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Summary

Paul calls up some of his usual suspects from his patreons (Katie, Kyle, and Mark) for the latest iteration of the permaculture smackdown, with a more hard-hitting focus on renewable power sources.

A few quick notes before getting into the smackdown proper – 1: Due to the permaculture playing cards basically reaching end-of-life status, the price for the remaining decks is increasing.  2: the mobile version of Permies is getting a major overhaul.  3: The SKIP book is currently in layout and being shipped around to printers to get quotes for actually printing it.

The average US carbon footprint is about 30 tonnes, with an even split between direct and indirect emissions.  For an average resident of Montana, switching from electric heaters to a Rocket Mass Heater cuts their footprint by as much as taking 7 conventional cars off the road, or 29 tonnes.  Reducing your carbon footprint from electric consumption is more difficult.  Simply using less sounds like a plan, but implementing it on a wide scale is simply impossible without a massive shift in consumer mindset.  This means that energy consumption is continuously going to go up, production has to keep pace.  So what sort of power generation should the planning department build?  Renewable, obviously.  But solar and wind don’t work 24/7, so what should be built to supplement them?  Hydro is an obvious answer, but it has a myriad of issues of its own, like silt building up behind them so much that they no longer work and preventing fish from passing, potentially killing off entire ecosystems.  Ask someone on the street and chances are they’ll suggest large-scale batteries, but those demand huge amounts of toxic materials to work, so it seems that there’s no slam dunk solution and all ways forward will require some form of either sacrifice or gick and, knowing humanity, it’ll involve gick to some extent or another.

Relevant Threads

SKIP: A Book Connecting Industrious People with Land Owners by Paul Wheaton and Mike Haasl

Tinkering with the Site forum

Alternative Energy forum

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COMMENTS:
 
pollinator
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Location: Massachusetts, 6b, suburban, nearish coast, 50x50, full sun, 40" year-round even distribution
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I'd like to add to my comment in the podcast, which I think is in part 2.

I just finished measuring from October '20 - Sept end '21, and I personally emitted 13,722 lbs of CO2.
The previous year was about 12,000.
I drove a lot more this year on a house/land search.

I sacrificed some, but it's worth it to feel I'm damaging other people less, and non-human life less.  I'd rather be on the safe side.  So, we kept the oil heat way down, and used the stuff from the "Making the Best of Electric Heat" chapter--electric heat pads and mattress pads.  (I don't know the embodied energy of producing and shipping these, but I'm sure it's much less than producing a baseboard electric heater which can produce a lot more heat, or a heat pump, which has more complex parts).  I agree the sacrifice ask isn't a strong one, but I don't see any other choice as a renter (hence the house/land search).

The land search set me back some.  14000 is 23.3% of the US average (60,000/30 tons).

But I also retired some natural gas use in addition to saving a lot on oil.

So, by heating with wood that I picked up from the ground, or from yard waste bags from my neighbors, or from rounds of a tree the other neighbor took down and was going to have chipped and possibly taken to the industrial compost (where it breaks down fast--I nearly burned my hand sticking it inside there one winter out of curiosity, I didn't know it was so industrial a composting facility just sitting in a big pile in the woods...)...by taking local wood I did not:

--give money to aid the gas company, whom I don't want to fund
--ask them to use energy getting more gas for me or process it
--or pipe it to me
--or fund their building more pipelines in places I might not want them, such as, well, pretty much anywhere, but especially through the historically disadvantaged part of Boston, Ramopo lands in New Jersey, which are just the ones I've heard about.

So it's more than the change in cooking fuels, in which the wood probably emits about the same amount as the gas anyway.

I'd thought the average American footprint was 30 tons just personally--not counting the indirect emissions from your share of the businesses that run that you may have contributed to by, for example, ordering a package that got shipped to you (gas used, embodied energy of the vehicle.)  If the footpring includes all of this, then I've made a lt more progress, but it's harder to measure.  And I have farther to go than I'd thought also.  The only apples-to-apples comparison I can make is to my own usage in previous years.  I'm trying to get to zero.

(Notes:
--I've counted food as the maximum the food calculators suggest, since I can't know the sources of much of my food
--I counted my electricity as all coming from coal, the worst possibility, although the Town has some complicated combination of renewables and other unitelligible things on the bill; I know people are trying really hard to get a solar array built here, and to make the power be all renewables, but I'm assuming the worst for now, including that the embodied energy or toxin impact of solar panels is as bad as coal, for example.  This is an arbitrary decision, but it's just to make an apples-to-apples comparision, and make it clear to myself that the electricity use has to keep dropping too.
--I guesstimated the mileage driven, I didn't actually look at all the receipts because this is an exceptional year anyway
--I divided my oil heat, hot water, electricity, and transportation (house hunting withpartner) by 2; obviously if I lived alone I would still have to heat the place as much
-there may be some other approximations here.  The point is that I am getting some kind of inventory of where I'm at, instead of just guessing.
(I thank Paul's clarity for prompting me to meaure this--actually measure instead of just feel it out.  Creating a Life Together and the study group I had for that book in 2019 was also essential for me to actually start measuring).

I hated  doing it at first, and still kinda would rather poke out my eye, but it does appear to me really necessary to keep honest and on track, and I am glad I've done it.  I hope others will too.  

Thanks for the chance to share about this on the podcast and the forum!
 
pollinator
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Location: Meppel (Drenthe, the Netherlands)
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Thank you Paul, Katie, Kyle, Mark for this podcast. It's one of those subjects that's in my mind (almost) all the time: producing the 'clean' energy electricity is never clean; every way we can think of causes some form of pollution and/or other harm. So we must use less! How to use less? And how to help others understand they have to use less?

Different subject. Where you live (Montana, USA) the RMH is a very good solution for heating. Probably THE BEST. But ... I live in a country with much less wood, heating with wood is not promoted. Because most people, including officials, never heard of a RMH and only know smoke-producing wood stoves, in some cases heating with wood is even illegal (like in apartment buildings, and there are many apartment buildings in this country).

More different subjects ... No, I'll stop. There's too much! You can go on having podcasts on those subjects. When will more people listen??? (sorry, it's autumn, I'm probably in a 'fall depression')

 
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