P2P Foundation

The Foundation for Peer to Peer Alternatives

From Beserkley, CA:


Hands-on Weekend Algaculture Workshop
October 18-19, 2008

@ The Algae Lab in Berkeley, CA
algaelab.org: a component of The Shipyard / All Power Labs


It's a fact. Food, fuel, fertilizer, fresh water, and arable land --
all are running out. But there is a crop that can grow in salt water,
on true waste land, creating all the products we need by eating
greenhouse gases and water water. And can grow 100x faster than
conventional crops. Algae! A truly green crop for a sustainable
future.

We are the Shipyard algae lab community. We have created the world's
first community algae lab -- for development of open source,
DIY-oriented algae technology, to facilitate the co-operative pursuit
of this new form of agriculture -- and we invite *you* to come learn
how to raise algae and transform them into exciting products!

Whether you are looking for a job in the exploding algae biofuels
field, or thinking about creating your own farm, we can help you get
up to speed! We have created an independent, non-profit algae
laboratory for teaching and research using low-cost, widely-available
materials, and we qould love to teach you how! Get on board with this
exciting, expanding field that's truly "green"!

Over the course of the weekend we will teach you:
* The current state of algae farming technology, and where it's headed,
* What algae are interesting, and for what purposes,
* How to obtain algae strains,
* How to figure out the right nutrients for your algae,
* How to design and build effective ponds and bio-reactors,
* How to "grow out" your algae into a full-sized pond or bio-reactor,
* How to monitor the health of your algae, and
* How to harvest your algae and make them into food, fuel, and fertilizer!

All levels of experience and expertise are welcome. Graduates are
eligible to become members of our lab and to use its facilities.

October 18 & 19th, 11am - 6pm
1010 Murray St, Berkeley, CA 94710
$150 per participant
more info: algaelab.org
contact: workshop@algaelab.org



Dr. Friendly aka Aaron Wolf Baum, PhD
drfriendly@drfriendly.tv
"I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to
the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of
peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that
unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word."
- MLK Jr.

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Seems more like a blog post than a start of a discussion, no?

But since you posted it, here is an interesting contribution from Kevin Carson, on the idea of a P2P Grid, that is of interest even without the context of the previous discussion.

Kevin Carson:

"Much of what Schumacher called "intermediate technology" involves applying new technical knowledge to traditional materials (e.g., applying modern knowledge of bacteriology, soils, etc., to the intensive raised bed techniques developed centuries ago; or applying modern aerodynamic principles to the design of traditional sailing vessels), making possible an order of magnitude increase in effectiveness without any major increase in cost, complexity, or centralization and capital outlays for production.

A lot of it depends on what you mean by the "grid." Large scale power consumption, which may be necessary in some cases, is not equivalent to a grid. Even the largest industrial projects, arguably, can be most efficiently powered by generators scaled to the actual needs of the facility itself, at the point of consumption. If anything, large-scale industrial projects are one of the best cases against the grid, because it's arguably easier to get economies of scale in generation at a single point of consumption. Why generate power at a distant site and transmit it over a grid, when the site of consumption is sufficient to support its own power plant at maximum efficient scale? The most efficient approach is to tailor power output to consumption needs at the point of consumption, and minimize the overhead costs (including inefficiency from power loss) of transmission and storage. This is Amory Lovins' argument. All the "grid," as such, does is increase the amount of power lost in transmission and increase needless complexity (and hence fragility and vulnerability to disruption) of the system.

Large-scale, artificially cheap grid power also created perverse incentives to use electricity even when it's the least efficient alternative. For example, Lovins et al repeatedly argue that the most efficient method of heating space and water is through the direct production of heat at the endpoint (through combustion of fuel or passive solar), rather than converting heat from combustion into electricity at a power plant, transmitting it over a grid, and then converting it back into heat again at the point of consumption.

The most efficient approach is to generate electrical power at the point of consumption in the cases where it's actually needed for large-scale industrial production, to rely on small-scale production (including at the neighborhood level) as much as possible for small-scale household and industrial consumption in areas where electricity is actually most efficient (mainly for powering machinery and electronics), and shift to passive solar and direct combustion of fuel where those are suitable. Electricity is actually suitable in a small fraction of cases where it's currently used, and even then is produced at a level of centralization which is extremely inefficient.

I don't think anyone here has argued that large-scale production, as such (whatever that may mean in concrete terms) will be made completely obsolete. Most of us have simply argued that small-scale production will become an alternative which expands at the expense of a dwindling realm of centralized and large-scale production, rather than being something simply piggybacked on the existing centralized corporate model. IOW, the large-scale manufacturing economy will be radically downsized, and serve primarily to support decentralized small-scale manufacturing. And as I have argued, in most cases the present scale of such large manufacturing is many times larger than what would be ideal from a pure efficiency standpoint, because scale has been subsidized far past the point of counterproductivity.

The largest-scale, heaviest industry of all (heavy engine blocks and jet aircraft) would likely not be profitable at all absent subsidies and protections, and would simply disappear with no effect on real quality of life.

In a few cases where large scale is currently necessary for quality of life (e.g., microprocessors), a market area large enough to support a single billion dollar foundry could still function based on a light-rail distribution system with a fraction of the capacity of our actual centralized transportation system. And where such large capital outlays are genuinely necessary, they will be exceptionalist islands in a system defined primarily by small scale and decentralization. But I don't think anyone denies, in principle, that they will exist to a certain extent. "
It would seem to me that, rather than the large scale, heavy manufacturing of the day becoming "exceptionalist islands in a system defined primarily by small scale", the two systems will (happily) coexist for quite a while to come, perhaps even indefinitely.

Think of space travel. There will be - if we wish to take to the stars - a need for manufacture and maintenance of comparatively large (space) ship structures and such kind of manufacturing will not be possible using the small scale, distributed model.

So rather than one making the other obsolete, each model will have its share of the market in areas where it is best suited.

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