Radioactive Fallout from Fukushima

SUBHEAD:  The magnitude of radioactivity released and the extent of spread and contamination are virtually unknown.

By Stephan Hosea on 31 Ontoer 2013 for the Independent -

Image above: Workers collect fallen leaves from a gutter in Fukushima Prefecture as they begin decontamination west of the stricken nuclear power plant on 12/8/2011. (

I believe that humanity is standing on the brink of a possible worldwide nuclear holocaust. The world as we know it has already changed as the result of radioactive material that has been released into the air and the ocean.

I am not an alarmist, but I am alarmed.

I know that large quantities of radioactive material are in a precariously unstable situation in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility. An inability to effectively keep this material cool could easily result in another nuclear event. Another natural disaster like the recent typhoon or earthquake that occurred October 25, 2013, will further minimize the likelihood of a meaningful response.

I know radioactivity has been and continues to be released into the air and ocean. The effects on our health are incomprehensible because the magnitude of radioactivity released and the extent of spread and contamination are virtually unknown.

I know that I don’t know all of the details, risks, and levels of radioactivity. I do know I have been exposed. I consumed Pacific Bluefin tuna (PBFT) caught off the coast of San Diego four weeks ago. A Stanford study has shown that all PBFT caught off the West Coast of California had 10 times the usual amount of radioactive cesium present prior to the Fukushima event in March 2011.

I believe that our health is the great equalizer. In my clinical career, I have had the good fortune to care for the homeless and the disenfranchised and the rich and the famous. When one is lying in a hospital bed with those special gowns that are wide open in the back, everyone is pretty much the same. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat are gifts of life for all of us no matter what our creed or our color.

I know that these precious gifts have been contaminated. The silence from the media and the powers that be has been deafening.

The Chinese symbol for crisis is composed of two letters — one is danger and the other is opportunity. We have an opportunity to help the Japanese with the crisis in Fukushima. I want the best and the brightest that money can’t buy to be making those decisions. This is not a request — this is an inalienable right for the sake of our children and our children’s children and all of humanity.

We have an opportunity to protect ourselves from future nuclear events at home and around the world. They only are called accidents if we do not take measures to prevent them. The time to act is now.

Dr. Stephen Hosea, MD is an infectious disease specialist. See his lecture “The Perils of Fukushima: What You Don’t Know Really Could Kill You” on Friday, November 1, 12:15pm, Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital Burtness Auditorium.


The Sixth Stage of Collapse

SUBHEAD: But there may be others, who still have some fight left in them, and who do wish to leave a survivable planet to their children.

By Dmitry Orlov 22 October 2013 for Club Orlov -

Image above: The five Stages of Collapse find a Sixth. From original article.

I admit it: in my last book, The Five Stages of Collapse, I viewed collapse through rose-colored glasses. But I feel that I should be forgiven for this; it is human nature to try to be optimistic no matter what. Also, as an engineer, I am always looking for solutions to problems. And so I almost subconsciously crafted a scenario where industrial civilization fades away quickly enough to save what's left of the natural realm, allowing some remnant of humanity to make a fresh start.

Ideally, it would start of with a global financial collapse triggered by a catastrophic loss of confidence in the tools of globalized finance. That would swiftly morph into commercial collapse, caused by global supply chain disruption and cross-contagion.

As business activity grinds to a halt and tax revenues dwindle to zero, political collapse wipes most large-scale political entities off the map, allowing small groups of people to revert to various forms of anarchic, autonomous self-governance. Those groups that have sufficient social cohesion, direct access to natural resources, and enough cultural wealth (in the form of face-to-face relationships and oral traditions) would survive while the rest swiftly perish.

Of course, there are problems even with this scenario. Take, for instance, the problem of Global Dimming. The phenomenon is well understood: sunlight reflected back into space by the atmospheric aerosols and particulates generated by burning fossil fuels reduces the average global temperature by well over a degree Celsius.

The cessation of all air traffic over the continental US in the wake of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 has allowed climate scientists to measure this effect. If industrial activity were to suddenly cease, average global temperatures would be jolted upward toward the two degree Celsius mark which is widely considered to be very, very bad indeed. Secondly, even if all industrial activity were to cease tomorrow, global warming, 95% of which is attributed to human activity in the latest (rather conservative and cautious) IPCC report, would continue apace for the better part of the next millennium, eventually putting the Earth's climate in a mode unprecedented during all of human existence as a species.

On such a planet, where the equatorial ocean is hotter than a hot tub and alligators thrive in the high Arctic, our survival as a species is far from assured. Still, let's look at things optimistically. We are an adaptable lot. Yes, the seas will rise and inundate the coastal areas which over half of us currently inhabit. Yes, farmland further inland will become parched and blow away, or be washed away by the periodic torrential rains.

Yes, the tropics, followed by the temperate latitudes, become so hot that everyone living there will succumb of heat stroke. But if this process takes a few centuries, then some of the surviving bands and tribes might find a way to migrate further north and learn to survive there by eking out some sort of existence in balance with what remains of the ecosystem.

We can catch glimpses of what such survival might look like by reading history. When Captain James Cook landed on the shore of Western Australia, he was the first white man to encounter aboriginal Australians, who had up to that point persisted in perfect isolation for something like 40.000 years.

They arrived in Australia at about the same time as the Cromagnons displaced the Neanderthals in Europe.) They spoke a myriad different languages and dialects, having no opportunity and no use for any sort of unity. They wore no clothes and used tiny makeshift huts for shelter. They had few tools beyond a digging stick for finding edible roots and a gig for catching fish. They had no hoards or stockpiles, and did not keep even the most basic supplies from one day to the next. They had little regard for material objects of any sort, were not interested in trade, and while they accepted clothes and other items they were given as presents, they threw them away as soon as Cook and his crew were out of sight.

They were, Cook noted in his journal, entirely inoffensive. But a few actions of Cook's men did enrage them. They were scandalized by the sight of birds being caught and placed in cages, and demanded their immediate release. Imprisoning anyone, animal or person, was to them taboo. They were even more incensed when they saw Cook's men catch not just one, but several turtles. Turtles are slow-breeding, and it is easy to wipe out their local population by indiscriminate poaching, which is why they only allowed the turtles to be taken one at a time, and only by a specially designated person who bore responsibility for the turtles' welfare.

Cook thought them primitive, but he was ignorant of their situation. Knowing what we know, they seem quite advanced. Living on a huge but arid and mostly barren island with few native agriculturally useful plants and no domesticable animals, they understood that their survival was strictly by the grace of the surrounding natural realm. To them, the birds and the turtles were more important than they were, because these animals could survive without them, but they could not survive without these animals.

Speaking of being primitive, here is an example of cultural primitivism writ large. At the Age of Limits conference earlier this year, at one point the discussion turned to the question of why the natural realm is worth preserving even at the cost of human life. (For instance, is it OK to go around shooting poachers in national parks even if it means that their families starve to death?) One fellow, who rather self-importantly reclined in a chaise lounge directly in front of the podium, stated his opinion roughly as follows: “It is worth sacrificing every single animal out there in order to save even a single human life!” It took my breath away. This thought is so primitive that my brain spontaneously shut down every time I tried to formulate a response to it. After struggling with it for a bit, here is what I came up with.

Is it worth destroying the whole car for the sake of saving the steering wheel? What use is a steering wheel without a car? Well, I suppose, if you are particularly daft or juvenile, you can use it to pretend that you still have a car, running around with it and making “vroom-vroom!” noises... Let's look at this question from an economic perspective, which is skewed by the fact that economists tend view the natural realm in terms of its economic value.

This is similar to you looking at your own body in terms of its nutritional content, and whether it would make good eating. Even when viewed from this rather bizarre perspective that treats our one and only living planet as a storehouse of commodities to be plundered, it turns out that most of our economic “wealth” is made possible by “ecosystem services” which are provided free of charge.

These include water clean enough to drink, air clean enough to breathe, a temperature-controlled environment that is neither too cold nor too hot for human survival across much of the planet, forests that purify and humidify the air and moderate surface temperatures, ocean currents that moderate climate extremes making it possible to practice agriculture, oceans (formerly) full of fish, predators that keep pest populations from exploding and so on. If we were forced to provide these same services on a commercial basis, we'd be instantly bankrupt, and then, in short order, extinct.

The big problem with us living on other planets is not that it's physically impossible—though it may be—it's that there is no way we could afford it. If we take natural wealth into account when looking at economic activity, it turns out that we consistently destroy much more wealth than we create: the economy is mostly a negative-sum game.

Next, it turns out that we don't really understand how these “ecosystem services” are maintained, beyond realizing that it's all very complicated and highly interconnected in surprising and unexpected ways. Thus, the good fellow at the conference who was willing to sacrifice all other species for the sake of his own could never be quite sure that the species he is willing to sacrifice doesn't include his own.

In addition, it bears remembering that we are, in fact, sacrificing our species, and have been for centuries, for the sake of something we call “progress.” Aforementioned Captain Cook sailed around the Pacific “discovering” islands that the Polynesians had discovered many centuries earlier, his randy, drunken, greedy sailors spreading venereal disease, alcoholism and corruption, and leaving ruin in their wake wherever they went. After the plague of sailors came the plague of missionaries, who made topless Tahitian women wear “Mother Hubbards” and tried to outlaw fornication.

The Tahitians, being a sexually advanced culture, had a few dozen different terms for fornication, relating to a variety of sex acts. Thus the missionaries had a problem: banning any one sex act wouldn't have made much of a dent, while a ban that enumerated them all would read like the Kama Sutra. Instead the missionaries chose to promote their own brand of sex: the “missionary position,” which is best analyzed as two positions—top and bottom. The bottom position can enhance the experience by taking a cold shower, applying blue lipstick and not breathing. I doubt that it caught on much on Tahiti.

The Tahitians seem to have persevered, but many other tribes and cultures simply perished, or continue to exist in greatly diminished numbers, so depressed by their circumstances that they are not interested in doing much beyond drinking beer, smoking cigarettes and watching television. And which group is doing the best? That's the one that's been causing the most damage. Thus, the rhetoric about “saving our species from extinction” seems rather misplaced: we have been doing everything we can to drive it to extinction as efficiently as possible for a few centuries now, and we aren't about to stop because that would be uncivilized.

Because, you see, that's who we are: we are educated, literate, civilized persons. The readers of this blog especially are economically and environmentally enlightened types, their progressivism resting on the three pillars of pointing out financial Ponzi schemes, averting environmental devastation and eating delicious, organic, locally grown food. We do wish to survive collapse, provided the survival strategy includes such items as gender equality, multiculturalism, LGBT-friendiness and nonviolence.

We do not wish to take off all of our clothes and wander the outback with a digging stick looking for edible tubers. We'd rather sit around discussing green technology over a glass of craft-brewed beer (local, of course) perhaps digressing once in a while to consider the obscure yet erudite opinions of one Pederasmus of Ülm on the endless, glorious ebb and flow of human history.

We don't want to change who we are in order to live in harmony with nature; we want nature to live in harmony with us while we remain who we are. In the meantime, we are continuing to wage war on the sorry remnants of the tribes that had once lived in balance with nature, offering them “education,” “economic development” and a chance to play a minor role in our ruinous, negative-sum economic games.

Given such options, their oft-observed propensity to do nothing and stay drunk seems like a perfectly rational choice. It minimizes the damage. But the damage may already have been done. I will present just two examples of it, but if you don't like them, there are plenty of others.

For the first, you can do your own research. Buy yourself an airline ticket to a tropical paradise of your choice and check into an oceanside resort. Wake up early in the morning and go look at the beach. You will see lots of dark-skinned people with wheelbarrows, buckets, shovels and rakes scraping up the debris that the surf deposited during the night, to make the beach look clean, safe and presentable for the tourists.

Now walk along the beach and beyond the cluster of resorts and hotels, where it isn't being continuously raked clean. You will find that it is so smothered with debris as to make it nearly impassable. There will be some material of natural origin—driftwood and seaweed—but the majority of the debris will be composed of plastic. If you try to sort through it, you will find that a lot of it is composed of polypropylene and nylon mesh and rope and styrofoam floats from the fishing industry.

Another large category will consist of single-use containers: suntan lotion and shampoo bottles, detergent bottles, water bottles, fast food containers and so on. Typhoons and hurricanes have an interesting organizing effect on plastic debris, and you will find piles of motor oil jugs next to piles of plastic utensils next to piles of water bottles, as if someone actually bothered to sort them. On a beach near Tulum in México I once found an entire collection of plastic baby sandals, all of different colors, styles and vintages.

Left on the beach, the plastic trash photo-degrades over time, becoming discolored and brittle, and breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces. The final result of this process is a microscopic plastic scum, which can persist in the environment for centuries. It plays havoc with the ecosystem, because a wide variety of animals mistake the plastic particles for food and swallow them. They then clog their digestive tracts, causing them to starve. This devastation will persist for many centuries, but it has started already: the ocean is dying. Over large areas of it, plastic particles outnumber plankton, which forms the basis of the oceanic food chain.

The ravages of the plastics plague also affect land. Scraped together by sanitation crews, plastic debris is usually burned, because recycling it would be far too expensive. Plastic can be incinerated relatively safely and cleanly, but this requires extremely high temperatures, and can only be done at specialized facilities.

Power plants can burn plastic as fuel, but plastic trash is a diffuse energy source, takes up a lot of space and the energy and labor costs of transporting it to power plants may render it energy-negative. And so a lot of plastic trash is burned in open pits, at low temperatures, releasing into the atmosphere a wide assortment of toxic chemicals, including ones that affect the hormonal systems of animals.

Effects include genital abnormalities, sterility and obesity. Obesity has now reached epidemic proportions in many parts of the world, affecting not just the humans but other species as well. Here, then, is our future: chemical plants continue to churn out synthetic materials, most of these find their way into the environment and slowly break down, releasing their payload of toxins. As this happens, people and animals alike turn into obese, sexless blobs. First they find that they are unable to give birth to fertile male offspring.

This is already happening: human sperm counts are dropping throughout the developed world. Next, they will be unable to give birth to normal male babies—ones without genital abnormalities. Next, they will be unable to produce male offspring at all, as has already happened to a number of marine species. Then they go extinct.

Note that no disaster or accident is required in order for this scenario to unfold, just more business as usual. Every time you buy a bottle of shampoo or a bottle of water, or a sandwich that comes wrapped in plastic or sealed in a vinyl box, you help it unfold a little bit further. All it takes is for the petrochemical industry (which provides the feedstocks—oil and natural gas, mostly) and the chemical plants that process them into plastics, to continue functioning normally. We don't know whether the amount of plastics, and associated toxins, now present in the environment, is already sufficient to bring about our eventual extinction.

But we certainly don't want to give up on synthetic chemistry and go back to a pre-1950s materials science, because that, you see, would be bad for business. Now, you probably don't want to go extinct, but if you decided that you will anyway, you would probably want to remain comfortable and civilized down to the very end. And life without modern synthetics would be uncomfortable. We want those plastic-lined diapers, for the young and the old!

This leaves those of us who are survival-minded, on an abstract, impersonal level, wishing for the global financial, commercial and political collapse to occur sooner rather than later. Our best case scenario would go something like this: a massive loss of confidence and panic in the financial markets grips the planet over the course of a single day, pancaking all the debt pyramids and halting credit creation. Commerce stops abruptly because cargos cannot be financed.

In a matter of weeks, global supply chains break down. In a matter of months, commercial activity grinds to a halt and tax revenues dwindle to zero, rendering governments everywhere irrelevant. In a matter of years, the remaining few survivors become as Captain Cook saw the aboriginal Australians: almost entirely inoffensive.

One of the first victims of collapse would be the energy companies, which are among some of the most capital-intensive enterprises. Next in line are the chemical companies that manufacture plastics and other synthetic organic chemicals and materials: as their petrochemical feedstocks become unavailable, they are forced to halt production. If we are lucky, the amount of plastic that is in the environment already turns out to be insufficient to drive us all to extinction.

Human population can dwindle to as few as a dozen breeding females (the number that survived one of the ice ages, as suggested by the analysis of mitochondrial DNA) but in a dozen or so millennia the climate will probably stabilize, the Earth's ecology recover, and with it will the human population. We may never again achieve a complex technological civilization, but at least we'll be able to sing and dance, have children and, if we are lucky, even grow old in peace.

So far so good, but our next example makes the desirability of a swift and thorough collapse questionable. Prime exhibit is the melted-down nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan. Contrary to what the Japanese government would want everyone to believe, the situation there is not under any kind of control. Nobody knows what happened to the nuclear fuel from the reactors that melted down. Did they go to China, à la China Syndrome?

Then there is the spent nuclear fuel pool, which is full, and leaking. If the water in that pool boils away, the fuel rods burst into flames and melt down and/or explode and then, according to some nuclear experts, it would be time to evacuate the entire northern hemisphere.

The site at Fukushima is so radioactive that workers cannot go anywhere near it for any length of time, making it rather fanciful to think that they'll be able to get the situation there under control, now or ever. But we can be sure that eventually the already badly damaged building housing the spent nuclear fuel will topple, spilling its load and initiating phase two of the disaster. After that there will be no point in anyone going to Fukushima, except to die of radiation sickness.

You might think that Fukushima is an especially bad case, but plants just like Fukushima dot the landscape throughout much of the developed world. Typically, they are built near a source of water, which they use as coolant and to run the steam turbines. Many of the ones built on rivers run the risk of the rivers drying up.

Many of the ones built on the ocean are at risk of inundation from rising ocean levels, storm surges and tsunamis. Typically, they have spent fuel pools that are full of hot nuclear waste, because nobody has figured out a way to dispose of it. All of them have to be supplied with energy for many decades, or they all melt just like Fukushima. If enough of them melt and blow up, then it's curtains for animals such as ourselves, because most of us will die of cancer before reaching sexual maturity, and the ones that do will be unable to produce healthy offspring.

I once flew through the airport in Minsk, where I crossed paths with a large group of “Chernobyl children” who were on their way to Germany for medical treatment. I took a good look at them, and that picture has stayed with me forever. What shocked me was the sheer variety of developmental abnormalities that were on display.

It seems like letting global industrial civilization collapse and all the nuclear power plants cook off is not such a good option, because it will seal our fate. But the alternative is to “extend and pretend” and “kick the can down the road” while resorting to a variety of environmentally destructive, increasingly desperate means to keep industry running: hydraulic fracturing, mining tar sands, drilling in the Arctic and so on. And this isn't such a good option either because it will seal our fate in other ways.

And so it seems that there may not be a happy end to my story of The Five Stages of Collapse, the first three of which (financial, commercial, political) are inevitable, while the last two (social, cultural) are entirely optional but have, alas, already run their course in many parts of the world. Because, you see, there is also the sixth stage which I have previously neglected to mention—environmental collapse—at the end of which we are left without a home, having rendered Earth (our home planet) uninhabitable.

This tragic outcome may not be unavoidable. And if it is not unavoidable, then that's about the only problem left that's worth solving. The solution can be almost arbitrarily expensive in both life and treasure. I would humbly suggest that it's worth all the money in the world, plus a few billion lives, because if a solution isn't found, then that treasure and those lives are forfeit anyway.

A solution for avoiding the sixth stage must be found, but I don't know what that solution would look like. I do find it unsafe to blithely assume that collapse will simply take care of the problem for us. Some people may find this subject matter so depressing that it makes them want to lie down (in a comfortable position, on something warm and soft) and die.

But there may be others, who still have some fight left in them, and who do wish to leave a survivable planet to their children and grandchildren.

Let's not expect them to use conventional, orthodox methods, to work and play well with others, or to be polite and reasonable in dealing with the rest of us.

Let's just hope that they have a plan, and that they get on with it.


Kauai Mayor vetoes GMO Bill 2491

SUBHEAD: Bernard Carvalho a corporate flunky, proves incapable of representing the interests of Kauai.

By Rosemarie Bernardo on 31 October 2013 for the Star Adertiser  -

Image above: Why is Bernard sweating? Kauai Mayor Carvalho and Big Island Mayor Billy Kanoi meet with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on 1/24/11 to discuss strategy for GMO agriculture. Vilsack has a glowing reputation as being a schill for agribusiness biotech giants like Monsanto. From (

Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. vetoed a bill today that would require large agribusinesses to disclose the type of pesticides they spray on fields and implement buffer zones around schools, dwellings and medical facilities.

Bill 2491 would have required agribusinesses that purchase or use more than five pounds or 15 gallons of restricted use pesticides annually to disclose all types of pesticides they spray on their fields and to implement buffer zones near schools, dwellings, medical facilities, public roadways, shorelines and waterways.

"I have always said I agree with the intent of this bill to provide for pesticide use disclosure, create meaningful buffer zones and conduct a study on the health and environmental issues relating to pesticide use on Kaua'i," Carvalho said in a news release. "However, I believe strongly that this bill is legally flawed. That being the case, I had no choice but to veto."

Under the bill, agricultural companies would have been required to provide annual reports of genetically modified crops grown on fields to the Office of Economic Development and state Department of Agriculture. The information would have been posted on the county website.

Agribusinesses also would have been required to disclose where the genetically modified crops were being grown and dates of when each crop was initially planted.

Companies affected by the bill would have included Syngeta Hawaii, DuPont Pioneer, Dow AgroSciences and BASF as well as Kauai Coffee, the largest coffee grower in the state.

The Kauai County Council voted 6-1 to approve Bill 2491 in the early-morning hours of Oct. 16 after a marathon public hearing.

Before the Council's vote, Carvalho requested a one-month deferral to hold discussions with the state on the enforcement of the bill's disclosure and buffer zones. Council Chairman Jay Furfaro said he would not support a deferral, saying there was no logical reason to do so.

The final draft of the bill sent to the mayor's office for approval focused on regulating pesticide use by agribusinesses.

Councilmen Gary Hooser and Tim Bynum co-introduced the bill in June in response to ongoing community concerns of pesticide exposure.

Biotech companies favor Hawaii's year-round warm climate, enabling them to grow three crops per year compared to one in Illinois. Company officials say they are already regulated by the state and federal level and the county lacks the resources to enforce the ordinance. Biotech representatives who testified at meetings also said the ordinance would signicantly hamper the farming industry. Bill supporters say the ordinance is necessary to protect public health and the island's environment.

Video above: Halloween Cheer. Carvalho tries to explain his veto to some unhappy Kauai residents. Note Grim Raper at Bernard's elbow. Carvalho was born and raised here but lets the corporations rule his decision instead of his island people. Sold out! Link sent to us by Brad Parsons (

The Future is a Foreign Country

SUBHEAD: A mobile phone signal in Somalian does not equal a sustainable technological economy.

By John Michael Greer on 30 October 2013 for thr Archdruid Report -

[IB Publisher's note: As an architect I am familiar with the term "vomitorium" as the enrance/exit passageway in an arena. They vomit people. I cannot find historical references to them as rooms in which the over indulgent relieved themselves. This point was picked up in comments in the original post and acknowledged by the auther subsequently.]

Image above: In Mogadishu, Somalia, the mobile phone business is booming amongst poverty. From (

I’m pleased to note that the conversation about ephemeralization and catabolic collapse launched a few weeks back by futurist Kevin Carson, and continued in several blogs since then, has taken a promising new turn. The vehicle for that sudden swerve was a essay by Lakis Polycarpou, titled Catabolic Ephemeralization: Carson versus Greer, which set out to find common ground between Carson’s standpoint and mine. In the process, to his credit, Polycarpou touched on a crucial point that has been too often neglected in recent discussions about the future.

That’s not to say that his take on the future couldn’t use some serious second thoughts. I noted in my original response to Carson’s post the nearly visceral inability to think in terms of whole systems that pervades today’s geek culture, and that curious blindness is well represented in Polycarpou’s essay.

He argues, for example, that since a small part of Somalia has cell phone service, and cell phone service is more widely available today than grid electricity or clean drinking water, cutting-edge technology ought to be viable in a postpetroleum world. “If Greer is right that modern telecommunications is full of hidden embodied energy and capital costs,” he wonders aloud, “how is this possible?”

As it happens, that’s an easy question to answer. Somalia, even in its present turbulent condition, is part of a global economy fueled by the recklessly rapid extraction of half a billion years of fossil sunlight and equally unsustainable amounts of other irreplaceable natural resources.

It speaks well of the resourcefulness of the Somalian people that they’ve been able to tap into some of those resource flows, in the teeth of a global economy that’s so heavily tilted against them; that said, it bears remembering that the cell phone towers in Somalia are not being manufactured in Somalian factories from Somalian resources using Somalian energy sources.

A sprawling global industrial network of immensely complex manufacturing facilities and world-spanning supply chains forms the whole system that lies behind those towers, and without that network or some equivalent capable of mobilizing equivalent resources and maintaining comparable facilities, those towers would not exist.

It’s easy to make dubious generalizations based on cell phone service, mind you, because all that’s being measured by that metric is whether a given group of people are within range of a bit of stray microwave radiation—not whether they have access to cell phones, or whether the infrastructure could handle the traffic if they did. That’s the kind of blindness to whole systems that pervades so much contemporary thinking.

A microwave signal fluttering through the air above an impoverished Somalian neighborhood does not equal a sustainable technological economy; only when you can account for every requirement of the whole system that produces that signal can you begin to talk about whether that system can be preserved in working order through a harsh era of global economic contraction and political turmoil.

Polycarpou dodges this, and several other awkward points of this nature. He insists, for example, that nobody actually knows whether the early 19th century technology needed to lay and operate undersea cables is really less complex than a space program capable of building, orbiting, and operating communications satellites. Since the technologies in question are a matter of public knowledge, and a few minutes of online research is all that’s needed to put them side by side, this is breathtakingly ingenuous.

Still, I’d encourage my readers to keep reading past this bit, and also past the ad hominem handwaving about the energy costs of the internet that follows it. It’s in the last part of Polycarpou’s essay, where he begins to talk about alternatives and the broader shape of the future, that he begins to speak in a language familiar to regular readers of The Archdruid Report.

What he’s suggesting in this final part of his essay, if I’m reading it correctly, is that the infrastructure of the modern industrial world is unsustainable, and will have to be replaced by local production of essential goods and services on a scale that will seem impoverished by modern standards. With this claim I have no disagreements at all, and indeed it’s what I’ve been suggesting here on The Archdruid Report for the last seven and a half years.

The points at issue between my view of the future and Polycarpou’s are what technologies will be best suited to the deindustrial world, and just how much more impoverished things are going to be by the time we finish the transition. These are questions of detail, not of substance.

Furthermore, they’re not questions that can be settled conclusively in advance. Mind you, it’s almost certainly a safe assumption that the kind of computer hardware we use today will no longer be manufactured once today’s industrial infrastructure stops being a paying proposition economically; current integrated-circuit technology requires a suite of extraordinarily complex technologies and a dizzying assortment of raw materials from the far corners of the globe, which will not be available to village-scale workshops dependent on local economies.

The point that too rarely gets noticed is that the kind of information processing technology we have now isn’t necessarily the only way that the same principles can be put to work. I’ve fielded claims here several times that mechanical computers capable of tolerably complex calculations can be made of such simple materials as plywood disks; I have yet to see a working example, but I’m open to the possibility that something of the sort could be done.

Polycarpou comments, along the same lines, that people in a variety of countries these days are setting up parallel internets using rooftop wifi antennas, and he suggests that this is one direction in which a future internet might run, at least in the short term. He’s almost certainly right, provided that those last six words are kept in mind.

It’s vanishingly unlikely that anybody will be able to keep manufacturing the necessary hardware for wifi systems through the twilight years of the industrial age, but while the hardware exists, it will certainly be used, and it might buy enough time for something else, something that can be locally manufactured from local resources, to be invented and deployed. My guess is that it’ll look much more like a ham radio message net than the internet as we currently know it, but that’s a question the future will have to settle.

The same point can be made—and has been made here more than once—about solar photovoltaic technology. Lose track of whole systems and it’s easy to claim, as Polycarpou does, that because solar cells have become less expensive recently, vast acreages of solar photovoltaic cells will surely bail us out of the consequences of fossil fuel depletion.

All you have to do is forget that the drop in PV cell costs has much less to do with the production and resource costs of the technology than with China’s familiar practice of undercutting its competitors to seize control of export markets, and pay no attention at all to the complex and finicky technical basis for modern PV cell manufacture or the sheer scale of the supply chains needed to keep chip plants stocked with raw materials, spare parts, solvents, and all the other requirements of the manufacturing process.

Does this mean that solar PV power is useless? Not at all. Buy and install PV panels now, while Chinese trade policy and an inflated dollar make them cheap, and you’ll still have electricity coming out of them decades from now, when they will be hugely expensive if they can be purchased at all.

Anyone who’s actually lived with a homescale PV system can tell you that the trickle of electricity you can get that way is no substitute for 120 volts of grid power from big central power plants, but once expectations nurtured by the grid get replaced by a less extravagant sense of how electricity ought to be used, that trickle of electricity can be put to many good uses.

Meanwhile, in the window of opportunity opened up by those solar panels, other ways of producing modest amounts of electricity by way of sunlight, wind, and other renewable sources can be tested and deployed. My guess is that thermoelectric generators heated by parabolic mirrors will turn out to be the wave of the future, keeping the shortwave radios, refrigerators, and closed-loop solar water heaters of the ecotechnic future supplied with power; still, that’s just a guess.

There are many ways to produce modest amounts of direct-current electricity with very simple technologies, and highly useful electrical and electronic equipment can readily be made with locally available materials and hand tools. The result won’t be anything you would expect to see in a high-tech geek future, granted, but it’s equally a far cry from the Middle Ages.

This last detail is the crucial point that Polycarpou grasps at the end of his essay, and his comment is important enough that it deserves quotation in full:

“Putting these and other elements together – hi-tech, distributed communications, distributed energy and manufacturing, local sustainable food systems, appropriate technology and tactical urbanism among others – sets the stage for a future that looks quite a bit different than the present one. One might describe it as a kind of postmodern pastiche that looks neither like the antiquated futurisms we once imagined nor an idyllic return to preindustrial peasant society.”

The future, in other words, is not going to be a linear extrapolation from the present—that’s the source of the “antiquated futurisms” he rightly criticizes—or a simple rehash of the past. The future is a foreign country, and things are different there.

That realization is the specter that haunts contemporary industrial society. For all our civilization’s vaunted openness to change, the only changes most people nowadays are willing to contemplate are those that take us further in the direction we’re already going.

We’ve got fast transportation today, so there has to be something even faster tomorrow—that’s basically the justification Elon Musk gave for the Hyperloop, his own venture into antiquated futurism; we’ve got the internet today, so we’ve got to have some kind of uber-internet tomorrow.

It’s a peculiar sort of blindness, and one that civilizations of the past don’t seem to have shared; as far as I know, for example, the designers of ancient Roman vomitoriums didn’t insist that their technology was the wave of the future, and claim that future societies would inevitably build bigger and better places to throw up after banquets. (Those of my readers who find this comparison questionable might want to take a closer look at internet content.)

The future is a foreign country, and people do things differently there. It’s hard to think of anything that flies so comprehensively in the face of today’s conventional wisdom, or contradicts so many of the unquestioned assumptions of our time; thus it’s not surprising that Polycarpou, in suggesting it, seems to think that he’s disagreeing with me.

Quite the contrary; there’s a reason why my most popular peak oil book is titled The Ecotechnic Future, rather than The Idyllic Peasant Future or some such twaddle. For that matter, I’m not at all sure that he realizes I would agree with his characterization of the near- to mid-range future as a “postmodern pastiche;” I’d suggest that the distributed communication will likely be much less high-tech than he thinks, and that hand tools and simple machinery will play a much larger role in the distributed manufacturing than 3D printers, but again, those are matters of detail.

It’s in the longer run, I suspect, that our visions of the future diverge most sharply. Technological pastiche and bricolage, the piecing together of jerry-rigged systems out of scraps of surviving equipment and lore, are common features of ages of decline; it’s as the decline nears bottom that the first steps get taken toward a new synthesis, one that inevitably rejects many of the legacy technologies of the past and begins working on its own distinct projects.

Vomitoriums weren’t the only familiar technology to land in history’s compost heap in the post-Roman dark ages; chariots dropped out of use, too, along with a great many more elements of everyday Roman life.

New values and new ideologies directed collective effort toward goals no Roman would have understood, and the harsh limits on resource availability in the radically relocalized post-Roman world also left their mark.

What often gets forgotten in reviewing the dark ages of the past is that they were not lapses into the past but gropings forward into an unknown future.

There was a dark age before the Roman world and a dark age after it; the two had plenty of parallels, some of them remarkably exact, but the technologies were not the same, and Greek and Roman innovations in information processing and storage—classical logic and philosophy, widespread literacy, and the use of parchment as a readily available and reusable writing medium—were preserved and transmitted in various forms, opening up possibilities in the post-Roman dark ages that were absent in the centuries that followed the fall of Mycenae.

In the same way, the deindustrial future ahead of us will not be a rehash of the past, any more than it will be a linear extrapolation of the present. I’ve suggested, for reasons I’ve covered in a good many previous posts here, that we face a Long Descent of one to three centuries followed by a dark age very broadly parallel to the ones that followed Rome, Mycenae, and so many other dead civilizations of the past.

That’s the normal result when catabolic collapse hits a society dependent on nonrenewable resources, but the way the process unfolds is powerfully shaped by contextual and historical factors, and no two passes through that process are identical.

That’s common enough in the universe of human experience. For example, it’s tolerably likely that you, dear reader, will have the experience of growing old, if you haven’t done so already. It’s likely that at least some of your grandparents did exactly the same thing—but the parallel doesn’t mean that growing old will somehow transport you back to their era, much less to their lifestyles.

Nor, I trust, would you be likely to believe somebody who claimed that getting old was by definition a matter of going back in time to your grandparents’ day and trading in your hybrid car for a Model T.

Some dimensions of growing old are hardwired into the experience itself—the wrinkles, the graying hair, and the slow buildup of physical dysfunctions with their inevitable end are among them. Other dimensions are up to you. In the same way, some of what happens when a civilization tips over in decline are reliable consequences of the mechanisms of catabolic collapse, or of the way those mechanisms interact with the ordinary workings of human collective psychology.

The stairstep rhythm of crisis, stabilization, partial recovery, and renewed crisis, the spiral of conflict between centralizing and decentralizing forces, which eventually ends in the latter’s triumph; the rise of warband culture in the no man’s land outside the increasingly baroque and ineffective frontier defenses—you could set your watch by these, if its hands tracked decades, centuries and millennia.

Other aspects of the process of decline and fall are far less predictable. The radical relocalization that’s standard in eras of contraction and collapse means, among other things, that dark ages aren’t evenly distributed in space or time, and the disintegration of large-scale systems means, among other things, that minor twists of fate and individual decisions very often have much more dramatic consequences in dark ages than they do when the settled habits of a mature civilization constrain the impact of single events.

Furthermore, the cultural, historical, and technological legacies of the former civilization always have a massive impact—it’s entirely possible, for example, that the dark age societies of deindustrial America will have such things as radio communication, solar water heaters, offroad bicycles, and ultralight aircraft—and so do the values and belief systems that reliably emerge as a civilization crashes slowly into ruin, and those who witness each stage of the process try to understand the experience and learn the lessons of its fall.

This is why I’ve spent most of the last year exploring the civil religion of progress, the core ideology of contemporary industrial society, and sketching out some of the ways it distorts our view of history and the future. There’s a pleasant irony in the way that Polycarpou ends his essay with the standard ritual invocation of progress, insisting that even though the future will be impoverished by our standards, it will still be better according to some other measure.

That sort of apologetic rhetoric will no doubt see plenty of use in the years ahead: as progress fails to happen on schedule, it’ll be tempting to keep on moving the goalposts so that the failure is a little less visible and the faithful can continue to believe.

Eventually, though, such exercises will be recognized as the charades they are. As the worship of progress loses its grip on the imagination of our age, we’ll see sweeping changes in what people value, what they want to accomplish, and thus inevitably what technologies they’ll find worth preserving or developing.

The court of Charlemagne could certainly have had vomitoriums if anyone had wanted them; the technical ability was there, but the values of the age had shifted away from anything that made vomitoriums make sense. In the same way, even if our descendants have the technical ability to produce something like today’s internet, it’s entirely possible that they’ll find other uses for those technologies, or simply shake their heads, wonder why anybody would ever have wanted something like that, and put resources available to them into some completely different project.

How that unfolds is a matter for the far future, and thus nothing we need to worry about now. As I wind up this sequence of posts, I want to talk instead about the roles that religion is likely to play in the near and middle future as the next round of catabolic collapse begins to bite. We’ll discuss that next week.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Reinventing Square Wheels 10/23/13


Soylent Brown

SUBHEAD: Yes the nightmare is has come alive. Eating real food is becoming an expensive recreational art form.

By Eliza Barclay on 30 October 2013 for NPR News -

Image above: A batch of Soylent powder mixed with water - just like mom used to make - if your mom were a robot creating a life-sustaining frothy nutrient slurry for her foster human offspring to consume. From Ars Technica article below.

Soylent [Noun] An undesirable, lackluster, and artificial foodstuff, as a substitute for real meat. The name comes from a combination of 'soy' and 'lentils'.

Back in April, we Rob Rhinehart's experiment concocting something that could give him all the nutrition and none of the hassle of food.

Rhinehart, you see, is a 25-year-old electrical engineer in San Francisco who'd grown exceedingly frustrated with the time and effort of purchasing, preparing and consuming food, not to mention the cleanup. When he went in search of a cheap, nutritious powdered food product he could whip up, he found nothing. So he decided to make one himself.

Last week, Rhinehart on his blog that he had raised $1.5 million in seed capital from several venture capital and angel investor firms in Silicon Valley, including Andreessen Horowitz and Initialized Capital, to scale up production of his product, called Soylent. He added that he'd gotten another $1.5 million in pre-orders.

Apparently, his off-the-wall idea has some legs.

We were among Rhinehart's skeptics, we'll admit. We weren't sure that a layperson could come up with a meal replacement product equivalent to a diverse diet of real food.

But in the months since he first announced his project, he's gotten a ton of feedback on his formulation. (Here's from someone who tried two weeks on Soylent.) And he's also discovered that there are a lot of people out there likely to buy it.

Among them are young singles like him who are working 60-plus hours a week and paying off student loans. In other words: people with no time or interest in cooking, and little disposable income for restaurants.

Since we last spoke, Rhinehart has adjusted his pitch a bit. Rather than calling Soylent an "ideal diet," he's calling it a healthier, convenient alternative to takeout and rice and beans — the food he used to subsist on, and the food he believes his target market consumes regretfully.

"I'm not demanding that anybody live on this exclusively," he says. "It's supposed to be an easy staple meal."

And as for the people who were shocked, even rankled, by Rhinehart's assertion that he knew what the human body needed, he's thrown them a bone.

He now has a team of advisers, including a doctor to help him get the nutrient ratios right: at the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University. One of the big changes he made was to the amount of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in the formulation.

Soylent's main ingredient is oat starch; the rest are industrial nutrients like calcium carbonate and magnesium gluconate. It's gluten-free, vegan and halal. "It's supposed to be something anyone can enjoy," Rhinehart says.

The product might still draw criticism for its lack of disease-fighting found in fresh fruits and vegetables. "I wanted to keep it to bare essential nutrients," says Rhinehart. "At this point, until we know more about phytonutrients, it's better to stick to strictly essentials."

Rhinehart has now been consuming Soylent for about 10 months. He says he makes two to four shakes a day, during the week. (His fridge contains only Soylent, water and beer, he claims.) On the weekend, he goes to restaurants with friends — what he calls recreational eating.

After a few months of Soylent, Rhinehart wrote that he felt better than he'd ever felt, physically and mentally. And today?

"Back then, I was coming off a terrible diet, but yeah, I still feel great," he says. "I still get blood tests, body metrics, and everything still looks good."

Come December, Soylent will begin shipping to everyone who has pre-ordered it. (The cost is about $65 for a week's supply of meals, or about $3 a meal.)

And Rhinehart will be moving from San Francisco to Los Angeles, where warehouse space is cheaper, he says. And will those famous LA tacos tempt him to give up Soylent during the week, we had to wonder?

"I like food, I really do," says Rhinehart. "There are just other things I find more interesting right now. Food is not nutrition to me, it's art. After I finish paying off my student loans I'll go to more art galleries and I'll eat more food."

Embrace the chalky weird sweetness
SUBHEAD: A tall glass of lukewarm Soylent can make for a queasy breakfast on day one.

By Lee Hutchison on 27 August 2013 for Ars Technica

I don't do well with following directions in the morning, and this particular morning I have a bunch of extra stuff to remember. I screw up immediately when I roll out of bed, stagger into the bathroom, and swallow my usual morning multivitamin. Only as I place the bottle back in the medicine cabinet do I see the yellow sticky-note on its side: "NO," it tells me.

It takes more than a sticky note to override a multidecade morning multivitamin habit, but if a 24-year-old engineer named Rob Rhinehart has done his chemistry correctly I won't actually need the little orange pill today. A bag of powder sitting on my kitchen counter will supply my body with every scrap of nutrition it needs. This is Soylent, day 1.

Day 1, 08:00: Weights and measures

With one cup of coffee down and with much less stagger in my walk, I'm back in the kitchen, facing a counter full of Soylent implements.
The first task involves math. One silver plastic pouch contains one day's worth of Soylent, which must be mixed with two liters of water. I've heard tales of previous Soylent versions clumping if not mixed thoroughly, so I want to use my awesome Blendtec blender (of "Will It Blend" fame) on the stuff to ensure homogeneity.

However, the blender only holds an approximate maximum of one liter of liquid. So, the math: I measure the Soylent pouch, remove half its dry weight, run that through the blender, pour the contents into the pitcher, and then blend the remaining Soylent.
Next to the five bags of Soylent are several small vials containing grapeseed oil and five fish oil capsules. The grapeseed oil containers get mixed into the day's batch of Soylent pre-blender and provide fats and stuff; the fish oil capsule gets swallowed separately.

There's probably a better way to go about this, but I've had a hard enough time finding a pitcher to hold the two liters of finished Soylent and I want to get on with the experiment—I'm burning with curiosity to try the stuff. I measure, scoop, blend, pour, and repeat.
Moments later, I've got a pitcher of about two liters of frothy beige liquid. Yes, frothy—it's got quite a bit of head on it. I poke at it with a whisk to see if I can maybe convince it to deflate a bit, but it's determined to stay bubbly. Attacking the stuff with the Blendtec probably wasn't the best plan.
The documentation says to chill before serving, but I didn't get to be the reviews editor of a major technology website by reading stupid directions. I measure out about a third of the pitcher's contents into a large cup and eagerly bring it to my lips for an introductory sip.

It's chalky. Even before I notice a taste, the mouthfeel blossoms and I smack my lips a few times as I swallow. It feels like a fine powder is coating the inside of my mouth—it invites a lot of lingual exploration to root out pockets of leftover sediment. The taste, when it comes, is oddly nondescript. It's a bit sweet, and the sweetness has a bit of an artificial note to it (the sweetness comes from maltodextrin, one of Soylent's carbohydrate sources).

The froth is definitely a factor in the mixture's mouthfeel too, and I have to sort of slurp through it. The room temperature mix isn't unpleasant, but it's not great, either. I take a second sip and again my mouth is coated in chalky suspended powder. After swallowing I still feel compelled to run my tongue around in my mouth and over my teeth to get the chalkiness to go away.

Behind the vague sweetness, there's not much of a taste—perhaps a bit yeasty or earthy. Soylent has a surprisingly long finish, too. The aftertaste hangs around for quite a bit of time, though it's not an awful aftertaste. Just a bit like vaguely sweet flour-y dough.

Soylent is just thick enough, and the suspended particles are just big enough, to encourage chewing. I sit and slowly chomp my way through the inaugural breakfast mug of the stuff. As I near the bottom, almost with alarming suddenness, I go from feeling fine to feeling very, very full.

The room temperature frothy stuff in my cup suddenly appears to be the very opposite of appealing, and I begin to think that consuming two-thirds of a liter of an untried food substitute on a morning stomach that's more used to a small bowl of oat bran was probably not the greatest plan.

Gamely, I power on and finish my cup. There are several minutes of unease while I tell my stomach that it needs to shut up and deal, and it threatens to violently give back what I've sent it. Eventually, I win, but the lesson has been learned. Tomorrow, I should maybe split that morning serving up into two—or several.

A minute later, the Soylent burps start. They're not terribly pleasant. They have an almost cloying sweetness to them. I down some water and try really hard to not notice.

Day 1, 11:30: Lunch part one

 I usually escape for lunch right as the clock hits 11:00am—Deputy Editor Nate Anderson has accused me of eating lunch like a senior citizen—but I'm still feeling very full from that morning's dose of Soylent as my normal lunchtime passes. By 11:30am, I figure I better take a stab at consuming some more. I've still got more than a liter of the stuff to pack away and it's not going to drink itself.

The Soylent has separated a bit in the fridge, stratifying into a beige layer, a clear layer, and a frothy mountainscape on top. I contemplate dumping it back into the blender to destratify it with extreme prejudice, but I don't want to aerate it further and make it foamier. Instead, I grab the whisk and beat on it for a few seconds to re-blend before gingerly pouring about half of the morning's breakfast-sized portion.
It's still very chalky. Not gritty—there's no feeling of sand or anything, just smooth powder rolling through my mouth. Fortunately, being chilled has drastically improved my perception of how it tastes. It's a lot easier to drink down now than it was in the morning, and I zip through the serving in a couple of minutes while I write.

It's probably too early to notice anything physical. Other than a bit of rumbling in my gut, I feel quite normal. The brief bout of nausea from breakfast is gone, and the second helping goes down nicely.

Day 1, 14:30: Second lunch

 This is about the time I'd push back from the computer and go hunting around in the kitchen for something to snack on, so I grab the pitcher, whisk away the layers, and consume the other half of my lunch. It's still all chalky earthy indistinct sweetness.

The Soylent burps from breakfast leveled themselves out after a short amount of time and weren't repeated after my first lunch. I feel okay with leaving the safety of the house (with its close bathroom), and I run some errands. While I'm out, I look at the folks around me, all living their pedestrian food-based lives. They don't know it, but I've got a little bit of the future in my tummy.

Day 1, 18:00: Prepping to run

There aren't that many feelings so far to report on. It's a bit after 18:00 as I write this, and in another hour I'll be headed out for a 5k run. I don't feel particularly energized, but I don't feel particularly un-energized, either.

At this point, I feel pretty much like I usually feel in the evening, with the exception that I'm totally not hungry—not even a twinge. Anyone thinking that there might be satiety problems with Soylent should stop worrying, because I don't feel the slightest urge to eat right now. I don't feel stuffed full of food or anything, either. There's just a lack of hunger.

Soylent founder Rob Rhinehart let me know that while there haven't been any complaints among beta testers of the violent explosive diarrhea that my coworkers are so desperately hoping I come down with, there have been reports of some gassiness as folks adapt to the change in intake. So far, this hasn't happened—I haven't been any more (or less) gassy today than normal.

The digestive end of things will come into sharper focus tomorrow after the Soylent has a full day to work its magic. So far, everything is status quo, except for some very excited gut noises about 30 minutes ago (unaccompanied by any feelings of imminent poop rocketry, fortunately).

I wanted to get this report up on the front page tonight before it gets too late, and so I'll leave you guys here for now. Tomorrow, I'll report on how well the Soylent-fueled run went, and whether or not a day of Soylent gives you terrifying Soylent nightmares. Stay tuned.

Jones Act damage to Hawaii

SOURCE: Ed Wagner (
SUBHEAD: US Jones Act’s impact on Hawaii’s economy versus commerce clause protections for all states.

By John S. Carroll on 30 October 2013 in Island Breath -

[Source's note: I have attached a copy of a Jones Act speech given by Honolulu Attorney John Carroll to the National Defense Transportation Association at the Pagoda Hotel October 30, 2013]

Image above: Matson's cotnatiner ship Maunalei on arrival in Honolulu Harbor. Taken from Aloha Tower Marketplace, Honolulu Harbor 4/22/11. From (

The fundamental purposes of the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution are, “ assure the unrestricted flow of commerce throughout the several states,” [282 NE2d 336], and “ assure to the commercial enterprises in every state substantial equality to access to a free national market,” [517 P2d 691], Further, the “...power granted is a positive power to legislate concerning transactions which, reaching across state boundaries, affect the people of more states than one, and to govern affairs which the individual states, with their limited territorial jurisdictions, are not fully capable of governing.” [322 US 533].

That language is very clear. You don’t need to be a lawyer or Constitutional scholar to understand that the Jones Act is in direct violation of, at least the spirit, if not the PRIMARY PURPOSE of the Commerce Clause of the U.S.Constitution . The Jones Act was passed into federal law in 1920, almost 40 years before Hawaii became a state.

That Act requires that for a ship to operate in interstate commerce, (between states), it must be built in America, owned by Americans, 75 percent manned by an American crew, and maintained and flagged in the United States. The net effect of the enforcement of the Jones Act on the State of Hawaii’s population has been wide-ranging. Examples:

The expense of agricultural production became prohibitive, not only because of the inbound shipping cost of fertilizers, herbicides, and farm implements but also due to the outbound shipping costs for our locally grown fruits, livestock and ornamental plants. Agriculture is no longer a viable component of this State’s economy.

Mothers in Hawaii pay up to $9.00 a gallon for fresh milk that is at best seven days old. No one I know of has analyzed the amount of preservative chemicals being injected into milk in order to keep it on the shelf for several weeks. There is almost no fresh milk being produced in Hawaii. Fresh poultry products have suffered the same fate. Our families are paying dearly for products that are at the end of normal shelf life by the time they become available for sale.

Every aspect of construction and commerce is similarly effected. Construction materials, lumber, paints and coatings, fixtures, and appliances all come at premium prices because of the Jones Act restrictions.

Hawaii Island cattle ranchers are faced with an intolerable situation. They transport their cattle from Kawaihae to Vancouver, B.C. on the Canadian-owned Corral Lines. Just to remain profitable, the cattle must be trucked across the border into the U.S. after which they have to be fattened to be sold. Some are flown in on 747 cargo planes at great cost to the ranchers. Hawaii is the only State in the United States that is completely free of “Mad Cow” disease. It is the safest, best-quality beef in America.

We could be in the midst of a beef-exporting boom to North America and Asia if only our ranchers could bring in the feed and ship the beef at competitive international rates. This isn’t just about beef, or mangoes, or pineapples, or coffee, my friends.

This is a story of good jobs lost, a State economy with no solid, economically viable component which could foster Hawaii’s total independence as a food producing center of the world. Our Beef, Pork, Poultry, Taro, Lilikoi, Mangoes, Pineapple and Papaya, organically produced, can command top prices on worldwide markets.

Since the Jones Act was passed in 1920, a monopolistic control of shipping in and out of the State of
Hawaii, has been entrenched. It effectively eliminates the cost reducing benefits of competition.

By comparison, the tiny islands of Singapore and Hong Kong, which do not have similar trade restrictions and with less than 1/20th the land mass of Hawaii, enjoy a combined Gross Domestic Product in excess of 200 billion U.S. dollars per year. That is over 300% times greater than Hawai`i’s GDP of sixty four billion U.S. dollars per year. This is an absurdity in terms of economic viability.

Our members in the US Congress, including former Representative Abercrombie, have stood together to keep the Jones Act in force despite its clearly devastating impact on our State’s economy.

None of our current Congressional Members, Senators Hirono and Schatz, Congressman Hanabusa and Gabbard, Governors Lingle and Abercrombie have so much as mentioned these shipping restrictions.

No leader in either party other than Charles Dejou and Ed Case have so much
as questioned the constitutionality of the imposition of these restrictions on this single state which has not one connecting highway, rail road or pipeline to any other state. “Equal access to interstate commerce”????

I don’t think so.

The elimination of these shipping restrictions must be a front burner issue in both the Gubernatorial and the Congressional races. The potential positive impact of reforming and eventually repealing the Jones Act is crystal clear. Products not only from Asia but from all over the globe travel thousands of extra nautical miles before they arrive in Hawaii. They are first shipped to a western state in the Continental US and then transferred to a Jones Act approved shipping line. We pay for all those extra miles of travel.

To make it worse, there are only two such lines that serve Hawaii, Matson and Horizon. They keep our shipping rates the highest in the world, far exceeding the cost of the extra miles and fuel. For example, companies shipping solid

waste out of our state to Asia to be made into recycled paper, plastic, and metals pay four times the per mile rate charged to mainland companies in the same business. This is a critical economic activity in Hawaii because of our lack of landfill space. How can Hawaii companies in this business survive and make a profit when they are charged four times as much for shipping the same materials?

An even more critical example of the negative effect of the Jones Act is butane. Butane is a gas that is essential to the operation of all of our hospitals and hotels. Most of the cooking and water heating in institutional-sized venues is done with butane. A reliable, affordable supply of butane is critical to the day-to-day functioning of our economy.

There is cheap butane available in California, but Hawaii operates on more expensive butane that is produced here in Hawaii or in Indonesia. Some butane comes into Honolulu on board Indonesian ships. Why would a business buy a commodity at a higher price that comes from farther away?

The reason for that is that there are NO, nada, none... American Jones Act-qualified ships that can carry bulk The Star Advertiser published the results of a poll showing that 82% of its readers favored either elimination or major modification of the Jones Act shipping prohibitions as they affect Hawaii.

This was following the filing of the Patrick Novak law suit against the US Government to eliminate Jones Act restrictions on Hawaii. That poll was an excellent effort with an excellent result as far as accuracy is concerned. Unfortunately, far too few voting citizens are aware of the impact of these restrictions.

Mike Hansen of the Shippers Council has spoken regarding the use of non Jones Act qualified vessels being utilized by the US Government, particularly the Department of Defense. America’s Shippers cannot use foreign built ships which puts them at a competitive disadvantage with foreign shippers who do not need to operate in interstate commerce.

A waiver of the so called “build” requirement could enhance American Shippers competitive position in international ship borne commerce. Given that the US Government has granted itself an exemption it would seem only fair to allow shippers the same advantage.

The purpose of the cabotage restrictions of the Act was to protect the US Merchant Fleet for National Defense purposes and the fact is that has failed,

ALL cabotage restrictions should be eliminated to allow the full, unfettered flow of international commerce to begin for Hawaii and the rest of our Country.

APEC proponents exalted “FREE TRADE” when it was held here in this State where foreign vessels are effectively excluded because of the interstate prohibitions.


Abercrombie caves on Shawn Smith

SORCE: Hope Kallai (
SUBHEAD: There was significant public concern over Smith being nominated to the BLNR because of his favorable ties to development.

By Nathan Eagle on 30 October 2013 for Civil Beat -

[IB Publisher's note:This is another win for Kauai. Perhaps Abercrombie is beginning to hear the voice of Kauai.]

Image above: The Senate Water and Land Committee meets, 30 October 2013. From original article.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has withdrawn his appointment of Kauai developer Shawn Smith to the state Board of Land and Natural Resources.

Sen. Malama Solomon made the announcement at the beginning of a Senate Water and Land Committee hearing Wednesday.

William Aila, chair of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, said after the meeting that Smith withdrew himself midday Wednesday. When asked why, he said Smith “referred to the process as being challenging.”

Smith is the general manager of the Kauai real estate company Falko Partners. His company is in the process of selling 357 acres in Kilauea for $70 million.

Despite its ag zoning, the property is being developed as a luxury housing subdivision.

It’s common practice in Hawaii to build subdivisions on ag land due to loopholes in state land use laws. People can plant a few mango trees, for instance, and call the home a “farm dwelling.”

Still, there was significant public concern over Smith being nominated to the BLNR because of his favorable ties to development. Abercrombie defended the nomination, which Aila said took a year to come to this point.

The decision to withdraw the nomination restarts the search process, although the governor has the option of appointing an interim board member.

Shawn Smith nomination criticized

SUBHEAD:  Nominee to Board of Land and Natural Resources draws criticism on development,

By Anita Hofschneifer on 28 October 2013 for Civil beat -

Image above: Plan of  Kahuaina Plantation Subdivision promoted on Agricultural Land on Kaai by Shawn Smith. From original article.

Neil Abercrombie asks lawmakers to confirm dozens of appointees to state boards and committees during the special session this week, he's facing resistance over a nomination to replace a member of the state Board of Land and Natural Resources, which votes on land leases and new rules governing natural resources.

Some county and state officials worry that appointing Shawn Smith, who is the general manager of the Kauai real estate company Falko Partners, would send the wrong message about land use in Hawaii.

The criticism centers around Kahuaina Plantation, a 357-acre stretch of land on Kauai that Falko Partners is in the process of selling for $70 million. The beachfront property is zoned for agriculture, but the company is marketing it as a luxury housing subdivision.

Marketing materials for the property boast of the potential for 80 exclusive homes along a secluded coastline with a clubhouse and other amenities.

Critics of the project say it’s yet another example of how agricultural land is being depleted in Hawaii in favor of homes for the wealthy.

State law says that land zoned for agriculture may have “farm dwellings” — defined as “a single-family dwelling located on and used in connection with a farm." Clusters of single-family farm dwellings are permitted "within agricultural parks developed by the State, or where agricultural activity provides income to the family occupying the dwelling.”

Opponents of the project say that the proposed homes don’t quite make the cut.

“[Appointing Smith] is sending such a strong message to the counties that it’s okay for you to be approving luxury home subdivisions on agricultural land,” said Sen. Laura Thielen, a Democrat from Kailua. “And under the law, it’s not okay.”

The governor defended his decision on Monday to nominate Smith.

"The real estate experience and knowledge Mr. Smith has acquired as general manager of Falko Partners will add a practical perspective to the issues that regularly come before the Board," Abercrombie said in a statement. He noted that Smith has been serving as an interim member since June and that large landowners and their employees have served well on the board in the past.

Smith said it took his company from 2004 until 2010 to gain approval for Kahuaina Plantation from the Kauai County Planning Commission.

“Everything was done right to the letter of the law and it took a lot of money to do it right,” Smith said.

He doesn’t expect the development project to come before the state Board of Land and Natural Resources, but said he would recuse himself from any decision if it did.

The Kahuaina Plantation includes a 17-acre organic farm, a nursery and an albatross sanctuary, Smith said. But, he added, the soil on the rest of the property isn’t rated well for farming.

Kauai Councilman Gary Hooser described the property as having only “token agriculture.”

“It’s not really for farms, it’s for luxury homes,” he said. “There’s no question at all that this project violated the spirit, principle and intent of the state constitution.”

Hawaii’s constitution requires the state to “conserve and protect agricultural lands, promote diversified agriculture, increase agricultural self-sufficiency and assure the availability of agriculturally suitable lands.”

Dee Crowell, Kauai County’s deputy planning director, said it’s not unusual for the county to approve subdivisions on agricultural land, and that the Kahuaina Plantation property followed the law.

“Subdivisions are pretty cut and dry: you meet the requirements, you get the approval,” Crowell explained.

“If they don’t like the law, they should change it," he said. "They're the lawmakers."


Happy Halloween

SUBHEAD: In this short video, one can see how people get frightened when death literally hovers over them.

By Jaskiran Kaur on 30 October 2013 for IB Times -

Image above: Still frame from video below of joggers approached from behind by the Grim Reaper. 

Halloween spirit is catching up fast. People are getting into the mood and prepping up for the big day. From costumes, to food, to party setup, to decors, to pranks and tricks, there is a lot to do on this day. But Tom Mabe seems all prepped up for his Halloween trick. Watch the best Halloween prank in a viral video where a flying grim reaper scares joggers in a park.

Tom Mabe is the prankster who posted the video on 23 October, 2013 on his YouTube page with his elaborate Halloween prank terrifying the people in a park in Louisville, Kentucky. In the 2-minute 14-second video, one can see how people get frightened when death literally hovers over them.

Video above: From (

The flying grim reaper, the new prank object of the 44-year-old comedian, has been successfully implemented with some technology in terrifying people. Tom created the flying grim reaper with a remote control to make it fly around the park. The reaper also has wings and flowing eyes that make it look more real as it flies around.

"We have had a lot of fun making this. It's taken some work to make it happen, but it's great fun. It flies with the help of a remote control helicopter but you rig it up in a really brilliant way. It has to be quiet so people don't hear it," explains Tom Mabe.

Tom had his horrifying puppet chase after the unsuspecting runners in the park, who, after looking at their stalker, ran for their lives.Tom confessed that he plans to take his new prank toy out onto the streets on Halloween. Be careful Kentucky people!

"We're going to take it to a street where there are always lots of trick-or-treaters and are going to set a camera up from inside the Reaper's face to capture the children's reactions. I have always wanted to do this, it's such a laugh," says Tom Mabe.

He says that it's much more fun when they sneak up people after flying it at about 200 ft in the air and then suddenly dropping it down so that it is right behind people.

He has also reported that he got the idea of a flying grim reaper from his previous video in which he used a motorized skunk to chase people down. This time he wanted to tie a ghost to a hovering contraption.

The video by now has been viewed more 2,600,000 times.

His flying grim reaper prank is hands down the best Halloween prank of 2013. So, take inspiration from the viral video of this prank and get into something spooky as Halloween approaches fast.


Japan OKs Unit 4 fuel removal

SUBHEAD: To make room for the Unit 4 fuel rods, Tepco has been moving rods in the Common Pool to safer storage offsite.

By Mari Yamaguchi on 30 October 2013 for Associated Press -

[IB Publisher's note: The risk to the world has not been reduced. This attempt at removing fuel from Unit #4 cooling pool is fraught with danger, but there appears to be little else that can be done at this juncture to decommission the Fukushima Daiichi site. We had hoped all transportable nuclear material would have been removed from the site before defueing #4. This is a pivotal moment in the nuclear power industry. One way or another it should end the dream of "free and endless" energy from the atom.]

Image above: Aerial photo of cover for fuel removal equipment at Fukushima Daiichi Unit #4.  From ( Note this source is in French and has been translated. The report is a detailed description of engineering of fuel rod removal procedure and expectations.

Japanese regulators on Wednesday formally approved the removal of fuel rods from an uncontained cooling pool at a damaged reactor building considered the highest risk at a crippled nuclear plant.

Removing the fuel rods from the Unit 4 cooling pool is the first major step in a decommissioning process that is expected to last decades at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, where three reactors melted down after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority said at its weekly meeting that the proposal by the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., is appropriate and that the removal can start in November as planned, following an on-site inspection by regulators. Japanese public broadcaster NHK said the removal would start as early as Nov. 8, but TEPCO said it may not announce the date in advance, citing security reasons.

"It's a major step toward decommissioning," said Toyoshi Fuketa, one of the authority's five commissioners. "Moving the fuel rods out of Unit 4 can significantly reduce the risk at the plant."

The Unit 4 reactor was offline when the plant was hit by the disasters, but the building was damaged by hydrogen explosions and fire. Fuel rods in the pool, however, have since been properly cooled and are safe enough to remove, officials said.

TEPCO has reinforced the structure around the pool and says the Unit 4 building can survive a major earthquake, but the unenclosed pool on the unit's top floor, which contains 1,533 fuel rods, has caused international concern. About 200 of the rods that are unused and safer are expected to be the first to be removed.

The Unit 4 cooling pool has attracted international attention in part because early in the crisis it was suspected to have dried up, when in fact there was enough water to cover the rods, keeping them from melting. TEPCO last year plucked two unused fuel rod units out of the pool and said no major corrosion or damage was found in them.

Image above: Cross section diagram of Unit #4 and nuclear defueling structure. It is approximately 17 stories tall with a 30' deep concrete foundation.

Nuclear regulatory chairman Shunichi Tanaka, however, warned that removing the fuel rods from Unit 4 would be difficult because of the risk posed by debris that fell into the pool during the explosions.

"It's a totally different operation than removing normal fuel rods from a spent fuel pool," Tanaka said at a regular news conference. "They need to be handled extremely carefully and closely monitored. You should never rush or force them out, or they may break."

He said it would be a disaster if fuel rods are pulled forcibly and are damaged or break open when dropped from the pool, located about 30 meters (100 feet) above ground, releasing highly radioactive material. "I'm much more worried about this than contaminated water," Tanaka said.

TEPCO has prepared a massive steel structure that comes with a remote-controlled crane to remove the fuel rods, which will be placed into a protective cask and transferred to a joint cooling pool inside a nearby building. To make room for the Unit 4 fuel rods, the company has been moving those already in the joint pool to safer storage in dry casks at a separate plant location.

The utility plans to empty the Unit 4 pool by end of 2014, and remove fuel rods from other pools at three other wrecked reactors over several years before digging into their melted cores around 2020.

The Fukushima plant has had a series of mishaps in recent months, including radioactive contaminated water leaks from storage tanks, adding to concerns about TEPCO's ability to safely close down the plant.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Remove Fuel Rods from Fukushima 10/19/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima and poisoned fish 10/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fuel Danger at Fukushima 9/26/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Dear Ban Ki Moon - About Fukushima 9/23/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Reactor #4 Spent Fuel Pool 9/16/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima is Not Going Away  9/9/13
Ea O Ka Aina: X-Men like Ice Wall for Fukushima  9/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima out of control 9/2/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radioactive Dust 8/20/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Apocalypse  8/21/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima House of Horrors  8/21/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima radiation coverup 8/12/13
Ea O Ka Aina: G20 Agenda Item #1 - Fix Fukushima  8/7/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Leakage at Fukushima an emergency 8/5/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Burns on and On 7/26/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Unit 4 Danger  7/22/13
Ea O Ka Aina: What the Fukashima? 7/24/13
Ea O Ka Aina: What the Fukushima? 7/11/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Spiking 7/12/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Nuclear Power on the Run 7/18/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Techno-optiminst & Nuke Flack views 7/26/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima & Hypothyroid in Hawaii 4/1/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Fallout  9/14/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima worse than Chernobyl  4/24/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan condemns Fukushima children 3/8/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima fights chain reaction 2/7/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima dangers continue  12/4/11
Ea O Ka Aina: The Non Battle for Fukushima 11/10/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Debris near Midway 10/13/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Deadly Radiation at Fukushima 8/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radiation Danger 7/10/11
Ea O Ka Aina: New Fukushima data discomforting 6/7/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima #2 & #3 meltdown 5/17/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima sustained chain reaction 5/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Chernobyl & Fukushima 4/26/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Ocean Radioactivity in Fukushima 4/16/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima No Go Zone Expanding  4/11/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Abandoned 4/8/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Poisons Fish 4/6/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Leak goes Unplugged 4/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima reactors reach criticality 3/31/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Non-Containment 3/30/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Water Blessing & Curse 3/28/11