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Chevy FlexFuel Avalanche  (Source: Turbo Diesel Register)
According to a U.N. expert biofuels represent a crime against mankind.

Jean Ziegler, the United Nations special reporter on the right to food and sociology professor at the University of Geneva and the University of the Sorbonne in Paris, stunned many Friday when he blasted biofuels.

Ziegler, who gave the remarks at a press conference at the U.N. headquarters in New York, posed dire predictions if the development of biofuels was to continue.  His remarks follow a Thursday presentation to the U.N. General Assembly's human rights committee on the dangers of biofuels.

He stated that blame for the record high price of some staple grain crops is directly attributable to biofuel initiatives.

This much is factually accurate it appears.  Between September 2006 and November 2006 corn prices rose 55 percent.  Corn prices are at record highs of over $3 USD per bushel.  The Wall Street Journal says this is largely due to the new industrial demand for corn for ethanol conversion.  This has caused food producers such as Tyson to struggle.

Ziegler ardently drove home this point at the press conference and stated that biofuels in their current state are not a good alternative to petroleum.  He said that he feared biofuels would bring more world hunger.  He stated that recklessly converting maize and sugar and other foodstuffs to biofuel was a "recipe for disaster."

In the U.S., the production of corn for ethanol has already overtaken its use for food, and President Bush has recently announced higher targets for the use in biofuels in U.S. vehicles. Wheat prices have more thandoubled in the past year, led by reduced cultivation of the grain.  Prices of meat and dairy staples have also risen, driven by higher foodstock prices for farm animals.

Ziegler pointed out that it takes 510 pounds of corn to produce 13 gallons of ethanol. That much corn could feed a child in Zambia or Mexico for a year, he said. He also stated that diverting arable land to cultivate crops to be used to produce biofuels or directly burned was a "crime against humanity."

''What has to be stopped is ... the growing catastrophe of the massacre [by] hunger in the world," Ziegler continued.

Ziegler requested that a five year worldwide ban on biofuel be put in place, to prevent such occurrences.

Ziegler stated that he is not entirely opposed to the idea of biofuels, just the current state of them.  He said that instituting a ban would allow for the development of technological advances that would allow conversion of waste materials such as corn cobs and banana leaves into fuel, as opposed to the crops themselves.

Such technologies may be possible, but the high starch and low sugar content of these biomaterials necessitates much more chemical and/or enzymatic processing.

Ziegler did point to the more practical use of oil-bearing crops in arid lands.  He elaborated that “the cultivation of Jatropha Curcas, a shrub that produces large oil-bearing seeds, appears to offer a good solution as it can be grown in arid lands that are not normally suitable for food crops.”

The International Monetary Fund issued similar, but less drastic, comments earlier this month.  The IMF, which is tasked with overseeing the global financial system, stated that the demand for biofuels may have dire consequences on the world's poor as it raises the cost of staple crops such as corn and maize to untenable prices.

A IMF report stated that "One country's policy to promote biofuels while protecting its farmers could increase another (likely poorer) country's import bills for food and pose additional risks to inflation or growth."

Biofuel is thought to be more environmentally friendly as the growth of crops, which absorb CO2, is thought to counteract its environmental impact, somewhat.  However, biofuels often need to expend energy and chemicals in their growth and also consume similar debts when being processed.  Overall the process is thought by experts to be slightly more environmentally friendly than petroleum. According to a recent UK government publication biofuels cut emissions "by 50-60 percent compared to fossil fuels," though their exact methodology at reaching this figure was not clearly stated.

However, new research demonstrates biofuels emit more greenhouse gases than fossil fuels.  A research team led by Nobel Prize-winning chemist Paul Crutzen calculated total emissions from crops such as rapeseed, corn, and sugarcane.  They found nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions were twice as high as previously understood. 

Total emissions from all sources were up to 70% higher than those the use of gasoline.  Crutzen, who won the Nobel for his work on the ozone layer, is widely respected in the field of climate research.

The charity organization Grain also released a report condemning biofuels as contributing to deforestation. The group also slammed biofuels for causing the return of the old colonial planting system to Asia, Africa, and Latin America, at the expense of local and indigenous communities.

Biofuels are certainly gaining steam. Between 2000 and 2005 the use of biofuels worldwide grew four-fold. Brazil leads the world in production, with over 16 billion liters of ethanol produced yearly from sugar-cane.  The European Union is also jumping on the biofuel bandwagon, with a mandate which calls for 5.75percent of transport fuels to come from biological sources by 2010.

The promise of cheap, renewable replacements for fossil fuels managed to turn America's Breadbasket into America's Gastank almost overnight.  Yet as Ziegler and others warn, such rapid transition is not without drawbacks.




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if we make all cars run on electricity....
By inperfectdarkness on 10/29/2007 12:04:00 PM , Rating: 4
seriously. if all cars run on electricity, then all we have to do is boost our production of solar, geothermal, and wind power. it's much easier to produce (and use) electricity than "invent" new ways to power the internal-combustion engine.




RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By mdogs444 on 10/29/07, Rating: 0
RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By Christopher1 on 10/29/2007 1:20:52 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Electric cars have only achieved short distances


Wrong. Electric cars have achieved distances of 200 miles and more, when they have been built in certain ways, even when they have 4 seats and 4 people in them.

That is one of the BIGGEST lies out there, that electric cars can only be driven short distances. They can only go short distances (<100 miles) SOLELY on electric power, but most people say that electric cars would also have a gas-engine backup for longer trips.

Though..... who really drives a car more than 400 miles, at most at a time, anymore? I sure don't, and I can't think of anyone who would unless they were moving to another part of the country.


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By phaxmohdem on 10/29/2007 1:31:04 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
who really drives a car more than 400 miles, at most at a time, anymore?


Vegas bound College kids ;)


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By PandaBear on 10/29/2007 9:14:51 PM , Rating: 1
I guess my 600 miles run between SF and San Diego every other week (with carpool) doesn't count as anymore.


By Ryanman on 10/30/2007 9:33:41 PM , Rating: 1
No, because you can charge at night. I'm not sure if you'd be able to do it all.. with having to trickle charge and all but still.


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By TomZ on 10/29/2007 1:40:32 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Though..... who really drives a car more than 400 miles, at most at a time, anymore?

We do - family vacations out-of-state. Load up the car with kids, dog, lots of stuff and go! Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Flying isn't really an option for trips like that.


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By Screwballl on 10/29/2007 1:52:40 PM , Rating: 2
once a year I drive 2000 miles in 2 days running around 80-90mph the entire way.
There are a lot of people nowadays who still make long trips (400+ miles) 2-3 times per week. The travel time and distance is probably just as great in a city where someone may live an hour or two away from home.


By DragonMaster0 on 10/29/2007 5:36:27 PM , Rating: 1
Exactly, just once a year.


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By ziggo on 10/29/07, Rating: 0
RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By spinaltap11 on 10/29/2007 11:48:37 PM , Rating: 4

Would be a good idea, except for the fact that these batteries are HUGE and heavy as hell. In addition to the neccesity for standardization of batteries and swap stations, we would also need to standardize the battery docks within cars such that they are easy to access and extremely resiliant to the inevitable wear and tear. I just don't see something like that being feasible in practice.

On the flip side, "filling up" can't be a 3-4 hour ordeal either. As it stands, all-electric vehicles are not suitable for anything beyond purely local driving.

Maybe we should just build giant power rails into the roads so that cars can get their power directly off the grid as they drive, akin to the 3rd rail on NYC subways. Now that's not a bad idea.


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By mWMA on 10/30/07, Rating: 0
By Ryanman on 10/30/2007 9:37:01 PM , Rating: 1
and when the battery you got at said station fails or ruins your car, who gets liability? It's vastly impractical. You could get a box of lead and drive up to a station (doubtlessly automated) and switch out a cheap metal for an expensive battery. The whole Idea is just wishful thinking I believe.


By ira176 on 10/31/2007 5:28:16 AM , Rating: 3
They might just as well slap a photovoltaic cell on the roof, as long as the electric car already carries the large battery. It would help supplement the extra energy on those longer than 200 mile drives, at least during the day.


By doctor sam adams on 10/31/2007 12:41:37 AM , Rating: 1
Why do you go so fast? You're not flying a jet.


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By mdogs444 on 10/29/2007 2:04:40 PM , Rating: 2
Acually, I know many people who drive 200 miles in a single day. Its called "salesmen".

Also, I if i want to go on vacation, what am i supposed to do - stop every 3 hours, and let the car charge for 4 hours before driving again? Wow, that would make a 12 hour trip to South Carolina take 24+ hrs.

Many people drive long distances, and quite often. In fact, my uncle drives 600 miles to work & back every week and stays there for 5 days.

So stop being under the assumption that most people live in the city, and that those people rarely ever leave the city, and that most people fly - all of which couldnt be further from the truth.


By ZmaxDP on 10/29/2007 4:30:11 PM , Rating: 3
When your whole post is in bold, it looses it's effect as a means of emphasis. Just FYI


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By Etsp on 10/29/2007 11:25:38 PM , Rating: 2
I kinda doubt Iraq had 400,000 religious extremists when Saddam killed those people. Their religious beliefs may have made them all against his dictatorship, but I seriously doubt that there were 400,000 extremists


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By OrSin on 10/30/07, Rating: -1
By onelittleindian on 10/30/2007 1:59:24 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
number is from the number missed and dead, wiht less then 40K found dead
Don't play games. If Saddam's forces bombed your village in Iraq and no one ever found your body, then you're dead.

Oh, and that 400K figure is just the tip of the iceberg. That's just the Shias that Saddam killed during the 1991 uprising. It doesn't count the Kurds, the political prisoners, or several other categories.


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By atticu5 on 10/29/2007 7:02:46 PM , Rating: 3
corn can be grown in much colder climates than sugar cane...

you can grow corn in wisconsin, illinois, nebraska, the dakotas, etc. meaning you can grow more of it, meaning it would be cheaper. sugar cane needs a warmer climate to grow, it grows in the tropics to be more exact. there is alot more open, uninhabited farm land to grow corn and other crops than sugar cane.

growing alot more sugar cane would mean cutting down alot of the rain forests in the world in order to grow that sugar. that would mean the loss of habitats, species (i think its something like 70% of all the known animal and plant species in the world live in the tropical rain forests) as well as cutting down the "lungs of the world." the rain forests are responsible for converting alot of CO2 into O2.

using brazil as your example for usign sugar cane as fuel is just stupid, its one thing for a country to supply itself with enough fuel from sugar cane, but its another for it to supply a continent. they are now also growing corn in brazil in order to export more ethanol, and they are doing so because its more economical to produce ethanol from corn than it is from sugar cane because of the costs to grow corn compared to sugar cane.

there are more factors that go into deciding what to get ethanol from than just which one produces more ethanol per acre.

ps: i am sitting in an environmental biology class right now :)


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By dluther on 10/30/07, Rating: 0
RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By tmouse on 10/30/2007 9:39:44 AM , Rating: 1
"It's this kind of unintelligent reply that exemplifies the main problem with America" You also display the same ignorance you profess to despise. Your knowledge of the availability of land suitable for producing sugar cane is poor at best. Most of those regions are NOT well suited for sugar cane production. It was tried and failed over 200 years ago when sugar cane was a major export from the “new world". Now I am not saying other crops are not better than corn, sugar beets MAY be useful, and other high oil crops for diesel as well as ethanol. The MAIN problem is everyone seems to be looking for a single solution which is pure nonsense. It will require a mix to solve the problem, electric, natural gas, bio fuels. All of them in varying amounts in different areas will be needed. Energy production is NOT a one size fits all problem. For some wind is useful but NOT everywhere, solar quite possibly, maybe in a more distant future. The FACTS are that you also have to balance the economic factors, it’s just realistic. This quote from Jean Ziegler was professionally irresponsible; he is a fool pure and simple. I'm not saying some of his points are not right but the term "crime against humanity" in this context is pure nonsense. There are MANY reasons for the observations of the food increases, Fuel costs,the loss of small family farms, previous administrations subsidies to NOT grow things like wheat to stabilize prices all contributed equally if not more. The simple fact is in the US E85 is an EXTREAMLY SMALL percentage of fuel production. Again a full fledged switch over is NOT an answer but and increase is part of the solution. By the way the idea that 90% of all corn production going for fuel is just pure extremist hyperbole, its is not going to happen. It is said to evoke an emotional response, it is simply not economically viable. Over 30 % of US corn production is converted into high fructose syrup because it stores better and a decrease in our diets would only help us in the US. A significant amount of the corn exported to third world countries is in fact a US government subsidized product (payments for the growers for a loss of the profit it would produce in other forms) so even without bio fuel production that amount would not increase much.


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By masher2 (blog) on 10/30/2007 11:34:05 AM , Rating: 4
> "Fuel costs,the loss of small family farms, previous administrations subsidies to NOT grow things like wheat to stabilize prices all contributed equally if not more"

Nonsense. We've had grain subsidies for decades. They prop up prices, but they don't cause them to double overnight. And the "loss of small farms" has been going on for over a century-- its the primary reason food prices have declined, not risen. Large farms can grow food cheaper; that's why they predominate.

> The simple fact is in the US E85 is an EXTREAMLY SMALL percentage of fuel production"

The important factor is that an extremely large percentage of all US corn is now being used to produce ethanol. Over half, in fact. Farmers are also growing less wheat and other crops, in their rush to produce corn for ethanol.

That has serious, undeniable effects of world grain prices.

Yes, this huge percentage of corn production barely makes a dent in total fuel consumption. That's actually another strike against it. It demonstrates that, unless and until biofuel technology improves dramatically, it's not going to make any real difference. The massive government subsidies today are wasted money; those dollars should be funding research instead.


By B on 10/30/2007 3:25:22 PM , Rating: 2
To help frame your context of the amount of fuel used:

U.S. Petroleum Consumption 20,802,000 barrels/day

US ethonal production for 2006 4,855 million gallons, which converts to 156,612,903 barrels. However, the energy content of a barrel of ethonal compared to a barrel of oil is less, but for the sake of discussion lets assume they are the same. With that genorous assumption, it means that all the 2006 US produced ethonal provided the US with 7.8 days worth of fuel for the whole year (156,612,903/20,802,000bpd=7.5 days).

Oil consumption numbers are 2005 numbers from the DOE. Link
http://www.eia.doe.gov/neic/quickfacts/quickoil.ht...

Ethonal production numbers source: http://www.ethanolrfa.org/industry/statistics/

FYI I did the conversions/calculations myself on google - feel free to verify accuracy.

An aside - I bet all those tractors burning 600 gallons of diesel a day to grow all that corn, in aggregate, used a material amount of fuel. This and other externalities should be considered.


By tmouse on 10/31/2007 3:58:06 PM , Rating: 2
I do not know where this 50% figure comes from but it is simply NOT TRUE. Break downs from the USDA and commerce department put use for feed at 51 to 54% and use for food and industrial purposed (this includes ethanol production) at 14-18% with the rest for export. This agrees with the numbers from industry groups citing use of approximately. 2 billion bushels of corn for TOTAL ethanol production (the US produced a little more than 11.1 billion bushels last year. I am neither saying that is not a lot nor am I saying uncontrolled growth is good but it a far cry from the 50-90% figures others are spouting. The energy differentials are also suspect. Most trace back to a paper from Pimentel Patzek at Cornell. If you read the paper their numbers are correct but keep in mind the energy calculations used included the energy for the tractors, fertilizer, labor, irrigation, transport even the amount of loss due to the conversion of solar power into plant mass! The vast majority of these costs will be spent regardless if the corn is for fuel or food so there is absolutely NO savings there. Using their calculations absolutely NO bio production what so ever can be net positive, it is simply mathematically impossible. As for the wheat argument, energy production has very little to due with it. It has been steadily declining since the 80's due to a drop in demand (bad carb syndrome and government surpluses resulting in far lower prices. Some have moved to GE corn and soybeans that are engineered to be more cold hardy (The wheat belt and the corn belt do not overlap that much) but they would do that whether we used the corn for food or energy as a matter of fact the vast majority of the decline has gone to the governments "retired land project" which is ending so that land is currently fallow.


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By dluther on 10/30/2007 8:09:27 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You also display the same ignorance you profess to despise. Your knowledge of the availability of land suitable for producing sugar cane is poor at best. Most of those regions are NOT well suited for sugar cane production. It was tried and failed over 200 years ago when sugar cane was a major export from the “new world".


How so? Large tracts of land in coastal Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, and areas in Southern Arkansas, and even Georgia and South Carolina have a suitable climate (hot and humid) and areas with either rainfall averages of 24"/year (or better), or large natural reservoirs for use in drip irrigation -- perfect for growing sugar cane. Cane does not necessarily need to be an annual crop as roots and stalks are shown to be resistant during dormancy in mildly cold climates. This land is also mostly undeveloped due to its poor cross-metropolitan placement and unsuitable for building due to its base consistency.

So if growing sugar cane yields more ethanol (by nearly a factor of three by the most conservative estimates), and there's readily available equipment and land to do so, it begs the question of why it isn't being used.

Corn, on the other hand, is one of the five federally subsidized crops, including soybeans, wheat, cotton, and rice. So let's look at the economic factors there -- corn is a federally subsidized crop, add a premium for selling to oil production facilities instead of granaries -- it doesn't take a mental colossus to understand the economic benefits to the growers of corn, who have a very large and powerful lobbying group in Washington.

Last year, farmers grew more corn to meet the demands of ethanol production, at the expense of soybean and wheat production. From the USDA web site:

quote:
The growing corn demand of ethanol producers could also be satisfied through higher corn output. Rising productivity is likely to assure some increase in U.S. corn production in the years to come, even if the amount of farmland devoted to corn remains constant. Over the past decade (1996-2005), U.S. corn yields averaged 138 bushels per acre, compared with 115 bushels during the previous decade. The United States also could increase corn production by devoting more land to the commodity. Such an effort would probably draw upon lands less suited to corn production. Much of these lands would probably be diverted from soybean production.


Now, if you were to take those bushels/acre quotes at face value -- I don't -- you must at least be cognizant of the fact that there is only so much corn that can be yielded from an acre of land. When you also factor in corn's (or really any crop's) seasonal volatility to flood, drought, fire, or pests, you find that ethanol availability is a much more volatile resource than oil.

Already the price of corn has risen 4X over the past three years, soybean and wheat have similarly risen due to general unavailability. We're not making any more land, so then what to do in order to satisfy the demands of all the ethanol processing plants that have risen in the corn belt over the past few years. Import corn? Talk about an expensive way to relieve your dependence on foreign oil...

quote:
The simple fact is in the US E85 is an EXTREAMLY [sic] SMALL percentage of fuel production.


Yes, unfortunately you're absolutely right -- an extremely small percentage. Yet last year alone, 50% of our corn crop was diverted to ethanol production. And by 2010, that estimate is expected to rise to 80%.

quote:
The FACTS are that you also have to balance the economic factors, it’s just realistic.


That too is correct. Unfortunately, the economic facts in a capitalistic society such as ours bear out the fact that our government is for sale to the highest bidder. And since corn farmers have more money to throw at congress than do sugarcane farmers, guess who wins that coin toss? Never mind the facts of the matter, the hard evidence, the sheer power of numbers. It's all about the money.

Ethanol is the ultimate pander. As a fuel additive, it doesn't really cut down on VOCs; it merely shifts them from hydrocarbons to nitrates. Ethanol hasn't affected gasoline prices one penny. Consider that E85 gasoline is a subsidized product, and it's typically a dollar cheaper than gasoline. Nobody has hard numbers representing the true price of ethanol, but since most estimates put it on par with gasoline production, it seems that the benefits of ethanol are coming from an artificial source.

Waste biomass (offal, manure, waste vegetation, particulate matter) can be refined into a sweet crude suitable for refining through a process called thermal depolymerization. When you think about the amount of such waste from stockyards, poultry farms, the entire state of Georgia -- one has to wonder why there's only one of these facilities to the hundreds of ethanol refining facilities.

Low-sulfur diesel can be produced by processing leftover cooking grease. Think about every fast-food chain you encounter, and this makes process makes some good sense at a regional level, yet only Sheryl Crow and Willie Nelson are doing it.

I'll finish with this: When you have an administration whose leader exchanges his science advisor for a spiritual advisor, well honestly, what did you expect?


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By tmouse on 11/1/2007 8:43:16 AM , Rating: 2
There are many factors to the equation than you are taking into account. Here is just a few: Sugar cane growth requires an average temperature of 26-32 C with 10-12 months of direct sunlight. It requires 75 to 129 cm of annual rainfall and any soil other than sandy soil results in a 25% decrease in yield. These requirements severely limit the land for growth of this product. Even where it can be grown in the continental US it requires 1.5 to 3 times more nitrogen fertilizer and 2-6 times more Potassium than corn. The available soils do contain the required calcium, sulfur and iron but require supplementation with boron, copper and often manganese. Even WITH supplementation, continental US cane production results in 50% LESS yield per acre than areas like Brazil and Hawaii. Currently mainland American cane producers find it VERY unprofitable to sell their product for ethanol production due to its low yield and high production costs. I am in general agreement that corn is not the best choice for the long term I strongly disagree with the hypotheses that it is useless. Certainly other crops will be better possibly sugar beets or the grasses such as switch grass or miscanthus which can yield 2-3 times the ethanol of sugar cane and with less land restriction and production costs. The problem is they are single use products (even when used for ethanol production 30 % of the corn components are recycled as feed) and require different distillery infrastructure which has ,as yet, not been scaled from research to production levels.


By dluther on 11/1/2007 11:27:47 AM , Rating: 1
I wasn't saying that sugar cane would be a hearty crop, nor was I postulating a year-round growing season. But by those same rules, corn isn't an annual crop either, and in fact the growing season for corn is roughly half what it would be in the areas I'm talking about for sugar cane. And also, the areas I'm talking about are mostly dried peat bogs with a sandy loam base, which is *perfect" for growing things like sugar cane and alligators. Every other factor you mention such as adding nutrients to soil is part and parcel of farming.

But let me say this, because I think that we are both in agreement on my basic premise which is that using our food crops for energy production isn't simply just not a good idea, it's sheer madness. And when you get right down to it, ethanol is a piss-poor oxygenate compared to other additives.

Consider this also: an 80-85% ethanol blend will significantly decreases your gas mileage, effectively negating the fuel savings you thought you were getting.

So let me be clear, just so there's no misunderstanding: Ethanol is a bad idea. The concept is bad, and the execution is a nightmare because of all the interrelated costs. Ethanol is evil, and anyone who thinks differently has simply not looked at the big picture.

Refineable crude from exiting, readily available waste materials works, and it works very well. It solves the problem of our dependence on foreign oil, and it solves a lot of other problems that have yet to be sufficiently addressed, like the mountain of shit that spontaneously combusts outside a stockyard (look it up).

quote:
(even when used for ethanol production 30 % of the corn components are recycled as feed)


Again, let me remind you that that's not a 30% suppliment, that's a 70% reduction of feed. Have you noticed that almost every food item has increased in price? That's because corn is used to feed everything from catfish to cows. Increase the cost of feed, and you increase the cost of the end product.


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By theles on 10/30/2007 2:48:09 PM , Rating: 2
Hi. I'm Brazilian, and I live in Brazil, so, I'm 100% sure of what I'll say. Those of you who said that the production of ethanol will bring starvation and destroy the Rain Forests, should study geography a little more.

First, the soil were Rain Forests grow in Brasil, aren't usable by agriculture, it's too sandy; and there's the distance factor, for you guys understand: Rain Forest are in New York Sugar Cane areas are in Texas. That's the distance.

Second, Sugar Cane is more than 10 times more efficient on the ethanol production than corn. The problem on the ethanol production on US is that Mr. Bush push the taxes over Brazilian ethanol to benefit both the corn farms and the oil companies since ethanol is much cheaper than Gasoline and much less pollutant. So I suggest that you go ask him, why he's taking the corn of your tables to put in your cars.


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By masher2 (blog) on 10/30/2007 4:19:46 PM , Rating: 2
> "First, the soil were Rain Forests grow in Brasil, aren't usable by agriculture"

Then why are tens of millions of Rainforest acres being cleared for agriculture every year? Brazilian or no, you might want to check your facts here.

Some sugar cane *is* cultivated directly in the rainforest. But that's not the real problem, which is that additional sugar cane expands in Southern Brazil, that forces Soy production into the North. Nearly half of all Brazilian rainforest loss is now in the the Mato Grasso state, where vast new soy plantations are springing up.

Here's a couple links:

http://news.mongabay.com/2007/0516-ethanol_amazon....
http://news.mongabay.com/2005/0521-rhett_butler.ht...

> "The problem on the ethanol production on US is that Mr. Bush push the taxes over Brazilian ethanol"

Are you suggesting that, without US tariffs, Brazil could supply the US's energy needs with ethanol? Even in Brazil itself, only 18% of all oil usage is supplanted by ethanol. US demand is many times higher. Where is all this extra sugar cane going to be grown?


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By theles on 10/30/2007 6:40:05 PM , Rating: 2
Let me correct myself in two tings:

First: Not every soil in the Rain Forest area are usable by agriculture. Yes, there some areas, specially in the north of the state of Mato Grosso that are being used for agriculture, soy for the most.

But, what almost nobody say and is what you must understand is that, the forests aren't being destroyed for soy production. The extraction of noble kinds of woods cause this. It took more than 100 years to a Mogno(Mahogany? I don't know his name in english) Tree achieve 5 foots of diameter and 40 foots high, and of course, it gives a large amount of money for those who sell it illegaly. And there's a lot of folks that buy these, specially in Japan, Germany and US.

What's happening now is that in those devastated areas, there's some cultures of Soy and sugar cane, but the govenment hasn't decided yet if these cultures will be allowed. Like I said, there's yet the transport problem. In that region, mostly because of the huge amount of rain, there's no usable roads to let the soy for the consumers.

The state of Mato Groso today is the leader in soy production, because they're using areas that was deflorestated long ago. Nobody here is putting down the rain forrest to open fields of sugar cane and soy. The areas that you're saying that have some sugar cane, are minimal.

Second: The problem on the ethanol production on US is that Mr. Bush push the taxes over ANY ethanol that isn't produced in US (as he does with orange juice, and many other products). You can find tremendous areas in the Affrican continent that aren't habited and has minimal ecosystems, and will help to bring an end in the starvation for millions.

Oh yes, there's a plus on ethanol of sugar cane. The plant after the straction, can be used to fire up, instead coal or wood or can be used as organic fertilizer. And there's a company in Brasil researching to make the waste of the ethanol to be used as correction for the soil.

And there's an interesting thing about what you write: You ask me if Brazil could suply the needs, but you didn't tell anything about why the US govenment use these "protection" taxes...


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By masher2 (blog) on 10/30/2007 10:58:54 PM , Rating: 2
> "what you must understand is that, the forests aren't being destroyed for soy production. The extraction of noble kinds of woods cause this "

I'm sorry, but your opinion here doesn't match the facts. The rainforest is being cleared for many purposes, agriculture, cattle grazing, plantations, among them. In most cases, the clearing is simple "slash-and-burn"; existing woods aren't even harvested.

Increased land use in Southern Brazil for cane puts pressure on cattle ranchers, soy growers, and other users of agricultural land, who then turn to the undeveloped North-- the Rainforest. I've posted links to media stories confirming this, as well as the opinion of learned experts. If you want to counter this, you need to put forth more than a "because I say so!" argument.

> "And there's a lot of folks that buy these, specially in Japan, Germany and US"

Ahh...I knew it all had to be all our fault somehow.

> "you didn't tell anything about why the US govenment use these "protection" taxes... "

Why? To protect the US farmer of course. But I don't think you want to attack that policy too deeply, as Brazil's use of protectionary tariffs is far more extensive than is the US. In fact, Brazil currently has one of the most far-reaching protectionary policies in the world, covering thousands of products (everything from automobiles, computer goods, and used machinery, to coconuts and peaches) with import duties as high as 60% on some products.


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By theles on 10/31/2007 8:43:26 AM , Rating: 2
>In most cases, the clearing is simple "slash-and-burn"; existing woods aren't even harvested.

Well, I really don't know where do you get those informations, but they are really mistaken. There are an enormous types of noble woods, do you realize how much a 5x40 foot log of noble wood cost? Thousands of US dollars. Even Hundreds of thousands. Do you really think that they will "slash an burn" it?

>"Ahh...I knew it all had to be all our fault somehow."

Unfortunately, this fault is ours. For the greater part of us Brazilians, it is a shame to see how much corruption can be caused when that kind of money are involved. There's a bureau here called IBAMA, that give licenses to extract the woods in certain areas. What happens is that some are selling those licenses for thousands of dollars that are used in illegal wood extraction.

When you say that, in the southern Brazil the cane sugar puts pressure, etc...I believe that you, and most of the Americans, didn't realize the size of Brasil. There's a lot of areas, specially in the Northeast that aren't yet used by agriculture. And these areas are better for sugar cane and soy than the Rain Forest areas.

For the taxes, I said specifically over ethanol. In US, I believe that aren't large areas that can be used for sugar cane production, the corn should not be used for ethanol production, or should be used only when the offer for food suppressed the needs. Some posts ago, the discussion was this, corn has being used for production of ethanol instead for food. And for that I believe that ethanol from other countries shouldn't be over taxed.

But what is most interesting is this:
http://archive.greenpeace.org/forests/maps/global_...

Where happens to the forests in the Europe and in the US? Why you all are so concerned about what happens here, and don't care about what happens in yours backyards? Don't you think that's best think about in reflorestate the US and start to follow the Kioto Protocol first and worry about Brazil later? Why only now, that we are growing in areas such energy, these questions over rain forest arise?


By masher2 (blog) on 10/31/2007 10:29:59 AM , Rating: 2
> "Do you really think that they will "slash an burn" it?"

Yes. I've seen pictures of them doing it. Here's some photos for you:

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Study/AmazonFire/

> "These areas [in Brazil] are better for sugar cane and soy than the Rain Forest areas"

Possibly. But cleared rainforest areas ARE being used for agriculture, as well as cattle grazing by ranchers displaced from southern areas converted to cane production. This is indisputable fact.

> "For that I believe that ethanol from other countries shouldn't be over taxed"

You still haven't explained how Brazil can supply the US's vast demand for for ethanol, when it can't even fully fill its own much smaller needs. Brazil still uses five times as much gasoline as it does ethanol. So where is all this extra ethanol going to come from?

> "Don't you think that's best think about in reflorestate the US"

Forested land in the US has actually increased in the past century.


By clovell on 11/1/2007 3:55:04 PM , Rating: 1
I'm surpirsed nobody has mentioned the fact that sugarcane must be harvested by hand.


By Ringold on 10/29/2007 7:16:34 PM , Rating: 1
You proved that you're a partisan hack and that both parties can indeed be corrupted when lobbyists of any industry group shower millions on any party. Congratulations.

And lookie. I found the "B" button too.


By lifeblood on 10/30/2007 9:34:57 AM , Rating: 1
Your fooling yourself. Farm subsidies are bipartisan. Both republicans and democrats are guilty of them.


By Lord 666 on 10/29/2007 6:19:28 PM , Rating: 3
FEAST!


By 91TTZ on 10/30/2007 10:43:16 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Though..... who really drives a car more than 400 miles, at most at a time, anymore? I sure don't, and I can't think of anyone who would unless they were moving to another part of the country.


While my everyday commute is only several miles, I still need to make a 200 mile trip every week or so. I'm not going to rent a car every week to make that trip.

Most people will find that they, too, need to make long trips occasionally, too often to have to rent a car.


By Cheapshot on 10/30/2007 11:31:09 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
who really drives a car more than 400 miles?


Pizza delivery?


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By tdawg on 10/29/2007 1:34:56 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with you that we simply cannot generate enough alternative energy to replace fossil fuels, yet. We will eventually exhaust the oil supply. When is anybody's guess, but I think we can all agree that oil is not an infinite commodity.

The search for cleaner, more efficient, energy sources can only be a good thing. If we can begin to prepare now for what future generations may have to deal with, we are doing something beneficial.

Anybody who hasn't seen the documentary, Who Killed the Electric Car , and who is concerned about our reliance on fossil fuels, should sit down and watch it.


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By mdogs444 on 10/29/07, Rating: 0
RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By Oregonian2 on 10/29/2007 2:21:21 PM , Rating: 4
Crude oil running out someday is exactly as possible as you or I dying someday. Hopefully not ever, but logic suggests otherwise.


By Hoser McMoose on 10/29/2007 6:10:20 PM , Rating: 5
It's unlikely that we'll "run out" of crude oil any time in the foreseeable future, however it's absolutely inevitable that we will hit peak production at SOME stage.

The rate at which crude oil is created, through natural processes, is MUCH lower than the rate at which we are extracting it. Since the earth is, for most purposes, a closed system it is 100% certain that we're going to peak unless we find a way to produce more oil.

The question is not IF we will peak, but WHEN we will peak and what the other side of the peak will look like. As you correctly state, people have been talking about oil peaking for a LONG time now, but up until 2004 at least it hadn't happened. Exact numbers are a bit hazy, but it looks as though we may have hit at least a short-term peak somewhere between 2005 and 2007, though that may be only a blip rather than the actual peak.

The other side of the peak is perhaps the more interesting question. There are lots of doomsday scenarios that paint this as the end of civilization as we know it. From my perspective though economic history doesn't support that notion. More likely the rules of supply and demand will give us a fairly gentle peak and downward slope (high prices will limit demand and encourage exploration), while long-term alternatives can be brought up to speed.

As for batteries, new Li-Ion batteries are actually rather environmentally friendly beast. Even if they aren't recycled properly the materials in them aren't all that toxic. Really though they can and should be recycled. Current lead acid car batteries get about 95%+ recycled, so we've got a good background to go on already.


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By Donkeyshins on 10/29/2007 7:53:33 PM , Rating: 3
Actually, there is proof of running out of oil. The earth is of a finite size, therefore at some point in time (which is under debate) we will run out of oil. Unless Jesus has created a magical oil fountain at the center of the earth, that is.

With regards to solar and wind power, it would be quite easy to increase the amount of solar power generated - require all new construction include solar panels on the roof (unless in a region unsuited -- e.g. in the middle of a forest), and provide aggressive and generous rebates / tax breaks to those people or businesses that wish to retrofit solar panels to existing construction.

One problem is that our mindset is focused on an infrastructure based upon AC power provided by a centralized utility (e.g. Westinghouse's model) as opposed to Edison's model (DC power generated locally). Since solar is only effective during the day and since the majority of household appliances run off of DC power, perhaps moving to a housewide AC-DC converter that is fed by AC power at night and by DC solar during daylight hours is a better model?

Just my $0.02.


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By Tsuwamono on 10/29/2007 10:22:44 PM , Rating: 2
I think thats a great idea. Coupled with the use of Wind, water and geothermal power it is entirely possibly to create a much greener way of producing electricity for our society. Lets face it, cars are not the biggest polluters we have. Its our industry and our coal plants.

My personal opinion is that our action plan should be as follows;

1. More nuclear power plants to suppliment the loss of our coal power plants when they are shut down.

2. Shut down all coal power plants.

3. Create a subsidy program for people who implement solar power into their homes or businesses.(even more so for those who actually CONTRIBUTE to the grid)

4. Build large wind farms, new dams and Geothermal power plants.

5. Begin to close down oldest nuclear power plants in succession until all are closed while simultaneously bringing online more geothermal plants

6. Continue research on nuclear Fusion power as a source of green power.

Fairly simple but obviously much more complicated then 6 easy steps.


By Hulk on 10/30/2007 12:17:16 AM , Rating: 2
Good ideas but...

1. Environmentalists and Democrats won't allow it.
2. Can't occur until #1 occurs.
3. Already there.
4. Again Democrats won't allow it. Ruins sightlines, kills tree frogs, etc...
5. Can't happen until #4 happens.
6. Yes, pulse fusion looks promising.


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By dluther on 10/30/2007 8:06:02 AM , Rating: 1
You're my hero.


By Tsuwamono on 10/30/2007 8:53:22 PM , Rating: 2
That's what i like to hear.


By Bioniccrackmonk on 10/29/2007 12:24:37 PM , Rating: 2
Well, we have a source of electricity that is not only proven to work but also the most cost efficient, as far as amount of material used to receive the most amount of electricity. But mention the word nuclear, or like Bush likes to say, nucular, and you get a bunch of people up in arms regurgitating An Inconvenient Truth.


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By Christopher1 on 10/29/07, Rating: 0
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 10/29/2007 1:22:07 PM , Rating: 2
Hmm, I wish we had the power source from Doctor Who Impossible Planet. :)


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By geddarkstorm on 10/29/2007 1:40:48 PM , Rating: 2
There are definitely advancements going on in that area. Notably with glassification which eliminates the radioactivity of spent fuel. The problem with current reactors that use the spent fuel from other reactors, from my limited understanding, is they can convert the fuel into weapons grade stuff for bombs and such. But, there are definite solutions in the work, and I'm sure if they pumped all this money they are into biofuels into research for nuclear reactors, we'd figure it out a lot quicker.


By BVT on 10/29/2007 3:15:39 PM , Rating: 2
You mean Vitrification. It does not eliminate radioactivity, only contains it in a easy to move, more stable vessel.


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By GreenEnvt on 10/29/2007 2:11:43 PM , Rating: 2
I still say load the spent nuclear waste onto cargo rockets, and launch it into the sun. The sun will take car of it :)


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By Oregonian2 on 10/29/2007 2:39:36 PM , Rating: 2
NASA already gets major grief with the really teeny-tiny nuclear based power generators they use for their deep space probes (ones going out away from the sun). Problem is the possibility of rocket failure during launch and getting it out away from earth.


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By masher2 (blog) on 10/29/2007 2:47:21 PM , Rating: 2
> "Problem is the possibility of rocket failure during launch and getting it out away from earth. "

Such an RTG already crashed to earth when the unused Apollo 13 moon lander broke up in the atmosphere. Zero radioactivity was released. When you're dealing with something as small as an RTG, it's really not that difficult to make a casing able to withstand catastrophic failure of the launch platform.


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By Ringold on 10/29/2007 2:53:53 PM , Rating: 2
I wondered what happened to that thing in the movie...


By Bioniccrackmonk on 10/29/2007 3:41:53 PM , Rating: 2
It was classified and above everyones pay grade in that movie, so it was left out. :)


By Ringold on 10/29/2007 7:18:17 PM , Rating: 3
Well.. it just disconnected and floated away..

For all I knew, it was picked up by Vger or shot by Klingons.


By Hoser McMoose on 10/29/2007 6:20:57 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
some of which will last longer than you are alive by 1000 times or more.

The nice thing about radioactive waste is that it's either dangerous or long lived, but not both. That's simply how radiation works.

If the waste is giving off lots of radiation than it's losing it's radioactive material quickly and will have a short half life. The really dangerous stuff in nuclear reactors have half lives of less than 30 days, so in under a year it's totally gone (less than 0.01% of the original).

The long-lived stuff, by definition, is not giving off much radiation. Even the boogeyman of plutonium (Pu-239) with it's ~30,000 year half life is extremely safe as long as you don't eat the stuff or turn it into a bomb. The radiation it gives off is totally harmless when it's not inside your body, the outermost layer of dead skin cells stops it. The stuff with the million year half lives is totally benign (at least in terms of radioactivity).

The only real problem are the middle of the ground things, as we're seeing in the area around the Chernobyl reactors in Russia. There it's radiative isotopes of Strontium and Caesium that are most worrying because they have ~30 year half lives and spreading such stuff all around isn't a particularly good idea (but then again, a LOT of what was done in the Soviet nuclear power program wasn't a very good idea). If these can be seal properly and stored for 300 years or more then they would be totally safe.


By Hulk on 10/30/2007 12:18:40 AM , Rating: 1
Already have very efficient breeder reactors.

France is 80% nuke.

What you are asking is magic. Please wake up.


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By tdawg on 10/29/07, Rating: -1
RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By masher2 (blog) on 10/29/2007 1:52:53 PM , Rating: 5
> "Nuclear waste is quite possibly one of the scariest materials we can conceive of "

Only for people who don't understand how much natural radioactivity we're exposed to on a daily basis. Most don't realize that your average coal power plant releases a kilogram or two of uranium a day, just from that found naturally in the coal itself. Or realize that if they live in a New England or Rocky Mountain state, they already have hundreds of kilos of radioactive waste in their own backyard...waste left over from when Mother Nature made the planet.

> "Until we figure out how to recycle it in some sense, or accelerate its half-life"

High level waste can be recycled in a breeder reactor or, better yet, a "Rubbiatron" type generator.


By tdawg on 10/29/2007 2:22:37 PM , Rating: 1
Perception is the key, though. I guarantee that you could teach everyone everything they need to know about natural occurrences of radioactivity and still have a difficult time in convincing someone to stand next to an open container of radioactive waste for a few minutes rather than going to Colorado for the week.

I know they're working on processes to deal with radioactive waste, but even if they get that straightened out, there is still a real problem in convincing people to adopt nuclear energy as the solution. One need only mention Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, or Hanford, and they'll scare people away.

I know this is getting a little off topic and that the risk:reward ratio of nuclear energy could be debated ad nauseum. It's definitely a contentious issue and I have to believe that there are better alternatives out there. We just need to fund the research.


By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 10/29/2007 1:57:39 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
Nuclear waste is quite possibly one of the scariest materials we can conceive

See Doctor Who reference above :)

On a more serious note, I'm considerably more terrified of nanosludge than anything else in the world today. Especially since nobody is interested in researching the effects of billions of buckyballs floating around in the environment.


By JoshuaBuss on 10/29/2007 2:58:53 PM , Rating: 6
so true. at least we have some idea what radiation is and what we can do with it.. nano waste is TRULY scary.


By drwho9437 on 10/29/2007 4:37:38 PM , Rating: 2
First I agree that nuclear is good tech. I think fusion perhaps is the best real bet, however I disagree with the Doctor Who, I much prefer the power source in Meglos.


By drwho9437 on 10/29/2007 4:42:59 PM , Rating: 2
I work on nanoelectronics, it worries me also, but I think there is probably quite a lot of nano dust already naturally. I think there is potential for problems though. In fact I told someone that would be on the front pages of the papers in a few years as a huge hazard (after the fad has died)


By Bioniccrackmonk on 10/29/2007 3:51:08 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Nuclear waste is quite possibly one of the scariest materials we can conceive of and adding more of it to our landscape is a questionable strategy


I think all the biological/chemical warfare weapons we have conceived of and seen some used in the past are worse then hundreds of barrels of nuclear material tucked into a facility designed to store them. Also, with vitrification, storing waste is safer then it ever has been. Just look at all the other countries that use nuclear power as their main source, they seem to doing quite fine.


By masher2 (blog) on 10/29/2007 5:23:08 PM , Rating: 2
> "I think all the biological/chemical warfare weapons we have conceived of and seen some used in the past are worse "

Very true. A single vial of a biologic agent could concievably end the human race. That certainly trumps any toxic material, radioactive or no.


By drwho9437 on 10/29/2007 4:35:18 PM , Rating: 2
Do you realize how horribly polluting the semiconductor industry is (read: solar)?

I work on semiconductors and the chemical wastes aren't nice things.


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By Oregonian2 on 10/29/2007 2:36:05 PM , Rating: 3
Yup, I'd give nuclear about a 95% chance of being the major power source sixty years from now (if not much sooner, maybe 25). Just doesn't seem to be anything on the horizon of sufficient scale to replace petroleum and other sources (coal, natural gas, etc will decline as well as sources). Even here in the PNW, hydroelectric power which is "free" and renewable is being taken offline and destroyed as result of lawsuits to protect fish (which likely won't survive anyway). Some of the new wind-generation farms in our state are being "attacked" in today's newspaper as being a problem with eagles. Wouldn't be surprised if they had to be shut down at some point too.

In addition to replacement power, there is increasing new demand from progress in lesser developed countries "catching up". Those populations' increase in world demand for power will be a LOT greater than now, despite even heroic and successful conservation efforts.

P.S. - Solar power is technically a nuclear fusion power source! But putting up solar arrays will hurt the environment below them, so those if they get large will be sued out of existence for environmental concerns.


By Ringold on 10/29/2007 2:53:05 PM , Rating: 2
As an example, look at France. Nuclear power is already a reality there, though how they managed that I don't know.

Just across the border in Germany, on the other hand, the popular movement has been to eradicate all nuclear power. If not for being aware that Russia has them by the balls with oil just as they did with Berlin, walls and tanks not all that long ago they'd already be further down the road to decomissioning them.

Meanwhile, China desires to throw them up as fast as they possibly can.

<machiavelli>
The industry has a long way to go it seems in the developed world, such as fighting the FUD-spreading former-communist extreme so-called environmentalists, but I generally agree it's on the rise. Even if the great unwashed masses don't buy it, leaders will see it's one of the few practical ways forward and shove it down the masses throats one way or another.

</machiavelli>


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By FITCamaro on 10/29/2007 1:43:43 PM , Rating: 1
Yes then we just directly poison our landscapes with tens of millions of spent batteries in 20 years.


By drwho9437 on 10/29/2007 4:48:21 PM , Rating: 2
Recycling batteries isn't that complex. I would assume you are talking large rechargeable batteries for lots of things. Or you can use unlimited electrical power to synthesize hydrocarbons, to burn in a fuel cell (nothing more than a kind of battery really).

If fusion can get established it could solve this problem, for dense areas, and that would do a lot to help.


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By BUL on 10/29/2007 6:17:32 PM , Rating: 3
So have any of the armchair environmental activists here actually compared efficiencies of electric vs. gasoline/diesel engines? While I don't claim to know much on the subject, it seems that an electric engine is horribly inefficient vs. an internal combustion engine...

For example, if the power source is coal or nuclear: Potential energy --> Mechanical energy to turn turbine to make electricity (max 40% efficiency, rest lost as heat) --> power loss over transmission lines (heat) --> charge battery (inefficient, heat loss) --> battery leakage --> convert battery power to mechanical energy (heat loss).

Internal combustion engine: Potential energy --> burning gasoline into mechanical energy (heat loss).

By definition, electricity is a form of energy that's easily transmitted and converted into other forms of energy (i.e. light, heat, mechanical, etc.) However, the conversion of potential to mechanical to electrical back to machanical energy is grossly inefficient whereas an internal combusion engine is potential directly to mechanical...

Seems like the laws of physics would dictate that an internal combustion engine would use much less energy than an electric motor per mile travelled...


By Hoser McMoose on 10/29/2007 6:41:26 PM , Rating: 2
You're more or less correct on the paths for electrical energy, but here's the kicker, even after all of that the electrical vehicles are MORE efficient than the internal combustion engine. Sad huh? This is true even if you're using the worst-case scenario of 1960's and 70's coal power plants (~50% of US electricity).

The problem is that you just can't make a small ICE very efficient when it needs to go from 0 to ~7000rpm, delivers between 0 and xyz horsepower depending on how hard you press a pedal and do it all for only a few thousand dollars.

Add to that the fact that we've become rather good at electricity transmission and the batteries are getting very good as well (though I still think we need one more generation of battery tech to really make things work). The loss on the transmission lines is about 5% total, loss from charging, storing (short term at least) and discharging Li-Ion batteries is about 10% on a bad day and the loss in converting to mechanical energy is about a final 5%. Total for old coal plants works out to about:

0.34 x 0.95 x 0.90 x 0.95 = 28% efficient

There isn't an internal combustion engine + transmission in any car on the market that is 28% efficient, most struggle to hit 25% peak and more like 20% average. Drop in nuclear or more modern coal plants (combined cycle gasification plants could easily exceed 40% efficiency with some estimating better than 50% efficiency) and you're WAY ahead with electrical cars.

Now the only trick is getting the batteries to last 10 years without losing their maximum charge.


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By masher2 (blog) on 10/29/2007 6:45:32 PM , Rating: 2
> "While I don't claim to know much on the subject, it seems that an electric engine is horribly inefficient vs. an internal combustion engine..."

Working from memory, here are some approximate figures for you.

ICE efficiency: ~20% (over entire operating range)
ICE efficiency: ~35% (peak)

Electric motor efficiency: ~95%
Coal power plant efficiency: ~36% (subcritical)
Coal power plant efficiency: ~45% (supercritical design)
Powerline transmission loss: 5-7%.
Coulometric charge efficiency: ~75% (NiCad battery)
Coulometric charge efficiency: ~99% (LiIon battery)

The other primary loss factor would be the AC/DC conversion during charging, which is going to vary by charging station design.


By Keeir on 10/29/2007 7:05:22 PM , Rating: 2
Also add some negatives about gasoline he missed

#1. Refinement and distance from refinery to pump.


By Schadenfroh on 10/29/2007 10:22:33 PM , Rating: 2
We cannot use wind power, might harm the birds. We cannot use geothermal power, might harm the worms and other ground dwelling animals. We cannot use solar power, it takes too much land away from wildlife and flora.


By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 10/30/2007 7:34:51 AM , Rating: 2
Let's not forget nuclear power production.


RE: if we make all cars run on electricity....
By 91TTZ on 10/30/2007 12:15:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
if all cars run on electricity, then all we have to do is boost our production of solar, geothermal, and wind power.


All those things sound great- on paper. In reality those energy production means only account for a tiny percentage of our power needs. Not everywhere has the weather/geography to make those methods practical.

I used to work a nuclear power plant and I actually had some clueless college student tell me that they should have installed windmills on the land instead of the power plant there. People just don't understand the math involved. Take a typical wind turbine, for instance. Let's say it produces 50KW on an average day (a "100KW" wind turbine rarely produces 100Kw). You would need over 20,000 of them to equal the power produced by 1 reactor in the nuclear power plant, and the plant has 2 of them.


By Hoser McMoose on 10/30/2007 2:49:12 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
All those things sound great- on paper. In reality those energy production means only account for a tiny percentage of our power needs.

Wind, solar, geothermal and small scale run-of-the-river hydroelectric could make up approximately 20% of the power production for any decently large area. Certainly if you're looking at the U.S. as a whole hitting that mark would be fairly easy from a technical perspective.

Wind power can provide roughly 10% of the power needs all on it's own. There is some variability to how much power they produce, but modern turbines are actually fairly consistent in their power production. A bit of geographical spread on them (eg. scattered throughout a state) and you'll come pretty close to average wind production all the time, certainly close enough that grid-management smart software can adapt to any changes. Geothermal and run-of-the-river hydro will vary from one time of the year to the next, but they're fairly consistent throughout the course of a day and their ups and downs throughout the year can be fairly easily planned and adjusted for. Obviously these three sources of power are only suitable for baseload generating, you still need something to handle peak loads. Solar helps a bit here since it's peak power output tends to closely follow peak load. However you'll still need some other method (probably dam based hydro or natural gas) to handle real peak demand. As you're probably aware, nuclear also tends to be a rather poor choice for handling peak loads since it doesn't scale up and down quickly (at least with current reactors).

Of course, beyond the technical aspect there is also the economical aspect, and here things are a bit tougher, however that's mostly because of MASSIVE 'hidden' subsidies provided to the coal power industry (ie paying for the enormous health care costs from their waste). Natural gas is also kind of expensive, leaving nuclear as the only remaining "cheap" source of energy.

So, you want a practical, economical and environmentally friendly plan for power in the US, how about this breakdown:

Wind power: 10%
Solar power: 2%
Geothermal: 4%
Run-of-river hydro: 4%
Dam-based hydro: 7% (already existing)
Nuclear: 60%
Natural gas: 13% (already existing)
Coal: 0%

If the U.S. could manage that I would be VERY impressed. Add in good conservation efforts to keep future power consumption from increasing (ie counter population growth with conservation) and we're golden.

Not gonna happen though, too many people are scared of nukes based on their Hollywood knowledge of the things.


To add to this..
By masher2 (blog) on 10/29/2007 12:13:04 PM , Rating: 6
quote:
Biofuel is thought to be more environmentally friendly as the growth of crops, which absorb CO2, is thought to counteract its environmental impact somewhat
Recent research by Nobel Prize-winning chemist Paul Crutzen indicates biofuels actually release more greenhouse gases than fossil fuels. Here's a report on the research from last month:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,...




RE: To add to this..
By masher2 (blog) on 10/29/2007 12:27:53 PM , Rating: 6
Also, the IMF report slamming biofuels for causing loss of biodiversity and other environmental impacts:

http://media.ft.com/cms/fb8b5078-5fdb-11dc-b0fe-00...

And the OECD's report on their effect on hunger and the world's poor:

http://www.cfr.org/publication/14293/oecd.html


RE: To add to this..
By Dabruuzer on 10/29/2007 1:23:12 PM , Rating: 2
Really makes one want to fully read up on it all before forming an opinion. As I hope people do in this case.

P.S. That thumbnail is from a hilarious Canadian sitcom called, "Corner Gas". Takes place in amongst the corn and wheat fields of Saskatchewan. Irrelevant, I know. But how obscure. ;)


RE: To add to this..
By Dabruuzer on 10/29/2007 1:24:05 PM , Rating: 2
Nevermind - you changed the thumbnail.


RE: To add to this..
By Screwballl on 10/29/2007 1:55:48 PM , Rating: 1
That show is not funny... the only reason I have seen it at all is because they moved my Scrubs TV show up 1/2 an hour to make room for that corner gas show... 10 minutes in and I have to change it. Must be canadian humor that is so dry... and why I don't get it


RE: To add to this..
By Christopher1 on 10/29/2007 1:23:25 PM , Rating: 1
All of those links are true and factual, and I applaud masher2 for posting them.

Though.... some people have pointed out that bio-fuel can be made from ANY plant conceivably. One person even pointed out that it could be made from POISON IVY if they wish to, just as easily as it can be made from corn.


RE: To add to this..
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 10/29/2007 1:26:31 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds like I know what we can do with all that Kudzu in Hotlanta! :)


RE: To add to this..
By JasonMick (blog) on 10/29/2007 1:40:00 PM , Rating: 2
Thats true to some extent, but it is much harder, as you will get far less sugars, and far more starches than in sugary plants (thats why they use corn, sugarcane, maize...high sugar plants).

However, if we can come up with a good economically feasible process of breaking down the starches to simple sugars, via enzymes or other processes, than it would be a great thing to do with yard waste, crop waste, weeds, and other assorted unwanted shruberies.

Here's hoping that those advances are made.

Still, I think the bioengineered algae that produce H2 have perhaps the greatest potential for a plant-produced fuel.


RE: To add to this..
By geddarkstorm on 10/29/2007 2:00:34 PM , Rating: 2
They have bioengineered algae that make hydrogen? That's awesome. Too bad I haven't heard anything on that yet. I'll have to look it up.

Yes, the only thing that makes starch difficult is that it increases costs and time to use enzymes to break it down (recombinant enzymes may be easy to make, but they are still costly, and you lose all your enzymes every time you have to purify the sugars away from them; and that adds up quick monetarily). Chemically, it can be a bit tricky because starch is so highly branched with alpha 1-6 linkages as well as the normal straight glucose chain alpha 1-4 links. So yeah, it's just profit and time that's the main thing that keeps starchy plants from being used even though per volume they'll have far, far more sugar than plants with less starch. Therein, humanitarian wise, starchy plants would be a better source to use, and wouldn't conflict with normal crop productions so much. Nonetheless, biofuels seem like a dead end waste as a primary energy source; we need totally new technology, not just new combustion fuels.


RE: To add to this..
By Ringold on 10/29/2007 2:46:38 PM , Rating: 4
Better yet, goo -> high-quality gasoline.

http://www.economist.com/science/displaystory.cfm?...

If the environmental left and energy-security right can be kept at bay, and any farmer or lawyer or lobbyist in the employment of farmers enter Washington DC be shot at, for just perhaps a decade this whole thing can be looked back at and laughed about.


Interesting Article
By TomZ on 10/29/2007 12:19:59 PM , Rating: 2
Nice work, Jason. This is a really facinating topic. The situation with biofuels seems to follow the old saw "there's no such thing as a free lunch."




RE: Interesting Article
By therealnickdanger on 10/29/2007 1:02:54 PM , Rating: 2
Dittos.

Jason, are you using a new text format? It was the first thing I noticed when I reading the article. The letters are spaced out different than normal... my world is collapsing in on itself.


RE: Interesting Article
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 10/29/2007 1:19:18 PM , Rating: 2
We updated Jason's blog to a combined Michael Asher / Jason Mick top tier story. I'm just cleaning up the formatting now.


RE: Interesting Article
By therealnickdanger on 10/29/2007 1:22:18 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
combined Michael Asher / Jason Mick top tier story

*head asplode*


RE: Interesting Article
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 10/29/2007 1:24:14 PM , Rating: 4
"Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together - mass hysteria."


RE: Interesting Article
By therealnickdanger on 10/29/2007 1:28:31 PM , Rating: 2
Oh man, classic Bill.


RE: Interesting Article
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 10/29/2007 2:01:06 PM , Rating: 2
I think I saw aliens touch down across the street and my Boss has suddenly developed an IQ larger than my shoe size.....


RE: Interesting Article
By rtrski on 10/29/2007 2:08:58 PM , Rating: 2
Well you do have abnormally small feet, so that last one was always kind of borderline...


RE: Interesting Article
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 10/29/2007 2:59:38 PM , Rating: 2
You must not work in IT.


RE: Interesting Article
By TomZ on 10/29/2007 1:35:27 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
We updated Jason's blog to a combined Michael Asher / Jason Mick top tier story. I'm just cleaning up the formatting now.

Very cool - I like it! What a team!


RE: Interesting Article
By glitchc on 10/29/2007 5:33:04 PM , Rating: 2
How's the bed, fellows?


Biofuels - The Fundamentally Flawed Solution
By Sahrin on 10/29/2007 12:20:11 PM , Rating: 5
Ethanol is the mother of all panders. If Wisconsin was one of the first primary states, there would be cheese-based fuel. If Texas was among the first, it would be beef-based. If California, silicone implant-based fuels. Ethanol isn't a solution, it's a problem; it magnifies the environmental impact of transportation fuels instead of decreasing it by loading the entire producton process onto the environment (as opposed to oil, where the production has already taken place - only extraction, refinement and use occur today). In addition to that are the social concerns noted above.

Imagine if instead of bio-fuels, we spent the billions a year in subsidies on mass transit, or the development better battery technology, or invested in particle physics. Or hell, if we planted trees or paid to keep land fallow.

There are a hundred better things to do with the money - Ethanol (and biofuels in general) are a curiousity and interesting from a personal standpoint (particularly home-made biodiesel); but as a solution to the transportation problem in the US (and elsewhere) they are simply and environmental load shift. Ultimately, the only way to "decrease" pollution is to increase efficiency; it takes the same amount of power to move one person one mile if you are doing it by car or by trebuchet. Increase the efficiency of your production (centralized, electrical); increase the efficiency of your methods (mass transit) or increase the efficiency of your storage systems (batteries). Spending money on an alternative to gas is the only solution which actually STAGNATES development - by continuing the use of the localized ICE for the generation of kinetic motive energy. It needs to die, like steam trains of old.




By masher2 (blog) on 10/29/2007 12:21:54 PM , Rating: 2
> "If Wisconsin was one of the first primary states, there would be cheese-based fuel."

Great quote there :)


By therealnickdanger on 10/29/2007 12:42:10 PM , Rating: 2
As a Minnesotan, I apologize for my state's involvement in the corn-based ethanol push. The shame! The agony!


RE: Biofuels - The Fundamentally Flawed Solution
By Moishe on 10/29/2007 12:42:50 PM , Rating: 5
I am going to push for a local trebuchet transit system (TTS). I think my local city government could really reduce the clogged traffic patterns and harmful emissions of the automobile.

We can use recycled (green) metal from extinct land vehicles to build a trebuchet for each neighborhood and the trajectory and thrust requirements could easily be calculated by a regular eMachines computer.

The "catcher" components will be installed at T-stations around the city. Estimated flight times across town are around one minute and in-air collisions will be eliminated by allowing all flights to be scheduled. We could use the AT&T mobile phone network (since they have fewest dropped calls) to ensure that the eMachines are always aware of the full flight schedule... Look for regional TTS systems to come online soon after the local systems. This could lead to very speedy commuting from remote sections of the county.

I'm thinking we can simply load of the regional transportation vans directly onto the thrust mechanism and launch groups simultaneously.


By Moishe on 10/29/2007 12:45:58 PM , Rating: 3
by the way, the TTS will be powered by sewage, since nobody wants that anyway... Backup power will consist of pedal powered generators and will result in a higher quality of living for various homeless people in the area.


By FITCamaro on 10/29/2007 1:45:39 PM , Rating: 2
Damn I wish I saw this before posting. Give this a 6.


By Master Kenobi (blog) on 10/29/2007 2:08:05 PM , Rating: 2
LOL!! You got my vote just make sure I have a law chair and a bag of popcorn when this gets rolled out.


Corn
By AlvinCool on 10/29/2007 2:08:29 PM , Rating: 5
If corn is such a problem how about we stop using high frutose corn syrup as a sweetner and go back to cane sugar. Cane sugar metabilizes much slower and is way better for us than high frutose sugars.




RE: Corn
By Misty Dingos on 10/29/2007 2:51:05 PM , Rating: 5
You should be given a gold medal for that. I honestly think that the use of corn syrup in food or drinks should be highly regulated. Corn syrup is just not good for you.


RE: Corn
By sweetsauce on 10/29/2007 3:37:33 PM , Rating: 2
My grandma came to visit us 3 months ago from Brazil. Her diet hasn't changed at all since she got here. She's a big soda drinker, like i am, and its really taking a toll on her. Shes put on 35lbs since she arrived. Most countries still use cane sugar for things like soda, so its easy to do the math.


RE: Corn
By TomZ on 10/29/2007 4:16:09 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure you've reached the right conclusion there. I drink (non-diet) soda all the time, and I haven't gained any significant weight from it. Same for millions of Americans. There's probably more going on in your grandma's case than just the soda.


RE: Corn
By teldar on 10/29/2007 5:48:42 PM , Rating: 2
Some people's bodies are more able to deal with the short chain fructose molecule than other people's bodies are. I would say there is a definite push in the nutritional field to use as little corn syrup as possible because it makes insulin levels go crazy (in many people) and encourages the storage of carbohydrates as fats via the liver.

T


Corn facts
By iowafarmer on 10/29/2007 6:50:09 PM , Rating: 2
There are 56 pounds of corn in a bushel of corn. Field corn is 8-9% protein.

The government predicts the average corn yield per acre in Iowa this year will be a record 180 bushels/acre.

A bushel of corn can currently be converted into 2.8 gal of ethanol and 28 pounds of dried distillers grains, if you don’t dry, it’s wet distillers grains. DDG’s are about 22% protein. One could argue all the feed value remains after the moonshine is distilled from a bushel of corn. If the alcohol weren’t mixed with gas you could drink it out of the pump. The process is very much like you see at your local micro brewer. There is no reason the vats and distiller used in the process to produce ethanol from corn could not also be used to produce ethanol from biomass.

On Oct 11, 2006 US corn production was projected to be 10.9 billion bushels. On Oct 12, 2007 US corn production was projected to be 13.3 billion bushels. Us farmers have increased acres dedicated to corn production from the low 80 million acres last year to the low 90 million acres this year. Production information can be located from here: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_...

The average price paid the farmer for corn today in Iowa was $3.36. I think the average at the farm gate last year was under $3.00. The value of the entire US corn crop at the farm gate last year was under $33 billion last year. There were individual oil companies reporting $10 billion quarterly profits last year, over $40 billion profit for the year, more than the total value of corn at the farm gate. Corn is worth less than $.06 a pound. How much is a pound of corn flakes?

The mandate for ethanol is as an oxygenate. It reduces smog. Big oil produced MTBE to be an oxygenate fuel additive. The environmental damage done by MTBE was so great it was outlawed. I find it interesting that areas most opposed to ethanol would benefit most from having a 10% blend of ethanol and are asking for exceptions when it comes to meeting clean air standards.

The value of a gallon of ethanol has been around $1.80 lately. You do the math, a 10% blend should be worth less at the pump.

I see issues with using biomass to produce alcohol. Any time you remove all plant material from the ground you expose it to potential severe wind and water erosion, not to mention the removal of organic mater and plant nutrients usually found in the stover.

I buy much less than 10 gallon an acre of diesel a year. I apply an average of 140-60-100 of N-P-K on an acre of corn in a corn soybean crop rotation. I apply nothing per year extra to produce an acre of beans. An acre of Iowa corn can produce over 500 gallon of ethanol. Last year about 2 billion bushel of corn was used to produce ethanol this year it is to be about 3 billion bushel of corn. Most of the feed value in a bushel of corn is retained after ethanol production in the form of DDG’s or WDG’s.

There have been multiple year problems with world wheat production. Check out grain prices including price charts here: http://www.e-adm.com/ . Combine production issues with transportation cost increases and it’s no wonder food prices have increased.

Surprised an iowa farmer visits anandtech?




RE: Corn facts
By masher2 (blog) on 10/29/2007 7:05:25 PM , Rating: 2
> "The environmental damage done by MTBE was so great it was outlawed"

There was no environmental damage from MTBE. It was outlawed based on environmental group lobbying. At least one of the groups pushing hardest for the MTBE ban was later found to be heavily funded by Archer Daniels Midland, a company which reaped a multi-billion dollar reward from having MTBE replaced by ethanol.

As an oxygenate, ethanol does not reduce smog as much as MTBE, due to its higher volatility. Its lower energy content means that reformulated gasoline made with ethanol provides slightly less MPG as well.

> "Us farmers have increased acres dedicated to corn production from the low 80 million acres last year to the low 90 million acres this year"

Correct. Much of that land was previously used for other crops such as wheat. While there are other reasons, the reduced production of wheat is largely responsible for the recent doubling of wheat prices.


RE: Corn facts
By iowafarmer on 10/29/2007 7:42:48 PM , Rating: 2
_____"There was no environmental damage from MTBE."__________

I read there were areas with substantial groundwater damage due to the use of MTBE.

ADM would benifit some from the banning of MTBE. Most recently built plants were built with producer and individual financing. The big agribusiness firms sat on the sidelines. Current ethanol prices are near breakeven for the plants. I look for big business, ag and oil to buy out these plants and all the complaints about ethanol to dissapear. At least one big agribusiness company was trying to figure out a way to get the blender subsidy applied to Brazilian ethanol and is investing heavly in SA ethanol production.

BTW the subsidy goes to the blender or big oil. Why wouldn't the blender choose to take $1.80 ethanol and blend it at their cost of $1.30 in a product they are charging a premium for? All one has to do is put 10% alcohol in the bottom of a tanker and fill it the rest of the way with gas. Thats the way the local bulk supplier makes biodiesel at the farm. 25 gal of bean oil poured in the bottom of a 500 gal bulk tank and finish filling with diesel.

I do recognize I should just be quiet about defending ethanol in any way. It's far from perfect, will never replace oil and is at best a bandaid. However it does displace some$90 imported oil.


RE: Corn facts
By masher2 (blog) on 10/30/2007 11:24:55 AM , Rating: 2
> "I read there were areas with substantial groundwater damage due to the use of MTBE."

There were several areas that had PPM levels of MTBE in groundwater, due to leaky underground gasoline tanks.

The simple solution is to replace the tanks...quite obviously if you have gasoline leaking into your water, you've got bigger problems than MTBE. But of course, modern environmental groups rarely like simple solutions that make sense.

MTBE was a product originally designed to replace an earlier product banned by environmentalists -- tetra-ethyl lead. And I fully expect that, within a decade or so, environmentalists will begin jockying to have ethanol banned as well.


RE: Corn facts
By iowafarmer on 10/30/2007 1:23:28 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
There were several areas that had PPM levels of MTBE in groundwater, due to leaky underground gasoline tanks.


I understood the MTBE problem was traced to exhaust emissions and was found by monitoring surface water. Any fuel tank that is found to be leaking has to be fixed.

You might be interested to know that there were more acres of wheat grown in the US in 2007 than 2006. http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda/current/Acre/... . There were many traders on the CBOT that made the same assumption about crop acres and lost alot of money along with farmers holding unsold grain when this report was released. http://www.cbot.com/cbot/pub/page/0,3181,963,00.ht... These are facts that you don't have to make assumptions about, but information is readily available. I suspect there will be more acres of Wheat grown in the US in 08 than 07 and that there will be fewer acres of corn and more of soybeans in 08. The EU has released set aside and will likely be growing more acres of almost all crops.

Funny thing about rising prices. It becomes profitable to grow crops in areas where it was previously not profitable to raise them.

Oh the N-P-K application per acre was in pounds.


RE: Corn facts
By masher2 (blog) on 10/30/2007 2:22:44 PM , Rating: 2
> "I understood the MTBE problem was traced to exhaust emissions"

From Calgasoline.com:
quote:
Invariably, the presence of MTBE in groundwater has been directly linked to underground storage tanks (USTs) leaking gasoline for an extended period of time – even years in some instances. These leaks are typically due to inadequate or non-existent UST inspection and/or maintenance practices...


> "You might be interested to know that there were more acres of wheat grown in the US in 2007 than 2006"

Up to 60 million acres now, yes. But we were cultivating 80+ million acres of wheat a decade or two ago. And I suspect you're right-- wheat and corn acreage will continue to increase, as rising prices make it feasible.

But grains are a world market, and rising prices have a serious effect on the world's poor. Furthermore, biofuels are just in their infancy. If biofuel usage continues to expand, foodstocks are going to get squeezed much harder, despite all those new acres. Finally, the cultivation of those additional acres has a real impact on soil erosion, groundwater quality, and other environmental factors.


RE: Corn facts
By iowafarmer on 10/31/2007 3:57:10 PM , Rating: 2
I bought my first pack of cigarettes in the late 60’s.
"Nothing wrong with cigarettes."
It took me 30 odd years to quit smoking.

I remember back in the early 70’s going to the Iowa State Fair and seeing for sale a still on wheels. The idea was a farmer could distill alcohol from his corn. He could use that alcohol to run his vehicles and he wouldn’t have to sit in the long lines at the gas stations. All the left over alcohol he could drink or sell. There was also an option for an electric generator. The exhaust from the motor running on the alcohol would distill the grain, you could run your vehicle and still drink and sell the left over alcohol. Oh and the neat thing was the alcohol was a byproduct. You still had the distiller gain to feed your livestock. The animal waste fertilized the crop ground. Now there was an idea that should have worked.

Oh did you hear the one about the proposed ethanol plant in some Plaines state. Lets say Kansas. The proposal is for an Ethanol plant and a huge feedlot to be built side by side. What you do is feed the cattle the distillers grain. You collect the cattle waste in a digester to generate methane and run an electric generator and use the exhaust to distill the alcohol and then put the extra electricity into the electric grid. A digester can be nothing more than a big plastic bag that contains the waste.

Oh did you hear that some place in China that some farmers were collecting the waste from their pig and putting it in a crude digester. They ran pipes to the kitchen range to cook and another to the living room to light a lamp to read books. I think I saw that on public television.

I think some times these ethanol plants can piss local farmers off . You can’t always believe what you hear, but then, I understand there are plants that have their corn bought their ethanol sold and contracts with mega dairies in California for the distillers grains. Wouldn’t it piss you off to see your local northern Iowa distillers grain supply loaded into boxcars and transported to California; or a feedlot in Texas with cattle as far as the eye can see.

You know I was thinking about getting one of those corn burning stoves or furnaces. Most of the time corn is cheaper than wood, cheaper than LPG, cheaper than oil.

You know of course that if farmers could have made a profit raising 80 million acres of wheat a year they would have. Farmers plant what they feel will give them the best chance to say in business another year. It’s naive to think of farming as a nonprofit business.


*WARNING* hypocrite rant
By autoboy on 10/29/2007 4:33:14 PM , Rating: 2
Once again the energy alarmist's foolish quest for new energy technologies results in a severe misappropriation of scarce resources in a short sided, irrational quest to limit the amount of CO2 emitted by developed nations while harming those that cannot pay the premiums required to develop these technologies.

Every time you burn that ethanol in your E85 Suburban on the way to your Whole Foods market that you have to drive 20 miles farther to get to because you want your crappy organic produce that takes twice the land resources to produce than non-organic produce, you deprive a child of eating for an entire month while donating your spare change to breast cancer research to save one more precious rich chick from losing her breast. Good job America you stupid F*$ktards.

And BTW, wipe that stupid smug look off your face you stuck up Europeans who are worse at adopting lame ass policies that do nobody any good. You are leading this lemming march off the cliff of idiocracy.




RE: *WARNING* hypocrite rant
By Ringold on 10/29/2007 7:36:24 PM , Rating: 2
What's that saying about free markets? The belief that men acting to maximize their own self interest are in fact doing the most to help society?

Throwing money at E85 encourages inefficient production of resources, and throwing money at Whole Foods simply means less food gets produced and does nothing for impoverished farmers internationally who arent among the blessed few used as sources. It also uses more energy, from an opportunity cost stand point, to create local produce in spite of shorter transport distances.

Buuut you lose me on the breast cancer deal. Not that I have a solution, but.. I don't care if it's a rich breast or a poor breast, the more in the world the merrier!

That said, I think I'd rather donate to a scholarship for med students, biologists, or whatever; that might achieve the end goal, perhaps, a little quicker.


RE: *WARNING* hypocrite rant
By autoboy on 10/29/2007 7:56:44 PM , Rating: 2
My point about the breast cancer was that these people want to do good and donate to good causes, but value the lives of the rich over the lives of the poor. It made sense to me when I wrote it, I guess it did not come out right. I have nothing about breast cancer or breast cancer research. I think all cancer research is a good thing, but if the people knew what E85 really was, they would be donating to stop it's use instead of promoting it. Also, my parents own farms that produce corn and ethanol, so I profit from their success, but I am still totally against their use as a fuel.


RE: *WARNING* hypocrite rant
By Ringold on 10/30/2007 4:01:36 PM , Rating: 2
Well, allow me to be cold hearted and point out that if one must choose between saving one rich life and one poor life then the logical choice is the rich one; likely more educated and, at the very least, by virtue of being rich, is a more productive economic agent in the macro economy, making life better for everyone else -- including the other poor folk.

Some could certainly disagree with me though, at least on non-economic grounds.

I agree on the whole ethanol bit though. Education is the issue at present.


By UserDoesNotExist on 10/31/2007 10:44:55 AM , Rating: 2
I can't believe you actually said that out loud. Don't get me wrong, I agree with you.

Most people actually hold to this view, even though they don't even realize it. Think about how often you hear about "white trash" that shop at Walmart are and how "stupid, uneducated" people shouldn't vote and are bringing down the gene pool. At the same time, when conversations turn to helping "the poor", everyone falls over themselves to show how compassionate they are. Calling the poor stupid and worthless, then devoting hundreds of billions of dollars to help the poor. Typical human behavior.

Me? I just think that it makes more sense to treat rich people because there's no randomness to treating the rich. If you need the treatment, you buy it. You don't choose who gets the treatment, they (or fate) choose themselves. If you give out treatments to the poor, you'll have to do it via some type of lottery or first-come-first-serve system, and people will be mad that you let the unlucky people die, even though you were giving out free treatments in the first place. It's a sad commentary on society when it's in your best interest to do nothing, rather than do something and be criticized for not doing enough (c.f. Society Security Also, the rich can reimburse you. Despite what you've probably heard about "Big Pharm," drug development is incredibly expensive and tricky. This modern fairytale that drug companies should just give away their drugs has got to stop. Drug companies spend literally billions to develop a new drug, and when it finally come out of testing, people and politicians start clamoring for it to be socialized at near or even below cost. Kill the profit margin, kill the incentive for innovation. If you price the drug in the traditional fashion, eventually the poor will get the drug when the generics hit the market. If you force the drug company to sell the drug for cheap from the beginning, no one will ever get the drug because the drug company will close up shop and move into a related industry. You're only shooting yourself in the foot.

Welcome to life. People die, and it sucks. Learn to accept that fact. We can't make everyone rich and cure death. There will always be the poor. We can, however, make everyone richer and stay off death a little longer.


The most annoying part of it all
By Pandamonium on 10/29/2007 1:58:20 PM , Rating: 2
Is that we end up paying more at the pump for this stuff. All the gas stations around me (St. Louis, MO) have 10% ethanol added to the gas. I haven't personally compared my fuel economy between 100% gas and 90/10 gas/ethanol, but a few of the readers at this site have: http://www.fivecentnickel.com/2006/06/01/ethanol-b...

The short version is that the $/distance of E10 is greater than the $/distance of regular/non-ethanol gas. Call me cynical, but I feel like the biofuel legislation Bush is putting through is to appease his oil-money campaign donors.




RE: The most annoying part of it all
By Moishe on 10/29/2007 2:26:28 PM , Rating: 2
I agree about the annoyance... but I don't know why everything has to be about Bush? Here is my take on it. For the past decade plus I've heard about how bad oil is. The environment has grown into the "thing" to focus on. As much as we hate to admit it, bio-fuel is one of the so-called answers to the oil hate-fest. Now, we know that the answer was never really a good one, but at least things are being tried.

Basically I'm saying that people complain about oil and then complain when attempts to replace it are unsuccessful. It's unrealistic and ignorant at best. The focus is now on efficiency like ever before and the end results WILL BE safer and better forms of fuel. It simply takes time to get there and patience is a must.


RE: The most annoying part of it all
By Oregonian2 on 10/29/2007 2:46:34 PM , Rating: 1
Everything is Bush's fault, don't you know that? It's even his fault for Denver losing the world series. He's all powerful and responsible for anything that goes bad, but has no hand in anything that goes well (so Bostonians give him no credit for their series win).

Not sure why the oil guys would bribe Bush to promote the alcohol additive, it only cuts down on the amount of oil being used. Seems like they'd have him get rid of it. As if he had control of it.

At least locally, it's used for cutting down on air pollutants during the winter. The alternative stuff they had previously I understand has bad health effects for some other reason.


RE: The most annoying part of it all
By ussfletcher on 10/30/2007 12:36:18 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, the real problem to the corn price dilemma is the government subsidies on grains. The farmers are being paid to not grow the corn that would stabilize the price.


RE: The most annoying part of it all
By Moishe on 10/30/2007 8:13:15 AM , Rating: 2
and we say that big government does help the little guy... bah!

The midwest is prime agricultural land ready to grow amazing stuff.... it should be let loose to produce whatever can be produced. The excess growth should be sold at cost to poor nations.


Someone needs to check their facts...
By fredsnotdead on 10/29/07, Rating: 0
RE: Someone needs to check their facts...
By aebiv on 10/29/2007 3:09:11 PM , Rating: 2
Yet we can't have ranchers making any money either though huh?

When no matter if it is chickens, pigs, or cattle, feeding them is the most expensive part. You double their primary feed cost, and all of a suddon that animals is losing them money.


By weskurtz0081 on 10/29/2007 3:42:00 PM , Rating: 2
Forget about who is making how much money. Think about this.... Prices.

All meat, dairy, breads (people stopped making other crops to produce corn), cereals.... it seems like just about every food product should increase in price. Now, are wages going to increase along with this? No..... We are going to experience inflation only because of the ethanol usage. So, along with the inflation in food, we will have inflation in energy prices which will in turn inflate the rest of the prices. This is the part that concerns me the most. Considering the current state of the US economy, the last thing we need is for inflation to start running rampant.


By Reflex on 10/29/2007 3:45:16 PM , Rating: 3
Sure they can make money, no one is begrudging farmers thier fair price. Of course, they should be making money without the taxpayers subsdizing their products, like every other business....


By dluther on 10/30/2007 8:23:04 AM , Rating: 2
We have an old saying here in Oklahoma: "Never cuss the farmer with your mouth full."

And to paraphrase Dan Quayle, "Quite frankly, farming is the only profession that grows our food."

Of course we want our farmers to be prosperous. But think about it for a few minutes -- farmers are growing more corn, but since they're not pulling new land out of their asses, that means they're growing fewer other crops, which increases the price of those as well.

Ethanol from corn is a bad idea for a great number of reasons.


4$ a Gallon for GAS
By rippleyaliens on 10/29/2007 9:11:41 PM , Rating: 1
big oil etc... WELL exxon made like almost 50+ BILLION dollars last year. HOW ABOUT who they buy it form.. They are making a TON of CASH.. Me , myself i iwelcome some alternative. Now causing people to starve? Well, if he is talking about forign countries, i think the responsibility lies with them as well.
$90 a barrel for oil, is like more than 4.5 times the cost only 10 years ago!! i sure dont make 4.5 times the income. so think about this, how much will oil be in 10 more years.. JST INSANE.

mass transpo??- sure if we livedin a tiny country like england, spain, or any of the med countries. your gas cost...more.. so what.. unfortunately the US citizen cannot make the prices. ALSO, since the US is such a large country.. what are we to do? Ride motor-scooters?

ME i am all for a hybrid, bio-fuel car. Ethenol+electriciy. Long trips, well you either roll with it, or adapt.
I am not afraid of running out of oil. i am afraid of $6 a gallon for gas. THAT means it would cost me $12 a day just to get to/from work. NOW that is just plain stupid. Exxon makes their $$$, it is about time some farmers made some $$$.. not so much to change,, but to reduce our dependence on Arab Oil, or south american Oil. That is the Goal.
Depending on them, is like the world is on crack... sooo dependent on something, that at a drop of a dime, they will raise prices, and yet make profit.

With bio fuel, there is no-tankers needed (except for export), we spend over 60 billion $$$ a month for OIL-- 13 billion gallons of gas.. We need to do something to change , wether small or large. Just debating it, solves NOTHING




RE: 4$ a Gallon for GAS
By Mogglewump on 10/30/2007 12:46:12 PM , Rating: 2
I have to say that I find your attitude...depressing at least. Considering that the rest of the world pay a lot more for petrol per litre than the US it would be nice if you didn't just think about yourselves.

Price for a gallon of petrol in the UK is $7.50 currently. Yes, that's a whole $3.50 more than your shocking statement and you don't see us calling it a crisis. We know it's a problem but some countries, who shall remain nameless, don't even recognise the problem.


RE: 4$ a Gallon for GAS
By masher2 (blog) on 10/30/2007 12:52:57 PM , Rating: 2
> "Considering that the rest of the world pay a lot more for petrol per litre than the US it would be nice if you didn't just think about yourselves"

Err, there's more to the "rest of the world" than Europe. When gas prices in Britain were $6.00/gallon, Venezuela was paying all of 12 cents/gallon, Nigeria 30 cents/gallon, Egypt about 60 cents/gallon, and Russia $2/gal, still a full dollar a gallon under US prices.


RE: 4$ a Gallon for GAS
By Mogglewump on 10/30/2007 1:12:54 PM , Rating: 2
Well yes, I agree with that, perhaps I worded my point badly.

I merely used local pricing to prove the point that $4 a gallon wasn't that catastrophic in the grand scheme of things.


RE: 4$ a Gallon for GAS
By Ringold on 10/30/2007 3:58:15 PM , Rating: 2
Just because Europe is calibrated for a high transportation cost doesn't mean America is, or has to be, or should be expected to be. Any time any country moves from one equilibrium condition with transport costs at X and costs rise to Y, there's going to be potentially serious consequences depending on high large the shift is.

This isn't a case of America being only inward looking; when dealing with domestic energy markets, there's simply no reason at all to include foreign nations situations thousands of miles away under entirely different tax schemes and markets. What does the price of gasoline in Bahrain got to do with WalMarts quarterly report and job growth in the US? Absolutely none. Thats the point I think Masher may have been trying to make -- if not, I just made it myself. :P


By mWMA on 10/30/2007 4:37:03 AM , Rating: 1
Why should we even do this because no matter what you think is best alternate source of energy the sun will be around. It releases enough energy in 1 day to our entire solar system that would enough to turn our entire oceans into steam.

The sun shines enough energy on lake Erie in 1 day that if collected and stored could provide energy need of a country like US for a year.




By masher2 (blog) on 10/30/2007 5:08:13 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The sun shines enough energy on lake Erie in 1 day that if collected and stored could provide energy need of a country like US for a year
You're off by a couple orders of magnitude. Lake Erie is about 10,000 sq. miles. That's 25K sq. km. Assuming an average flux of about 300 watts/sq meter (an extremely generous estimate...the Arizona desert does about that much), and a pie-in-the-sky 100% efficient conversion ratio, that works out to about 180B kilowatt-hours/day.

The US is using some 3 trillion kilowatt-hours ( per year in electricity alone. Total energy usage, counting oil and other sources, is considerably higher.

And of course, the big problem with solar is in the "collecting and storing it". Even ignoring problems with papering over several Lake Erie-size areas with solar cells, we don't have any way whatsoever of storing the massive amounts of electricity required for solar to be viable at night.

Solar is close to being practical in helping to offload some peak demand...as long as you're not in a high latitude area or one thats particularly cloudy. But it's decades (if not centuries) away from being able to fill all our energy needs.


By doctor sam adams on 10/31/2007 1:12:13 AM , Rating: 2
Well, if you could obtain those conditions you would have a daily energy surplus of around 95%! Then the rest could be used to power everything else... and the rest of the world also.


Saskatchewan
By Bar Jebus on 10/29/2007 2:33:51 PM , Rating: 2
Sadly, my province in Canada is building biofuel refinement plants to further exacerbate this problem. I didn't realize that biofuels were so useless in regards to reducing environmental pollution. Although it may be nice to have as a fall back if oil gets fairly scarce in the future, it still feels like an extremely redundant policy to build these refinement plants. In my city at the moment, a full quarter of our public transit busses are now biodeisel I believe. We seem to be on the biofuel bandwagon heart and soul :S




RE: Saskatchewan
By Ringold on 10/29/2007 3:25:20 PM , Rating: 2
General skeptics of the various denominations of environmental churchs (like classically conservative republicans) have made these arguements for ages; nothing new here at all.

That makes this whole thing fairly annoying that the masses have to wait for one of the least credible international agencies in history to come out on a subject.. but.. whatever works.


BioDiesel FTW!
By ksherman on 10/29/2007 3:46:24 PM , Rating: 2
BioDiesel is a much better alternative to Ethanol. I am most definetly an Ethanol hater, there are no real tangible benfits to Ethanol and I have a hard time supporting any politician who says/thinks that Ethanol is the key to reducing our dependency on foriegn oil, they obviously don't care to do the research.




RE: BioDiesel FTW!
By MrPickins on 10/29/2007 6:15:29 PM , Rating: 2
A local beer/keg store near UT campus has bio-diesel on sale for ~$3 a gallon.

If I had a diesel car, I'd buy it.


F' UN
By Machinegear on 10/31/2007 1:12:16 PM , Rating: 2
Who cares what the UN thinks.

The bleeding heart points the UN guy makes is irresponsible toward free markets and personal freedom. If the market (you, as the consumer) wants gas made from corn you buy it. If the market (you, again) wants cheaper corn flakes you buy it. In the end, you decide. What this dingbat at the UN wants is for you to loose your freedom in favor of government regulation. The rich immoral idiots at the UN knows what is best for you right?

If he suggested video cards were a crime against humanity because video cards should be used to heat the mud huts of kids in Africa... you folks would be up in arms!




RE: F' UN
By porkpie on 10/31/2007 2:13:27 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is free markets AREN'T deciding right now. There's not only a mandate for ethanol in gasoline, but the government is spending tens of billions to subsidize ethanol production. That makes the cost artificially low, which prompts people to buy what really is a very expensive, unpractical product (because most of the cost is hidden in their tax bill).

When you add that ethanol and other biofuels really are worse for the environment than gasoline, it makes those government subsidies even worse.


By noonie on 10/30/2007 12:24:59 AM , Rating: 3
Fuel from corn is a waste of resources. Fuel from pond scum however is looking very attractive.

Lance Seefeldt , USU Biofuels Program: "For soybeans, you get about 48 gallons per acre. And right now, the idea is for algae, we could get about 10-thousand gallons of oil per acre. So you can see it's about 200 times more oil per acre compared to soybeans." http://forestpolicy.typepad.com/ecoecon/2007/01/bi...

http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/stor...




Algae Fuel
By atomicarnage on 10/30/2007 3:45:43 AM , Rating: 3
I agree, Corn Ethanol is a terrible waste of resources. Biodiesel from microalgae doesn't even touch the land used by crops and is an order of magnitude more effecient in producing high energy content fuel. It is far and away the most efficient way of producing biofuel. Not all biofuels are bad.




He is wrong
By Arctucas on 10/30/2007 11:57:16 AM , Rating: 2
I hear him saying it will cause all the starving children to starve.

While this may sound cold-hearted; I feel this could be a good thing. Obviously if human population continues to expand, we have bigger problems to look forward to than whether or not we can fuel up our SUVs.

Human kind is preparing it's own extinction by circumventing the laws of natural selection. I say, better to let them starve, than kill us all.




RE: He is wrong
By TomZ on 10/30/2007 3:46:57 PM , Rating: 1
That's really dumb.


Holy crap
By Polynikes on 10/29/2007 3:42:42 PM , Rating: 2
Michael Asher and Jason Mick agree on something!? The end is nigh! ;)

Good article, guys, I'm glad to see there are those out there who don't see biofuel as the miracle fix some think it is.




By PandaBear on 10/29/2007 9:43:44 PM , Rating: 2
I agree that there are great damages with Bio Fuel right now with today's technology. However, many if not most food crops are subsidized right now and the cost of food sold to consumers are artificially kept low to protect farmers' income.

Consider the fact that many if not most 3rd world citizens are farmers, increase in food price will actually help them. Sure, growing biofuel will reduce bio mass in ground soil and it is not as renewable as people think, but new "engineered" crops could help and eventually would be better than oil based fuel, reduce political tensions (no more middle eastern oil), and more localized supply/demand.

In the long run, GM crops that everyone can grow and improve 3rd world farmers would be a good solution to stabilize the world economy.

In the even longer run, infrastructure change in cities and countries would reduce the dependence on personal vehicles and transportation. Less traffic, fewer cars, shorter commutes, work from home, etc would make this happens.




By noonie on 10/30/2007 12:23:52 AM , Rating: 2
Fuel from corn is a waste of resources. Fuel from pond scum however is looking very attractive.

Lance Seefeldt , USU Biofuels Program: "For soybeans, you get about 48 gallons per acre. And right now, the idea is for algae, we could get about 10-thousand gallons of oil per acre. So you can see it's about 200 times more oil per acre compared to soybeans." http://forestpolicy.typepad.com/ecoecon/2007/01/bi...

http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/stor...




What a Joke!
By Dfere on 10/30/2007 8:31:36 AM , Rating: 2
A UN representative stating that increasing demand for agricultural products is a bad thing for developing nations?

Does anyone understand that the subsidies (i.e. imports of corn and wheat) to Africa kill Africa's abilities to sustain their own farming base? That if Africa was to develop enough of an agricultural base with world help to feed itself, the economic base grown would bring in more money and economic growth inside this continents economy than all of the subsidies currently given? That means if we build enough infrastructure to feed Africa, Africa will immediately will see a double return.

These projections are a few years old. If food prices increase, this return has to increase. Further, Africa has huge amounts of land suited for agriculture- which means Africa could be hugely benefitted from this.

Instead we see old ways of thinking. Gotta keep food prices down to help those poor people down there (especially since they always have , and therefore always will be, poor). Gotta get government to fight against technology and big bad oil. Gotta have a dumping ground and subsidies for our farmers. (Everyone, US and EU especially).

Why not look at the current and future trends? Is that not what we pay LEADERS for? Aren't leaders supposed to look at the future and urge us to make better, longer term choices for everyone? Especially the UN?




He is wrong
By Arctucas on 10/30/2007 11:56:19 AM , Rating: 2
I here him saying it will cause all the starving children to starve.

While this may sound cold-hearted; I feel this could be a good thing. Obviously if human population continues to expand, we have bigger problems to look forward to than whether or not we can fuel up our SUVs.

Human kind is preparing it's own extinction by circumventing the laws of natural selection. I say, better to let them starve, than kill us all.




By alagarsamy2008 on 10/31/2007 12:36:49 AM , Rating: 2
we are planting Jatropha purely for manufacture of Biodiesel from this non-edible Jatropha oil ...and that too we are changing barren lands and wasted lands with drip irrigation and with phosphate inputs we plan for huge plantations @10000 hectares in Tamilnadu.
we are happy to see the remarks but that is one way and we must have solution to energy security since fossil oilswill soon disappear and todays youth will say that ' My father was living in Petroleum Age"...
so we all plan to change climate calamity and work
so non-edible oils will be a biggest blessing for mankind
S.A.Alagarsamy
www.mgrbiodiesel.com
India




If everyone is cheaply well fed...
By EODetroit on 11/16/2007 10:51:14 AM , Rating: 2
... how can you expect everyone to not have as many children as possible until the population booms past the point where we can feed them again?

I'm not saying some people have to be hungry, but I am saying if food is so cheap that people don't have to worry about its expense, we'll quickly over populate the world, and in a decade or two we'll have many times as many hungry people. People should be thinking to themselves, "I'd have more children but the ones I have now might starve, so I won't." In that respect food prices being high isn't bad.




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