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Zaid El-Hoiydi
Lives in Thun, Switzerland
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Today's trip on the bike is probably my first one really qualifying for the terms "mountain bike". I had to use everything I got: the power of the disk brakes, the smallest gears, all the studs of both tires for going up and for going down. I was glad I could also use my fitness from running which has kept everything fairly dry, and pleasurable.,
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You are welcome +Takahiro Yamamoto. That is that spring green offered to us by countless buds, young leaves and new grass, yet already being nuanced by precocious yellow flowers.
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Carved Stone Artwork
I spent some time in Interlaken this afternoon and realized two things. First, I had just found one of the few places without Chinese tourists and, second, that centuries of continued architectural progress now using modern building materials and advanced technologies still can't quite deliver me that feeling of grandeur mixed with both lightness and humbleness as was already achieved 400 years ago.

Both can currently be seen throughout Europe though there is no need to hurry to see the cloisters, most will still be there tomorrow as well.
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Seems a very nice cloister.
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Zaid El-Hoiydi

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Studying the Enemy
Just at the border between winter and spring, the manure spreading time is coming to an end. The stench attacks endured in the past weeks while jogging are soon to be superseded by delicate floral scents.
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Wouldn't want to catch a draft behind that one!
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They don't dare call it a castle but rather a tower. One which utilitarian style was never meant to be inviting for the passerby but rather to store gunpowder, when that was still of strategic relevance. Nevertheless I've always liked how those stone walls stand to the passage of time.

A number of trees have just been cleared around it so it is coming out a bit more spectacular than before.
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love the stonework
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Climate Change vs Depletion of Finite Resources vs Population

A while ago there was a rather interesting exchange of ideas around the above topics I succinctly brought in a recent post of mine (

+David Friedman then raised a couple of points which I found best to address in this separate post.

Let's begin

If a particular resource becomes scarcer, harder to get, that drives up its price, which creates an incentive to find ways of economizing on its use, replacing it, recycling it

That is certainly the general idea but in the particular case of petroleum, which is incidentally a very significant source of past and present CO2 emissions, we are using it not only to extract energy but also in countless other processes and byproducts. To quickly illustrate, here is an extract from one of the many online lists available, that one being rather tutti frutti I must admit:

"Ammonia, anesthetics, antifreeze, antihistamines, antiseptics, aspirin, contact lenses, cortisone, denture adhesives and fillings, deodorant, detergents, dyes, epoxy, fertilizers, food preservatives, hair coloring, skin lotion, heart valves, insect repellent, insecticides, linoleum, nylon rope, paint, perfumes, refrigerant, shampoo, shaving cream, soap, solvents, toothbrushes, toothpaste, vehicle tires, water pipes."

Petroleum based chemicals are present in all of these products because of price vs. benefits considerations. As a direct consequence, when the price of oil increases, then the commercial margin reduces or the final price increases or both as currently the case.

Alternatives to petroleum chemicals are also often in limited supply, being themselves non-renewable natural resources. Their prices is then to increase following the exact same mechanism you described.

In short, all prices are bound to increase and will keep doing so for as long as our economic system is based on growth building it itself with finite resources. The following graph gives an overview going beyond petroleum.

So yes, I agree with the overwhelming majority, that oil a precious gift from nature but, unlike the sun, it is a finite one and we must thus use it very wisely. It shouldn't be burnt for heating or to produce electricity, certainly not for the many recreational usages we also make with it.

I find it perfectly ok to end up burning most of it at the end of recycling processes in climate changing CO2 and other dirty gases or byproducts but we've got to do it over several thousands of years, not just a mere couple of decades.

This reminds me Paracelsus where I'd just extend the notion of dosage with that of time which is fact are always going very well together.

"Poison is in everything, and no thing is without poison. The dosage makes it either a poison or a remedy."

Provided with enough time, ecosystems will adjust and they will keep us alive with them, this is assuming, of course, that we have kept them alive in the first place. Not exactly what we are seeing today.

In view of these considerations and because of the incredibly global nature of petroleum in all of our modern societies, if we were reasonable enough we wouldn't wait economic incentives to begin saving it.

Yet, as we all know, we are letting prices driving it, as with all of our other limited resources, as it if were a nearly renewable commodity like soy or corn where clearing new patches of virgin tropical forests for, say, more palm trees to accommodate more demand is a very easy concept to grasp indeed.

Another point

If that runs short, there is a very large thermonuclear reactor conveniently located only 92 million miles from here and unlikely to run out of fuel any time soon.

I wouldn't be so sure about that either. In the short term the scarcity problem appears to be even bigger than with the oil, gas and coal based sources.

"After 2015 uranium mining will decline by about 0.5 ktons/year up to 2025 and much faster thereafter... Assuming that the demand side will be increased by 1% annually, we predict both shortages of uranium and (inflation-adjusted) price hikes within the next five years."

It does look a bit better in the longer term as future nuclear power plants will probably make use of fast neutron reactors and the likes:

But the Fukushima disaster and Chernobyl before it have underpinned many such projects whilst, unfortunately at the same time, indirectly prolonged the existences of those with older, dangerous, polluting and wasteful designs.

About the notion of carrying capacity

Four years ago I read the "Myth of Progress" from Tom Wessels which I'd recommended to anyone without hesitations and here I'd better let Tom speaks: "The carrying capacity is the maximal population size that can be supported without degrading a population’s ecosystem. However, for humans the concept of carrying capacity needs to be adjusted to account for differing cultures that influence use of resources and patterns of consumption. Not all human populations have the same carrying capacity. Yet our ultimate ecosystem is the biosphere, and collectively as a global population we have exceeded its carrying capacity."

"Every example that we have of systems that can sustain themselves and prosper is based on limits to growth. At maturity they all reach a state of dynamic equilibrium."

"The idea that unlimited economic growth will bring continuous progress has no scientific foundation. In fact science tells us just the opposite – Unchecked growth generates its own negative feedback."

"We need to embrace another model of progress that is compatible with scientific law, a model already developed by economist Herman Daly (x). But to engage in such an economic system will first demand major changes in institutions, both corporate and governmental, and possibly more importantly in our own cultural values"

✚ And what about the foreseeable future?

Fusion energy keeps staying the same number of decades away from us, about 3 to 5, and this since the early 60s ( until today ( Hoping is good but preparing is better.

What will limit the size of our population?

And I should probably also shed a few words about the 213'000 additional humans coming online every single day (

Today, tomorrow and next week, month, year... they all need or will need additional space to live, extra water, more food, not yet existing jobs and they understandably will all aspire to start a family and have children. Like it or not, we'll have to share those same finite resources with them, with our very own children.

Going from vegetables to meat

The acquisition of the America's largest pork producer Smithfield Farms by the Chinese last year is also reminding us that more food does not only mean more rice, wheat and maize. Those pigs will have to eat too otherwise our knifes will have nothing to cut into.

More tundra, taiga, savanna, grassland, temperate deciduous forest and tropical rainforest surfaces will need be converted into crops so that we can feed our cattles because our oceans are already becoming free of fishes.

"Attention has focused on oil insecurity, and rightly so, but it is not the same as food insecurity. An empty gas tank is one thing, an empty stomach another. And while there are substitutes for oil, there are none for food."
–Lester R. Brown #ZldEnergy, #ZelidarNature
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Have him in circles
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Pile of Stones
We have so many pebbles that we often stockpile them just because it just feels the right thing to do. Believe me or not, these can last a couple of years.

I visited the delta of the Kander river this afternoon. That made me worry about our lake soon to be filled up. How soon? I guess I just found myself a reason to study the lifecycle of lakes.
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bish s
It is a very beautiful place too.
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Cows at the Station
Look what I found on my way home from the office, all clean, brushed up and so pretty. Too bad the train was on time (again) as I would otherwise have enjoyed spending a moment with them. They were so quiet and friendly.
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I wish more people could see live cows, and what gentle creatures they are.
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Sunday Bike Ride
Here is an album for all those, like +Diana Studer, who share with me their fondness for those typical Swiss landscapes.

This selection was shot on the occasion of a bike tour we did last Sunday going from Thun to Wimmis and back. All shot with my Galaxy Note 3.

You will notice quite a few bridges and I didn't even photograph all of those we used. The reason is that our route followed both the Simme river and then the Kander river on the way back.

My hidden purpose for this trip _(my wife didn't agree with it, she said that it would be too far)_ was the intriguing Wimmis castle which will remain mysterious because I did not have enough time to check out properly.

I barely took a few seconds to gaze up at it from my ordinary citizen littleness.
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What amazes me is that these are "typical" Swiss landscapes.  :-)  The landscape outside my window is too flat by comparison!
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Biodiversity in 2014
Our forests have all kind of trees. We have those who stubbornly keep green during the winter, those providing cosy homes for just-married birds and those responsible, among other fancy things, to auto-backup our mobile pictures onto the cloud (after the mandatory NSA check, that is).
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Just Like Children
How tough can the life of crows get during a cold Russian winter? Well, those certainly seemed to have enjoyed that fresh snow more than I did myself this year.

It warms the heart to see them having some good and careless time given that we otherwise easily imagine them in that never ending Darwinian life survival fight.

We see them every day and yet we seem to know so little about them. Youtube has several reports with this type of behavior associated with crows.

Now, one step harder, how can these little games can be mentally linked with their fierce and direct ancestor, the Tyrannosaurus Rex? <grin>
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Have him in circles
4,481 people
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Thun, Switzerland
Belgium, Switzerland - Brussels, Delemont, Zurich, Los Angeles
Nature, evolution, photography, running, us (homo sapiens), computing and a healthy dosis of Malthusianism.
The triad evolution, ecology and energy ​​​​​​​​​​plus everything that is related are frequent centers of interest of mine in my reading and writing here or elsewhere. Photography and computing (many call me a geek) are my oldest and most durable leisure time activities and I profoundly admire Nature in which I also love to walk, bike, hike and run.

Now to illustrate my values I found it best to look a bit back in history. Definitely no need to reinvent the wheel here.

✿ "Insanity in individuals is something rare—but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs it is the rule.Friedrich Nietzsche
✿ "A little help at the right time is better than a lot of help at the wrong time.Teyve
✿ "To reform a man, you must begin with his grandmother.Victor Hugo
✿ "Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.Antoine de Saint-Exupery
✿ "Humans have come into being for the sake of each other, so either teach them, or learn to bear them.Marcus Aurelius
✿ "We would worry less about what others think of us if we realized how seldom they do.Ethel Barrett
✿ "There is no force so powerful as an idea whose time has come.Everett Dirkson
✿ "Where knowledge ends, religion begins.Benjamin Disraeli
✿ "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.Voltaire
✿ “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. Marcel Proust

Concise, meaningful and eternal, we are all blessed to have been born after thousands of sages so that we can enjoy their great legacy.

A random thought "Our intelligence is the one true miracle, the most extraordinary emergent property and legacy that evolution has given us."

A couple of homemade tags I sometimes use in my posts. It is an ongoing project:
Tags related to travelling:
Bragging rights
I am fortunate to have very few arrogants and braggarts in my life
Basic Information
Zaid El-Hoiydi's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
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The place alone is well worth the visit
Appeal: ExcellentFacilities: Very goodService: Good
Public - a year ago
reviewed a year ago
Nice restaurant at an ideal location which explains the higher prices
Public - a year ago
reviewed a year ago
Trop cher vu l'emplacement et le mobilier choisi vieillit vite et mal. Buffet petit déjeuné en dessous de Mercure. Le staff est heureusement impeccable.
Quality: Poor to fairFacilities: GoodService: Excellent
Public - a year ago
reviewed a year ago
Un hôtel fatigué. Nous y étions le 9 avril 2012. Il n'y avait vraiment que la réceptionniste qui était parfaite ce qui permait de ramener la cote à 3/5. Sinon il est évident que plus rien n'a été investis dans cet hôtel depuis des décennies alors que le prix des chambres a continué de monter. Nous n'y retournerons pas.
Public - a year ago
reviewed a year ago
7 reviews
A fascinating historical site that is enough to justify coming all the way to this town
Public - a year ago
reviewed a year ago
It was obviously windy at this altitude and there are many tables on the terrace but there was not a single trash bin in view so the surrounding area was getting plenty flying papers such as ice cream wrappers, napkins etc., really a pitty. Other than that it is a typical Swiss mountain restaurant with even a playground for kids and a salad buffet (July 2012).
Quality: ExcellentFacilities: GoodService: Very good
Public - a year ago
reviewed a year ago
Excellent Price/Quality The best price/quality ratio of our week where we stayed in 5 different hotels in the nearby area last week. It has been recently fully renewed and the rooms are stunningly modern and well conceived. It remains to be seen how it will be maintained as the Accord group has often been weak in that area.
Public - a year ago
reviewed a year ago