Posts Tagged ‘Peak Oil’

Posit: Reduce commute time

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Peak Oil

Peak oil is a looming crisis for the world, as current oil fields lose productivity as they empty, as world demand for oil grows with additional nations approaching the oil consumption rates per capita that made the United States wealthy, and as newly found and developed fields promise new sources of oil – at one fourth the rate that oil is being consumed today.

The Peak Oil crisis is hitting now, as demand outstrips – now and forever – the ability to produce oil, on a day by day basis.

The risk: Shortages and rising prices for energy

Whether or not the climate change movement’s contention that burning fossil fuels returns carbon dioxide to the atmosphere that was removed ages ago – unbalancing the content of the air we breathe, and that traps more heat against the Earth that in decades and centuries past – we are facing shortages and volatile prices for oil and other energy sources.

The personal, private automobile is one of the symbols of America’s wealthy lifestyle. The car runs on gasoline, or diesel fuel – oil, that is – or increasingly, electricity from coal-fired power plants (which are still being built, even as Peak Coal approaches). One way to lessen the impact of short supplies of oil, and increasing energy costs, is to – reduce commutes.

Instead of investing heavily in exquisitely energy intensive roadways, or rapid or mass transit, one way is to abandon the concept of commuting to work, to school, or for shopping.

The Proposal

Cut commutes.

Many urban areas contain housing “communities” – regions, some vast in size, built by a single or small group of builders or investors, some at significant distances from stores, employers, worship centers, and schools. Other cities have seen vast shopping centers and other shopping districts “consolidate” – and expect the community to travel tens of miles to shop. Employers build offices and factories and other business facilities in areas remote from where most of their workers live. I think a “commute” tax on employers is needed, to gain understanding about how far workers commute each day, and the community infrastructure burdened by employers not being engaged with the community, and not taking responsibility for how much commute each employer imposes on that community.

But today the idea is – recognize the impact of letting “city planning” stray, and encourage long commutes – and the attendant costs of providing and servicing the infrastructures and private and public vehicles needed to support the commuting lifestyle.

Social engineering through taxes

What I recommend, is an excise tax, a Residential Excise Tax on the purchase of an existing residence or materials, land, and attendant costs of building a residence. The tax would be calculated for every residence purchased that isn’t located on, or adjacent to, a farm.

The Residential Excise Tax (RET) would be 2.5 percent on the accumulated and total cost of purchasing a residence the first year, increasing by 2.5 percent per year, to an eventual (20 year) target of 50 percent of the cost of buying.

The RET would be forgiven if the following conditions are met:

  1. Schools. Public school (grades K-12) within one mile walking distance
  2. Stores. Grocery and hardware stores within one mile walking distance, or qualified combination grocery/hardware store
  3. Sufficient employment. That is, the total of all employees employed and working within one and a half miles (1.5 miles) is greater than one half (0.5) of the population within one mile of the residence.
  4. Sidewalk. Whether or not the property borders a street, if the property includes any land surface, it includes a sidewalk for general pedestrian traffic in the direction of general traffic (vehicle or pedestrian) flow, that connects to sidewalks on adjoining properties.
  5. Parks. Parks, play areas for children, and green zones within 1.5 miles, containing at least 1 square yard of area for each adult living within 1 mile of the residence.
  6. Retirement. Or, the residence might be sworn to be a retirement residence where no commute or school is required by any resident. The retirement exemption would need to be re-sworn every year, and the first year that a resident commutes to work or school, the RET is due on that year, and the Retirement exemption would be set aside. For the Retirement exemption, all above requirements must be met, except Sufficient employment and Schools.

The Residential Excise Tax might be tailored to also encourage supplemental local food production, by requiring every resident have access to a minimum of space for a garden. Customary certification that water is available for the next century before the residence may be occupied should certainly be required. Certification about whether sufficient electricity can be provided might be worth implementing.

An alternative to calculating the sufficient employment factor might be to impose a factor relating distance to employer for each adult in the household, though that would be subject to abuse (fraudulent claim of distance to employer, fraudulent employer identification until after the RET is paid, etc.). These concerns would be covered by the Employer Commute Tax above.

The intent is to make the choice to live near one’s work cheaper than otherwise, or at least put a halt to the practice of planning communities requiring commutes of more than 20 minutes, or distances too far to walk, for work, shopping, and school. Secondarily, as energy costs rise, the current practice of living way over ‘thar, and working way over ‘hyar, will become increasingly a factor destabilizing employers, communities, and the lives of workers. Limiting the long commutes to the decidedly more wealthy will, in the future, leave fewer people stranded by an unsustainable planning bias toward accommodating big developers.

Communities have to understand the burden imposed by developments, by employment, and by centralized schools, shopping, and employers.

cc: Getting out the post-carbon message

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

Crunchy Chicken asks – how to get the message out about man-made global warming and peak oil.

There are a lot of niggling details being argued over in climate change and environmental circles. 350 ppm. Peak oil dates. Number of species gone extinct.

But, I’ve come to the realization that many of these details are, for the most part, irrelevant. We’ve got a much bigger problem. And it’s called apathy. Actually, it’s much worse than apathy because apathy suggests something more hopeful. No, what we’ve got is distrust, disbelief, the desire to prove wrong and more, importantly, hatred.

Until these issues are addressed our message (whatever it is) will just bounce off the heads of those we are trying to educate or encourage.

One commenter chimed in with

Carbon taxes. People change their behavior when money comes into the picture. Mental change follows action change for most folks anyway.

– – –

On a personal note, I don’t hold that global warming is man-made. On the other hand, Peak Oil, the loss of wealth from the world as demand for oil on a given day overshadows the ability to produce oil on that day, will drive nearly all the changes that the AGW (anthropogenic global warming) worriers propose. The AGW argument runs in two directions – stop burning fossil fuels and producing methane, and sequester carbon and CO2 already in the atmosphere. Peak Oil expectations are that cheap energy – coal and oil – are getting more expensive and will become too expensive to continue life as we know it.

Most of the proposals for sequestering carbon have been energy intensive. Anything energy intensive has to be re-evaluated under Peak Oil.

Someone pointed out that cows produce methane – so feeding cows has become somewhat of a point of dogma for AGW mitigation proponents. They don’t seem concerned about swamps and compost heaps that sequester carbon – and emit methane. In quantities to obscure what can be measured from all the cows in the world. This is just one of the politically correct and facile arguments I object to.

– – –

Barry Goldwater had it several years ago, “You cannot legislate morality.”

Carbon taxes won’t work. Look at how punitive taxes have failed to reduce smoking, or the dangers to young and old smokers. Smoking sections in restaurants, now, made a difference. Smoking sections demonstrate, publicly, that smokers are harmful to others. That visual cue – the smoke in the air, the segregation, is an image easier to carry into home and family life, implying a credible message to smokers and bystanders.

Cigarette taxes barely inconvenience sellers and wealthy – and impose real hardships on the middle class and poor. And fuel a black market that gangs, thugs, and organized crime exploit.

If you want to shut down coal-fired power plants, the obvious step is to stop using electricity. If you want to shut down steel plants, stop using steel. And if you want to save the planet, stop sending scrapped machinery and cars to China. Re-use, repurpose, rebuild and restore, instead.

If you want to stop burning diesel and gas in cars, stop commuting for shopping and for work. And school – return to the one-room school within walking distance (a mile or so), put up the teacher in a nearby home instead of a “living” (euphemism for Union) or “comparable” wage, forgo the weekly (out of town!) football and basketball spectacles.

(I can see how consolidating schools makes for career advancement for administrators, for consolidating authority, but it fails to take into account the impact of longer travel times and fuel usage on the community. I have a lot of respect for teaching and teachers. But teachers unions seldom pressure a school to improve education results, and they do *not* keep money in the local economy.)

If you cannot choose, en masse, to live a sustainable energy lifestyle – how strong is your message? Really?

I mean, you have to allow a transition, a period where people expecting to live in a post-industrial age find the adaptations – the devices, the community planning strategies, the building codes, the school building construction concepts, the bicycles, the shoes not made of petroleum in third world countries and transported around the world, for goodness sakes!

I have a drawing in a book, “Farm Appliances You Can Build”, that shows a wooden frame to stuff straw or hay – to hand build hay and straw bales. My neighbors that bale and feed hay use the big bales that require heavy equipment to pick up, store, and dispense. I don’t begin to know how to make my own twine.

The flip side to “carbon tax” is the devaluation of human effort. Real wages have to return to the value of the food required (at the rice and beans level of nutrition) for that day, plus 10-20% so the “wealthy” can afford to feed a family. Wages cannot be kept at a level where the average worker buys a house, buys a car every five to ten years, pays for college for every child, and buys them computers as their school requires.

As a nation we may have to evaluate whether some jobs should pay enough for a worker to have a family, or be married. I expect this pressure on wages to redefine a lot, including selection of mate and circumstances for “dating” and marrying – and having children. I expect the home to become not an investment, but where you expect your descendents to live. This may come to overturn our current approach to real estate taxes – which today assume a level of affluence that is not going to persist.

That kind of re-adjustment to “real wages” is what is needed. Does that have to happen today? No. Today we have to adapt to a “hideously expensive” energy society. And the first things to look at are employers and city planners oblivious to the distance people commute, and that fail to take responsibility for their impact on fuel usage in cities.

That is how to reduce reliance on fossil fuels in personal life. Not employing more union labor to build big factory cars that burn less gas – or coal-fired electricity – to repeat the same rubber-consuming, time consuming, resource consuming commuter lifestyle we have taken for granted since the boys came marching home from WWII and Sears created the myth of the single family dwelling, and corporate America invented mass commuting.

The ship doesn’t go where the captain doesn’t steer. If we don’t like this ship, the answer has nothing to do with harassing the guy at the wheel. I just don’t see that many people getting off the “cheap oil” ship. That Cheap Oil ship has to stay to the established trade routes – it cannot get to the “uncharted wastes” where people could live without massive use of fossil fuels.

A Carbon tax is a politically correct bandage. It serves the “Tax the rich” mantra, and it keeps union workers on the take as we build new cars and new coal-fired power plants to take advantage of the new economic leverage ploys you create. And it is my understanding the national electricity grid is someone inefficient, delivering some portion of the energy it starts out with. So-called “clean” electricity from wind power is quite a bit more expensive – and oil intensive – to build and maintain. And requires coal-fired plants to serve when the wind isn’t blowing where it is needed.

Like recycling plans for plastics and paper – without government subsidies, you wouldn’t see the wind turbines going up – or operating. I understand the wind operators in Texas, some of them, *pay* the grid to take their electricity, making up the difference from federal grants. That is what “sustainable” means to me.

vftp, dr: Whining about blizzard, or sucking it up?

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

Tam at View From The Porch mentions (commends) a Dennis Ranch post on “Whining“. That is, a working rancher reflects on – rants about – people (city, or non-ranch, folk) stranded and torn from their regular routine by the recent blizzard.

The rant:

We get a three day doozy of a blizzard. How long has it been since we had one of those in this country at Chriustmas? Been awhile. Setting here this morning reading all the comments and talk on the internet from blogs and Facebook, of people I read and know who have just went thru’ this. And what do I read? Whine, whine, bitch, bitch and moan, moan! “Woe is me!”

Oh how sad that your poor little lives have been upset by Mother Nature. On all the farm/ranch blogs I read, I never saw one person who whined about the extra work to feed the stock. Just the satisfaction of knowing they got the stock all fed and taken care of. Mostly (sorry town and city dwellers) all I read was whine, whine, cry, cry. because we can’t get somewhere we WANT to go. Oh my!

Things didn’t go your way!

How sad!

I grew up in rural NW Iowa, and have been snowed in – mostly every winter, at home. We had heat and running water, food, and barring emergency, accepted the situation and went on. The lane from the house to the road was most of a quarter mile long (house set in the center of a quarter-section of land), and we walked to meet the school bus, whether there was snow drifted or not. If school was on, we headed out; we could see the school bus a couple miles away so we just had time to make it, if we hurried.

So I understand that DennisRanch has little patience for people that haven’t organized their life, from the vehicle they drive to how they heat their home and plan for water when the power and roads are down. That knowing the neighbors and being ready to help – or ask for help – when needed is a matter of planning for regular natural interruptions.

Look at Sharon Astyk’s take on this at Chatelaine’s Keys. Sharon doesn’t mention the blizzard; she is concerned about the nation falling off the common electric grid. That is, the Peak Oil community expects the average (read: more than half, not counting those living in poverty) American family will *not be able* to afford local utilities by 2012. That number came from expectations about instability of oil and coal prices, and much before Obama decided to tax the utility industry into rubble. Kathy at The Just In Case Book Blog looks at all kinds of preparation for emergencies. The Original Modern Urban Homestead is one family’s example of creating a microfarm in Pasadena, focusing on sustainable and alternative energy practices, and food security.

I venture to say that DennisRanch hasn’t “prepared” for transportation cost to overcome market value on his livestock – so he could no longer afford to sell. I venture to say that DennisRanch would be hardpressed to manufacture the appliances and clothes in his home, or the homes of “city slickers”. A recent fairy-tale movie, Juia Stiles’ “The Prince & Me”, makes a point that we are all interconnected. That no one gets hurt without hurting all of us.

And I don’t think DennisRanch adequately takes into account, that storm surprises that catch folks unprepared for what he experiences rather regularly – the isolation and danger of show storms and road travel – is that over time, the rural folk have learned to cope. Others don’t yet have the experience. Where DennisRanch likely, as I did, learned from parents and neighbors what works and what is a hazard over the course of a year, others have family heritage that includes office work and urban interests and hazards. The rural bragging about weathering harsh storms over city slickers is as much a truism and a joke, a the green out of towner or rural rube getting mugged or lost in the big city.

The answer, I think, is to be aware of what the natives know and how they act. Anything different might be due to ignorance – but might be due to hazards and opportunities that we are ignorant about.

Even the village idiot has a story to tell.

Dressage – transition in disguise?

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

Coming out of a local restaurant tonite, I noticed the front plate on a truck. “Oklahoma Dressage Association”.

Dressage (I was told, something like “training” in French) is about riding a horse. Riding in a standard-sized arena. Riding standard test patterns.

The competition test might include various gaits – the walk, the trot, the canter. Maybe a variation on speed – a relaxed trot, a working trot, an extended trot. Maybe a change of direction – and accompanying change of “lead” – which leg moves forward first, on the horse, in the given gait. It matters, in circles, in corners, etc. The horse is much less likely to stumble over its feet or miss a stride if on the correct lead – which is the rider’s responsibility to train for and command.

But – Transition? This “rich people” exercise of buying expensive horses, buying expensive feed, hiring teachers and trainers, renting stable and practice space? Learning to work with livestock, understand “what goes in, must come out”, understanding that nutrition and practice are essential to get the expected results when you climb aboard?

To learn about finding feed, dealing with people that know hay from supplements from complete feeds, to meet people that understand large animals as livestock, as companions, and as competitors.

You might never use a horse as transportation. But being able to raise, train, and work horses takes a lifetime’s experience – and learning can start in a couple of months. Working horse farms depended on the adults knowing how to care for their horses and other livestock, and we are sadly poor in this tradition. By learning the discipline and precision of dressage, we prepare our children, and ourselves, for thinking “outside the car”. If and when the need comes.

At the least, dressage teaches the rider precision, respect, consistency, caring for the horse and learning they are dependent on the comfort and communication to and from the horse. By striving to achieve, riders learn to apply effort, overcome problems – and meet their test.

Electric utilities at risk?

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

Peak Oil posits that energy will get more expensive, that demand will outpace the supplies of oil and other energy sources. They call this the end of cheap energy, and see the result as partly depriving the economy, and people, of petroleum products, but more immediately, pricing public utility electricity and other economic commodities outside the reach of the average American.

More than half of Americans, according to Peak Oil, will be unable to pay for utilities, by 2012.

Is the electric grid about to shatter?

We all know about what ice storms do to electric power. In places where the power lines are still strung on poles, and around trees, the lines come down. Or a car knocks a utility pole over. Or a squirrel gets fried in a substation and lights go out for several blocks.

Or there are too many air conditioners running, and people experience “brown outs” as the voltage on the line falls when over-demand for the energy available. Or the power company pulls a “rolling blackout” – when the power company deliberately cuts off power to a segment of their customers. Then turns it on as they turn off another segment.

Stacking another layer on a house of cards

There are experimental installations in Ohio for transmitting broadband Internet hookups over the power grid. Talk and technology is progressing for “smart meters” – meters that charge different rates according to varying schedules. And can turn off your power if the meter “gets the signal”. Or when your neighbor opens his garage door?

Increased exposure to risk of failure of the grid.

Wired covers a story from the Wall Street Journal, about foreign adversaries targeting the electric utilities.

Peak oil advocate focus on surviving without the utility grid. And they want to develop local sources of food and expertise.

Perhaps an intermediate step would be to return to regional and local sources of power, not just personal solar panels.

Just as chickens in California and sheep in Wyoming won’t feed anyone, if the cost of getting them to hungry people is too high for the hungry people to afford, I am not real happy about losing power in Oklahoma so that California air conditioners keep running.

Parasite regions.

I have nothing against California, I lived there from 1984 to 1989. But even then they were making stupid choices, legislating away their ability to live on the water available, the ability to generate the power they consume, or to raise the food they eat.

Southern California is merely one of the best recognized regions for making foolish energy and food choices. Most cities require vast regions to supply food for their people, power for residences, commerce, and industry, and often rely on tourism for enough revenue to support themselves.

i drive my tractor in pearls…, writing at My Modern Country Home, takes pride in the independence of the Oklahoma state constitution. I wonder – is she comfortable that Oklahoma could supply enough energy for Oklahoman use, if the national grid came apart?

Study up, in black and white

Friday, October 17th, 2008

“Walk this way!” the attractive sales lady tells Groucho Marx, sauntering down the store aisle.

“If I could walk that way, I wouldn’t need talcum powder, now would I?”

At least, that is how I recall the story being told of a Marx Brothers comedy skit.  But it brought to mind some of the in-jokes of the black and white depression era comedies.  When people might have one suit of clothes, could carry all of their possessions in a single case or box.  When washing was an important part of hospitality – and not always available.

The old Beverly Hillbillies series was funny mostly because the characters were engaging.  But the story line was about how different the affluent lived from the poor.

The Ma and Pa Kettle stories showed some of the rural cabin lifestyle – not what everyone had, by all means, but not that uncommon either.  If you are contemplating how dark the days must be if you have to live off the grid,  check out the nearly modern “Witness” with Harrison Ford – set in Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County Amish community.  Look at the Lapp house – you have to look to see there is no electricity,  that there are ways of dealing with washing, cooking, and enjoying life.

How do you deal with vacuuming your carpet, when the electricity goes?  Watch the Three Stooges and other films to see carpet beaters in action, and sometimes cleaning the carpet, too – while the carpet is draped over the  porch rail or clothes line.  There are manual ‘carpet sweepers’ with brush and pan that sweeps across the carpet – OK for a low-nap carpet. And a broom will help dress the fibers, and stir some of the dirt.  You might want to consider putting a hard floor under your carpet, and going for a moveable pad or giving up the pad.  A carpet uncleaned for too long accumulates a *lot* of dirt, and mold, and ..

Right now the oil companies are conspiring to support Republican election campaigns by holding prices down for the  next week or two, maybe as long as until election day.  But the artificial relief from inflation, rising prices, will be biting us again all too soon.  If the Peak Oil people are to be believed, we are embarked on a series of  alternating tumbles and almost-recoveries, each time losing a bit of ability to buy necessities, each time seeing the cost of energy rise above previous levels.

We can haunt Grandma’s attic, and Uncle John’s basement, and we can also look at those old movies to pick up pointers on ‘getting by’.

The new poverty – livable or not?

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Sharon Astyk posted an unusually angry message today about how to handle the currently eroding economy. Her point is that with intelligence, we can use our resources to preserve lives and options – but the bailout seems awfully short sighted, self-serving, and inept – and squanders resources uselessly.

PO: Raw grain

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

Verde at Justice Desserts (Of things from just desserts, to just deserts. Urban Homesteading in an uncertain world) is counting down 16 more days, trying to meet a food storage challenge.

An amazing calculator link is to the LDS (Mormon) library (http://lds.about.com/library/bl/faq/blcalculator.htm), that estimates the food a family needs, for a year. You may not have a year’s food stored, yet. But if things get tight(er), getting started now will be a comfort then.

As Verde put it today,

.. She has been encouraging level headed, balanced food storage. This includes buying what you eat and eating what you buy and buying extra each time you shop. ..

and

Please note: I by far favor a long thought out stocking up of things you will actually use and beginning to adjusting your diet to eating closer to whole foods. We eat beans and home ground grains and fruit from the tree every week, but if you eat a lot of fast food, you have to develop the ability to digest this stuff so start slowly. If you start all at once, you will feel ill. Food storage must be rotated and maintained.

What do plan on cooking in an emergency? OK, make it for dinner this week and see how well you digest it. Don’t like it? Don’t store it.

When Verde mentioned buying a bag of wheat from a farmer ($25/50 pound bag; about market price now. If you buy ‘seed’ wheat, be sure it has *not* been treated or inoculated, and it is *not* the Monsanto and other ‘Roundup Ready’ tailored commercial species – you get into serious copyright and patent crap, if they think you might keep or sell or trade some of the wheat to plant.

But I wondered – wheat. The last thing I did with ‘wheat berries’ (seed) was to drop a couple tablespoons in a quart jar of water, and let it ferment in the cupboard until the water got cloudy and it bubbled. Then I started drinking a cup or so, and replacing the water, each day for a week. And repeat. Called ‘rejuvelac’ (I lived in California, just south of San Francisco) this was supposed to be part of a ‘colon cleansing’ program, and made ‘lactobacillus’ from non-dairy sources. That was 30 years ago, and hasn’t killed me yet. CA was strange.

So I Googled for ‘home grain grinder’. And, wow.

  • http://www.pleasanthillgrain.com/
  • http://www.internet-grocer.net/grinders.htm
  • http://goldengraingrinder.com/
  • http://www.haferboy.com/
  • http://www.beatingstrong.com/grain-mills.html

Yes. There are grain grinders, and other home gadgets. Not cheap – several are $200-$400 dollars. Some are manual, some for one grain only. If you are thinking Peak Oil, you are probably looking for something that works after the electricity is disconnected.

One site, allexperts.com, offers some advice in choosing a grain grinder.

Now, if I can just figure out how to process sugar beets. I mean, I feed sugar beet shreds now as part of my pony’s feed. The beets don’t seem hard to grow. And having a supply of sugar to trade seems attractive. (Sugar beets are shredded at the factory, to release juices better. After the sugar juice is extracted, the resulting pulp is dried. After the goat, horse, cow, etc. eats it, the digestion process converts the beet pulp to a high quality feed – good calories, low starch and sugar, fair fiber. Use to provide safe, extra energy for slicking up show animals, etc. I use it to simplify feeding my pony vegetable oil instead of grain. It is better for most draft horses (EPSM), and good feed plan for all horses, mules, ponies. 2 c. veggie oil/1,000 lbs/day). Which reminds me. I need to figure how to produce vegetable oil, too. Carrots, grass hay – I might be able to guess at that.

PO: Dating

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

Dating may well change, in post-peak America. With people working closer to home, less money for leisure activities, and more awareness that a mate is needed to make a family, to support each other – casual dating will be less common.

Arranged marriages, where social and economic considerations, and family genetics, may be considered before the happy couple begin to see each other, socially.

I expect to see not a ‘class’ society emerge, but a return to cliques and communities, and snap judgments based on family and reputation that a person is ‘not our sort’.

The benefits of living a sober, work-centric life, a reputation for respect and discipline, will again influence choices about dating, marriage, and careers. Especially in the transition years, people once referred to as ‘pillars of the community’, ‘salt of the earth’, will guide and center the groups and families most likely to survive intact.

Gasoline past $1 a gallon years ago. When will you begin planning for post-Peak Oil America?

PO: Hazelnut trees for food.

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

If you are planning for Peak Oil, food and shelter are the first serious concerns.

Hazelnut trees produce hazelnuts. Hazelnuts are reasonably edible raw, can be preserved with due care, and hazelnut trees are pretty productive. For the ground occupied, hazelnuts can be the most food produced of any food crop.

You can eat the nuts, chop them into stews, vegetable dishes, and ground to an oil-rich meal. Once shelled, the meats need to be frozen or used right away, or the oils begin oxidizing and spoilage sets in.

If you are considering planting trees on your property, remember the common nuts such as hazelnuts, pecans (in the south) or walnuts (in the north), even acorns, as well as the fruit trees.

Pruning mature trees can produce kindling and small firewood pieces while maintaining the health of the tree. Managing shuckworms and other parasites can be as simple as keeping windfalls picked up. Wormy or damaged fruits from nut trees can be used for livestock feed – hogs and cows may need to be shown that nuts are edible, but pecans can provide at least part of the feed for either.

Instead of a flowering tree or shade tree, consider nut trees and fruit trees. In exposed areas, investigate how to use trees and shrubs for windbreaks. A windbreak can block wind, partially, to reduce heat loss to wind and require less heating in the winter. A deliberate row of trees can help provide habitat for birds and other ecological niches – for managing pest insects and weed seeds, as well as other benefits.

Your county extension office can provide information about windbreaks, managing health of fruit and nut trees, and help identify types of trees that grow well in your area. If you look at pecan trees, consider whether you want native (smaller, tougher shell, more resistant to worms) or hybrid types.

As you consider your post-peak-oil community, consider skills such as someone interested in pruning trees for tree health and grafting trees to splice productive tree types onto hardy rootstock.

Peak oil – not just about nuts. Ahem.

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