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There's a fantastic op-ed on ethanol in today's Washington Post that pretty much sums it all upon this issue.  "Ethanol Hype: Corn Can't Solve Our Problem" is exactly what I've been arguing for a long time now.  I'm really glad to see an ecologist (and member of the National Academy of Sciences) and an economist from the University of Minnesota make such a strong case against not just corn-based ethanol, but also soybean and Brazilian sugarcane from newly cleared lands.  Here are the main points:

*"Lost in the ethanol-induced euphoria, however, is the fact that three of our most fundamental needs -- food, energy, and a livable and sustainable environment -- are now in direct conflict."

*"Our most fertile lands are already dedicated to food production."

*"If every one of the 70 million acres on which corn was grown in 2006 was used for ethanol, the amount produced would displace only 12 percent of the U.S. gasoline market."

*"The destruction of rainforests and other ecosystems to make new farmland would threaten the continued existence of countless animal and plant species and would increase the amount of climate-changing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere."

*"...it takes a lot of "old" fossil energy to make it: diesel to run tractors, natural gas to make fertilizer and, of course, fuel to run the refineries that convert corn to ethanol."

*Brazilian sugarcane ethanol is good, EXCEPT "that isn't the case for sugar-cane ethanol or soybean biodiesel from Brazil's newly cleared lands, including tropical forests and savannas...[which] releases immense amounts of greenhouse gases into the air, because much of the material in the plants and soil is broken down into carbon dioxide."

*"There are biofuel crops that can be grown with much less energy and chemicals than the food crops we currently use for biofuels...[and] can be grown on our less fertile land, especially land that has been degraded by farming."

There is so much misinformation about ethanol out there, it is great to see an article like this by two people who obviously know what they're talking about.  Now, can we stop wasting our time and money on ethanol idiocy and get with a crash program for increased energy efficiency and renewables - as Al Gore recommended the other day - that actually work (wind, solar, geothermal, cellolosic ethanol in cases where it is economical and environmentally friendly)?  Oh, and can we please stop using food needed for a poor, hungry world to instead feed our cars and SUV's?  All while actually HARMING the environment (see Washington Post article)?  If that's not immoral, I don't know what is.

Originally posted to lowkell on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 04:41 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  A comment on Raising Kaine (75+ / 0-)

    Thanks, Lowell. I couldn't agree more. As a sometimes farmer, I have been dismayed with the [ethanol] issue from the beginning. My farm journals say we would have to go from 80 million acres in corn to 200 million. This would be of course corporate farming. It would destroy forest land, particularly in Brazil and South America where it is being hyped. And if Americans stop using MIddle East oil, it does not help the environment. The oil will still be used, but by someone else - China, most likely, and will ease their way into negotiating for it. Thus ethanol will add to the damage to the environment by 200 million acres and the turning of Rain Forest into corn fields. This was an old Republican novelty idea from George Bush Sr. admin.

    Thank you for visiting Raising Kaine, the voice of Progressive Virginia.

    by lowkell on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 04:41:04 AM PDT

    •  Why they bother with ethanol (7+ / 0-)

      is a mystery to me. Natural gas is the cleanest fuel there is, with only some heat and water vapor as the residue. Cars and trucks can run on it. Schwann's Foods has a whole fleet of refrigerated trucks that run on it nationwide. And we have an ample supply too. Under West Virginia is enough natural gas to meet the energy needs of the US for 200 years. And the gas there is so pure right out of the ground that people in WV use it literally right out of the well. All it takes is a slightly different valve on the burner unit and you can use raw gas to fuel or power whatever you need. That cuts the processing costs by a whole hell of a lot, I would guess. If they want to be efficient in the use of corn, feed it to cows, collect the methane they produce from it and use that. That way you get double use out of the corn, grows food and provides energy. Makes as much sense, if not more, than the ethanol idea. But  natural gas is the way to go. We have plenty of it already. All we have to do is get it out of the ground. And given the number of capped gas wells in WV, that won't be hard at all.

      What happens when Bush takes Viagra? he gets taller. Robin Williams

      by Demfem on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 05:48:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Natural gas produces more than heat and water.... (17+ / 0-)

        It also produces carbon dioxide.

        And it's not like we've got enormous untapped sources of natural gas just waiting to be used, if we'd just decide to take advantage of it. Natural gas has been used for a long time for heating, and electrical generation.

        If your goal is to prevent smog, soot, and acid rain, then natural gas is a reasonable alternative. If your goal is to prevent global warming, then it's not much better than gasoline.

        congratulations on your foreskin -- osteriser

        by bartman on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:14:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Actually it is better than gasoline (3+ / 0-)

          the main problem is i doubt we have 200 years of it left.  If Canadian exports to us decline for any reason the U.S. will see blackouts.

        •  Dead right (0+ / 0-)

          The combustion of all hydrocarbons produces heat, water and carbon dioxide. That includes all alcohols, yes, including ethanol.

          We need an alternate source to hydrocarbon based fuel souces, period.

          •  Some biologically-produced hydrocarbons... (0+ / 0-)

            are actually carbon-negative when you consider the whole cycle, i.e., the plants take more CO2 out of he atmosphere while growing than the amount released into the atmosphere while burning the fuel made from the plants.

            You can make a pretty efficient carbon-negative cycle based on a variety of plants, including grasses. Corn, however, is NOT conducive to carbon-negative fuel production.

            To summarize, as an environmentally safe alternative, I suggest that producers of corn should switch to production of porn.

            •  ... (0+ / 0-)

              almost forgot - the last suggestion would utilize the currently underused natural ass supplies.

            •  Well, (0+ / 0-)

              given the position we are in, we need to be better than carbon neutral, we need to be carbon negative. And growing things which sequester carbon dioxide only to use them to regenerate the carbon isn't going to help. It's better than using the carbon sources that have been sequestered for millions of years, for sure, but it's not the answer, particularly if the growing of such sources creates more ecologic damage.

              Since this is a late entry, there is a current rec'd diary on the orangutan population. That's only one example.

              •  Did you READ my post? n/t (0+ / 0-)
                •  I read your post (0+ / 0-)

                  but I admit I did not read the linked article. Will try to get to it and perhaps get back to you. Will also pass it along to spouse who is active in sustainability issues, because we just had a discussion on this very thing yesterday.

                  There are still a lot of questions, however, and even if it is carbon negative, there is still the issue of large amounts of land use required which also has environmental impact.

                  There are no easy solutions.

      •  My understanding (9+ / 0-)

        is that natural gas has peaked or is about too as well...so I don't think that can be substituted for oil.

        •  The vast majority of natural gas reserves (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          George, sooner, sxwarren, snacksandpop, DBunn

          are found in Russia and...you guessed it, IRAN!  No thanks.

          Thank you for visiting Raising Kaine, the voice of Progressive Virginia.

          by lowkell on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:38:08 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Yes and no. (6+ / 0-)

          About 35% of the world's known natgas reserves are in Russia and another 20% are in Iran.  Very little of these reserves has been developed (tapped).  There are also potentially unknown reserves in the Central Asian Republics, though it's doubted that these are comparatively significant.  Venezuela also has fairly significant reserves, mostly tapped already.  Hugo Chavez has been after Putin for years to form a natgas version of OPEC to include Iran.

          Beyond the obvious geopolitical problems involved with the West acquiring this gas, there are apparently technical and economic issues slowing development of these reserves.  Both Russia and Iran have recently been cozying up with China to get the technical assistance for development of their reserves, Iran having, a couple years ago, negotiated a deal worth around $60 billion.

          Then there are distribution problems - not enough pipelines from the gas fields to ports and most of the best pipeline routes would cross "disputed" territory, like Afghanistan.  Further, even if the reserves were to be tapped and these pipelines built, the facilities for liquefying/storing the gas at outbound ports for tanker transport aren't yet built, and there aren't nearly enough parallel facilities at the potential receiving ports.

          That said, if every bit of known natgas was tapped and all the required distribution facilities were built, the reserves would probably not last all that much longer (a couple decades?) than what is projected for oil.

          "You are coming to a sad realization. CANCEL or ALLOW?"

          by sxwarren on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 07:10:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Natural Gas has peaked in North America ... (10+ / 0-)

        and there has been a risk that, in high demand, we could have a collapse of the system that would threaten not just electricity but home heating/hot water heating.

        And, fertilizer manufacturing has been moving offshore due to uncertain and rising natural gas.

        And, NG is a CO2 emitter.

        And, ...

        Blogging regularly at Ecotality Blog for a Sustainable Future.

        by A Siegel on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:31:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I am not up to date on (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          buckhorn okie

          Natural Gas supplies in America.

          But I remember that in the past the oil industry used to just it at the wells as a waste product.

          Are they still doing it?

          Are they burning in other parts of the world? They are all about restricting supplies and not about providing great quanities at cheap prices.

          Demand the Truth in America

          by EasyRider on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 07:00:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  There are gas flares ... (16+ / 0-)

            for example in Russia, Persian Gulf, West African coast that are, more and more, being diverted for use.

            Issue is that Natural Gas is far (FAR) more a regional supply issue than oil. Oil is basically a fungible good as a worldwide commodity. NG is less a global product, with LNG changing that somewhat.

            Note, I wrote that NA has passed peak natural gas. There are indications that this is the case elsewhere as well.  

            Best book out there: High Noon for Natural Gas: The New Energy Crisis:

            Blackouts, rising gas prices, changes to the Clean Air Act, proposals to open wilderness and protected offshore areas to gas drilling, and increasing dependence on natural gas for electricity generation. What do all these developments have in common, and why should we care?

            In this timely expose, author Julian Darley takes a hard-hitting look at natural gas as an energy source that rapidly went from nuisance to crutch. Darley outlines the implications of our increased dependence on this energy source and why it has the potential to cause serious environmental, political, and economic consequences. In High Noon for Natural Gas readers can expect to find a critical analysis of government policy on energy, as well as a meticulously researched warning about our next potentially catastrophic energy crisis.

            Did you know that:

            • Natural Gas (NG) is the second most important energy source after oil;
            • In the U.S. alone, NG is used to supply 20% of all electricity and 60% of all home heating;
            • NG is absolutely critical to the manufacture of agricultural fertilizers;
            • In the U.S. the NG supply is at critically low levels, and early in 2003 we came within days of blackouts and heating shutdowns;
            • Matt Simmons, the world’s foremost private energy banker, is now warning that economic growth in the U.S. is under threat due to the looming NG crisis?

            Note, re the fertilizer, this is why one of the proposed concept pieces from Energize America focuses on non-NG based production of fertilizer using renewable energy sources (wind power) as the key input.

            Blogging regularly at Ecotality Blog for a Sustainable Future.

            by A Siegel on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 07:36:47 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Great stuff, Adam. (5+ / 0-)

              You really know what you're talking about on energy issues, no doubt about it.  And I say that as someone who worked at the Energy Information Administration for 17+ years.  Good work!

              By the way, Iran may not turn out to be much of a natural gas exporter, because it needs the gas for "reinjection" at existing oil fields, plus power production for its rapidly growing population.  This is probably part of the reason why they're looking at nuclear power, despite having the second-largest natural gas reserves in the world.  Otherwise, it doesn't make much sense economically for Iran to consider nuclear when they're flaring off large volumes of natural gas every day.

              Thank you for visiting Raising Kaine, the voice of Progressive Virginia.

              by lowkell on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 07:49:30 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Thank you ... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                buckhorn okie, kurt

                for the kind comment ... bit by bit ... learning new things every day ...

                By the way, re fossil fuel producing countries -- many greatly undervalue the fossil fuels in their own economies ("subsidize") which makes it much harder to go with energy efficient choices. Why spend extra money on a hybrid vehicle if you pay 20 cents or so a gallon for fuel.

                Same with "free" electricity.

                Iran has this problem and, as per the nuclear power, is trying to produce itself out of the problem with growing population and even faster growing energy demands.  "Efficiency" is a hard sell there.

                Blogging regularly at Ecotality Blog for a Sustainable Future.

                by A Siegel on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 09:56:25 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Funny (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  buckhorn okie, JuliaAnn, kurt

                  that we would say that when we subsidise a trillion a year military, uncounted funds for "covert" operations, prop up tyrants around the world and are currently spending american and iraqi blood to support our system to maintain "cheap" energy.

                  If only for a second we could see ourselves as the rest of the world sees us.

                  "All you have to do to qualify for human rights is to be human" An 11yo Girl. Unbossed.com

                  by cdreid on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 10:51:30 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Excellent post (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JuliaAnn, A Siegel, kurt

              Have you seen those commercials, or maybe they're regional to California, where you see things half lit up, a big pot of water on a stove and only half of it is boiling, etc.

              Here's the jist: Some energy company wants to build new "clean energy plants" using... guess what? Natural gas!

              Funny, I haven't seen those ads in the past couple months though...

              Another pair of ads I wish I could show to my relocalization group is the plastics/chemical mfr ads where things start shrinking/evaporating in the woman's home and at the doctor's office... all the oil-based stuff disappears. I want to play those and say "THIS is what is happening to oil, and this is what things will be like after the oil is gone. No more green plastic doggie bones... Fido will have to chew on (GASP) a REAL bone!"

              Yes... natural gas is at or past peak in North America, and the US imports HALF of Canada's supply every year. Plus, gas wells are not like oil wells -- they go empty pretty much immediately, there is no slow decline. So once it's gone, it's gone. You can't pump harder or get more out with water.

              I really wish people would watch The End of Suburbia, which goes over a lot of this stuff.

              Spring is coming, America... and with it, hope once again.

              by willers on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 08:32:24 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Natural gas (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                buckhorn okie, kurt

                is astonishingly clean as compared to coal and oil.
                Stop watching oil company commercials and jumping on board the suicide train. Its' unhealthy for the rest of us.

                "All you have to do to qualify for human rights is to be human" An 11yo Girl. Unbossed.com

                by cdreid on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 10:55:15 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Yes ... absolutely true (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  cdreid

                  ... that it is much cleaner ...

                  Yet, that does not get into the issue of peak natural gas, pricing uncertainty, etc ...

                  Willers is right about watching End of Suburbia ...

                  Blogging regularly at Ecotality Blog for a Sustainable Future.

                  by A Siegel on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 10:59:12 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Our whole production system (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    buckhorn okie

                    is screwed frankly. The "Just in time" religion has massively increased our energy useage and inefficiency for one thing.

                    And like many here i dont think natural gas is a final solution. But it can be a temporary stall while we switch to the only truely renewable solar.. aka biofuel. And maybe next century space based or new science based technologies.

                    "All you have to do to qualify for human rights is to be human" An 11yo Girl. Unbossed.com

                    by cdreid on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 11:08:24 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  What are you talking about? (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  JuliaAnn
                  Where did I say anything about the cleanliness of natural gas versus oil? They ALL suck -- oil, natural gas, coal, ethanol, biodiesel... I'm certainly no friend of any of them.

                  The commericials I'm talking about were produced by the natural gas and plastics industries. Did you even read what I wrote?

                  As far as I'm concerned, anyone who doesn't make an attempt to live self-sufficiently and sustainably is on the suicide train, not me.

                  Spring is coming, America... and with it, hope once again.

                  by willers on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 11:09:22 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  My friend (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    buckhorn okie

                    you dont live self sufficiently. Or sustainably. You're not even within miles of doing so. Our world is interdependant to a level that almost noone understands.

                    To produce that solar panel you may use it required perhaps ten cross country trips on a big truck. To produce the packaging maybe five. To produce the information and advertising required several industries dedicated to doing just that. All requiring material and massive energy supplies. The raw materials and some components likely made their way here via city sized ocean tankers. To produce the tankers, trucks, enerty supplies that run them, required other even larger, more energy and material dependant industres. All those industries required multiple large infrastructure projects  which again... you get the idea.

                    Our system is more complex and organic than you can imagine. And the more high tech and value added ironically the more energy and industrial infrastructure it required.

                    To live by your ideal would require us to go back to a pre-civilisation state. Would you really like to live in a world without medicine, education, communication etc etc etc? Do you really want to think about even what it takes to allow you to sit typing on a high tech plastic and metal system that sends information across a huge high tech international system to communicate via DKOS?

                    A simple example. Bottled water. Rather than the incredibly efficient system that delivers water to your tap. Do you happen to drink water transported in diesel using plastic and metal trucks out of oil-based plastic containers that required multiple trips in same labelled with paper labels that again required the same?

                    We cant go backwards and become hunter/gatherer/farmers. That would require the death of most of the worlds population. We can only continually seek new, better, more efficient, more healthy, more life friendly solutions to our new and old problems.

                    "All you have to do to qualify for human rights is to be human" An 11yo Girl. Unbossed.com

                    by cdreid on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 12:16:23 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Bless your heart (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      cookiebear

                      I don't use solar. I don't use bottled water.

                      I was just out planting potatoes using a very old grape hoe. If, by some mysterious circumstance, my computer and internet connection were to evaporate into the ether, it wouldn't be that big of a deal. I'd miss it, sure... but my life would go on just fine. I'd read a book or spin wool or something (yes, I also have sheep).

                      The problem with your argument is this:

                      To live by your ideal would require us to go back to a pre-civilisation state. Would you really like to live in a world without medicine, education, communication etc etc etc?

                      What do you consider "pre-civilization"? Ancient Rome, Greece or Egypt? Nope, pretty civilized. The Native American nations? I hope you don't consider them "uncivilized"... them's fightin' words. The Aztecs? The Celts? Babylonians? The Chinese? The Japanese?

                      Hmmm... Perhaps there's a fundamental problem with what you personally consider to be "civilization."

                      Do you know nothing of herbal medicines and other natural treatments? Do you believe that education would suddenly cease to exist and the knowledge accumulated up to this point would be forgotten? Are you really saying that communication between human beings would suddenly stop?

                      No, medicine and communication wouldn't be as good as they are today, but they would still be there. We aren't all going to step into a time machine and come out naked and dirty and grunt at each other.

                      OTOH, if you think the world can magically continue the way it has been since the industrial revolution, you need to smell the organic shade grown coffee (which I don't drink, BTW).

                      As James Howard Kunstler says, "We have to make other arrangements."

                      We're replacing our propane stove and dryer with an antique wood cookstove and clothesline. We already heat our home with wood, most of which we cut ourselves. We're going to change out our electric well pump for a mechanical pump (already found one at a yard sale) and windmill. I get 90% of my clothing from yard sales and thrift stores. We don't drive to town more than once every two weeks or so. We grow and cook a lot of our own food. I use herbal medicines and home-made soaps. We are getting rid of our flush toilets and will be moving to the Humanure system. I sew my clothing on a 100+ year old treadle sewing machine.

                      Half the time, if there's an outage during the day, I don't even notice the power's gone off.

                      My husband and I founded a local chapter of Relocalize.net to try and bring people together as a community on a local scale. Our first meeting was the showing of The End of Suburbia.

                      I think I have a better idea than most how interconnected our modern society is. And I think I'm doing a better job than most at working to remove myself from it.

                      So perhaps before you assume to know who I am and how I live, you should ask me. If you admire me so much, I'd appreciate being actually shown a little more respect in the future.

                      Spring is coming, America... and with it, hope once again.

                      by willers on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 02:57:29 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Most people arent like you (0+ / 0-)

                        and i dont even think you are. Yes you live more self sufficiently than most. But most people Cannot live like you do. They have no choice. There are five BILLION people on the planet. You cannot support that many people with subsistance agriculture. You cannot give each of them a small farm. They will not do without medicine, manufactured clothing, transportation etc etc.

                        Yes i do consider ancient rome and native american cultures uncivilised. No medicine. Rome had public sewage but only for the rich. Rome was a slave society.. most "romans" lives were hell. Native americans mostly lived a subsistance existance. Some tribes did well but most were what we'd consider dirt poor.

                        I dont think you know what life you're asking people to go back to. And i dont think you realise what a hell on earth our lives would be if we did. Just consider sanitation alone. Shall we have ten percent of each community digging trenches to bury the waste (which can no longer be processed as there is no real industry to support processing plants)? And who lives without their tiny parcel of land and the garden that partially feeds them to do so?

                        "All you have to do to qualify for human rights is to be human" An 11yo Girl. Unbossed.com

                        by cdreid on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 05:04:36 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  i live very close to the way willers does (3+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          cdreid, kate petersen, Loonesta

                          a lot of us do. some of us - like willers and farmerchuck - are pretty far along. others - like me - have been doing it a few years, but still have a lot to learn.

                          of course, i'm also doing essentially reclamation work on my acreage, so i have that to contend with in addition to the rest of it.

                          i'm learning how to make cheese while we, um, speak. :-) my first batch is a maybe-maybe not, so i'm reading about paneer and am going ahead and trying it tonight. given my homemade yogurt and yogurt cheese blow the commercial crap out of the water, i figure my homemade cheeses ought to, as well.

                          and like willers, other than a gas powered mower because not only do i have five acres to mow but much of it is very steep, i also use hand tools - or my hands - for making gardens and planting and weeding. it's no big deal.

                          besides, while the rest of America is going on power walks or dragging out their treadmills or joining gyms or simply bemoaning their fat asses while sitting on the sofa in front of the boob tube, we're gardening. we don't need gyms. we're just doing what human bodies were made to do.

                          i'm not yet to the point of completely sustaining myself on what i grow, but since i've gotten here, i've gotten lots of fruit going - including grapes (harvested my first last year) and elderberries (which i'm going to try and make my first wine with this year) and raspberries and blueberries and strawberries - and i'll be planting fair sized pecan trees and fingers crossed peaches this fall.

                          and yes, i may be female and i may be short, but i can plant trees taller than me all by my little bitty self.

                          but etc etc etc and long way around to say, it's hardly subsistence living. and i'm surrounded by people who are feeding themselves - raising their own cattle and/or goats, even deer in a few cases, giant gardens, etc.

                          and they're eating a lot better than most urbanites i know.

                          they do bug control with free range chickens and turkeys and guineas.

                          and who needs petroleum based fertilizers when you have animal poop from your own critters? goat poop is the best, imo, although a lot of people i know keep their chickens in chicken tractors which they move from spot to spot in the garden, and they swear their chicken poop blows that goat poop away.

                          i have a well, too. i need to replace to pump. i'll probably be going with a manual simply because we get outages here, due to ice storms and tornadoes - and having had to depend on town water which bit the dust for over a week in January (along with everyone's electricity), i'd prefer not to go that way again.

                          i'm busy, yea. i'm busy as hell. most people who are trying to do what willers and i are doing are really busy.

                          but so?

                          and having lived in San Francisco for a number of years and Manhattan for one or two, i do believe i know urban civilization. it's fine. but this is, imo, more civilized.

                          besides, when you grow your own tomatoes and watermelons and make your own cheese and bread and prefer a book to the latest whambam movie, who the hell needs to drive?

                          James Inhofe (R - Exxon): The greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the people of Oklahoma. - Eiron

                          by cookiebear on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 05:51:34 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                  •  Oh and ps (0+ / 0-)

                    I actually truely admire people like you (the Ed Begley ideal?) deeply. You at least TRY to solve the worlds problems by taking the first step in your own lives.

                    "You people" brought us recycling, the environmental movement, er... biofuels (lol), solar power, electric cars, etc etc etc etc

                    "All you have to do to qualify for human rights is to be human" An 11yo Girl. Unbossed.com

                    by cdreid on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 01:31:27 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

      •  clean (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        eugene, willers, tbetz

        Saying natural gas is clean is proof evidence that you've never walked a gas field before.  Natural gas is not clean.

        •  Gas is cleaner than coal (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ignorant bystander, snacksandpop

          but that doesn't mean it's "clean."  It's also very expensive and not particularly "fungible."  Getting natural gas from where it's located (Siberia and Iran, mainly) to markets (the industrialized countries, plus increasingly China) is expensive, environmentally damaging, difficult, and geopolitically problematic. It's definitely not the way we want to go.

          Thank you for visiting Raising Kaine, the voice of Progressive Virginia.

          by lowkell on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 07:00:05 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's located in West Virginia, which is (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cdreid, buckhorn okie, kurt

            right in the country. No treaties, no pipelines from other countries needed. And there is a lot of it up there. Capped gas wells all over the place. I used to run my house off my gas well, right out of the ground. It gave me free energy to run my furnace/ac and stove. And it wasn't imported from anywhere. Before you go off on a rant about where the gas is, look in your own back yard. Or read the part of the comment where I said that the gas is in WEST VIRGINIA. And it is not gas that is a byproduct of an oil well, either.

            What happens when Bush takes Viagra? he gets taller. Robin Williams

            by Demfem on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 07:16:17 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  yes (6+ / 0-)

              it is located here.  and it's dirty as sin.  Damaging local water supplies, aquifers, and fragmenting wildlife habitat.  I am in your backyard and have walked thousands of wells (mostly in western Pennsylvania).  The oil & gas companies here have already acknowledged to me that we're running out.  Re-tapping old capped wells can only bring out some additional gas because of new technologies, but the resource remains very limited.  Remember, the cycle of a new well is typically at most 20-30 years.  A re-tapped well?  Not typically that much.  not to mention that tapping into old fields often results in blown out wells.

              We've seen an explosion in gas wells in the last year which only means that the gas will empty out sooner.  We're already having to use our technologies to dig 2-3 miles deep for the Trenton Black River.  But that will fade too.  Believe me, the gas isn't there for any length of time and it isn't clean.

              •  The gas wells I am referring to are not in gas (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                cdreid, buckhorn okie, sooner, kurt

                fields, they are on farms and homesteads scattered throughout West Virginia. Everyone of my neighbors had at least one capped well on their farms or property. They don't make a mess, they don't smell, and the mountains are full of them. The gas can provide a stop-gap measure to keep our energy needs met while we develop other cleaner technologies. I am not saying gas is the only answer, but I am saying we have enough to get us through until we find a better way. And without depending on the Middle East for oil. And it may give off CO2, but does it give off as much as gasoline and diesel? Does it also give off all the other stuff they do?? No, it doesn't. So, it's not a perfect solution, but it is a cleaner fuel, which we have in abundance, which we can use until we get clean energy technology developed and working nationally.

                What happens when Bush takes Viagra? he gets taller. Robin Williams

                by Demfem on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 07:39:40 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Demfem, quit pushing and save it for yourself (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  foreign noise

                  The U.S. gas consumption would suck Pa dry in a week or so.  It wouldn't last long enough to make it worthwhile to collect it.

                •  actually (0+ / 0-)

                  your farms are in gas fields.  It is the same thing here.  Surface properties themselves have limited relationship to the boundaries of gas fields.  If you have wells on your farm, your are most likely in a gas field.  They don't just randomly plop wells down.  

                  West Virginia isn't more abundant in gas than PA.  They are both being hit hard and we do not have enough to sustain our natural gas demand.  Period.

              •  Bottom line: It's a finite resource. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                drewfromct, esquimaux

                Re-tapping old capped wells can only bring out some additional gas because of new technologies, but the resource remains very limited.

                This is like sticking more straws into the same glass of soda -- you don't have any more soda to begin with, and you only drain it faster.

                Spring is coming, America... and with it, hope once again.

                by willers on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 08:34:56 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Gas in PA (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              joynow, buckhorn okie, snacksandpop, kurt

              A friend has put together a nice gas consulting business. It turns out that you can hit gas literally everywhere in SW PA, and many people are able to get free energy AND pay off their homes for the cost of the well (<$50K) and a pipe sticking out of the ground.</p>

              Many municipalities are able to heat their buildings just by drilling a well some place out back.

            •  World Proven Natural Gas Reserves (3+ / 0-)

              Courtesy of the US Energy Information Administration:

              TOTAL: 6,043.7 trillion cubic feet (Tcf)
              Russia: 1,680.0 Tcf (28% of world total)
              Iran: 940.0 Tcf (16%)
              Qatar: 910.0 Tcf (15%)
              Saudi: 235.0 Tcf (4%)
              UAE: 212.1 Tcf (4%)

              That's 67% of the world's proven natural gas reserves in 5 countries.  No rant, just the facts.

              Thank you for visiting Raising Kaine, the voice of Progressive Virginia.

              by lowkell on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 07:38:08 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Better idea for what to do with corn (6+ / 0-)

        Don't feed it to cows--it makes them sick. Cows should be eating grass. Feed the corn to people, build communities so that the people can WALK where they need to go, or ride bicycles--this saves energy AND improves health.

        "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

        by Alice in Florida on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 07:05:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Better yet, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JuliaAnn

          stop feeding the cows, period. 4% of greenhouse gases are emitted from bovine orifices. And that doesn't count all of the upstream and downstream production.

          Reducing the American beef habit is the single most important thing we can do to end world hunger and reduce carbon emissions. Unlike transportation or electricity, beef is completely unnecessary, and we could flip the switch immediately.

          -- This year, this green votes blue.

          by peacemonger on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 09:01:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  diversity (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Alice in Florida

            Beef has the nice advantage though, that it does not generate monocultures as wheat or soy beans do. Bovine pastures are a great source of biodiversity in cultured landscapes, and I would not be happy to see them all go away.

          •  That (0+ / 0-)

            is a positively nutty statement.

            Reducing the American beef habit is the single most important thing we can do to end world hunger and reduce carbon emissions

            The capitalist economic system is the mechanism ensuring persistant world hunger. We have produced food surpluses for a very long time and the singular goal of the federal ag system is to keep production down. And carbon emissions come from that little hot rod you drive my friend. And your insistance on getting a new one every  couple years. And your intense need to drink exactly the same water produced out of your tap from a plastic bottle produced and shipped thousands of miles from you and then filled, boxed, palleted, shipped again, unboxed, unpalletted, those wastes shipped again.. etc etc etc etc.

            People would be STUNNED at the level of waste their "healthy" or "ecological/new age" habits produce.

            "All you have to do to qualify for human rights is to be human" An 11yo Girl. Unbossed.com

            by cdreid on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 11:01:10 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not my tap (0+ / 0-)

              that's the 2nd time you've mentioned bottled water being the same as what comes out of my tap.  You don't know my tap!  If I could I'd send you some of the super-hard sulfury Satan's piss that comes out of my well and you could see (and taste and smell) for yourself.  I couldn't live here without bottled water.

              Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils. ~Louis Hector Berlioz

              by Turquine on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 01:26:57 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  as it turns out, (0+ / 0-)

            new diets and medications for cattle reduce the problem rather drastically. I know of research in NZ and in Germany on this, and since I don't follow this subject intensively, there are probably other projects I don't know of.

            Sorry that you can't use global warming as an excuse to force veganism on the rest of us, but reality is like that sometimes.

            I'm not sure what the carbon balance is on barbecues, though given that charcoal is made from wood, it can't be all that far off carbon-neutral.

            The bad news. . . we'll probably be spending $1 or so more per pound on meat sooner or later when laws requiring these diets and medications are passed.

            Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

            by alizard on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 12:06:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Will it stop them from farting? (0+ / 0-)

              Because I'm sick of all these farting cows polluting the atmosphere and causing global warming.

              Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils. ~Louis Hector Berlioz

              by Turquine on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 01:20:42 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  that's the idea... (0+ / 0-)

                though if you want a more entertaining solution, you can reduce the greenhouse activity of cow farts by a factor of 26 by simply igniting them. Start a digicam first so you can share the fun with the rest of us.

                Warning: the farmers and the cows themselves might take exception to this.

                Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

                by alizard on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 02:35:33 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  I don't know that there's all that much there, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        buckhorn okie

        but you're probably not exaggerating much about the purity.  There are a lot of private, backyard oil wells in the area around Weirton/Steubenville/Mingo Junction (just west of Pittsburgh) that produce "crude" that is nearly as clear and sweet as what you put in your car. And the area, once internationally known for its superior steel production, has an "interesting" local culture as well, beyond being the birthplace of Dean Martin and where a significant part of The Deerhunter was filmed.  The rural folks there are intensely private and in absolutely no hurry to pump their reserves out.

        "You are coming to a sad realization. CANCEL or ALLOW?"

        by sxwarren on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 07:27:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Agree (6+ / 0-)

        If we are depending on biofuels to solve all of our problems with oil, then we are in big trouble. First, E100 or E85 gets crappy mpg because a gallon of E100/85 contains a lot less energy than a gallon of oil. Second, there is simply not enough cropland or water to grow enough corn, soy, etc. to replace even a significant slice of the liquid fuels that we get from oil. Third, while agribusiness would love the pickup in corn and soy demand, just about everybody else would feel the negative effects of higher food prices. I could go on but you get the idea. Personally, I feel electricity is the way to go as a alternative transportation fuel via PHEVs and eventually electric cars.

        •  Post facts (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kalmoth, daisycolorado

          not oilco created bs.

          I drive a truck that is 83 feet long and fully loaded weighs 80,000 pounds. It gets 6.5 to 7.2mpg. If converted to biofuels it would.. get 6.5 to 7.2mpg. IF converted to say.. gasoline... it wouldnt even be able to pull the load and would likely get along the lines of 4mpg or less.

          And get out of your little inner city apartment and see the country your talking about before you make grandiose pronouncements about land use. Visit rural Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, KAnsas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Missouri etc etc etc.

          Guess what folks the whole country ISNT just like your little citified urban hole.

          "All you have to do to qualify for human rights is to be human" An 11yo Girl. Unbossed.com

          by cdreid on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 11:05:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  what are you talking about? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            buckhorn okie

            With respect to biofuel based on biomass grown by conventional agriculture methods,  phasmatis is 100% correct, and I don't think you'll find anyone who's knowledgable on alternative energy around here that disagrees.

            The laws of nature are the same whether you live in a Manhattan apartment or can walk to the edge of one's property and contemplate the rear end of a cow 50 yards away. (the place I lived in before this one... rural with not much of a view)

            Known facts like crop yields per acre, process efficiencies , and the number of acres available for agriculture in the US can be looked up by anyone with an Internet connect, and no amount of ADM propaganda or romantic BS about "The American Farmer" can change it.

            The EROEI of ethanol based on mechanized ag biomass is about 1.5:1 plus or minus (numerous studies mostly funded by USDA)... while the energy balance invented by Big Oil researchers like Pimental is negative, the truth says that "you can't do it that way", 1.5:1 isn't good enough.

            Cellulosic ethanol is a lot better, or will be once there are plants in full production, but once one tries to scale it up by having farmers farming things like switchgrass, we're not talking 90 cents/gallon wholesale anymore, the cost more than doubles, then one gets into the "not enough land" problem. I regard it as a transitional technology.

            Algae-based biomass, however, probably can be scaled up because it does a far better job of converting solar energy to usable product; it doesn't waste energy on things leaves, flowers, stalks, roots that the plant can use but your diesel engine can't.

            The main reason why ethanol is pushed so hard is that ADM can spend lots of money buying public opinion, but their agenda is siphoning our tax dollars into their bank accounts via subsidy.

            Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

            by alizard on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 12:23:00 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  YAWN (0+ / 0-)

              Aint ignorance bliss. You obviously know nothing about biofuel other than what you've read in a few pretty much ripped apart "studies" by a couple of loons with a calculator who a: knew nothing about agriculture b: knew nothing about potential biofuel c: had seen neither any of the potential biofuel tech methods nor the  land they claimed didnt exist. In fact the most "famous" study, the one everyone quotes from was done by a couple morons with a calculator sitting in some hole using google apparently.

              Algae biomass is :get this knucklehead: one of the many potential solutions. And :also get this knucklehead: It will also have economic and ecological costs. How about devoting thousands of miles of ocean floor to aquaculture, with the incident polllution, ecological destruction etc. NAaaaaah that wont have an effect on anything!!! MUCH better to dump pollutants in um.. WATER in the system that is the BASE point for the rest of our ecology than um.. say.. farm land that has lain fallow for decades!!!!! Because.. well you havent ever been more than 50 miles from an urban center but BOY YOU KNOW about the land in america!

              DEAR GOD do you IDIOTS not READ? Do you not understand f*cking SCIENCE and ECONOMICS?

              Here it is for you SIMPLY. WE have FOUR CHOICES:

              1. FOSSIL FUELS - and massive pollution , war, economic collapses and eventually.. oblivion.
              1. Nuclear - and eventually MASSIVE global health and biological crises that are permanent and nonfixable.
              1. BIOFUELS- CURRENTLY PRODUCEABLE ONES. Soy,corn,kelp and ANYTHING ELSE we can think to try. We dont have TIME to wait on some "cool hippy weird plant number 27" or the decades to create and implement production, processing and acceptance of that. But then the ECOLOGY, ECONOMICS, HUMAN HEALTH and the survival arent as important as your Sandal wearin hippy ass volvo drivin designer vegetable solutona are they.
              1. Space - whch would require the destruction of the classist space agency we have and the cool high paying do nothing jobs it creates for a certain subclass. It would require the next step in human advancement - the industrialisation of space. And that means the slide rule boys would no longer be in charge. Kossacks would take up arms to stop it.

              So as i see it we have ONE choice. Biofuels. LOts of them. Try everything. And the great thing about economic systems bubba : If corn is less efficient than wheat grass or soy or whatever hippyass solution you have an erection for it will go bye bye! If you think ADM or anyone else will stick with corn when they could go to solution X and cut their overhead by y% making MORE Profit you simply know nothing nothing nothing about economics. And if you think an engine CARES whether the viscuous liquid in its fuel tank comes from soy or corn or dandelions you obviously know nothing about science.

              I get SO TIRED of having these arguments with vested willfully misinformed people who absolutely insist their hemp wearing solution is the Only possible one because OH MY GOD evil Industry might for the love of God be involved somehow!

              "All you have to do to qualify for human rights is to be human" An 11yo Girl. Unbossed.com

              by cdreid on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 01:16:18 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  the 1.5 to 1 number I cite is (0+ / 0-)

                FROM USDA FUNDED STUDIES BY BIOFUEL PROPONENTS... and my analysis of cellulosic biodiesel is based on Canadian government studies of iogen's work which you obviously not only have never read, but would very probably misunderstand if you did read them. Or you'd be screaming that iogen and the Canadian government is in cahoots with Big Oil.

                And if you had ever clicked to the energy and public policy page in my sig, you'd know that I'm a proponent of the NASA space-based solar power system, which Bush defunded the research on.

                All you've exposed is your ignorance and mathematical illiteracy, and the shininess of your tinfoil hat. You're as ignorant on what's going on with alternative energy in the real world as Kunstler is.

                Your best contribution to alternative energy discussion is dead silence while people with a clue say things worth reading.

                Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

                by alizard on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 02:28:56 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  ARGH (0+ / 0-)

              "then one gets into the "not enough land" problem"

              IF i hear this falsehood repeated once more by ignorant fools my head is going to explode. I just wish ONE of you people ever got more than 50 miles from your house or an airport so you'd have a CLUE what you're talking about.

              "All you have to do to qualify for human rights is to be human" An 11yo Girl. Unbossed.com

              by cdreid on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 01:17:48 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Can you use Excel? (0+ / 0-)

                Numbers about crop yield per acre are available. Numbers describing how much agricultural land exists in the US are available. Numbers with respect to how much ethanol can be distilled from a bushel of corn and how much energy it takes are available.

                There is no conspiracy to hide them from you, the only barrier to entry is your inability to use google.

                If you don't like what existing studies by competent people show, crank the numbers above into a spreadsheet and prove that everyone is wrong.

                Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

                by alizard on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 02:33:15 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Conspiracy? (0+ / 0-)

                  Seriously get a grip. Ill let you get back to using google for your "scientific" reccomendations. Time to go talk to serious people.

                  "All you have to do to qualify for human rights is to be human" An 11yo Girl. Unbossed.com

                  by cdreid on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 05:06:15 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •   If you don't have numbers, it ain't science (0+ / 0-)

                    So go talk to your scientifically illiterate buds about how our farmers can grow us out of energy trouble... the rest of us have grownup things to discuss.

                    Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

                    by alizard on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 05:20:47 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  My response (0+ / 0-)

            After calling me a oil company hack for my post, please allow me the courtesy of a response.

            On ethanol's smaller energy punch as compared to oil, a couple of reputable sources :

            Harvard Journal

            But here’s the rub. Ethanol’s energy content is significantly less than gasoline’s. You need 1.5 gallons of ethanol to drive the same distance you go on a gallon of gasoline.

            Scientific American

            But there is less to ethanol than meets the eye. The first problem is that a standard barrel (42 gallons) of ethanol is worth about 28 gallons of gasoline because it contains only 80,000 British thermal units (Btu) of energy, versus about 119,000 for unleaded regular. If you fill your tank with E85,you will run dry about 33 percent sooner. Even if a gallon of ethanol were cheaper at the pump, drivers would have to buy many more gallons to go the same distance.

            On the statements that Ethanol can't come close to producing enough fuel to replace oil and will adversely effect food security , some more from the Scientific American :

            In the meantime, relying on ethanol from corn is an unsustainable strategy: agriculture will never be able to supply nearly enough crop, converting it does not combat global warming, and socially it can be seen as taking food off people’s plates. Backers defend corn ethanol as a bridge technology to cellulose ethanol, but for the moment it is a bridge to nowhere.

            As for biofuels being the only possible way to go as mentioned below by creid, I would respectfully disagree. Here is a link to some information about plug-in hybrids . This is just a little bit of info and if you are interested there is a tremendous amount of information out in the public domain.

            P.S. I live in a single family home in a rural area.

      •  Natural Gas cannot (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        billybush

        be used in our current car fleet; ethanol can be used today by the entire car fleet in concentration of 10 to 85% depending on the particular vehicle.

        (-2.75,-4.77) I prefer POTUS Candidates who opposed the Iraq war in 2002

        by Sam I Am on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 07:55:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Cars can be converted to gas (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          buckhorn okie

          or gas can be converted by chemical reactions to usable liquids. Plenty of cars run on gas right now. The conversion technology is on the shelf.

          "It's the planet, stupid."

          by FishOutofWater on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 10:13:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  However (0+ / 0-)

          The fact that ethanol has a certain degree of vehicle compatibility is not dispositive of the other reasons why ethanol is a bad, bad idea.

          FYI, in Australia, starting before the US did, they moved to ethanol in a very big way, and then had to hastily back it on down. Ethanol blends in the 20% range turn out to cause severe premature engine wear. Mostly due to the fact that ethanol washes oil films off of the inside cylinder walls of the engine.

          No lubrication for the piston rings? Kiss that motor goodbye.

        •  Any car can run on 100% natural gas after a ... (0+ / 0-)

          ... gas conversion. Almost no car sold in the US can run on E100.

          That's not the problem, the problem is that natural gas is another non-renewable resource, produced in dwindling amounts in this country, and therefore not part of the path to Energy Independence full stop, let alone sustainable energy independence.

      •  natural gas vs. hydrogen gas (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        buckhorn okie, kurt

        Hm, it sounds like you have gotten natural gas mixed up with hydrogen. Hydrogen (H2) combines with oxygen (O2) to make water vapor (H2O), but natural gas consists mainly of methane (CH4) and ethane (C2H6) and does produce carbon dioxide when burnt, though 30% less than oil.

        Hydrogen has a big long term potential in my opinion, but is dependent on a lot of technological solutions. It's potential lies in the fact that we can produce it, as opposed to oil and natural gas. A long term battery storage, possibly powered by solar cells in the desert...

    •  Not to mention (10+ / 0-)

      in some Midwest locales, farmers have stopped rotating their crops, growing corn year after year instead. It is frightening to me that they'd so easily give up these practices, opting instead to pile on the fertilizers and pesticides.

      All my peeves are my pets.

      by yinn on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:43:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  As Iowa Goes... (9+ / 0-)

      Just one of the many reasons why the prospect of essentially eliminating the importance of the Iowa caucuses makes me happy is that we can finally have a relatively honest national discussion about ethanol.

      For a different perspective, check out Green Commons!

      by GreenSooner on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 07:34:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Amazing timing, lowkell. (0+ / 0-)

      Just yesterday I was talking with an environmentalist friend of mine (who I finally got to register on DailyKos) about the dangers of corn-based ethanol, and I had only remembered reading some concerns about it somewhere before.  And then bam, like an hour after I got off the phone with him, you post your diary!  :-)

  •  What I want to know (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    missliberties, drewfromct, slksfca

    Why can't ethanol be produced from the byproducts left from corn, the stalks, husks, leaves, etc... Same thing with wheat?  It's all short term, because isn't the real answer in fuel cells?

    Winning without Delay.

    by ljm on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 04:58:00 AM PDT

  •  Here's an even more detailed (16+ / 0-)

    exposition on why corn-based ethanol is a boondoggle for agribusiness: The Ethanol Illusion.

    And a rec for linking to the printer version of the article.

    Isn't this an article, not an OpEd? Page B1: David Tilman is an ecologist at the University of Minnesota and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Jason Hill is a research associate in the Department of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota.

    •  Good point, I'm not sure if this is an "op-ed" (17+ / 0-)

      or an "article."  Is there a clear line between the two?

      As far as corn ethanol is concerned, it's all about two things:

      1. Profits for ADM
      1. The Iowa caucuses

      That's it.  Both really bad reasons. And I'm pretty sure ADM is a huge soybean grower as well.  Hmmmm...

      Thank you for visiting Raising Kaine, the voice of Progressive Virginia.

      by lowkell on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 05:02:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's in Today's Outlook -- by definition Opinion (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        buckhorn okie, kurt

        It's on the front page of Outlook today (The Washington Post's Sunday opinion section). There's nothing like a lazy Sunday morning drinking coffee and reading the sunday Washington Post.

      •  You said it before I could! (5+ / 0-)

        I grew up in Decatur, Illinois. A mid-size industrial city where the good jobs used to be based at Caterpillar, Staley's (who made corn and soybean products) and Firestone. ADM began making Ethanol, which has been added to the gas in Illinois for years now, and it has pretty much taken over the economic base there now. The CEO used to have Mikhail Gorbechev out to visit him all the time, and most Republican presidents have toured the factory.
        ADM is a huge corporate agribusiness, and has taken over a large part of the farmland in Illinois. When you hear Ethanol talked up, it is because of ADM. They would become the new Oil Barons, and they've already established themselves with the aristocracy in this country.
        And by the way, the notion of the Midwest as "America's Breadbasket" is way off. Most of the corn and soybeans grown there go into animal feed or pet food (ADM used to process most of the non-meat ingredients for ALPO dog food.) As mentioned above, crops aren't rotated -- even though it would be great ecologically to rotate soybeans with grains, and wouldn't disrupt the base of their business -- and the pesticides and fertilizers they use have pretty much screwed up regional lakes and aquifers. There is a yearly "die-off" of fish in Lake Decatur which has been blamed on temperature inversion for years. It isn't, and I was once the only "interested party" in a lawsuit being prepared by a national environmental group against ADM -- I can't remember how they found me, but I used to take daily walks around one of the bays of Lake Decatur and the rotting fish floating around were really messing up my groove. I hung in with them for several years, but eventually moved away to Cali and haven't heard what happened with their legal action.
        I was amazed when I moved to Cali, because agribusiness out here grows food for people. Orchards of nut and fruit trees, fields of broccoli and tomatoes, and many many many smaller organic growers. The only way I could get homegrown produce in Illinois was by stumbling on a roadside stand on a backroad, where a rural family was selling produce from their garden, basically. Out here, Farmer's Markets are huge!

    •  An OPED ... (7+ / 0-)

      As this is in the Outlook section ... where the OPEDs can be longer and quite informative ... but they are presenting a "point of view" rather than simply "news reporting".

      Blogging regularly at Ecotality Blog for a Sustainable Future.

      by A Siegel on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 05:08:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That sounds about right to me. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        buckhorn okie, Naniboujou, A Siegel

        Of course, some would argue that the "news" reporting by the Washington Post, New York Times and other MSM outlets leading up to the Iraq War was more "point of view" than "news reporting." Heh.

        Thank you for visiting Raising Kaine, the voice of Progressive Virginia.

        by lowkell on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:39:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Absolutely ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          buckhorn okie

          What is impressive is how many "news" articles in the WashPost now really should carry "analysis" or some sort of caveat due to the extent of strong bias in the discussion.

          Many Outlook pieces are less "biased" and more analytical, even could we say "objective", than regular news items. It is quite frustration as a long-time reader.

          Blogging regularly at Ecotality Blog for a Sustainable Future.

          by A Siegel on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 07:38:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Ive seen it brought (12+ / 0-)

    up a few times here.
    I live in Indiana where they say
    there's more than corn in Indiana
    Been watching the farmlands here turn into residential areas fast.
    I swear our city has doubled in size in the past 5 years and the county has lost perhaps 20% of the farrms.
    Next congressional district over the Count lost his seat thank goodness, one of his talking points was turning corn into Ethanol.
    Farmers would love to see it happen for the increase in value of their crop.
    When dealing with this issue, greed needs to be kept out of it.
    The demand for food keeps going up, no need to lower the supply just to make a buck off an ear

    Poverty and the homeless Out of sight and out of mind

    by betterdeadthanred on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 05:03:53 AM PDT

    •  Are there any wind resources there? (6+ / 0-)

      Farmers can make money by allowing wind turbines on their land. That's working well in Iowa and other states.

      Thank you for visiting Raising Kaine, the voice of Progressive Virginia.

      by lowkell on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 05:05:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JuliaAnn, Owllwoman

        we do live near the windy city :)
        But as far as using wind, I dont know if it would be that reliable in this area

        Poverty and the homeless Out of sight and out of mind

        by betterdeadthanred on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 05:06:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  but wind energy has costs as well (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sxwarren

        if we remove the energy by turning turbines, and we start to do this on a large enough scale, it seems to me that we will have impact on weather patterns among other things.  I don't think the large scale aspects of this have been fully considered, and I would hope the Energize America crew like A Siegel might address it.

        Where it might make sense is where we can remove the additional air turbulence we create - thus decades ago I remember wondering as I drove down the Jersey Turnpike why we couldn't have windmills near Newark Airport -  the plane traffic generates lots of additional turbulence which itself is a negative contributor to our environment - taking some of that out to turn turbines might not only be a positive source of energy but might also be beneficial to the environment.

        I am neither scientist nor engineer.  Just the random thoughts of a casual observer.

        Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH!

        by teacherken on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 05:44:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't think so. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Naniboujou

          Granted now I'm not a scientist either but if large structures had that much of an effect on wind, our large cities would feel the effects. Aside from the blow me down gusts you get standing outside a skyscraper as the air whooshes down from the top of the building, man made shapes don't effect wind weather patterns....

        •  Nonsense. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          poemless, profh

          if we remove the energy by turning turbines, and we start to do this on a large enough scale, it seems to me that we will have impact on weather patterns among other things.

          That simply does not make sense.

          ::::::::::::::::::::::::::
          More fun than talkin' about Anne Counter's giant Adam's Apple ! [Cue Austin Powers] "It's a MAN, baby!"

          by Cenobyte on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:21:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The amount of kinetic and thermal energy.... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          espresso, buckhorn okie, kd texan, DBunn

          in the atmosphere is enormous.

          The only environmental effects I've ever heard related to wind turbines are due to birds being killed.

          I don't have any links to research about the effects of wind turbines on weather patterns, but there are so many orders of magnitude difference between the energy in a weather system, and the energy absorbed by a wind turbine, that I can't conceive of any meteorological effect.

          congratulations on your foreskin -- osteriser

          by bartman on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:25:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  birds, and bats too (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            buckhorn okie, willers

            it may even be a more serious issue for bats.

            bats and wind energy

          •  I've looked at this closely (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            buckhorn okie, drewfromct, billybush

            Very few birds are killed every year by wind turbines. In contrast, hundreds of millions of birds are killed each year by collisions with buildings and power lines, plus predation by Felix...not George Allen, but our friend the house cat.  Unfortunately for birds, cats are not THEIR friends.  Also, I would note that global warming will wipe out entire species of birds, making the problem of a few hundred (or even a few thousand) birds killed each year pale in comparison. Finally, it's important to point out that proper citing and design of wind farms can minimize or eliminate the bird/bat cuisinart issue.

            Thank you for visiting Raising Kaine, the voice of Progressive Virginia.

            by lowkell on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 07:20:48 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Define "very few" (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              buckhorn okie

              Because I used to know a man whose job it was to count the number of birds, including raptors, killed annually just by the Altamont Pass wind farm. He said it was hundreds. Every year.

              Spring is coming, America... and with it, hope once again.

              by willers on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 08:46:00 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'm sure many birds are killed... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                buckhorn okie

                by wind farms, every year.  But, bird populations probably face much more significant threats from cars, cats, introduced species and buildings than they do from wind turbines. And wind power will offset air and water pollution and global warming which are also threats to birds

                In California, the situation is a bit different because  they have many older turbines.  Newer wind turbines turn more slowly, reducing the threat to birds.

              •  They have changed the turbine (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                buckhorn okie, alizard

                design and slowed the blades by making them larger so less birds are killed.

                The smaller original turbines did chop up a lot of birds but the slower larger blades are a lot safer.

              •  The statistics I've seen indicated that (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                buckhorn okie

                *130 to 174 million birds are killed each year in the US by utility transmission and distribution lines

                *60 and 80 million birds are killed each year in the US by collisions with autos and trucks

                *100 million to 1 BILLION birds are killed each year in the US by collisions with tall buildings and residential windows

                *67 million birds are killed each year in the US by agricultural pesticides

                *Hundreds of millions of birds are killed each year in the US by cats.

                *Around 6,400 birds are killed each year in the US by wind turbines.  That's about 0.00000(several more zeroes) 1 percent of the total.   That's "very few."

                Thank you for visiting Raising Kaine, the voice of Progressive Virginia.

                by lowkell on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 12:51:33 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Zeros are powerful things. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  buckhorn okie

                  If we assume 1 billion total birds killed each year from man-made causes, then the 6,400 birds killed each year by wind turbines is equal to:

                  0.00064% of the total.

                  So rather than having room for several more zeros, you actually have too many...

                  I know it's somewhat pedantic, but the power of an order of magnitude is something to be respected.  :)

                  On the other hand, your stats make it clear that we should all stop using Windex.

                  congratulations on your foreskin -- osteriser

                  by bartman on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 12:59:19 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  But Altamont pass is a famous screw up. (0+ / 0-)

                High revolution wind generators along a ridgeline along a major migration route (which obviously attracts the raptors) ... it would be hard to design a better bird killing system. High enough wind that the generator really gets spinning, and they don't see it coming.

                The modern utility grade, guyless wind generators are low speed, wide wingspan designs, and for the most part the birds just fly around the blades.

                We do have to be careful of the lessons, though, for decentralized household wind generators. Even if the blades don't strike the birds, multiplying the number of 200 foot tall guy-wired towers could have an impact.

          •  I am not a scientist, but let me comment (0+ / 0-)
            1. cities have affected weather.  We know that they change heat patterns and they change water runoff patterns.  That is independent of the amount of CO2 they put into the air.  On a localized level these things do have some impact
            1. At current levels we are not removing that much wind energy.  But the same kinds of issues that apply to other forms of energy also apply here, it would seem to me.  In using wind energy to turn the turbines we are removing it from other purposes.  Now, note that I did not say that doing so would necessarily be bad.  I am simply suggesting that before we begin to argue for massive building of turbines as a substitute for other forms of energy we consider possible consequences.  On a national scale there may not be that much of an impact, but I can imagine that a massive array of turbines in a relatively condensed area could have an impact equivalent of what paving over previously open fields has to the water cycle.

            And finally, might I remind people of the illustration often used to talk about chaos theory, the idea of a butterfly beating its wings someplace else in the world having a catastrophic effect on our weather.   All I am suggesting is that wind may be nore more of a pure magic bullet than any other solution, and that we fully explore possible consequences before committing too heavily in this direction.

            Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH!

            by teacherken on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 12:40:12 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm certainly not an expert on this.... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              buckhorn okie

              I just meant to point out that the effect of wind turbines sucking energy out of a weather system would be insignificant compared to the total energy of the system.

              We can definitely affect weather patterns indirectly (mostly by changing things which affect solar energy absorption) but directly changing weather patterns through adding or removing energy from a system is impossible because of the enormous amounts of energy required.

              As far as chaos theory is concerned, the butterfly could just as easily STOP a catastrophic weather event as cause one. The reason it is called chaos theory is because the effects of any one change cannot be predicted.

              congratulations on your foreskin -- osteriser

              by bartman on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 01:14:36 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  The impact on weather patterns ... (5+ / 0-)

          is so far beyond the level of wind utilization that we could see.

          More serious -- although addressable -- is intermittency, that the wind isn't always blowing.  That is why solar/wind combos make sense in off-grid (and, eventually grid) with storage devices. But, for grid, other than hydro, there are not good, relatively inexpensive storage systems deployed en masse yet.

          Re turbulence ... the far more interesting possibility is the potential for exploiting highway turbulence. There is a seemingly viable concept out there for putting wind turbines in the place of jersey barriers, for example.

          Blogging regularly at Ecotality Blog for a Sustainable Future.

          by A Siegel on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:37:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  That's not right at all. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          buckhorn okie, otto, drewfromct

          To remove enough energy from the atmosphere to make a difference on weather patterns would require about 10 gazillion windmills.  I'm kidding about "gazillion," but the point is that we could satisfy the entire world's energy needs without even scratching the surface of the world's wind resources.

          Thank you for visiting Raising Kaine, the voice of Progressive Virginia.

          by lowkell on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:41:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I agree with your concern completely. (0+ / 0-)

          Every energy extraction/redirection method, even those that don't involve burning hydrocarbons, externalizes some cost somewhere along the line as surely as e=mc2.  This applies to ocean wave power generation as well.

          There will always be those who will scoff at this concern, saying that there's no way human interference could significantly disrupt air flows or ocean currents since the sources are just so vast.  Right.  The ozone layer, greenhouse gas concentrations . . .

          My folks moved from Michigan to Ft. Lauderdale (Andrews and Commercial Blvd., about 3 miles from the shore) in the early 70s at the start of a wave of beach hotel/condo redevelopment.  For a few years, they needed no A/C because the sea breezes kept temperatures reasonable.  After the developers were finished erecting their wall of high-rises on the beach, my folks and everyone in their area had to get A/C because the sea breezes were blocked.

          We have to relinquish the attitude that our actions "couldn't possibly" have any significant effect.  It's that attitude that got us into this Global Warming crisis in first place.

          "You are coming to a sad realization. CANCEL or ALLOW?"

          by sxwarren on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 08:13:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Working well? (0+ / 0-)

        In California we get about ONE percent of our electricity from wind farms, which take up HUGE tracts of land and kill birds by the hundreds.

        Plus, I don't see too many electric airplanes, ships and tractor-trailers out there. Or cars for that matter -- who's going to put up the money for my brand new electric pick-up truck? Oh... wait... there aren't any.

        Spring is coming, America... and with it, hope once again.

        by willers on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 08:43:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And you typed this... (0+ / 0-)

          on your gasoline powered computer?

          •  Obviously not (0+ / 0-)

            But people seem to think of "energy" as this interchangeable amorphous blob. Wind power = electricity ONLY. Which does NOT power most kinds of transportation.

            If you're just going to make smartass and somewhat nonsensical comments, it's really not helpful to the discussion.

            Spring is coming, America... and with it, hope once again.

            by willers on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 09:46:27 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Pot, meet kettle. (0+ / 0-)

              The comment you replied to was about the ability of farmers to earn extra income by selling electricity, not about energy being used to power vehicles. You responded by ridiculing it with talk of electric planes and ships.

        •  hundreds of birds a year? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          buckhorn okie

          While one could argue that this is trivial compared to the number of birds global warming would ultimately kill or closer-to-now deaths due to ordinary air pollution, I'd rather tell you to produce your sources.

          The Altamont Pass bird kills were based on older technology windmills. The newer ones have been designed to drastically reduce the problem. I think you're getting your info from Big Coal funded NIMBY anti-wind organizations.

          Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

          by alizard on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 12:33:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Our over-reliance on the car leaves (9+ / 0-)

      serious urban planning in the dust, I'm afraid. A population density closer to that of San Francisco should be encouraged (it is pedestrian and small-business friendly), and suburban stripmall sprawl discouraged.

      Let's have a "Farm and Countryside Heritage" bill that limits both the paving-over of farmland near urban zones that have not built sufficiently skyward for their populations, and that will keep our tree-cover from being bulldozed thoughtlessly.

      Here, in Texas, we are seeing the willy-nilly deforestation of our Hill Country, even as we speak of "saving the earth's lungs" by asking other countries to save their forest greencover from slash-and=burn farming and ranching. We have been talking out of both sides of our mouths with shocking ease when it comes to planning realistically for a future with larger human populations. Americans have a moral obligation to lead the world in planning for a future that imagines the lives our children seven generations into the future.

      "The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil."--Hanna Arendt

      by Ignacio Magaloni on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:48:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Greed? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      drewfromct

      Corporate farms aside, most farmers aren't exactly rolling in dough.  It takes a significant amount of time, money and labor to operate a farm.  There is considerable risk involved.  All it takes is one bad year to force a family farm under. A hail storm an early freeze or a drought  (maybe caused by global warming from the burning of fossil fuels) could bring financial ruin. But, even if you have a great year, you can be pretty much assured that your neighbors did too and the price you will receive for your crop will be down.

      Calling farmers greedy for wanting a higher price for their crop is like calling minimum wage workers greedy for wanting a higher wage.

      About 2% of what we pay for processed foods goes directly to the farmer who grew the crops that the food is made from.  When you are willing to make it 5%, you can come back here and talk to me about greed.

      •  not talking about (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JuliaAnn

        small family owned/operated farms here
        most of thos have gone the way of the dodo
        whats been happening is massive farms that have been getting massive government incentives wanting bigger bucks for the ears in addition to the subsidies
        most small time operators around here have been selling off chunks of land to real estate developers.
        my great grandmother sold the family farm with the cavet that she could live in the farmhouse till she died
        at one time it was the third largest farm in the county, nothing left of it.

        Poverty and the homeless Out of sight and out of mind

        by betterdeadthanred on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 11:00:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not true. (0+ / 0-)

          According to the USDA, 98% of farms in the US are family farms.  91% are classified as small family farms.

          Your original post referred to "Farmers."  Corporate farming doesn't make money for farmers, it makes money for shareholders.

          •  Wow (0+ / 0-)

            According to the USDA, 98% of farms in the US are family farms.  91% are classified as small family farms.

            I don't trust that stat at all. Our own USDA, eh? Must be Rove slipped in an operative there, too. Or several.

            You know, that figure doesn't smell right at all. I'm from the midwest and I know what I see. OK, let's talk acreage. Maybe that's the math trick they're using. How many acres are now commandeered by mega farms and corporations and how many by the family farm?

            "There are four boxes to use in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, ammo. Use in that order." Ed Howdershelt

            by JuliaAnn on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 12:37:55 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  If you follow the pdf... (0+ / 0-)

              I linked to you will see small and large family farms combine for about 86% of production.

              As for the veracity of the report, I cannot say.  I live in eastern Nebraska.  Most of the farms around here are family farms. The biggest threat is real estate development.  Nebraska, as well as many other farm states have fairly strict laws which limit corporate farming

          •  your not comprehending (0+ / 0-)

            and not paying attention to the pdf you linked to
            small family farms are selling out
            around here at a rapid pace
            that is the national avg for 2003 and shows a decrease in small family farms
            an increase in large family and large non family farms
            the small time operations here are selling out to real estate for residential, selling to neighbors who become large family farms
            and selling to the mega corps

            Poverty and the homeless Out of sight and out of mind

            by betterdeadthanred on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 12:40:23 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  you're right, betterdaedthanred (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          buckhorn okie, betterdeadthanred

          It's not the small farmers who are the villains - it's the corporate projects and businessmen jumping on the ethanol bandwagon.

          The biggest promoter of ethanol I know around here -- and betterdeadthanred and I appear to live in the same region -- is a Republican operative who also once eschewed any limits on builders and developers.

          America's real farming class wants to do the right thing, save the family farm, preserve the soil, reduce pesticide use if possible, and make a decent living.

          A lot of the ethanol promoters? Mr. Big Business -- and if you look at their individual resumes, you will see that (by and large) most of them want to do one thing only: make money. That's all.

          "There are four boxes to use in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, ammo. Use in that order." Ed Howdershelt

          by JuliaAnn on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 12:35:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Important issue to me ... (14+ / 0-)

    Is to tone down any hype about silve-bullet, single point solutions.

    That was what appealed to me working with Energize America -- everyone involved realized that we needed a holistic set of Silver BBs, some focused on producing energy, some on energy efficiency, and some that would help foster changes in terms of basic energy use.  That there needed to be top-down action, bottom-up, and there needs to be paths to foster/incentivize private sector action.

    Too many of the E85/such advocates seem to act as if they have "the" magic bullet.

    Now, the exception that I have with this OPED is that there is an alternative future where biofuels (not ethanol, necessarily) make sense:  with efficient plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), to have flex-fuel that could take diesel/biodiesel (or gasoline, synthetic gasoline, or ethanol blends).  If we cut our transportation fuel requirements for cars by 80-90%, the ethanol contribution to the total fuel mix can become interesting/valuable without causing too much havoc on the environment/food supply.

    But, with ethanol, we have the silver bullet solution of "cellulose ethanol" that remains a promise rather than reality right now.

    Blogging regularly at Ecotality Blog for a Sustainable Future.

    by A Siegel on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 05:06:26 AM PDT

    •  Cellulosic ethanol is not a silver bullet, though (4+ / 0-)

      We're still only talking about replacing what, 20% of our oil consumption?  It's not enough, even if it were technologically and economically feasible.  Which it isn't at the moment.

      Thank you for visiting Raising Kaine, the voice of Progressive Virginia.

      by lowkell on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 05:08:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Point is that (6+ / 0-)

        people are promising it as a silver bullet when, at most, it is another silver bb ... but, unlike many silver BBs that exist and can be deployed today, this is a silver BB that remains in the lab rather than in practical deployment.

        Blogging regularly at Ecotality Blog for a Sustainable Future.

        by A Siegel on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 05:09:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Agree 100%. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          espresso, kd texan, A Siegel

          Thanks.

          Thank you for visiting Raising Kaine, the voice of Progressive Virginia.

          by lowkell on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 05:10:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Oops, way late to the party ... but to me the ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lowkell

          ... point is political:

          • We have been conned into this greenwashing of fossil fuels with corn-starch ethanol. And they just love it in Iowa, because it sounds good on the surface and it sure helps the price paid for corn down at the silo.
          • And with the front-loading of the primaries, Iowa is now even more important than before in the road to the White House.
          • So in Presidential politics, its going to be "ethanol" from every credible candidate for the white house.

          Now, research into cellulosic alcohol may come a cropper, but if it doesn't, it will help us escape from this political cul-de-sac, because nobody is going to use the corn starch to make ethanol when they can use the corn stover.

          And, of course, 10% of the present petro-fuel portfolio coming from biodiesel implies 2% from the transesterification agent, and cellulosic ethanol would be a better source for that than fossil fuels.

          So its worth an R&D bet, at the very least.

          To run the economy on ethanol as a fuel, even if it pans out, really implies progress in so many other areas that its a shell full of silver BB's masquerading as a silver bullet ... for example:

          • double the energy efficiency of transport
          • shift 20% of mode-share onto electric traction public transport
          • shift 10% of mode-share onto private electric
          • shift 20% of mode-share onto pluggable hybrid
          • reduce the average miles travelled by by 20% through "new urban" transport oriented development

          So all up, liquid fuel has 40% of the present mode share, and the vehicles are twice as efficient, for 20% of the fuel "fueling" the economy.

          Obviously stretching some of those toward silver bullet status reduces the number of silver BB's you have to include ... but in the silver BB approach, any big unexpected gains are the insurance to help cover parts of the plan that turn out to be a dry hole, for either technical or political reasons.

  •  Something often left out of the ethanol (21+ / 0-)

    equation is water. Most corn grown in our grain belt requires irrigation, or at least rain. Last year's harvest was a disaster due to heat and drought. The Ogallala aquifer is about 20 years from total depletion. Things will only worsen as climate continues to change. Indeed it's really only a political ploy.

  •  i agree with all of the concerns (5+ / 0-)

    except for the one about using land for energy instead of food, and it's relationship to people starving.

    Starvation and nutrition problems are a wealth distribution problem, not land use.  

  •  Another problem with corn ethanol is the (12+ / 0-)

    GMO variety of corn that is grown for it is not edible. It contains an added gene for an enzyme necessary for the fermentation process. The pollen is wind borne and in all likelihood has already, and will continue to contaminate food varieties of corn.

    Bee colony collapse is not yet understood, but one theory suggests that GMO corn pollen makes the bees more susceptible to the deadly varroa mite.

  •  I live on the border between Canada and (6+ / 0-)

    the US.  Across the River Canada has windmills along the inlet to the Locks. It is saving the Canadians a lot of money and this is a very Windy area. The Wind comes off Lake Superior.  We decided to do a 3 year study to see if it would pan out to put windmills on our side. If there is enough wind to power their windmills why a study? Why not just build them. What a waste of time and money.

    "Though the Mills of the Gods grind slowly,Yet they grind exceeding small."

    by Owllwoman on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 05:26:08 AM PDT

  •  The miracle ethanol/biodesiel crop. (6+ / 0-)

    It grows just about anywhere.

    It literally grows like a weed: so it doesn't need cultivation.

    It has many side benefits, besides energy.

    Its HEMP!!!

    :-D

    -5.75 -4.72 3.14159 2.71828

    by xynz on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 05:28:19 AM PDT

    •  It is literally insane and irrational (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JuliaAnn

      not to use it........ especially considering growing takes almost no water!!!!!

      Overthrow the Government ~Vote~

      by missliberties on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 05:56:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Good for what ails ya, too! :) (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JuliaAnn

      We are all on the road towards perfection.
      Some are further along on the trip.
      Some are headed in the wrong direction.

      by shpilk on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:18:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  True if what ails you (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JuliaAnn

        is lacking a quickly renewable resource that has many uses. Industrial hemp gets you strong paper, fiber, building materials, nutrition , fuel and so on but it does not get you high.

        Funny that hemp was essentially outlawed by a huge tax until WWII when they needed more hemp. The Department of Agriculture even made a film called "Hemp for Victory" to encourage farmers to grow it and then they subsidized hemp cultivation.
        Perhaps we could get "Hemp for Victory" moving again.

  •  Benefits and boondoggles (5+ / 0-)

    What we need is a cure not a bandaid. As much as the public may be against, it an immediate tax on gas is the best way to demonstrate to Americans the need to conserve. The growing appetite for oil in China and around the world is going to increase the cost of gas no matter what, so we better get used to it sooner rather than later.
    We need to use the revenue from those gas taxes to encourage renewable energy sources and promote ideas that compete with oil without depleating other resources, like farmlands.
    The idea that pollen from genetically enhanced corn may be a cause of the destruction of bees is especially frightening.

    •  I agree. I bike everywhere I need to go during (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      buckhorn okie, JohnB47

      the Spring, Summer and Fall.  Too much snow during the Winter but many here are riding during the Winter too.  I am just afraid of falling on the Ice. I get where I need to go and don't have an expence to get there. Keeps me in shape too. Many people would revert to bikes if it cost more for Gas.

      "Though the Mills of the Gods grind slowly,Yet they grind exceeding small."

      by Owllwoman on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 05:38:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  the problem with this idea (4+ / 0-)

      is that the people who would suffer for this are the middle class, and low middle.  when i was working, i drove an hour to work for $7/hr.  where i live people have to drive to either buffalo or rochester to work, and it's an hour drive.  but i do understand what you mean, and why.  People don't start thinking about alternative energy until they can't afford to get to work.

    •  And will you also (5+ / 0-)

         support the construction of a nation wide system of public transportation to serve those of us who live in rural areas, and do not have the option of walking or biking the ten miles to the grocery store or taking a bus to our jobs twenty miles away? Will you support the massive subsidies required because there are simply not enough people per square mile to make such a system self supporting?

         The solutions that work in the city are wildly impractical "out here".

         

         

      What's the difference between Vietnam and Iraq? Bush knew how to get out of Vietnam.

      by happy camper on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 05:57:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Perhaps your lifestyle (5+ / 0-)

        is not sustainable.

        Living in a sparsely populated area, 20 miles from your workplace is probably not a good idea from an environmental point of view. No public transportation system is going to change that.

        •  The fact is that mass transit is only economical (6+ / 0-)

          in high-density population centers.  Rural areas, frankly, are NOT the problem.  It's suburbia and especially exurbia, combined with our preference for huge, gas guzzling vehicles to drive us back and forth from the supermarket (where, I might add, we buy lots of products based on...yes, CORN!).   :)

          Thank you for visiting Raising Kaine, the voice of Progressive Virginia.

          by lowkell on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:57:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  And who will grow your food? (5+ / 0-)

          Who will cut the lumber for your house? Who will ranch the sheep and cattle and pigs you eat? Who will work at your vacation resorts and tourist stops? Who will work at your National Parks and Forest Service offices? Who will pave the roads, fix the guardrails, remove the snow, salt the ice, and so on leading to these place you like to visit?

          I daresay, those of us who at least have some space to grow some of our own food and have wells and septic systems are a bit more sustainable than suburban and city folks who depend on massive subsidized infrastructures to take of their bodily functions.

          Perhaps you should look at how sustainable your own lifestyle is before passing judgement on the lives of others.

          Spring is coming, America... and with it, hope once again.

          by willers on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 09:02:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  We are at the mercy of big oil right now (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        buckhorn okie, Karyn

        I understand that rural areas would be hurt, and lower incomes would be affected more than wealthy SUV drivers. But there are things that could be done to help without going to 'massive subsidies'. Tax breaks for lower income brackets with receipts might be possible and other solutions could be devised.
        I know that there will be hardships, but I'm more worried of the effect oil policy will have in the future. Will there be more wars for oil? Will there be more and greater consequences to the planet because of greenhouse gas emissions? Will this country's economy be held captive to energy needs or can we come together as a nation to secure our own future?
        No solution will be perfect, but a good solution started sooner rather than later would be best for all.

        •  Tax breaks don't work for low income (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          buckhorn okie, drewfromct

          But maybe something like "gas stamps" could be provided in targetted rural areas. Low income people generally don't pay federal income states, especially in rural areas where average incomes are below the national average.

          "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

          by Alice in Florida on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 07:39:10 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  John, any link re: the pollen/ bee connect? (0+ / 0-)

      "Teach...your children well" CSN

      by tallmom on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:23:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Pollen connection was earlier in responses (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tallmom

        I have no knowledge of a connection, I have only heard of bee disapperances. Go back upstream, one of the other Kossacks mentioned the possibility. Maybe they can give you a link. Something about 'mites'.

    •  Taxation will hurt the rural & poor (3+ / 0-)

      Not helpful. When you live out here in the sticks where I do, where we laugh at how low the national gas average is (it's about $3.25 this week here), you have to do a lot of driving just to get to the grocery store, and you have a lot of poor people who are barely making it.

      We try to minimize the amount of driving we do already, and now that we have a school bus that comes within about 2 miles of our house that helps a lot, but we're about 45 minutes away from any major shopping, and if/when I get this new $8/hour grocery store job off the farm so we can pay the bills, it's a 24-mile round trip to get to work and back. Gas is already $3.25/gallon here, you do the math.

      Spring is coming, America... and with it, hope once again.

      by willers on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 08:56:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  could you live with (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        buckhorn okie

        $5/gallon biodiesel with stable pricing and supply?

        Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

        by alizard on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 01:00:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, but it would force us into survival mode. (0+ / 0-)

          Most rural folks would not adjust, or would not be able to (we're pretty far ahead of the curve regarding hunkering down to survive bad times).

          My point is that city folks can just hop on a bus or bike and it's no big deal. Rural folks do not even have that option, which is why it hurts them more.

          Spring is coming, America... and with it, hope once again.

          by willers on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 03:05:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm not that happy with $5/gallon. . . (0+ / 0-)

            that's what my spreadsheet projections (in the process of being reworked) tell me that algae-based biodiesel is likely to cost in volume production. All that can be done with this is to try for process optimization and cheaper ways to build the facilities themselves.

            The fun part with respect to petroleum diesel is that if one is using it, one WILL be paying higher price over time. The only question is whether one will be paying higher and higher and higher prices until one is priced out of the market or the oil runs out or one will be paying a higher price that is NOT going to go up with time based on a mature biofuel industry.

            Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

            by alizard on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 03:38:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Great wakeup call. (4+ / 0-)

    Need to catch up and see Gore's doc asap.

  •  Here's another question (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lowkell, espresso, buckhorn okie, tallmom

    It takes oil to transport the ethanol, so if you measure the cost benefit that way it really isn't all that much.

    Have you seen the price of corn feed beef lately.

    It is like taking one step forward and two steps backward.

    And why on earth to we use oil to ship the oil we drill in the US to other countries, instead of saving oil by keeping it here.

    Overthrow the Government ~Vote~

    by missliberties on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 05:52:42 AM PDT

    •  Well, you can use ethanol powered vehicles ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      buckhorn okie

      ... to transport ethanol.

      But the fuel is extremely inefficient, and definitely not the answer.
      It's been embraced by politicians because it means they've found a way too keep the farmers' lobby happy.

      "I don't do quagmires, and my boss doesn't do nuance."

      by SteinL on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:18:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not inefficient (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cenobyte

           Are you referring to the manufacturing process or the MPG of ethanol burning vehicles? The reason engines get better mileage on gas is because they must presently be able to burn a gas/ethanol blend. Set up a motor for ethanol alone--high compression and advanced ignition timing-- and it becomes more efficient. Problem is, you can then no longer burn gasoline.

        What's the difference between Vietnam and Iraq? Bush knew how to get out of Vietnam.

        by happy camper on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:25:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The ration between effort required to ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          buckhorn okie, wondering if

          ... manufacture a unit of ethanol derived energy, compared to the energy said unit will produce.

          1:1,34

          "I don't do quagmires, and my boss doesn't do nuance."

          by SteinL on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:45:02 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  ratio - not ration, of course (0+ / 0-)

            "I don't do quagmires, and my boss doesn't do nuance."

            by SteinL on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:45:23 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  But isn't the goal energy independence? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              happy camper

              The inefficiency argument seems to ignore that, set it aside, and, unfortunately, do nothing.

              (You didn't do that here, but that's the result of railing against ethanol as a viable alternative.)

              ::::::::::::::::::::::::::
              More fun than talkin' about Anne Counter's giant Adam's Apple ! [Cue Austin Powers] "It's a MAN, baby!"

              by Cenobyte on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 07:39:35 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The main goals are twofold (5+ / 0-)
                1. Stop and reverse global warming
                1. End our "oil addiction."

                Corn-based ethanol accomplishes neither of these.  Energy efficiency and proven renewables, plus advanced cellulosic ethanol using switchgrass, hemp, etc., would do the trick.  We also need to switch incentives away from sprawl and towards "smart growth."

                Thank you for visiting Raising Kaine, the voice of Progressive Virginia.

                by lowkell on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 07:45:43 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  It should be seen as a stepping stone (0+ / 0-)

                At least some gas stations are installing pumps for other than gas. That is a good for step.

                Overthrow the Government ~Vote~

                by missliberties on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 09:52:11 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  I feel bad about the years when I ... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                buckhorn okie

                ... drove SUVs. Won't do that any more.

                In fact, I will cut down on my driving substantially, by moving closer to work. Am selling the house in the suburbs two months from now.

                I will use a bicycle, and my feet, when I can.
                I will look into sharing a car with others -- or joining a pool with likeminded car owners who have access to the cars they need, when they need them, in a joint garage.
                I will consider an Electric Vehicle, as I live in a country where most of our power is hydro-electric.
                And I will use the train a lot more, when I can, rather than fly.

                All a lot more efficient than the folly of ethanol in cars. (BTW - it's destroying car engines. Clearly a technology that was launched too soon, for some manufacturers).
                In Brazil, where a seed will start growing a couple of days after beeing introduced to earth, it may make sense. In northern latitudes: no.

                "I don't do quagmires, and my boss doesn't do nuance."

                by SteinL on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 01:20:45 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  It also takes energy to produce ethanol (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      buckhorn okie

      In the late 70's after the oil embargo ended there was much discussion about using ethanol. I recall reading that, at least at that time, it took more energy to make ethanol than we could get from the ethanol once it was produced.

      I'm curious to know how efficient the process is now. What is the cost benefit ratio.

      Basically I'm in agreement with the theme of this diary. There are many problems to consider with regard to using ethanol.

      As a not too frequent visitor to the USA I see plenty of room for conservation. There are people driving huge vehicles, often alone. Except for a few urban areas, there is no local public transportation.

      People resist changes to their life style and most will continue to resist until the price of energy  increases enough to give them the incentive to conserve more, to drive smaller vehicles, to demand public transport facilities, more efficient items of all types and live closer to the places they work and shop.

      In summary life styles will have to change and the primary incentive to change will be the cost of using energy.

      •  for practical purposes (2+ / 0-)

        you might as well consider those "studies" Big Oil and Big Nuclear propaganda.

        The problem isn't that the energy balance is negative, the problem is that it's 1.5:1 ... not good enough to make replacing fossil fuel with biofuel possible via conventional agriculture / row crops even if we converted 100% of our agricultural land to it.

        Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

        by alizard on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 01:05:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Being a shade tree mechanic for 45 years (9+ / 0-)

    I've this many times but no one listens.

    The Infernal Combustion Engine as we know it now hasn't changed much in about 100 years.  But it's the cause of more and more insanity each day.

    Wars, damage to the environment, sprawl all can be traced to the automobile.

    Cars as we know them now with thousands of moving parts are dinosaurs.

    Someone with real guts has to start from scratch and build a personal transportation medium that elimates all moving and lubricated parts.  Until you do that, you'll have 100's more Iraqs.  You'll have carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, particualte matter, Sulphur and other pollutants that will cost trillions in damage to the people's health and the environment.

    The automobile should be public enemy no.1!

    •  All moving and lubricated parts? (0+ / 0-)

      So much for bicycles....

      "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

      by Alice in Florida on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 07:41:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  it isn't a matter of guts (0+ / 0-)

      The only transportation solution that fits your criteria would be the matter transporter.

      We have no idea as to how to build one at this point. Next century, maybe. Or maybe longer, the NASA program to investigate advanced technology concepts went the way of the NASA space power satellite project. . . Bushco defunded it.

      Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 01:07:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  However (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Radiowalla, espresso, JuliaAnn, willers

    the diarist neglects to point out that ethanol is absolutely delicious. Especially over waffles.

  •  Ethanol from corn (4+ / 0-)

       is an inefficient production method. Corn is an energy--intensive crop no matter what it is grown for.  There are, however, other crops--hemp and switchgrass come to mind--that will grow on land that is useless for food production, with no petrochemical fertilizers or irrigation. The technology exists to make ethanol and biodiesel from cellulose, garbage, and leftover fryer oil. There are methods under development to ferment feedstocks using algae and bacteria, that consume much less energy than present methods.

       Ethanol is without a doubt part of the solution. Bicycles and plugin electrics for short commutes, hybrid buses, wind generated electricity, and alternative fuels all have a role to play. The internal combustion engine will be with us at least until fuel cell technology is ready for prime time. We must support all of the alternatives, because there is no one-size-fits-all solution.  

    What's the difference between Vietnam and Iraq? Bush knew how to get out of Vietnam.

    by happy camper on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:15:07 AM PDT

  •  On my way to work, everyday on RT 93 in NH (6+ / 0-)

    I almost get flattened in my Honda Civic driving the speed limit or a little below it as other cars race by at 75 to 80 MPH.

    I think people should be allowed to speed, if they want. I think the State should be allowed to 'tax' those people who choose to speed, perhaps at the $100 per MPH rate over the speed limit.

    So, if you are driving 25 MPH over, you get to help fund first off law enforcement with a $2500 bill; get more cops on the road. And then, take some of that money the State will be awash in and start installing windfarms and solar.

    I say let those people who want to be at the very forefront of funding this effort - the ones that can afford to speed are the ones that can afford to pay.  

    We are all on the road towards perfection.
    Some are further along on the trip.
    Some are headed in the wrong direction.

    by shpilk on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:15:41 AM PDT

    •  Same situation (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shpilk, buckhorn okie

      every day on the Maine Tnpk shpilk.
      I like your ideas.  

      As for the WAPO, thank god every once in a while the truth shines through.

      "Teach...your children well" CSN

      by tallmom on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:21:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I thought all states had that system (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      buckhorn okie, Sam I Am, willers

      Isn't it called a speeding ticket?

      •  I think in some Western states (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        buckhorn okie

        you can basically go as fast as you want.

        And around here, in Wisconsin, enforcement is very lenient.  When the speed limit was 55, people got away with 60 mph.  Now that it is 65, people are spotted 5 more mph and generally go about 75/80.

        Just driving 65 on the four-lane makes one feel like a traffic obstacle.

        "Life rolls on in George W. Bush's America, forcing us to invent a new word -- greeed" --Molly Ivins

        by rhubarb on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:50:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You're right (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          buckhorn okie

          In Colorado you can pretty much go as fast as you want anywhere, except one stretch of I-25 where all the troopers like to hang out. They write one ticket after another all day there. I suppose it maximizes revenue since the troopers don't lose any time repositioning to any other places in the state.

      •  not $100 for every mile over they don't (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        buckhorn okie

        maybe be a little fairer, and go $50 for the first ten, and then $100 for each over after that.

        The inner city loop has a posted 55MPH limit, and average traffic speed is 70MPH in that segment. If I drive less than 65MPH, I just get pushed off the road.

        That's nuts. There have been multiple fatal accidents in that specific corridor.

        We're all on the road to perfection. Some are further along on the trip, some headed in the wrong direction.

        by shpilk on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 09:52:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Please (0+ / 0-)

        sn't it called a speeding ticket?

        You can do 20+ over the speed limit around a cop in the Northeast and they won't pull you over. The published speed limit may be 55-65, but the real one is 75-80.

    •  Die, speeders! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Radiowalla, shpilk, buckhorn okie

      Well, not really.  But why not just go back to 55 mph?  Would it kill us to do what we once did, and did well?

      "Life rolls on in George W. Bush's America, forcing us to invent a new word -- greeed" --Molly Ivins

      by rhubarb on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:47:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  55 Alive! (5+ / 0-)

        I loved it when we had the 55 mph speed limit!  Driving was much more pleasant and much safer.  Now it feels like half the road is taken over by crack addicts who weave in and out of lanes, trying to get every advantage possible.
        Some people grumbled about the 55 limit, but most were happy to do the patriotic thing in a time of national crisis.  

        Fast forward to today when the patriotic act is defined by our president as shopping.

        Memo to James Carville: sit down and shut up! You too Begala!

        by Radiowalla on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:53:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  People in western states (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Radiowalla, rhubarb, shpilk, buckhorn okie

          and midwestern states where distances are longer between things just HATED the 55 limit. Or maybe everybody hated it--certainly Jimmy Carter was unpopular and I think partly because of this measure. When speed limits were increased again, here and there where new roads had been built they really weren't designed for high speeds--for example on-ramps too short to get up to 75 mph fast enough to get onto the interstate safely, etc.

          Highway deaths increase proportionally to the speed limits. Why does this not matter?? One group that is strongly in favor of slower speeds is police and highway patrol people--they see the carnage and know people's lives would be saved if the speed limits were lower.

          I want all the speed limits reduced, both for safety and gas mileage. That makes me an evil liberal communist-leaning, fun-hating socialist add-your-own-epithet meany. I doubt if any politician will ever try again what Jimmy Carter did. Goes against the American "way."

          "It is time, brothers and sisters, for America to be patriotic about something other than war." John Edwards, 1/14/07.

          by sillia on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 07:28:38 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  could you go talk to Hillary's campaign about (0+ / 0-)

            your idea? And I sincerely wish you a great deal of good luck in selling the idea to them.

            Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

            by alizard on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 01:10:03 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Why? (0+ / 0-)

              Are you suggesting they might be interested or might listen to this approach? Well, sure, I don't mind sharing my thoughts on this but would be totally shocked if anybody picked it up. Reducing speed limits would be about as popular as outlawing candy (another good idea, by the way! :-)

              I will follow your suggestion.

              "It is time, brothers and sisters, for America to be patriotic about something other than war." John Edwards, 1/14/07.

              by sillia on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 08:42:05 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  while the country would be better off if (0+ / 0-)

                I said nothing, behavior norms in the Kossack community dictate that I tell you that if you actually managed to find someone in the Clinton campaign and sold them on mandatory Federal 55 MPH speed limits and the rest of the campaign was sufficiently asleep at the switch to let it get into her speeches, her campaign would be DOA as of the very first primary.

                It would be politically safer for her to advocate legalizing crack.

                Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

                by alizard on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 10:20:13 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Yes, I totally understand that. (0+ / 0-)

                  Maybe they could hide it in a desk and bring it out if she wins...?? Except that would make her a one-termer for sure, just like Jimmy Carter who tried to do the right thing.

                  "It is time, brothers and sisters, for America to be patriotic about something other than war." John Edwards, 1/14/07.

                  by sillia on Mon Mar 26, 2007 at 05:49:39 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  what Jimmy Carter did right (0+ / 0-)

                    was the alternative energy stuff... like starting NREL.

                    55 MPH speed limit? I think it's A Bad Idea... I'm also one of those people from the wide open spaces in the West. 55 on freeways makes sense only if you're in an urban area where there's so much congestion that you really can't drive at 55 anyway,.

                    Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

                    by alizard on Mon Mar 26, 2007 at 02:43:36 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

      •  What made the 55 mph limit possible (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rhubarb, buckhorn okie

        was expensive gas. Bring back expensive gas (maybe $3.50/gal +), lower speed limits will becomes possible again.

        "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

        by Alice in Florida on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 07:45:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  In my car (0+ / 0-)

        I don't see a gas mileage difference when I go 55 vs. 65.  I will lose a very small amount when I go 75 vs. 55.  Of course, speed limits here don't mean a damn thing.  People go pretty much the same speed whether the speed limit is 55 or 65.

  •  Well, yeah, but -- (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    happy camper

    this is only an argument against corn-sourced ethanol, right?

    I think we CAN use corn, as well as a variety of more efficient sources, and from what I've been seeing and reading, we can do it without destroying forests or endangering our food supply. To detractors, I keep pointing out the obvious: Brazil did it. So why argue that we can't?

    And the note about using fossil fuels and expelling greenhouse gases to do it stokes one of my pet peeves: Namely, who says? Who says we need to use fossil fuels and exhaust greenhouse gases to do it? Who says we can't just use our brains and use alternative, cleaner-burning fuels in the process, too?

    I understand the doubts, and see that the problems being raised will help us steer toward the best possible solutions (if we listen), but the problem with this mindset is that, in the end, it argues loudly -- and, in the case of the above-mentioned points, misleadingly, whether that's intentional or otherwise -- that we do nothing.

    And as I often say of the Bush people's refusal to eneact limits on greenhouse gases, doing nothing is, well, doing nothing.

    lowkell, your last paragraph dances between the inherently reasonable (use altenative sources we know work) and the immaturely taunting ("Oh, and can we please stop using food needed for a poor, hungry world to instead feed our cars and SUV's?)". Taunting won't convince anyone.

    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::
    More fun than talkin' about Anne Counter's giant Adam's Apple ! [Cue Austin Powers] "It's a MAN, baby!"

    by Cenobyte on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:19:03 AM PDT

    •  Brazil's ethanol consumption is miniscule (6+ / 0-)

      We're talking a couple hundred thousand barrels per day. The US consumes 21 million barrels per day.

      Oh, and on the "poor, hungry world" issue, I will not back down on that one at all.  It's morally wrong to use food crops to fuel SUVs, period.  The answer is energy efficiency, combined with a major push for proven renewables like wind, solar, and geothermal.  Basically what Al Gore, Amory Lovins, and most other serious experts on this issue have proposed.

      Thank you for visiting Raising Kaine, the voice of Progressive Virginia.

      by lowkell on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:48:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ok -- and you're right about feeding the poor. (0+ / 0-)

        Problem is, we already don't Ethanol production won't change that.

        It's your "Oh, and -- " tone I was talking about. And you did it again.

        I agree on the SUVs: They're just plain stupid, and we shouldn't aloow them. But we aren't the ones making that decision. The American automaker and aut buyer are. As vapid, syupid, dangerous, polluting, and gas-guzzling as I find them, we can't seem to stop people from buying them. So making them less fossil-fuel hungry by using an alternative sounds like a partial solution, as does marketing a less-polluting fuel for them.

        I can't make idiots not buy them, but i can change how much damage they do.

        And we're back to ethanol. Not ethanol alone, but as part of the overall solution.

        ::::::::::::::::::::::::::
        More fun than talkin' about Anne Counter's giant Adam's Apple ! [Cue Austin Powers] "It's a MAN, baby!"

        by Cenobyte on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 07:21:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ethanol production has changed that. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          buckhorn okie, Bulldozer

          There have been serious food shortages in Mexico due to ethanol gobbling up the corn supply at ever-higher prices.

          As for SUVs, there's a simple way to make them less popular--raise the cost of gas. There is a price point at which people will decide that driving a big-ass vehicle is not worth that much. Don't know what that price point is yet, but it's probably well over $3.00/gal now. Another thing--exise taxes or luxury taxes on low milage passenger vehicles.

          "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

          by Alice in Florida on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 07:50:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Goldman Sachs has estimated $4 per gallon (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            buckhorn okie, JuliaAnn

            would result in serious "oil demand destruction" in the United States.  I think they're probably right. Look what happened after Hurricane Katrina, when large SUV sales plummeted as gasoline prices soared above $3 or even $3.50 per gallon...

            Thank you for visiting Raising Kaine, the voice of Progressive Virginia.

            by lowkell on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 07:56:22 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  well, then, we needn't worry about (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              buckhorn okie

              demand destruction then, we'll probably be up to $4/gallon by this time next year, give or take a few months and making the happy assumption that Bush can be prevented from starting a War on Iran.

              IMO, a lot more palatable to the American consumer than gas taxes I've seen otherwise sane people propose.

              Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

              by alizard on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 01:12:36 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  source please? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      buckhorn okie, Mia Dolan

      The global warming problem is far to serious for half assed solutions like ethanol.  No matter what energy you're using to produce it corn (and soy) don't make sense.  Sugar cane produces 10 X the energy required to make it. Corn-based ethanol is like 1.3.

      This may sound CORNY, but it would help if you would tell us why you think Ethanol isn't just pork and a waste of time.  What evidence do you have?  

      What liberals fail to recognize is that regime change in Iraq is not some distraction from the war on Al Qaeda. That is a bogus argument. -- Thomas Friedman

      by markymarx on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 09:49:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No sources handy... (0+ / 0-)

        let me try some reasoning based on simple science, economics, and common sense.

        Sugar can would be better, except that it won't grow in many parts of the world.  Approximately 1/2 of the USA, for example, can grow corn, and has the economic infrastructure (farmers with equipment, mills with processing capacity) to produce it.

        Simple chemistry:  Alcohol extraction from the corn would leave most of the protein value intact.  Thus we could be extracting fuel from our corn supply and still be extracting its food value.  The "extra fuel" we would be using to produce the corn for ethanol is already being used to produce corn in the first place.

        The costs of producing the ethanol (and the subsequent changes required in the corn-processing industry)  would indeed cause rises in the cost of food, but if the ethanol industry wasn't "paying for itself, it would be quickly abandoned.  But if it did prove profittable, acreage would expand, and the prices of food would tend to fall back to where they would have been otherwise.

        Furthermore, price of the corn in the food you eat is a miniscule fraction of the cost.  Processing, transportation, marketing, (and most likely, greed) account for most of the cost of your food.  On the other hand, a rise in the price of corn wil pump badly needed money into rural areas, not just in the USA but worldwide.

        In regards to "Pork":  Pork can be in any project, and is as much or more based on how it is administered than the underlying specifics.  A program to feed the hungry could be "pork" if it were intitiated incorrectly.

        Government subsidies are certainly the only way the biofuel industry could come about in any type of near term, as the capital outlays are too great for too many people.  But if that is in itself the definition of "pork"  than I'm afraid that its not much different than comments I mostly hear from hard-line conservatives "Government is bad and should be shrunk or eliminated".  I do not think that it can be the CW on a Democratic Party blog (or liberal or proessive blogs, for that matter) that gov't subsidies are inherently bad.  Used correctly, they can be and are an effective tool to bring about social and economic change.

        And lastly, for now, the majority of the American corn crop, goes to the production of high fructose corn syrup.  That product should be called SugarCrack, and I'd venture full on 99% of Americans are addicted to it in one form or another, and a huge percentage of the world is riding that horse.  They're even injecting it in bread and other "non-sugary" food. That industry is as anti-ethanol as the petroleum industry.  Is it immoral to fuel your SUV by taking a Mountain Dew or Captain Crunch out of the mouth of a babe?  The answer is not so clear-cut.

        •  no (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mia Dolan

          Cellulosic ethanol research is a good use of taxpayer dollars--NOT corn-based ethanol.  

          What liberals fail to recognize is that regime change in Iraq is not some distraction from the war on Al Qaeda. That is a bogus argument. -- Thomas Friedman

          by markymarx on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 12:18:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  simple physics tells us that (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          markymarx, buckhorn okie

          there isn't enough agricultural land in the USA to grow enough biofuel using conventional mechanized agriculture and row crops even adding in "marginal" farmland to replace 400 million gallons of fuel per day we use in the US alone. That's assuming we've lost interest in farm crops as food. It's worse if you use realistic assumptions.

          That's why I don't know of a single person who knows enough to be taken seriously on alternative energy who takes your "solution" seriously as anything but a method for transferring money from our pockets to ADM using the Feds as a collection agency. You are invited to explain why fattening ADM's bank accounts via transfer payment is good for America.

          We're going to have to bypass conventional agriculture ethanol for cellulosic ethanol to make ethanol even a serious "silver BB".

          Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

          by alizard on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 01:19:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  nice sig line (0+ / 0-)

      jk it's really immature taunting.

  •  What about how much corn goes to livestock? (6+ / 0-)

    Doesn't about 90% of the corn produced these days feed livestock instead of people?  About 90% of the energy of the corn is lost when it is fed to the animals for meat.  

    And isn't most of the corn Genetically Modified (which I think is of dubious safety)?

    I am biased as a vegetarian, but maybe people should eat much less meat.  Then the non-GMO corn can feed people and the GMO corn can take care of some of our energy needs.

    •  I'm with you, here. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      espresso

      We expend an irrational amount of grains in exchange for steaks.

      But i warn you: The mainstream will accuse us both of preaching in about five seconds for daring to mention such a thing. I think i hear them igniting the torches now ...   ;)

      ::::::::::::::::::::::::::
      More fun than talkin' about Anne Counter's giant Adam's Apple ! [Cue Austin Powers] "It's a MAN, baby!"

      by Cenobyte on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:35:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I totally agree... (0+ / 0-)

      ...eat less meat and save the planet.  Also, drive less and more efficiently.  Folks, this isn't that conceptually difficult!

      Thank you for visiting Raising Kaine, the voice of Progressive Virginia.

      by lowkell on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:45:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe we could power things (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        drewfromct

        on people's whining, which would work out perfectly -- the more expensive the car, the more it would be powered by whining, kind of like Monsters Inc. powers things with human sounds... that way, when the rich, fat carnivores start whining "but meat tastes good and I hate vegetables!" or "but I have to drive to get my kids to soccer practice and buy beer!" it's more energy for the rest of us. Heh.

        Spring is coming, America... and with it, hope once again.

        by willers on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 09:09:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  so I can sign you up to provide me with (0+ / 0-)

          how many kilowatt hours a day to green-offset my computer's carbon production? All I should need for that is 1.5KWh... is your whining up for this?

          Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

          by alizard on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 01:22:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Is there some reason (0+ / 0-)

            you're following me around this thread making snippy replies to my comments? Did I kick your dog or something?

            Spring is coming, America... and with it, hope once again.

            by willers on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 03:07:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Do you read your own posts? (0+ / 0-)

              Maybe we could power things (1+ / 0-)

              on people's whining, which would work out perfectly -- the more expensive the car, the more it would be powered by whining, kind of like Monsters Inc. powers things with human sounds... that way, when the rich, fat carnivores start whining "but meat tastes good and I hate vegetables!"

              My patience with "meat eaters are ENEMIES of Planet Earth!!!" vegans has run out, now that solutions are in sight.

              The global warming problems connected with livestock are solvable, the bottom line is. . . we'll be paying another $1 or so a pound for meat by and by. And I'll happily help get behind and push laws making the anti-global warming measures as applied to livestock mandatory when the stuff is ready for production.

              The "we all must follow MY lifestyle choices or we will all DIE!" crap is something nobody really has any patience with. How many incandescent light bulbs are in your place? And why haven't you replaced them all with CFLs?

              The sci-tech community will tell you when we can't find the answers, and perhaps even what questions we should be asking next.

              I'm here to discuss serious solutions to global warming. Since I do technology better than anything else, I'm here to talk about technological solutions or blow holes in solutions that don't hold water. And dump cold water on idiocy.

              If you don't like snippy comments, either provide good sense or good snark in your posts, I think I've already given 4s to one or two of your posts in this discussion... take for granted that there's nothing especially personal in this.

              Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

              by alizard on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 03:33:03 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  We need more of this kind of ranching (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      buckhorn okie, strobusguy

      If you're going to eat beef, this is a good product.
      Oregon Country Beef

      Frequently asked questions

      Q.  Where does your beef come from?

      A.  It is raised from birth on the family ranches of the Country Natural Beef cooperative.  Most of the ranches are located in Oregon, but Washington, California, Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado and Hawaii are also represented.  See our web site for exact ranch locations.  www.countrynaturalbeef.com  

      Q.  Are the cows happy?

      A.  Yes....Humane compassionate handling of livestock in an environment well suited for beef cattle is an initial requirement of membership.  The reason we have such a wide distribution of ranching areas is because we want only ranchers with an extraordinarily strong land ethic ie respect for their plants, animals, land and people.  Furthermore we want each cow and her calf and the yearling that calf grows into to have lots of space......our average is 70 acres per individual cow/calf unit per year.

      Q.  What breed of cattle are used?

      A.  We are not breed specific, but very much type specific.....moderate sized athletic range cows that thrive in large pastures.  Our ranchers’ cow herds are British based....ie....Angus, Hereford and Shorthorns and crosses of those breeds.  Some herds have a small infusion of Charolais, Simmental and Tarentaise.

      Q.  Is it grass fed?

      A. Our cattle are pasture and range raised for approximately 16 months and then go to our gathering lot in Boardman, OR where they are fed a ration of potatoes, corn and alfalfa for approximately 3 months.  To ensure a consistent year around supply of quality cattle, all cattle go through this one gathering lot (it is owned by a member ranch) on their way to Washington Beef.

      Q.  Does the short feedlot time mean you lose the healthy fatty acids ie Omega 3 and Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) as commonly occurs in long term grain fed beef?

      A.  No....in fact a controlled study done by Oregon State University showed only a slight decline in the Omega 3 levels and a significant benefit on CLA when compared to 100% grass fed.

      Q.  Is the beef USDA Graded?

      A.  Yes.....Our marbling goal (internal fat flecks in the meat) is driven by consideration for the health of the animal, the eating satisfaction from the beef produced, and the health benefits from that meal.   For those reasons, we only use carcasses that grade High Select or Choice.

      Q.  How do you slaughter your cattle and is it humane?

      A.  This is our most frequently asked question.  Doc Hatfield, one of our founding ranchers and a veterinarian says.   "When my time comes, I hope it is as kind".  Our ranchers have owned and cared for these cattle from putting the bull and cow together until this point.....an average of over two years.   Respect for all the plants and animals that make up our family ranches is a core value of all Country Natural Beef ranchers.  It is critical that the slaughtering process be done with that same respect.

      The animals are trucked to the processing plant at Toppenish, Washington the night before slaughter.  This is a short hour and a half ride.  They are penned under cover with water and with the same mates they were with at our gathering lot.  The next morning they are walked  as a group to a pen which leads into a chute where they walk single file.  They have all been through chutes before and are not frightened by this process.  They enter the stunning box where they are rendered unconscious with captive bolt blows to the brain.  The animals behind do not see the process.  A side gate opens and they slide down a wide version of a playground slide about 4 feet where they are shackled by a hind leg and bled.  The side gate closes and is ready for the next animal who has seen none of this and there is no blood in the box they are entering.

      Q.  Washington Beef processes other cattle.  How do we know for sure the boxed beef is all from your natural family raised cattle?

      A.  Washington Beef custom processes our beef according to our specifications.  CNB cattle are the first cattle processed in the morning and two days later the first cattle fabricated into boxed beef.  Each Country Natural Beef animal has its own ear tag which is recorded at the time of slaughter.  Our program is under the supervision of the USDA with an approved carcass segregation program in place. We have worked with Washington Beef for well over a decade and have an excellent trusting business relationship.  Even if there were some type of an error in the processing, it would mean our beef would flow into their regular beef....not the other way around since we are the first beef on the line in the morning.  Country Natural Beef retains ownership and management of the boxed product to the retail cooler further ensuring the integrity of the program.

      Q.  You talk of sustainability and respect...how do you document those attributes?

      A.  We are third party certified by the Food Alliance www.foodalliance.org for our environmentally friendly and socially responsible ranching practices.  Washington Beef and our value added processing plant partners, besides being USDA inspected, are third party audited by Steritech for their humane handling practices and sanitation including routine bacteriological sampling.  Washington Beef has a unionized labor force.

      Q.  How about hormones, antibiotics, vegetarian feeds and the use of GMO’s (genetically modified feeds) ?

      A. Since our ranchers own their beef to retail, following a strict protocol to assure our federally approved label claims on never using hormones or antibiotics is critical to our program.  Likewise we feed an all vegetarian ration and never use feed additive antibiotics which includes never using ionophores.  Any animal that requires antibiotic treatment is identified and sold through traditional channels.  We make every effort to avoid the use of GMO feeds,  but science got ahead of nature on this technology.  Cross pollenization is now a reality that makes it impossible to completely verify this claim.

      Q.  With all this documentation why don’t you go an additional step and obtain organic certification?
      A.  Our ranchers combined operate on over 4 million acres.  It is virtually impossible to certify that much acreage particularly when many of our family ranches cattle spend part of the year on a public lands (Forest Service or Bureau of Land Mgt.) grazing permit.  These agencies no longer do widespread spraying, but do occasionally spray noxious weeds along the unfenced roadways in the grazing allotments.

      Someone once asked me if I had learned anything from going to war so many times. My reply: Yes, I learned how to cry.
      Joe Galloway

      by BOHICA on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:52:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is sick (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        willers

        Our cattle are pasture and range raised for approximately 16 months and then go to our gathering lot in Boardman, OR where they are fed a ration of potatoes, corn and alfalfa for approximately 3 months.

        No difference, really, than the rest of the country's commercial beef.

        Chris Dodd is our man to stop the Huckabee stampede!!

        by GW Chimpzilla on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 09:09:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree, and don't eat meat (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JuliaAnn, GW Chimpzilla

          This is part of the reason why. Have you ever driven by a feedlot? The stench will almost make you hurl (closing the windows and air vents is manditory), and the sight of cows up to their knees in their own shit, sometimes dropping newborn calves in lakes of pure shit, will make you want to cry.

          Spring is coming, America... and with it, hope once again.

          by willers on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 09:12:36 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The gathering lot (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          buckhorn okie

          Fine you don't like the beef industry. Here's some more on they're practices.
          ----------------------------------------------

          The Country Natural Beef "gathering lot", Beef Northwest, at Boardman, Oregon is owned by one of our ranch families.  It is the first step in the humane movement of our beef from a sustainable family ranch, into the food distribution network so beef can ultimately reach a significant number of urban eaters.   CNB animals spend an average of 89 days in this gathering lot which Pollan would classify as a CAFO (confined animal feeding operation)......His book paints a picture of a feedlot as a place where the goal is to put maximum weight on a beef animal as rapidly and inexpensively as possible.  Our gathering lot is different in that it’s purpose is to even out the flow of cattle and provide a consistent quality from the many and diverse Country Natural Beef  ranches....the point is to make sure a guaranteed number of the right quality cattle are available each week for processing to meet the needs of our retail partners.  This lot and the processing and distribution systems which Country Natural Beef partners with are critical elements in the individual family ranch’s sustainability.....ie.....on our own we have no way to reach urban customers other than though the traditional commodity market described by Pollan.  (This "third path" opportunity Country Natural Beef affords family ranches to de-commodify and produce for a known urban customer has restored a sense of pride in our family ranches that is immeasurable.)  

          The gathering lot is located in the center of a very large environmental award winning farm which grows a variety of crops including some organics on a rotation basis.  Corn is part of this rotation every four or five years.  All manure is returned to the land as a valuable natural fertilizer.  

          Cooked waste potatoes from nearby food processing plants which would probably go into a landfill without a ruminant to eat them make up over half the ration for the 89 day average stay in the lot.   The balance of the ration is hay, by products from the human grain milling industry, and corn most of which is grown on the surrounding farm. This diet is user friendly to our cattle’s rumen’s and requires no antibiotics to artificially assist digestion.

          Link

          Someone once asked me if I had learned anything from going to war so many times. My reply: Yes, I learned how to cry.
          Joe Galloway

          by BOHICA on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 09:34:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Most feed corn (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      buckhorn okie, murrayewv

      is high in cellulose and low in starch. Ruminants like cattle can extract energy from it, but humans can't. So it can't replace meat as a human food, and with current technology, it's not a good source of ethanol either.

      •  Right: We'd need to choose which corn (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Alice in Florida

        or other crops to grow, instead of feed corn. It's not the case that we could just stop feeding feed corn to cattle and give it to people, it has to be a change of goals.

        ::::::::::::::::::::::::::
        More fun than talkin' about Anne Counter's giant Adam's Apple ! [Cue Austin Powers] "It's a MAN, baby!"

        by Cenobyte on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 07:23:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  what if the corn is genetically engineered..... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      buckhorn okie, SnowCountry

      to make better oil with a better ethanol yield?

      Genetically modified (GM) Bt corn, through the pest protection that it confers, has lower levels of mycotoxins: toxic and carcinogenic chemicals produced as secondary metabolites of fungi that colonize crops. In some cases, the reduction of mycotoxins afforded by Bt corn is significant enough to have an economic impact, both in terms of domestic markets and international trade. In less developed countries where certain mycotoxins are significant contaminants of food, Bt corn adoption, by virtue of its mycotoxin reduction, may even improve human and animal health.

      simpler language- less insect infestation from corn worms = less fungus.  Fungus that we test for in the US but which is a significant health risk- aflatoxins.  It is a bigger problem worldwide, and especially in stored foods.

      pubmed link

      Yields on corn and cotton are also up, and less pesticides are used when the BT corn is planted.  This makes them more energy efficient.  No till farming is more energy efficient as well.  I know this runs counter to conventional wisdom here, but the studies bear this out.  Farmers are business people and increased yields mean more for less.  Ethanol is embraced because right now when their yileds go up, their prices go down.  If ethanol production were an outlet for additional sales, their prices would go up overall, since they could sell into additional markets.  Then the yields would go up, since there would be a point to this.

      I agree there is a lot of hype regarding ethanol, but this hype has been around for more than 20 years.  Cellulosic ethanol, made from agricultural waste, is a big area for transforming materials into fuel.  This is a good idea for some crops.  Silage has been transforming corn waste into food for milk cows for many years.

      Finally, many right wing personalities will consider the logical suggestion that one eats lower on the food chain to be depriving people of their rights to eat meat.  Radical vegetatians are frequently the boogie man of the right wing.  We need to find a way to make being a vegetarian as a solution less oppressive and more positive.

      You may mock this concern or be offended, but trumped up issues win elections.  We have Bush in part because he was so good at convincing states like WV to vote against their economic self interest out of fear Gore would somehow take their guns.  Republicans will begin pushing that Democrats are left wing vegie tree huggers if we turn our back on science to make decisions.  Folks are convinced GM foods are evil and dangerous with very little scientific evidence.  Given the huge experiment of people and animals eating this food every day, wouldn't some trend be obvious by now?  USDA funded studies beginning in 2000 to look for effects- where is the data?

      We need to be less fearful and more data driven.  What sort of study would convince you GM foods are safe or dangerous?  Ask for such a study to be performed and then really consider the data with an open mind.

      BTW- I agree being a vegetarian and supporting your food choices with your pocketbook is correct.  But I strongly urge this never become a policy for an election or we will lose.

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 07:19:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I would agree with you if not for the industry (0+ / 0-)

        I am a science-based person, and I believe in good studies to prove things out.  But part of the problem is that Genetically Engineered food technology was released without proper study.  The industry continues to mock the need for studies, and the government basically says "trust us" (where have we heard that before?).  Plus, GE causes me some issues as a vegetarian; what is a tomato with a fish gene in it supposed to be?

        I understand the right does make vegetarians "boogie men", but just like we stood up to them on the Iraq war, we need to stand up to them on issues like this, because they will slam us no matter what we do.

      •  some trend? (0+ / 0-)

        Perhaps the studies which would prove / disprove GM food safety aren't being done in the USA?

        Uproar in EU as Secret Monsanto Documents Reveal Significant Damage to Lab Rats Fed GE Corn

        Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

        by alizard on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 01:28:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If there were a real independent study.... (0+ / 0-)

          showing this effect it would be a new York Times Headline.  Some old Monsanto data, not even mentioning what gene was involved.... not very credible.  There could easily be an independent lab replicating this study- but where is the data?

          Let me take a neutral position on Monsanto and drug companies in general here.  The FDA requires companies to do all the research showing their product is safe (in the case of food) and effective (in the case of drugs).  Farmers want to see effectiveness data before paying a premium for seeds.  there is no move to eliminate the FDA and establish a neutral branch of the government that will do final acceptance testing for drugs.  Would that testing be charged back to companies and passed along to consumers?  Would the taxpayers shoulder the burden?

          The system we currently have is more like an IRS audit- the FDA rides in on a white horse and scares everyone shitless during the audits.  Some stuff slips past the audits.  That is what is alleged in your article- that Monsanto did a study and showed a problem and somehow the FDA didn't find this or ifnored this or Monsanto explained away this data by repeating the studies and showing it wasn't a preproducible problem.  

          You line up a bunch of rats and make them smoke, they get sick.  Every time, some get sick.  You line up the rats and feed them gm corn and they get sick (or some get sick) time after time, you have the basis for a rejection.  You give them GM corn one experiment, they get sick and then you do it 3 other times with no problems. maybe there was an experimental problem.

          You may allege, fraud- cover-up.  Certainly that is what is alleged now for some arthritis drugs and heart problems that were linked.  And without independent experiments and only FDA inspections to rely on, you can allege this, since there could be these sorts of things going on.  I am a scientist and I have seen scientists mislead themselves about data before- not intending fraud, just interpreting data they way they wanted to see it go.  But I strongly doubt a Monsanto scientist would commit intentional fraud for the sake of GM food, knowing anyone could repeat the experiment and find him or her out.  And there are double-blind controls and companies can send things out to independent clinical testing labs, who may not have a financial link to the company paying for the tests.

          My deep experience in science and business tells me, a truly independent assessment of quality of drugs and food is needed but will be costly.  Without such an independent assessment, you will be well able to fear technology, since scientists and business people are human.

          In its absence, I would hope people could refer to the original data not the sensationalist news stories to figure out the truth.  Where is the reference to the actual data in the study in the article?  Not there.

          Bt and herbicide resistant corn and soybeans have had a huge public health test in humans, and there should be studies done to track the differences in health.  But these are hard to do- people who eat organic avoid other pesticides, and probably eat more fruits and vegetables and more healthfully in general.    

          BTW- never did work for Monsanto, but I know some folks who did.  They aren't the best employer, but the scientists I knew were honest people.  My thought is that oversight could be increased, but no one proposes anything concrete for this-they just complain.   And no candidate is likely to propose something expensive and radically different when we can't even get health insurance for all citizens.

          You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

          by murrayewv on Tue Mar 27, 2007 at 06:16:22 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Some facts on meat consumption (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      buckhorn okie, sxwarren, Karyn

      ...courtesy of this site:

      *Amount released by clearing and burning enough Costa Rican rainforest to produce beef for one hamburger:  75 kilograms

      *Water required to produce 1 lb. of California foods, according to Soil & Water specialists, University of California Agricultural Extension,  working with livestock advisors:

      1 pound of lettuce ~  23 gallons

      1 pound of tomatoes ~ 23 gallons

      1 pound of potatoes ~ 24 gallons

      1 pound of wheat ~ 25 gallons

      1 pound of carrots ~ 33 gallons

      1 pound of apples ~ 49 gallons

      1 pound of chicken ~ 815 gallons

      1 pound of pork ~ 1,630 gallons

      1 pound of beef ~ 2,500 gallons*

      Also, see here and here.

      Thank you for visiting Raising Kaine, the voice of Progressive Virginia.

      by lowkell on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 08:10:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Interesting. Now, as to protein content (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        buckhorn okie, Karyn

        I'm guessing that beef has a higher percentage of digestible protein calories per pound than wheat flour, but nowhere near 100 times higher.  I suppose that using beef as a source of protein only makes sense if the cattle are consuming something that isn't useful to humans as food and is growing in places where it wouldn't be cost effective to grow human-consumable crops.

        And then there's the comparative total greenhouse gas budget.  How much total greenhouse gas is released in getting one pound of beef to the table versus one pound of wheat?

        "You are coming to a sad realization. CANCEL or ALLOW?"

        by sxwarren on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 08:38:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Beans and eggs. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JuliaAnn, sxwarren, Karyn

          Been a vegetarian for about 16 years. I eat a lot of beans and eggs (yes, from my own chickens, which get a lot of table scraps, bugs and fresh greens).

          Another point is that too much protein is bad for your body -- the whole 1970s obsession with vegetarians getting enough protein is bunk.

          Spring is coming, America... and with it, hope once again.

          by willers on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 09:15:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yep. That's the way to do it. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            buckhorn okie, willers

            And, as I recall, the human body turns excess protein into fat faster than it does excess carbohydrates.

            But my concerns about protein (apart from obvious inequities in distribution) are as follows:

            Human social organization schemes, especially human economic systems, are, at their core, energy acquisition and distribution systems - energy in terms of calories, i.e., feeding ourselves and each other.

            So - what is the sum total annual caloric requirement of the current human population and the projected human population?  How much are we currently producing?  How much more can we reasonably expect to produce? And how much total energy, in calories, are we currently expending to meet those requirements?   What are the most resource-conservative methods for producing the required calories?  Are we over-producing protein calories?  If so, at what excess resource expenditure?  How is the dwindling availability of the hydrocarbon resources that are critical to current food production and distribution systems likely to affect the output of these systems, in global numeric values?  What direct effect might altered temperature and precipitation patterns attributable to climate changes caused by Global Warming (as well as indirect effects like loss of pollinators, increases in pest populations, etc.) have on the net output of these systems in terms of global numeric values?

            I suspect that we're in deep manure when it comes to these numbers and that we're going to be way over our heads in that manure long before rising ocean levels start swamping the major coastal cities of the developed world.  However, AFAIK, nobody is attempting to answer these questions, so we don't really have any idea how deep we're in already, much less how fast we're sinking.

            "You are coming to a sad realization. CANCEL or ALLOW?"

            by sxwarren on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 10:03:01 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Wow, great questions. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              sxwarren

              Here's another one: What is the ideal amount of protein intake for the human body?

              Oh, and nuts. Another great source of vegetable protein which I enjoy eating much of. Walnuts or sliced almonds on morning oatmeal... mmmmm.... I planted a walnut and an almond tree 2 years ago... some day they'll produce food!

              The primary source of protein for the CA Indians was the acorn, not meat (which they did eat plenty of when they could get it, of course). Just a fun factiod.

              Spring is coming, America... and with it, hope once again.

              by willers on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 10:15:21 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  'Ideal' amounts vs. general averages. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                buckhorn okie

                The amount of protein required, like total calories, varies a lot among individuals and needs to factor in body type and daily activity level.  A huskily-built farmworker needs significantly more protein to maintain the required muscle mass than would a naturally slender office worker who doesn't work out.  While it's possible to generalize about "average" daily requirements, this does raise issues about efficiencies in food calorie distribution systems vs. idealized "equitability".  In thinking about building more efficient food calorie distribution schemes, would some see it as unfair to ensure that people engaged in physical labor have better/cheaper access to protein calories than those who are not?

                (yeah, I know, this is all getting extremely abstract)

                Another interesting factoid is that corn, even the very early domesticated versions, doesn't produce nearly as much protein per pound as wheat it also took thousands of years longer to adequately domesticate into a viable food crop than wheat - one of the reasons (according to Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel) that Eurasian societies developed faster than native American societies.

                Which brings me to my point about all this, which follows from Diamond's hypothesis.  Domestication of food crops, which lead to a system of fewer hands feeding larger numbers on a more continuous basis, a development that concomitantly disfavored nomadic and hunter/gatherer lifestyles, was critical to the development of more complex human social organization schemes and, subsequently, technology (for better or worse).  

                So - all of our current complex social organization and especially our grand, sophisticated technological infrastructure is like an upside down pyramid balanced on a food production/distribution system that may be far more fragile than we know, since its current form is, in turn, critically dependent on maintaining that very complex social organization and technological infrastructure, as well as a continuation of the unusually stable and "friendly" ecosystem and climate that has existed since before the beginning of recorded human history - throughout the dramatic and relatively swift development of human society and technology.

                What happens if/when our ability to produce/distribute sufficient food calories to maintain the delicate balance of this magnificent house of cards begins to degrade?  Do we, as many have suggested, simply go back to each of us feeding ourselves?  Will that realistically work?  Is anybody out (who has any power to do something about this) there really paying attention to this?

                "You are coming to a sad realization. CANCEL or ALLOW?"

                by sxwarren on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 11:36:36 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  My head hurts. 8-) (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  sxwarren

                  Do we, as many have suggested, simply go back to each of us feeding ourselves?  Will that realistically work?

                  No, because it's never been done this way. Humans tend to clump up into groups and help each other produce food, whether through agriculture or hunter/gatherer methods (yes, my college major was anthropology, why do you ask?) 8-)

                  And I love your sig. Ha. Red pill or blue pill?

                  Spring is coming, America... and with it, hope once again.

                  by willers on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 03:00:51 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  Whena new ETOH plant opens up (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SecondComing, buckhorn okie

    here in Wisconsin, we are supposed to clap and cheer.  Around here, in farm country, ETOH is dogma, and heavily pandered.

    A Brazilian friend of mine will not talk beyond the "the carbon relased has not been long sequestered" argument. It must be dogma down there, too.

    "Life rolls on in George W. Bush's America, forcing us to invent a new word -- greeed" --Molly Ivins

    by rhubarb on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:45:40 AM PDT

    •  carbon neutral fuel biomass. . . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rhubarb

      Sugar cane produces far more energy per pound recoverable in the form of ethanol than corn does.

      IMO, it's a reasonable solution for Brazil. But Brazil is not the USA and corn is not sugar cane.

      Some solutions are locale-specific. Finland has plenty of hydro and geothermal energy, making hydrogen viable for them. And for practically nobody else. Anyone blathering about a hydrogen future for America doesn't quite get that WE don't have that kind of availability for non-fossil fuel electricity.

      Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 01:33:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  As Kunstler says (11+ / 0-)

    virtually all the energy discussion, on both the right and the left, centers around how do we keep all the cars running by other means than oil?

    Ain't going to happen. The real question is how do we keep civilization going without all the cars?

    His blog is a good reality check.

    News is what they don't want you to know. Everything else is publicity. --Bill Moyers

    by RobLewis on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:51:46 AM PDT

    •  Exactly. People are so focused on (5+ / 0-)

      maintaining our fossil-fuel-based, sprawl way of life,  they are desperate for any "solution." Hence, the corn-based ethanol (and, to a lesser extent, Brazilian sugarcane) distraction.

      Thank you for visiting Raising Kaine, the voice of Progressive Virginia.

      by lowkell on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:54:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  George Monbiot addresses this in "Heat" (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eugene, espresso, buckhorn okie, willers

      saying that Al Gore has it half right, but doesn't get around to talking about the austerity measures that we must do, e.g. give up our random car trips and have warehouse hucksters come to our houses to deliver what we need instead.  He guesses that our rapid embracing of "swap one light bulb for a CFL" could pave the way for genuinely helpful measures, or it could be all we ever muster the will to do.

      "Life rolls on in George W. Bush's America, forcing us to invent a new word -- greeed" --Molly Ivins

      by rhubarb on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:56:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It once was common (5+ / 0-)

        to have dairy and green grocer trucks delivering several times a week. Older apartment buildings had small 'closets' with 2 doors - inside and on the hallway - used for food deliveries.

        Increased mobility did away with this, but part of it was the ability to see the food your were buying before you paid for it.  And at the time it was cheaper to go shopping yourself than to have it delivered.

        One other related aspect. I remember when the first supermarket went in near where I lived, it seemed like there was more fresh stuff in all houses of the group of kids I was in. I suspect it might have in part been  that at that time it was easier to keep produce cool and moist in a non-mobile store setting than in a truck going around the neighborhood.

      •  "Heat" huh? Recommended, but... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jxg

        Was Monbiot the Pacino character, DeNiro or the Val Kilmer character? Was he a bank robber, or a cop?

        "The Lord loves a working Man; Don't trust Whitey; See a doctor, and get rid of it."

        by FischFry on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 08:33:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Precisely (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joynow, buckhorn okie, JuliaAnn

      I was going to post the same thing. The solution isn't to find oil alternatives that will allow us to maintain this same car-based lifestyle, but build capacity and cities and lifestyles that don't require the automobile. Too many people think we can prolong the 1950s forever. We can't.

      I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

      by eugene on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 07:59:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  People are not going to give up (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      buckhorn okie, RobLewis, sooner

      personal mobility.  Trips around the corner with a Hummer to get a few groceries will need to go, but I think it is NOT the case that all forms of personal transport must go.  We simply will have to be A LOT more efficient (think 100 mpg).  Technology is available now to do it, albeit at a higher cost.  Some sacrifices will be necessary as a result, but there is no way people will give up personal transportation - not without one helluva fight.  

      The intrinsic nature of Power is such that those who seek it most are least qualified to wield it.

      by mojo workin on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 08:13:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The tragedy of the commons? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        buckhorn okie, JuliaAnn

        Yep, I fear that all the concern about Amazon rain forests, endangered species, climate change, the whole thing, will go out the window the day people are told they can no longer afford to make a beer run to the 7-11 on a whim. Did you know the average suburban household accounts for 13 car trips per day?

        I'm reminded of the British travel executive who, in a recent article on the approaching end to affordable air travel, said something like "We think being able to go where you want, when you want, is a pretty fundamental right."

        And that "right" is guaranteed where, exactly? Talk about denial!

        BTW, one of Kunstler's big issues is: why is no politician, Republican or Democrat, campaigning to rebuild our incredibly decrepit passenger rail system?

        News is what they don't want you to know. Everything else is publicity. --Bill Moyers

        by RobLewis on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 10:29:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Fightin' words (0+ / 0-)

        there is no way people will give up personal transportation - not without one helluva fight.

        Well, then let the fight begin. This kind of short-sighted, greedy, ain't-gonna-change-my-ways thinking is a huge part of our energy problem.

        If we work together now and immediately to alter what we do -- including the institution of a lot of measures that would be tough indeed (at first) -- then maybe we can ensure that all of us have a future. If we don't, the rich will win, and the rest of us will die or watch our numbers severely reduced.

        "There are four boxes to use in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, ammo. Use in that order." Ed Howdershelt

        by JuliaAnn on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 12:53:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  if we put this to the people of the world (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        buckhorn okie

        as a choice between personal transportation and global warming, people will be vacationing on Rocky Mountain oceanfront property before anything gets done.

        Efficient personal transportation from renewable sources is doable. The other agenda has more to do with imposing lifestyle choices on people some think desirable than a real attempt to fix climate change before it fixes us.

        In this context, "the perfect" (as defined by making private automobiles illegal) is the mortal enemy of "the good" (100+ mpg vehicles burning carbon-neutral biofuel).

        Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

        by alizard on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 01:43:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Kunstler impresses me (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      buckhorn okie

      with his airy dismissal of alternative / renewable energy AND HIS COMPLETE IGNORANCE OF ALTERNATIVE ENERGY TECHNOLOGY IN PRODUCTION OR IN PROGRESS. You need go no further than his website to verify this.

      Look for ANYTHING he's ever written to search for any evidence he's got a clue about any form of alternative energy technology. I wasted about an hour on that some time back. . . all the bleating in the world that "it's impossible" isn't worth a single decent engineering study.

      If you're consuming Kunstler as food for thought, you're eating shit. My biggest question about him is . . . who's he shilling for, Big Oil, Big Coal, or Big Nuclear?

      Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 01:38:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Kunstler isn't saying there will NEVER be (0+ / 0-)

        viable alternative energy. I think his main points are:

        1. We are nowhere near ready for the transition from a fossil fuel economy. This means there will be great pain when the oil begins to run out (what he calls the Long Emergency).
        1. People in power refuse to take the problem seriously.
        1. There is no combination of alternative energy technologies on the horizon that will fully replace cheap, concentrated fuel that just comes up out of the ground.
        1. People who simply take it on faith that some technology will come along that will allow us to keep running the "easy motoring" economy without, at a minimum, an extremely painful and lengthy transition are delusional.

        News is what they don't want you to know. Everything else is publicity. --Bill Moyers

        by RobLewis on Mon Mar 26, 2007 at 07:17:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  *"Our most fertile lands are (11+ / 0-)

    already dedicated to food production."

    Wrong!

    Our most fertile farming lands are now under the urban sprawl.

    We have paved over the best lands or build our homes, office building, and shopping centers on our richest farm lands.

    We as a nation are farming our most marginal lands. It does not bold well for us in the future.

    Think of it this way, Issac Asimov in his classic trilogy "Founations". The home planet, center of government, of the empire entire surface was paved over. After the colapse of the government the the surface was reclaimed and the metal and buildings were removed and farming began again.

    We too are paving over the most fertile lands.

    Demand the Truth in America

    by EasyRider on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:54:41 AM PDT

  •  Ethanol requires fossil fuels to produxe, not (6+ / 0-)

    There is some accuracy in these statements but there are also some absolute howlers that the paid shills for the oil industry have been pushing for years this is one of them:

    *"...it takes a lot of "old" fossil energy to make it: diesel to run tractors, natural gas to make fertilizer and, of course, fuel to run the refineries that convert corn to ethanol."

    The old oil industry argument that ethanol was net energy negative because they must have our products to make their products is basically bunkum.  Tractors can run on biodeisel, biomass can produce methane and the ethanol or biomass can be used to run refineries.  Ethanol from corn is not efficient, particularly if you take prime land to do it, ethanol from sugar cane is not realistic for most of the Northern hemisphere, but we have lots of other crops that could make it possible, biodiesel from soy is possible and ethanol from sugar beet is possible.

    One other suggestion, it is not just the USA, one would think that the republicans would consider a global market.  Look at all of the arable land that has been set aside in the US and Europe, look at all of the sugar cane plantations now shuttered in the Caribbean, think about the impact on African farming if the people there actually had a market for their product.  Ethanol should only be one leg of the solution, conservation and other alternate energy sources will be required, but let’s at least get the oil industry talking points off the table.

    every night I pray "lord God save me from your followers"

    by Bloke on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:55:14 AM PDT

    •  Wind and solar (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      buckhorn okie, drewfromct, Karyn

      for nitrogen fixation, the big energy consumer related to fertilizers. The Energize America guys have that as a point. in their plans.

    •  The Washington Post (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Karyn, Loonesta

      that bastion of rational thought and progressive ideals.  HA!

      I obviously don't know the process in which the diarist came to their conclusions, but regardless of the reasoning, the final product very much mimics some of the petroleum industry talking points I've been hearing for years (we invested in an ethanol company back in the 70's, and lost all of our modest ante).

      2 points:

      1. The petroleum industry very much wants to preserve the status quo of energy coming through their means.  This covers not only the product, but the method of production.  Even if some of us owned some oil (or natural gas) producing land, we don't have the equipment, nor the milions of dollars to buy the equipment, to "harvest" it.  They are not interested at all in the method of production being changed to where any farmer and/or country could start producing fuel without them.
      1.  Most of the protein (food) is not destroyed during biofuel production. The process leaves a by-product of high-concentrated protein, used extensively in all kind of animal (and humans are animals too) food.   Thus biofuel productions would only be destroying foodstuffs if the byproduct is thrown away, which it wouldn't be, because there is already a vast market for the high-concentrated protein.  
      •  I don't see (0+ / 0-)

        where you get the idea that the diarist is recycling Big Oil talking points ... the idea that biodiesel can replace petroleum diesel on the farm is hardly something that ExxonMobil wants the world to know about.

        I DO see that you are recycling ADM's talking points about the wonders of conventional agriculture grown corn. . . which have been rejected by pretty much anyone with serious expertise in alternative energy.

        Is there something you'd like to tell us. . . about any business relationship you have with any major agribusinesses or PR firms under contract to agribusiness?

        Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

        by alizard on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 01:49:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  My disclosure (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Loonesta

          After 19 years in SF and NYC, my wife and I returned to Indiana a few years ago, mainly to assist my father continue to farm.  We are on one of the few "family farms" left, with my soon to be 85 year old father farming 200 acres with basically only our help.  We produce corn and soybeans.

          The original 90 acres has been farmed by our family since the 1800s, and the additional acres were luckily paid off in the 1970s, before the farm economy (and interest rates) went south.

          No one farming this few acres, has been able to recapitalize themselves to keep up.  Our meager profits, which amount to about 22-24K can keep my parents going, but we have not bought a new piece of equipment for 15 years.  We don't fix fences, we remove them.  Barns are falling down, but there's nothing else to do about them.

          The modest wealth that countless farming communities had up until around the 70s has been drained dry.  Now most land has either been snapped up into much larger agribusinesses, or sold off for housing lots.  America is full on becoming a feudal-type system, where the people working the land do not own it.  

          30 years ago there would have been a few hundred owner-farmers in our small county, each earning a living farming 50-300 acres.  Now there are a scant few, farming 1500-5000.  When you farm that many acres, there is no way to take care of the land like at 200, but its the only way to even have a chance of making it.

          No one has said that ethanol production is perfect, but it does have potential to raise the price enough to roll this recent history back a bit, although its probably too late.

          The claim that ethanol is immoral because of using food for fuel is ridiculous and yes, an oil company talking point.  As I stated before, the protein content is largely unaffected and still available for food products.  If you refute this, then please explain the chemistry where the protein-value is destroyed by alcohol extraction.

          Of course, most of the American corn crop goes to high fructose corn syrup, not to feed the masses.  I'm not sure if the price of soda or Captain Crunch goes up with ethanol or not.  Hopefully it does.

          •  I didn't say ag-based ethanol was immoral (0+ / 0-)

            just inefficient in terms of both land use and energy conversion from solar to biofuel.

            You got verifiable numbers for EROEI better than 2.5:1? Then we've got something to talk about.

            Farmers have been looking at higher prices for energy corn as potential salvation.

            The solution won't scale up, so in the long run, I expect farmers to get out of biofuels that they will be BUYING from sewage - algae biofuel plants... a somewhat higher price than for petrodiesel, but stable pricing and supply availability.

            Good disclosure.

            Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

            by alizard on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 04:55:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  you didn't say it was immoral (0+ / 0-)

              but the diarist did.  Sorry to incorrectly group you together.

              It may be inefficient in terms of energy conversion, but not in regards to land use.

              Is it your assertion that Western-style agriculture is inefficient?  I don't have evidence that it is not, just the anecdotes from my dad that on any one day of the harvest, we bring in many times more corn than they did in "the old days".  I know there are hidden costs in environmental damage or soil depletion, but still, is this your assertion?

              Because it is my assertion that we could produce biofuels on the acreage we ALREADY HAVE IN CORN AND SOYBEAN PRODUCTION, and not lose any food production. (In fact, a higher and/or stable price could actually help the food supply, through a better economy for farmers and farm communities (not just ADM).  

              Again, I've asked repeatedly in this diary for the chemisty explanation of where and how the protein content of the raw foodstuffs is lost or destroyed though the fuel-making process.  I'm not a chemist, but I'm pretty certain it does not.  If this is the case, and biofuels from corn and soybeans can be produced at a marginal price similar to fossil fuels (remembering too that 1. the costs would be spent domestically, 2. that transportation costs both for the crop and the final product would be greatly reduced over the present scenario, and 3. that such a scenario would likely be the end of gov't price supports) then we should produce it.  Obviously not to the exclusion of the other methods you assert, but produce it nonetheless.

              •  you made an extraordinary statement (0+ / 0-)

                It's for you to provide the extraordinary proof.

                We need 400 million gallons of petroleum or a biofuel equivalent fuel every day to provide for the transporation needs of America alone.

                Since the energy content of ethanol is about 2/3 that of petroleum, let's make that 600M gallons.

                All you have to do is prove that it's possible using known/existing American farmland under cultivation in corn and soybeans to generate 600M gallons a day without impacting food production.

                I recommend using a spreadsheet to help you keep track of the numbers, most of us can read Excel files.

                Solve the problem with numbers that hold up and you can probably get a job at ADM or with any number of farm lobbying groups immediately.

                Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

                by alizard on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:20:28 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I have never made the claim it can provide (0+ / 0-)

                  the entire transportation needs of the USA, thus I do not have to provide proof of it.  I can't think of anyone making this claim, and if they are, they are wrong.  

                  If you read through my comments, you will find I have only mentioned that every vehicle on the road now could take a 10% mix without modification.  That is hardly 600 million gallons.  

                  My comment on lowering  transportation costs referred to the fact that our corn now is trucked 50 miles to barges on the Ohio River, then mostly on to  New Orleans.  I assume the fuel we use is presumably from the Middle East or perhaps Venezuela (does Chaves still sell to us?), and refined, coincidentally around New Orleans and shipped back up here.  Significantly reducing these distances is what I refer to as lower transportation costs, as they have commenced construction on an ethanol plant about 30 miles from where we live.

                  As far as spreadsheets, I am well familiar with them, and unless you are an extremely advanced user, I can probably give you some Excel tips.  Otherwise, please stop with the demeaning tone.  I noted that I incorrectly ascribed the "immoral" point to you, will you acknowledge that you have incorrectly ascribed "biofulels can be the entire fuel solution" to me?

                  Futhermore, point me to a link that explains what happens to the protein in biofuel production.  

      •  Alternatives (0+ / 0-)

        I don't think that the diarist is shilling for Big Oil. I think that his point is that Ethanol is being touted as "The Answer" by a number of politicians when it is in fact not really well suited to be a large scale substitue for oil. His point in the last paragraph is that we should use clean renewable energy such as solar, wind, tidal, etc. to power our cars via electricity. This idea while sounding a bit utopian is probably not as far-off as you might think. Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle's are being worked on by all of the major car companies for commercialization and they currently are running the roads by people who have customized their Priuses. We also have non-carbon emitting electric generation technologies currently available ( solar, wind, geothermal and hopefully universal geothermal soon, nuclear, tidal, etc.) to power these vehicles. My two cents.

        •  I don't think they are knowingly doing it... (0+ / 0-)

          But I am reminded of similar discussions where my Manhattan friends had heard that cars couldn't go as fast on ethanol.  Or that it would be harder on engines.  Both outright falsehoods.

          I also want to move to solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, and hydrogen, but we have to walk before we run.  Every car on this planet can burn a 10% mix with NO MODIFICATIONS.  Tell people who are barely paying their bills, or barely eating, farmer or otherwise, that they have to retool everything they own at great expense.  

          Biofuels are not the total solution, but do the math on a 10% solution.  Take 10% of the money flowing out of this country for foreign oil and instead recycle it back to the rural areas of the country.  Don'f forget the multiplier effect as this money continues to circulate through the economy.  And if its true that all this would cause a rise in the price of corn and soybeans, be sure to reduce the federal deficit by the amount of the price subsidies currently paid.

          Finally, in regards to the "no food for fuel" cry, I ask again to see the chemistry on how ethanol production doesn't leave us with nearly all the protein value as a leftover, still available for foodstuffs. ut I am reminded of a similar discussion where my Manhattan friends had heard that cars couldn't go as fast on ethanol.  Or that it would be harder on engines.  Both outright falsehoods.

          I also want to move to solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, and hydrogen, but we have to walk before we run.  Every car on this planet can burn a 10% mix with NO MODIFICATIONS.  Tell people who are barely paying their bills, or barely eating, farmer or otherwise, that they have to retool everything they own at great expense.  

          Biofuels are not the total solution, but do the math on a 10% solution.  Take 10% of the money flowing out of this country for foreign oil and instead recycle it back to the rural areas of the country.  Don'f forget the multiplier effect as this money continues to circulate through the economy.  And if its true that all this would cause a rise in the price of corn and soybeans, be sure to reduce the federal deficit by the amount of the price subsidies currently paid.

          Finally, in regards to the "no food for fuel" cry, I ask again to see the chemistry on how ethanol production doesn't leave us with nearly all the protein value as a leftover, still available for foodstuffs.

  •  Did ya hear that, Barak Obama? (8+ / 0-)

    Get the hell off the ethanol pork wagon.

    Essential funk: 'Indictment' by Antibalas

    by pontechango on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 07:28:05 AM PDT

  •  Pipelines (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JuliaAnn, willers, MyBrainWorks

    One big drawback of ethanol is that it can't be transported by pipelines, it needs to be delivered by truck.

    •  Butanol better than ethanol (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      davybaby, mojo workin

      Butanol (C<sub>4</sub>H<sub>10</sub>) can be shipped by pipeline (unlike ethanol, it doesn't suck so much moisture from the air that the pipeline rusts and the water has to be distilled out). It can be burned in cars without redesigning, adjustments or gadgets. It also evaporates (pollutes) slower. Contains more energy than ethanol too.

      There is a promising new process for making it by using a different micro-organism than the one that makes ethanol, but it's still experimental. Find out more here.

    •  wrong (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      buckhorn okie

      it can't be transferred by unmodified oil pipelines because they aren't watertight... water leaking into an alcohol stream can make the fuel unusable.

      Building water-tight pipelines suitable for alcohol sounds like a solvable engineering problem to me. The reason this hasn't been done is that there hasn't been the demand up to now.

      Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 01:54:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  If - - (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    buckhorn okie

    We couldn't - or wouldn't - feed the hungry when food and fuel were plentiful,
    What makes you think we will when they are scarce?

  •  Wind power map of the United States (5+ / 0-)


    Courtesy of NREL.

    Thank you for visiting Raising Kaine, the voice of Progressive Virginia.

    by lowkell on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 08:00:45 AM PDT

  •  Green gas (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    buckhorn okie, Karyn

    Methane (natural gas) can be produced by microorgansims digesting organic matter in the absence of oxygen. Some is already harvested from garbage (landfills) and sewage, but more could be done, including farm waste (manure & cornstalks/straw/etc.)

    The residue is sludge (fertilizer). Really the only environmental cost is land to build the treatment plants, plus a little energy to clean and pump the gas (could be solar or wind power). Some carbon dioxide is produced, but since all carbon was originally taken out of the air by plants, it's carbon-neutral overall.

  •  Excellent diary, hype only hurts us (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    buckhorn okie, wonmug, drewfromct, Karyn

    This is an excellent diary. We have lots of problems, many of which must be solved simultaneously or in the next few years.
    We will never stay out of the Middle East unless we do something serious about petroleum consumption. There are ways to do that, but they involve sacrifice. Our traditional politicians say, everything is great, nobody has to sacrifice and we have to buy off special interest groups such as Iowa farmers and AIPAC. That's what we hear from the weathervanes: Clinton, Edwards, and Obama.

    I'm hoping that the vanes deadlock in the early primaries and that someone comes in from the wings who will talk about sacrifice and make it stick. Not easy, but...otherwise, we may be out of Iraq and fighting in Syria or Pakistan in a few years. Keep up your good work, lowkell

  •  EXACTLY. (4+ / 0-)

    Thank you SO much for taking the time to spell out the myths about ethanol. I've been saying the same things you've been saying, here and elsewhere... people want a magic solution so very badly that they are willing to look the other way and stick their fingers in their ears. I encounter the same willful ignorance around all these "alternatives" that really aren't, including hydrogen, biodiesel, coal, electricity and so on.

    People seem happy to ignore the energy-intensive processes to make the fuel, and in the fact that every year we burn up about 400 years' worth of all life on earth from the various prehistoric eras, and one year of some plant crops cannot replace that amount of energy (see biodiesel link above).

    VERY glad this made the Rec list.

    Spring is coming, America... and with it, hope once again.

    by willers on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 08:23:13 AM PDT

  •  asdf (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drewfromct, Karyn, Loonesta

    The problem is that everyone looks at everything as black or white, either/or.  That is not the case.  Now that all of these alternative fuels are out there - it will just take some good old fashioned American ingenuity to combine them into a viable solution to becoming independent from the oil rich middle east.  Wind, Solar, ethanol, hydrogen, water power, we have it all.  Let's put our heads together to make it work rather than running around saying no no no no to every idea.

    * 3236 * http://icasualties.org/oif/

    by BDA in VA on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 08:49:16 AM PDT

  •  The really scary thing about ... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    buckhorn okie, drewfromct, Karyn

    ... increasing the demand for agricultural starch and sugar (aka corn, sugar cane, ...) is that it is going to make beverage ethanol a whole lot more expensive.

    It's time to get serious about renewables and efficiency. It's time to win the oil endgame.

    by by foot on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 09:03:57 AM PDT

  •  the majority of corn (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    easong, buckhorn okie, JuliaAnn, Karyn

    grown now goes to produce high fructose corn syrup, not food...high fructose corn syrup has zero nutritional value and is a huge contributor to the growing weight problem in this country.

  •  Even if the Food Supply Was Not an Issue (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    buckhorn okie, JuliaAnn, Karyn

    Let's say every drop of pertroleum is replaced by ethanol, and there is a net energy gain, and there is still plenty of food. Just for the sake of argument.

    What is going to happen when you burn that ethanol?

    It's going to make carbon dioxide.

    Where is that going to go?

    Same place it goes when you burn petroleum.

    The future is not in burning ethanol as fuel. It's not in burning anything.

    George W. Bush is just like Forrest Gump. Except that Forrest Gump is honest and cares about other people.

    by easong on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 09:17:56 AM PDT

    •  no... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Karyn

      It is not going to the same place as when you burn petroleum, rather it is taken up by the plants again as they grow up on the fiend the next year.

      In short, the big difference is that with renewable sources, you use carbon which is already part of the cycle as a carrier of energy, but with oil you use carbon from outside the cycle, thus adding to the total amount.

      Apart from that, I am happy that this diary makes some well-needed points.

  •  Cellulosic ethanol (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JuliaAnn, Karyn

    I am also not a big believer in ethanol for our future energy needs. Already 14% of the corn production in US supplies ONLY 2% of our transportation energy needs. So one can see the scaling up will NOT work. But I am told that cellulosic ethanol from strawgrass and other types of bio-available sources might be a good alternative to at least try out. UC Berkeley has now announced a huge BP funded ($500M) center on bio-fuels.

    At Caltech, I am organizing a 1 day conference called California Clean Innovation 2007: Energy & Transportation

    We have a number of ethanol based companies represented to talk about their viewpoint, and be challenged by those that do not believe it can work. Of course at Caltech the technical work is more focused on solar photo-voltaics (silicon, compound semi-conductor triple junction, nano-tube based ideas, cheap "solar paint"), and we will also have a few global experts on wind energy talking at the 1 day conference on Friday May 11th. See program for a more detailed listing.

  •  Algae? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drewfromct, Karyn

    Algae has great promise as a biofuel crop but more as a diesel alternative.  I would think we should be moving towards diesel engines, and using algae to produce our bio-fuel.  Moreover, you can use the byproducts of algae diesel production to produce ethanol.

    I'm extremely bullish on algae as a biofuel.

    The excessive use of television and automobiles can be hazardous to your health.

    by Greenkermie in AZ on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 09:36:57 AM PDT

    •  you aren't the only one... (0+ / 0-)

      there's ongoing R&D in this area. The technology has already gone largely "black"... the most interesting stuff is being discussed in NDA docs, not the press or public websites.

      In a couple or three years, everybody doing this will be laying their cards on the table... the results should be very, very interesting.

      Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 01:59:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm really glad (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    buckhorn okie, JuliaAnn, Karyn

    WaPo is getting this out in the open.

    I'm encouraged, however, because I've heard both Republican and Democratic politicians discuss other forms of ethanol and alternative energy, citing that corn-ethanol alone could not help us.

    So it seems they're aware, which is a big first step. Now we just need them to act upon their knowledge... that'll be a little more tricky.

  •  The diarist is as misinformed as the WaPo... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Karyn

    ... on the potential for ethanol as a biofuel.

    There is no need for ethanol to be, as it is now, merely a means of laundering oil through corporate agribusiness-owned corn fields.

    There are better sources of ethanol that promise as much as 16 times the efficiency that corn offers.  Unfortunately, agribusiness lobbyists have prevented research into these sources from being subsidized as corn ethanol has been.

    Only by pretending that these sources do not exist can anyone dismiss ethanol as a potential bio-fuel.

    "You have to keep your knee on [Bush's] windpipe until the danger is past." -- Garry Trudeau

    by tbetz on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 10:13:41 AM PDT

  •  Palm oil and what it is doing to (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    buckhorn okie, Karyn

    Indonesia, Malaysia etc.

    So, why is oil palm cultivation a concern? For environmentalists the problem with palm oil as a source of biodiesel lies in the nature of how the crop is produced. In recent years, vast areas of natural forest have been cleared across tropical Asia for oil palm plantations. This conversion has reduced biodiversity, increased vulnerability to catastrophic fires, and affected local communities dependent on services and products provided by forest ecosystems.

    Land clearing burning is choking the people of Malaysia.
    http://news.mongabay.com/...

    http://www.hinduonnet.com/...

    http://www.foe.co.uk/...

    This above all: to thine own self be true...-WS

    by Agathena on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 10:32:06 AM PDT

  •  These are the same old oil company/gop arguments. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    el maso, Karyn, timberdoodle

    False on their face.

    1. Land use: The luddite "theres not enough land!" or " argument flies in the face of reality. We use less and less land to farm every year for multiple reasons. Farming, like all human endeavors continues to become more efficient. Requiring less land, labor and energy as agricultural science advances. The continuing efficiency increases combined with the titanic force of our hyper-controlled ag system shutting down farmers over the last quarter century has left vast areas of the nation once used for farming empty. Visit North Dakota, South Dakota, Rural Iowa, Illinois, etc etc etc.  the rain forest is being devastated because of greed and need, not ethanol. And btw look around your nice ritzy house with the exotic hardwood furniture etc etc. Remember that snort of coke you had a few years ago. That joint you smoked. Those narcotics your kid got busted with. That, (along with those uppity brown folk wanting.. Food of all things!) is where the rainforests are going. Want to save the rainforests? Lets convert to biofuel by law, slash the military budget in half and use the money to BUY the land the rainforests sit on and devote them to their job.. rejuvenating the worlds ecology. We have an excess of the best farmland in the world lying fallow and generational farmers working in factories and driving trucks.
    1. "Corn isnt the answer!". Noone except the big corn corporate farms have suggested it as a permanent solution. Corn for biodiesel is a transitory crop. Unlike industry farming is in all senses an evolutionary undertaking. YOu dont just throw out everything from process 2.0 for process 3.0 you upgrade and try new techniques on a small scale before the successful ones expand across the industry. There was a time when land was planted til it became barren then discarded. That time ended before the US was born. Crop rotation, fertilisation, "communal" harvesting (it is no longer necessary or even wise for a farm to own its own harvesters etc), pest control, irrigation etc etc and now genetic engineering are all technologies that took time to perfect and implement. The eventual crop may well be one that doesnt even exist now. But it will take time and experimentation by Farmers, rather than ignorant energy company statisticians and faux scientists to find out.
    1. "It requires more energy than it produces". That is a blatantly false argument. An open faced lie produced first by big oil, statisticians with open pocket books and people who just oppose biofuels. According to their calculations you arent actually using biofuel when you buy the ethanol mixes you do now at the pump because they are in reality stunningly expensive to produce. So just ignore your eyes and the price posted on the pump. Just because it says its less expensive means nothing. These arguments are repeatedly used and never contemplate reality. It requires energy to produce oil. To produce nuclear power. To produce.. wait for it... Solar energy. There is an incredibly accurate guage of how many resources are required to produce a product and whether it is a profitable undertaking to do so. We call it the economy. At current our economy prefers fossil fuels and nuclear power because our whole civilisation is geared to produce them and assumes the underlying costs within its very fabric. Many of those hidden costs would disappear with the switch to biofuel. Especially locally and regionally produced biofuel.
    1. Secondary and tertiary costs for non biofuels may be higher than the primary costs even excluding pollution. Most of the business of the american, middle eastern, chinese, russian etc militaries now is attaining and protecting oil supplies for their nations. Even an ultra conservative estimate would put the cost for america alone to do this in the hundreds of billions a year. Of course the Direct cost of maintaining an oil supply for america easily exceeds that each year and includes the cost of tens of thousands of americans wounded, over three thousand dead, and tenfold that for Iraqis. Then add in the cost of the world energy transport system. Biofuels can be produced locally or regionally at worst. No supertankers, no over the road tanker trucks, etc etc etc.
    1. "using food needed for a poor, hungry world to instead feed our cars and SUV's?". This is a blatant, Intentional falsehood. A LIE. We , as we speak produce more than enough food to feed everyone on the planet. We have for a very very long time and most of our agricultural regulatory system is designed around controlling and reducing production so that the system doesnt fall apart. The  difficulty with feeding the poor and starving around the world lies solely with the capitalist system. Capitalism inherently has no interest in feeding the hungry. Its only interest is in high returns on loaned capital. What the bible calls Usery for you 'christians' and 'jews' out there. We could feed the world TODAY. It is in the capitalist worlds interests not to do so
    1. "it takes a lot of 'old' energy to produce it". Yet another blatant or ignorant falsehood from those who neither understand biofuel nor basic science. Industrial engines are perfect for biofuel use. If you convert your car to 100% biofuel it requires moderately extensive modification to do so. To convert the 2007 Peterbilt 387 i drive to deliver goods it would require less than a day and be relatively cheap. And most of the industrial world, including farm machinery etc, runs off exactly the same engine technology that truck uses. Diesel engines use a high flash point fuel that requires high compression to ignite and in return generates extremely high torque (the opposite of gasoline engines). Those are the exact characteristics of biodiesel et al. And please note a diesel engine can be converted to run on Unmodified, unrefined vegetable oils. Thats right you can convert a diesel engine to run off the vegetable oil you cook with.

    Lastly: Biofuels are the ONLY renewable energy source we currently have. Biofuels ARE a form of solar energy. The plants we convert to energy are simply solar energy storage mechanisms. They are simply an organic rather than an industrial conversion method. So rather than producing plastic, metal, factories to produce the solar equipment, etc etc etc.. we simply plant something. Again: Biofuels ARE a solar energy source. And in fact they are the most efficient one we have. You currently use a much much more inefficient energy source as we speak. We call it "oil" or "coal". The difference is that the current source required millions of years, massive heat and pressure, a lot of human blood and conflict, intensive recovery, transportation and refining to produce.

    Biofuels are our future for at least the next century. Our choice is a cleaner, cheaper fuel. Or a century of pollution, nuclear contamination, war, global warming etc etc etc. It seems a simple choice to some of us. To those with a less scientific, factual, or energy corporation induced mindset that doesnt seem to be so.

    "All you have to do to qualify for human rights is to be human" An 11yo Girl. Unbossed.com

    by cdreid on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 10:48:30 AM PDT

    •  IMO, the only potential source of biomass (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      buckhorn okie

      that makes sufficiently efficient use of the 330W / m2 solar energy at sea level in the US to make biofuel a viable replacement for petroleum is algae or other single-cell biomass.

      Any other biofuel solution is going to be transitional at best.

      Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 02:08:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Running cars on food is a bad idea (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Karyn

    The goal should be to reduce VMT = vehicle miles travelled.

    We need to live closer to work and every neighborhood needs a decent grocery store within walking distance.

    With fewer vechiles commuting so far, children will be able to walk or ride their bikes to school again safely.

    To meet the challenges of global warming, we should first redesign our land use. It's not that hard.

    Imagine a decent rapid bus going through every suburb and places to shop and hang out within walking or biking distance from your front door.

    Lots of good ideas being generated here.
    http://new.carfreecity.us/

    "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." - Oscar Wilde

    by greendem on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 11:11:45 AM PDT

    •  uh, first redesign our land use? (0+ / 0-)

      "it's not that hard"?

      Either put the bong away or pass it around.

      Any investment in drastic modifications in land use has to be considered competitive with other investment in replacing fossil-fuel based energy infrastructures. Nobody's had the nerve to come up with total estimates as to how much this will cost America... I'll just say that I hope such numbers when available will be accurate within the nearest TEN TRILLION DOLLARS. That's error margin, not total.

      Do I have to explain further?

      Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 02:14:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You could use a bong hit (0+ / 0-)

        To help get the stick out of your ass.

        It's time to envision what we want the future to look like. You say it would cost ten trillion dollars. I say those are jobs for millions of Americans, fixing our cities.

        The first order of business is setting up renewable energy magnet high schools throughout our inner cities, so we will have trained workers for the post-carbon economy.

        "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." - Oscar Wilde

        by greendem on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:23:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  by the time what you're asking for (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          grndrush

          can possibly get done, it'll be WAY too late to make a difference with respect to fixing either global warming or peak oil.

          Speaking as a taxpayer, I don't mind paying for higher energy costs and for conservation... but I'm not interested in paying for feel-good eco-BS any more than I'm interested in paying for TSA security snake oil. It'll take generations for what you're talking about to make a difference.

          You want to build MAGNET HIGH SCHOOLS as the first step towards a future where the peak oil and global warming problems are solved?

          If you think we've got generations, go look at the latest IPCC report and learn differently. If you can, which I doubt.

          The best that can be done with land use planning in a timeframe is some infill through changes in zoning... we'll get more bang for the buck by changing building codes to require energy efficiency in new structures and retrofitting the existing buildings YOU demand we replace most of for energy efficiency.

          And it's going to cost a lot more than $10T to fix. The International Energy Agency said it would cost $16T to stay in the fossil fuel game using more exploration and development of new oil fields and using EXISTING infrastructure. . . about 3 months before they told their member goverments that they needed to start looking for alternative energy solutions NOW.

          Will changing our energy infrastructure for transportation and electricity and improving building energy efficiency cost only $100T? $200T? AFAIK, nobody knows. It's more than we can afford, but we can do it or die.

          I prefer facts when dealing with serious trouble to fantasy ungrounded in fact.

          If you want to starve in the cold and the dark in your new eco-friendly cities because we concentrated on land use planning instead of new energy infrastructure, why wait? Find yourself a freezer locker and lock yourself in for a month.

          You'll be contributing just as much to the discussion as you have today. Actually, you'll contribute more, at least you won't be reducing the signal-to-noise ratio as you have today.

          If that makes me too unk3w1 to play with you and cdreid, tough shit. It just makes me part of the reality-based community you just bailed out of.

          Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

          by alizard on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 06:58:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Snake Oil? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    buckhorn okie, JuliaAnn, Karyn, Arlys

    It's inevitable that any bandwagon will attach scam artists but I know for a fact a particular group of fraudsters based in the UK has been developing a Bio-ethanol front company for at least the past five years, complete with high profile PR events, Government grants, and detailed planning proposals for "eco-friendly" power plants. What the exact nature of the con is, I couldn't say for sure, though my best guesses at the moment range from creaming off the grants, exploiting the tax differentials that exist here between 'normal' and bio-fuels, or the old favorite of laundering dirty cash through a respectable cover - in these circumstances millions could be run off the books on unspecified "research" each year without raising any eyebrows.
    Doubtless crooks have also been setting up stall in the US and elsewhere to take advantage of this latest "next big thing" - so it's worth asking yourself if somebody starts selling you something they call "bio-ethanol" what assurances will you have the product meets the required standards?

    This argument also applies to buying Carbon offsets - even more so given the abstract nature of the transactions.

  •  minority position (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    buckhorn okie

    I'm 62 and it seems clear that fossil fuels will be the main energy source for the rest of my lifetime--even if Gore beacame King of the planet.  Better than look for immediate alternatives, we need to make cleaner what we already use--and use much less of it.  To accomplish this we need to follow CA's pollution standards and Europe's milage numbers.  I read somewhere that the average in the EU is 43mpg.

    Electricity should not be generated using oil or coal until we can make them pollute much less.  Natural gas is available in North America--and solar technology is getting exciting and perfected.  Nuclear is nobody's favorite, but it beats global warming's complications.

    A long time ago, Israel was looking into using tides to generate electricity--anyone know how that's coming along?

  •  now if we can just stop the hydrogen hype (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    decafdyke, grndrush, Arlys

    but we know it's wait for it wait for it.... electric boogie woogie woogie.

    If you see Kay, Tell him he may. See you in tea, Tell him from me. -James Joyce Ulysses

    by waitingforvizzini on Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 02:29:42 PM PDT

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