Hello feasta friends,

I am here because I was introduced by Peter Challen, who indicated that your forum supports the concept of Contract and Converge (C&C). As a Christian I am looking for the natural abundance that was promised to those who "seek the Kingdom of God". That is the idea that if we were more tuned in to the power of creation and living in harmony that there would more that "enough" for everyone's needs (not their greed) - all my life this has been my goal. I am an inventor and I now dedicate my inventions and time to building an Open Source community called Sola Roof. We also have a Yahoo Forum.

About a year ago we started to collaborate on a Wiki and this internet environment is still evolving and improving. At Sola Roof we are establishing a knowledge base for DIY solar buildings that are "living structures" which are a concept for homes and communities and can be applied to all kinds of building use. Essentially, we are a grass roots, global support community for encouaging our "members" to build Sola Roof projects. Several are now operating and a dozen are in stages of planning and experimental development. The systems are low tech and modular so that there is a great diversity of approaches to building these projects.

Mostly, people have built solar greenhouse structures - but human habitats are quite feasible. I now have a project for Post Tsunami Visions, which will build multi family Arcology projects that combine Architecture and Ecology. Called Eco Sphere, this holistic shelter system can be built on a Village scale or as a smaller Eco Villa? and even portable Eco Cottage? concepts are possible for nomadic lifestyles. These living structures efficiently use all solar energy entering the structure though the transparent Building Envelope - they are a foundation for a new Eco Living lifestyle that is self reliant and sustainable.

We seek to shift the "Green" paradigm to the "Blue Green". Environmentalists would do no harm to nature and put first priority on the restoration of the natural environment and planetary ecology. Blue Green would go further by using advance technology that will mimic nature by establishing controlled ecological life support systems within our living structures. Our first priority is people and their habitat - not a focus on the natural environment but rather in a "hypernatural" capacity to produce food, fiber, feed, water, nutients and energy that the family needs - and even a capacity to produce surpluses. There are many breakthroughs in design, science and technology that are part of this package. It is not a result of linear thinking.

The reality of the Sola Roof approach is that the concept of C&C can be rethought in view of the fact that a new future is within reach that is based on abundant renewable resources becoming accessible and affordable for all. In particular the "end of oil" theme is fixated on a discussion of the depletion of Fossil Fuel resources and if we cannot find a vision to look beyond this issue then the future will seem overwhelmingly bleak and disasterous - and since your discussion seem to be locked into various statements of the problem (I do agree with the seriousness of the problems) so I would especially like to share some thoughts on Sola Roof solutions.

Those that want to ultimately discredit Biomass energy will focus attention on Conventional Biomass Crops, which could never supply the world's existing and growing demand for energy. Forestry crops for wood energy have the very lowest energy supply potential and only non sustainable clear cutting and mono crop tree plantations can increase the rate of supply - but only to a limited extent since both forestry and agricultural crops (for methanol or ethanol) are very detrimental to the planetary ecology and biodiversity and are also dependent on non renewable petrochemical resources. The only other alternative for solar energy that is seriously considered today is PV. PV has a high financial cost, which is primarily the cost of embodied energy. The proposal for PV energy systems is not in my view an appropriate energy technology for communities that are poor. I would not even suggest that rich communities should invest in PV at this stage. PV, like nuclear, removes no CO 2 from the atmosphere and produces electrical energy, which adds the complexity and cost of electrical energy storage systems and delivery systems (like hydrogen or grid distribution) and the attendant utility cost and distribution losses. If the PV industry (now owned by big oil) wants market share they should do something to bring down the supply cost.

That is where the discussion usually stops. However the real opportunity for a practical low cost and safe liquid fuel is rarely mentioned - but that future Bio Fuel is Bio Diesel. This is the path to an alternative Hydrocarbon Economy rather than a Hydrogen Economy - a realistic plan based on a truly massive production of low cost carbohydrate liquid fuel derived from Vegetable Oil, which is possible without any burden of investing in expensive new distribution - and the Bio Fuel will run hundreds of millions of existing diesel engines. The palm tree is the most productive vegetable oil producer of any land based plant - producing over a ton of oil per acre - while various seed and nut crops produce a thousand pounds per acre per year or less. In their projections, almost never do the doomsayer (LifeAfterTheOilCrash) energy experts consider the high productivity of our Biomass Production that could be harvested from urban roof areas - one of the Blue Green energy solutions.

Michael Briggs, University of New Hampshire, Physics Department states: Enough biodiesel to replace all petroleum transportation fuels could be grown in 15,000 square miles, or roughly 12.5 percent of the area of the Sonora desert (note for clarification - I am not advocating putting 15,000 square miles of algae ponds in the Sonora desert. This hypothetical example is used strictly for the purpose of showing the scale of land required). That 15,000 square miles works out to roughly 9.5 million acres - far less than the 450 million acres currently used for crop farming in the US, and the over 500 million acres used as grazing land for farm animals [only 3% of the 2.3 billion acres within the US, or 66 million acres, is categorized as urban land].

Since the atmosphere within the cavity space of the transparent Building Envelope of a Sola Roof structure - where the algae are grown - is a closed, controlled atmosphere that is CO 2 enriched, then we can produce greater and more reliable results than the open pond culture that has been used successfully.

The universal application of our urban or village based Mass Algae Culture system, which utilizes "Phytotechnology" - including photosynthesis for energy and food and transpiration for pure water production - would provide an energy, food, fiber, and water production system that would make the necessities of life abundant and restore a clean environment that supports life to the full. Stress reduction and well-being will be the result of such self reliant living - sustainable for generations and able to correct the Global Warming problem and limit the crisis (Dangerous Climate Change) that are inevitable unless we succeed with the stabilization of the level of CO 2 in the atmosphere.

Bucky Fuller predicted that we could become "universally successful" and in that case it is possible to "make poverty history" - perhaps in the future the only poor who may always be with us are those who are "the poor in spirit" - there is no telling if that might have been the intend of the words of Christ. I hope that you find this an uplifting Easter message.

Blessings, Rick Comments are welcome at my wiki Log:

Emer O'Siochru wrote:

Yes, in the historic past it was largely true. But differences from the past are now significant- military might and the atomic bomb did not save North Koreans from starvation. Education is widespread compared to the past even if not yet universal. Communication systems are ubiquitous in the countries with the greatest capacity to wreak damage. Women are significant players too - and let me tell you that there is no going back. We won't let the worst happen to our children and grandchildren. Our first task is to make sure that the beta males do not prepare a fertile, despairing ground for an alpha male takeover.

It is the old Hobbes versus Kant argument; force versus reason; US versus EU approach. My money is on the EU. Flawed and all as it is, it is a beacon of hope. And this comes form someone who voted against every EU treaty and will do so again shortly, by the looks of it.

Another way to look at is what shapes the future:- predestination (human genes) or human agency (human memes)?.

This divides culturally into the Protestant versus Catholic mindset. My background is Irish lapsed Catholic so you can see where I am coming from. Check out the writings of Jesuit and paleontologist, Tielhard de Chardin for a positive concept of human destiny or Arthur M Young for a radical view of evolution.

28 March 2005

04:10 by Lucas Gonzalez
Rick - it would be great to have an "algae only" prototype somewhere. This looks like a very urban thing to me: closed thing, medium tech, high science, no odour. Thing is, people may want the full kit, estearification included, and also ways to use that biodiesel if they can't use it for their normal non-diesel cars. People in cold climates may save biodiesel for winter ... hmm.