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Welcome to the Midnight Oil. This diary is open for discussion from a few minutes after midnight through a few minute before (maybe two days later, maybe three). The intro remains the same, but the body is always changing.

....................................
Populist movements don't build themselves, they grow from a process of people learning how to support a series of populist campaigns in a populist way, rather than as passive consumers of corporate political marketing campaigns.

It doesn't matter what the "horse race" outcome of the campaign is, if we fight the campaign. Fighting it, we learn how to fight. Learning how to fight political battles, we become citizens again. Becoming citizens again, we reclaim the Republic that lies dormant beneath the bread and circuses of modern American society.

Picture Credit: David Leeson (#8)

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Daily Diary Roll

Spreading fires

Added through the day Sunday, Monday and Tuesday

Concentrating On The Important Things - Solar Thermal Power Posted by Big Gav (The Oil Drum)

Power 2 Change Campaign by the Sierra Club (organization site)

Tim Ryan for Senate '10? by modernesquire (Buckeye State Blog)

Black Hills & "The (Real) Supreme Law of the Land" by Winter Rabbit (Docudharma)

Vote Energy Smart, not Energy Dumb! by A Seigel (Energy Smart, h/t sarahlane)

A canary to become our great white whale? by by bklynarch (Checklist Toward Carbon Zero)

Analysis shows oil wars fail - surprise! by Captain Janeway
Huh, who would have thunk it?

350 PPM or Bust by gmoke (h/t environment tag)

The Triangle Shirtwaist Moment by mem from somerville (h/t environment tag)

EENR for Progress: John and Elizabeth Edwards In the News (h/t EENR tag)

Peak Oil and Economic Growth: Where Do We Go From Here? Posted by Nate Hagens (The Oil Drum)

Countdown to $?? (1) - setting the stage by Jerome a Paris (European Tribune)
Get in at the ground floor of a new series of "Countdown to" Peak Oil diaries

What a Combo: Cancer causing fly ash, Dominion and Drake! by: Lowell
(Raising Kane, h/t Pollution tag)

Original Sparks

Throwing the Kitchen Sink at 'Politics as Usual': Please Help by nannyboz (NC-Senate)

Iowa's Stored Energy Park: Firming Wind by Stranded Wind
(h/t renewable energy tag)

Get Off My Road! by: gooners (EENR, h/t pioneer)

Solar beats coal, dude by Finn MacCool (h/t Global Warming tag)

Reviews are coming in: NAM/ACCF are full of it! by A Siegel (EnergySmart, h/t Global Warming tag) Watch out for NAM, they are one of the Dirty Six business organizations infiltrated and taken over by the radical reactionary faction of the Republican party

-:Eco Design:- There's No Business To Be Done On A Dead Planet by New Sweden
A YouTube Galore Diary

An Excerpt from Simple Prosperity by Dave Wann (h/t raines)


Midnight Thought

I just recently discussed Tiny Houses as one extreme end of a range of a more sustainable approach to housing. And, because they strike me as really cool, the examples I focused on where the kind of Tiny Houses that can be picked up, put on a trailer, and hauled around, like an old fashioned Shepherd's Wagon, except with inside plumbing, excellent insulation, and 11 foot ceilings in the main living space.

Mind you, I always thought that the old-fashioned Shepherd's Wagon was kind of cool, so add all those "except for's", and its no surprise I thought these were cool.

However, just as cool in their own way are the Tiny Houses intended to be built from modular parts on a foundation on site. And as a one-time Mother Earth News reader (back when it was more of a back to the land for dirty stinking hippies magazine), I was interested when the Tiny House Blog mentioned that the post-80's yuppified "Mother Earth News" has been recently focusing heavily on SIP's, or Structural Insulated Panels.

Little Green Buildings is a company in Washington (Washington State for those wandering in from the more inside-the-beltway atmosphere of the Big Orange) ... from tiny pumphouses, small buildings suitable for a shed or adding a detached office to ... well, to proper shacks.

Now, buying the modular SIP panels, you have to provide foundation (concrete or pilings) paint, and of course it does not come furnished ... but the price per square foot also comes down compared to the "ready to roll" Tiny Houses.

Take the River Shack ... 12x16 (192 sq. ft plus loft), with the complete shell coming in at around $20,000. Add labor, of course ... and SIP's are designed to be put together by people who are not skilled carpenters ... paint, a foundation, and its still going to come in at an appealing cost for someone at this extreme end of the spectrum. And, just like the trailer-ready Tiny Houses, a small, well-insulated space is going to cost much less to heat and cool than a larger space will.

Well, OK, so its easier to heat and cool. But that's not the end of the connections with Sustainable Energy Independence ... its only the beginning.

For one thing, when someone reduces the real cost of their housing, by not requiring as much housing, and at the same time reduces their regular utility bills, that leaves more disposable income from the same wage or salary. And that helps that individual overcome the countless traps built into our disposable consumer society -- a point that A Siegel has often written about in detail -- where the cost to buy a more sustainable option is higher, even though the full cost to own the sustainable option is lower.

When you reduce the footprint of housing costs in your budget -- both cost to build and cost to operate -- that provides more means to finance other sustainable choices that have higher up-front costs but lower total costs to own. And then down the track, the reduction in operating costs from those choices frees up more room in the budget. A clear example are Pluggable Hybrid Electric vehicles (PHEV), which for the typical car trip in the US will be running on stored electric power ... which can be produced sustainably by resources within our borders.

And as the price of gasoline and diesel hits $5/gallon, then $10/gallon, then $20/gallon, the cost-to-own advantage of the PHEV will only get stronger ... but unless there is a dramatic price breakthrough in battery or other energy storage technology, it will necessarily have a higher up-front cost to purchase.


Living Within Our Means as a Nation

The core of a Progressive Economic Nationalism is living within our means. Sustainable Energy Independence is only part of that. Material self-sufficiency is another part. Food self-sufficiency is another part.

I have to stress that self-sufficiency does not mean isolationism. It does not mean "no trade, an iron curtain at the border". Two self-sufficient nations can quite happily trade, to substantial mutual benefit. Indeed, they can trade in more confidence that it is to mutual benefit, because they have the option of not trading if they wish.

So food self-sufficiency does not mean that Buckeyes are "not allowed to eat bananas". Especially if shipped from the Eastern Caribbean to Miami in sustainably fueled ships, and carried up by high speed electric container freight from Miami, there is nothing "wrong" with swapping Ohio apples for Caribbean bananas.

What self-sufficiency means is the option to say "No" to any given trade. And the option to say "No" is the essence of Economic Independence.

And the greater the energy and material efficiency of providing a comfortable standard of living, the closer we are to arriving at energy and material self-sufficiency.


Creating Livable Local Communities In the Midst of Crisis

There is also another dimension to this that bears thinking about.

Suppose that things start to go to hell in a hand basket.

The most direct action that we can take as individuals is to pitch in to help organize our local communities to cope. And since one of the things likely to happen if things start to go to hell in a hand basket is turmoil and uncertainty in the financial sector, one strong capability for a local community is the ability to supplement liquidity in the national currency with additional liquidity in a local currency.

A local community with the power to tax can create a foundation of demand for a local currency by accepting some portion of a tax assessment that is owed in the local currency. That is, after all, one of the two foundations for the acceptability of the national currency ... the ability to meet national tax obligations if you hold the national currency.

How much benefit can a local community hope to gain from this strategy? Well, to work that out, you have to start thinking of the local community as if it was a tiny island nation with its own currency. What limits the ability of that kind of tiny island nation to expand its money supply to meet a liquidity crunch?

Clearly, the limit is how much can be produced with local resources and local labor, and how much has to be imported. And it is easy to see that this is the limit, by considering the two extreme cases.

An island nation that produces its entire national product in products for export, that it did not consume, and consumed its entire national income in imports, has no opportunity whatsoever to provide any effective additional purchasing power by making a local currency available. No matter how much local currency exists, the only question of interest is how much the local currency is worth in terms of the foreign currency used to buy imports.

Now, on the other hand, consider an island nation that produces its entire national product in the products for domestic consumption, with neither imports nor exports. Then if there is a core reason to accept the local currency ... like the ability to use it to meet tax obligations ... and there are unemployed resources, more resources can be put to use by creating the currency to pay for them.

There is of course a limit to this process. This is, after all, not a magic system for creating products by printing money. The products come from putting the unemployed resources and the unemployed labor to use, and its the value of the products the provides the actual backing for the purchasing power that led groups of people to work together making the stuff.

But that's OK, because if things are going to hell in a hand basket, so badly that it seriously disrupts the financial system, there will be unemployed resources and unemployed labor, and what will be missing is the incentive to put that combination to work.

Of course, our local community will be closer to the first island nation that sells everything "abroad" to "import" everything ... but the more local resources can be put to use in serving local needs, the greater the leeway it has to supplement liquidity in national currency with a local currency. And the greater the material and energy efficiency of the goods produced to meet basic needs ... including shelter ... the better positioned that community is to ride out the "hell in a hand basket" period.

Come to think of it, the better positioned the more communities are to ride out the storm, the less serious the storm is likely to be.

Midnight Oil - Hercules (1985)
...
Why wait for the planes to come
When everybody's got us on the run
South Pacific carry on
Here come the Hercules
Here come the submarines
Sinking South Pacific dreams

Originally posted to BruceMcF on Sat Mar 29, 2008 at 09:43 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  As I watch that "big bird"... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, eeff, BruceMcF

    I have to let the Coalition for Change Stradegy know OH-16's John Boccieri has a new ActBlue page. I put it up last night during my abscense from his gal here in Canton, OH.

    OH's Fighting 16th!

    Current altitude is 16000. Target altitude 20,000!

    "Greg, we went in, we raised some hell and kicked some ass. We're not gonna let up!" ~ John Edwards

    by GARoach on Sat Mar 29, 2008 at 09:55:14 PM PDT

  •  I want a small house (10+ / 0-)

     There are six acres of good ground that just sold up the street from me - tear down house, salvageable barn, and a south exposure slope. I'm not wishing harm on anyone but if it comes available again due to financial crash and I can afford it I will make it mine. I'm going to use the base of a modular home - 20'x50', ground loop cooling, split it up the middle, making one half greenhouse and the other half living quarters, with physical plant in the middle. a 20'x20' space for me and my stuff? Mostly I spent my days in a 10' x 12' room now ... it would be plenty if I had a nice outbuilding. Oh, and the barn has a ready made chicken coop and there is running water at the south end of the property.

    •  I'm looking at a 5 acre ridge line (5+ / 0-)

      with Southern exposure. It's all open meadow with a small marsh on one side. Oh, it's dreamy little hill. ;)

      OH's Fighting 16th!

      "Greg, we went in, we raised some hell and kicked some ass. We're not gonna let up!" ~ John Edwards

      by GARoach on Sat Mar 29, 2008 at 10:07:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  yay! (3+ / 0-)

        But what happens when everyone decides to go all Thoreau out there? Oh, wait, only those with marketable skills ...

        •  75 acres across the street... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RunawayRose, Stranded Wind

          all Agriculture with 25 in trust, two farms in the back, and new zoning...a minimum of 2 acres to build anything.

          Yeah, there are McMansions down the road, but this little spot is still in the middle of "Breath-Taking".

          "Greg, we went in, we raised some hell and kicked some ass. We're not gonna let up!" ~ John Edwards

          by GARoach on Sat Mar 29, 2008 at 10:28:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  will the McMansions wilt? (3+ / 0-)

            Maybe you'll get one for a dollar on the courthouse steps next year? Not that you'd want a flimsy piece of crap, but maybe there is a nice garage and room for something small and snug?

            •  Wilting Mcmansions on lots that... (3+ / 0-)

              don't meet zoning size any longer. What to do?

              They are up on the hill with no wind break. Stranded wind?

              That is an entire thought provoking path!

              OH's Fighting 16th ActBlue!

              "Greg, we went in, we raised some hell and kicked some ass. We're not gonna let up!" ~ John Edwards

              by GARoach on Sat Mar 29, 2008 at 11:18:05 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Good lord, the way they make those things ... (5+ / 0-)

              ... one day a tornado will come through and they'll be gone quicker than a mobile home. You don't watch it, a kid could accidentally crash their bike into the side and end up in the living room.

              One thing that will happen as outer suburban property values start their inexorable slide is that the single owner occupier system will break down, just as it did in the brownstone townhouses that became slums in New York.

              When the slide starts, the result without community organization, or with futile efforts to just shore up the old way of doing thing, will be for the McMansions to start sliding toward multiple occupancy rental housing.

              Indeed, there will come a day when nobody with the income to do so will live more than half a mile from a stop on a dedicated transport corridor, unless they are on enough acres to grow their own biofuel. And when we hit that point, there are two ways for an estate of McMansions to go:
              (1) Well designed infill, creating suburban village centers within the estate to serve as the focus for drop-off, pick-up access to the dedicated transport corridor ... which then can grow into a stop on a dedicated transport corridor ... or
              (2) Those who can afford to move will, leaving those who cannot afford to move struggling to hold back the tide, and once the majority of owners in the owner's association wish to be absentee landlords, a tip toward division into multiple occupancy.

              Rezoning a quarter acre around a location well suited to serve as the suburban village center for the McMansion estate to permit infill with smaller houses is rationally the lesser of two evils for the owners of the McMansions, but people don't tend to be rational under pressure, so that's not the areas where I would expect to see people get ahead of the curve in figuring out how to cope with the impact of Peak Oil.

              •  That's a hilarious headline... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                RunawayRose, BruceMcF

                "Boy Rides Bike Through Livingroom Wall!"

                Your comment points to a cause that is important to me.

                1)I despise planned allotments for a multitude of reasons.

                2)We must enact zoning in "open-space"communities, ie, farm land, mini-farms, and conservation districts. We WILL die without them than at a much faster rate than with.

                I like this area, because of that slow sleepy, feeling of Nowhere, USA, yet, it's a very busy eco-hub with nearby north/south and east/west rail. Very unique, anymore!

                "Greg, we went in, we raised some hell and kicked some ass. We're not gonna let up!" ~ John Edwards

                by GARoach on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 06:01:39 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  When enacting zoning ... (4+ / 0-)

                  ... it is very important to avoid the one-size-fits-all approach.

                  OK, the following it thinking out loud, not a developed argument, but here goes ...

                  That is, if there is a blanket limit on development, then under current conditions there is always the prospect of development that targets the exact edge of the blanket.

                  And instead of getting turned into a plot of McMansions, the farmland gets turned into a stretch of supposed hobby farms which end up being McMansions on extremely large lawns, surrounded by stone fences, lived in by people who like to imagine they are feudal aristocracy. And there goes the neighborhood.

                  And the blanket limit on density is in fact an attraction to that kind of development, because it assures them that people in the Other America are less likely to be able to afford the house and land package. Artificially restricting the supply of plots that can be turned into residences is in itself a selling point for a particular type of invidious distinction.

                  However, suppose that there is a blanket limit on density, and then an infill complement ... for example, a prevailing density of no more than 1 residence per 5 acres, unless it is a clustered development, that may extend for no more than a half mile radius around a crossroad development center, and has a minimum density requirement within a quarter mile radius of the development center, with the no single-use zoning or covenants permitted within the 1/4 mile radius.

                  And the fact that those dense little villages might just start popping up if a developer tries to pursue a "pocket Laird of the Manor" development also discourages that kind of development ... where is the appeal of a pocket estate if everyone in your corporation associated your area with stacked townhouses?

                  •  I take mind on this almost inevitable journey... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    BruceMcF

                    frequently.

                    There are a few "yupsters' with way too much yardage to know how to work it effectively.

                    Millers and Yoders sit on gas-wells, on family estates, Mrs. x's property in trust has been that way for years. This little "hollow", as you might describe it, is lined with farmers(generational) and home-owners that love the open land.

                    The local zoning board seems to be very suspicious of chunk-it-out with multiple septic permits and tell tale private drive permits. I find this re-assuring. I like a town hall that might move a little slow, sleep on it, check with the county and get back to you. That also gives the sleuth an opportunity in the "paper-chase".

                    I really appreciate your frame-up, "The Precurssor to Blightville"!

                    "Greg, we went in, we raised some hell and kicked some ass. We're not gonna let up!" ~ John Edwards

                    by GARoach on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 05:04:56 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  I've really been knawing at this whole string of (0+ / 0-)

                    ...commentary and this like a guilded key!

                    That is, if there is a blanket limit on development, then under current conditions there is always the prospect of development that targets the exact edge of the blanket.

                    And instead of getting turned into a plot of McMansions, the farmland gets turned into a stretch of supposed hobby farms which end up being McMansions on extremely large lawns, surrounded by stone fences, lived in by people who like to imagine they are feudal aristocracy. And there goes the neighborhood.

                    There are four lonely feudal aristocrats in the whole 3 sq. mile area bounded by road. The beauty, zoning was changed to a minimum acreage with minimum frontage and the "Aristocrats" property does NOT muster snuff. The rest of the zone is agricultural and much of it becomes land-locked in the "pocket Laird of the Manor" development scenario. And lastly, the generational farm thing; these are a people proud of their heritage with some still doing a good barter trade amongst themselves. Sounds like...HOME!

                    OH's Fighting 16th!

                    "Greg, we went in, we raised some hell and kicked some ass. We're not gonna let up!" ~ John Edwards

                    by GARoach on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 07:24:09 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  The good news, of course ... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      GARoach

                      ... is that the pressure is likely to be off for the immediate future.

                      One of the big drivers of the process is still entirely out of sight in the above description ... that is the fact that when developers tax shelter capital gains from a development into a new property, there is no per acre component.

                      That is, those developers that have a big score are precisely the ones who have an incentive to try to put together a larger development in value terms than the one where they made the big score ... because a big score means that you ended up with more than you put in. And the law doesn't care whether that is developing land that is more valuable per acre, or just a bigger acreage.

                      Combine that with a substantial tradition of subsidizing "green field" developments in ways that just are not done for existing development, especially with utility hook-ups and transport, and there is a bias to encourage successful developers to develop bigger and bigger suburban sprawl housing developments and bigger and bigger boxes for big box retailers.

                      If playing the "if you could change just one thing" game, that'd be my pick. Cap the roll-over of capital gains to the acreage of the development with the capital gain. Then the bias swings away from green field development to infill.

                      •  Well, if that doesn't just take the... (0+ / 0-)

                        fun out of it Mr. Moneybucks!

                        If playing the "if you could change just one thing" game, that'd be my pick. Cap the roll-over of capital gains to the acreage of the development with the capital gain. Then the bias swings away from green field development to infill.

                        I really like this rule!

                        "Greg, we went in, we raised some hell and kicked some ass. We're not gonna let up!" ~ John Edwards

                        by GARoach on Fri Apr 04, 2008 at 07:37:29 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

    •  I gave your link to... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose

      Oh-16: John Boccieri. He was told Ohio's only sustainable wind crop was the western Lake Erie Region.

      We're currently talking about complimenting roof-top HVAC's with solar and solar thermal energy. Great stuff!

      OH's Fighting 16th ActBlue!

      "Greg, we went in, we raised some hell and kicked some ass. We're not gonna let up!" ~ John Edwards

      by GARoach on Sat Mar 29, 2008 at 10:46:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Who-ever told him that is going on old ... (3+ / 0-)

        ... wind maps. The newest wind map showed a utility grade wind resource throughout most of the western half of the state, on top of what we knew regarding 90%+ of Lake Erie.

        •  I'm digging for your post form OAC. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RunawayRose

          Sounds to me like he has somebody ant-change talking in one ear andI may know whom that person is...tight knit little circle down here.

          "Greg, we went in, we raised some hell and kicked some ass. We're not gonna let up!" ~ John Edwards

          by GARoach on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 05:46:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Driving Ohio on Lake Erie was here on dKos too .. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RunawayRose, GARoach

            Driving Ohio on Lake Erie.

            That was with the old wind map.

            As far as I can tell, this is the new 50m wind speed map, and given what we are learning about wind shear at the heights of modern utility scale wind generators, 50m wind speeds are inherently conservative.

            This is a link to the 100m map (as a pdf file) from the Ohio Wind Resource Explorer site ... developed in cooperation with the Ohio Department of Development, Office of Energy Efficiency, so it is not some wild-eyed wind advocates doing this on their own! ... Ohio 100m windspeeds.

            Anyway, even on the 50m map, you can see the high grade wind resource right along the lakeshore in eastern Lake Erie, and covering the lake not very far from shore anywhere.

            And when you download and print the 100m windspeed map ... and remember that its conservative, the windspeed estimates are either going to stay the same or get better as they do more wind surveying at 100m ... even the current updated windspeed mapping starts to look good.

            There are scattered areas that are competitive now in terms of regions looking to get some electricity with a cap on the future cost, and with rising energy costs and sensible general government for using our own energy resources instead of imported energy resources, somewhere around a third of the state will end up having wind resource that is useful for utility scale wind power development.

  •  This is an absolutely fantastic (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, Hardhat Democrat

    ...Midnight Thought, Bruce!

    You covered more on our Tiny House topic, reminded us that we must live within our means, gave fine example to doing that, and my favorite part...

    You left this thought wide open for anybody just meeting us to understand where we long to be!!!

    Bravo!

    "Greg, we went in, we raised some hell and kicked some ass. We're not gonna let up!" ~ John Edwards

    by GARoach on Sat Mar 29, 2008 at 10:24:30 PM PDT

  •  Green ideas for apartment dwellers? (7+ / 0-)

    This is a serious question, and asked with a very positive attitude.  Unfortunately, often, "How to live a sustainable life" information focuses on things that can only realistically be achieved by a homeowner.  Turn your lawn into a garden, get a more efficient waterheater/washer/etc, put insulation in your walls...  

    All these things are wonderful, but if you rent and don't own the appliances and walls, and don't have any dirt, these things are not actionable.  For many people, a reply of "move" or "buy a house" are not realistic changes.  Also, realistically, a lot of housing in this country is apartments and condos.  A lot of people are going to be living in them for a long time.

    So, what I would really love, is to start collecting ideas and trying them out.  I really believe there are ways to make apartment living much more sustainable and green without violating a lease.  

    I'd welcome everything from tips on growing a window/balcony garden, to insulating your water heater, to high-tech solar panels mounted on a railing (this isn't so unrealistic...think of all the DirectTV dishes that are around).

    Ideally, the ideas would be fairly economical.  But again, all ideas are welcome.  "Wouldn't it be nice if this sort of thing existed" ideas are great, too.  It might spark a thought with someone else.

    Is what I am doing *right now* leading to happiness?

    by jbdigriz on Sat Mar 29, 2008 at 10:37:27 PM PDT

    •  Yes ... the longer term goal is to ... (6+ / 0-)

      ... establish a Connie Mae system that makes it the landlord begging the tenant for permission to install energy efficiency improvements ...

      ... but short of that goal

      * if the lease permits a window air conditioner, then it is unlikely that it can forbid a solar window heater. I remember seeing plans for home made solar window heaters all over the place during the first Energy Crisis, but for me the ideal would be one with an automatic vent hooks up to a thermostat. This would be especially handy if you don't have a southern exposure, since a little bit of collector facing the sun is going to do a lot more than the windows themselves.

      * On the lower end of the scale, simply hooking up your various battery charged devices to the various car-charging options instead of the AC pack, and using a 12V battery charged by a solar panel, saves power three ways ...
      (1) One, the most obvious but possible least important, the power from the sun instead of the grid
      (2) Second, transforming from 12V DC to 5V or 3.3V DC is going to be more efficient, so you get more leverage than you would think and
      (3) Leaving the DC plugs plugged in when not charging will not have a big vampire electric drain, while leaving AC/DC transformers plugged in will ... those things are warm when they are plugged in for a reason.

      * from the Tiny Houses movement, organize your living space into an "inner" space and an "outer" space. If the panels insulating your "inner" space are not attached to the walls, but would in the eyes of the law be furniture in their own right, or attachments to furniture, then it takes a much more restrictive lease to interfere with that than with insulation attached to the wall. After all, a bookcase is a bookcase, even if the back of the bookcase is an insulated building panel and extends up, facing another bookcase halfway across the room, with an insulated panel crossing the space between them above head height. There's rarely a law against furniture unless its a weight issue, and insulated panels are not heavy (they are normally foam between plywood!)

      Once you make the space that you have to heat or cool to your full-time comfort level smaller than your full living space, then you can crank up/down the main thermostat.

      Of course, the third really does need enthusiastic cooperation from a partner if the apt/townhouse is not just for one person ... a key part of the Tiny Houses idea is not one-size-fits-all, but sizes-to-fit-all. The smaller the space, the more critical is becomes that it is tailored to fit the felt needs of the people. One person may like a cozy nest ... but if that makes their partner claustrophobic, then including more height in the "inner space" is a must.

    •  The first thing we can do... (6+ / 0-)

      is to simply keep doing what we do.

      I obviously don't know about your neighborhood, but I can definitely speak for mine - multiple-unit dwellings in walkable mixed-use urban neighborhoods are the very definition of sustainability.  It's what we've done forever, and it's the reason that densely developed neighborhoods on a human scale (think London, Paris, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Boston; certain neighborhoods in New York and Philadelphia...) are as successful as they are now, and will be far into the future - and why places like Phoenix, Atlanta and Houston won't have much of a future at all...

      I'd welcome everything from tips on growing a window/balcony garden, to insulating your water heater, to high-tech solar panels mounted on a railing (this isn't so unrealistic...think of all the DirectTV dishes that are around).

      There are already many resources for same, and more are coming along every day...

      The thing is, though - don't ever think (not even for a second...), that it's only suburban homeowners who can be 'green'.

      •  Yes ... a vital, vital point. (5+ / 0-)

        ... while at a small scale, there are all sorts of incremental changes to make living in an outer suburban development more energy and material efficient ... and people living in apartments and townhouses sometimes don't have the same leeway ...

        ... when you step back, the more densely settled places are the ones where its easiest to put in a dedicated transport corridor, the ones where there are the most opportunities to walk and bike to get a variety of interesting places, and the list goes on.

        The real challenge will be in retrofitting what is an insane investment of so much resources, from the position that the US once enjoyed as the highest income, wealthiest nation on the face of the earth, so that they do not become unlivable quagmires in three or four decades time.

        However, there too we have the example of living on a human scale outside the cities, and it happens in places that we would call a village. So that is what we have to aim for out in the outer suburbs, strings of suburban villages connected together on a dedicated transport corridor, allowing the formless suburban mass to develop into a focus on local centers providing a local point of contact with the regional system supporting people moving around.

        •  Villages are great, and in my opinion... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          GARoach

          ...the few remaining true villages left in the US (small towns with mixed-use community centers surrounded by working agricultural land), will actually be best set-up to survive post-Peak Oil.  Those are the places that will 'weather the storm' as well as anybody could hope to.

          I'm an urban person, myself...always have been.  That's just a personal preference, and I'm sure that my never-ending love of my city (Portland, Oregon) clearly comes through any time I post anything about these issues.  And even though I believe Portland is one of the best-planned cities in the world, and Oregon is one of the best-managed states in the country...even we have a long ways to go yet.  There are definitely many areas in which we can improve...

          I'm not sure I can agree with this, though -

          So that is what we have to aim for out in the outer suburbs, strings of suburban villages connected together on a dedicated transport corridor, allowing the formless suburban mass to develop into a focus on local centers providing a local point of contact with the regional system supporting people moving around.

          Those places are by their very design a sprawling mess.  Those places were never intended to one day be linked via transit, and their only purpose was to enrich the suburban "home"builders and their affiliated Asphalt Cabal.

          I'm not seeing how that could work?

          First, you'd have to convince those people to live in very close proximity to each other.  Good luck on that - because frankly, I'd say they are anti-social by their very nature, which led them to move to those places to begin with. And then even if we could accomplish that, how do we reclaim the land around those hypothetical town centers for agriculture?  Too much of that land has already been poisoned by those same far-flung housing developments and strip malls...

          Sure, we can eventually fix the damage there (I worked in environmental remediation for 9 years back in New Jersey...); but it will almost certainly take more resources (time and money), than we'll have by the time we get around to doing so.

          I've had more than a few problems myself with the 'doomsdayers' amongst us...but I'd definitely consider myself in line with them on this issue.  I personally think that the outer suburbs of the past few decades are a lost cause, and we should cut our losses there and just focus our efforts elsewhere.  Like on truly rural villages and towns.

          •  The area I was commenting on above fits (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Hardhat Democrat

            into this category of "community", with it's small central village and outlying farms. I absolutely refuse to refer to it by it's proper name on purpose. Bruce knows about the disasterous consequences of this regions poor zoning when looking at communities like Green, just to the south of Akron, Ohio.

            I was lucky to have grown up there before it became a village and ultimately incorporated. Being close to Akron-Canton Airport and the I-77 corridor, it didn't take long for the mayor and his cronies to destroy sleepy little Greensburg with strip malls.

            The owners of the rural property held out as long as possible, but the eventual passage of a school levy for a "mega-campus" by the "Suburbanites" was it's eventual undoing. These days I just pass on by my old stomping ground.

            "Greg, we went in, we raised some hell and kicked some ass. We're not gonna let up!" ~ John Edwards

            by GARoach on Mon Mar 31, 2008 at 06:11:33 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I grew up in the countryside east of Columbus ... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              GARoach

              ... or to be more precise, in a small pocket of exurbia surrounded by countryside, with one long street to the state route and two side streets, cows south of the development, a wood lot just to the west.

              When I went back to the small town near there after college, I wasn't paying attention ... when I went back to that same small town in the late 80's, after I got back from Grenada, I took a hike out there.

              The countryside was gone. It had all been eaten up by the eastern outer suburbs of Columbus.

          •  This is nonsense ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            GARoach

            Good luck on that - because frankly, I'd say they are anti-social by their very nature, which led them to move to those places to begin with.

            You can say that, but it is highly unlikely that its true of 100% of them. The individual circumstances that lead different people to move to any particular place are almost never anything close to 100% uniform ... without a big new employer in an area, its rarely close to 50% uniform.

            Its only necessary to infill 6% of an area at 4× the current density to end up with 20% of the population in the new settlement system.

            Trying to herd 100% of the existing population into the suburban villages would just be replacing one kind of settlement monoculture with another.

            And then even if we could accomplish that, how do we reclaim the land around those hypothetical town centers for agriculture?

            The most direct way would be for the people living in those houses to turn their hand to truck farming. The next most direct would be to lease out contiguous plots for truck farming.

  •  Now I've touched on this before, and as much... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, vox humana, BruceMcF, GARoach

    as I love the "Tiny Houses", I must ask -

    Why aren't we building 3 or 4-story mixed-use buildings along pedestrian-friendly streets in walkable neighborhoods anymore?

    In my opinion, our first priority must be stopping the suburban "home"builders and their affiliated Asphalt Cabal from destroying any more of our remaining agricultural lands; because otherwise "little green buildings" will prove to be totally useless.

    It's clearly time for action; and 'here-and-there' stop-gap measures will only serve to slightly slow down the coming train-wreck, if even that...

    .....................

    Where the fuck are 'our' politicians on this?  Any of them?!

    That's my question...

    •  Yes, but of course ... (6+ / 0-)

      ... I've talked and talked about that end of the spectrum, for more than a decade for anyone who knows me, and for more than a year here on the Daily Kos and other places online, and much less about this end. And so I can guarantee its going to come up again under this heading on the Midnight Oil.

      The reason we aren't doing that is because we channel large amounts of subsidy into sprawl development, and in part some of that subsidy comes from hidden financial penalties on sustainable development.

      Its a policy choice ... but a policy choice embedded in the structure of "encouraging economic development", not a policy choice that many politicians get up and talk about when they are on the stump. You very rarely hear a politician stand up in public and say, "we need to channel your tax dollars to service the needs of wealthy property developers in pursuit of a massive federal tax break, and if the result is that you have to give more and more and more time of your free time every year sitting in your car, while you have to work harder and harder to prop the wealthy developers up, that's a price I am prepared for you to pay".

      Now, the fact that it is highly subsidized, combined with the fact that its a system that starts to break down in the face of steadily rising energy costs, means that those property developers accustomed to being yellow bellied surplus suckers at the public trough are going to work harder and harder to get the public subsidy, as the underlying economic climate turns against them.

      However, on the bright side, this means that there is a real substantial carrot for those communities that start to work toward cutting those developers off their system of welfare for the rich ... which is that it will free up funds that communities still trapped in a 20th century mindset are going to be plowing into trying to turn back the tide of change.

    •  Mirbeau-Hummel... (5+ / 0-)

      is a development they are trying to cram through in our local area (Walworth County WI). It has a few concessions to green development such as clustering and preservation of some the natural features, but otherwise it is an inside the box suburban sprawl development, and develops all of the existing farmland.

      The uses are segregated and there is no walkable access or public transport to groceries or entertainment, and no plans for onsite food/energy production either. In a lakes region, it also must be cognizant of water budget and should consider on-site catchment systems so that demand on groundwater is reduced. It also calls for 880+ new residences. Energy could be generated on-site or nearby as well with a utility grade wind resource at 50 and 100 meters(our county is situated in an excellent area for wind). Yet none of these are addressed.

      The Lake Geneva Village Board has somewhat punted on this, kicking it to the voters on April 1 in a referendum on this development. I advise a no vote.

      The local media editor PTB advises a yes vote and says this is the best we can get for this development and that there are no better alternatives. Seems like this lady has not heard of peak oil, and true low impact developments.

      Tomorrow I will be fleshing out why their argument is flawed and posting a diary on it about analyzing development proposals for sustainability.

      "Without our playstations, we are a third world nation"-Ani DiFranco

      by NoMoreLies on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 09:16:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'll be looking for it... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GARoach

        Tomorrow I will be fleshing out why their argument is flawed and posting a diary on it about analyzing development proposals for sustainability.

        And I'll save my 'substantive' response for that, then...

        Thanks for the heads up!

      •  My forwarning is in a comment above... (3+ / 0-)

        is a development they are trying to cram through in our local area

        ...and this is what they will guarantee without a word...

        I was lucky to have grown up there before it became a village and ultimately incorporated. Being close to Akron-Canton Airport and the I-77 corridor, it didn't take long for the mayor and his cronies to destroy sleepy little Greensburg with strip malls.

        The owners of the rural property held out as long as possible, but the eventual passage of a school levy for a "mega-campus" by the "Suburbanites" was it's eventual undoing.

        Fight for the sake of what they plan to steal!

        "Greg, we went in, we raised some hell and kicked some ass. We're not gonna let up!" ~ John Edwards

        by GARoach on Mon Mar 31, 2008 at 06:17:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  That's happening in my neighborhood in Chicago (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BruceMcF, wayoutinthestix, GARoach

      Two one-story store fronts were recently torn down and are being replace by 5-6 story buildings with retail on the first floor and condos above both within one block of the CTA "el" train and 5 blocks of the Metra train.   One block to the west is an Igo shared car pickup location all making it possible to live there without owning a car.  Walk to the beach and local shopping (I can do almost all my grocery shopping at a small grocery within walking distance of my house.)

      The most outrageous lies that can be invented will find believers if a man only tells them with all his might. - Mark Twain

      by mkfarkus on Mon Mar 31, 2008 at 08:20:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Plastic, plastic, yikes (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hardhat Democrat, BruceMcF, GARoach

    From the SIP site: (small houses)

    Structurally insulated panels polystyrene pressure bonded between marine glued plywood sheets.

    Yikes -- outgassing?

    Be good to each other. It matters.

    by AllisonInSeattle on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 11:27:01 PM PDT

  •  cohousing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wayoutinthestix, GARoach

    Hello,

    I love the talk about alternative living solutions.  I just thought I'd add a link to  a project that will hopefully be happening soon here in St. Louis.  

  •  I've been really intrigued (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF, wayoutinthestix, GARoach

    with the Enertia Hybrid Solar homes.  I took the time to drive up to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin to visit one.

    Thought there is radiant heat in the floor and a small AC unit, the solar envelope provides virtually all of the heating and cooling for the home.

    My family owns a small farm out near Galena, Illinois and I'm thinking about building a small one of these for my retirement, augmented by PV electric, possible wind power, composting toilets and gray water system instead of a septic tack.

    The most outrageous lies that can be invented will find believers if a man only tells them with all his might. - Mark Twain

    by mkfarkus on Mon Mar 31, 2008 at 08:24:30 AM PDT

  •  Quite excellent discussion ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wayoutinthestix, GARoach

    thank you ... Sadly, we are valuing real estate in square footage rather than in quality of life-style (for ourselves & community) supported by that real-estate/housing.  My neighborhood, already sufficient 1800-2800 square foot homes are being torn down with 5000-9500 homes going up ... A neighbor did a tear down because 'it was time for a change' and, of course, did not spend 1 cent in building their 6500 square foot home to make their home more energy efficient since that would "cost too much".  (Note: neighborhood acquaintance, not 'friend'.)

    Thank you for all the cites ...

    •  I think the past two decades practice ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel, GARoach

      ... of thinking of real estate as an investment that you happen to live in is going to get a substantial degree of torching over the five years ahead.

      What is real about real estate is that it directly provides you with something you need. When people treat it as a financial asset that delivers standard of living as a side-effect, they start to lose sight of that.

      •  At that point, real estate becomes... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BruceMcF

        nothing more than another commodity and might as well be up on the CBOT or one of the other clearing houses. It wouldn't even have to be real anymore,as we could just derive little pieces of paper for 100 acre contracts and bandy them about until 4 PM. At which time, we would then head for the Pub to yuk it up about how some sucker got stuck with that scrap of paper that didn't really have 100 acres backing it up!

        ::inhale, exhale, inhale, ...::

        "Greg, we went in, we raised some hell and kicked some ass. We're not gonna let up!" ~ John Edwards

        by GARoach on Mon Mar 31, 2008 at 05:43:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Little solar houses! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF, GARoach

    Wonderful and inspiring diary and comments. Thanks.

    I am sure many of you are aware of the biennial solar house competition, but I’ll mention it in case some haven’t. I just missed seeing this on my last trip to D.C. :(

    http://www.solardecathlon.org/

    The Solar Decathlon joins 20 college and university teams to a competition to design, build and operate the most attractive energy-efficient solar-powered house.

    The next Solar Decathlon will take place in the fall of 2009 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

    I read somewhere? the competition houses are @ 800 square feet.

    An A Siegel diary from Oct 07 about the 2007 event...  

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    I’m planning on writing a diary soon about electricity consumption at my McNugget (660 sq.ft.). I used 316 kwh last month, which I’m hoping is reasonably low, but I really won’t know until I write a diary and hear what others are using.

    "I suppose it's never any surprise that a sham, when it falls apart, falls apart so quickly and thoroughly." - from Sea of Tranquillity by Paul Russell

    by wayoutinthestix on Mon Mar 31, 2008 at 12:37:53 PM PDT

    •  316 is low (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wayoutinthestix, GARoach

      But it really depends on what other fuels you have and your climate.  If you have gas for heating, hot water, dryer, and cooking and you live in a small house and it isn't hot out (like now, presumably) and you don't have things like extra fridges or a really old fridge and you don't have a 60 inch plasma TV running 16 hours per day, then 316 kwh sounds about right.  

      But if you want to feel good, 316 kWh is only about  one third the average US household's electric usage.  

      •  fyi (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BruceMcF, NRG Guy, GARoach

        I live in central Florida and the house is all-electric, but I rarely use the heat or A/C. My low usage is admittedly offset by being a household of one.

        Feeling good is nice, but making a real difference would be better. I've made a conscious effort to cut back and use electricity efficiently, but perhaps I need to try harder.

        "I suppose it's never any surprise that a sham, when it falls apart, falls apart so quickly and thoroughly." - from Sea of Tranquillity by Paul Russell

        by wayoutinthestix on Mon Mar 31, 2008 at 03:19:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  well 316 does make a difference (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wayoutinthestix

          I didn't mean to imply that feeling good was somehow wrong -- your usage is far below the norm for your area and although it's mostly explainable by the small household size, it also shows that there is probably very little waste to go after.  There are many households of comparable size using much more.

      •  I average 378 year round... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NRG Guy, wayoutinthestix

        in my 968 sq. ft. "McMansion" on it's 50 x 92 post-stamp with a 90-something year old sugar pear tree in the spacious backyard that I've taken a shine to re-generating. A 4.5 watt solar security light and a timed CFL flood provide ample security lighting in the city. We've invested in EnergyStar appliances as the old one have died-off and the things we no longer need or desire to own find their way to the local Habitat ReStore. The Recycle station is less than the one half mile away and are garbege men love me because I put the can to the curb with one bag in it every other week. It's all good!

        "Greg, we went in, we raised some hell and kicked some ass. We're not gonna let up!" ~ John Edwards

        by GARoach on Mon Mar 31, 2008 at 06:18:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Analysis shows oil wars fail - surprise! (0+ / 0-)

    If you haven't explored this gem of a rescue up in the Midnight Rescourse Center, I highly recommend it.

    The commentary at the end is a shocking glimpse of what we allow ourselves to do to each other for oil.

    OH's Fighting 16th!

    "Greg, we went in, we raised some hell and kicked some ass. We're not gonna let up!" ~ John Edwards

    by GARoach on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 07:11:56 PM PDT

  •  Is class cancelled for tonight? (0+ / 0-)

    "Greg, we went in, we raised some hell and kicked some ass. We're not gonna let up!" ~ John Edwards

    by GARoach on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 08:56:07 PM PDT

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