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Just say no to foreign oil and abstain from fossil fuels

Hello, my name is the United States of America and I'm addicted to foreign oil.  My addiction is destroying my neighborhood, bankrupting me and my children and is making me do things I am not proud of.  I have put far too much power in the hands of dictators and terrorists and have been sending my children to dangerous places to support my bad habit.  My addiction is dividing my family and destroying my home and I am here today to pledge my commitment to find a better way.

As with most addictions I have wrapped myself in denial and fabricated elaborate rationalizations. But one morning I woke up and realized I had tortured hundreds of innocent people looking for something that did not exist and knew then I must do something to stop this addiction before another 3000 of my children die in the Middle East to support my bad habit.  Please help me break my addiction by finding alternative, renewable and clean forms of energy that break my dependence on foreign oil and help reverse the effects of global warming.  

There are a number of excellent options that can be put into action right away. Of course conservation is the best of all options.  Learning to conserve energy is the cleanest, renewable option available.  Solar and wind power are excellent and they get us part of the way.  For the rest of our goal there are biomass fuels like bioethanol, biodiesel and biomass power as direct alternatives to fossil fuels like gasoline, diesel and coal.


Biomass energy is produced from plants and organic sources like soy beans, switch grass, dandelion, sugarcane, and algae as renewable, clean alternatives to fossil fuels like gasoline, diesel and coal.  Biomass fuels can eventually replace petroleum but they can be added to existing fossil fuels to immediately help us reduce our dependence on foreign oil and cut down CO2 emissions which threaten the future of our planet.

For example: Bioethanol can be added to gasoline at 10% and run in normal cars without modification.  Biodiesel can be added to petroleum diesel at 20% and run in normal diesel engines without modification.  Biomass can be added to existing coal burning electric plants; all of which reduce our use of fossil fuels and reduce CO2 emissions.  Biofuels are already being used all over the world and can be used right now in America using our current infrastructure.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, tripling our use of biomass energy could provide as much as $20 billion in new income for farmers and rural communities and reduce global warming emissions by the same amount as taking 70 million cars off the road.

There are three major biomass energy applications:

  1. Biofuels - Liquid fuels for transportation like ethanol, butanol and biodiesel.
  1. Biopower - Converting biomass to electricity by burning or chemical reaction.
  1. Bioproducts - Converting biomass into chemicals for making products similar to plastics.

Switchgrass is a promising biomass energy crop for producing ethanol because switchgrass is easier and less expensive to grow than most other energy crops like soy beans and corn.  It is resistant to floods, droughts, pests and requires very little fertilizer to produce consistent high yields.  It's an easy transition crop because it uses existing farm equipment to plant, harvest and transport.  

Microalgae is a promising crop for producing biodiesel because some types of algae contain more than 50% oil and can produce 10,000 gallons of biodiesel per acre of land.  This would make it possible to replace all petroleum used in the US with only 0.3% of the land mass.  Algae can be grown just about everywhere using sewer water, coal mine waste water or ocean salt water.  The leftover material from making biodiesel can be used to make bioethanol or biomass electricity.  Algae can also be used to make pharmaceuticals and clean factory smoke stacks.


  1. The first thing we must do is get the word out and inform and educate as many people as possible about the threats we face and what we can do about it.  Learn more about climate change and renewable energy and tell your family and friends.
  1. Tell your elected officials you want them to support renewable energy initiatives and stop taking money from big oil companies and vote for candidates that pledge to do the same.
  1. Try to incorporate renewable energy into your life as much as you can by looking for gasoline with ethanol added, conserve energy, write letters to local news outlet and look into buying a more fuel efficient car or truck.

Think of it like this: Every acre we use to grow bioethanol in this country means a 19 year old kid doesn't have to die in the Middle East to support our addiction to oil.  Every acre we use to grow biodiesel means a plane load of innocent people won't be slammed into a building by a terrorist.  Every biofuel refinery we build means a city full of people won't be flooded out by the effects of global warming.  Think of it in those terms and the problems we run into along the way won't seem all that difficult.

In addition to saving our children and our planet, biofuels will also save our family farms, reduce our trade deficit, create jobs that can not be outsourced and stimulate our own economy with billions of dollars that would normally go overseas to support dictators and terrorists.  The United States makes up less than 5% of the earths population but uses more than 25% of the oil.  That is a big problem.  Remember Osama bin Laden's stated reason for attacking on 9/11 was because of US troops stationed in Saudi Arabia and they were there because of our addiction to oil.  When we invaded Iraq under false pretenses and became an occupying force in the cradle of Islam we gave Osama bin Laden exactly what he needed to ignite the Muslim world against us.  We can take back this gift we gave the terrorists by growing renewable energy in our own country and staying out of the Middle East all together.


 Henry Ford invested heavily in bioethanol production from sugar beet farming and envisioned that American farmers would supply all the fuel for the booming automobile industry.

 Rudolf Diesel demonstrated his patented Diesel engine at the 1900 World's Fair, running on peanut oil.

 Richard Branson (Virgin) recently pledged $3 billion to fight global warming and has started by investing in modular bioethanol refineries with 55 million gallon annual capacity that are expected to be greener & cheaper than existing refineries.

 On June 1, 2005 all U.S. Navy and Marine non-tactical diesel vehicles were required to operate on a B20 (20 percent) biodiesel blend as part of the military's efforts to increase their use of domestic and clean fuels.

 Biodiesel is renewable, non-toxic, biodegradable and can be used by existing diesel cars, buses, trucks (18 wheelers and all service fleet vehicles), construction equipment, boats, and generators with little or no modifications.  It can be mixed at any level, so if you run out of 100% biodiesel you can switch to petroleum diesel at any time.


ABC's of Biofuels

Compare Alternative Fuel Properties

Biofuels for Transportation


How Biomass Energy Works

Ethanol fuel in Brazil

National Biodiesel Board

Wide scale Biodiesel Production from Algae

Algae - like a breath mint for smokestacks

Originally posted to Todd Smyth on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 11:07 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Well done (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy, DeadB0y, phriendlyjaime

    You put a lot of work into this. I like the first section - very clever.

  •  Fantastic job, Todd (0+ / 0-)

    You lay out a clear argument and possible solutions for solving this dire matter. Ridding ourselves of fossil fuel dependence makes our nation safer geopolitically and environmentally.  

    Let us hope that our political and corporate leaders are listening to voices like yours.

  •  Good Diary (0+ / 0-)

    We need an intervention to ever get into rehab.  

    there is never time to do it right, but always time to do it over -6.88/-4.31

    by DeadB0y on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 12:34:00 PM PST

  •  It's an addiction that's very hard to kick (0+ / 0-)

    But recognizing that we have an addiction is the first step to recovery.

    It'll be a looooong road, so we might as well get started now, before it gets much later. We'll all be better off if we reach our destination before the darkness of environmental and/or economic collapse sets in.

    Beware the everyday brutality of the averted gaze.

    by mataliandy on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 12:38:44 PM PST

  •  What about fusion? It's closer than you think. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I've already posted on this elsewhere, so I'll just link to that here.  Also, check out our website -

    Unfortunately, when people think nuclear energy, the only things that come to mind are fission, cold fusion, or deuterium/tritium tokamak fusion.  Most people don't realize there are other options in nuclear energy, the most excellent being hydrogen-boron fusion, which eliminates radiation (it's aneutronic), and generates electricity directly.  Need a visual?  Try the T-shirt : )

    The biofuels are still a good bet, because fusion isn't set up for transport yet, although eventually, it will make electric charging stations more competitive with liquid fuel.  

    As to biomass, another critical thing to focus on is reversing desertification.  Some key sites on that:  

    Their site is nice, but a great site that explains the animal effect on reversing desertification is:
    And here's a nice flash slide show about how plants are needed to maintain water in the land:  (and animals are needed to keep the plants growing by chipping up the ground, trampling organic matter into it and fertilizing it.)

    And this book is fantastic:  Gardener's of Eden

    •  300,000 injection mines (0+ / 0-)

      It's the 300,000 injection mines, filled with radioactive waste that are burning into our ground water that worries me the most about nuclear.  It's not just the active material that is a problem, it's everything that comes into contact with it during production which has to be "disposed" of.

      God speaks to all of us, all of the time. We just don't listen very well.

      by Todd Smyth on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 01:45:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'd really like to see (0+ / 0-)

        a layman friendly presentation on the methodology Rezwan is referencing.

        After taking a brief look at some of the referenced material it looks like they are working on a radiation-free solution.

        If that is even a slightly realistic possibility it deserves very heavy investment. Radiation free commercially viable fusion could be such a huge breakthrough I can't begin to accurately describe how big.

        Democracy is a contact sport...

        by jsmagid on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 07:56:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You got it! (0+ / 0-)

          Yes, it's radiation-free.  And it is, indeed "slightly realistic".  No one's gotten hydrogen-boron fusion to produce net energy yet.  However, there are at least 4 teams out there working on this problem, the most visible on the internet being Eric Lerner, affiliated with focus fusion society, who is using the dense plasma focus, and another one being Robert Bussard, whom you may have seen on the google video - who uses a different device.  Both these groups need funding.

          Most other researchers work on deuterium-tritium fusion, which is theoretically easier to accomplish, but has that pesky problem with radiation and nuclear proliferation - giving all fusion a bad rap.  We're trying to distinguish the hydrogen-boron fusion out of this so that people can get behind it.  More info on other fusion alternatives:

          •  I was thinking more along the lines (0+ / 0-)

            of a Science-Friday kind of diary with diagrams and the like.

            I've got a bachelor's in Physics/Math, so I get the basics, but most will need more hand-holding to get why they should be excited about hydrogen-boron fusion.

            Democracy is a contact sport...

            by jsmagid on Wed Nov 29, 2006 at 09:42:40 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  RE getting off oil ... (0+ / 0-)

    There are some tremendous discussions, studies, etc ... Winning the Oil Endgame out of the Rocky Mountain Institute is perhaps the best of the bunch.  Very thoughtful, practical, achievable ways to wean US from oil (imported or otherwise).  Possibly the key shortfalls in it, from a policy / technology perspective, are that it is not aggressive enough (believe more could be achieved) and RMI has yet to be convinced of the value of plug-in hybrids (and electric drive).

    This is an excellent discussion/diary. One thing troubles me, which is that it might be too easy for people not knowledgeable about energy to conflate oil and renewables like solar / wind.  Only about 3% of US electricity derives from oil at the moment (and most of that is basically waste remains from refining processes).  Solar / Wind, unless there is a serious move to electricity in the transportation sector supplanting liquid fuels (or hydrogen fuel cells -- which I believe is, at best, a long-term possibility at mass scale) are electricity sources that don't supplant oil.  While you clearly understand this, the writing of the diary (the excellent start) could suggest that solar/wind renewable energy could substitute for imported oil.

    Energy Consensus: Learn - Connect - Share - Participate: For a new dialogue on Energy issues.

    by A Siegel on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 02:17:15 PM PST

  •  Very interesting biofuel discussion (0+ / 0-)

    Engineer Poet has posted an incredibly interesting (even exciting) concept at Ergosphere that likely would interest you.

    Energy Consensus: Learn - Connect - Share - Participate: For a new dialogue on Energy issues.

    by A Siegel on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 02:19:16 PM PST

    •  To toot my own horn... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Doolittle Sothere, A Siegel

      Mr. Siegel didn't list the plusses of my proposal:

      • ~45 billion gallons/year of ethanol production; at $3/gallon, another $135 billion in farm income.
      • ~20 billion gallons of algal oil, another $60 billion at $3/gallon.
      • 1620 billion kWh of electricity, worth $48.6 billion/year if they could get even 3¢/kWh for it.
      • The potential of another 3400 billion kWh/year of electricity, made from charcoal in direct-carbon fuel cells.
      • If we get a greenhouse tax regime, whatever credits accrue to about 500 million tons/year of carbon pulled from the atmosphere.

      Oh, and this would nearly eliminate oil imports (and all their expense and political complications).

      I have been saying for some time that the people talking about a few $billion in farm income and 20-30% of gasoline consumption are thinking way too small.  Now I have the numbers to stand behind it.  My facts are hot-linked and my spreadsheet is available for the asking.

      Work the cold equations; some answers will make you feel warm.

      by Engineer Poet on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 04:40:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  good primer, thanks n/t (0+ / 0-)

    Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

    by alizard on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 04:26:35 PM PST

  •  about biodiesel (0+ / 0-)

    Many modern diesel engines can run B100 (100% biodiesel) without modification, though warranty coverage frequently doesn't reflect this.

    Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

    by alizard on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 04:36:16 PM PST

  •  Many benefits (0+ / 0-)

    Many benefits would flow from being able to utilize multiple sources of renewable energy as is pointed out in this excellent diary.  Call me petty but one of the sweetest satisfactions would be being able to say to the hostile oil producing nations, keep your oil fellas.  We can get along without it.  I do my small bit already.  I have a Prius and solar panels on my roof that heat my hot water.  I recycle and I buy green when I can.  Now we need to encourage our  Representatives and Senators  to work hard for a rational and sustainable energy policy to free our country from dependence on foreign oil and financing.  Thanks, Todd, for telling it like it can be.

  •  My favorite idea (0+ / 0-)

    My favorite idea is to strike up competitions between states to meet renewable energy objectives like highest percentage of renewable fuels, vehicles etc. and lowest per capita use of electricity (conservation).

    God speaks to all of us, all of the time. We just don't listen very well.

    by Todd Smyth on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 06:53:25 PM PST

  •  Venezuela has the same problem domestically (0+ / 0-)

    NPR's Morning Edition had this feature.  The Venezuelans are unfortunately becoming as gluttonous as us.

    "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

    by chingchongchinaman on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 07:40:06 PM PST

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