production rate remains 2 mb/d below its peak production of 6 mb/d in 1974. Production declined dramatically after the revolution of 1978-79 and has not yet recovered. The Iranians intend to increase capacity to 8 mb/d by 2015, but the EIA suggests that billions of dollars in foreign investment will be required to achieve this goal. Given Iran's dubious foreign policy and heavy protection of its domestic oil industry, one has to wonder where this foreign investment will come from.

Yet all of this uncertainty has been in place for several years. It seems that the world has just learned to live with it. Furthermore, ever since the hurricanes of 2005, the weather has been extremely cooperative for the oil industry. The winter of 2005-06 was warm; the summer of 2006 was cool. Through the hurricane season of 2006, despite dire predictions, there was nary a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico to cut production or hinder rebuilding efforts. To follow it all, the winter of 2006-07 didn't even begin until this week.

The Oil Drum has a piece by Chris Vernon on Peak Oil and Climate Change, plus a "Weather update".
With oil approaching $50 / bbl and natural gas prices languishing in the doldrums I thought it was appropriate to look at one reason for supressed demand and prices. North America, Europe and Russia are all experiencing uncommonly mild winter weather.

Figure 2 shows the situation in January 2006, where, after the potent 2005 hurricane season, the whole of North America experienced uncommonly mild weather during the 2005 / 06 winter. This essentialy rescued the situation with gas supplies depeleted / disrupted following all those hurricanes. In January 2006, the situation in Europe was very different, with extreme cold weather in Russia and Eastern Europe leading to heavy demand for gas and disruption to gas supplies.

The situation now is one where North America, Europe and Russia are all experiencing milder winter conditions that will soften demand for natural gas and for heating oil. It looks like the self-regulating Earth is rescuing the energy crisis for the time being with the prospect that warmer temperatures are compensating for depleting fuel supplies.

From Figure 1, it is also interesting to note the anomalous cold weather over the Middle East and Turkey during December. This led Iran to suspend gas exports to Turkey as the cold weather boosted Iran's domestic demand. Turkey's main source of gas is Russia supplimented by LNG imports from Algeria.

The other feature to note in Figure 1 is the El Nino event building in the East Pacific Ocean off the west coast of Peru represented by the elongate tongue of dark orange colours. As a general rule, El Nino events correlate with reduced hurricane activity in the N Atlantic but increased storm activity in the eastern Pacific.

Hugo Chavez is still hurling insults northwards, but also seems to be displaying an unfortunate and worrying tendency towards outright authoritarianism as part of his push to nationalise oil and other assets. While I'm not a socialist (or even a social democrat), by and large I have no objections to governments enacting socialist policies as long as its done in a democratic way - and as long as these are able to be unravelled later once enough people feel they are no longer needed (I tend to view socialism as a reaction to inequality reaching unacceptable levels for most of a population, and once the inequalities are sufficiently reduced the desire for socialism tends to disappear).
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has told Washington to "go to hell" after it questioned his plan to seek special powers to legislate by decree. Chavez, a Cuba ally re-elected by a landslide in December, this month launched a campaign to consolidate power by nationalising key industries, seeking expanded executive powers and pushing for unlimited presidential re-election.

A US State Department spokesman on Friday described Chavez's proposal to allow presidents to rule by decree as "a bit odd" in a democracy. "That is a sacrosanct legal authority of Venezuela. "Go to hell, gringos! Go home! Go home!" Chavez said. "We're free here, and every day we'll be more free." ...

Venezuela's legislature this week is expected to give its final approval to the Enabling Law that would grant Chavez 18 months to decree legislation. The former soldier has said he would use the expanded powers to end the autonomy of the nation's central bank, create a national police force and boost state control over the nation's oil industry, which provides around 11 per cent of US oil imports. ...

Chavez also plans to alter the nation's constitution, rewritten in 1999 following a campaign Chavez himself led, to boost state control over the economy and remove a two-term limit for presidents. He said he additionally plans to create new luxury taxes and raise Venezuela's rock-bottom petrol prices - currently around $US0.13 per gallon ($A0.16 for 3.8 litres) - and use the proceeds to finance community development groups. ...

The government says previous Venezuelan administrations used the Enabling Law, though opposition leaders say they reserved the law for emergency measures rather than divisive reforms. Chavez frequently describes the United States as a decadent empire and has promised to roll back Washington's influence in Latin America.

Sydney dam levels are still shrinking, and the state government seems to be trying a range of tricks - utterly irresponsibly - to avoid announcing the development of a desalination plant before the March elections. What they should be doing is announcing a large scale water recycling plan and further restricting water usage until this has been done.
The Sydney Catchment Authority claims that, as of Thursday, dams were at 35.4 per cent of capacity. So we are still 5.4 percentage points away from the Government's trigger for the signing of a desalination plant contract - or are we?

In April 2006 the authority raised our storage level overnight by 6 per cent, by including the "dead-zone" water at the bottom of Warragamba Dam. That 5.4 percentage point gap equals about 10 weeks of water consumption, just enough to make the desalination plant trigger occur after the state election.

The dead-zone water isn't being used because it needs expensive, intensive treatment that Sydney Water would authorise only if things got desperate. If the dead-zone water is excluded, the water level is less than 30 per cent, the Government's own trigger level for building a desalination plant to supply Sydney.

So far, it has been a gentle summer for Sydney with generally pleasant temperatures and bearable humidity. For most of us, Sydney remains a comfortable
place to live despite Level 3 water restrictions. This is not the case for keen gardeners and workers such as market gardeners and turf suppliers, who struggle to survive in the crippling water restriction regime.

Nine months ago the Government gave us its revised Metro Water Plan. The failings identified then still remain: a marginalised recycling strategy; token use of untapped groundwater that could sustainably deliver more than 30 per cent of our annual water requirements; no serious commitment to rainwater and stormwater harvesting; and, of course, the relentless descent towards Sydney's first desalination plant, at Kurnell. Since then, the Government has appointed yet another carefully selected independent quango of experts who endorse the present flawed approach and, in particular, desalination.

Water is firmly on the political agenda. If the Government is re-elected the desalination plant will be built. If the Opposition is elected, despite its resistance to desalination, it may be faced with a legally binding contract to build the plant, with the suggestion that negotiations over the plant are under way behind the scenes. Many people forget that expressions of interest to build a plant were called for in December.

The NSW Government is blitzing the media with advertisements about the need for desalination in Sydney. The voiceover is performed by the actor Jack Thompson, portraying someone who understands the value of water in our country. He is being used to promote a desalination technology that is unnecessary, a drain on the economy and harmful to the environment. ...

Our water utilities are about to be exposed for not meeting our basic water needs of security, reliability and, potentially, safety. As a result, international consortiums are queueing to rescue the water consumers of Sydney with expensive desalinated water. Be assured that the contracts they will require from the NSW Government will guarantee them their high price, even when it rains. Rainwater is cheap, but once we are committed to expensive desalination water contracts, all drinking water will permanently cost more.

Sydney has plenty of water. Who will own it and who will control it in the future, if we become a community dependent on international companies to supply us with our daily water from the sea?

There has been some controversy locally about a federal government plan to tax rainwater tanks (which Malcolm Turnbull later denied) - I never cease to be amazed by the hypocrisy of big government conservatives - Malcolm should be ashamed of himself for even considering this travesty.
THE Victorian Government is outraged at a leaked federal proposal to tax rainwater collected from roofs. The idea was revealed in a leaked email seen by the Sunday Herald Sun.

Acting Premier John Thwaites yesterday warned that if water was privatised - as proposed by some federal Liberals - a tax on rainwater in tanks would follow. The Bracks Government is furious at the mooted tax - it pays rebates on tanks as a water conservation measure.

In the email, National Water Commission chief Ken Matthews says, "Legally, all water in Australia is vested in governments."

Mr Matthews' email continued: "Governments have not yet considered the capture of water from roofs in rainwater tanks to be of sufficient magnitude to warrant the issuing of specific entitlements to use this class of water. "However, if rainwater tanks were to be adopted on a large scale such that their existence impacts significantly on the integrated water cycle, consideration could be given to setting an entitlement regime for this class of water."

This reminds me of the quote I used Robert Anton Wilson recently about totalitarian socialism and monopoly capitalism being a dud pair of choices - in this case we're seeing the ugly face of monopoly capitalism at work. In some ways this is remiscent of the water privatisation and subsequent regulation of water tanks and wells that started the Cochabamba water revolt in Bolivia - which was probably one factor that contributed to the rise of Evo Morales.

I've been looking at getting a water tank installed lately and it seems everyone else is too - water tanks are in a short supply, with the plumbers estimating a 3 month wait for tanks.

Back to the Daily Reckoning again, they also have some thoughts about water, noting that "for most of the world, clean water is far more precious a commodity than oil".
“Water is the most basic and necessary commodity,” according to Summit Global Management, “and it is the only element in the world that has no substitute at any price. One can substitute wheat for oats, coal for natural gas, corn oil for soybean oil and hydro-electricity for fossil-fuel generated power, but…water has no substitute regardless of price, the only element in the world of which this is true: This most fundaments of facts is another key to the inexorable and intractable demand for water that will not abate with time.”

Without question, therefore, clean water is the earth’s most precious resource. But this essential truth has not prevented decades of water mismanagement.
Throughout the world, clean water is underappreciated and woefully abused…except by the billions of people who struggle to find it each day…or die trying. Only 20% of the world’s population currently enjoys the benefits of running water. The other 80% have to find it whenever and wherever they can. In some parts of the world, people spend as much as six hours a day fetching water.

For most of the world, clean water is far more precious a commodity than oil.

For more on local water issues, Energy Bulletin has a roundup of Australian drought news and Crikey has an article that says the time has come to end one-buck-per-tonne water pricing.

Gilles d'Aymery at "Swans Commentary" has an article on "Oil, The Elites, And The Commons" (via Energy Bulletin)
Opponents of the current Bush administration's policies who take to heart the famous words of iconoclastic muckraker I.F. Stone -- "If you want to know about governments, all you have to know is two words, 'governments lie.'" -- too often ignore that powerful people can be quite sincere and honestly believe in the policies they formulate and implement.

Generation after generation, these people have used brute force and the abundance of cheap resources to create material wealth, which though unequally shared is undeniable. While the United States economy has been in relative decline since the 1950s the U.S. remains by far the wealthiest country on earth. Why then would these people change policies -- the acquisition of resources through coercion -- that have worked so well for so long? And why would the American people want to change course when it has in its majority benefited from these policies, especially when no other course, say a specific programmatic agenda, is presented to them? To ignore these facts, to keep howling against systemic policies, to revel in focusing one's attention and energy on the darkness, the ulterior motives of our decision makers (the powers that be), without offering any positive alternatives and solutions to the challenges the country and the world confront are a distinct failing of our imagination and proof of our lack of intellectual and political credibility. What is more and more urgently needed is to break with the conceptual framework that creates enemies out of people one disagrees with -- actually mirroring the attitude of those powerful people -- and come up with practical solutions. We must confront the issues, not the personalities.

The farewell speech that former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld delivered at the Pentagon on December 15, 2006, was a remarkable illustration and a powerful reminder that we err in intensely focusing on some imagined dark side of human nature. Watching him speak I could not be more impressed by his sincerity and authenticity. He was not lying. He was not making it up, or spinning his own PR. The man truly believed in what he was saying. The obligation to defeat the enemy, past, present, and future, through military means, to defend civilization as we know it and our way of life -- ancient memes repeated by all hierarchies within history. The need to face our perceived vulnerabilities through more defense spending. ...

The preservation of secured sources of abundant energy has long been a priority of the American elites and their European counterparts. The Euro-Atlantic Community or "Axis" -- the First World -- has pursued similar policies for over 100 years, through either soft or hard power. The abundance of energy is the indispensable lubricant to run our economic engines. Until the 1970s, energy was cheap and plentiful, but in spite of a few ups and downs in the market, experts were forecasting the end of abundance. We were imperceptibly entering an era of energy scarcity. No sooner had the Soviet Union joined the dustbins of history did the Euro-Atlantic Axis take a strong stance to secure the energy realm of the future. It began with the first Gulf War and the dismemberment of Yugoslavia, and it led to the scenario that befuddles us now. ...

The journey in Iraq and our forthcoming escalation to Iran must be seen in this context. Look at a geographical map. Iran and Iraq are the last two countries that must be brought under control in order to secure the so-called Greater Middle East for the next two or three decades, until we work out alternatives to petroleum depletion, and to keep China at bay. (Syria is of no real strategic importance, as it has no oil; we'll offer up regime change as a gift to our friendly vassals in the region.) There is little divergence among the players in Europe and in the United States. The elites have common objectives but differ on the tactics. Hence the much maligned French, and to a lesser degree Germans, tagged as "Old Europe" by Mr. Rumsfeld -- hard power versus soft power. The current US administration elected the former course of action. Old Europe considered the latter more appropriate. Both, however, strive for the same construct: The Euro-Atlantic dominance of the energy market for the foreseeable future.

Whether Peak Oil is crushing upon us -- a matter of speculation, both intellectually and financially, or that is officially denied or ignored by the likes of British Petroleum or the US Energy Information Administration statistical reviews -- is rather inconsequential. Europe and Northern America keep their eyes on the prize. Our way of life depends on it. ...

Swans have a few good quotes in their masthead and "About" page - first Albert Einstein - "The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all of our lives."

Next Buddha - "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your common sense.".

And finally Benjamin Franklin - "Trade liberty for safety or money and you'll end up with neither. Liberty, like a grain of salt, easily dissolves. The power of questioning -- not simply believing -- has no friends. Yet liberty depends on it."

Wonkette notes that Henry Kissinger has admitted the Iraq occupation is just for oil - I guess that's the difference between the "realists" and the neoconservatives - at least the realists aren't deluding themselves...
He's *always* been the Secretary of State ... - WonketteIn his new job as op-ed columnist for the Khaleej Times (?!), America’s greatest diplomat explains that while we utterly destroyed a country that was at least stable before 2003, there’s just too much damned oil to leave.

But under present conditions, withdrawal is not an option. American forces are indispensable. They are in Iraq not as a favour to its government or as a reward for its conduct. They are there as an expression of the American national interest to prevent the Iranian combination of imperialism and fundamentalist ideology from dominating a region on which the energy supplies of the industrial democracies depend.

So, we toppled Saddam because our former ally held a grudge about the last Gulf War, and now we’re staying forever because our other former ally (Iran) still holds a grudge. Grudge = No western companies taking all the oil. Stick your purple finger in that, bitch!

Jamais at Open The Future has a post on the possibility of governments "Co-opting the Participatory Panopticon". Buce Schneier also has some comments on this.
Is it still "sousveillance" -- watching from below -- if it's going straight to The Man?

The city of New York, in a rather clever move, has decided to equip its 911 (emergency) and 311 (non-emergency) call centers with the ability to receive cameraphone pictures and videos. In his State of the City address, Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared:
To build stronger trust and cooperation between the public and the police, we're also going to empower more New Yorkers to step forward and join the fight against crime.

This year, we'll begin a revolutionary innovation in crime-fighting: Equipping "911" call centers to receive digital images and videos New Yorkers send from cell phones and computers something no other city in the world is doing.

If you see a crime in progress or a dangerous building condition you'll be able to transmit images to 911, or online to NYC.GOV. And we'll start extending the same technology to 311 to allow New Yorkers to step forward and document non-emergency quality of life concerns holding City agencies accountable for correcting them quickly and efficiently.

This is one of those developments that makes so much sense, it's a wonder that nobody made it happen earlier. I have no doubt that we'll see other cities adopt this approach in the months to come, both in the US and internationally. As much as it has the potential for frivolous or malicious use -- just as regular 911 calls do -- it has the potential to give first responders a better idea of an emergency situation, allowing the professionals and the civilians to work together to evaluate conditions.

It's also an example of how a participatory panopticon society can be embraced by traditional channels of authority and social control. This will undoubtedly have some benefits, but it also raises uncomfortable questions. Will the photo/video 911 calls be given greater priority than the voice-only calls? Conversely, will the police respond as quickly to a situation where they can see the color of the victim (the NYC police is known for having issues in this regard)? And for me, the big question: will the existence of an "official" channel for using cell phones to capture images and videos of emergency and non-emergency problems eliminate non-official versions?

If the participatory 911/311 panopticon stands alongside other emerging community response networks, then this is, on balance, likely a positive development, as the citizens will continue to have channels to report problems that the city personnel might neglect. If the program results in pressure to shut down or block non-official networks, these citizen systems won't go away, of course, they'll just be driven underground, making them less reliable and pervasive.

This could be a moment for civic empowerment -- or a moment where an early version of the participatory panopticon is smothered by bureaucracy. Let's hope they don't screw it up.

One reader wrote in with some comments about the Robert Anton Wilson article I quoted recently, noting that the "individualist/mutualist utopia" RAW favoured "did in fact exist for an extended society of not insignificant numbers of individuals for an unknown length of time terminating in the not so distant past".
For a detailed description of this utopia, I would refer those interested to the work of American anthropologist Gene Weltfish ( ) and her astonishing work _The Lost Universe_ ((Weltfish, G. (1965) /The Lost Universe/. United States: Basic Books, Inc.) An interesting aside is that she played heavily as an intellectual and ideological target in McCarthy's Senate Internal Security Subcommittee Hearings in 1952.

For many years I have lived in some sort of awe, admiration, and longing for two sorts of life-way, for myself first, and my fellow man: the Sioux way as described by Ruth Beebe Hill in _Hanta Yo_, as epitome of individualist utopia, and the Pawnee way, as described by Weltfish in _The Lost Universe_, as epitome of individualist/mutualist utopia.

It is interesting to note that both Hill and Weltfish, beyond both being female, over a similar space and time seemed to follow "rhyming" paths in their journey to eachs' "magnum opus". If you have not read either of these, I recommend both as profound and seminal works. I could also do the same for Peter Freuchen's _Book of the Eskimo_, inasmuch as the three directly address and describe alternative human relationships, one to another, to our environment and to our finite resource base. Albeit descriptive of what is ostensibly a Paleolithic and mostly "disappeared" way of life, these works, acting as pointers from our tumultuous and ominous present, seem to reveal more and more clearly that the "direction" we need go is "back", if we should care enough to continue as a species.

On the topic of RAW, John Michael Greer's "Arch Druid Report" has a report on "Immanentizing the Eschaton".
“It was the year when they finally immanentized the Eschaton.” With those words Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea kicked off their brilliant parody of American conspiracy culture, the Illuminatus! trilogy. When I heard last week that Wilson had passed away, I took down the three battered paperback volumes from my shelf of old science fiction novels.

I was never a fan of Wilson’s later work, but discovering Illuminatus! had been one of the few bright spots of my first and mostly unsuccessful stint at college, its wry sense of the absurd a useful antidote to the much less creative absurdities of the early Reagan years. The phrase “immanentizing the Eschaton” stuck in my mind even in the days when I didn’t have a clue what it meant.

I thought of it again after fielding some of the comments to last week’s Archdruid Report post, “This Faith in Progress,” another of my occasional attempts to challenge the religious basis of industrial civilization — the belief that technological progress is what gives human existence its meaning. One of my readers posted a comment to the effect that progress, far from being the source of all human values, was quite literally the root of all evil. In the prehistoric past, he insisted, human beings lived idyllic vegetarian lives in harmony with nature, until the invention of the first stone tools and their use to kill animals for food sent our species hurtling out of its place in the natural order on a trajectory toward violence, sickness, and everything else wrong with existence nowadays.

I think he thought he was disagreeing with the modern religion of progress. Trying to break free of a dualistic belief system by standing the dualism on its head is a popular one these days. Like those Satanists who accept nearly the entire worldview of Christianity and just root for the other side, or the proponents of matriarchy who insist that it’s bad for men to have more power than women but not the reverse, his worldview and that of the believers in progress share almost all the same assumptions. They differ only in the ethical value applied to progress. Both views, to return to Wilson’s useful phrase, immanentize the Eschaton.

“Eschaton” comes from an old Greek word for “end” or “border.” In Christian theological jargon it came to refer to the process by which the world as we know it is supposed, at some point in the future, to turn into the eternal blessedness of the Kingdom of God. An entire branch of theology, called eschatology – the science of last things – evolved over the last two thousand years or so in an attempt to piece together a coherent vision of the future out of the hints and visions provided by scripture and tradition. It’s a lively field full of fierce disputes, and no one version of the End Times commands agreement from more than a fraction of Christian theologians or, for that matter, ordinary believers. Central to nearly all Christian accounts of the Eschaton, though, is that it’s completely outside the realm of history as we know it. When the trumpet sounds, the sky tears open and something wholly other comes through.

This quality of “otherness,” in theologian’s language, is called transcendence. Its opposite is immanence. One of the great quarrels of theology is whether God or the gods are transcendent –that is, outside nature and free of its limitations – or immanent – that is, part of nature and subject to its laws. Like all such binary patterns, this one admits of several different kinds of middle ground, but the basic distinction is relevant. People who have mystical experiences – which are, after all, tolerably common among human beings – very often comment on a difference between the ordinary reality of their lives, and the nonordinary reality that surges into their consciousness. Did the nonordinary reality come from someone, something, or somewhere outside ordinary existence? Or was it right here, unnoticed, all the time? That’s the difference between transcendence and immanence.

Most religions that put much thought into eschatology also have a transcendent concept of the divine; the whole point of the Eschaton is that ordinary reality dissolves into the wholly other. Most religions that have an immanent concept of the divine, in turn, either have no eschatology at all, or make the end of the world a recurring event in an endlessly repeated cycle of time. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, with their transcendent god and richly detailed eschatologies, fall on one side of the divide. Hinduism, with its universes that bud, blossom, and fall through infinite cycles of time, and Shinto, which has no eschatology at all, fall on the other. So does Druidry, which traditionally sees divinity permeating every cranny of nature and treats the awakening to transcendence as something that occurs to each soul in its own unique time.

Now and then, though, the two patterns collide and cross-fertilize, and the resulting belief systems locate the Eschaton as a possibility to be realized within ordinary history, or even the inevitable result of the working out of historical patterns. Marxism offers an example familiar to most people nowadays. In Marxist theory, history is determined by changes in the mode of production that unfold in predetermined order, from primitive communism through slavery, feudalism, and capitalism to the proletarian revolution and the everlasting communist Utopia of the future.

While all this is wrapped in the jargon of 19th century materialist science, it’s not hard to see the religious underpinnings of the theory. Every element of Marxist theory has an exact equivalent in Christian eschatology. Primitive communism is Eden, the invention of private property is the Fall, the stages of slavery, feudalism and capitalism are the various dispensations of sacred history, and so on, right up to the Second Coming of the proletariat, the millennial state of socialism and the final arrival of communism as the New Jerusalem descending from the heavens. Point for point, it’s a rephrasing of Christian myth that replaces the transcendent dimension with forces immanent in ordinary history. Marx and his followers, in other words, immanentized the Eschaton.

They’re hardly alone in that. Over the last three centuries or so, Christianity’s influence on the Western intellect has crumpled beneath the assaults of scientific materialism, but no mythology has yet taken its place in the Western imagination. The result has been any number of attempts to rehash Christian myth under other names. The myth of progress is simply the most popular of these. The prophets of progress simply fast-forward the Book of Revelation to the thousand years between the Second Coming and the New Jerusalem; the redeeming revelation has already happened in the form of the Scientific Revolution, the allegedly prescientific past has been stretched and lopped to make it look like a Vale of Tears, and today’s scientists fill the role of the Church Expectant waiting for the great god Progress to bring Utopia in its own good time.

My reader, with his myth of a peaceful vegetarian prehistory, is simply another example of the same thing, focusing on the other end of time. His tool-free Utopia never existed – the habit of using stone tools evolved among hominids long before Homo sapiens did, and even chimpanzees catch, kill and eat animals – but this hardly matters to its believers; it’s a retelling of the myth of Eden, with the invention of stone tools as the Fall, and the approaching downfall of technological society as the Second Coming that will allow the virtuous survivors to return to paradise.

You can find Christian myths rehashed as future predictions all over today’s culture – and not the least in those corners of it that are concerned with peak oil, global warming, and other elements of the predicament of industrial society. There’s been a flurry of essays and blog posts in the peak oil community in recent months about the motivations of “doomers” – that is, the fraction of peak oil activists who believe that petroleum depletion will inevitably result in catastrophic dieoff and the end of anything like civilization on Earth. Many of these discussions have raised interesting points, but very few have noticed the extent to which old myths in new clothing have defined contemporary thinking, here and in so many other contexts.

Now I’m no great fan of Christianity myself. To me, all its myths and symbols put together don’t carry the spiritual impact of one blue heron flying through dawn mists or a single autumn sunset seen through old growth cedars; that’s why I follow a Druid path. Still, it seems to me that if people insist on thinking in terms of Christian myth, they might as well go the rest of the way and become Christians. That way, at least, they can draw on the riches of two millennia of Christian philosophy, rather than making do with hand-me-downs from Marx, say, or the current crop of neoprimitive pundits such as John Zerzan.

They might also be able to learn a few lessons from Christian history, or any other kind of history for that matter, about the problems that follow when people try to immanentize the Eschaton. It’s one thing to try to sense the shape of the future in advance, and to make constructive changes in your life to prepare for its rougher possibilities; it’s quite another to become convinced that history is headed where you want it to go; and when the course you’ve marked out for it simply projects the trajectory of a too-familiar myth onto the inkblot patterns of the future, immanentizing the Eschaton can become a recipe for self-induced disaster.

I think I'll close with David Brin's call to commence "Operation "Adopt an Ostrich"".
White House Purging Ranks of US Attorneys; Replacements to Skip Confirmation: The Bush administration has been engaged in wholesale firing US attorneys – some of whom are involved in ongoing corruption investigations into officials in the White House and GOP– and will take advantage of a Patriot Act provision that allows their replacements to circumvent congressional approval. One such replacement, J. Timothy Griffin, who was appointed U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas last month, served as Karl Rove’s opposition researcher until late last year.

A top egregious example, the Bush admin has asked San Diego U.S. Attorney Carol Lam, best known for her high-profile prosecutions of politicians and corporate executives, to resign her post.

People. Our national (and world) crisis has reached the point -- amid an all-out assault upon western traditions of law, openness and accountability -- that I believe it is time to re-institute the draft. I mean a special kind of draft, insisting that all decent modern citizens simply have to take on duties on the nation’s desperate POLITICAL FRONT.

Seriously, all of us know hopeless “ostrich conservatives” - who cling desperately to the notion that Bush & Co are regrettable... but “certainly no worse than Clinton was.”

This is where the battle must be fought. It is time to grab these people into head-locks and not let go until they admit that, this time, it is their side that has gone completely mad.

I want to announce a new program. Adopt an ostrich will be a nationwide endeavor under which every single moderate American, or reasonable liberal, will latch onto ONE decent person whom they know to be one of these head-in-the-sand conservatives. People who used to stand by Barry Goldwater or Bob Dole or Billy Graham... ALL of whom thought very highly of Bill Clinton, by the way! All three of whom utterly despised the dark directions that they saw modern “neo” conservatism heading.

Yes, the administration of George W. Bush has plummeted to deep levels of unpopularity. They lost the recent Congressional elections, a great first step toward reclaiming the United States and our Great Experiment. But clearly, it is not enough.

There must be a tipping point, somwehere up ahead, where the rising national revulsion sweeps up millions of Goldwater-Dole-Graham-Reagan conservatives, too. Where denial can no longer be supported and decent people cry out Enough! A point when loyal-but-self-deluding men and women in the civil service and CIA and FBI and US Officer Corps shake themselves out of their stunned torpor, realize that genuine treason is afoot, and decide that it is their job to stand up, to take some initiative and help us all to deal with the most poisonous threat to our civilization since communism.

This tipping point, I have come to realize, will only happen after hard work at the grass roots. One reluctant, bitterly delusional republican at a time. Because there is little more than can be achieved simply by hoping that our fellow citizens will heed all the bad news. The one-third that is left has their ears covered. Their eyes are closed while they shake their heads going “Nah! Nah! Nah!”

(Recent science shows that doing this is physically chemically addictive. And yes, liberals do it too.)

No, if we are to reach the tipping point, it will have to be down, way down, at the level of individual citizenship. Each of us can -- and must -- hammer at just one or two ostriches, until they wake up from hysterical denial. And when enough of them do -- when advertising revenues on Fox News start shriveling and GOP reps in suburban America start screaming in pain -- we may start to see the REAL uprising against monsters. A quiet revolution in which heroes in the civil service and intelligence agencies and law enforcement etc stymie what is left of this administration of horrors. Simply by doing their jobs.

At least enough so that we can hope to REACH the next set of elections with a nation still largely intact.

No, I am not talking about converting truly rabid neocons, or truly corrupt kleptocrats, or the maniacal ultra-fanatics who are cramming Intelligent Design down our throats. They are a much smaller minority than the one-third who still officially back the president. Moreover, we do not need them, or their nasty "culture war".

We do need your decent neighbor or uncle, who would take you in, if your house burned down. Whose conservatism is not so awful that he or she would turn back the clock on civil or womens’ rights. Indeed, whose views include a few that may be worth listening to... if we can just take care of more important business, first. (Go ahead and promise that you will listen. A bit. Later. If he or she will first listen to his nation’s call.)

Do it. Pick an ostrich andgrab his or her lapel. Do not let go. Make lists and keep citing one travesty after another, while asking: “What would you have said if Bill Clinton did this?”

And “would you have LET Clinton send our entire army, marines and reserves to be ground down in a hostile foreign land, on the excuse of pure lies, in a grunt land war of attrition without any goal, run by meddling politicians who never saw a day of combat, all in a futile attempt at so-called nation-building?”

They will sputter and fume. They will try to claim that “Whitewater” -- involving $80,000 -- represented corruption equal to Halliburton stealing tens of billions from our boys and girls in Iraq. They will claim that Clinton’s fib about Monica was worse than outright lies about WMDs or terrorism or promises to “listen to our generals.” Or that an administration dedicated to decreasing secrecy can even be compared to one that has multiplied darkness and unaccountability one hundredfold. Or that political activity by today’s eviscerated labor unions can be compared to outright control of our government by a new feudal, kleptocratic caste. ...


Anonymous   says 2:50 AM

If EEStor succeeds, the effect will hardly only effect Altair, A123 Systems and others attempting to
create a practical battery. The statement is therefore nonsensical and misleading.
The silly (and doomed) effort to
find ultralightweigh composites that are affordable is a fool's pursuit.
Electrial cars are so much more efficient and flexible with respect to energy inputs, a couple extra miles per gallon will make no conceivable difference. You are all acting as though this were 1975 and
crude was the only transportation player.
In general, I find the articles this blogspot to be largely political BS, with a few misleading
alternative energy subjects tossed in for good measure.

Well - thanks for clearing up all those subjects - I'm sure Amory Lovins and Tyler Hamilton will be devastated by your cutting and well backed up criticisms.

As for my rantings, if you don't like them, don't read them.

But I think you're as wrong on that front as you are on the other 2 subjects....

Anonymous   says 1:51 PM

This statement
"However, if rainwater tanks were to be adopted on a large scale such that their existence impacts significantly on the integrated water cycle, consideration could be given to setting an entitlement regime for this class of water."
would be kinda interesting if it weren't so tragic.

The current fate of water falling on most roofs in cities is to be summarily disposed of in storm water drains. Integrated water cycle my arse...

If we had an integrated water cycle we wouldn't be considering desalination for Sydney... a solution that is an admission of failure (ie over extraction and consumption).

That said, wholesale damming of upper catchments (ie small farm dams) does need some regulation, as this is part of the water that feeds downstream.

ANon - by the way, I count 14 energy lin ks in this post and 12 political links (mostly to do with energy in any case) - so it seems your analysis of the content is as accurate as your other commentary (ie. not). Please refrain from ceommenting on matters you don't understand in future.

SP - Its an intresting questiuon trying to decide when water ownership leaves private hands and becomes public - obviously the oceans, rivers and government owned catchment areas contain public water - but the issue of landowners in watersheds is a little more complex.

However taxing rainwater tanks on private homes is ridiculous - where do they think the water goes afetr it is used anyway - its just a flat out mandate for people to remain dependent on centralised, monpoloy water suppliers.

Interesting post Gav. I used some of the stories in a post of my own and reposted the flow battery story as I have a bit of a thing for flow batteries.

Thanks Steve - I've got to remember to drop by to your site a bit more often.

I think your comment missed my flow battery post (admittedly they do drag on so long its hard to tell when one stops and another starts)...

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