Friday, September 14, 2007

odes to Peak Oil and Global Warming

After seeing "The Eleventh Hour" recently, I was struck out how many similarly-themed films have come out in the past few years, to the point that I had to sort them out, as they were starting to meld into one big environmental film in the back of my brain.

I think we're all clear on "An Inconvenient Truth" -- Al Gore's 2006 ode to Global Warming. "The Eleventh Hour" echoes Al's ode. Imitation being the best form of flattery, Leonardo DeCaprio was evidently inspired by Gore's truth but also Tom Hartmann's book "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight", one of several important odes to Peak Oil.

Which leads to two other excellent films, arguably better films that got a lot less publicity. Perhaps the best is "The End of Suburbia" (2004) which preceeded them all, and was spearheaded by the New Urbanism crowd (Peter Calthorpe and James Kunstler, whose "The Long Emergency" is another important ode to Peak Oil). This film is semi-enjoyable due its nostalgic journey through the history of American suburbia as well the the bleak destiny that such living arrangements lead to.

The other film, "A Crude Awakening" (2006), received no publicity that I'm aware of, and came my way almost by accident. Focusing on the history of the oil industry, this film teems with powerful, rare and archival footage that you're not likely to see elsewhere, such as workers toiling in the oil fields of Baku. This is perhaps the most powerful of the four films, but also the bleakest. There's a little bit of that disturbed feeling I got looking at an atom smasher at the Smithsonian Museum. But then, Peak Oil is not for the faint of heart...

Monday, September 10, 2007

the lima bean lobby

Let's see... I love copious amounts of soy milk, lima beans, peanut butter and pea soup. Do I detect a theme? It is no coincidence -- they are all protein-rich legumes. It would appear I'm hard wired for these, but even more so since the events of September 11th, 2001 caused me to give up meat.

I hadn't fully connected the dots until recently, when I cooked lima beans for the first time in ages. I've always liked lima beans and do not understand why they aren't extremely popular... or why they should be any less popular than say, sports cars, hip-hop music, pro football or Diet Coke. Instead, they are marginalized.

To correct the wrongness of this trend, I plan to A) increase my lima bean consumption B) speak out in favor of lima beans at every opportunity C) push lima beans on the American public through a multi-million dollar advertising campaign.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

coffee and soil

It's easy to forget that the reason why coffee grounds are a good soil amendment is because they provide acidity to soils that are otherwise too alkaline. I can vouch for the efficacy of this method. In the Spring of 2004, Lisa & I put some Starbucks coffee grounds (the ones they give out for free in bags) at the base of a sickly Bougainvillea and over time it became robust (but not robusta). Black coffee has a pH of 5, beer 4 to 5, wine 3 to 4, cola 2 to 3, lemon juice 2 and stomach acid 1. Blood curiously has a pH of 8. Since I drink a lot of coffee and wine, is it possible that my blood is more acidic?

According to a recent blood test, the pH of my blood is 6.5, and the normal range is 5 to 8. It could be that the default is 8, and a lifetime of various acidic fluids has chipped away 1.5 units of alkalinity. It may also be that, like the Bougainvillea, my "soil" was too alkaline and in need of a good coffee amendment to balance things out.

So what fluids are alkaline or "base"? Seawater, bleach, and ammonia. Things that are best left outside our bodies.