Algae to Diesel

…Algae growing in large tubes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entrepreneurs have been trying for years to get something valuable out of algae.

It has not been easy, and not just because algae are an unsightly nuisance (and sometimes dangerous, as is the Lake Erie bloom that has endangered drinking water this month).

Although algae grow prodigiously and contain potentially useful molecules — especially lipids, which can be turned into high-energy fuel and other products — extracting those molecules has proved complicated and expensive. So far, virtually the only marketable products based on algae have been high-end skin creams.

But a Nevada company, Algae Systems, has a pilot plant in Alabama that, it says, can turn a profit making diesel fuel from algae by simultaneously performing three other tasks: making clean water from municipal sewage (which it uses to fertilize the algae), using the carbon-heavy residue as fertilizer and generating valuable credits for advanced biofuels.

If it works, the company says, the process will remove more carbon from the atmosphere than is added when the fuel is burned.

Photo

At the pilot plant, Algae Systems converts the waste and algae into clean water and biocrude oil.CreditTad Denson

“We think it is a really elegant solution,” said Matt Atwood, the chief executive. At its heart is a “hydrothermal liquefaction” system that heats the algae and other solids in the sewage to more than 550 degrees Fahrenheit, at 3,000 pounds per square inch, turning out a liquid that resembles crude oil from a well.

The company sent the liquid to Auburn University, where scientists added hydrogen (a common step in oil refining) to produce diesel fuel. An independent laboratory, Intertek, confirmed that the diesel fuel met industry specifications. The thermal processing has caught the attention of independent scientists. The Department of Energy recently awarded a $4 million grant to a partnership led by SRI International for further work on Algae Systems’ hydrothermal processing system.

Engineers hope the system could dispose of a variety of unwanted or hazardous materials. It also destroys pathogens in sewage.

At the University of Texas at Austin, Halil Berberoglu, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering who is conducting research in the area and is not affiliated with Algae Systems, said the process had the potential to eliminate a key bottleneck in working with algae.

Earlier processes for extracting lipids have been “very energy-intensive,” he said, adding, “You have to dewater the algae, poke holes in cell walls and do all kinds of separation technologies.”

But with high-temperature processing, he said, a factory could get useful products out of not only the lipids but also the proteins and the carbohydrates.

“It is a great way to break those molecules up,” he said, and the presence of extra water in the reactor helps reassemble the elements into long-chain hydrocarbons, which are basically crude oil.

Challenges remain, because such crude oil sometimes incorporates heavy metals, nitrogen and sulfur. But “it is by far the most promising approach,” Dr. Berberoglu said.

And it has attracted a wide variety of employees. John Perry Barlow, a former lyricist for the Grateful Dead and a founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an Internet civil liberties group, is a vice president; he was in charge of finding a site for the pilot plant — in Daphne, Ala., on Mobile Bay — and is looking for a spot for the commercial plant that the company hopes will follow.

The general manager of the Daphne municipal water and sewage utility, Rob McElroy, announced this month that he had been so impressed with the pilot plant that he was quitting his job to work for Algae Systems.

Company executives say their pilot plant consumes pollutants like phosphorus and nitrogen, which are blamed for the algae bloom in Lake Erie and the “dead zone” near the mouth of the Mississippi in the Gulf of Mexico.

The installation in Mobile Bay takes clever advantage of natural characteristics. It uses giant plastic bags made by Nike that are filled with sewage and algae. The bags float on the water, moored at each end like a sailboat. The bay water keeps the algae at the right temperature, and the waves stir the mix.

Some companies have tried gene-altered algae, but Algae Systems uses naturally occurring forms drawn from the bay. Whichever strain flourishes in the bags is what the company uses. “We call it the Hunger Games,” Mr. Atwood said.

The early results were promising enough for IHI, a Japanese conglomerate, to invest $15 million.

Biofuel plants, like hope, spring eternal but have mostly ended in grief. KiOR, which spent more than $200 million to produce a synthetic fuel from wood, recently shut down; Ineos Bio, the offspring of a major Swiss chemical company, produced commercial quantities of ethanol from wood waste a year ago, but now says it has “unexpected start-up problems.” In many high-tech start-ups, the problem is to get from the pilot stage to the commercial stage, but even some biofuel companies that have lined up the financing to build a commercial-scale factory have been unable to make the process work.

Algae Systems says it hopes it can make a profit by producing potable water as well as fuel, and by charging fees to municipalities for treating their wastewater.

Another potential source of income is the generous renewable fuel credits that the Environmental Protection Agency offers for companies producing “advanced” biofuel, those with small carbon footprints. The credits are purchased by oil companies that are obligated by law to blend in renewable fuels — or, more practically, to complete a paper transaction showing that they have supported such fuels.

Still, Algae Systems estimates that it will cost $80 million to $100 million to move from the pilot plant to commercial-scale production. So far it has not made that leap.

Living Willow Fences

Takes a lot of energy to make a roll of fence wire.Living Willow Hedges

Here’s a better way. Posts do not have to be too skookum.  Basically, you are planting a lot of trees.

Or ‘fedges’ = fence + hedge. Willows, sallows, and osiers form the genus Salix (Latin for willow), which consist of around 400 species of deciduous trees and shrubs. Willow are native to moist soils in cold and temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Almost all willows take root very readily from cuttings. Young, thin willow cuttings are known as withies, longer willow rods are known as whips.

willow hedge

Living willow fence at Vevey Garden, Switzerland. Willow rods are pushed into the ground at an angle. The tops are tied to a horizontal, weaved in withy to give stability along the top. Willows have high levels of auxins, hormones that promote rooting success. The hormone is so prevalent that “willow water” brewed from willow stems, will encourage the rooting of many other plant cuttings as well. Image by Barbara, OvertheMoon www.flickr.com

living willow hedge
living willow hedge
The angled rods tend to sprout along their entire length, while the uprights oft times sprout from the top only. Botanical Gardens of Wales. Photo by Libby, www.flickr.com

fedge
living willow hedge
Simply make a hole in the ground with a metal bar, then insert the willow cutting. Weed control is important when starting a willow fedge and the cuttings should be planted into a weed barrier that allows water penetration, otherwise the weeds might suck away a bit of vitality from the young willows. As a general rule, shorter cuttings establish and grow best without competition from weeds, whereas longer cuttings have more stored energy and can handle a bit of competition. Willows prefer full sun, but will accept part shade. Willows are also very adaptable as per water conditions once they are established and will also survive in poor quality soils. Image: www.yorkshirewillow.co.uk

living willow hedge
living willow hedge
Use Salix Viminalis and rub off the new shoots on the lower portions of the rods to achieve this open look. Image: livingwithtwistedwillow.blogspot.com

living willow hedge
living willow hedge
‘During the summer any side-shoots are rubbed off to keep the lattice work of the fence clear of growth, but the top three or four buds are allowed to grow out. These shoots are trimmed back to the top of the fence in the winter.’ From Living with Twisted Willow. livingwithtwistedwillow.blogspot.com

willow fence

Living willow fence at
RHS Garden Harlow Carr, Yorkshire.
rchsblog.wordpress.com

living willow hedge
living willow hedge
Three willow stems woven into a diamond pattern. The tops are tied to a horizontal withy to give some stability to the top. Photo: Peter D’Aprix:www.vegetablegardener.com.

living willow hedge

Salix ‘Americana’ planted in Canada. Ties are used to secure the structure while it becomes established. salix-willows.blogspot.com

willow fedge
living willow hedge
Same hedge as photo above, yet one year later. The fence was trimmed back once in the early fall. Fence and photo by Lene Rasmussen. salix-willows.blogspot.com

living willow hedge

Living willow fence. Photo by Barbara, OvertheMoon, www.flickr.com

living willow hedge

The living fedge structure will require periodic pruning and weaving of new growth. By Green Barrier Fence, Europe and Canada. www.lesecransverts.ca

living willow hedge

Living willow hedge surrounding a vegetable garden in France. Design: Judy and David Drew. Photo by Nicola Browne. www.gapphotos.com

living willow hedge
living willow hedge
Lush new growth on the willow arbour at Whichford Pottery, Warwickshire.www.whichfordpottery.com

living willow hedge

Willow arch at Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland. permaculturecottage.wordpress.com

living willow hedge

Living willow arch. See resources below for willow arch kits. Photo by Daniel via: www.flickr.com

living willow hedge

Living willow arch. A 4′ x 7’6″ x 2′ arch installed for 130 pounds in Suffolk, England. www.naturalfencing.com

living willow hedge

A living willow arch. As photo above, but in winter. www.naturalfencing.com



living willow hedge

Fedge in the winter at Ryton Organic Gardens. www.thewillowbank.com

willow hedge

Living willow privacy screen in urban settings. englishbasketrywillows.com

living willow hedge

In 1998, natural artist and architect Marcel Kalberer created the Auerworld Palace, a pavilion made of living willow trees. It is also known as the “mother of all willowpalaces”. It has become a tourist attraction for the region between Weimar and Naumburg, Germany. www.arcprospect.org

living willow hedge

Willow is often used for streambank stabilisation (bioengineering), slope stabilisation and soil erosion control. Willows are often planted on the borders of streams so their interlacing roots protect the bank against the action of the water. Their roots are often much larger than the stem that grows from them.  See how to plant willow cuttings to prevent erosion at a streambank: www.ksre.ksu.edu

living willow hedge

Living willow fence by Wassledine, Bedfordshire, UK. Additional cuttings can be added to secure the base. As they grow the lower shoots can also be woven in to thicken the fence. www.wassledine.co.uk

living willow hedge

Living willow hedge panels by Green Barrier of Scotland. Living hedge sections come in pre-constructed 1m widths and in heights from 1.2 to 2.5m. They are planted directly into topsoil to a depth of 60cm (2 feet), to provide support while the roots grow. www.esi.info

living willow hedge
living willow hedge
A wood frame with tall, straight willow branches stuck vertically into the soil and intertwined into the frame. Caution, willow roots are aggressive in seeking out moisture; for this reason, they can become problematic when planted near cesspools or drainage areas. They should also not be planted close to a building due to their roots aggressive and large size. modmissy.com

living willow hedge
living willow hedge
Heavy pruning at the top encourages growth at the bottom.

willow hedge

A rose in front of Hakuro Nishiki or Dappled willow. This is just a shrub not a fedge, added here because this willow variety is striking. The slender leaves emerge as glossy bright pink, then mature into a white, green and pink variegation.  Regular pruning encourages the best color. Stems are red in the winter. Prefers moist soils. Image via:davesgarden.com

living willow arbor

Living willow dining arbor to protect you from the sun. Kit for sale here:www.thewillowbank.com

Resources:

Seventeen willow varieties for fencing: www.yorkshirewillow.co.uk
Willow for living structures:  www.bluestem.ca
Which willow where:  www.bluestem.ca
Varieties: www.willowsvermont.com
Read about the different Willow Species for Hedging: www.hedging.co.uk

Popular willow species for living fences:

Rods available in 1.5, 2.0m, 2.5m, 3.0m and 3.5m lengths.

Salix Viminalis (produces long, straight rods without many side shoots),
Salix Tortuous (Corkscrew or Curly Willow),
Salix Alba Vitellina (Golden Willow),
Salix Alba Chermesina (Scarlet Willow),
Salix Purpurea (Chou Blue),
Salix Sachalinensis (Sekka)
Salix Triandra (Black Maul) grows fast.

Willow cuttings for sale:

Washington State: www.dunbargardens.com
New York – kits: www.englishbasketrywillows.com
Vermont: www.willowsvermont.com
Oregon: www.forestfarm.com enter willow in search.
Iowa: www.willowglennursery.com
BC, Canada:  www.bluestem.ca
Fedge Kits and more, England: www.yorkshirewillow.co.uk
Kits and cuttings: Gloucestershire, UK. www.thewillowbank.com
Kits:: Suffolk, UK: www.naturalfencing.com
Kits, Northampton, UK: www.willowworks.co.uk
Check on ebay.

Willow Water:
Root azaleas, lilacs and roses by soaking two large handfulls of pencil-thin willow branches cut into 3 inch lengths in two quarts of boiling water and steep overnight. Refrigerate unused water.

Willow and Deer:
Young cuttings should be protected from deer and rabbits. Deer will eat willow when there is nothing else to eat. But if you desire your fedge trimmed periodically this might not be a bad thing. Willow rebounds quickly. Salix purpureas is the most bitter and therefore least eaten willow. 

Here’s a better way,

Farewell Concrete

Here are some great ideas for getting free of our reliance on concrete-an industrial process which creates a great deal of CO2 pollution. Fly ash from gassification is one of these ideas.

Would you live in a house made of sand and bacteria? It’s a surprisingly good idea

<strong>Had enough of concrete blocks?</strong> The hugely useful (but harmfully polluting) material responsible for the rise and rise of the modern city can no longer claim to be the only material available to architects.

Had enough of concrete blocks? The hugely useful (but harmfully polluting) material responsible for the rise and rise of the modern city can no longer claim to be the only material available to architects.

Edinburgh College of Art student Peter Trimble has created a possible solution using little more than sand and urea. <strong><a href='http://petertrimble.co.uk/microbial-manufacture' target='_blank'>Dupe</a></strong> is almost as structurally strong as concrete but produces no greenhouse gasses. Trimble's system is not yet ready for production, but similar concrete alternatives are already available to builders...

Edinburgh College of Art student Peter Trimble has created a possible solution using little more than sand and urea. Dupe is almost as structurally strong as concrete but produces no greenhouse gasses. Trimble’s system is not yet ready for production, but similar concrete alternatives are already available to builders…

Builders laying the concrete foundations of the Wilshire Grand Tower -- the skyscraper set to become Los Angeles' tallest building -- <a href='http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20140217005645/en/Headwaters-Fly-Ash-Record-Setting-Los-Angeles#.UyhZevl_uDl' target='_blank'>substituted a quarter of the cement </a>with
Fly Ash” The waste ash from coal combustion at power plants in Utah and Arizona increases the durability of concrete while offsetting the CO2 cost of cement production.

Builders laying the concrete foundations of the Wilshire Grand Tower — the skyscraper set to become Los Angeles’ tallest building — substituted a quarter of the cement with “Fly Ash” The waste ash from coal combustion at power plants in Utah and Arizona increases the durability of concrete while offsetting the CO2 cost of cement production.

Japanese firm TIS & Partners have created a new building material called “CO2 Structure,” dreamed-up in the aftermath of the March 2011 Japanese Tsunami as an emergency rebuilding material than can be put in place quicker than slow-drying concrete. By injecting carbon dioxide into a silica (sand and quartz), they managed to developed a carbon-negative building material with twice the tensile strength of brick.

Natural building materials are a popular choice for those looking to cut CO2 emissions. Making bricks from hemp results in a net decrease in carbon dioxide levels, as the growing plant takes in CO2. These bricks are made of hemp combined with clay, while <strong><a href='http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/10/hempcrete-hemp-house_n_1506662.html' target='_blank'>Hempcrete</a></strong> (a mixture of hemp and lime) is sold internationally as a thermal walling material.

Natural building materials are a popular choice for those looking to cut CO2 emissions. Making bricks from hemp results in a net decrease in carbon dioxide levels, as the growing plant takes in CO2. These bricks are made of hemp combined with clay, while Hempcrete (a mixture of hemp and lime) is sold internationally as a thermal walling material.

<strong><a href='http://www.ecovativedesign.com/' target='_blank'>Ecovative</a></strong><strong> </strong>already make packaging from agricultural waste and mushroom

Ecovative is already make packaging from agricultural waste and mushroom “mycelium” — and their next project is building materials. Founder Eben Bayer describes mycelium as “essentially the ‘roots’ of mushrooms” and says it is very good at binding together organic materials, which could one day make building blocks.

Another natural material with carbon negative production: lowly straw is making a return to construction. In America's
Straw bales are used as a both a structural and insulating material. Companies such as UK’s ModCell manufacture pre-fabricated wall and roof panels from straw.

Another natural material with carbon negative production: lowly straw is making a return to construction. In America’s “Nebraska Method” homes, straw bales are used as a both a structural and insulating material. Companies such as UK’s ModCell manufacture pre-fabricated wall and roof panels from straw.

Traditional building materials such as mud and <strong><a href='http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2513154/Farmer-builds-house-just-150-using-materials-skips--current-tenant-pays-rent-MILK.html' target='_blank'>cob</a></strong> -- a mixture of sand, clay, straw and earth -- have been proposed as a non-polluting alternative building material for small buildings, such as households. One <a href='http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/greenerliving/10478442/Michael-Bucks-cob-house-Does-the-answer-to-the-housing-crisis-lie-within-a-150-cottage.html' target='_blank'>man from Oxford</a>, UK claims to have built a Hobbit-like home from cob for less than $250.

Traditional building materials such as mud and cob — a mixture of sand, clay, straw and earth — have been proposed as a non-polluting alternative building material for small buildings, such as households. One man from Oxford, UK claims to have built a Hobbit-like home from cob for less than $250.

Recycled materials are making up an increasing part of building blocks. <strong><a href='http://www.aggregate.com/products-and-services/blocks/enviroblock/' target='_blank'>Enviroblocks</a></strong> are made from over 70% recycled aggregates, bound with cement, while <strong><a href='http://www.durisol.net/pdfs/Durisol%20Flyer.pdf' target='_blank'>Durisol</a></strong> units contain 80% recycled woodchip, which is wrapped around steel bars for strength.

Recycled materials are making up an increasing part of building blocks.Enviroblocks are made from over 70% recycled aggregates, bound with cement, while Durisol units contain 80% recycled woodchip, which is wrapped around steel bars for strength.

Clay blocks with

Clay blocks with “honeycomb” structured cross-sections — often known asZiegel Blocks — have been common in some parts of Europe for decades, but are now spreading far beyond. Manufacturing blocks from clay rather than concrete means less CO2 emissions from production, while the blocks insulating characteristics can cut a building’s energy costs.

Cutting concrete pollution could mean rethinking our approach to construction from start to finish. Housing made from recycled <strong><a href='http://www.gizmag.com/infiniski-shipping-container-architecture/22365/' target='_blank'>shipping containers</a></strong> has popped up all over the world and provides one low-cost, low-emission solution. Are there others?

Cutting concrete pollution could mean rethinking our approach to construction from start to finish. Housing made from recycled shipping containers has popped up all over the world and provides one low-cost, low-emission solution. Are there others?

— Peter Trimble found his formula through trial and error. A design student at the University of Edinburgh, he was aiming to produce an artistic exhibition for a module on sustainability, when he stumbled on “Dupe,” a living alternative to concrete.

A lab technician introduced Trimble to Sporosarcina pasteurii, a bacterium with binding qualities, sometimes used to solidify soil to hold road signs in place. The student tested it with one of the world’s most abundant resources – sand. Pumping bacterial solution into a sand-filled mould, he added nutrients, urea derived from urine as fertilizer and calcium. After a year, and hundreds of failed experiments, this process manufactured a stool around 70% the compression strength of concrete.

The process requires less than one-sixth of the energy used in concrete production, and is completely biodegradable. Crucially, Trimble believes his mechanism has the added benefit that it could be employed by anyone, anywhere.

“Once you have the basic framework it should be transferable. Imagine a Tsunami-hit farm in Indonesia that is not getting supplies. You could use sand and bacteria on site, practically free, and have shelter housing that is far more permanent.”

Trimble is working with NGOs to apply Dupe to Aboriginal settlements and insecure regions of Morocco. But while the applications are new and experimental, the concept of growing the material for our built environment is increasingly regarded as not merely interesting, but essential.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the construction industry accounts for 40% of the world’s C02 emissions, 40% of U.S. landfill and has been uniquely resistant to change. Concrete, bricks and cement have remained the dominant materials since the industrial revolution in the early 19th century, and as pressure mounts on resources and climate, scientists and architects are looking to the natural world for solutions.

Buildingbacteria

Bacteria have been at the center of alternative methods. North Carolina start-upBiomason is growing bricks on an industrial scale, cultivated from sand by microorganisms. The company has won major prizes and funding for the bricks, which will be used in a structure for the first time this year in a pedestrian walkway, ahead of building projects across the world.

Similar processes are being developed to build in the most challenging environments. British architects see an opportunity to cultivate new life in deserts, while NASA believe bacteria could allow the construction of bases on other planets without the headache of ferrying the material there.

While bacterial processes save heavily on carbon, there are concerns that by-products could be poisonous. But another living brick — made from mushrooms — has no such problems.

Functional fungus

New York firm Ecovative are producing materials that combine agricultural waste products such as corn stock with mushroom mycelium — the roots of the vegetable. Over five days the mycelium binds the waste to create a block with a stronger compressive strength than concrete, with none of the heat or energy required by regular bricks.

The product is in commercial use for packaging, producing thousands of units a month, and the company is expanding into construction. Ecovative believe that in addition to being renewable and decomposable, natural properties give them a performance advantage.

“It has great insulation properties”, says Sam Harrington, Ecovative Director of Sustainability. “A key benefit is flame resistance — without adding any chemicals we were able to achieve a Class A fire rating”.

There is scope for development. Mycelium effectively dies once its growth is complete, but Harrington is looking ahead to material that does not. “We are exploring ideas of living materials, perhaps that are self-healing or respond to leaks with indicators.”

Ecovative are in dialogue with major construction companies, and the material will soon be tested on a historic scale. A collaboration with architects The Living won the prestigious MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) PS-1 competition, and their creation will be installed in the museum courtyard this summer.

Growing for gold

“Hy-Fi” will be the largest ever grown structure, and first large building to claim zero carbon emissions. It will be formed of three 40-foot spiral towers constructed from the mushroom material, with varying properties of brick to maximise light and ventilation.

The material’s versatility offers unique design opportunities, says David Benjamin, lead architect of the project.

“You can dial in almost any performance you want. You can mix and match a variety of properties such as water resistance or UV resistance, lightness or durability. You can grow the bricks in almost any shape”

Benjamin says the bio-bricks could be made to last as long as traditional materials, but believes architecture must embrace temporary structures.

“It’s essential to recognize that not all materials should last for centuries. A lot of the steel in our buildings will last longer than we need. Our idea is a building that be made locally and quickly, and then have a plan for when the life of the building is over.”

Future applications would include pop-up stores, festival “tents” and emergency shelters, says Benjamin, but there are greater hopes for the material within the industry.

Stronger than concrete

“I could imagine every structure you would built out of bricks”, says Dirk Hebel, Assistant Professor of Architecture and Construction at the Future Cities Laboratory in Singapore. “No high-rises, but smaller scale structures and houses. The material is stronger than concrete, with better insulation capacities”.

The challenge will come in commercializing the products, Hebel feels. “There is huge demand for alternative materials. The question is how easy it is to penetrate the existing market. This needs time and a couple of buildings to show the possibilities”.

Stealing from nature

Another, more radical approach takes the material from nature but also allows it to build the structure. Michael Pawlyn, director of Exploration Architecture, is a leading figure in biomimicry, having previously applied natural processes to create man-made forests in England and the Sahara Desert. His latest project to grow a “small venue for spoken word performances” from undersea biorock was recently unveiled at the Architecture Foundation in London.

“In biology, complex structures achieve resource efficiency by putting things in exactly the right place, which is very difficult with made materials”, says Pawlyn. “Our ways should deliver significant resource savings.”

Drawing on the natural accumulation of coral reefs, his team would install a steel frame in the deep ocean and leave it to attract material. Growth would be focused on specific areas of need using an electrical current.

“We’re interested in looking at its structural growth patterns. We have stress gauges on the structure to measure force in particular areas. If one is highly stressed, we can input more current so the rate of deposition matches the force.”

Pawlyn believes the structure could be built within two years, for consideration at scale. As with Ecovative, a key challenge ahead is to integrate still-living material to allow intelligent biosensors that respond to the building occupants.

Innovators in this space acknowledge the ongoing barriers presented in an industry that has resisted modernization. But from rock to fungus, sand to space dust, the use of materials and processes designed by nature herself offer both a solution to the sustainability crisis, and a glimpse of our new built environment: clean, efficient, and alive.

Carbon Neutrality is not enough.

US Believes only way out of global warming is to go carbon negative

Nuclear power plant

US is looking at ways of becoming carbon-negative.

A good start would be to deny the XL Pipeline. However: sequestration has its advocates. To suck up some of the dangerous CO2 levels of the past few decades.

With the mostly failed campaign to prevent climate change from raising global temperatures by more than 2 degrees Celsius, and no real prospect of rolling out significant amounts of renewable power generation in time to prevent a global meltdown, it looks like society only has two real options: Roll out a lot of nuclear power stations right now, or start burying (sequestering) gigatons of carbon dioxide underground. The nuclear option is looking unlikely — but sequestering carbon might just work, if some recent studies are to be believed. A new report from the Risky Business Project has laid out the long-term consequences of continued climate change for various geographical areas of the United States. Rather than focusing on incredibly dense scientific language, the RBP is led by the business community and emphasizes research conducted by economic firms. The goal was to create a report that would discuss the disruptive impact of climate change on businesses and the US economy. The result is an approachable report that discusses likely impacts to the US by splitting the country into multiple regions and estimating the chances of various outcomes. The following graph, for example, shows how the increasing likelihood of extreme weather events impacts observed conditions, even if no single storm, heat wave, or abnormally cold winter can be directly linked to global warming.

ExtremeWeather

With our mostly failed attempt to keep climate change below 2 Celisus, the new critical question is how governments might hold the increase to as low a level as possible. Despite improvements, no one seriously expects renewable energy to be ramped up in time to prevent climate change far in excess of 2C — the only way to avoid this limit would be to convert to nuclear or renewable power at a breakneck pace across the entire planet for the next few decades.It’s not going to happen. So what can we do? It turns out, we might be able to do rather a lot. Whenever the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issues its reports, a great deal of energy gets expended arguing about the reality of climate change. Some of the IPCC’s  more interesting ideas go undiscussed as a result, including the long-term potential for CCS — carbon capture and storage. According to the IPCC, CCS systems are absolutely vital to minimizing the long-term impact of greenhouse gas emissions. [Read: Nuclear power is our only hope, or, the greatest environmentalist hypocrisy of all time.]

Going carbon negative

Many companies today tout various technologies they claim allow them to be carbon neutral, but the only way to hold climate change below 2C in the long term is to actually go carbon negative. This can be achieved through the use of bio-energy with carbon capture and storage, or BECCS for short. The idea is straightforward — as of last year, approximately 10% of total planetary energy was provided by biomass. Plants absorb CO2 as they grow, but the process of turning biomass into fuel typically releases that energy back into the atmosphere. What the IPCC proposes is using the biomass for energy, then using some of the energy generated to sequester the carbon underground in either old oil and gas deposits or in porous rock (known as saline formations) across the US.

Saline formations

Estimates of how much carbon could be stored in saline formations vary widely; the characteristics of the rock strata and its ability to store CO2 over the long-term are barely known — until recently, such rock held little interest for the oil and gas companies that have conducted most US geological research and therefore only a little information is available. The IPCC believes that carbon sequestration is vital to limiting the impact of CO2 buildup — if we fail to do so, we could see spiking values well in excess of 600 ppm (currently we stand a little over 400 ppm).

BECCS and carbon sequestration

The long-term goal is to sequester up to two gigatons of carbon per year by 2050, though scientists at Stanford have estimated that as much as 10 gigatons of carbon could be sequestered through this method by that point. Carbon sequestration in geological formations isn’t the only option, but it’s one of the few ideas that’s both achievable and reasonably well understood at this point. There are a few technologies being developed that might help us with carbon sequestration, but really there just hasn’t been much research into it yet. Other ideas, like seeding the ocean with iron particles to increase carbon sequestration have problems of their own — locking more CO2 into the depths increases ocean acidification, which is already becoming problematic for a number of species. When the ocean is too acidic, many crustaceans can’t form strong shells — the calcium carbonate that they rely on is in short supply. Coral is also negatively impacted, which reduces habitat and food supply for the species that depend on its abundance. [Read: ‘Supergreen’ hydrogen creation could capture carbon from the air and de-acidify the oceans.] The sheer vastness of the ocean means it may be possible to lock up some carbon in specific areas, but overall, there may not be enough headroom to meaningfully defray the long-term environmental impact of continued fossil fuel use. The alternative is to find a way to sequester carbon geologically — or get used to a world without any ice caps.

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Go, Eden…

How Gateway stokes a simmering fury among B.C. natives

Eden Robinson

Contributed to The Globe and Mail   http://wp.me/p2d9OT-uY

Last updated Monday, Jun. 23 2014, 10:17 AM EDT

Author Eden Robinson. (Tibor Kolley/The Globe and Mail)

Eden Robinson is the award-winning author of the novel Monkey Beach.

Where I come from, people will spit at you if they think you support Enbridge. That’s because we not only get the pipeline risk, but also the tanker risk, and the inevitable splashes that come with loading diluted bitumen into the tankers, which would mean constant micro-spills. Despite being bombarded with a lot of pretty ads reassuring us that our fears about tanker accidents are unjustified, the world-class tanker-safety system in the Douglas Channel, so far, amounts to one orange plastic triangle nailed to a tree.

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My mother is Heiltsuk and my father is Haisla, both small coastal First Nations on the west coast of British Columbia. I live in Kitamaat Village, the main Haisla reserve 11 km from the city of Kitimat, which is the proposed terminus of the pipeline. Kitimat is widely regarded as a blue-collar, pro-industry town. When a recent plebiscite was held to decide whether or not the municipality should support the Enbridge bid, many pundits expected Kitimat would deliver a ‘yes,’ but instead came back with a resounding ‘meh.’ Initial excitement over the announcement that Enbridge was building a pipeline to Kitimat dampened considerably when people discovered that the number of permanent jobs for locals, in the end, would amount to some dock workers. Add to that the persistent coffee-house rumours that the Chinese partners were negotiating to bring in their own ‘experts’ under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program to help build the pipeline, and the plebiscite’s rejection of Gateway is less mysterious.

My reserve was not allowed to vote in the plebiscite because we’re not residents of the city of Kitimat. We’re also one of the First Nations bringing Enbridge to court. Our position is complicated by the fact that we’re partners in the current liquefied natural gas (LNG) rush. We’ve leased our reserve on Bish Creek, or Beese, as our traditionals call it, for LNG site development. We’re one of the native groups that would stand to gain the most by supporting Enbridge, and there is low-key support here for the project by food-on-the-table conservatives. But their backing is muted because the opposition to it is overwhelming and vitriolic.

Proponents have argued that you already have tankers plying the Douglas Channel delivering petro product and nothing has happened. But these are baby tankers compared to the monsters that are coming. And if the current tankers have an accident, our first responders will most likely be local volunteer Coast Guards who had to fundraise to get a new speedboat.

My mother’s home, the island community of Bella Bella, the main reserve of the Heiltsuk Nation, is 400 km south of us. The Heiltsuk have absolutely nothing to gain from this project, and everything that they hold near and dear to their hearts to lose. Opponents can mock our love of our home as sentimental, but it won’t change what we feel. The land and the ocean are living, breathing entities that supported us, clothed us, fed us, and nurtured our culture from time immemorial. Our ancestors walked here. We want our grandchildren, our great-grandchildren and their great-grandchildren to walk here.

The Haisla are pragmatists. The Heiltsuk have only engaged in peaceful protests. We are quiet moderates in comparison to other First Nations that oppose the pipeline.

If Enbridge has poked the hornet’s nest of aboriginal unrest, then the federal Conservatives, Stephen Harper’s government, has spent the last few years whacking it like a pinata. Their Omnibus budget bills gutted everything from our education to our sovereignty and (yes, you are reading this correctly) our right to clean drinking water. Their casual disregard of the staggering levels of violence against Native women in Canada continues to be infuriating. As is their expectation that, if lectured sternly and thoroughly at every opportunity about the economic benefits of the Northern Gateway pipeline, the First Nations of British Columbia would obediently lie back and think of Canada.

We’ve had a bulls-eye on our backs since the Harper Conservatives got their majority and the mood in our base is simmering fury. Every Native politician knows if they co-operate with the Conservatives, they risk being branded as Stephen Harper’s Uncle Tom. Supporting Gateway would be political suicide.

The Harper Conservatives (and to a lesser extent, the B.C. Liberals) have punted their responsibility to address unextinguished aboriginal title and concerns to the First Nations residing along the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline route and the coast of British Columbia. The government has done so by distancing itself from the political backlash following the June 17 conditional approval of the project and the resulting flurry of court cases.

If the Northern Gateway Pipeline fails to be built, history will say it was partly because Enbridge failed to lobby the First Nations of British Columbia early or intensely enough. But the Harper government’s role in this debacle will not be forgotten, and, whatever the outcome, its legacy will be an entrenched native antipathy to any Conservative agenda.

Three Political Paths to Stop Northern Gateway

Federal approval handed huge power to British Columbians. Our job is to get organized.

By Kai Nagata, Today, TheTyee.ca

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Several friends told me this week the Northern Gateway pipeline “finally feels real.” Even people who were cavalier about the inevitability of federal approval described feeling unexpectedly emotional. A few I didn’t even realize had the issue on their radar are suddenly speaking eloquently and passionately — not so much about the details of the proposal, but about the way Ottawa’s decision was carried out.

Enbridge CEO Al Monaco says it will be at least “12 to 15 months” before they’ll be ready to build. With that window in mind, the common question for those who want to stop it is: “How?”

Some are well-positioned to challenge this decision in the courts — First Nations governments best of all. The Crown committed a costly legal error when it left Enbridge to its own devices for so many years, attempting “consultation” deep in unceded territories. Those court cases could last for years and many of us who are not First Nations or trained lawyers will certainly donate to see them succeed.

Some pipeline opponents also promise to physically interfere with construction, should it ever proceed. More blockades like the Unist’ot’en camp may well spring up in the north. Environmental groups are already fundraising to hold workshops on civil disobedience.

Other critics are thinking big-picture about the demand for oil and how to undermine the business case for raw bitumen exports. Whether clean-tech entrepreneurs or climate policy advocates, these groups aim to shift the market conditions that make projects like Northern Gateway profitable in the first place.

Put it this way: there are many ways to stop the pipeline. Some combination of the above would probably stifle Northern Gateway eventually. But British Columbians can’t afford to spend another five years fighting a single project that never should have been proposed in the first place. There’s so much else we need to work on.

I believe the swiftest, most decisive way to stop Enbridge is political — and the most powerful tool most of us have is our vote. That’s why I chose to join Dogwood Initiative. We’re political organizers without partisan baggage. We believe decisions should be made by the people who have to live with them. And we know if First Nations and B.C. voters had a democratic say over this project, Enbridge would be packed up and gone tomorrow.

Three political paths

Tyee columnist Bill Tieleman is right when he writes that a Conservative election loss in 2015 would likely end Enbridge’s pipe dream for good. Opposition leaders Tom Mulcair, Justin Trudeau and Elizabeth May have each promised to cancel the project should their party form government. Supporting their candidates federally is certainly one political path to stopping Northern Gateway. What do we do until then?

Bear in mind our provincial government also has jurisdiction and retains the right to say no. That was made clear in the federal announcement on Tuesday: “The proponent will need to seek various regulatory approvals from the federal government and the governments of British Columbia and Alberta … The Province of British Columbia would be responsible for issuing approximately 60 permits and authorizations.”

Recognize that number? “British Columbia has the power to grant or withhold 60 permits,” Premier Christy Clark told a university audience in Calgary back in 2012. Later that day she told reporters: “If British Columbia doesn’t give its consent to this, there is no way the federal government or anyone else in the country is going to be able to force it through. It just won’t happen.”

Clark is still saying no, for now. Meanwhile, Enbridge’s Al Monaco says “we’re not looking at these conditions as something we’re opposing. These conditions will help us make a better project. It’s up to B.C. to decide whether the conditions are met and it’s up to us to try and close the gap.” Pushing the Clark government toward a final rejection of those permits is the second political path to stopping Enbridge.

That brings us to the third and perhaps least understood course of action. Under a law unique to British Columbia, the people themselves have the right to draft a bill on a matter of provincial jurisdiction. With support from 10 per cent of fellow voters around the province, that bill can be handed over to MLAs to pass into law. For example, a law denying provincial permits to a pipeline that would carry diluted bitumen over hundreds of streams and rivers.

The first major challenge lies in the difficulty of the petition process. Not only must you gather signatures on paper, you have to round up support from 10 per cent of registered voters in every riding in the province. At the bare minimum that’s 320,000 people across all 85 electoral districts — within a three-month deadline.

Assuming canvassing teams pass this Herculean challenge, further pitfalls await. Mr. Tieleman was the strategist behind the Fight HST campaign and probably knows the legislation better than anyone in the province. As he points out, “The government can indeed chose to hold an initiative referendum, but the results are not binding. Or it can simply introduce the bill proposed by the petition into the B.C. legislature, but not even debate it, let alone pass it.”

Tieleman calls the law toothless, fundamentally flawed and designed to fail. Yet he marshalled thousands of volunteers to try it anyway. It begs the question: why bother?

Process versus political reality

The truth is that the initiative to end the harmonized sales tax wasn’t just about the merits of HST versus PST.

As campaign spokesman Bill Vander Zalm wrote in March 2010, “The campaign to defeat the HST has ballooned into something much bigger and even more significant than protesting an unjust, illegal and unethical tax. As profound as those arguments are, there is something deeper and even more powerful afoot. People are rising up to take back their democracy.”

Gordon Campbell didn’t just impose an unpopular tax; he misled the people of British Columbia. He broke a major election promise. Worse, it was later discovered his party planned it that way all along. At that point it doesn’t matter how many loopholes are built into the Recall and Initiative Act, none are big enough to jump through when hundreds of thousands of voters want your hide.

Mr. Tieleman says “Our victory depended on Campbell’s multiple miscalculations, including his decision to hold a binding referendum in 2011.” Tieleman is being modest. Fight HST was designed from the start to put Campbell in checkmate. It ended the premier’s elected career.

The underlying purpose of launching a citizens’ initiative, whether on sales tax or oil tankers, is not only to change legislation. The mechanism itself forces you to build massive, organized political power — the kind no elected official can afford to ignore.

It’s a high mountain to climb. The question is what lies at the top. What motivates people to commit to the journey?

Put it this way: what is the legacy of the HST victory? We switched back to paying PST last year. His Excellency Gordon Campbell is now Canada’s high commissioner in London. And four years after the election that started the whole scandal, Campbell’s successor Christy Clark stormed back to win a stronger majority government.

Where are the boxes and boxes of petition signatures? Presumably safe in a vault at Elections BC. Those people can never be emailed or called, invited to a workshop or asked to donate to a new campaign. Even if they could speak to each other, the threat of the HST has passed. Their affiliation was momentous, but short-lived.

Building beforehand

Here’s where Dogwood’s strategy differs. As of today we have not approached Elections BC to launch a citizens’ initiative. Instead we’re building ahead. We call it a democratic insurance policy in case Premier Clark pulls her own version of the HST flip-flop and gives a green light to Enbridge. The longer that day is delayed, the closer to ready our organizers will be.

So far Clark is standing up to Ottawa, which puts her in line with First Nations and a democratic majority of B.C. voters. That’s good, but we imagine she’s going to come under a lot of pressure to keep the door open for Enbridge. As the company pulls out its chequebook and starts knocking off the NEB’s conditions, we’ll be watching closely to see if Clark’s position shifts. As her own government told the joint review panel at the Enbridge hearings, “‘trust us’ isn’t good enough”.

Here’s where we’re at. In the 48 hours following the federal announcement on Northern Gateway, 48,000 new supporters signed our pledge at LetBCvote.ca. Total signatures now surpass 200,000 — collected in person, online and through cell phones.

We have the benefit of technology that campaigners could only dream of back when the Recall and Initiative Act was introduced in 1995. The other night we signed up our first community hall full of supporters via text message (try it out if you like: text “vote” to 604-265-4967). We’re investing in mapping software to make our teams on the ground more efficient. And social media has extended our reach like never before.

But those bells-and-whistles should not obscure the off-line, social core of the project.

The simple fact is every door we knock on prompts a face-to-face conversation between two neighbours. That in itself is positive. From there, every new signature represents another voter who shares our values — or someone we can help get registered to vote. Every canvassing shift teaches you more about your community. And every few blocks you meet someone who loves the idea so much they want a clipboard too.

The most exciting number to me so far is 7,000. That’s the number of British Columbians who’ve taken the brave step of offering to leave their house so they can talk about democracy with strangers. New volunteers get a phone call from their closest team leader and an invitation to the next local training workshop. (Apologies if it takes us a few days to get to you right now — we’re thrilled by the response but our systems are a little stretched.)

Before the federal announcement, we had teams in 33 ridings. Now powerful allies are stepping forward to say they want to work together to defeat Northern Gateway democratically. We’re in discussions with Unifor, Coastal First Nations and a raft of smaller groups — many of which are already established in their home communities.

Whether they take a formal hand in the initiative preparations or work on parallel projects in complementary ridings, our goal is to form a network of allied organizers across all 85 B.C. ridings.

The citizens’ initiative should be thought of as a last-ditch scenario. A final democratic line of defence if our provincial politicians let us down. But if they hold fast to their rejection of the Enbridge proposal, our training and preparation will not be in vain. As Bill Tieleman points out, there’s a federal election next year. Only one party supports Northern Gateway.  [Tyee]

Kai Nagata is the energy and democracy director of the Dogwood Initiative.

Rain Barrel GRID

A smarter rain barrel

Guy Dixon

TORONTO — The Globe and Mail

Published Tuesday, May. 27 2014, 3:43 PM EDT

In heavy rain, the plink-plonk of water dripping in a storm barrel by the side of the house is evocative, poetic. The splash of dirty flood water on a residential street isn’t.

Environmentalist Kevin Mercer and engineer Stephen Braun have started a company to make that rain barrel prevent roadway flooding. And in the process, by linking the operation of residential rain barrels, the company aims to change stormwater management systems for entire communities and cities.

Their Toronto-based RainGrid sells storm barrels which connect wirelessly to other barrels around a neighbourhood through a central computer server. Before rainfall, the residential barrels, with special valves, release their stores of water into the ground. Emptying the barrels allows them to be more effective during the next rain and prevents the sudden runoff of water and flash flooding that occurs during a storm.

It’s a simple idea, but the trick was to empty the barrels en masse.

“We’re taking a formerly passive, unmanageable system which is the residential rain barrel – which is sold as a consumer good – and converting it into a smart grid utility,” Mr. Mercer said. “We want that utility to serve as the first line of defence in stormwater.”

The barrels and control system would be owned by cities, in what Mr. Mercer and Mr. Braun see as a public-private partnership with RainGrid. Already they are the sole suppliers of this technology to Washington, D.C., providing 1,000 barrels a year.

Mr. Mercer’s background is in environmental advocacy, and he has been heavily involved in programs to stop runoff into urban rivers through the not-for-profit organization RiverSides. His business partner Mr. Braun comes from the world of water-systems engineering.

Stormwater damage is the largest source of insurance claims, the two explained, as they sat in their office in an old municipal waterworks repair shop hidden in Toronto’s trendy downtown westside. The devastating Alberta floods and the two once-in-a-hundred-year storms in Toronto last year were a wake-up call, Mr. Mercer said. The old solution for cities to build ever larger pipes and larger water infrastructure to divert stormwater isn’t working in an age of climate change.

Like rooftop solar panels and home recycling bins, the solution is to address the problem at the source, he said. “Right now we have an end-of-the-pipe ethos.”

RainGrid’s network of co-ordinated rain barrels at every house would, instead, “treat rain where it falls. We take it off roofs. We store it on the properties. We reduce the infrastructure cost to the city, the downstream damage and the pollution to the environment.”

Rather than an extra expense for taxpayers, Mr. Mercer and Mr. Braun said that a co-ordinated rain barrel system would cost significantly less than expanding water systems– this at a time when many municipalities are considering raising fees or taxes for stormwater management. Mr. Mercer and Mr. Braun see their technology helping to offset those costs.

The company has revenue of $250,000 annually. The partners expect this to increase to $5-million a year within three years, as they look to get another two or three major cities on board with the project. They foresee other companies will start adopting and offering this service to other cities, as the stormwater problems worsen in municipalities. There’s only so much one company can handle, and others will follow, Mr. Mercer indicated.

“We estimate that every city will have rain grids of some kind or another,” Mr. Mercer said. “We are building the system that will make cities stormwater-resilient.”

Follow Guy Dixon on Twitter: @Guy_Dixon

 

 

raingrid.com    under construction

Doors Recycled–Reused–Rescued

 

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downtoearthstyle.blogspot.com
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Door / window repurpose in the garden

Repurposed Doors In The Garden

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houzz.com

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justimagine-ddoc.com

Old Paned Window planters

Old Paned Window planters

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heatherbullard.typepad.com

old wrought iron garden gate

old wrought iron garden gate

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heatherbullard.typepad.com

realcutflowergarden.blogspot.com

decorated garden gate

decorated garden gate

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Old doors.

Old doors.

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images.search.yahoo.com

Image detail for -Primitive Country Decor Stands The Test Time Pictures

Image detail for -Primitive Country Decor Stands The Test Time Pictures

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cdn.indulgy.com

old window chair

old window chair

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bernideensteatimeblog.blogspot.com

weathered door

weathered door

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diekleineprinzessin.tumblr.com

use old doors to decorate!

use old doors to decorate!

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interiorstyledesign.tumblr.com

LOVE this Garden Gate~

LOVE this Garden Gate~

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apartmenttherapy.com

reuse a panel door

reuse a panel door

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flickr.com

Great idea!         love!
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canadiangardening.com

good reuse of doors

good reuse of doors

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forums2.gardenweb.com

Screen door trellis

Screen door trellis

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inspirationoooooahhhhh.tumblr.com

Old door turned into clock

Old door turned into clock

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huckleberrylanefurniture.blogspot.com

backyard swing <3

backyard swing ♥

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houzz.com

Recycled garden backdrop    Cool garden installation made from recycled windows, a door frame and wrought iron.

Recycled garden backdrop Cool garden installation made from recycled windows, a door frame and wrought iron.

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Our summer yard art project.  Repurposed old door and window frame with a pallet path :)

Our summer yard art project. Repurposed old door and window frame with a pallet path 🙂

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woodlandslifestylesandhomes.com

A mirror, shutters and a gate painted black — gives the illusion of a door that leads to another side beyond the fence.

A mirror, shutters and a gate painted black — gives the illusion of a door that leads to another side beyond the fence.

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Potting bench with old sink and door ---> Love the shelves...but maybe a cupboard?

Potting bench with old sink and door —> Love the shelves…but maybe a cupboard?

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hometalk.com

Old doors are easily found on garbage day. This old door must have been from the 70's.  Perfectly shabby making it ideal for a garden (plant) bench

Old doors are easily found on garbage day. This old door must have been from the 70’s. Perfectly shabby making it ideal for a garden (plant) bench

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A screen door project my husband made for my mom :)  Nice garden addition!!!

A screen door project my husband made for my mom 🙂 Nice garden addition!!!

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yearroundveggiegardener.blogspot.com

Niki Jabbour - The Year Round Veggie Gardener: I'm back.. with wonderful winter garden photos to share!

Niki Jabbour – The Year Round Veggie Gardener: I’m back.. with wonderful winter garden photos to share!

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teencraftconnection.com

DIY Vertical Kitchen garden & seed starting trays. Single repuposed bi-fold shuttered closet door and dollar store container trays. Materials used and the how Mom did it on Teen Craft Connection's page.

DIY Vertical Kitchen garden & seed starting trays. Single repuposed bi-fold shuttered closet door and dollar store container trays. Materials used and the how Mom did it on Teen Craft Connection’s page.

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Gorgeous & Colorful shed made of ten recycled doors, discovered in yes, you guessed it: Door County, WI

Gorgeous & Colorful shed made of ten recycled doors, discovered in yes, you guessed it: Door County, WI

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indulgy.com

repurposing old doors and windows | greenhouse made from old windows, love the tin siding (old tin ceiling ...

repurposing old doors and windows | greenhouse made from old windows, love the tin siding (old tin ceiling …

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blog.bernideens.com

There's so many ways to use old doors in the garen. This one is very romantic looking.

There’s so many ways to use old doors in the garen. This one is very romantic looking.

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junkmarketstyle.com

Dressing up the Yard, My attempt at re-purposing an old bi-fold door

Dressing up the Yard, My attempt at re-purposing an old bi-fold door

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Often we have problem on what to do with our defective doors, they would take a lot of our storage space! But if you are a crafty person, then you can upcycle them for a different purpose!

Often we have problem on what to do with our defective doors, they would take a lot of our storage space! But if you are a crafty person, then you can upcycle them for a different purpose!

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flickr.com

That door should be saved and not left to     rot.

That door should be saved and not left to rot.

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garden bench made from repurposed door...

garden bench made from repurposed door…

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fairenotions.blogspot.com

Repurposed Door garden shed.  But of course!  Why didn't I think of this?  Okay girls... looks like GG is a hunting at her ReStore.

Repurposed Door garden shed. But of course! Why didn’t I think of this? Okay girls… looks like GG is a hunting at her ReStore.

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flickr.com

reusing glass doors from a for funky decor in garden - maybe one day when we have a bigger place

reusing glass doors from a for funky decor in garden – maybe one day when we have a bigger place

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repinly.at-my-style.com

garden decor: Re-purposed old French doors used for pseudo-wall/screen in the patio setting...love!  Idea to note: would start trailing vines to drape over

garden decor: Re-purposed old French doors used for pseudo-wall/screen in the patio setting…love! Idea to note: would start trailing vines to drape over

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myrepurposedlife.net

Door turned into a shelf; could easily be made into bench with storage underneath.  Picture the window panes with b/w photos in each.  Sweet!

Door turned into a shelf; could easily be made into bench with storage underneath. Picture the window panes with b/w photos in each. Sweet!

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hometalk.com

Garden Salvage  I took an old door and coated the glass with mirror paint, then I mounted it on my fence. I added some porch poles and bunk bed slats as a frame around the door; decorating it with paint and flower pot finials. I added a decorative piece of steel as a topper and put some stepping stones in front of it. This is my

Garden Salvage I took an old door and coated the glass with mirror paint, then I mounted it on my fence. I added some porch poles and bunk bed slats as a frame around the door; decorating it with paint and flower pot finials. I added a decorative piece of steel as a topper and put some stepping stones in front of it. This is my “secret” door to nowhere.

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landliebe-cottage-garden.blogspot.com.au

Re-purposed shutters as a garden screen. This is a great idea.  We used our front door's -  Old wrought iron doors for the back yard.....the ivy has started climbing.

Re-purposed shutters as a garden screen. This is a great idea. We used our front door’s – Old wrought iron doors for the back yard…..the ivy has started climbing.

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dishfunctionaldesigns.blogspot.com

New Takes On Old Doors: Salvaged Doors Repurposed potting bench for gardeners DIY. I had one of these from the red barn in Modesto. had to sell it when we moved. I guess I will make my next one.

New Takes On Old Doors: Salvaged Doors Repurposed potting bench for gardeners DIY. I had one of these from the red barn in Modesto. had to sell it when we moved. I guess I will make my next one.

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No instructions, but it looks pretty self-explanatory.

No instructions, but it looks pretty self-explanatory.

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Red, antique door used as a garden gate.  What a great idea!  garden ideas.  vintage doors.  repurposed doors.  gardening.  garden gate.

Red, antique door used as a garden gate. What a great idea! garden ideas. vintage doors. repurposed doors. gardening. garden gate.

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Time to Remake your Soil

Current soil tests are designed by fertilizer sales groups who want you to buy more potash. We need real tests that demonstrate how good (or not) your soil is. Especially if we’re going to add sewer sludge to farms.

Microbes Will Feed the World, or Why Real Farmers Grow Soil, Not Crops

By Brian Barth on April 22, 2014

Out on the horizon of agriculture’s future, an army 40,000 strong is marching towards a shimmering goal. They see the potential for a global food system where pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers are but relics of a faded age.

They are not farmers, but they are working in the name of farmers everywhere. Under their white lab coats their hearts beat with a mission to unlock the secrets of the soil — making the work of farmers a little lighter, increasing the productivity of every field and reducing the costly inputs that stretch farmers’ profits as thin as a wire.

The American Society of Microbiologists (ASM) recently released a treasure trove of their latest research and is eager to get it into the hands of farmers. Acknowledging that farmers will need to produce 70 to 100 percent more food to feed the projected 9 billion humans that will inhabit the earth by 2050, they remain refreshingly optimistic in their work. The introduction to their latest report states:

“Producing more food with fewer resources may seem too good to be true, but the world’s farmers have trillions of potential partners that can help achieve that ambitious goal. Those partners are microbes.”

Mingling with Microbes

Linda Kinkel of the University of Minnesota’s Department of Plant Pathology was one of the delegates at ASM’s colloquium in December 2012, where innovators from science, agribusiness and the USDA spent two days sharing their research and discussing solutions to the most pressing problems in agriculture.

“We understand only a fraction of what microbes do to aid in plant growth,” she says. “But the technical capacity to categorize the vast unknown community [of microorganisms] has improved rapidly in the last couple of years.”

Microbiologists have thoroughly documented instances where bacteriafungi, nematodes — even viruses — have formed mutually beneficial associations with food plants, improving their ability to absorb nutrients and resist drought, disease and pests. Microbes can enable plants to better tolerate extreme temperature fluctuations, saline soils and other challenges of a changing climate. There is even evidence that microbes contribute to the finely-tuned flavors of top-quality produce, a phenomenon observed in strawberries in particular.

“But we’re only at the tip of the iceberg,” says Kinkel.

In the Field

Statements such as, “There are 10 to the 6th fungal organisms in a gram of soil!” and, “This bacterial biofilm has tremendous communication properties!” are breakroom banter among microbiologists, but what does it all mean for farmers? The answers reach back into the millennial past of agriculture, back to the dawn of life on earth.

Whenever a seed germinates in the wild or a crop is planted by a farmer, the microbial community that helps that species to grow and thrive is mobilized. Chemical signals enter the soil via the exudates of the plant and a symphony of underground activity commences. Genetic information is exchanged; the various microbial players assume their positions on the tissues of the plant; often, one microbe colonizes another, providing a service that helps the first microbe to assist the plant whose roots it is embedded in.

Though this elaborate dance takes place without any input from humans, we have been tinkering with it for a long time.

For example, the process of nitrogen fixation in plants of the legume family (which includes beans, peas, peanuts and many other crop plants) is one of the little bacterial miracles that makes our planet habitable. Anyone who has ever observed the roots of a legume knows that they are covered in strange white or pinkish growths, about the size of ants, which appear to be an infection of some sort. Undoubtedly, ancient farmers had an intuitive understanding that these warty protuberances had something to do with the noticeable ability of legumes to improve the soil, but it wasn’t until the late 19th century that the mystery began to unfold.

While Louis Pasteur was discovering how to preserve milk and becoming famous as the father of microbiology, a relatively unknown colleague of his with a penchant for plants was making another discovery, of perhaps even greater historical importance. In 1888, Martinus Beijerinck, discovered that tiny bacteria called Rhizobia infect the roots of legumes, causing the swollen nodules. Rather than an infection that weakens the plant, the nodules are the fertilizer factories of the plant kingdom, disassembling atmospheric nitrogen — which plants are unable to use — and refashioning it in a soluble, plant-friendly form.

Rhizobia are key ingredients of the earth’s verdancy and harnessing the bacteria to improve soil fertility has long been one of the cornerstones of sustainable agriculture. Yet, modern day microbiologists are now aware of scores of other equally profound plant-microbe interactions, discoveries they believe will have a big impact as human populations continue to soar on a planet of finite resources.

Making the Translation

In her lab at the university, Kinkel experiments with antibiotic bacteria that suppress plant pathogens and tests various soil management strategies to see their effects on microbial communities. In Colombia, microbiologists have learned to propagate a fungus that colonizes cassava plants and increases yields up to 20 percent. Its hyphae — the tiny tentacles of fungi — extend far beyond the roots of the cassava to unlock phosphorus, nitrogen and sulfur in the soil and siphon it back to their host, like an IV of liquid fertilizer.

Though microbiologists can coerce soil to produce extraordinary plant growth in their labs and test plots, transferring the results to everyday agricultural practices is not a straightforward process.

“Connections to farmers are a weak link,” Kinkel laments, alluding to a “snake oil effect” where farmers have become leery of salesmen hawking microbial growth enhancers that don’t pan out in the field. “The challenge of [these] inoculants,” she says, “is they may not translate in all environments.”

Though researchers continue to develop promising new microbial cocktails, there is an increased focus on guiding farmers to better steward the populations that already exist in their soil. Kinkel is working on an approach she believes will help farmers sustain optimal microbial communities by ensuring they have the food they need — carbon — at all times. She calls it ‘slow release carbon’, but it’s not something farmers will see in supply catalogs anytime soon. Kinkel says she has access to resources for her academic research, but lacks a “deliberate pipeline for product development.”

It Takes a Global Village

The 26 experts from around the world convened at the ASM colloquium concluded their discussions with a bold goal for the future of agriculture: They’ve challenged themselves to bring about a 20 percent increase in global food production and a 20 percent decrease in fertilizer and pesticide use over the next 20 years.

With an indomitable belief that science will do its part to make this dream a reality, the scientists are looking to their corporate and regulatory counterparts to build a pipeline of information to farmers. They’re hoping that top-down investments in research and technology will meet directly with grassroots changes in the culture of farming — without all the snake oil-vending agribusiness interests in the middle. Ultimately, they envision a future where farmers again trust in the unseen forces of the soil — instead of the fertilizer shed — for answers to their challenges.

RelatedPlants and AnimalsmicrobesSoil

 

 

Juan de Fuca Scale

FIRST DRAFT

This measuring system has a lot of unknowns, but it covers some of the main factors in evaluating a town’s process for dealing with waste. Nature has no waste and many ways of turning one entity’s waste into another’s food.

Willis-porkers

As a society, the industrial world has been characterized by an extraordinary human plunder of stored “assets” and a parallel destruction of the possiblity of growth or even survival for other forms of life.

Juan de Fuca, who is certainly not an invented character, was one of the first European visitor to the Salish Sea. He was Greek, however, from a displaced family of earlier upheavals and the Spanish never rewarded him for his explorations.

The goal of this scale is to show what an ideal, truly sustainable system for “waste” would accomplish. There are models all along the scale, but many systems (old, new and planned) fail utterly when using this scale.

1. CAPITAL COST:

Norm. $1,500 per capita. 10 points. Lose points down to $3,000 which is zero.

2. OPERATING COST.

Norm. 5% of capital costs per year.

5 points if less than 5% of capital costs.

Lose 1 point for each 1% increase above that.

3. WATER DISCHARGE QUALITY.

Norm: Better than average the population now drinks.

35 points for norm.

Some scale that takes it down down to zero for water than can only be used for irrigation.

Irrigation needs to be defined. Irrigation for human food crops? Or for pasture for cows that produce milk?

4. HEAT CAPTURE.

Norm: capture some percetage of potential available heat.

10 points for capture and reuse of at least 70% of potential available heat.

Zero if all heat wasted.

5. METHANE CAPTURE.

Same as above.

20 points for capture and reuse of at least 70% of potential available methane.

Zero if no methane captured. Although this may. Up to negative ten points if methane created and flared or allowed into atmopsphere.
6. BIOSOLIDS.

Norm: everything back into the natural world.

20 points for recyling of all biosolids in a fashion that does no damage to health or the environment.

Down to zero for landfill that generates leachate.