I have been enjoying a new yahoo forum:
This group is Integrated Farming - Waste Management Systems
Founded by Dr. George Chan, who works with ZERI

Below is a message that I sent today that I would like to share more widely here. I am interested to have some discussion here for those who are not on this forum or prefer the wiki format.

Hi George, Bren and Nirmala,

This is a really long and in depth feedback that addresses some thoughtfull questions and I cannot see how to reply and have any chance to be understood by just writing a few paragraphs. I am mostly concerned about how we become self reliant. How will it look at the grass roots level? We get the global information and it looks impossible to deal with - for example:

"Forecasts in the 1970s said that world oil production would peak in 1989 at 65 million barrels a day and would decline by 2004 to 36 million barrels a day. In reality, global output was 83 million barrels per day last year and is still growing."

My goal would be to enable everyone in the whole world to be independent of fossil fuel and our generation can do this and leave the world in the best of condtion for our children. My purpose is to explain exactly how we can take action to transform our lives and change the world by focusing on our built environment and showing that, together, we can build a sustainable future.

First some thoughts about the if-wms forum: I recommend that we be inclusive in this forum. That it would be okay to have multiple conversations and cover a wide spectrum of if-wms users in poor and wealthy communities; that both the well connected and the very isolated users would be welcome to speak of their special challenges and needs to adapt versions of the technology that are appropriate for their circumstances. That way we can all learn from each other.

Everyone is looking for simplicity and control over technology. Nobody is satisfied to be isolated or moving backward or to see others moving ahead so that they are left behind. We need to close gaps and look for convergence as well as conservation. We should not feel that there is some "romantic" advantage to living in "backward" places. There are actual advantages to voluntary simplicity in our lives but that still includes the desire to have a better life and a greater chance for our children to do well and prosper.

Therefore, can we have conversations about what we can do about conditions of extreme poverty and also about how the well off in the industrial world can adapt and adopt if-wms. Not all of us in these countries are stupidly satisfied with our role as the primary polluters and destroyers of the world's ecology. But we have more to unlearn, to clean up our act and STOP doing the wrong things with technology. Also, it is easier to confront this burden of awareness and obligation to act when there are clear steps to take to move away from error and get on a path to sustainable living.

So, we can all do our part starting from the place we are in now. For example, if-wms is not adapted to urban use - but most of the world is now, or will be soon urban. This is why solaroof can have a role. Others say about solaroof that is has been successful in applications to greenhouses but is not proven for human habitation or that it has been used in the north temperate climate but not in the tropics. Well that can change. We all can see how these wonderful concepts can be used to improve our lives whether we are urban or rural, north or south, and no mater what our standard of living. None are 100% to an ecoliving lifestyle now - we are on the learning curve together. Everyone can be a pioneer for sustainable living by trying to apply sustainable technology to their way of life and livelihood. Then we will have diverse solutions that will engage with all communities. That will be the key to SAVE THE PLANET and ourselves.

geolchan at intnet dot mu wrote:

Hi Nirmala,

Thank you very much for reminding us NOT to go astray as we move along the TECHNOLOGY road.

All the best. George

We have a love/hate relationship with technology. When technology feels out of control and harmful then it is time to get a grip on our lives and take back control - this is why Sola Roof is focused on DIY and opensource accessibility. Our lifestyles (as we now function in the economy as consumers) are manipulated by large corporate suppliers. Then the answer to have freedom is to produce the essentials ourselves; water, food, energy - the things we consume every day. If we do that we would regain freedom and create true wealth and self reliance in our homes and communities. Then we will live in a world of renewable abundance and conflicts over non renewable resources will be unfounded.

geolchan at intnet dot mu wrote: Bren,

I am not quite sure what the cooling purposes are for, as I have not followed the solar roof issues fully. For a tropical place like Suriname, the greenhouse is not required for temperature control. The only reason we need it is to keep the pests away without having to use polluting chemicals. However, companion planting and wide biodiversity have succeeded in limiting the pest damage to a minimum.

I would not like to be homeless in the tropics. Shelter is just as necessary as anywhere else in the world for maximum productivity of people, plants and livestock. An once you have a roof for shelter, then you certainly need cooling. All creatures and plants need comfort to be truly productive and reach their potential - so we produce shelter from sun and rain and find that our shelter is too hot mid day to remain inside. The Malaysian government has recognized a syndrome call "heat zombie effect", which is universal in the some 4 million low cost housing units that they have built in the past couple of decades. For about four months of the year, researchers found that even the night temperature would not be less than 30C within these homes. The result is sleep deprivation and this results in depression, low productivity and accidents. So the temperature outdoors may be "fine" but the climate under shelter is not. Dubai or Los Veges would not exist without air conditioning. Cooling, heating and lighting of buildings accounts for the majority of GHG produced and is the primary cause of global warming.

Greenhouses overheat quickly since there is no insulation and all the sun's energy enters the transparent structure. So we can make a shelter from rain and pests and keep out weeds and keep CO 2? inside - but unfortunately a conventional greenhouse will overheat and kill the plants if we do not use ventilation. However, ventilation is not necessary and overheating will not happen with the Sola Roof greenhouse because it is water (liquid) cooled. This is effective at about 2% of the normal air conditioning practices - so it uses less energy than ventilation but the energy is not spent on fan operation but is used to run pumps. This is the solution for the vast majority of situations - even in the tropics where we still have accessible cold water in coastal areas where ocean, lake, river, man-made ponds and ground water is available.

If a cool water heat sink is not available, then we will use a water reservoir that is chilled as and when it is necessary to "reject" thermal energy. The best mechanism is evaporation of some of the water in the reservoir. Sola Roof does this in the "cavity space" of the building envelope (between the interior and exterior skins) where the liquid cooling process has established a thin film of water that is distributed within the cavity space of the entire roof area. If the temperature of this thin film of water is too high to be effective for cooling the interior skin to the desired "due point" temperature then we use the fans that operate the bubble generators to establish a fast moving flow of air over the thin liquid film. This causes a chilling effect by increasing evaporation from the thin film and so it returns to the reservoir more chill than the supply temperature. This evaporative chilling takes place in the building envelope, while conventional evaporative cooling directly cools air entering the greenhouse. These conventional system therefore increase the Rh of the air within the living and growing space and often result in an environment that is too humid and so is still not comfortable or productive. But the Sola Roof process chills the temperature within the building indirectly and therefore condenses plant transpiraton and brings the Rh of the controlled environment space down and makes the space cooler and less humid and so more productive and comfortable.

There is no doubt that evaporation is the mechanism to handle the large cooling requirement. In the Sola Roof process we are condensing transpired moisture given off by the living leaf canopy, which has a cool temperature and is not like any "dead" materials that can be used for shading. The dead systems rely on sensible energy transfer and these systems only begin to reject energy when the get hot (common sense?) but the leaf canopy is the only mechanism that can reject the thermal energy and remain cool. Think of walking in bare feet on grass versus pavement. However, solaroof is not a sod roof - it is a leaf canopy under a water cooled roof and so we have the advantage of keeping the transpired moisture within the structure and therefore we can collect and use the condensate for pure water to satisfy human consumption and use. An area that will grow enough food for on person will produce all the water needs for 5 people. In the tropics 100 M2 solaroof would provide food for three adults or two adults and two children but would produce a cubic meter of pure water per day. A north temperate zone solaroof would produce nearly as much food per day during the mid winter but only about half the amount of pure water.

In a controlled environment we can plant and harvest continuously in all seasons and weather and not be so disturbed by climate change. Homes that are cooled will not be so affected by disease and tropical pest problems because the mosqitoes will not be active within a home that is warm in the day but cool at night. We can live and work under the shelter of a cool leaf canopy. The liquid cooling and a living leaf canopy is typical of the Blue Green? solution. It is based on nature but it is a Hyper Natural? system. This is the natural process amplified by human knowledge and by our tools - that is good technology. Nature has many possible variations but it selects the for the well being of the whole ecology - this is what we need to learn to do. Thermonuclear reactions are at a save distance - it exists and has its place but it is dangerous to our planet. In nature fire is dangerous and destructive an is not a normal event - but humans are facinated with the power that is released. But the nature of the thing is still destructive. We should not be combusting hydrocarbons. Proteins and plastics have similar structure - plants synthesize hydrocarbons and humans produce synthetic hydrocarbons - this is the constructive use of hydrocarbons.

Making better tools for living is our nature. What is wrong with plastics, steel and aluminum? Once created, these materials last forever, if we do not waste them. Aluminum has an energy content - so does wood. We can make natural energy that is GHG nutral - so if we transform this into aluminum that can be used for generations and save being a burden to the ecology - is that not good? Silica is about 80% of the earth's crust and bauxite (the ore we make aluminum from) is 12% - dare I use the word "infinitely" greater than our needs. We are so fixated on the finite non renewable resources that we no longer see nature as infinite in relation to humanity. Well I would like to balance that to say that nature is infinitely abundant in comparison to our small and finite physical existence.

geolchan at intnet dot mu wrote: The most important is the Production of FOOD, that we all have to eat every day, and so do ALL living matter around us. HUMANS need FOODS & WATER; LIVESTOCK need FEEDS & WATER; PLANTS need FERTILIZERS & WATER; INDUSTRY need MATERIALS, WATER & ENERGY; and so on.

All these activities CONSUME some of the INGRADIENTS, that have to be REPLACED. So far we have succeeded to replace SOME with NATURAL & RENEWABLE resources that are in abundant supplies, found in our AIR, WATER, SOIL, FAUNA, FLORA, etc., with a multitude of ORGANISMS doing the essential WORK for us. The NON-RENEWABLE ones, we have to use them continuously until they wear out, or limit their uses to the strict minimum.

I guess we have won part of the battle, hoping that more and more people will gradually join us. We dare to dream that we may eventually succeed, despite the horrors that we see everywhere . . .

Thanks, again, Nirmala, for your advice and encouragement.

All the best. George

The key NON-RENEWABLE resource that we are destroying by combustion is fossil fuel. Recently there is a very good update on the depletion of oil here: http://www.odac-info.org/PeakOilUKConferenceProceedings.htm

I would particularly point out the following:

"The average American consumes 25 barrels of oil a year. In China, it is about 1.3 barrels per year. In India and other rapidly developing countries, it is still less than one. If there is to be a crisis in global oil supplies, it will come because these countries move inexorably towards the American levels of consumption rather than the other way round. Nobody can deny China and India the right to develop, to create higher living standards for their people and to use oil in the process. Least of all can the Americans challenge that process while refusing to adjust their own lifestyles. So I have no doubt that the biggest global challenge in energy terms, while viable alternatives are still being developed, is to persuade the United States to start reducing its own oil consumption as the basis of a world-wide drive towards conservation of the resource rather than its ever-increasing and ever-more profligate application." by Brian Wilson - Opening Address, "Why Britain Needs an Indigenous Energy Policy"

I made the point above that a Sola Roof can produce continously, from 100 M2, sufficient food for three adults and pure water for 15. Now at the same time our roof can be used for Mass Algae Culture and this is method to continuously grow and harvest algae for oil that can be made into biodiesel. I expect that we can produce 500 Kg of oil from that solaroof per year, which is about two drums. Therefore if the use of this photosynthesis based hydrocarbon energy system were to be adopted universally then there is a completely viable replacement of fossil fuel with CO 2? (GHG) neutral biofuel. Thus the fears of Global Warming escalation is solved and the west, including America can take the lead in the movement for Contraction & Convergence on a level of energy use that is non threating to the planetary ecology. The contraction of energy use by western energy hogs can be achieved by efficiency gains and the final convergence will imply a lifestyle that is superior to the best possible at this time. For worldwide supply of the sufficient renewable oil from algae we would only need 200 billon square meters of residential roof area. Industry can similarly be self sufficent and the total land use for human activities of 6 billion people need not be more than one percent of the land area of the world. Thus the natural resources of the planet will begin to look infinite again.

Having achieved our universal success, prosperity and peace on our home planet we will then be ready to set out into the truly infinite resources of the solar system and the local galaxy.