Chris Hardie

Blog, Tech, Business and Community Building

energy_crisis

November 20, 2008

Is eating locally produced food a bad idea?

Green Tomatoes 2In yesterday's Palladium-Item, editorial board member and local blogger Matthew Hisrich proposed that eating locally, and other kinds of localized consumption behaviors, might be ineffective, or even bad for us:

[W]here does this drive for relocalizing come from? Perhaps it has to do with a vague sense of ethical rightness more than anything scientifically verifiable. University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt classifies such efforts as attempts to attain (and potentially guilt others into) a sense of moral purity. "Food," he says, "is becoming extremely moralized these days."

The problem, of course, is that purity is hard to come by in a world as complex as ours, and simplistic answers often have consequences that their proponents do not intend. Consumers should think twice before jumping on the localvore bandwagon.

I'm all for thinking twice before jumping on any sort of wagon, but I think Mr. Hisrich's logic is flawed in a number of places. Read on for my point-by-point analysis of his column: - Read More -

June 4, 2008

A scary new angle on immigration: traffic congestion

On the road, finallyI don't usually read USA Today, but in doing so this morning I saw that there's a perverse new angle that some organizations are taking on the issue of U.S. immigration policy. It was manifested in an advertisement taken out on page 2 of the front section, with a single photo of a long line of traffic at a stop on an interstate highway. The text in the ad basically says that illegal immigrants from Mexico, in their unending contribution to the population here, are causing Americans to have to sit in traffic congestion longer than ever before. The call to action is clear: if you want your freedom to drive wherever you want whenever you want to remain intact, we have to keep those Mexicans out of our country.

Oh my.
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May 22, 2008

Five Geopolitical Scenarios to Consider

From the "I hope it doesn't happen but wouldn't be surprised if it did" department, I have some predictions and scenarios to throw out there about stuff that could happen sometime in the rest of 2008. I suppose this is mostly just a mental exercise for me, but maybe it'll spark some interesting comments/responses: The […]

March 10, 2008

Steve Alten's The Shell Game

The Shell Game by Steve Alten If you read political thrillers or action novels for their ability to transport you away from the concerns of current events into a fantasy that seems realistic but is purely fictional, then Steve Alten's book The Shell Game is probably not for you. And I wouldn't blame you; most folks probably don't want anxieties about their real lives and the future of our society to be a central part of the escapist action and adventure reading that we do on the beach. But after I heard that the book takes on the realities of peak oil, government corruption, American foreign policy and the political futures of today's Presidential candidates, and weaves them all into a 466 page novel, I couldn't help but be intrigued by it. Here's my review, some spoilers if you read on.
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January 8, 2008

Presenting to the EDC Board on Peak Oil

Open Flame in the WorkplaceEarlier tonight I had the honor of being a guest speaker at the monthly meeting for the Economic Development Corporation of Wayne County's board of directors, presenting a version of my talk on how we can build a more self-reliant Richmond, Indiana in the face of peaking availability of natural energy resources, global climate change, and the decline of the U.S. dollar. As I said about the November 2007 presentation, it was somewhat especially nerve-wracking because the topics covered are so important to me and, in my view, so important to the future of this community. Today it was also always a growing experience to step beyond the safety of the traditional, "business world/tech guy" kinds of interactions I have with some of these folks, exposing another side of my interests and passions along the way.
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December 2, 2007

Going Local: Building a Self-Reliant Richmond, Indiana

011_15.JPGAs I mentioned when I came back from the energy conference in October, I was going to give a talk in November called "Going Local: Building a Self-Reliant Richmond, Indiana". I had agreed to speak earlier in the year and didn't really know what I was going to talk about beyond the expectation that it would fit into the "sustainability" theme of the series of talks in which I was participating and have some focus on peak oil and related topics.

It turned into one of my most intense speaking experiences to date.
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October 5, 2007

You know the world is ending when...

I've blogged before about turning points in awareness of the issues that we face with regard to "the environment" and the energy crisis. Today I received a postcard in the mail with a photo of a man holding a gasoline pump nozzle up to his head, in an image that unavoidably evokes a suicide act […]

March 18, 2007

Ethanol as a local, national energy solution?

In today's Palladium-Item, Brian Bergen with the Richmond-Wayne County Chamber of Commerce agribusiness committee has a piece about Ethanol as a solution to the nation's energy problems.

I'm so glad that the Chamber is focusing on the relationship between agribusiness and the energy crisis that we face as a nation and as a planet. I'm also glad that the solutions we're talking about are keeping in mind a systems approach - how the inputs and outputs from a particular industrial or energy-generating process can be used as efficiently as possible.

But I hope that whatever solutions we pursue take into account that there is a tremendous amount of energy that goes into making our agricultural system work, and so any energy solutions derived from it must take that cost into account. The USDA recently noted that ethanol generates little more energy than it takes to produce. Some scientists have shown that ethanol production consumes 6 units of energy for every 1 it produces.
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September 23, 2006

Sustainable Indiana, Inc. and Peak Oil

I'm writing tonight from the Third U.S. Conference on "Peak Oil" and Community Solutions. You may recall that I attended the same event last year, and it's been an amazing time again so far. It's also appropriate that I mention from this context my involvement in a new non-profit called Sustainable Indiana, Inc, founded by […]

May 8, 2006

Gas prices and New Minds

IMG_0061.JPGWhen gas prices go up, people tend to complain that something needs to be done about the problem. Many demand action from the local or federal government, gas companies, or fellow citizens. Like Jason Sparks, whose letter in the Pal-Item yesterday read, "Why is the government not stepping in?...How are we supposed to pay the bills?...Let's shut down the country, then maybe someone would step in. We cannot afford this." Or Brad Hall, who was quoted in an article today asking, "What's going to be next?...How're people going to survive and get around?"

That's the question, indeed.
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