Green Transportation For The Saudis – Germans sell Leopard 2A1 tanks

Please play this song in the background.

It is kind of a return to our old Jam Band Friday format.


Anyway crossing the boundaries between green transportation, energy policy and crowd control, the Germans announced they had come to an agreement to sell Saudia Arabia 200 of their Leopard 2A1 battle main tanks. As Der Speigel quickly pointed out such a sale sends both a crazy signal to Germany’s large peace community but a defeatist one to those countries involved in the Arab Spring (read: food riots). But when it comes to crushing resistance any battle main usually weighs over 50 ton, so that works out pretty well. Do not be fooled either by the nameless chinese man’s dance with the Chinese battle main because that was a once in a century event. The Arab drivers prefer to get them  babies up to their top speeds of 45 miles per hour and roll. At those speeds they get a whopping 1.3333 miles per gallon. But at more cautious battle speeds they get something more like 4 – 5 miles per gallon. Kinda like a 1963 red corvette. Or maybe a Hummer. But when you compare it to its actual soul mates like the Caterpillar 797 which gets a heart pumping 3 miles per gallon at the same speeds the Leopard is a true jungle cat. OK well I have had enough fun for today.,8599,2081566,00.html?


Should Germany Sell Tanks to Saudi Arabia?

By William Boston / Berlin Thursday, July 07, 2011
Click here to find out more!

Troops of the 37th Armored Infantry Brigade (37. Panzergrenadierbrigade) prepare to board their Marder light tanks.

It’s never easy to balance idealism with political realities, but as Germany grapples with the challenges posed by the Arab Spring it is sometimes hard to tell which side
Berlin is on.

The capital’s latest foreign-policy faux pas is an alleged behind-closed-doors deal to sell state-of-the-art tanks to Saudi Arabia. The deal — so secret the government won’t even acknowledge it was ever discussed — has kicked up a firestorm of protest, uniting an unlikely coalition of leftist politicians, human-rights groups, church leaders and senior members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s own Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party. (See “Angela Merkel: German Rules.”)

News of the deal broke on Sunday, when the newsweekly Der Spiegel reported that Germany’s ultra-secretive Federal Security Council, whose members include Merkel, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, and Defense Minister Thomas De Maiziere, approved the sale of 200 Leopard 2 tanks, Germany’s most modern battlefield tank, to Saudi Arabia. During a meeting of the CDU parliamentary group on Monday, Norbert Lammert, the president of the Bundestag — the German parliament — and Ruprecht Polenz, head of parliament’s influential foreign affairs committee, argued forcefully that Germany could not sell such heavy arms to a country known for routine violations of the most basic human rights. “Such decisions cannot be taken at a time when people are fighting for democracy in the Arab world,” said Juergen Trittin, a Green Party leader, on German television on Tuesday.

Protests have also been raining in from church leaders and human-rights activists, who argue that Saudi Arabia is on the wrong side of history in the tide of rebellion sweeping through the Arab world. As the momentum of protests in Tunisia and Egypt carried the Arab Spring into the tiny nation of Bahrain last March, some 2,000 troops from Arab nations close to the ruling monarchy, including heavily armed Saudis, quashed the rebellion. Meanwhile, the German government still faces criticism for abstaining from the U.N. Security Council vote authorizing air strikes in support of Libyan rebels, and still refuses to offer direct military aid, even after softening its position (it does provide about $5.3 million in financial assistance for NATO’s Libya mission.) Against that backdrop, even Merkel’s closest party allies are at a loss to justify the sale of weapons to a nation with a history of oppression.

(See where Angela Merkel falls on the most powerful women list.)

The deal, were it to take place, is stunning not only because of the political signal it sends to pro-democracy activists in the Middle East and North Africa. A weapons sale of that order would mark a significant change in German arms-export policies. For the past 20 years, Germany has refused to sell such heavy artillery to the Saudis, citing concerns over human-rights abuses. German law also forbids weapons exports to countries engaged in a direct conflict — though the definition of conflict is open to interpretation.

dot dot dot (as they say) 

The Leopard 2 tank is manufactured in Germany but is also produced under license in Spain. And the Saudis are believed to have also negotiated with the Spanish, putting Madrid and Berlin in competition for defense jobs. Germany has a small army and with the end of the Cold War there is little requirement for tanks like the Leopard 2 on potential European battlefields. NATO is scaling back its traditional European land defenses in favor of lighter, rapid deployment forces to support campaigns out of the European theater, such as Afghanistan. The shrinking demand at home leaves defense companies looking abroad for contracts.


Leopard 2E

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Leopardo 2E. zaragoza 1.jpg
Spanish Leopard 2E in Madrid, October 2006
Type Main battle tank

The Leopard 2E (E stands for España, Spanish for Spain) is a variant of the German Leopard 2 main battle tank, tailored to the requirements of the Spanish Army, which acquired it as part of an armament modernization program named Programa Coraza, or Program Armor. The acquisition program for the Leopard 2E began in 1994, five years after the cancellation of the Lince tank program that culminated in an agreement to transfer 108 Leopard 2A4s to the Spanish Army in 1998 and started the local production of the Leopard 2E in December 2003. Despite postponement of production due to the 2003 merger between Santa Bárbara Sistemas and General Dynamics and continued fabrication issues between 2006 and 2007, 219 Leopard 2Es have been delivered to the Spanish Army.

The Leopard 2E is a major improvement over the M60 Patton tank, which it replaced in Spain’s mechanized and armored units. Its development represented a total of 2.6 million hours worth of work, 9,600 of them in Germany, at a total cost of 1.9 billion euros. This makes it one of the most expensive Leopard 2s built. Indigenous production amounted to 60% and the vehicles were assembled locally at Sevilla by Santa Bárbara Sistemas. It has thicker armor on the turret and glacis plate than the German Leopard 2A6, and uses a Spanish-designed tank command and control system, similar to the one fitted in German Leopard 2s. The Leopard 2E is expected to remain in service until 2025.


Gets better mileage then the Space Shuttle, which “leapt from the ground like a scared cat” today for the last time. God speed. More next week.


Hydropower In A Small Beautiful Package – New Development

Beautiful power generation is the theme of this meditation. This grows out of a comment by a friend. We were talking about wind farms and all the silly criticism of them, the worst of which is that they are ugly. I said I found them elegant and he said he found them beautiful. Thus the theme. Here is a post about small hydro. The article includes a build up about large hydrodams and the negative impact on the environment as well as data about Germany where these dams were developed. I have only included the info about the new type dam itself but please feel free to read the rest.

Small Is Beautiful in Hydroelectric Power Plant Design: Invention Could Enable Renewable Power Generation at Thousands of Unused Sites

ScienceDaily (Oct. 20, 2010)

dot dot dot as they say…

A solution to all of these problems has now been demonstrated, in the small-scale hydroelectric power plant developed as a model by a team headed by Prof. Peter Rutschmann and Dipl.-Ing. Albert Sepp at the Oskar von Miller-Institut, the TUM research institution for hydraulic and water resources engineering. Their approach incurs very little impact on the landscape. Only a small transformer station is visible on the banks of the river. In place of a large power station building on the riverside, a shaft dug into the riverbed in front of the dam conceals most of the power generation system. The water flows into a box-shaped construction, drives the turbine, and is guided back into the river underneath the dam. This solution has become practical due to the fact that several manufacturers have developed generators that are capable of underwater operation — thereby dispensing with the need for a riverbank power house.

The TUM researchers still had additional problems to solve: how to prevent undesirable vortex formation where water suddenly flows downward; and how to best protect the fish. Rutschmann and Sepp solved two problems with a single solution — by providing a gate in the dam above the power plant shaft. In this way, enough water flows through to enable fish to pass. At the same time, the flow inhibits vortex formation that would reduce the plant’s efficiency and increase wear and tear on the turbine.

The core of the concept is not optimizing efficiency, however, but optimizing cost: Standardized pre-fabricated modules should make it possible to order a “power plant kit” just like ordering from a catalog. “We assume that the costs are between 30 and 50 percent lower by comparison with a bay-type hydropower plant,” Peter Rutschmann says. The shaft power plant is capable of operating economically given a low “head” of water of only one to two meters, while a bay-type power plant requires at least twice this head of water. Series production could offer an additional advantage: In the case of wider bodies of water, several shafts could be dug next to each other — also at different points in time, as determined by demand and available financing.


More tomorrow.


Rocket Man – I think it’s going to be a long long time

OK. This has nothing to do with Energy or the Environment. I mean it does if you believe that air travel, both military and commercial, is responsible for a HUGE chunk of the atmospheric pollution that is destabilizing the planet’s climate. Even then how much will it add? Not much probably. Still this is just so cool. As reported here:

Dream Job Posting: Spaceship Pilots Wanted

by Nancy Atkinson on April 11, 2011

Some might do a double take at this job posting, but it is legit. Virgin Galactic announced today they are looking for pilot-astronauts and are now accepting applications…from qualified candidates. High scores on Aces of the Galaxy or Space Flight Simulator probably doesn’t meet the criteria, so just what does constitute Virgin Galactic’s idea of qualified?

Virgin’s press release says qualified candidates are full course graduates of a recognized test pilot school who are broadly experienced with both high-performance fast-jet type airplanes and large multi-engine types. Prior spaceflight experience is desirable. You’ll also have to be able to create a safe and enjoyable commercial suborbital space flight experience for your passengers.

Those selected will have the responsibilities of knowing the WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo spaceflight system test program in and out (and in accordance with government regulations and company policies in Mojave, California where test flights take place and Virgin Galactic’s commercial operations at Spaceport America in New Mexico.)


Sourced from the Virgin itself.



Excellent career opportunities are available with The Spaceship Company (TSC) – the assembler of Virgin Galactic’s fleet of SpaceShipTwos and WhiteKnightTwos.
Click the following link to find out more on The Spaceship Company website


VIRGIN GALACTIC CURRENTLY HAS TWO JOB OPPORTUNITIES: Position: PILOT – ASTRONAUTS Please click here to apply online and for further details

Position: HEAD OF OPERATIONSPlease click here to apply online and for further details

For any questions, please email

Site built by Outside Line


But is this the near end of a dead end road? Have we so polluted the planet that this is our last gasp? We shall see. More tomorrow.


Kites And Big Boats – Cargill returns to sailboats

I first read this here:

But it is just a lift from Cargill’s website.

Cargill propels shipping forward with largest kite-powered vessel

Date: 28 February 2011


Francis De Rosa, +44 1932 861174,
Corinne Holtshausen, +44 1932 861174,


Anne Staack, +49 40 702 99 444,

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND — 28 February 2011 — Cargill has signed an agreement with SkySails GmbH & Co. KG (SkySails) to use wind power technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the shipping industry. SkySails, based in Hamburg, has developed innovative, patented technology that uses a kite which flies ahead of the vessel and generates enough propulsion to reduce consumption of bunker fuel by up to 35 percent in ideal sailing conditions.

Next December Cargill will install the 320m2 kite on a handysize vessel of between 25,000 and 30,000 deadweight tonnes, which the company has on long-term charter, making it the largest vessel propelled by a kite in the world. Cargill and SkySails aim to have the system fully operational in the first quarter of 2012. Cargill is currently helping SkySails develop and test the technology and has identified a ship-owner – supportive of environmental stewardship in the industry – with whom it will partner on the project.

The SkySails kite will be connected to the ship by rope and is computer-controlled by an automatic pod to maximise the wind benefits. The kite functions at a height of between 100 to 420 metres and flies in a figure of eight formation. The SkySails system is automated and requires only minimal action by the crew. An automatic control system steers the kite and adjusts its flight path. All information related to the system’s operation is displayed on the monitor of the SkySails’ workstation on the ship’s bridge.

“For some time, we have been searching for a project that can help drive environmental best practice within the shipping industry and see this as a meaningful first step”, said G.J. van den Akker, head of Cargill’s ocean transportation business. “The shipping industry currently supports 90 percent of the world’s international physical trade. In a world of finite resources, environmental stewardship makes good business sense. As one of the world’s largest charterers of dry bulk freight, we take this commitment extremely seriously. In addition to lowering greenhouse gas emissions, the SkySails technology aims to significantly reduce fuel consumption and costs. We are very impressed with the technology and see its installation on one of our chartered ships as the first part of an ongoing, long-term partnership.”

“We are delighted that Cargill is the first company to embrace our technology on a vessel this large as part of its commitment to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the shipping industry”, said Stephan Wrage, managing director of SkySails. “We are excited that our technology will shortly be used on a handysize vessel for the first time and see great potential to incorporate it on larger ships in the future.”

According to a United Nations (International Maritime Organisation) study, up to 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) could be saved every year by the broad application of the SkySails’ technology on the world merchant fleet.1 This figure would equate to 11 percent of the CO2 emissions of Germany.

Cargill is a significant global transporter of agricultural, energy and industrial commodities. Although the company does not today own or operate ships, its ocean transportation business ships more than 185 million tonnes of commodities each year, in the process connecting supply from areas of surplus with demand in areas of deficit.

Photos are available for download at


More tomorrow.


Wind Power From Lake Michgan – We want it…No we don’t

Why would wind energy generation on or in Lake Michigan be controversial? Well first there is the “Chicago Attack”. This will just benefit large cities. Then there is the “pristine view” attack. It will block my beautiful view of this beautiful lake on a beautiful day. Finally there is the, “sure it will create jobs….but not ones I will be qualified for”.

Scandia Proposes 1,000-mw Lake Michigan Wind Farm

28 Comments Posted by John Davis – December 23rd, 2009

A Minnesota company is proposing to build a massive wind farm in Lake Michigan, but some of the residents of Michigan, which has some of the highest unemployment rates in the country, still aren’t pleased about the project that would bring green energy and jobs to the economically distressed region.

The Detroit Free Press says that Scandia Wind, a Minnesota firm partnering with a Norwegian wind developer, wants to put up a 1,000-megawatt wind farm just offshore from the communities of Pentwater and Ludington:

Several companies have been sniffing out offshore wind farm possibilities in Michigan, but Scandia was the first to jump in and publicly announce its plans. The turbines would be visible all along the shore, which takes in Silver Lake and Mears state beaches, Little Sable Lighthouse and Pentwater Harbor.

The firm wants to build foundations on the lake bottom, which is owned by the citizens of Michigan, and place 100 to 200 turbines — 5 to 10 megawatts each — on top.

The total size would make the wind farm bigger than any proposed new coal plant in Michigan and nearly as large as the Fermi 2 nuclear plant.

Local residents say the wind turbines would ruin the view off their beaches and hurt tourism. Scandia officials point out that the $3 billion project would put people to work to the tune of at least 2 million man-hours.



I attended the meeting in Ludington. Dirdal (Scandia Rep) said after the project was completed, only about 100-150 jobs would remain, and that national bidding for these positions wouldn’t guarantee they would be local. The skills for these jobs are not your garden variety skill sets.

I believe this project will only help those who need the energy and are willing to pay for it (Detroit and Chicago). Locally, aesthetically, and economically the Oceana and Mason residents will pay for it in lost property values and tax bases.

Julie Burdick

Wind turbines in Lake Michigan would lower property values and lower the tax base because the reason property values are high in this area is because of the access to the natural resources. This includes sailing, boating and fishing on the great lake and admiring the views from the beaches. This may work in Denmark etc. but it is not the reason people live and visit Pentwater and surrounding areas. Why should Pentwater bear the brunt of creating “green energy” for the surrounding metropolitan areas??


OH then there is the coal, oil and gas push back – they are unreliable and costly.


I thought this was interesting…..”Despite their being cited as the shining example of what can be accomplished with wind power, the Danish government has cancelled plans for three offshore wind farms planned for 2008 and has scheduled the withdrawal of subsidies from existing sites. Development of onshore wind plants in Denmark has effectively stopped. Because Danish companies dominate the wind industry, however, the government is under pressure to continue their support. Spain began withdrawing subsidies in 2002. Germany reduced the tax breaks to wind power, and domestic construction drastically slowed in 2004. Switzerland also is cutting subsidies as too expensive for the lack of significant benefit. The Netherlands decommissioned 90 turbines in 2004. Many Japanese utilities severely limit the amount of wind-generated power they buy, because of the instability they cause. For the same reason, Ireland in December 2003 halted all new wind-power connections to the national grid. In early 2005, they were considering ending state support. In 2005, Spanish utilities began refusing new wind power connections. In 2006, the Spanish government ended — by emergency decree — its subsidies and price supports for big wind. In 2004, Australia reduced the level of renewable energy that utilities are required to buy, dramatically slowing wind-project applications. On August 31, 2004, Bloomberg News reported that “the unstable flow of wind power in their networks” has forced German utilities to buy more expensive energy, requiring them to raise prices for the consumer.”


Bunch of crap if you ask me. More tomorrow.


After The Energy Audit – All of the things that I suggested that you do

All of those things could have taken SEVERAL Years to complete.You have to ask yourself, “How badly must my house have been designed for me to have to do all this work”? The answer is VERY badly. The big housing push in post WWII America led to many bad practices. But let’s face it our population went from 60 million to over 325 million in 3 decades and energy was a nickle or less a kilowatt. That is just an excuse I know but it is all I got. Hostility to our environment is a genetic trait for Americans. Having a Capitalistic Economy does not help because it has a total disregard for the environment. It is in fact dismissed as an externality.  Is Capitalism psychotic? Look at how it treats the only home we have got. It defiles it.

So hear is a look at more earth friendly models.

Three Extreme Eco-friendly Houses of the Future

Published by Nelson Doyle
November 9, 2008, Category: Ecology

The most extreme eco-friendly houses of the future reduces the environmental impact on the planet and demonstrates how less means more quality living.

With so much attention being drawn towards the perils of our planet and the environmental impact that a global population is causing on natural resources, some forward-thinking companies and individuals are developing new ways to solve our housing needs and the future impact to the environment once built. It requires creative people like these to develop solutions to solve critical issues like the ones we have to deal with in today’s environment.

The majority of eco-friendly houses share similar engineering characteristics such as; smaller living spaces and recycled building materials incorporated into the design. Some houses incorporate solar panels, wood-burning stoves or other energy-saving heating and cooling appliances. The potential costs saving on utility bills, property taxes, home maintenance, and furniture would more than make this kind of living ideal for single or duel family housing.

Ewok-Style Tree House


I could post the photos but out of respect I will say please see the article for more.


This Ewok-style tree house designed by Canadian carpenter Tom Chudleigh saw the future and built it.

Portable Martin House-To-Go

Honestly, this has to be the most practical house on the planet that is eco-friendly to the extremes. Live anywhere and change your scenery when the mood strikes in your own portable house. The Martin portable house-to-go is built to the highest building standards and is weatherproofed with NASA-approved insulation to endure in extreme weather conditions.

Dome House

The Japanese are amazing engineers in both housing and technology, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that a prefab home manufacturer Japan called “Japan Dome Housing Co., Ltd., developed an amazingly energy-efficient, extreme weather durable, Styrofoam expandable modular igloo-shaped kit house. Oh, yes, it’s true. The house of the future that can be purchased and assembled by you and two or three of your friends in just a matter of 3-days if you work around the clock or about a week if you take your time.


More tomorrow.


The Difference Between Energy Efficiency And Energy Conservation – Big difference

I have said it before and I will say it again Energy Efficiency sucks because it implies that we can keep doing what we have been doing if we just use less energy. WRONG. The growth model of capitalism and the growth model of religious dominance were always doomed to failure because they were at the heart delusional. The Earth is finite and we ain’t moving to another planet anytime soon if ever. Oh wait, first I must say:


Community Energy Systems is a nonprofit 501c3 organization chartered in Illinois in Sangamon County. As such we are dependent on public donations for our continued existence. We also use Adsense as a fundraiser. Please click on the ads that you see on this page, on our main page and on our Bulletin Board (Refrigerator Magnets) and you will be raising money for CES. We say a heartfelt THANK YOU to all who do.


The point has also been made that what we save in the residential market will only get “used” in the industrial market anyway. What we need is a whole new society design…That will take nearly cataclysmic events to produce.

Jeff Rubin's Smaller World

A blog about how weaning our economy off oil means some fundamental changes in the way we live, and other things

Wednesday, January 6, 2010 6:12 AM

Why energy efficiency means higher consumption

Jeff Rubin

Buddy, my furnace repairman, tells me it’s time to buy a new furnace. And I’d better act quickly if I still want to order the old mid-efficiency model. In the New Year, I have to buy a high-efficiency one, which, of course, costs twice as much.

Welcome to the brave new world of energy scarcity—it’s not only smaller, but also more costly. As energy prices continue to climb, you can expect to pay more, not less, for all the new energy-efficient cars and devices for your home.

But don’t count on actually saving any energy.

Efficiency may be the holy grail of the economist, but it’s a total head fake for the conservationist. And while one is being used to promote the other, the two concepts are as different as day and night.

The fact that the high-efficiency furnace generates more heat for a given amount of fuel burnt doesn’t necessarily mean I will end up with any fuel savings. As the cost of my heating falls, might it just allow me to set my thermostat higher? If so, my energy savings go right up the chimney.

That’s just where all the energy savings in the auto industry have gone over the last four decades — up the tailpipe, actually. Despite all the efficiency gains mandated by rising CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standards, your average North American car consumes just as much fuel today as it did back in the early 1970s. Sure, the engine is 30 per cent more efficient, but now it’s hauling around an SUV that’s driven about a third more per year than a vehicle was back then.

And it’s no different in your home. Don’t be fooled by the fact that even today’s kettle has to meet some government-mandated energy-efficiency standard. Your house consumes a lot more energy than your parents’ did.


High Speed Rail – Improved travel at reduced energy use or boon to Union Pacific


Community Energy Systems is a nonprofit 501c3 organization chartered in Illinois in Sangamon County. As such we are dependent on public donations for our continued existence. We also use Adsense as a fundraiser. Please click on the ads that you see on this page, on our main page and on our Bulletin Board (Refrigerator Magnets) and you will be raising money for CES. We say a heartfelt THANK YOU to all who do.


Will High Speed Rail become a fast way for the general public to get around at a reduced energy cost? Or will it become a fast way for the Wealthy to commute from city to city? Will Union Pacific and the other big railroads carve up small towns in the rural areas while doubling and tripling freight traffic? Only time will tell. BUT here is Union Pacific’s take on it from the The State Journal Register.


Joseph Bateman: Rail upgrade needed for passenger service, not freight


Posted Nov 04, 2009 @ 12:04 AM

Last update Nov 04, 2009 @ 06:58 AM

Contrary to the headline and opinions expressed in the Oct. 25 article “High-speed rail spending to be a boon to freight rail companies,” Union Pacific does not need for its freight operations the improvements contained in IDOT’s proposal for high-speed passenger service in the St. Louis-to-Chicago corridor. The public expenditure required for track capacity and other improvements needed on the UP line for high-speed passenger service is necessitated by the increased frequency in passenger service (10 to 18 daily trains) and the increase in maximum passenger train velocity (79 to 110 mph), not by the increased UP freight operationsPlans to build our new Joliet intermodal terminal, which could result in additional UP traffic in the corridor, were announced long before high-speed passenger rail or stimulus funding grabbed the national spotlight. Union Pacific currently has adequate capacity on our existing rail corridor infrastructure to support growth in freight train volumes. If the time comes when we might require additional capacity, we will build and finance it ourselves, just as we have done throughout our 23-state, 32,000-mile network for nearly 150 years.Nonetheless, we think it is important for Springfield residents to be aware of misconceptions and facts regarding this project that have not been widely reported:* Union Pacific did not ask for higher-speed passenger trains on our line. We are responding to requests from the state of Illinois and others to host this service on our line.* One high-speed passenger train consumes the equivalent track capacity of two to three freight trains. Even without freight train growth, a computer simulation of the corridor demonstrated that double track infrastructure is needed to meet required levels of service and reliability for IDOT’s four-hour express passenger schedule.

* UP always has been willing to review any mitigation alternatives the city of Springfield may propose for the Third Street corridor, including grade separations. To date, we have received no suggestions for mitigation from either the city or county.

* Congested urban areas such as between Sangamon and Iles avenues in Springfield require speed restrictions, most likely in the 40 to 50 mph range, not the 110 mph maximum speed envisioned elsewhere in this corridor. Passenger trains will operate even slower in the downtown area because of the station stop.

* The maximum number of trains running through the Third Street corridor would be 40 combined passenger and freight per day, assuming maximum growth of UP’s business over the next 10 years. In contrast, there would be 60-plus trains per day using the 10th Street corridor to accommodate Union Pacific, passenger and Norfolk Southern trains.

* At-grade road-rail crossings in Springfield would be blocked by 40 trains for a total of approximately 65 minutes per crossing per day, not five hours per day. Unnecessary speed restrictions or inadequate rail capacity provisions, however, would create bottlenecks that will add to blocked crossing time.

* Constructing a bypass for UP on the 10th Street corridor would require displacing many residences and businesses to accommodate the required double track and grade separations. In addition, a new connection track at North Grand Avenue would be required through or near an area now occupied by housing, the ballpark, Memorial Stadium and tennis courts.

High-speed passenger rail ultimately boils down to a public policy decision. If private freight rail infrastructure is to be used for passenger service, then federal grant policy requires that sufficient infrastructure capacity must be provided to efficiently and reliably handle both existing and future freight and passenger service on demand. That infrastructure must be paid for by the party precipitating that need, in this case, the sponsor of expanded passenger train operations.

Joseph Bateman is vice president for public affairs of Union Pacific.


I plan on writing a response, so if the SJ-R doesn’t publish it then I will put it up as a post.


Moving To A NonCarbon Economy – France, China and India build more nukes

Obama and Merkel switched to renewable and conservation. Whom or who is right?

How The World Works

Peak oil? Don’t worry — Obama’s on the job

Energy efficiency gains could slake the world’s oil thirst. Thanks, in no small part, to the current administration

What if, as a result of efforts to fight climate change and boost energy efficiency, global oil demand peaked in the foreseeable future? You could argue that such an achievement would be one of the most historic accomplishments of human civilization to date, proof, indeed, that we are civilized. It’s a task that will require lots of hard work all over the globe, but based just on the actions taken by President Obama in his first year of office, in the United States, we have made real progress toward that goal.

The International Energy Agency, reports Spencer Swartz in the Wall Street Journal, is predicting that even if China and India continue to consume ever more oil, overall, the world’s appetite for crude is slowing down.

The IEA, which advises rich nations, such as the U.S., on energy matters, is set to use its closely watched annual World Energy Outlook report to forecast that improved energy-efficiency measures in developed nations, as well as climate-change legislation, will help to slow the rate of global oil consumption.

Swartz reports that Deutsche Bank is bold enough to predict that “global demand will peak by 2016 … due to efficiency gains and technology improvements in electric vehicles.”

This kind of thing doesn’t happen by accident. Yesterday Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced $38 million worth of grants to Alaska, Kansas, Utah and West Virginia to “support energy efficiency and conservation activities.”


Simple Method For Beaming Energy From Space – But somebody will get hurt in the process

It is Jam Band Friday –

Everyone in this country has been programmed by rampant science fiction to believe that everything for the future comes from outer space. So the Japanese launch a press release about using a satellite to beam microwaves back to Earth.

Let’s see, first you have to clean up the 13,000 pieces of space debris…then you got to up our payload capacity and multiple the number of vehicles available by at least 1,000. Just to START such a project. Hell we can barely generate enough capacity to keep the International Space Station running  which is 160 volts in DC. Which gets us back to this final meditation on “living off the land”. There are somethings we will have to give up on and the first one is Space Flight. Why? Not because of the money and effort that could spent elsewhere. Not because of the hellishness of the logistics. NASA’s dirty little secret is Cosmic Rays. They would destroy any unshielded human and that is why the International Space Station is not in geosynchronous orbit or higher. Stewardesses and Pilots who regularly fly at high altitudes are exposed to enough Cosmic Rays to have a slightly higher chance of developing some cancers. That is why NASA limits the space station stay for astronauts to under a year. But what is the point of going out there?


If we replaced that with

Quality of Life

As a principle the world would be a much nicer and longer lived place.


For those of you who want what you need and a simpler life there are many resources out there

Tips for Off-Grid Living – How To Live Off The Grid

Off Grid Solar Power ArrayWelcome to our free online resource for off-grid living.
We are here to help you along in the rewarding challenge of living off of the power grid. Whether you are a veteran off-grider living in an RV or cabin in the woods, a seasoned rural farmer, a third-generation rancher – or someone just looking to get out of the rat race – we have the information you seek.

What to look for when buying real estate off the grid >>

Though sometimes a challenge, the many benefits of living off grid make it all worthwhile. How can one describe the feeling of running your house or business off of clean energy sources like natural gas and propane, or renewable energy sources like solar, wind and hydro? Who could explain the effect being out of the city and suburbs has on your sense of well-being? How many of us would enjoy more fresh produce grown organically on our own property?

This website isn’t just about owning property that happens to not be connected to the big power company’s grid. It is about living closer to the land; Being responsible for the culture, values and environment we leave behind to our children; knowing that life was meant to be enjoyed, rather than working in a tiny cubicle to earn enough to accumulate stuff we didn’t need in the first place.

Well, that’s what it’s about for me at least. But more importantly:
What is living off grid about to you?


You can even be a Dad and do it:

Living Off The Grid

Ever wish you could just unplug from your current hectic life?  Maybe quit your stressful job, move to a farm with several acres, and spend your remaining time living off the grid.  Yeah, me too.

The problem is that this type of lifestyle seems so simple, but is terribly difficult to pull off these days.  Why?  Because we have become slaves to our stuff – myself included.  We have our houses, our cars, our expensive hobbies, our electronic gadgets, our new furniture, our designer clothes, etc.

We spend the majority of our lives working to pay for the stuff that keeps us from living a life with more freedom.  Along the way we usually manage to accumulate debt buying more stuff than we can afford.  So then we spend even more time working to repay the money we borrowed to buy the stuff that we work to pay for in the first place.  Whew!  It’s a vicious cycle.

Photo courtesy of iLoveButter

How To Break The Chains of Stuff?

So how do we break the cycle?  How do we join others who are living off the grid?  It isn’t easy.  I believe the very first step is to stop accumulating stuff.  Draw a line in the sand (or on your front porch), and vow not to allow anything else to enter your home unless it is a necessity or improves your quality of life in some way.  If something qualifies under those two conditions, you must save for it and pay cash.  No more borrowing!

The second step is to take a look around your house, and your budget.  Are you paying for things that you could really live without?  The $40 gym membership, or the $15 Netflix membership, may not seem like much by themselves, but how much of a nest egg would be required just to cover those expenses?  I mentioned the multiply by 25 concept in a previous post.  The idea is that you can estimate how much of your nest egg would be required to maintain your current expenses.  I used Netflix as an example:


The movement is not just limited to the US.

Top govt advisor attacks Big Power


— by Alexbenady, 30 Oct

Simpson: Local hero

Simpson: Local hero

The UK is in the grips of a power cartel, says an insider from the governing UK Labour Party.

That cartel actively hinders the fight against global warming by lobbying for its own narrow commercial interests at the cost of local democracy and the future health of the planet.   It’s an argument that off-gridders and anti-capitalist campaigners will be familiar with. It’s not really what you expect to hear from an advisor to Her Majesty’s Government. Yet it is precisely the belief of Alan Simpson, who occupies a place close to the heart of political power in Britain as  energy advisor to the Secretary of Energy and Climate Change, Ed Miliband and Member of Parliament for Nottingham South.

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Some people even thrive in an “off the grid” living:

By Greg Seaman Posted Jun 9, 2009

In the summer of 1980, my wife, three-month old son and I moved “off-grid”. We loved living in San Francisco but wanted to live a simpler, more independent lifestyle, and so we bought a small cabin with land on a rural island in the Pacific Northwest. Since there were no services to the island, our home had no electricity. Residents of the island had to create their own electricity or do without.

Now here I sit, almost 30 years later, with the kids grown and their rooms empty, and with some time to reflect on our experience living and raising a family off-grid. But before even considering the challenges and solutions in dealing with our energy needs over the years, one observation seems to leap out: how little things here have changed. We’ve done very little over the years to enhance our energy needs, aside from installing two solar panels last year to power the computer I’m using to write this article. (Alongside my computer on the table here is a kerosene lamp, and a candle for added light.) This lack of change is testament to the feasibility of off-grid living, and my vision for the upcoming years is to keep things pretty much the way they are.

But keeping it simple hasn’t always been simple. We had to learn alternate methods of preserving food, how to build things without power tools, how to cook on a wood stove, how to clean diapers without a washing machine, entertain ourselves without TV, and accept that many common tasks can take longer and be more difficult without electricity. Here are the main challenges we encountered in living off-grid, and how we managed with them.


For much more:


Oh yah and the people that made the song famous: