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Switchgrass is one promising cellulose producing candidate for cellulosic ethanol production. However some of its characteristics that make it most viable -- hardiness and fast growth -- worry some that it would become an invasive species.  (Source: ehponline.org)
Biofuels are widely blamed for raising the prices of food crops; what is the solution?

Renewable energy enthusiasm is at an all time high.  Unfortunately, the logistics of the energy source most widespread in commercial deployment, ethanol, are not as green nor as economically sound as one might hope.  The biofuel ethanol is currently produced from sugar from crops such as corn and sugarcane.  The high price of gasoline has created a catch-22 situation in which people want to buy ethanol to save money on lower gas prices, but if they do so they will raise the price of food crops and have to pay more at the supermarket.

Worse yet, ethanol's net carbon output is stated in some studies to be worse overall than gasoline's, due to the extra carbon cost needed to harvest the sugar crop and drive the conversion.  And the social situation is no rosier; a UN expert called biofuels "a crime against humanity" and has stated that they are contributing to starvation and war worldwide.

With all the challenge associated with the current less-than-savory state of biofuels, some researchers are rising to the occasion and considering how to fix the biofuel infrastructure.  The journal Nature Review Genetics carries a large study in next month's edition, which explores in depth advances and possibilities that genetic engineering holds to help produce cellulosic ethanol.

Cellulose is an abundant plant sugar which makes up the cell walls of plants.  It consists of long chains of individual glucose sugar molecules which could be converted to ethanol, but it is difficult to break these chains apart.  If it was easy to break apart cellulose, it would open the door to mass production of ethanol from crop waste, yard waste, and other sources, such as the non-crop plant switchgrass, greatly raising the promise of the resource.

Current cellulosic efforts focus on harvesting cellulose digesting enzymes from fungi and bacteria.  While this is one possible method, the study suggests that another more promising method would be to genetically engineering plants to store cellulose digesting enzymes within safe compartments within the cell.  When the plant was initially processed these enzymes would be released and would start breaking down the cellulose.

Other suggestions in the study are genetically engineering non-food cellulose source crops such as switchgrass to be taller.  Another idea is to add more cellulose mass to plants by duplicating genes for cellulose production catalyzing enzymes.  Yet another possibility is to reduce the enzymes that catalyze cellulose cross-linkages to make the cellulose easier to digest.

Another salient document to the future of the ethanol industry was published by the Global Invasive Species Programme (GISP) this week.  The GISP published a cautionary set of recommendations (PDF) about potential ethanol crop candidates.  Since fast growth and endurance of a variety of climates are desirable characteristics for such a plant, it is unsurprising that GISP states that nearly all the candidates are invasive species, which could have the detrimental environmental effect of killing native plants and harming ecosystems.  The exceptions, it states are food crops used for their cellulose, including wheat, peanuts, and soy

The GISP advocates risk assessments and cost/benefit analyses.  They say that a certification system should be in place to ensure responsible agriculture.  Finally, they suggest that when possible native species be used to produce the biofuel.

The AAAS journal Science published an editorial that is also pertinent to the future of biofuels.  It discusses the bacteria that produce the cellulose-digesting enzymes.  It says that other symbiotic bacteria could help to foster the growth of plants with useful chemical character.  Further they could be used to sequester carbon.  The key, the post concludes is to gain a better understanding of how the carbon cycle works in bacteria.

While ethanol certainly fairly deserves criticism for its current implementation, these new efforts promise a new responsible face for the ethanol industry.  While they may take some time to be implemented, it is exciting to see the interest in the scientific community.  The best part about these developments is if achieved, they would have the end effect of saving the consumer money, something the vast majority of consumers want.



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Switch grass and farmers on biofuel production
By AnnihilatorX on 5/26/2008 1:31:27 PM , Rating: 4
It should be possible to genetically engineer switchgrass to retain their fast growth property, while being infertile and unable to produce large amount of seeds and hence cannot spread effectively in the wild.

Being a grass, should be able to regrow after harvesting when roots are not destroyed.

On a different topic:

http://www.reuters.com/news/video/videoStory?story...
quote:
Due to the instability of food prices, farmers are switching to the increasing biofuel market.


It seems counter-intuitively, the rising food price actually makes farmers switch to biofuel production.




RE: Switch grass and farmers on biofuel production
By Motoman on 5/26/2008 1:41:55 PM , Rating: 4
Yeah, I'm not sure that statement quite makes sense as is...because of major subsidies for growing ethanol and the high price ethanol plants will pay for corn, farmers are abandoning other crops intended for food and are instead growing fuel.

Seems like a good idea, right? Let's incent our farmers not to feed us, but to put fuel in our cars and trucks.

The commercial pain is amazingly immediate. Here in MN, we have had a history of ample supplies of hay for livestock (my wife breeds and trains horses), until now. Immediately farmers stopped growing hay and are switching en masse to corn for ethanol...our hay cost immediately went up by 50%, and I can guarantee that there will be insufficient supplies of hay this year...we will literally have starving horses and other livestock and people having to get rid of their animals because they either can't afford to feed them, or can't find anything to feed them anyway. We'll be importing hay from Canada and other states, and probably be paying $10 or $12 a bale by the middle of winter (we paid $4.50 last year).

Just in the interest of demonstrating how immediate and how brutal the effect is of stupid agricultural policies like this.


By MonkeyPaw on 5/26/2008 2:17:28 PM , Rating: 5
Yes, and to make matters worse, corn requires more water than most other crops and demands more from the soil it grows in. Despite what many people might think, it doesn't rain all that much in the Great Plains, so to grow corn there and get a bumper crop, you must irrigate. In other words, the Biofuel push not only stresses the food supply, but it also stresses the water supply. The shift to growing exclusively corn also taxes the soil, and the monoculture effect increases the chances of disease and pest outbreaks. It will no doubt increase the use of fertilizers and pesticides (which must be manufactured) and increase the dependence on the bioengineering of crops.

It's one of those things that casual environmentalists just don't understand. ALL plant species depend on 3 things: climate, soil, and water. You simply can't grow whatever you want wherever you want. Sure you can try and even think you're succeeding, but it always comes at a cost. Things like Biofuels (or anti-livestock ideas) just cause people to throw out best management practices. Ultimately, the environment is STILL what suffers the most.


By JonnyDough on 5/27/2008 5:33:21 AM , Rating: 1
You sir, deserve a SEVEN (7).

It's also been shown that biofuels are less efficient in cars, and therefore actually cost MORE. You get fewer MPG on biofuel people! As was said before in DT comments about biofuel: JUST SAY NO! IT IS NOT HELPING ANYTHING!

In fact, the switch to biofuel is HURTING US due to everything he just listed, such as soil erosion, irrigation causing our rivers to dry up, and rising food costs! Biofuel is NOT the answer.

Electric cars ARE a solution, but ONLY with alternative ELECTRICITY PRODUCTION METHODS, like SOLAR, WIND, or NUCLEAR ENERGY!

What we really need is to discover cold fusion. You know, like in that fantastic little movie "The Saint" (and yes I DO believe in all that scientific mumbo-jumbo)


RE: Switch grass and farmers on biofuel production
By tjr508 on 5/27/08, Rating: -1
By JonnyDough on 5/27/2008 7:13:03 PM , Rating: 3
WRONG.

Since you failed to do any research Mr. Scientist...I have some for you, and, rather than just post the AAA chart, I'll also add some articles so that you don't have to try to understand it.

From AAA:
http://www.fuelgaugereport.com/

http://www.todaystmj4.com/news/local/18870574.html
http://www.greencarcongress.com/2007/09/aaa-begins...
http://jcwinnie.biz/wordpress/?p=2511

Just in case you want to do more basic gas research...

http://www.autoclubgroup.com/common/promos/FUEL_Br...
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/

Now, if you have anything more to say you can talk to your local 711 clerk. I'm done listening to you try to argue without any basis.


By snownpaint on 5/28/2008 2:37:44 PM , Rating: 2
Has anyone looked into using Hemp for Biofuel.
(no I'm not a hemp-fix-all hippy)

I know it is cellulose plant which is better for
ethanol production then starches (corn). Which is why switchgrass is looked at as a source. Also left over crop can have duel purpose. Fiber and fuel source, which is still used in other countries..

What about using grass (lawn) clippings.. If all of the US interstates, FL and CA lawn clipping where combined, I'm sure it would total more then all of the food grown in the US.. Also being it grows almost all year (in sunny states) and in front of almost every house in US and is being cut by people regularly.. Wouldn't it be easy to bag and ship these clipping to a refinery. I mean it could be picked up with your trash.. If it can be used to make ethanol? (which from my understanding is pretty easy with almost anything that rots)


RE: Switch grass and farmers on biofuel production
By gerf on 5/26/08, Rating: -1
By omnicronx on 5/26/2008 2:34:33 PM , Rating: 3
What exactly is your point here? Food prices, especially corn have significantly raised in the past few years, far surpassing the prices in the 90's even when you take inflation into consideration.

quote:
So you bitch about farmers using crops for non-food purposes, then you turn around and feed crops to animals that serve no real purpose? *cough* hypocrite *cough*
Are you a moron? If i knew where you lived I would personally come to your house and punch you in the nose. Obviously farmers need food for their animals, and it does not make him a hypocrite, it just makes you a moron. It only takes a 6 year old to realize that we eat animals, animals need food, thus we need to use crops to feed the animals.
quote:
Again, prices are going to even out. It's going to be hard in the meantime.
How do you know? Prices are high right now because the price of oil is high, until oil prices go down, I would expect to see food prices stay high.


By omnicronx on 5/26/2008 3:07:49 PM , Rating: 4
When was the last time horses were the majority of the animal population on a farm. You are talking about a miniscule amount of horses compared to the amount of cows, chickens, etc.. that go through the system each year.

Also (i dont know why I know this) but horses eat the entire piece of grass including the roots, cows do not, they only eat the tops of the grass. I once heard that although cows and horses eat around the same, it can cost up to 50% more to feed a cow, depending on the size.

Whining about horses is like whining about cats and dogs.. they are all pets that in this day and age serve no purpose.. So unless you propose that we shotgun your dog scooter in the face to keep food prices down, I think you should rethink your response.


By gerf on 5/26/2008 3:23:49 PM , Rating: 3
Well, since you brought up cats and dogs...

Why not reduce all non-food usage of crops and fertilizers? What if we didn't "Weed and Feed" our lawns every year? What if we all put out gardens? What if we didn't keep more than a pet or two? There's a lot of things that are a lot less critical to the economy than fuel that foodstuffs are used for.

And as for your horses eating all the roots of grass as well, do you realize that kills the plant and takes longer to re-grow than just eating the top? That's more disastrous for erosion than even sheep, which simply crop grasses closer to the ground.


By PrinceGaz on 5/26/2008 3:29:10 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Also (i dont know why I know this) but horses eat the entire piece of grass including the roots, cows do not, they only eat the tops of the grass. I once heard that although cows and horses eat around the same, it can cost up to 50% more to feed a cow, depending on the size.

I didn't know that, but doesn't that mean the horse is worse as you'll need to replant the grass after it has been eaten, whereas with a cow it'll just regrow naturally like if you'd cut it with a lawnmower. I suppose it depends on whether the addition land needed for the cow costs more than the time and effort involved in planting new grass-seed.


By Motoman on 5/26/2008 4:25:45 PM , Rating: 3
Oh, for the record, horses don't actually pull the roots of anything out of the ground to eat them. They will, however, eat the above-ground part down to the ground if they don't have adequate grazing area...take the horses off of that pasture, and it grows back.


By MonkeyPaw on 5/26/2008 5:07:26 PM , Rating: 4
First of all, livestock do not eat the roots of grasses. The only time livestock damage the vegetation and the land is when they are overgrazed. When you have too many animals in too small an area, the animals eat the grass faster than it can grow back, causing compaction and/or erosion. Grasses are tough, but grasses cannot grow well when they are eaten off faster than they can grow back. The obvious answer to sustainable livestock agriculture is to not overgraze. This means you need lots of land for lots of animals. Fortunately, lots of land is widely available in the western plains. There is a considerable area of agricultural land in the US is considered "marginal," which means it's not good for growing most crops (largely due to inadequate rainfall). However, this land is well-suited for raising livestock, provided you don't overpopulate the grazing area. Unfortunately, the meat industry doesn't promote sustainable production. Rather than grazing in the right areas, high-density feed lots (where the animals eat feed-grade agricultural products) are very popular. It's environmentally destructive (though very point-source) and isn't the best use of land or other resources, as you have to ship food to the animals. The big problem is that we depend on fossil fuels to produce our food, so how can our food solve our fossil fuel demands?

The hard part is always that these decisions come down to people that need to put food on the table, too. How they practice agriculture is ultimately their choice, until the government steps in with subsidies. Sadly, it Biofuels are just adding to a problem that already exists--non-sustainable agriculture.


RE: Switch grass and farmers on biofuel production
By phusg on 5/27/08, Rating: -1
By masher2 (blog) on 5/27/2008 4:10:18 PM , Rating: 4
> "we need to switch completely to organic farming methods "

The problem is that "organic" farming methods have a substantially lower output per acre, which makes them both considerably more expensive and less feasible to feed a burgeoning world population.

> "If everyone were to halve the amount of meat they ate food prices would drop"

True. And if people would stop driving their cars on recreational trips, weekend dinners, and to visit friends and family, the cost of gasoline would drop also. If people would live in tiny apartments instead of large houses, the cost of electricity would decline also.

The trick is to find solutions that don't require massive cuts in our standard of living, however.


By hubajube on 5/28/2008 3:26:08 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The trick is to find solutions that don't require massive cuts in our standard of living, however.
I guarantee you if we ever have to do that, say bye bye to the billions of dollars we give to disaster relief, hunger, and all other charities.


RE: Switch grass and farmers on biofuel production
By phusg on 5/29/2008 7:00:31 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The problem is that "organic" farming methods have a substantially lower output per acre, which makes them both considerably more expensive and less feasible to feed a burgeoning world population.

Only more expensive when the competition is subsidized by low oil prices which hide the true costs of using up this finite resource. The lower output per acre could be compensated by eating less meat as I pointed out.
quote:
The trick is to find solutions that don't require massive cuts in our standard of living, however.

I disagree, the trick is to finding a way to transition smoothly to a high standard of living for everybody that isn't dependent upon massive amounts of non-renewable resources.

Here are a few solutions that arguably massively improve your standard of living: cycling, walking or taking public transport for recreational trips or social calls. Replacing a weekly junk food meat based meal with a fresh vegetable based meal.


RE: Switch grass and farmers on biofuel production
By mdogs444 on 5/29/2008 8:46:49 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I disagree, the trick is to finding a way to transition smoothly to a high standard of living for everybody

And please enlighten me as to who decides what a high standard of living is, and what that standard will be? You? You're going to get to tell me that in order to have a high standard of living and live my life your way, that I need to give up my car and not eat meat? Take it somewhere else Mr. Gore....

quote:
Here are a few solutions that arguably massively improve your standard of living: cycling, walking or taking public transport for recreational trips or social calls. Replacing a weekly junk food meat based meal with a fresh vegetable based meal.


Wow, im not really sure where you live...but my guess is its not in "real world USA".

Don't get me wrong, I like going for a bike ride to get some cardio in with my workout. I like walking around the mall and parks. But you dont look at real world US perspective. When people drive 25-30 miles to work each way, and a grocery store is 3,4,5+ miles away, neither a bike nor walking are viable forms of transportation. How much groceries to do you expect to carry for 5+ miles? Enough to stock up your pantry, freezer, and fridge for an average family of 4? Ya right.

People who live in concentrated large cities such as NYC, LA, Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, etc may see those forms of transportation as well as public transportation as viable alternatives. But the other half of the nation does not want to live on top of someone else, they dont want a strip mall in their backyard...in fact, they dont want anything in their back yard. People here like land, and much of it, because we have the extra land to do so. People like to compare countries like England to that of the USA...when in fact England is about the size of Ohio, 2% of our country's landscape. Where do you people get off?

Junk food meat? You do realize that meat, fish, and poultry are essential parts of the food groups, do you not? When the fact is that you should have daily intakes of all of them, according to nutritionists. What now? You want to socialize the US into Vegans? Please.


By phusg on 5/29/2008 9:13:42 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
And please enlighten me as to who decides what a high standard of living is, and what that standard will be? You?

No. That's another discussion entirely, but as you ask my personal opinion is that everybody should decide for themselves what standard of living they consider appropriate for themselves, with the simple limitation that in doing so they do not impair anyone else's standard of living.

Using up massive amounts of the Earth's finite resources is demonstrably damaging many people's standard of living at this very moment, let alone the standard of living of all of our decedents who inherit what's left of our planet.

quote:
You're going to get to tell me that in order to have a high standard of living and live my life your way, that I need to give up my car and not eat meat? Take it somewhere else Mr. Gore....

Uh, no that's not what I said, please don't try to polarize the discussion by putting words in my mouth. I'm not telling anyone to completely give up anything. I'm saying that eating less meat is a solution to the problem posed in this blog entry, that of how to reduce food prices for all. For a lot of people this would improve their health and arguably improve their standard of living.

On the issue of driving less, sure this is a lot easier if you live in a city. The city also has to be designed for alternative modes of travel, which many US cities are not. Luckily most people live in cities, so the sooner US cities are redesigned with something other that cars in mind, the better for all as far as I'm concerned.
quote:
You want to socialize the US into Vegans? Please.

Again not what I said. Why turn my suggested solution of eating less meat into me wanting to 'socialize' the US into Vegans?!? I don't know which green/socialist in particular made you so combative, but please try to approach each person and suggestion with an open mind.


By JonnyDough on 5/27/2008 5:39:18 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
When was the last time horses were the majority of the animal population on a farm.


They're called Amish and they still use horses! :-P

http://www.mennohof.org/
http://www.lancastercounty.com/things_to_do/amish....


RE: Switch grass and farmers on biofuel production
By DoeBoy on 5/26/2008 4:46:32 PM , Rating: 5
When did people become so Utilitarian? America is about freedom and going where u want to go and doing what you want to do. Going off on some stupid tirade about getting rid of things that people enjoy for the better of the whole is not the way america became what it is. Maybe you guys need to relax a little and stop trying to take away peoples freedom to do waht they want. You want cheaper prices then start with decreasing our 60%+ oil imports which have doubled since the arab oil embargo. We didn't do anything to solve the problem since then and so we are suffering as a result of our own inaction to become less dependent on others for oil. Hell I would rather have the environment suffer a little than have people starving all over the world. Look at it this way aside from europe we probably have many more laws about pollution and its control than the foreign saudis which probably dont care about any oil spill. Point is less stop moving our problems to other countries and instead lets start taking some personal responsibility for the problems that we created.


RE: Switch grass and farmers on biofuel production
By Motoman on 5/26/08, Rating: -1
By Reclaimer77 on 5/26/2008 7:07:32 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
...ummm, what? People are starving all over the world because the environment is suffering.


Nonsense.

quote:
And we're still importing oil because it's still the most cost-effective (and currently most eco-friendly) way to drive our cars. If there was, honestly, a better way...we'd be doing it.


Drilling and refining our domestic oil ? Lowering the gas taxes ? I think there ARE better ways. We're just refusing to use common sense and do them.


RE: Switch grass and farmers on biofuel production
By Motoman on 5/26/08, Rating: -1
By Reclaimer77 on 5/26/2008 7:31:43 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
I can assure you that the American oil industry would be happily pumping out our own oil if it was more economical to do so.


They don't have much of a choice. If its illegal to drill in Alaska, its illegal. The myth of the huge " All powerful all knowing and controlling " oil companies, are just that, a myth. They don't pick our elected officials, they don't choose which cars we buy, they aren't the devil.

quote:
And how is it "nonsense" that people are starving because of environmental problems? I suppose the fact that Africa's arable lands have been so poorly managed that they've turned to desert has nothing to do with the fact that the people who rely on them for farming are starving to death? Oh, I'm sure they'd be just as starving if they had nice black dirt there.


Yes but poorly managed land isn't what I had in mind when someone says " environmental ". You know as well as I do that the way you phrased it I naturally assumed you meant " man made global warming ". If I misjudged than I apologize.


By Ringold on 5/26/2008 8:24:42 PM , Rating: 5
On top of that, Reclaimer, regarding the African problems, Zimbabwe is an example I particularly like. What happened there? In a pseudo-socialist move, Mugabe stole commercial farms from their white owners and distributed it to native blacks. Zimbabwe went from being a large net food exporter to starvation and yields dropped like a rock.

I would not call that an "environmental" problem at all, I'd call it a political one, like you said.


By onelittleindian on 5/27/2008 1:48:06 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
If its illegal to drill in Alaska, its illegal.
It's also illegal to drill for oil off the coast of Florida, and a half dozen other places we have major oil deposits in the US. Sad, isn't it?


RE: Switch grass and farmers on biofuel production
By JonnyDough on 5/27/08, Rating: -1
By seamonkey79 on 5/27/2008 8:50:32 AM , Rating: 1
Wow.


RE: Switch grass and farmers on biofuel production
By mdogs444 on 5/27/2008 2:21:54 PM , Rating: 3
Look man, people like nature just fine. But we dont want to go back to the olden days of everyone living in a freakin' mud hut and singing peace songs around a campfire.

I can see that you are a tree hugging hippy, and thats fine for you. But for the rest of the majority of society, we've moved on. We do not require that you come with us, just dont bother us.


By Reclaimer77 on 5/27/2008 3:35:33 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Look man, people like nature just fine. But we dont want to go back to the olden days of everyone living in a freakin' mud hut and singing peace songs around a campfire.


Oh no no no ! Not all of us would be living in mud huts. Just the ones who can't afford enough " Carbon Credits " to maintain a comfortable standard of living.

:(


By JonnyDough on 5/27/2008 6:59:21 PM , Rating: 1
Who even said anything about grass huts? Please! Your remarks are ignorant and insulting, they have no basis. It's a pretty simple concept for those of you who fail to see the earth as a whole, and us as a part of nature. (IF I was some sort of hippie, would I be typing on a computer or would I have TWO dual-core gaming systems? I think not.) The fact is that when you put too many fish into one fish tank, they don't grow to full size. Case in point, is that too many people = a lower standard of living. What happened in Europe with the plague would not have happened if people had lived a comfortable distance from each other. I for one do not desire to see our purple mountain's majesty turned into a Tokyo-like city with families stacked on top of each other in tiny apartments. No thank you. I believe my children's grandchildren will prefer their mountains just fine. Two words. POPULATION CONTROL. We NEED it. If we're going to beat naturally occurring checks and balances with medicine in an attempt to beat diseases, then we need to also learn to govern ourselves with better rules. Otherwise, when something does move through the ranks it'll jump from person to person so fast that we won't be able to stop it. 3/4's of Europe dead to plague is NOTHING compared to 95% of earth's mammals dying now. Call me whatever you want, but I believe in numbers and forward thinking, not just emotion.


RE: Switch grass and farmers on biofuel production
By Ringold on 5/27/2008 3:40:48 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
The black plague that killed off 3/4's of Europe probably did the world a favor.


Extremist left-wing ideology occasionaly seeps out in a moment of honest truth, sort of like when Obama's wife admitted she'd never been proud of her country until her husband started winning some primaries.

You people are even more dangerous than Islamic terrorist extremists. They at least are up front about it; they want Sharia to pervail globally, and their methods are straight-forward attacks, both conventional and suicide attacks. You people on the other hand sneak things in to legislation, popular culture, etc, pawning them off as somehow legitimate or cool when really the above quote is the true motivation of liberal extremists. If you'd all strap on bombs and walk in to a shopping mall at least people would be aware of your existance.

The really sad thing is that well-intentioned people on the left don't see the dark forces moving among their own ranks.


By JonnyDough on 5/27/2008 7:03:16 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
You people are even more dangerous than Islamic terrorist extremists.


I really don't see anything dangerous about the idea that people can take responsibility through a democratic process to limit how many offspring they have. It's called responsible planning and it's an idea to benefit the future of our children. Forgive me if I have ideas and dreams about quality living for all. You can take your little safe group and go and multiply in a 5x5 cell if you'd like. But that's all the room you get, because if you didn't notice...earth is big, but when you're talking billions of people trying to live on it, it is not quite so big after all.


RE: Switch grass and farmers on biofuel production
By hubajube on 5/28/2008 3:33:34 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
but when you're talking billions of people trying to live on it, it is not quite so big after all.
I guess you've never been to Montana. Hell, sounds like you've never been anywhere. Take a trip out west sometime. There's plenty of space on this planet, it's just we humans CHOOSE to live where we live. I and a few million other people live in a desert. it can be done. Then again, most people like yourself don't leave the confines of the cities you live in.


By JonnyDough on 5/30/2008 3:53:26 AM , Rating: 2
What kind of B.S. is this??? I live in southwest Michigan out in the country, I've lived in five states FYI. I've been to Wall Drug and the Black Hills in South Dakota and up into the boondocks of Wisconsin, thanks. You might live where it's cold and there's still plenty of space, but have you been to Florida recently, or maybe Europe? I wasn't talking about living space, I was talking about SUPPORTING space. You aren't living in Montana, you have to realize this. You're living everywhere you're buying food from, getting oil from, getting water from, etc. You are a consumer, and as such, a great deal of land AND sea goes to support your lifestyle. Ever buy furniture with imported lumber? 90% of Walmart's crap comes from China. You don't think that some of the resources arent' from Minnesota?

You really need to get a clue, and quit trying to assume things about people online. You have no idea what perspectives I have, just because I voice a broad opinion doesn't mean you can size me up and my whole life along with me. Get some brains.


By Reclaimer77 on 5/27/2008 2:22:29 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
When did people become so Utilitarian? America is about freedom and going where u want to go and doing what you want to do. Going off on some stupid tirade about getting rid of things that people enjoy for the better of the whole is not the way america became what it is. Maybe you guys need to relax a little and stop trying to take away peoples freedom to do waht they want.


Somebody +6 this please.


By trax64 on 5/26/2008 3:21:23 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Are you a moron? If i knew where you lived I would personally come to your house and punch you in the nose.

lol I'm not sure whether I'm supposed to laugh at this. I can only hope this was typed with humorous intentions !


By Reclaimer77 on 5/26/2008 2:37:47 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
I agree it's not the best policy, and is probably a little too gung-ho, but I have to say that at least farmers are making something of a little profit for once, after nearly a decade of sub-$2 corn.


If there was no profit in it they wouldn't have been doing it. Especially not for 10+ years.


RE: Switch grass and farmers on biofuel production
By gerf on 5/26/2008 3:08:23 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If there was no profit in it they wouldn't have been doing it. Especially not for 10+ years.
Believe it or not, that's not true. Many if not all farmers could make more money doing something else. For the amount of input required, there's very little profit.

For example, one acre of farmland here sells for about $4000-5000 right now. If you rent it to someone else for corn, you can get about $100-120. That's only a 3.0% profit per year. You can do that well with a money-market account at your local bank!

Ok, so if you farm it yourself, you can make more, but for the amount of labor involved, and uknowns in what happens (possibly no crop due to disaster, poor yields, etc), it's really not a good investment to farm.


RE: Switch grass and farmers on biofuel production
By Motoman on 5/26/08, Rating: -1
RE: Switch grass and farmers on biofuel production
By emboss on 5/27/2008 2:20:52 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Western farming, as we know, is totally unsustainable from a financial standpoint.


Not at all. See, for example, New Zealand. Sure, it was a bit of a mess for a few years after they got rid of all the subsidies, but the free market eventually got itself back on track again and now it's arguably got the most efficient farms in the world.

Yes, the people running inefficient farms would get shafted. However, this just means that the land is freed up for someone to do a better job. In the US, of all places, I would have thought letting the free market rule would have been popular.


RE: Switch grass and farmers on biofuel production
By Solandri on 5/27/08, Rating: 0
By masher2 (blog) on 5/27/2008 9:13:53 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
"Problem is you don't want efficient food production. A highly efficient food supply means there is little to no margin for error....If your farms are highly efficient and produce exactly 100% of the food your country needs, and a surprise cold spell drops that to 80%, people will starve and die"
Your point couldn't be more wrong. Efficiency in agricultural is defined in terms of production per acre (or hectare). It doesn't imply the lack of any surplus, and in fact a highly efficienct system allows you to have a large surplus with less cost.

Centuries ago, when food production was highly inefficient, hunger and famines were ubiquitous, coming for most people every few years. Now, if you live in a nation with efficient food production, you can live your entire life without ever knowing a day of hunger, or meeting someone who has.

That's the benefit of efficient food production.


RE: Switch grass and farmers on biofuel production
By Solandri on 5/27/2008 3:13:49 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Your point couldn't be more wrong. Efficiency in agricultural is defined in terms of production per acre (or hectare).

Well that flies in the face of every engineering definition of efficiency I've ever heard of (where it's always a dimensionless number -- a percentage). But I will take your word for it. My apologies for misunderstanding the initial assertion.

quote:
Centuries ago, when food production was highly inefficient, hunger and famines were ubiquitous, coming for most people every few years. Now, if you live in a nation with efficient food production, you can live your entire life without ever knowing a day of hunger, or meeting someone who has.
The definition of efficiency you've given does not determine the amount of food production. You can have a highly efficient (your definition) food supply, yet produce vastly inadequate amounts of food thus leading to starvation. Centuries ago, the capacity for food production (acres of land) multiplied by efficiency (your definition) was inadequate to meet the needs of everyone alive. Improved efficiency (your definition) eventually allowed production to meet the population's requirements even in the face of decreasing capacity (acreage).

Economic efficiency (my definition) of food production means the supply equals the demand. While that generates the optimal price for food, it also results in little or no overhead for shortfalls or emergencies. To maintain that safety margin, you need to maintain a capacity for oversupply. Unfortunately, if that capacity is used, the oversupply causes a drop in prices (since supply exceeds demand). Because of the way supply/demand curves work, the fact that we're not at the optimal supply/demand intersection means farms are being paid less overall even though they are producing more.

So maintaining that capacity while also maintaining the economic viability of food production means subsidizing the prices to restore them to the level they would've been at without oversupply, or paying farmers to keep the capacity available but not to plant the crops. That is my point. You do not want your food supply exposed to the whims of a completely free market.


By masher2 (blog) on 5/27/2008 4:17:54 PM , Rating: 2
> "The definition of efficiency you've given does not determine the amount of food production. You can have a highly efficient (your definition) food supply, yet produce vastly inadequate amounts of food"

Absolutely! In theory at least. But in practice, nations that efficiently produce food also produce large surpluses. This follows automatically if one thinks about it. The less land, labor, and resources it takes to grow a quantity of food, the more likely you are to have more than you need.

In the US, for instance, a single farmer can generate enough food to food 250+ families, . In some third-world nations, the ratio is more like 2:1....meaning half the entire population has to be farming, simply to keep up.

Also remember that the most important food crop is grains...and grains must be planted with grain itself. Meaning you destroy food to create it. That's why efficiency is so important. At one point in history, a farmer might have to hold back 1/4 or more of his entire crop, simply to plant the following year. Now in the US, its something like 100:1 to one, I believe.


By emboss on 5/28/2008 5:23:09 AM , Rating: 2
First, note that I was talking about economic efficiency, not land-use-efficiency. Masher went off on a bit of a tangent :) However, economic efficiency also demands land-use efficiency.

quote:
You do not want your food supply exposed to the whims of a completely free market.


This would be true if there were a single item, "food", that could only be used for eating and was not replacable with something else. In the real world, this is not the case, and the market for any given food is quite elastic in most countries.

For example, most fruits and vegetables are interchangable (from an economic point of view), so even a complete wiping out of apple crops (say) would not cause a food shortage, since people could eat oranges instead.

Additionally, many staple products are not eaten "as is". Many processed "luxury" foods are, from a nutritional point of view, inefficient usage of the raw material. A reduction of one of the basis crops would push up prices of all the derived foods, with the result that the less expensive, nutritionally efficient, foods would increase in volume at the cost of the more processed foods.

An example of this is in the US, grains are used heavily in the raising of animals. Nutritionally, this is a very inefficient usage of grain. A shortage of grains (and hence a price rise) would result in higher grain prices. This would push up the prices of many staple foods as well as meat. A consumer still needs the same amount of calories per day, so would respond by spending more money on nutritionally efficient foods (eg: bread) and less on inefficient foods (eg: beef).

Finally, modern storage techniques and global trade mean that a single bad season is unlikely to result in food shortages. Even a bad season in one hemisphere would be mostly covered by existing stores, and the slack taken up by increased planting for the season in the opposite hemisphere. In Ye Olde Days, it was much more of an issue as the supply side of the market could not repond as quickly, and many foods were also consumed in their best nutritional form, or close to it. To a certain degree, this is still the case in many third world countries. However, it's primarily first world countries that have agriculture subsidies.

(Not to mention that these subsidies are also on things that have no nutritional value whatsoever, like cotton.)


RE: Switch grass and farmers on biofuel production
By Ringold on 5/26/2008 8:33:26 PM , Rating: 2
You're right. In any normal industry, firms would leave the business for more profitable work. Then there would be fewer farmers and more profitable prices.

The difference between farmers and most other industries is that farmers have an extremely powerful lobby, and get themselves subsidized to a degree no other industry today can come close to matching.

Now, after all the government handouts and protections, if it's still not profitable and a farmer is still farming then one must question the farmers wisdom.


RE: Switch grass and farmers on biofuel production
By gerf on 5/26/2008 9:29:31 PM , Rating: 2
They do. I've heard of economists question farmers en masse why they farm. They reply because that's what they want to do.

Just look at dairy farmers. They spend decades milking their cows twice a day, with no day off, no vacation, nothing. Prices are shitty, and the work is hard. Why? Because they love doing it.

Why do people grow little gardens in crowded cities? Why do people like to see their lawns green and lush? There's a deep feeling behind growing things that is ingrained in us all, and more so in some.

There's an old saying that if a farmer would win the lottery, they'd just farm it away...


By Ringold on 5/27/2008 3:43:29 PM , Rating: 2
Okay. If you all like it and do it regardless of pay, don't milk the government because milking cows doesn't pay the bills. That's not tax payers responsibility to help farmers live unsustainable lifestyles. That's my only complaint, how big was the Farm Bill this year? $300 billion? Insanity.


By Reclaimer77 on 5/27/2008 3:56:46 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
There's an old saying that if a farmer would win the lottery, they'd just farm it away...


Maybe he should take that money and go to college instead of insisting on farming dirt ?

But hell, if I got government subsidies for doing my hobbies I would probably keep doing them too.


RE: Switch grass and farmers on biofuel production
By Motoman on 5/26/2008 4:23:27 PM , Rating: 1
...without re-hashing the other posts...

Yes, for the vast majority of people, horses are a hobby and not a necessity. However, for my wife, they are her JOB. That's how she makes a living. And there's a massive industry around horses and equine sports, not just in feed but in tack, clothing, vehicles, recreation, so on and so forth. If the feed problem gets big enough to pull the rug out from under horse breeders and trainers, the entire industry collapses. Which is the same thing as would apply to dogs, cats, and whatever else.

Having said that, as pointed out, horses and other recreational animals barely register compared to cows, pigs, etc. - as much as I might "bitch" about my hay cost going up by a thousand dollars a year, think about the guys trying to produce beef and pork and such...horses are barely a drop in the bucket.

As for the switch happening last year, we saw little movement in the price of hay last year over the previous...farmers pretty much cultivated as much hay last year as the year before. This year is when our big price hit came...as in since the last time we called our hay guy to buy more hay. Like...2 weeks ago.

Also, I think your comment about "prices are going to even out" is very naive. They will even out, in our case, in the sense that vast numbers of people will abandon their horses and no longer be buying hay. And/or horse breeders/trainers/boarders/etc. will simply go out of business. While in an Economics 101 kind of way, sure, that's the market "evening itself out" - but it's a brutal actuality to behold.

I don't begrudge people being able to make a profit - and I can't say that I really can "blame the farmer" for growing the crop he can make the most profit from. That's called being in business as opppsed to going out of business. But it's not a genuine market economy - all of this foolishness is created and engendered by moronic political policies but into action by stupid people who pander to specific interests rather than considering what is best for the economy as a whole and the well-being of our environment and humanity as a whole. Not to mention the well-being of our animals too.


RE: Switch grass and farmers on biofuel production
By hubajube on 5/28/2008 3:43:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Just saying... and keeping in mind that I consider horses who are not used as workhorses pets.
Most horse owners consider non-working animals as pets too. We just recently sold a horse because we would rather him have a job than to just be a big pet. We didn't think it would be fair to him to keep him.


By nofranchise on 5/29/2008 8:27:26 AM , Rating: 2
Lol - it seems I've been stigmatized and will forever be modded down no matter what I post. Oh well - life goes on.

Still - you cannot deny that those millions of fat pets is quite the slap in the face to those starving in Africa - or in Trailerville USA.


By mdogs444 on 5/29/2008 8:36:29 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
you cannot deny that those millions of fat pets is quite the slap in the face to those starving in Africa - or in Trailerville USA.

THAT is a slap in the face? I actually consider that to be a stupid argument.

A real slap in the face is when we (the hard working tax payers of the United States of America) give aid to people (domestic through welfare & social programs, and global through anti-poverty funds) in which we give more dollars than any country in the world, yet everyone wants more more more from the USA. The USA is bound on a possible recession, our daily standards of living are decreasing, people are losing their homes and downsizing their cars and paying $4 for gas just to get by...and you still want more from us? Nothing we do is good enough - as if you people don't realize we have our own lives to live. We didnt want to be Europeans anymore for many reasons, remember - thats why our ancestors left in the first place. I forgot that its our problem to solve the aids epidemic in Africa, give our labor away to illegal aliens from Mexico and elsewhere, and work 12 of our 40 hours a week not for our own families, but to raise the families of lazy & unmotivated people who are liberal leaches on society wanting a free ride.

Now, if someone me sending over a few bags of Puppy Chow and several cans of Fancy Feast will help you to shut up, then I'll gladly do so.


By elgueroloco on 5/27/2008 1:03:09 PM , Rating: 2
And to compound the problem, and retardedness, so far as I know the federal govt is still paying farmers all over the country not to use all their land in order to keep prices up, as they have been doing since the great depression. Back then the policy worked fine, it stabilized food prices and kept farmers in business. Now it's just retarded and unnecessary, but probably won't go away because the farmers like their free money and the agricultural industry has a powerful lobby.

Correct me if I'm wrong. So far as I know this is still happening.


By afkrotch on 5/27/2008 12:04:37 AM , Rating: 3
I say harvest kudzu and figure out how to make ethanol from that. The thing grows like crazy anyways.


By Tumn1s on 5/28/2008 1:36:42 AM , Rating: 2
HEMP IS THE ANSWER TO ALL OUR PROBLEMS... How stupid and blind can you people be. I don't even use marijuana and its plainly clear what must be done. You should really read the book "The Emperor Wears No Clothes".

http://www.jackherer.com/chapter01.html

This would basically save the world by cleaning up the atmosphere and supplying us with all the fuel we would ever need. It amazes me how jaded people can be. Educate yourselves.


Q&A
By Cobra Commander on 5/26/2008 2:01:56 PM , Rating: 1
Question: Biofuels are widely blamed for raising the prices of food crops; what is the solution?

Answer: Solar Power

My lowly opinion, but biofuels is a bandaid patch and not a fix. Solar Power has zero foreign dependance - from every country's perspective as well. Solar Power has no immediate effect on global food supply's or prices. Solar Power has extremely little long term environmental ramifications. It's the holy grail of energy and money investmented into bandaids like biodiesel and ethanol is money wasted.




RE: Q&A
By cochy on 5/26/2008 2:14:38 PM , Rating: 4
Ok. But how functional can a solar powered vehical be? How about getting hydrogen up to speed?


RE: Q&A
By James Wood Carter on 5/26/2008 2:20:41 PM , Rating: 2
have you thought where on eartch you can get unlimited hydrogen from ? the energy requried to make hydrogen is as much as (or even more)polluting than using carbon fuels. Hydrogen requires to be made, and anything thats made requires energy and unless you can propose a sustainable source of energy for making hydrogen ... the dream of hydogen fuel is merely a dream


RE: Q&A
By gerf on 5/26/2008 3:35:19 PM , Rating: 1
Solar farms in the SW US, pumping H2 to the rest of the country? It's been thought of before.

I'm a big fan of Wind turbines when possible, as they are more useful in cloudier climes. Add in a Chevy Volt, or other plug-in hybrid, and you're talking pure awesomeness. Maybe make that Volt run on pure ethanol when needed, and you're starting to talk long-term.


RE: Q&A
By daftrok on 5/26/2008 3:11:22 PM , Rating: 2
Who says the car has to be solar powered. Check out this marvel of engineering:

http://www.teslamotors.com/

I feel that this is a step in the right direction. Once they make a 4 door sedan running on Tesla's technology, they can broaden the range of these vehicles and increase their efficiency.

As for solar power, lets just say one thing: Its best used for homes. Having it conveniently placed on the roof can really cut down energy and on top of that fuel our cars once we get home. As for powering cities, I think wind power is the logical choice. Not just the windmills that we place on mountains or off shore, I'm talking about these:

http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/gadgets/architectural-w...

This can really move us away from fuels, be it bio or oil. And another helpful factor is saving energy at home:

http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2006/12/19/25-gadge...

Once the country is more in the know for these alternatives, the better off we'll be.


RE: Q&A
By cochy on 5/26/2008 3:50:51 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Who says the car has to be solar powered. Check out this marvel of engineering:


How much? =)


RE: Q&A
By daftrok on 5/26/2008 9:50:55 PM , Rating: 3
100 grand, but I'm not saying "Hey average joe, give these guys 30 grand down payment and wait 18 months for this electric car" I'm just saying the technology is there to give us the capability to use electric powered cars.


RE: Q&A
By Reclaimer77 on 5/26/2008 2:35:09 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Biofuels are widely blamed for raising the prices of food crops; what is the solution?


quote:
Answer: Solar Power


Wrong.

The answer is to drill for more oil and end this artificial dependency on foreign oil and this made up 'shortage'.

Why does everyone act like oil fuels and alternative fuels are mutually exclusive ? We can do BOTH.


RE: Q&A
By jeff834 on 5/26/2008 7:44:32 PM , Rating: 2
Well it seems pretty obvious to me that drilling for more oil is no less of a "bandaid" solution than any others. Yes, for the time being we should use fossil fuels and renewable energy sources together, but oil eventually runs out. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not for 100 years, but it WILL run out. While current solar power solutions are crappy and need a lot more work, the sun doesn't run out. Ever. Well correction, the sun will one day run out, but in that particular scenario what energy sources we are using becomes a moot point.

Drilling for more domestic oil is an extremely temporary solution. Solar power isn't really enough. We need more solar, wind, hydro, and nuclear power (I live about 10 miles from a plant myself never checked but I probably get most of my energy from that). With the proper research those 4 things will probably be enough for the 100 years+ or so we need to get fusion or antimatter power going in a cost effective way. Who knows, in 20 years we may discover some new form of power we never even thought of, but we need to work on the things we have now and look not just to the next 10 years, but for many many years to come after that.


RE: Q&A
By Reclaimer77 on 5/26/2008 8:15:37 PM , Rating: 2
This is double speak. You say that " maybe " the oil will run out in 100 years. And then that maybe in 20 years we'll discover a new energy source. I already said we can both drill for oil AND explore new energy sources. So whats the problem with my post again ?

Your saying a whole lot of nothing. Maybe I don't give a damn what happens in 100 years when I go to gas up at the pump ? You probably don't either to be honest.

People are suffering under artificially high gas prices due to supply and demand. There is no voodoo magic to this problem. You can worry about 100 years from now if you want, but right now TODAY, we can fix this problem. Does this mean we drop alternative fuels and research ? NO ! I specifically said the two are NOT mutually exclusive !

quote:
Drilling for more domestic oil is an extremely temporary solution.


The most conservative estimates suggest there is enough oil in the Alaskan reserves alone to power the world for the next 100+ years, factoring in growth rates. Thats not exactly what I would call 'extremely temporary'.


RE: Q&A
By nofranchise on 5/27/08, Rating: 0
RE: Q&A
By nofranchise on 5/27/08, Rating: -1
RE: Q&A
By masher2 (blog) on 5/27/2008 9:05:11 AM , Rating: 3
> "No major oilfields have been discovered in North America in decades"

Untrue. Chevron discovered up to 15 billion bbl in the Gulf of Mexico just a couple years ago. And just this year, the US Geological Survey "rediscovered" the Bakken oil field, increasing estimates of its true size by 25-fold, and making it the largest continuous oil accumlation ever assessed in the US:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14678206/
http://www.wallstreet-online.de/diskussion/1140450...

In 2004, Cuba discovered up to 9 billion barrels of oil just off its coast:

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/html/20060728T...

Mexico also has discovered new oilfields in recent years:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4808466.stm


RE: Q&A
By nofranchise on 5/27/08, Rating: 0
RE: Q&A
By masher2 (blog) on 5/27/2008 9:38:14 AM , Rating: 5
> "Is that what you call major?"

The largest continuous accumulation of oil ever found in the US isn't "major"? All the oil discovered in North America in the past ten years alone totals more than 40 billion barrels...an amount that more than equals our foreign oil usage over the same period. And it would have been more, except for the fact that few companies are willing to explore for oil in places where its unlikely to be approved for drilling.

The fact remains that a major program of domestic drilling and production would solve the US foreign oil problem for at least our own lifetimes.


RE: Q&A
By nofranchise on 5/27/08, Rating: 0
RE: Q&A
By Reclaimer77 on 5/27/2008 2:01:59 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I know fields are being discovered, but I don't think they are significant enough to be called a solution to the current oil crisis.


Actually they ARE the solution. Maybe you don't understand supply and demand ?


RE: Q&A
By Reclaimer77 on 5/27/2008 1:59:51 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
No major oilfields have been discovered in North America in decades.


And they aren't going to be until there is.

1. Profit in it
2. They are allowed to drill it once its discovered ( see number 1 )

quote:
Petroleum is on of our greatest natural resources. It should be tapped with care, not burned in the most primitive way of utilizing the energy it contains.


I agree. But it sounds to me as if your against it being tapped AT ALL.

quote:
We must seek alternatives with a zeal, instead of sticking our heads in the sand with crossed fingers, until it's the next generations problem.


Are you even reading what I write !? This is the FOURTH time I'm saying this, and I wont say it again. WE DO, and CAN, seek alternatives. I'm not against that, get it through your thick head ! Are you arguing just to argue ?? But while those alternatives are being sought, there is NO reason to cut short or limit petroleum drilling and refining.


RE: Q&A
By Solandri on 5/26/2008 2:53:59 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Answer: Solar Power

I've tried explaining this technically but people just don't seem to get it. So I'm going to try a different approach.

The problem with solar is that on a bright, sunny day at noon at latitudes in the lower U.S. (where sunlight is strongest), it produces a whopping 1 horsepower per 5 square meters using current technology. 8-12 square meters if you use the cheap stuff.

So unless you have lots of open space you can pave over with solar panels (e.g. desert Southwest), you're much better off using solar power indirectly, relying on aggregators to tap into solar power. What are aggregators? They're things that collect solar power and convert them into a different form of energy - wind, wave, hydro (solar evaporation moves water uphill). Why manufacture acres of solar panels when the whole ocean is already collecting all the solar energy that hits it? And yes, plants. They create their own little self-replicating solar panels called leaves and store the energy as cellulose. You can then extract that energy by burning the cellulose or, in the case of biofuels, converting that cellulose into a different liquid fuel.

Liquid hydrocarbons like biodiesel and alcohols like ethanol are not going to go away. They have very high energy densities in packages which are easy to store and transport. Even the hydrogen fuel cell people have pretty much abandoned the idea of using pure hydrogen, and are now looking to get their hydrogen from methane (CH4) or alcohols. The only thing that's going to change is how we acquire these liquid fuels - do we extract them from the ground, or do we manufacture them using energy from other sources (solar, solar aggregators, geothermal, nuclear)?


RE: Q&A
By BansheeX on 5/26/2008 4:29:58 PM , Rating: 4
Solar is good as a home renewable in certain parts of the country, but in a fraction of the land space you can have a nuclear plant that produces far more clean energy. Way more nuclear is the answer and always has been, but politicians and fruit loop "environmentalists" have blocked it for thirty years.


RE: Q&A
By Ringold on 5/26/2008 8:45:17 PM , Rating: 3
Meanwhile, China is constructing 40 nuclear plants over the next 15 years. That is, assuming they don't ramp up their plans now that oil has breached $100 and heading for $140 (and then $200, and then $300).

It would take us half that 15 years just to get one approved, then the rest of that fifteen years to probably get one completed -- and that could very well be an optimistic estimate.

Some times, people say they'll leave if so-and-so is elected, who ever they don't like. Of course, they never do. Wait until the rolling blackouts start because left-wing extremists are blocking new power plants across the nation. People can ignore a President they hate. They can not ignore 90ºF heat in their homes after living all their life with air conditioning in the middle of routine black-outs. Then people really will start leaving, either for Republican states that didn't limit energy production or other countries that enjoy a civilized standard of living -- with uninterrupted electricity.


RE: Q&A
By nofranchise on 5/27/08, Rating: 0
RE: Q&A
By Reclaimer77 on 5/27/2008 2:05:40 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
The US will get blackouts no matter what, because the Grid is primitive, unstable and unstandardized.


Sigh. Where do you get this nonsense ?

quote:
Pumping huge amounts of nuclear powered energy into that old Grid will be a bad idea.


I think you really need to research how power plants, and electricity for that matter, works. Nuclear power plants don't dump trillions of jiggawats into the " old grid " you know.


RE: Q&A
By cputeq on 5/26/2008 6:17:25 PM , Rating: 2
Before people start proclaiming the awesomeness of solar power, you need to look at the drawbacks.

1) Cost.
2) Dependent on sun exposure / weather
3) Current solar tech. is extremely inefficient
4) Solar Energy requires battery banks .

Solar sounds like the end-all, be-all solution to many energy problems, until you realize it takes a large bank of batteries (unsure on their composition) to power a home, for instance.

Given their estimated 15-20yr lifespan of batteries, imagine the overall waste generated by millions of people dumping thousands of pounds (per home!) of depleted batteries in order to keep their solor power going.

Promising, yes, but needs more work.


RE: Q&A
By Fanon on 5/26/2008 11:47:28 PM , Rating: 4
Answer: Increase our domestic oil production to lower the cost of gasoline. In the meantime, research other forms of renewable energy that doesn't involve water or food.

Like it or not, we're dependant on oil. It's stupid to not feed our need for oil, but that doesn't mean we can't research other methods of energy.


RE: Q&A
By nofranchise on 5/27/08, Rating: -1
RE: Q&A
By masher2 (blog) on 5/27/2008 9:20:25 AM , Rating: 5
> ""But we're running out sweetie."

We were "running out of oil" in the 1880s, when we first began to use it. By your logic, we shouldn't have begun using it then...a decision that would have stopped the development of the industrial age, and all the economic, social, and technological benefits thereof.

Since 1965, the world has discovered five new barrels of oil for every three we've burned. Yes, we'll run out one day, but it won't be in our lifetimes, or even our grandchildrens.


RE: Q&A
By nofranchise on 5/27/2008 12:48:53 PM , Rating: 2
And your point is?

Screw the grandchildren!


RE: Q&A
By Reclaimer77 on 5/27/2008 2:09:10 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Screw the grandchildren!


The ultimate play of the cowardly liberal. You can't argue using facts and logic, so you hold the children in front of you as literal human shields.

When your grandchildren are feeling " screwed " because they are paying $40 for a gallon of gas, I'll be sure to point them in your direction so they have someone to blame.


RE: Q&A
By nofranchise on 5/29/2008 2:55:51 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The ultimate play of the cowardly liberal. You can't argue using facts and logic, so you hold the children in front of you as literal human shields.


Err... please direct me to the facts and logic YOU have posted?

How is it cowardly to suggest we should think about future generations?

I think you should take a breath before your head explodes. Keep dreaming about the new oilwells that will support your craving for oil - i really don't care. And if you keep shouting that there is plenty of oil loud enough, you won't hear anybody telling you otherwise.


RE: Q&A
By mdogs444 on 5/29/2008 8:54:50 AM , Rating: 2
Coming from the same person who hates Americans because we feed our pets, because you think we should be feeding poor African's instead....

I think you're also the same person who tried to pull the liberal "you took your land from the Indians" cop-out argument on the other large thread.

You sir, are the typical type of "crazy, uneducated, poor, envious, and hatred against successful people" liberal leach on today's society. Nothing you say makes any sense, carries any reason...its all just stuff & nonsense to futher your agenda for worldwide redistribution of wealth so you can take a bigger piece of someone elses pie.


RE: Q&A
By nofranchise on 5/30/2008 2:48:49 AM , Rating: 2
Hehe - you got me mister!


RE: Q&A
By Reclaimer77 on 5/27/2008 2:15:38 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Increase the domestic production how?


I believe we have all been telling you how. New refineries and new sources of oil. Its not rocket science. We have the means, but there are too many brainwashed idiots like you who wont put pressure on our elected officials to fix this problem.

quote:
"I want more candy!!!"
"But we're running out sweetie."
"I don't CARE! I WANT MORE CANDY!"


Amusing, but oil isn't a " want ". Its a NEED. Believe it or not, its used for far more than people driving cars. What about 18 wheelers ? You know, those big trucks that bring us our fuel, clothing, food, shoes, sporting goods, freight, oh just let me sum it up and simplify it to say ; EVERY SINGLE THING WE USE ON A DAILY BASIS ! These are NEEDS, not wants !

Have you got a clue yet ?


RE: Q&A
By nofranchise on 5/28/08, Rating: 0
RE: Q&A
By Reclaimer77 on 5/28/2008 5:34:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
This is going nowhere -


Every time you open your mouth you get a 1,0,or -1. Its going somewhere, just not in the direction you think it should.

quote:
But maybe driving our cars around with it is a bit much.


And because of stupid statements like this, you will not get " those links ". We shouldn't be driving our cars ? Your a fool !

quote:
*sigh* This is going nowhere fast.


Damn straight. Trying to reason with you is like pulling teeth. Daily Tech isn't the place to solve all the worlds problems, but if it were, I'm pleased to see your clearly in the minority. The ignorant one.


RE: Q&A
By Fanon on 5/27/2008 2:37:01 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Increase the domestic production how?

By drilling? By building more refineries? Pretty simple answers for a simple question. Think much?

quote:
That's the most amusing I've read all day!
"I want more candy!!!"
"But we're running out sweetie."
"I don't CARE! I WANT MORE CANDY!"


Yes, we're "running out". Any use of a finite resource lessens the current amount we have, but to suggest that we're almost out of oil is idiotic.


RE: Q&A
By nofranchise on 5/28/08, Rating: 0
RE: Q&A
By Reclaimer77 on 5/28/2008 5:39:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
so it might not be idiotic to hurry up with the alternatives


NOBODY here is saying we shouldn't be. NOBODY. Do you not get this ??

Corn based Ethanol isn't an alternative however. Its crap !

quote:
and use a little less of the oil we have, burning it to run cars and power our A/C's.


Our standard of living should only be lowered if we NEED to. Right now we don't need to. People like you just want us to for political and social reasons.

quote:
one is that not that many new great places to drill have been found. (Before flaming on, please post links detailing these oil-filled sites).


Masher already did and you blew them off as not being " major " enough. The single largest oil reserve discovered in history isn't enough proof for you. What exactly WILL be ?

You won't accept facts. You won't believe the proof that you so desperately seek even AFTER its given to you. You won't listen to reason. Your the one who is naive and a lost cause.


RE: Q&A
By nofranchise on 5/29/2008 2:48:35 AM , Rating: 2
Somebody is getting a bit excited.

Don't blow a gasket friend. I sure as hell won't.

But keep shouting insults if it makes you feel better.


RE: Q&A
By Fanon on 5/29/2008 11:47:20 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
I never suggested that we were - just that we don't really know how much is left - so it might not be idiotic to hurry up with the alternatives - and use a little less of the oil we have, burning it to run cars and power our A/C's.


Uh, yes you did. Your words:

quote:
We're running out sweetie


To not drill simply because we don't know how much we have left is stupid. It's as stupid as not drinking water from a well you found when you're dying of thirst because you don't know how much water is in the well.

As for alternatives, I said we should look into alternatives (reading comprehension is a good thing); just not alternatives that are based on food or water. To date, there is no suitable alternative for oil. None. Should we keep looking? Yes. Should we stop production on our current sources of energy? No.

quote:
Pray tell where we should drill? If you believe the only reason more wells aren't being opened is because "stupid liberals" wont give the permits, It think you are naive. There are many factors here - one is that not that many new great places to drill have been found. (Before flaming on, please post links detailing these oil-filled sites).


The first two places we should drill is Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. Oil's there, we just need the idiots in Congress and in the environmentalist movement to shut up and let us drill.

We can also increase production in West Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, as there are known locations that haven't yet been tapped.

From there, the USGS has several locations listed as possible oil rich locations. All that's needed is to explore those areas.

I'll provide links when you provide me links of the other factors keeping us from expanding our oil production. Please no links from known leftist sites (moveon.org, ect). I want subjective, realistic data, not idiotic dribble from someone who thinks they know what they're talking about (like you).


RE: Q&A
By rs2 on 5/27/2008 12:15:04 AM , Rating: 1
But biofuel *is* solar power. The plants take solar energy and convert it into sugars (among other things), and then we take those sugars, and turn them into usable fuel. The only differences between solar power and biofuel are that solar uses photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight into energy instead of chlorophyll, and that with solar power, there is no convenient way to package the energy generated into a physical medium (you pretty much have to use it as electricity).

So I don't really see how solar power is really any better than biofuel, especially given that we not have nearly as efficient a way of condensing energy into matter as plants do.


Simple Answer : kick the democrats out of office
By Saist on 5/26/2008 4:20:50 PM , Rating: 2
Not even sure why there is a debate about what to do about recovering food crops. Most state or region power companies, such as Georgia Power, knew back in the early 1980's that food crops such as Corn, or other sources such as Methane, were never going to be a good fuel solution, period, stop, end of story.

Only reason E85 and bio-fuels became popular is because the Corn growing states were first in line for the primaries, and promoting Corn usage meant getting votes simple as that.

Add in the Democrats obsession with shutting down energy sources, and it was a bad mix from the start. Seriously, have you heard any Democrat in the Democrat Controlled Congress mention items like starting up refineries that they shut down to begin with? Have you heard any Democrats in the Democrat Controlled Congress talk about relaxing the taxes, fines, fees, and regulations on the collection, production, and refinement of petroleum into usable gasoline or diesel? Has there been any mention, whatsoever, of getting rigs built off of the West coast and tapping the massive oil reserves located in US controlled waters and on US controlled land?

Nope. Not a word. The Democrats do not have a plan for a pro-energy America. They don't have a plan to create new nuclear power plants, which are the cleanest and most efficient power sources available.

All they have a plan for is to keep pushing Bio-Fuels that were never going to work anyways... and screw your wallet over.

Simple answer? Kick the democrats out of office, and make it clear that the person you vote for knows that they were voted into Office to clean up the Democrats multi-decade trashing of Energy Sources.




By Motoman on 5/26/2008 4:37:20 PM , Rating: 1
Ummm...seems to me our old pal GeeDub is the one pushing biofuels...at least in addition to the Dems. The only logical conclusion is to conclude that all politicians are illogical. Let them eat cake, then off with their heads, then eat the rich.


By DigitalFreak on 5/26/2008 6:43:27 PM , Rating: 2
Too bad we can make Soylent Green and use it for fuel...


By Ringold on 5/26/2008 9:01:29 PM , Rating: 2
While you are correct about Bush, the only push back against biofuels and insane energy policy is taking place from within the ranks of the Republican party.

That just means that some of the party is as pandering and weak as any other party, but at least some of them are taking a stand and calling a spade a spade. There is no party I'm aware of that gets it right entirely.

The Democrats, on the other hand, are busy trying to keep 2000 acres of barren, frozen hinterland in ANWR out of the hands of oil drillers. 2000 acres, by the way, happens to be 1/6th the size of Dulles. It's also not right-wing activists stopping nuclear, for example.

Further, McCain is the only candidate calling for ethanol subsidies to be removed, both the direct ones and the tariffs on imported ethanol.


By mdogs444 on 5/27/2008 9:26:34 AM , Rating: 2
Good words Ringold...but let's not forget that McCain also does not want us to drill in ANWR. That leaves us with 0 out of 3 people running for president who would rather help our oil cause to live our lives as we have been, and instead force us to resort to pedal bikes.


By Ringold on 5/27/2008 4:04:41 PM , Rating: 3
Don't look at me, mdogs. I didn't vote for him. :D

I ponied up some coin for Romney's campaign myself. My #1 issue is the economy and the proper management thereof, and everything he touched in his corporate career turned to gold. I would say McCain would've been my last choice, but no, I think I broke my jaw when it hit the floor when Guliani answered his cell phone in front of the NRA and talked to his mistress/new wife.


By mdogs444 on 5/27/2008 5:27:01 PM , Rating: 3
Haha I hear you.....I was partial to Duncan Hunter myself:-)

Now im down to voting for the lesser of 3 evils. I've considered a write-in of Romney, but then thought I'd only be contributing to Obama/Hillary.

Although, I'm starting to think that all 3 are terrible, so why not let the Dem's in for 4 years, ruin everything, then let the classic Reagan Conservatives retake the congress and presidential seat .... maybe Newt for '12?


By Reclaimer77 on 5/27/2008 4:12:34 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
While you are correct about Bush, the only push back against biofuels and insane energy policy is taking place from within the ranks of the Republican party.


In Bush's defense, if his Energy Plan that he proposed twice and went down in flames would have been passed, we would not be talking about gas prices today.

Funny, the same people who shot it down because "Bush just wants to drill for more oil so he can make money !! " are the same ignorant simpletons whinning about gas prices today.


By nstott on 5/27/2008 2:11:55 AM , Rating: 2
...and then we can solve two more problems by feeding the poor to the hungry... :P


By Ringold on 5/26/2008 9:13:26 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Simple answer? Kick the democrats out of office, and make it clear that the person you vote for knows that they were voted into Office to clean up the Democrats multi-decade trashing of Energy Sources.


Unfortunately, Saist, and you know its coming like I do, November will probably be a catastrophe for the Republicans. If they lose 12 Senate seats we shouldn't be shocked, though thats a worst-case scenario.

Throw in an Obama victory, and it's the perfect storm. The Bolshevik Trifecta: House, Senate, and White House.

If the economy really caves in, there tends to be two ways it has gone, historically. The unwashed masses either end up believing that the only solution is government control of everything and end up looking like Zimbabwe, or they come to their senses, like Ireland and some of South America did, and begin rapid emergency free-market reforms (Irish Miracle, anybody?). Given the current political trends in America, we could go the former rather than the latter way.

In other words, I'm not very optimistic. :)

China, though, doesn't suffer from our insanity, and has no desire to commit economic suicide. They're building nuclear plants, coal plants, natural gas plants -- anything they can build as fast as they can build them. They'll do fantastic while we carry out our national suicide pact. Brazil, Russia and India will do fine as well.


By Solandri on 5/27/2008 6:08:11 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, as a percent of GDP, the US public debt situation is much better than pretty much all of Western Europe. It would take the U.S. less than one year of GDP to pay off its debt. Most European countries would need 1.5 - 4 years to do that.

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/eco_deb_ext_perg...

So it would seem that socialism = even more debt than we have right now.

Agreed about the lies to start the war though.


By masher2 (blog) on 5/27/2008 9:45:55 AM , Rating: 4
> "I just do not understand the fear of socialism so prevalent in the US."

Me either, especially after viewing the booming economies and wealthy citizens of socialist nations such as Cuba, North Korea, and the former republics of the USSR.

Europe- which melds socialism more with capitalism- fares a bit better, but the fact remains that the per-capita production of the continent is about half of what the US manages.

The disadvantages of socialism were soon most clearly in the contrast between mainland China and Hong Kong, prior to the British relinquishment. One tiny flyspeck of an island, with no real natural resources and an infintesimal percentage of the mainland's population, managed to generate almost as much foreign trade as all of mainland China.

Eventually China wised up, and began to trade in socialism for capitalism. Now it's economy is the fastest growing on Earth, and the average salary of its people has more than quadrupled in just a few decades.


By Solandri on 5/27/2008 2:22:55 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I just hope that one day we will measure the succes of a country not just in per-capita production.
Bear in mind that unless there's enormous wage class disparity, that per-capita production translates proportionately into per-capita income. The U.S. has more wage class disparity than most European nations, but it is not big enough to offset its higher per-capita income. Someone living at what qualifies as poverty levels here still makes 3x as much income as the average Chinese. Poverty here means you can't afford a big-screen TV.
quote:
But I guess being egocentric and greedy is just too strong a trait in most people.
That's the beauty of capitalism, it takes people's inherent greed and selfishness, and channels it into improving the country's economy and thus everyone's standard of living. Of course there are a few domains where it doesn't work (e.g. pollution), so you make a few laws governing that.

I've been to many European countries (not Scandinavia yet), and there is not much socio-economic difference. People make a too big a deal out of the political differences - in real life they do not seem to matter as much as people seem to wish they did. A minor thing like a speculation bubble on energy commodities can cause much more upheaval than whether or not there's state-subsidized health care.

I think the diversity in systems is good for the world - it prevents an "all your eggs in one basket" global meltdown. When something happens which hurts capitalism more, Europe's economy helps prevent the world from slipping into depression. When something happens which hurts socialism more, the U.S. economy helps prevent the world from slipping into depression. Diversity is good.


By Ringold on 5/27/2008 4:19:17 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
and there is not much socio-economic difference.


Not quite true. In France they only recently breached below 10% unemployment for the first time in a quarter century, and it's probably bottomed as the economic cycle has started turning in Europe. When much of Europe considers 7-10% unemployment fantastic and we mess our pants at 4.9% unemployment, I'd say there is a difference.

Beyond that, there is even more dangerous inequity growing in France than in America. The suburbs (France's ghetto's, "banlieus") have something like 50% unemployment among the younger folk. Note the violent riots of a couple years ago when they took even the slightest offense at reforms. Meanwhile, there are plenty of hot-growing areas in America that, by contrast, have unemployment between 1 and 3%. Given that a small portion of the workforce is constantly switching jobs, we have close to 0% real unemployment.

nofranchise's point about not measuring well-being in terms of production or GDP-per-cap is amusing, but a typical socialist viewpoint. Unfortunately, in the real world, leisure, arts, education, and other things that I would agree are important all cost money. I've got probably $20,000 in art (I <3 Peter Max) here in my office, but I didn't afford it by being a pot-smoking hippy. I was able to afford those pieces, and canoeing, and my big Amazon.com bills by enjoying the fruits of free market capitalism.

But, go ahead, talk only about 'Gross Domestic Happiness', like that poor East Asian kingdom.


By nstott on 5/28/2008 8:24:18 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, it works great for solving pollution as well in the long run. An increase of wealth in a given community tends to translate into a higher demand for a cleaner environment and the means to accomplish it. More affluent people are better educated and thus tend to pollute less themselves in addition to demanding cleaner practices from local industries and lobbying the government to increase local standards to accomplish such. Higher tax revenues from a wealthier community also give the government more resources to keep the environment clean.


By MrWonka on 5/27/2008 9:55:32 AM , Rating: 5
You really need to stop mumbling because I can’t understand a word you’re saying!

MUMBLER!


Can I just point out that...
By Motoman on 5/26/2008 1:30:55 PM , Rating: 4
...any biofuel "solution" that involves planting & harvesting a dedicated crop is a magnificently bad idea?

We have too little arable land to provide food for the population of the planet as it is...ANYTHING that uses said land for purposes other than food is an automatic guarantee of additional suffering of already starving peoples. And/or at the very least, further loss of rainforest or other currently un-farmed land as it is cleared to grow fuel...either situation being untenable to anyone other than either complete idiots or evil-doers who don't care about either the long-term viability of the ecosphere and/or human suffering.

I would suggest, dear readers, that the ONLY acceptable form of biofuel production MUST run completely on LEFTOVERS and/or BYPRODUCTS of existing agricultural processes...such as corn stalks or offal from poultry processing plants.

I would further suggest that it must at the very least be a carbon-neutral and energy-neutral process...although it would be hard to argue it's worth it if it isn't an energy-positive process. Again, only exceedingly stupid people can support such processes if they generate more carbon waste than fossil fuels and/or take more energy to produce then they provide.

...smell that? It's called common sense. And ethical behavior. Both very uncommon, but with any luck we'll get use to them.




RE: Can I just point out that...
By emboss on 5/26/2008 2:18:53 PM , Rating: 2
Energy positive-ness, or lack thereof, is not really a big strike against biofuels. One of the big problems with electric powered devices is distribution and storage. Liquid fuels have very high energy densities and are easy to handle. Especially since there's already a large liquid fuel distribution network in place.

Instead of charging up cars directly from a nuclear power station (for example), use the energy to produce a more convenient liquid fuel.

While in the long term, an purely electric car would be nice from an energy consumption point of view, we're going to need liquid fuels for things such as aircraft until we can find something with an equivalent energy density. Batteries are still a couple of orders of magnitude away (by energy per weight and space) from fossil fuels last time I checked.

As you mention, there are several problems with biofuels. But energy negativeness is not really one of them.


RE: Can I just point out that...
By gerf on 5/26/2008 3:39:42 PM , Rating: 2
There are the high speed electric trains in Europe. While not as fast as a plane, and taking up a lot of land, they do indeed use something other than a hydrocarbon.

Of course, to get us Americans to use them will take $20 gas (my own guess)


RE: Can I just point out that...
By Solandri on 5/26/2008 4:48:15 PM , Rating: 2
Europe has high-density population centers separated by relatively short distances. The high density (coupled with meandering highways) makes individual cars impractical, while the short distances makes air travel impractical. So obviously they'd gravitate towards trains as an intermediary. Similar circumstances occur in some parts of the U.S. - primarily the Boston - NYC - Washington DC corridor. But for the most part the U.S. is much sparser with greater distances between cities. Longer lengths of rail used less frequently is a major negative for maintenance of a rail system which needs to be electrified along its entire length.

And aside from France (which gets 70%-80% of its energy from nuclear), most of the electricity in Europe comes from oil or coal.

Don't get me wrong: I like trains - they're the most energy-efficient mode of transportation we've invented. But energy-efficiency is only part of the equation. Other factors like maintenance, speed, reliability, and convenience also play a role.


RE: Can I just point out that...
By nofranchise on 5/27/08, Rating: 0
RE: Can I just point out that...
By masher2 (blog) on 5/27/2008 9:28:01 AM , Rating: 3
> A "European-style city like Berlin or Paris has incredibly effective public transport..."

So does New York and Chicago. Outside of that, most other cities don't have the population density to support such system...and most Americans have chosen to live with space around them, rather than crammed into tiny apartments.

> "Instead the US could take major steps towards becoming a mature society, if it lets go of the car."

In regards to a "mature" society, the car is a major step forward, not backwards...which explains why automobile usage is increasing in nearly every country on the planet...including Europe.


RE: Can I just point out that...
By nofranchise on 5/27/08, Rating: 0
RE: Can I just point out that...
By mdogs444 on 5/27/2008 2:16:12 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
By the way - I never said you should ditch the car completely. It is simply illogical to commute one person per SUV in a city. Illogical and lazy.

Lazy because someone drives and SUV in a city? Even more lazy than if they drive a SmartCar in a city?

Lets see here - by your argument - the government should fund a federal transit service for all cities with >10,000 people? Ok, and who, exactly, is going to pay for this public transportation system? Oh, thats right - the tax paying citizens - the ones who have and like cars!

But then, this way, who gets the benefits - the people who dont pay taxes.

I knew it from the get go - first cars are lazy, then driving in SUV's in the city, the fat americans, then why not townhomes instead of country side homes ,and NOW ... public transportation.

The quest for the ultimate far left goal...complete redistribution of wealth.


RE: Can I just point out that...
By Reclaimer77 on 5/27/2008 4:41:26 PM , Rating: 3
Modgs he just doesn't get it. We don't want urban Soviet style apartment housing conveniently placed near light rail. It makes sense for them, because they live it.

Charlotte N.C. just completed the first stage in its light rail program. Instead of building roads (which are needed badly), they emptied the Highway Fund, increased taxes and made up some new taxes, all for a few miles of inner city light rail. Of course the project, like any government project, went 5x over estimated budget. Never mind the fact that the most taxed people are the ones who are DRIVING CARS and are not properly being represented. We need roads, not trains.

All for what ? So people who don't own cars, because they don't work, so they don't even pay the taxes the rest of us do FOR the train, can ride the train from one Soviet style low class housing projects to the other.

A classic example of the failure of socialism and the goal of redistributing wealth.


RE: Can I just point out that...
By nofranchise on 5/28/08, Rating: 0
By Reclaimer77 on 5/28/2008 11:55:55 PM , Rating: 2
You just don't understand Americans. You don't understand what made this country great. Well actually, you don't think this country is great.

We have public transportation. Its government ran. That, by the way, should be your first clue. If there was a demand for it, if people wanted it, if there was profit in it, the private sector would already be pushing Public Transportation.

Now I can think of public transportation, thats a thriving business with great profit margins. Can you ? Public taxis. Private ran with low overhead, who are motivated to provide a certain level of quality service and safety.

quote:
Now a lot of you hard-righters probably don't have a passport, but you should come see how well public transport can actually work around the world. But I guess you aren't interested. Your loss.


There are two things that represent the " American Dream ", and owning a car is one of them. Its YOUR LOSS that instead of bettering yourself and raising your quality of life your being forced into public transportation. They are handing you a shit sandwich and calling it steak, and your loving every bite. And you think we're the ones to pity ?

quote:
I won't lose any sleep over the US domestic situation. But I've got a feeling you guys are on the losing team at the moment. *slight smile*


Lets just say the utter life ending implosion of our economy is being greatly exaggerated. Nice of you to take pleasure in others pain, however, because people on a website didn't agree with you. If being on the " losing " team keeps me away from people like you, well just call me loser.

quote:
Oh wait - perhaps it's because public transportation in the US generally suck. There. I said it.


Public transportation in the US will always generally suck when you compare it to the freedom of driving your own automobile. And thats what you don't understand. And I seriously doubt Public Transportation in Europe is so great you wouldn't want to drive your own vehicle.

quote:
I guess the voice of the - incredibly - hard right, is the loudest here at DT. Weird that no one can see just a shred of reason in the idea of public transportation...


I guess Europe is so - increadibly - hard left that any rational argument from an American appears to be " hard right ". When, in fact, theres nothing hard right at all about what we are saying.

And we DO see reasoning in public transportation. But what you don't get is that we DRAW THE LINE at taking away our cars and other freedoms to support it !


RE: Can I just point out that...
By Motoman on 5/26/2008 4:33:01 PM , Rating: 1
I feel compelled to disagree...if a fuel is energy-neutral or energy-negative, then it made no sense to expend the time and energy to process it in the first place...to oversimplify, just use the diesel fuel that the tractors had to use while farming the corn to drive your truck with in the first place.

I find it hard to find equity in a process that, say, consumes 1,000 joules of energy to produce anything less than 1,000 joules of energy for sure...in a break-even process like that, why bother?

Which is a primary fault in hydrogen fuel - like electric cars, it seems to be all happy unicorns and rainbows because the car itself doesn't cause any pollution - but the processing to get the hydrogen (and to a lesser extent, electricity) causes more pollution (and/or is very energy-negative) than a gas-powered car anyway.


RE: Can I just point out that...
By joex444 on 5/26/08, Rating: 0
By masher2 (blog) on 5/27/2008 1:56:16 AM , Rating: 1
> "Since diesel requires less refining that gasoline, it will cost less energy and carbon to produce 1 gal diesel versus 1 gal gasoline"

It's not so simple. The amount of refining needed isn't a constant; it depends on the fractions in the raw petroleum. You can crack the heavier, diesel-type fractions down into gasoline if gas demand is heavy...if diesel demand is heavy, you can reform the lighter fractions up.

In short, diesel only takes less refining when we don't want much diesel.

> " They get about 45mpg whereas gasoline cars get what, 23mpg."

All else being equal, the difference isn't nearly so large. Diesels are more efficient because the compression ratio is higher -- about 35-40% higher, though you lose a bit from the extra pollution-control mechanism needed.

Interestingly enough, HCCI technology allows gas engines to achieve nearly the same compression (and thus efficiency) as a diesel engine.

> "You break apart water only to recombine it? ...Better just to use a battery"

True-- if we had batteries which allowed 200+ mile ranges, and could recharge in a few minutes. Until then, battery-powered vehicles aren't practical for all people.


RE: Can I just point out that...
By emboss on 5/27/2008 2:36:45 AM , Rating: 2
The point is to use as little of the fuel you're making during production. Instead you want to use it in a form that's less convenient.

For example, there is a large amount of energy required to do the biomass->ethanol conversion. This is usually supplied in electrical form. If you're using an oil-burning power station then yes, it's pointless. However, powering it from a nuclear/solar/wind/etc allows you to trap that energy in a nice form.

You also bring up the point of hydrogen. Again, getting hydrogen from water is an energy-negative process. However, a nuclear power station planted next to a river will generate a large amount of hydrogen without consuming any oil. Of course, with hydrogen, there's the whole Pinto problem ...


RE: Can I just point out that...
By rs2 on 5/27/2008 12:19:52 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
We have too little arable land to provide food for the population of the planet as it is


Wrong. We are fully capable of producing enough food to adequately support every person on the planet, using only a fraction of its arable land. The problem is distribution (and/or economics, depending upon how you want to look at it), not production. The food produced isn't distributed evenly, so some nations end up suffering severe shortages, while others simultaneously enjoy surpluses so large that a full two-thirds of their populations become dangerously overweight. It's not that we can't produce enough, it's that we don't make a sufficient effort to make sure that everyone who needs food, has food.


RE: Can I just point out that...
By Omega215D on 5/27/2008 6:40:25 AM , Rating: 2
Vegetable oil... used of course and can be gotten from fast food joints, many times for free. Why? because it costs money to get rid of it so many are willing to give it away.

This could be a good stopgap solution for vehicles while nuclear is the way to go for powering cities.


By masher2 (blog) on 5/27/2008 9:33:10 AM , Rating: 2
> "Vegetable oil... used of course and can be gotten from fast food joints"

There isn't enough used vegetable oil to power even 0.1% of the nation's automobiles, much less the entire fleet. Oil is available from fast-food joints today because almost no one uses it to make biodiesel...if demand existed, those restaurants would soon be selling their surplus to the highest bidder.


If it was easy to break apart cellulose
By JAB on 5/26/2008 2:43:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If it was easy to break apart cellulose.........
When we are good enough at genetic engineering to make that work we should have already figured out how to just have plants make ethanol or large amounts of simple sugars for brewing.

I am sure someone would block it at the horror of "free beer".

Mod it enough to be easy digest and it would not be Cellulose. Sorry but there just isnt going to be any easy fixes to crack that nut. The size of it and the strength of the bonds in that molecule prevent it from working fast enough to scale well with enzymes. You could make methanol methanol doesn't work well in regular cars. It is great for race engines though.




RE: If it was easy to break apart cellulose
By Motoman on 5/26/2008 5:19:05 PM , Rating: 2
...keep in mind that methanol has a significantly higher energy density than gasoline. Ethanol, on the other hand, has a significantly lower energy density.

I'm not an expert, but I would presume it takes more energy to create methanol than ethanol.

If you think you're doing your pocketbook any favors by buying E85 fuel, think again. You're getting considerably lower mileage, because your car has to burn more fuel per mile to make the same power. You're lucky if you're breaking even when compared to your "savings" over using pure gasoline.


RE: If it was easy to break apart cellulose
By rippleyaliens on 5/26/2008 8:10:55 PM , Rating: 3
In my opinion.
1. We should add refineries- not a new one in over 20 years.
2. We should drill off our coasts..and Alaska.
3. Put a freeze on some of these NAFTA items and WTO items.
The US imports more food, than we grow. that is unsat.
4. Focus on our Economy. The reason OIL is higher, is because it is priced in US dollars. If our economy is weak, that makes the Dollar feel like mexican pesos. First time that i can remember that a canadian dollar is worth more than a US. WIERD.

BIO FUELS.= Smoke Screen. Vicious cycle. Why does food cost soo much, easy. Farmers deserve to make a living too.Why are Farmers going for Corn, or whatever that makes Bio Fuel.= Farmers need to make money too..
Hay going up in price, Beans costing 2x as much. Milk $4 a gallon, Eggs, (1 Dozen=$2), WELL farmers need to make money too.. Tractors COST$$$$ Those big tractors cost 300-400k EACH. FUEL for them COST!!!,
All these properties that people bought that they couldnt afford, guess what- YEars ago it was FARM LAND. SEMI-s COST 300-400k and cost 1,200 to fill the tank at 4.50 a gallons. GUEST WHAT, means every single thing that we buy, EVERY SINGLE THING food, toys, computer stuff, COST$$$
Focus should be to Fix the Economy, make the dollar worth while.. Instead of giving Billions to foreign countries, lets preform an embargo- 12-24 months.. NO

NO FOREIGN AID 1-2 years.
NO lob siding TRADING with CHINA/whoever, for 1-2 years..
Even out the deficient.
Fix the Economy, make it worth while for more farmers- to grow FOOD, versus FUEL
Build Nuclear Plants.. Focus on electric GRID. Make Electric POWER cheaper. give a reason to build/buy electric cars other than Green...
WIND/Solar, whatever- Where is there enough Wind, to fuel 300+ million americans? How many wind mills? SOLAR, same, where can we build the panels, to harness enough power for the US, remenber 300+ MILLION people in the US..- Just imagine 300 Million 5sq METER solar sheets..uhhh nooo.. Winter/no sun/batteries/worse-- the INITIAL cost to do it..

50mpg cars, arent the answer. fixing the economy. Remember buying a VW Diesel, is over 25k. UMMM how can everyone afford that. Mass Transit- Whatever. Getting to work, is not the problem. Making sure we keep the job, with a RECESSION is... Economy (FOCUS)

The US needs to quit wasting cash on stupid stuff-
Half Billion dollars for pictures of Mars.. HMM how about making it so that people can get medicines, how about OIL exploration, more importantly, Better Schools, with smarter workers, so we can stop this exporting of all our stuff to overseas, and maybe improve the Economy= Better pay, = stronger dollar, = less dependince on foreign countries..

Depending on Arabia for OIL is one thing
But Depending on CHINA for Walmart stuff, is just INSANEEE


By Noya on 5/26/2008 11:28:49 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Better Schools, with smarter workers, so we can stop this exporting of all our stuff to overseas, and maybe improve the Economy= Better pay, = stronger dollar,


Corporations export jobs because it's cheaper , not because the Indian answering your support line that barely speaks english is smarter than the equivelent American worker.


RE: If it was easy to break apart cellulose
By masher2 (blog) on 5/27/2008 9:30:23 AM , Rating: 2
> "1. We should add refineries- not a new one in over 20 years"

It's been just over thirty years since we built a new refinery in the US, actually. A few companies have tried to get one approved, but between the EPA, state, and local regulators, and private suits from environmental groups, no one has yet succeeded.


By theapparition on 5/27/2008 12:09:39 PM , Rating: 2
That will change.

Amazing what $4.00/gal gas will do when it pushes the right buttons on politician's constituents. They will have to let new refineries be made.


Weeds?
By amanojaku on 5/26/2008 3:07:48 PM , Rating: 2
Too bad we haven't figured out how to use genetic manipulation to create weeds that can be used as biofuels. Damn things grow everywhere and practically in anything!




RE: Weeds?
By AlterEcho on 5/26/2008 3:41:38 PM , Rating: 3
Seems like everyone has passed over Hemp as an alternative bio-source. Not only does it contain beneficial omega fatty acids, amino acids, and minerals... it also produces more energy per acre per year than corn, sugar, flax, or any other crop currently grown for ethanol or biodiesel. Hemp also requires less water and pesticides for growing.
Growing hemp also can be done by a smaller farm collective. This would allow farming to flourish on a smaller scale...bringing back the small family farm.


RE: Weeds?
By amanojaku on 5/26/2008 4:16:41 PM , Rating: 3
Hemp would be the most ideal. Unfortunately, it's illegal in the US because our retarded government swears every hemp field will be used to sell pot. There is also the concern that hemp is illegal because it would kill off traditional materials like cotton and wood because it's a better source of raw materials for things like clothing fibers and paper products. In other words, other countries where hemp is legal would suddenly be see an increase in business while American companies (even those with overseas manufacturing) would suffer.

A few years ago the government banned importing hemp-based cereals and grain products from Canada that CLEARLY had negligible amounts of THC. In fact, the quantity of food you had to eat to get a buzz was so great that you would explode from all the food you stuffed into your stomach. And you still wouldn't be high.

There is hope, however. Some people are actually using their brains and realizing that the trace amounts of THC are nothing to worry about. A few laws have been passed in various states legalizing industrial hemp, which will not get you high. You'd asphyxiate and probably die if you smoked enough to get a buzz. Even better, you cannot hide marijuana plants in industrial hemp fields and get usable pot plants: they would be starved of the nutrients required to make THC and the plant would be full of seeds and stems.

As the older generation dies so do the outdated concepts surrounding the hemp plant. We're looking at medicines, clothing products, foods, and plastics, all from hemp!


By cokbun on 5/27/2008 12:02:09 AM , Rating: 2
there some simple solutions available to reduce your oil dependencies right now. Like, public commute, ride a bicycle or a japanese100 cc motorcycle or a vespa like most people in my country. they got 20 - 30 km per liter. I know it's a changing lifestyle, but come on..( It can be fun too ) Especialy If you ride alone, you dont need a car. Youre just lugging 3 empty chairs. Or if you do, at least get a compact or something with a nice mileage.
Solar power, anti matter, gravity power whatever is still 10 - 20 years away, why not doing something now.




By rs2 on 5/27/2008 12:24:32 AM , Rating: 2
"you ppl"? Try "all people".


Straining credulity
By fishbits on 5/27/2008 9:27:45 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Getting The Food Crop Monkey Off The Back of Biofuels
Food crops are required for, umm, basic human survival. It is telling that growing food is considered by some an addictive luxury, one that gets in the way of the loftier goal of biofuels.
quote:
ethanol's net carbon output is stated in some studies to be worse overall than gasoline's, due to the extra carbon cost needed to harvest the sugar crop and drive the conversion
You'll be shocked to learn that the amount of *carbon* is exactly the same on each side of the process. Students who hope to pass their introductory chemistry classes know this.

Examples abound, but you have to toss a lot of elementary science and logic out the window to sell the "ZOMG people are destroying the whole planet!" cult. Clearly though, urging people to be cleaner and more efficient won't suffice in pushing through the agendas and programs that accompany the new faith (bigger, more powerful government, less individual choice and freedom).

Ah well, that's Daily Tech's right to print what it wants. Looking forward to your coming articles on 800W power supplies, overclocking, and a 12-month personal PC upgrade cycle. Oh but, where do we buy our indulgences for these sins? It's clear that certain activities can be overlooked, even though you'd think they too were destroying the planet.




RE: Straining credulity
By Motoman on 5/27/2008 12:56:27 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
quote: ethanol's net carbon output is stated in some studies to be worse overall than gasoline's, due to the extra carbon cost needed to harvest the sugar crop and drive the conversion You'll be shocked to learn that the amount of *carbon* is exactly the same on each side of the process. Students who hope to pass their introductory chemistry classes know this.


Doubt it. I feel quite comfortable that by the time you factor in the water and fertilizer use to grow the crop, fuel for tractors and trucks and whatnot, electricity generation to power the ethanol plant, so on and so forth, there's considerbly little chance that the process is carbon-neutral. And it sure as hell isn't energy-positive.


New Methods of Harvesting Energy
By Viewer1000 on 5/26/2008 10:45:45 PM , Rating: 2
Strictly Speaking, all the mambo jambo about biofuel and oil leads to 1 new question, New methods of conversion?

Old tradition methods have held us long enough and I belive its possible to move on from just simply converting the oil/ethanol to steam just to run turbines and generate energy . Solar Cells are an example or rather the only method of conversion of electricity from another energy other than kinetic energy.




By Tumn1s on 5/28/2008 1:39:33 AM , Rating: 2
HEMP IS THE ANSWER TO ALL OUR PROBLEMS... How stupid and blind can you people be. I don't even use marijuana and its plainly clear what must be done. You should really read the book "The Emperor Wears No Clothes".

http://www.jackherer.com/chapter01.html

This would basically save the world by cleaning up the atmosphere and supplying us with all the fuel we would ever need. It amazes me how jaded people can be. Educate yourselves before commenting.




End Farm Subsidies
By nstott on 5/27/2008 1:48:05 AM , Rating: 1
How about ending the irrational and immoral practice of farm subsidies? People are starving in certain places and the manufacture of biofuels is creating a food shortage, so why do we still pay farmers to not use their land?! How is it that at this time and with this problem that a big farm subsidies bill just got pushed through Congress?!

http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/ci_9370207

(Socialism is equal distribution of what little if anything is left after the disaster it creates.)




Biofuel blamed for food cost?...
By A5un on 5/27/08, Rating: -1
RE: Biofuel blamed for food cost?...
By masher2 (blog) on 5/27/2008 9:08:14 AM , Rating: 4
quote:
"I think that's a minor effect that biofuel has on the increase in food cost.

How many of us has actually seen a gas station outputting E85?..."
Most stations output E10. The federal government mandates the use of 9 billion gallons of ethanol in motor fuel in 2008. That's a huge demand. which translates to millions of acres of corn production.


RE: Biofuel blamed for food cost?...
By on1wl on 5/28/2008 1:59:48 PM , Rating: 2
It is sad to see so many theories about cause, effect, and sustainability of biofuels when the facts are available. Brazil swallowed their pill a few years ago before the planet got oil sick. Now it's our turn. We waited too long so now it hurts. The market will react and prices will come back down eventually. Want to know how it works out? See Brazil. Their stock market is now at an all time high. The fact is, biofuels work, and they are part of the solution.


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