Sunday, October 5, 2014

Christine Jones on Soil Carbon

Newton Community Farm

Deborah:  more carbon has come out of the soil than out of smokestacks and industry.

Flemish scientist (Van Helmand) from 1640s weighed soil in a tub, planted a willow in it, and after 5 years weighed the tree and weighed the soil.  The freeways over 149 pounds and the soil sighed only a few ounces less than originally.  The tree came from the air - carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen.  Air is 78% N, 21% O, and all the rest are trace gases.  Carbon is only 0.04% of the atmosphere.

Most of the nitrogen fixing microbes refuse to be cultured in the lab.  Plants need about 60 different elements to grow and be healthy and associates with microbial and fungal communities in order to get them. Plants build soil at the roots through aggregates.  There's more water in the aggregate than outside and less oxygen than outside and right at the root tip in association with microrrhyzal fungi.  These aggregates can fix nitrogen even if they are not associated with legumes.  Bacteria can't fix nitrogen at atmospheric levels of oxygen.

Humus is formed inside the aggregates and needs 60% carbon, 8-10% nitrogen, 1-2% phosphorus, 0.8-1.2% sulfur to form, with the remainder being aluminum, iron….

Soil is 50% oxygen bound to other elements and 30% silicon, and then aluminum and iron (20%) which act as catalysts. Degrading soils have more free aluminum.

Humus is an organo-mineral complex formed inside the aggregates.  Humus is honey-colored, a gel-like substance and looks like crude oil under the microscope.

Organic matter in the soil breaks down into CO2 and plants take it up through the underside of the leaves. For some plants, this is the most important source of CO2. This is the soil respiration rate and this carbon can be the limiting factor in plant growth:  labile carbon.

Grasses build soils.  Van Helmand's experiment would have found that there was more soil in his tub than when he started.

90% of the roots of most plants are in the top 50 centimeters (18 inches) of the soil.

Measure of plant photosynthesis:  brixing
Superphosphate inhibits mycorrhizal fungi.

Grasses build soils through producing humus.  Grasses depend upon good soil and thus put carbon back into the soil.  Grasses build soil better than anything else.  Soil is a product of photosynthesis and microbial resynthesis so soil is not the base of the pyramid, photosynthesis is.  Only the growing root tips grow new soil and this active growing of grasses need grazing animals.

There is the decomposition pathway for carbon, catabolic pathway, and the liquid carbon pathway, an anabolic pathway which builds up humus which produces a non-labile form of carbon, stable carbon.  Increase our capacity for photosynthesis, becoming light farmers, never leaving bare ground.

Mycorrhizal fungi take carbon from the roots and provide other nutrients to the plants.  This is natural carbon trading.  Have a soil restoration credit rather than simply a commoditized carbon credit.  Every farm becomes a carbon sink rather than a carbon source.

Liquid carbon is where carbon is being moved to the most actively growing roots, at the depth of 12-16 inches.  Up to 80% of the carbon can become humus at a rate of up to 30 tons per year.  In humus, the carbon is in ring form rather than chains and is much harder to breakdown.

A healthy soil is a net sink for methane through methantrophs.

Annual grasses use photosynthesis more efficiently than perennials.

Cover crops:  ryegrass, vetch, clover for over winter
oats, field peas, buckwheat for winter kill
And do multi-species cropping.  Cocktail cover cropping.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Climate Changed

This book is a graphic novel about climate change.  The plot is the author educating himself about the issue and beginning to confront the implications of what he learns in the decisions he makes in his own life.  What is especially interesting is that the information and the experts he consults are all European.  For an American, that puts a slightly different spin upon things.

The detail and the discussion of the issues around climate change are deep and the references are long.  This is not a "comic book" examination but a fully researched and strongly felt narrative.

_Climate Changed:  A Personal Journey Through the Science_ by Philippe Squarzoni
NY:  Abrams ComicArt, 2014
ISBN 978-1-4197-1255-5

(58-59)  methane today 1.8 ppm atmosphere (200x less than CO2)
for last 400,000 years methane in atmosphere between 0.35 and 0.7 ppm
since 1750, the Industrial Revolution, methane in the atmosphere has doubled, from around 800 ppb to 1800 ppb or 1.8 ppm

(60) 30 million tons of methane (per year?) accumulate in the atmosphere
shorter atmospheric lifetime than CO2 [30 years?]
CH4, methane, 72x more effective infrared trapper than CO2
Nitrous oxides concentrate in lower levels of atmosphere
More than half of human emissions from nitrogen fertilizers in agriculture

(69)  ...the current concentration of CO2 is the highest since humans have been on earth 
the Cretaceous, 55 million years ago, had similar or higher levels
homo sap sap 200,000 years old

(90)  2004 Cyclone Catarina formed in the South Atlantic, once thought impossible

(95)  So what scientists are seeing when they make temperature measurements, analyze ice caps, tree rings - all those show that global warming is a reality.  Over the course of the 20th century the average surface temperature of the earth increased by 0.75º C [1.3º F]
half of that over the century’s final twenty years 
NB:  when we should have known better and had an environmental movement in place

(185)  After energy production, the industrial sector is the world’s next largest emitter of CO2 [16.8% industry]
It comes in first if we take into account all the greenhouse gases put together.
The production of basic materials - metals, glasses, cement, paper…
…accounts for 80% of emissions due directly to manufacturing for the gases combined.
The rest are emitted by the manufacture of finished goods.
In general, finished goods are thought to generate up to two times their weight in carbon emissions.

(212)  Today the contents of a typical shopping basket of twenty-five items travel an average of six times around the planet before reaching the consumer.

(213)  Over the first ten years of the century, emissions due to deforestation decreased from 20% to 10%.

(238)  A [sea-level] rise of a foot or more is unavoidable [in what time frame?]. And even at the stabilization point, the rise will be over a meter.
It is estimated that a rise in sea level of a little over 3 feet (1 meter) will result in the coastline receding an average of 110 yards - about 100 meters of retreat.

(239)  Sixteen out of twenty of the planet’s biggest metropolises are on the sea.  More than half the world’s population lives near a coast.

(244)  According to the world bank, 60 million people living in arid zones could migrate by 2020.
Every third-of-an inch (1-cm) rise in sea level means the displacement of a million people.  [3 million people displaced for every inch rise - a decade?]

(245)  It is estimated that there are already 25 to 50 million eco-refugees fleeing from drought, hurricanes, floods… and their migration is accelerating.

(314)  It’ll only take burning one-third of the known resources to explode past climate-changing thresholds.  If, however, we want to limit global warming in the long-term, that means at least half the reserves of fossil fuels need to stay in the ground.

(322)  Every year the sun sends the equivalent of 6,000 times our energy consumption to earth.

(341)  For example the Sleipner platform in Norway’s North Sea - the pioneer of this technology [carbon capture and sequestration] - buried 1 million tons of CO2 while emitting 900,000 tons into the atmosphere.

(344)  France may well generate 75% of its electricity from nuclear power but it still consumes more oil than its less nuclear neighbors.

(345)  If we add it [greenhouse gas emissions] all up starting at the uranium mines, it’s not a negligible amount.  You need to dig it up with machines, you have to transport it, treat it….
It comes out roughly to 2.1 ounces [60 g] of CO2 per kilowatt-hour of energy produced.  Compared, for example, to 1.1 pounds [500 g] of CO2 for natural gas.  It’s better, but it’s not zero.  And it’s more than wind or solar.
…nuclear is only 2% or 3% of the world’s energy consumption.

(369)  The Negawatt Association ( developed an energy scenario of this type, based on typical needs, that combines energy conservation, energy efficiency, and development of renewable energy [to meet current needs with much lower consumption].
In combining conservation and efficiency we could reduce our energy consumption by a factor of 2 to 5 and meet all the same needs.

(406)  I believe that assuming there are limits is the only feasible public-policy approach.
Genevieve Azam is an economist studying the relationships between ecology, economy, and society.  She is a member of the scientific council of ATTAC (Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions and Aid to Citizens -, an organization dedicated to developing sustainable globalization and ecological alternatives.

(441)  It may be useful to think about the theory of solidarism that statesman Leon Bougeois, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1920, first discussed in the 1890s.

(442)  “The individual does not exist in isolation” was his creed…
“Interdependent and interrelated,” Nicholas Delalande writes on this, “people are indebted to each other and to the generations that preceded them as well as to those who will succeed them.”

(447)  … the fact that the emissions market becomes speculative, and promotes the spread of financial trading into the area of climate control - the negative nature of which we’ve been exposed to in recent years - that should be avoided at all costs.

(449)  The fantasy surrounding the capitalist society also needs to change...
The example often used, of the conversion of the US economy [to support the war] during World War II, shows that, yes, we can achieve major changes without taking centuries…
What the United State did after Pearl Harbor to transform the automobile industry into an arms industry was only possible because there was no democratic for opposing it.

(464)  Earth Overshoot Day -

(465)  … the day when global consumption exceeds the renewable resources of the planet
and begins to tap into the reserves needed for the coming years.
In 1996, Earth Overshoot Day fell in November.  In 2007 it was October 6 [2014 now in mid-August]

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Silicon Solar Cells Transformed

David Ginley, NREL

The limitation of silicon solar is silver for contacts which maxes out at around 5 TWatt.  Single cell efficiency maximizes out at around 29% efficiency. Bell Labs first cells were 6% efficient.  World installed solar is .3 TWatts by 2014.
Chinese dominate the PV market because they are the only ones who built silicon plants when supply reached scarcity.
Panasonic has a 25.6% efficiency HIT cell [mono thin crystalline silicon wafer surrounded by ultra-thin amorphous silicon layers] with contacts on the back .  SunPower has a 25% six inch cell built on their production line (but not in production yet).  Sharp also has a 25% cell.  
Theoretical efficiency of a single junction cell under 1000 sun concentration is around 33%.
25 year warranty but some companies are going to 35 with a possibility of 50 years and it is not the silicon cell with fails but the packaging or contacts.
Fifty cents per watt is the accessible price now.
University of New South Wales is working on thin film silicon, 20 microns rather than the 75 microns now used. 16.8% efficiency.
Tandem cells - silicon paired with other substances including  quantum dots, perovskites, theoretically to 34%
Multiple exciton generation (MEG) in colloidal silicon nanocrystals can theoretically go beyond the existing limits.  Two or three photons per carrier.

Addressing Climate Change through Community Engagement and Behavior Change

David Gershon of the Empowerment Institute
webinar, slides and recording at

70% of atmospheric carbon comes from cities
Second order social change:  empower transform innovate collaborate disseminate
Gershon founded Ecoteam - “unsurpassed in changing behavior” which sustained over time
Everett Rogers' Diffusion of Innovation:  early adopters 15% (tipping point) early majority 35% late majority 35% laggards 15%
15% population makes the tipping point
Laggards never participate and no use trying to engage them [the climate change movement, seemingly, has concentrated on the laggards for the last 20 years]
Neighborhood is the scalable diffusion platform, usually with 25% participation
Adjacent possibilities:  becoming a driver for a green economy, generating social capital, building “high performance” teams, promoting social innovation and collaboration, creating socially engaged citizenry
Philadelphia wanted to use the EcoTeam model to address other social change issues, Livable Neighborhood campaign, 101 block-based teams formed
NYC for disaster resilience after 9/11:  Ready New York’s All Together Now, 153 buildings or blocks, 5,000 participants, 68% recruitment level
Low Carbon Diet Program:  Portland OR, 41% block participation, 25% CO2 reduction, Davis CA first US city to develop carbon neutral plan by 2050
Global warming cafe to get large numbers of people to participate and form smaller teams
[Robin] Dunbar strategy:  150 people at Dunbar limit is a cool block, 1,500 cool neighborhood, 15,000 cool ecodistrict, to cool city - now working in Northern CA on Cool City Challenge
Better lifestyles are infectious
12 hour webinar series 10/9 - 12/18, 2014 at

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The German Energiewende and Its Impact on the Global Energy Transformation

Goethe Institute
Eicke Weber, Fraunhofer-Institute and Albert-Ludwigs University, Freiburg

Consul:  380,000 new jobs in green energy sector in Germany

Weber: Fraunhofer is largest EU solar research institute and has grown 3x over the last decade
99.+% inverter efficiency from DC to AC 
Referenced Jeremy Rifkin's Third Industrial Revolution book
Energy is first step but all resources and materials use will have to change in a sustainable future
"Nuclear power fundamentally is not safe” says Dr Weber, a physicist, "and we don't need it any more."
Renewables have noticeable economic advantages
80-100% efficient renewables is the goal
Started in 2000 - 2002 with a gov/industry agreement on shutting down nuclear and feed-in tariffs for renewables
2008 EU adopted 20 20 20 program:  20% more efficiency, 20% more renewables, 20% less ghgs by 2020 compared to 2005
PV prices fell by a factor of 10 from 2002 to 2012 in part due to the large German market (and German tech went into Chinese solar factories)
Changing the structure of the utility business and increasing reluctance as utilities try to figure out a new business plan 
[RWE is beginning a solar leasing program]
Cornerstones:  efficiency, massive increase in all renewables (geothermal and Iceland mentioned), fast redevelopment of grid to be bidirectional, small and large scale energy storage, mobility as an integral part of energy system - he's now driving a hydrogen fuel cell car in Freiburg which has solar hydrogen fueling stations
Now over 25% renewables in Germany
Reached 100% daytime electricity from renewables on Pentecost and nukes had to pay people to take their energy, a negative price for energy
Combined cycle gas is the way to backstop renewables
PV market is now mono and multi silicon with thin film declining
As cumulative market doubled, the price drops by 20%, the trend over the last 33 years
For wind; each doubling of cumulative production the price drops by 8%
Wind and solar complement each other well he says
In Germany PV cost is $1.50 per installed watt for everything, per kWh cost for solar is half that of plug power, about $0.13
PV is not a commodity but a high tech product with many opportunities for new advances
Silicon PV efficiency at theoretical limit of 28% and record now at 25% for single layer PV 
Multi layer PV under concentration has a theoretical limit of 60% and Fraunhofer now has a cell at 44% efficiency (which needs clear blue sky and two axis tracking) 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Populist Moment

_The Populist Moment:  A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America_ by Lawrence Goodwyn
NY:  Oxford University Press, 1978
ISBN 0-19-502416-8

(ix)  Finally, and by all odds most importantly, our greatest problem in understanding protest is grounded in contemporary American culture.  In addition to being central, this cultural difficulty is also the most resistant to clear explanation:  we are not only culturally confused, our confusion makes it difficult for us even to imagine our confusion.  Obviously, it is prudent, then, to state here.

The reigning American presumption about the American experience is grounded in the idea of progress, the conviction that the present is "better" than the past and the future will bring still more betterment.
NB:  Although this has changed since the 1970s

(xix)  "Individual self-respect" and "collective self-confidence" constitute, then the cultural building blocks of mass democratic politics.  Their development permits people to conceive of the idea of acting in self-generated democratic ways - as distinct from passively participating in various hierarchical modes bequeathed by the received culture.  In this study of Populism, I have given a name to this plateau of cooperative and democratic conduct.  I have called it "the movement culture."

(xxviv)  I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.
Thomas Jefferson, 1816

(32)  Tactically, the rise of the [Farmers] Alliance was a result of its determination to go beyond the cash stores of the Grange and make pioneering efforts in cooperative marketing as well as purchasing.

(47)  [At Cleburne, TX in August 1886]  The farmers sought "such legislation as shall secure to our people freedom from the onerous and shameful abuses that the industrial classes are now suffering at the hands of arrogant capitalists and powerful corporations."

The committee placed first on its list a demand for the recognition of trade unions and cooperative stores.  Other labor planks called for the establishment of a national bureau of labor statistics "that we may arrive at a correct knowledge of the education, moral and financial condition of the labor masses," the passage of an improved mechanics lien law "to compel corporations to pay their employees according to contract, in lawful money," and the abolition of the practice of leasing state convicts to private employers.  The final labor plank recommended a national conference of all labor organizations "to discuss such measures as may be of interest to the laboring classes."

(56)  It was, in fact, the most massive organizing drive by any citizen institution of nineteenth-century America.  The broader outlines had a similar sweep:  The Alliance's five-year campaign carried lecturers into forty-three states and territories and touched two million American farm families;  it brought a program and a sense of purpose to Southern farmers who had neither, and provided an organizational medium for Westerners who had radical goals but lacked a mass constituency.

(61)  Insurgent movements are not the product of "hard times";  they are the product of insurgent cultures.

(66)  What was true for Kansas and Texas was true everywhere;  indeed, the agrarian revolt cannot be understood outside the framework of the cooperative crusade that was its source.  Amidst a national political system in which the mass constituencies of both major parties were fashioned out of the sectional loyalties of the Civil War, the cooperative movement became the recruiting vehicle though which huge numbers of farmers in the South and West learned to think about a new kind of democratic possibility in America.  The central educational tool of the Farmers Alliance was the cooperative experiment itself.  The massive effort at agrarian self-help, and the opposition it stimulated from furnishing merchants, wholesale houses cotton buyers, and bankers in the South and from grain elevator companies, railroads, land companies, livestock commission agencies, and bankers in the West, brought home to hundreds of thousands of American farmers new insights into their relationship with the commercial elements of American society.  Reduced to its essentials, the cooperative movement recruited the farmers to the Alliance in the period 1887-91, and the resulting cooperative experience educated enough of them to make independent political action a potential reality.  In the process, the Alliance created the world's first large-scale working class cooperative and proposed a comprehensive democratic monetary system for America, the world's emerging industrial leader.  That the chief theorist of both the cooperative and the monetary system, Charles Macune, consistently opposed Alliance political activism and feared the emergence of the third party added a curious dimension to the internal politics of the agrarian revolt.

(75)  In November 1887, the Texas Exchange advanced its program.  It was called the "joint-note plan."  The quiet phrase concealed a breathtaking extension of the cooperative concept:  landowning farmers in the Alliance were asked to place their entire individual holding at the disposal of the group - to stake their own futures on the ultimate success of the Alliance cooperative.  The gamble was an unusual one:  landowners and tenants alike would collectively purchase their supplies for the year through the state exchange on credit, the landowners signing the joint note.  For collateral, they would put up their land and endeavor to protect themselves against loss by taking mortgages on the crops of the tenants.  They would market their cotton collectively through the exchange and then pay off the joint notes at year's end.  The farmers would sink or swim together;  the landless would escape the crop lien, too, or none of them would.  As they had in the past, the brotherhood of the Alliance would "stand united."  In one dramatic season of cooperative marketing and purchasing, they would collectively overcome all of the furnishing merchants of Texas and fee every farmer in the state from the clutches of the lien system!
NB:  collective credit union

(81)  Macune proposed the creation of a treasury within the exchange to issue its own currency - exchange treasury notes - in payment of up to 90 per cent of the current market value of commodities.  Farmers would circulate these notes within the order by using them to purchase their supplies at the Alliance stores.  The latter were to be strengthened by having each county Alliance charter a store of $10,000 capital, half paid in by the local farmers and the other half by the central exchange.  As outlined by Macune, the plan actually cost the central exchange nothing in capital, for it acquired the use of the $10,000 capital of each of the county Alliances for half that amount - in effect, using the credit of the local stores.  The plan, while certainly strengthening the local operation, had as its principal intent the strengthening of the central exchange;  indeed, each county Alliance was to be coerced into subscribing for its proportionate per-capita share - on pain of being excluded from the benefits of the treasury-note plan.
NB:  local currency

(90)  Only one thing was certain:  the Alliance was attempting to construct, within the framework of American capitalism, some variety of cooperative commonwealth.  Precisely where that would lead was unclear.  More than any other Allianceman, Charles Macune had felt the power of the corporate system arrayed alongside the power of a self-help farmer cooperative.  He had gone to the bankers and they had replied in the negative.  Though his own farmer associates had said "yes," they could not marshall enough resources to defeat the crop lien system.

(97)  It is one of the enduring ironies of history that established systems of hierarchy rarely find it necessary to rely on sensible defenses as an essential means of maintaining power.  Police or other modes of social authority are sometimes necessary, but logic rarely is.  Indeed, throughout recorded history, the presence in all human societies of jerry-built modes of thought, behavior, and racial and religious memories have served to help protect traditional elites by strewing complicated psychological and emotional roadblocks in the path of those with unsanctioned but relatively thoughtful innovations.  So pervasive have been these habits of thought that established hierarchies have tended to be defended as venerable repositories of good sense when they are, in fact, merely powerful and orderly.  

A complementary presumption is that insurgent movements are nonsensical.  Indeed, the very thought that an insurgent movement, in its fundamental tenets, may be more than superficial calls into question the usefulness of the established order that resists the movement.  Participants in the mainstream of most societies generally find such causal relationships difficult to accept because to do so would challenge their own individual modes of thought and behavior.  The existence of a coherent protest movement is, therefore, an awkward fact for any society.  For Americans, Populism proved particularly awkward.

(118)  Not until the labor movement developed a tactical solution to the problem of strikebreakers, a solution found only after three generations of experimentation, did effective organization come to a substantial part of the nation's industrial work force. [the sit down strike]
NB:  The urban Socialist surge as the US entered WWI was another time when a farm/labor coalition might have been possible.

(122)  If these black leaders relinquished their power base within the Republican Party - and it was the sole political base black men had remaining to them in the South - only to discover that the agrarian movement failed politically, they faced the probability of being left with no personal foothold at all in the electoral process.

(138)  On the morning after the election [of 1890] it was clear that some sort of earthquake had occurred.  By any standard, the Republican Party was a shaken institution.  The tremors reached all the way to Washington, where President Harrison was moved to describe the Republican performance in the West as "our election disaster."  "If the Alliance can pull one-half of our Republican voters," he said, "our future is not cheerful."  It was not necessary, of course, for agrarian insurgents actually to win elections to directly affect Republican fortunes.  Every independent vote cast in the West, whether it helped elect radicals or not, weakened the G. O. P.  The startling news in states other than Kansas was that the decrease in the Republican vote was enough to send a flood of Democrats to Washington.  The totals were sobering.  While in 1888 the House of Representatives had had 166 Republicans and 159 Democrats, the new House would contain 88 Republicans and 235 Democrats.
NB:  election of 1890 like 2010?

(167)  But the emotional peak at St Louis was provided by Ignatius Donnelly of Minnesota.  Donnelly's famous preamble was an expression of the deepest drives of the agrarian radicals who file dthe hall and who had worked so many years to gain the allies who joined them there.  If Donnelly's words seemed harsh and excessive to the comfortable, the delegates at St Louis felt he described the American reality:

We meet in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of moral, political, and material ruin.  Corruption dominates the ballot-box, the Legislatures, the Congress, and touches even the ermine of the bench.

The people are demoralized… The newspapers are largely subsidized or muzzled, public opinion silenced, business prostrated, homes covered with mortgages, labor impoverished, and the land concentrating in the hands of capitalists. The urban workmen are denied the right to organize for self-protection, imported pauperized labor beats down their wages, a hireling standing army, unrecognized by our laws, is established to shoot them down, and they are rapidly degenerating into European conditions. The fruits of the toil of millions are badly stolen to build up colossal fortunes for a few, unprecedented in the history of mankind; and the possessors of these, in turn, despise the Republic and endanger liberty.
... We charge that the controlling influences dominating both these parties have permitted the existing dreadful conditions to develop without serious effort to prevent or restrain them. Neither do they now promise us any substantial reform. They have agreed together to ignore, in the coming campaign, every issue but one. They propose to drown the outcries of a plundered people with the uproar of a sham battle over the tariff, so that capitalists, corporations, national banks, rings, trusts, watered stock, the demonetization of silver and the oppressions of the usurers may all be lost sight of...

(185)  The strongest Populist vote-getter in Montana [in 1892] was the candidate for Attorney General, a woman's rights advocate named Ella Knowles.

(200)  Still, Populists were by no means disheartened.  They could remind one another, and with complete accuracy, that the infant prewar Republican Party had leaped from obscurity in 1854 to national power in 1860, largely as a result of the hopelessly anachronistic character of the old Whig Party.  Why should reformers feel discouraged?  In 1892 _both_ major parties appeared anachronistic!  Both were in thrall to the whims of the money power, and "concentrated capital."  The "gold Democrats" had narrowly defeated the "Gold Republicans" and given the nation President Grover Cleveland.  Both old parties were continuing to turn their backs on economic realities and were working in a harmonious "sound money" partnership to "down the people."

(207)  What was democracy when aggressive "captains of industry" could buy whole legislatures and keep the United States Congress in a perpetual state of genteel servitude?  What was honest labor when ruthless structuring of the currency drove the price of farm products below the cost of production?  What was thrift when high interest rates gobbled up farmland or when railroads made more money shipping corn than farmers did in growing it?  Where was community virtue when bankers, commission houses, and grain elevator companies wantonly destroyed self-help farmer cooperatives?  Where was dignity when farm women were forced to go barefoot and the furnishing man determined what a farmer's family could or could not eat?  Where was freedom when the crop lien system was enforced by the convict lease system?

(208)  The peripatetic Henry Vincent of the _American Nonconformist_ wrote a brooding account of this epic of industrial despair [Coxey's Army];  he turned it into a book-length assertion of the need for the immediate rise to power of the People's Party.  He called his book _The Story of the Commonweal_.
NB:  I have notes on that book as well.

(231)  At bottom, the third party's internal struggle was a contest between a cooperating group of political office-seekers on the one hand and the Populist movement on the other.  The politicians had short-run objectives - wining the next election.  In contrast, the agrarian movement, both as shaped by the Alliance organizers who had recruited the party's mass base of partisans and as shaped by the recruits themselves, had long-term goals, fashioned during the years of cooperative struggle and expressed politically in the planks of the Omaha Platform.

(249)  Through "Coin" Harvey, the cause of silver was penetrating Democratic ranks from below;  through Herman Taubeneck and his small circle of friends, it was penetrating the ranks of the People's Party from above.  Silver mine owners directly financed both efforts.

(265)  The narrowed boundaries of modern politics that date from the 1896 campaign encircle such influential areas of American life as the relationship of corporate power to citizen power, the political language legitimized to define and settle public issues within a mass society yoked to privately owned mass communications and to privately financed elections, and even the style through which the reality of the American experience - the culture itself - is conveyed to each new generation in the public and private school systems of the nation.  In the  aggregate, these boundaries outline a clear retreat from the democratic vistas of either the eighteenth-century Jeffersonians or the nineteenth-century Populists.

(284)  The idea that serious structural reform of the democratic process was "inevitable" no longer seemed persuasive to reasonable reformers.  Rather, it was evident that political innovations had to be advanced cautiously, if at all, and be directed toward lesser objectives that did not directly challenge the basic prerogatives of those who ruled.  The thought became the inherited wisdom of the American reform tradition, passed from one generation to another.  A consensus thus came to be silently ratified:  reform politics need not concern itself with structural alteration of the economic customs of the society.  This conclusion, of course, had the effect of removing from mainstream reform politics the idea of people in an industrial society gaining significant degrees of autonomy in the structure of their own lives.  The reform tradition of the twentieth century unconsciously defined itself within the framework of inherited power relationships.  The range of political possibility was decisively narrowed - not by repression, or exile, or guns, but by the simple power of the reigning new culture itself.

(287)  In addition to the banishment of the "financial question" as a political issue, three other developments soon materialized in the wake of the 1896 election to establish enduring patterns for the twentieth century - the rapid acceleration of the merger movement in American industry, the decline of public participation in the democratic process itself, and corporate domination of mass communications.

(292)  To an extent that was not true of many other societies, the cultural high ground in American had been successfully consolidated by the corporate creed a decade before American socialists, led by Eugene Debs, began their abortive effort to create a mass popular base.  The triumphant new American orthodoxy of the Gilded Age, sheltering the two-party system in a dialogue substantially unrelated to democratic structural reform of the inherited economic and social system, consigned the advocates of such ideas to permanent marginality.  The Populists have thus been, to date, the last American reformers with authentic cultural credentials to solicit mass support for the idea of achieving the democratic organization of an industrialized society.

(302)  As subsequent history was to reveal, these Populistic premises proved to be beyond the conceptual reach of twentieth-century Americans.  Restructuring of American banking was not something about which New Dealers or New Frontiersmen could think with sustained attention.  The received culture has proved to be so powerful that substantive ideas about a democratic system of money and credit have become culturally inadmissible.  Such ideas (the sub-treasury concept of a treasury-based democratic bank will do adequately as an example) are, in the judgment of prevailing cultural authority, "unsound."  No one disputes such culturally sanctioned wisdom today, any more than the goldbug simplicities were disputed in "informed" circles during the Gilded Age.
NB:  Graeber or Krugman or Kropotkin looked at sub-treasury system?

(303)  This [movement] culture was comprised of many ingredients - most visible being the infrastructure of local, county, state, and national Alliance organizations.  But this was surface.  More real were all of the shared experiences within the Alliance - the elaborate encampments, the wagon trains, the meals for thousands - and more real still were the years of laboring together in the sub alliances to form trade committees, to negotiate with merchants, to build the cooperatives to new heights, to discuss the causes of adversity, and, in time, to come to the new movement folkway, the "Alliance Demand"….  Because these multiple methods of interior communication existed, Alliancemen found a way to believe in their own movement, rather than to respond to what the larger society said about their movement.

(305)  All important sectors of commercial America opposed the cooperative movement, not only banks and commission agencies, but grain elevator companies, railroads, mortgage companies, and, perhaps needless to add, furnishing merchants.  The National Farmers Alliance itself persisted as an institution, but the cooperative purpose that sustained the personal day-to-day dedication of members to their own institution did not persist.  Once the politics of the sub-treasury had been orchestrated through the lecturing system in order to bring on the new party, the lecturing system itself withered.  The reason was a basic one;  the lecturers no longer had anything substantive to lecture about.  The Alliance could no longer save the farmers;  only the new party could bring the needed structural changes in the American economic system.

"Lecturing" thus became a function of the People's Party.  The new lecturers who provided the continuing internal communications link within the movement culture were the reform editors.  The National Reform Press Association was to the People's Party what the lecturing system was to the Alliance, the interior adhesive of the democratic movement.  The flaw in all this was the simple fact that the National Reform Press Association did not have an organized constituency, as Alliance lecturers had earlier possessed.  Within the Peoples Party, as it organized itself, there could be no continuing democratic dialogue, no give and take of question and answer, of perceived problem and attempted solution, between rank-and-file members and elected spokesmen, such as had given genuine democratic meaning to the days of cooperative effort within the Alliance.  Rather, reform editors asserted and defended the Populist vision, and their subscribers, in organizational isolation, received these views in a passive state, as it were.  Such a dynamic undermines the very prospect of sustaining a democratic culture grounded - as it must be to be democratic - in individual self-respect and mass self-confidence.  Individual self-respect requires self-assertion, the performance of acts, as farmers performed in their sub alliance business meetings, in their country trade committees, in their statewide marketing and purchasing cooperatives.  But, in vivid contrast, the passive reading of reform newspapers fortified inherited patterns of deference.
NB:  True politics is a performative act - swadeshi

(308)  In democratic terms, the structural weakness of the People's Party evolved from the failure of its organizers, in the founding convention of 1892, to understand that the third party, to be authentically democratic, had to be organized as a mass party with a mass membership.  It was organized instead, like all large American parties before and since, as a representative party, with elite cadres of party regulars dominating the organizational machinery from precinct to national convention.  The People's Party spoke, rather more tellingly than most American parties have ever done, in the name of the people.  But in structural terms the People's Party was not made up of the people;  it was comprised of party elites.  Its ultimate failure, therefore, was conceptual - a failure on a theoretical level of democratic analysis.
NB: Deval Patrick's first campaign as net roots/grassroots and model for Obama in 2008, including lack of follow-through

(313)  Structural reform of American banking no longer existed as an issue in America.  The ultimate cultural victory being not merely to win an argument but to remove the subject from the agenda of future contention, the consultation of values that so successfully submerged the "financial question" beyond the purview of succeeding generations was self-sustaining and largely invisible.

(316)  Awaiting agricultural analysis, embarrassingly enough, is a considerable amount of evidence suggesting that the real economies of scale are not technical, but artificial, produced by the monopolistic practices of suppliers and purchasers further undergirded by federal subsidy and tax policies.  But while the concept of "economies of scale" remains debatable, the more germane historical reality is that centralization of American land was well advanced even before corporate agriculture could prove or disprove its "efficiency."  It was simply a matter of capital and the power of those having capital to prevent remedial democratic legislation.  The failure to provide short-run credit for seventy years would seem to be the operative ingredient in these dynamics which has been rather overlooked.

(317)  Yet the idea of a democratic monetary system - the operative dynamic of American Populism - is simply not something that Americans seem any longer to aspire to.  It is not "practical" to have such large democratic goals.  Thus does modern sophistication serve as a defense for modern resignation.  

Inexorably, the consolidation of economic power in corporate America has shaped an entirely new political landscape, one in which the agenda of possible democratic actions has shrunk significantly

(323)  Frank Doster, the socialist judge, became the Populist Chief Justice of the Kansas Supreme Court

(329)  In 1920, Macune deposited his reminiscences of the Alliance years in the University of Texas library in Austin.  The fifty-nine page manuscript, as enigmatic as Macune's own career, raised more questions than it answered.  He understood the nation's economy better than most Gilded Age economists, and he understood the limits of the cooperative movement better than other Alliance leaders.

(331)  In the words of a modern monetary specialist, the sub-treasury plan was "a very subtle mechanism" which "simultaneously would have contended with the problems of financing cooperatives, the seasonal volatility of basic commodity prices, the scarcity of banking offices in rural areas, the lack of a 'lender of last resort for agriculture, inefficient storage and cross-shipping, the downward stickiness of prices paid by farmers vis-á-vis prices received for crops, and the effects of the secular deflation on farmers' debt burdens, all of which, in a far less comprehensive fashion, were the objects of legislation in the next five decades.  … It would have achieved what its supporters claimed - real income redistribution in favor of 'the producing classes.'"

See "An Economic Appraisal of the Sub-Treasury Plan," by William P Yohe, in Goodwyn, _Democratic Promise_, pp, 571-8

(336)  _American Radicalism, 1865-1901_ (1946), Chester McArthur Destler's colorful portrait of the Populist-Socialist alliance in Chicago in 1894.  It is the finest local treatment of the movement in all of Populist literature.

Community Energy Innovations


Harvey Michaels, energy efficiency strategy project
Goal of 30% efficiency by 2030
7 billion in possible savings
71% energy used in buildings and 55% is natural gas
Transparency - making efficiency visible
Democratization - allowing everyone to play
Collective action - city/community partners
(energy club and energy conference founded to make MIT more demand side)

Brendan McEwan - community partnerships
40-65 million homes need weatherization
0.1% annual national uptake
Meetings are effective to get participation, especially if former customers and contractors are available
Communities can be exhausted
Gender matters - women make the decisions

Ksenia Mokrushina, Dong Wang - cdc sust plan
Neighborhood sustainability plan for viet aid in fields corner
Renter occupied, multi-family, 75% built before 1940
Pre-weatherization barriers - asbestos, faulty wiring...

Genevieve Rose Sherman - microgrids
Microgrids distribute energy more efficiently and provide an immediate incentive for greater energy efficiency
Two examples:  Portland, OR ecodistrict and Stamford, CT energy improvement district
Both need a professional operator
CT has addressed some of the regulatory obstructions for microgrids

Amy Stitely - municipal govts in the lead at MIT Community Innovators Lab
Pittsfield, Northampton, Newton, Somerville, Chelsea and New Bedford, MA cities pledged to reduce carbon emissions leading by example, clearing regulatory hurdles, bringing local knowledge and influence to bear
Cities organized different players and components into a community-based organization which can serve as a concierge for energy efficiency services

Q:  people do energy efficiency usually for other reasons than energy efficiency, identify and use these other drivers?
Funding from energy programs but could be from other benefits and other reasons? 

Jackie Dadakis, clean energy solutions
Eric Mackris, aceee
District organization rather than individual incentive - sherman
Can healthcare own some of the benefits - stately
Link energy efficiency to home rehab and available city aid- ksenia

Editorial Comment:  Links to economic gardening, recycled energy, and robert cialdini

Green and healthy homes chased energy efficiency but now chasing health and safety as better drivers

Lindsay Reul - mapping energy efficiency
No standard metric to measure efficiency
Few connected energy info with actions
Energy info should not be displayed in isolation
Info + programs + feedback loop

Kate Goldstein, new step living
Audited 100 homes a week and retrofitting 1000 homes a month and mapping them to predict savings and plan next steps

Nikhil Nadkarni - rating home energy performance
Residential energy labels - started in Denmark in 1990 and  now EU wide as well as in NYC, Austin, and Seattle. Pilot program in Springfield.MA now
Austin's compliance rate is around 93%

Elena Alschuler - smart metering in Charlotte
Energy consumption determined by multiple stakeholders in an office building
What are the best practices?
63 large buildings, 300 organizations, 20,000 workers with new Duke Energy advanced meters
Building level data and community wide data
97% owner participation
Energy Champions learned and changed behaviors
5/100 office workers changed behaviors
Owners handed off program after installation
Best practices:  explicit participation process essential, organizations need flexibility, programminpits include tools, resources, training, events, mwdia, rewards, incluse new partners like local govt, nonprofits and 

Q:  do labels really work?  What is the action connected to the label?

Q:  what can people now in the field do?
Meet people where they are and give different constituencies the info and tools they need to begin change.  You don't necessarily need shiny new gizmos