Debate and Discussion

Biofuels - Planetary Enemy #1
lothar at 4:11AM, April 12, 2008
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What do you think about these so called bio-fuels"? theres a reason they don't call them eco fuels . i've been following the biofule thing for a couple of years now. as i grow a lot of my own food i was interested in it.
seems like every politician in america is behind this drive to ramp up production of ethanol , using mostly corn as a feed stock . as a consequence of this increased use of food for making fuel , global grain stocks are at their lowest levels since the 80s, food prices wordwide have spiked , and when i buy a bag of chips there seem to be fewer and fewer chips in the bag! wtf?
but , aside from causing millions to starve to death in the near future , ther is another dark side to this biofuel cloud of death . it's called the rainforest . saving the rainforests was all the rage in the 90s yet for some reason now people have pretty much forgotten about them. the sad thingis , now , in order to reduce green house gas emissions ; we are switching to more fuel from plants , plants take land to grow. so .. in order to make more biofuel we are cutting down more forests . forests store carbon , carbon is a green house gas . so the net effect is a dramatic increase in greenhouse gas emissions ! not a decrease. on top of that farm runoff from all these corn farms has spilled into the oceans creating huge dead zones where nothing can survive .
the 3rd consequence of biofuels , is one you don't hear much about . its slavery. since biofules are already close to being a net energy looser , they will almost certainly require large numbers of people to grow and harvest the crops if ethanol is going to replace gasoline . in a system that has evolved around a form of energy that springs forth from the ground like water, once government subsidies are taken away , there will be no cost effective way to produce ethanol exept by reverting to a fuedal system and slavery to fuel the military machines of the future !

so .. on a global scale ,
biofules = Famin + Rape of Nature + Slavery

anybody care to argue with that ?
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:45PM
Kohdok at 6:36AM, April 12, 2008
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I can see that Ethanol is a bad idea, too. It takes more energy to grow than ends up being produced by it in the end. There are other choices, too.

Waste vegetable oil, the stuff they cook french-fries with, can be used in a diesel engine with a little filtering. Hydroelectric and Geothermal power can produce Electricity for electric vehicles. Bicycles use humans as fuel and give you killer legs, etc.

Then again, playing Devil's Advocate, most corn is used to feed livestock, anyway. So, if we cut down on meat consumption, famine wouldn't be so much of a problem.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:20PM
Product Placement at 8:15AM, April 12, 2008
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There is also the idea of using Methane or Hydrogen. I'm surprised you haven't heard about that.

Methane is a natural greenhouse gas that forms when things decompose. You also might have heard about the fact that Cattle produces crazy amount of methane that contributes to global warming. Getting rid of some of it would be good. It works as an excellent alternative for fuel and pollutes less than gasoline. We can easily make it ourselves by extracting it from landfills where it naturally forms in abundance, swamplands and underwater as well.

Hydrogen is a bit trickier to make but has even more benefits. It naturally binds itself with other elements for example oxygen, forming water. Hydrogen is usually not found in pure form. In order to acquire it one needs to separate the hydrogen from the other elements. The most popular method is to extract it from water. It is possible to do it using chemical reaction but those methods usually pollute but one way to extract it from water is through electrolysis. Basically an electrical current is run through water causing the oxygen and hydrogen to separate. It is the cleanest way to acquire this gas as long as the electricity came from a non-polluting source. When Hydrogen is burned it will release energy and form into water again. It would be the perfect fuel however due to how hard it is to effectively mass produce it (you would require the entire energy production of the united states to produce enough hydrogen to completely replace gasoline) and difficulties transporting it. Currently the state of California and Iceland are doing large experimental projects to see if hydrogen could eventually replace gasoline in cars. Wish them luck.
Those were my two cents.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:49PM
patrickdevine at 9:32PM, April 12, 2008
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The single best idea I've seen for a solution to this is driving less. If you can walk or bike to where you need to go, do it. The way I see it there aren't enough resources to use cars as much as we do.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:41PM
cartoonprofessor at 12:04AM, April 13, 2008
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There are plenty of ways to get almost-free, limitless energy… solar, tidal, wave, wind, to name just a few.

The problem is these energies are hard to make money from, for example; solar alone could replace over 90% of our energy, howver in order to accomplish this, everyone would need solar panels on their own roofs, then the energy goes directly to the consumer with no way a coorporation can get in the middle to take a cut.

In fact, if people fed their excess energy into the grid, only 20 - 50% of people would be required to have panels on their roofs… depending on your climate.

Once again, small chance of any corporation making money… so it doesn't happen.

Australia is facing a massive water crisis, a crisis that would never had ahppened if every home had water tanks… but councils actually made them illegal in some regions… the reason, council would lose a massive market for its own water supplies if more people had tanks.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:36AM
plas at 1:11AM, April 13, 2008
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cartoonprofessor
In fact, if people fed their excess energy into the grid, only 20 - 50% of people would be required to have panels on their roofs… depending on your climate.

There are a couple of towns in Canada, Vancouver in BC is a prominent one as far as I can remember and there are some small communities in Ontario that I know of that have those systems in place. Essentially you set up solar panels for your home and any excess energy you get you sell back to the city. So not only are you not paying for your electricity, you're also making money back. If you can afford to buy the equipment necessary to convert than you could perceivably get your money back on your investment.
I has no picture :(
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:46PM
lothar at 4:29AM, April 13, 2008
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yes , everybody has great ideas about renewable energy .
but , my question was specificaly about Ethanol . is anybody else aware of the impact this is having on the world already ? or will have in the next ten years ? or the way the US and EU have jumped on this insane bandwagon to increase use of ethanol?

simply - there is not enough land or water on the planet to use ethanol and feed everybody
heres an article from today
here!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:45PM
Product Placement at 6:49AM, April 13, 2008
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The reason everybody is jumping on that silly bandwagon is because that ethanol based biofuel can be used in regular cars that otherwise would use gasoline. The pro that people are seeing from it is that it pollutes less than normal gas and you don't need to replace the cars on the streets like you would have to do in case of pretty much any other type of alternative fuel. Of course, like you mentioned, the drawback is the ridiculous amount of land and water required to grow a sufficient amount of plants for ethanol production. That and other factors is slowly but surely leading to a massive global hunger that will ultimately affect the third world countries the worst while back here in the western world it will merely affect our wallets.

You could call it shortsightednesses and it certainly is but the pressure to create more fuel to supply the ever growing demand forced them to take this option. I say they could have played their cards differently but this is where we are today.

Where to place the blame is practically pointless. You could say it's Bush for starting a lengthy war that pushed the oil price up and crashed the dollar. You could blame Muslim nation for not getting along with their neighbors and thus causing such an unstable middle east (where so much of the oil is coming from). You could blame the governments and the corporations that are too dependent on oil and refuse to give other alternative fuels a chance to enter the market. Or you could blame us, the consumer for buying this crap, thus contributing to the pollution and demanding more of it when the price goes up.
Those were my two cents.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:49PM
plas at 12:51PM, April 13, 2008
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Putting aside the factors of the land and water that is being used to create it as a concern, there are still other concerns as well. Namely the fact that the pollution it decreases in use is no where near enough to compensate for the amount of pollution its production puts into the environment. Quite simply it is actually making more pollution in its production then gasoline, and its environmental footprint is actually bigger. Its just not a better product at this time, and its about time that we stopped investing money into the production of ethanol and starting working on actual alternative measures. Plus we should be aiming at reducing the amount of cars on the roads currently and conserving the amount of energy we use in the home.

Hydrogen, Methane, Solar, Wind, Tidal, etc… these are all great sources of energy that aren't being tapped because 1) the public isn't being educated about them, and 2) the funding just isn't there to support research into improving the technology behind them. The only way thats going to change is if we make it change by letting the people in power know that we want that. The vast majority of the population is complacent though, so I don't know if thats going to happen. There really is no easy solution, but we better start doing something soon because I think our time might be running out…
I has no picture :(
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:46PM
lothar at 6:12AM, April 14, 2008
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yea . i've actually heard some environmentalists say it is far better to keep using oil than to switch to ethanol . the amount of carbon realeased into the atmosphere by cutting down jungles to grow biofuels far outweighs the savings .

so many simple things could be done to reduce energy use , especialy in the US
2 things off the top of my head are
1 energy saving light bulbs ( florescent or LED)
2 hang your damn clothes out to dry instead of using the clothes dryer ! i'm in Japan and NOBODY has a clothes dryer , they are like UFOs here , even where i am whith 6 months of winter , people just hang their clothes inside to dry.
3 was going to be public transportation and bike riding, but i know that's a joke . most american cities are not designed for mass transit and riding a bike in many cities is downright dangerous, with the way people drive ! the only solution i see there in the near term is electric cars or massive unemployment ,

what America realy needs is a new “New Deal” focussing on using the last precious drops of petroleum to build a sustainable and energy efficient transportation manufacturing and food production infrastructure !!!
becuase we have hit the peek of the consumer civilization ! and something is coming to replace it , one way or another
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:45PM
plas at 12:34PM, April 14, 2008
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I don't necessarily think public transportation is that bad of an option. In Toronto our public transportation system is primitive at best but its still a serviceable option. And if that fails theres always just walking or riding a bike. People don't walk enough nowadays.
I has no picture :(
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:46PM
Product Placement at 1:16PM, April 14, 2008
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The capital in Iceland is very spread out and walking or cycling anywhere is out of the question unless you live in the down town area where everything is near by. Hence, we have LOTS of cars.

Our public transports borderline stinks. All we got are buses that are unreliable and expensive to ride in. At a time it became an immigrant thing to do so no one native really wanted to ride them anymore (there's a little racism going on over here regarding Polish). Then the government started offering free rides to students and senior citizens(they used to get discounts before) and now there are slightly more people riding it. But it's still expensive for everyone else to ride in and still unreliable and there are only like 3 buses per hour (2 on weekends).

*Sigh* I miss London. Their transport system was awesome.

————-

However over here there is a huge awareness regarding alternative fuels. Iceland created the first Hydrogen gas station intended for public use in the world. It's actually a tourist attraction *snickers*. I don't know why though. The good thing about trying it here is the fact that all our energy is clean. We use thermal generated and hydro-electric power that doesn't pollute. Countries that pollute to produce energy wouldn't see any benefit from this since they would have to increase energy production to produce hydrogen and thus would pollute more. We still don't have that many fuel cell cars(that use hydrogen) so it's still mostly used to fill the experimental buses that are part of our mass transit system. We also dabble with methane cars and hybrids.
Those were my two cents.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:49PM
bobhhh at 2:22PM, April 14, 2008
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What about Switchgrass, it grow three times taller than Corn using less acreage, and grows in hostile environments where food grows poorly or not at all, and can yield more ethanol than corn.

There are probably more alternatives yet to come, to chloroform bio fuels because of fear of global starvation is a bit myopic when you reakize that fossil fuels are poisonous and finite, not to mention the socio/political costs.
My name is Bob and I approved this signature.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:29AM
bobhhh at 2:27PM, April 14, 2008
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lothar
1 energy saving light bulbs ( florescent or LED)
2 hang your damn clothes out to dry instead of using the clothes dryer ! i'm in

Ever try hanging your cothes out to dry in San Francisco?? We live by a bay… clothes dry very poorly in such humidity.

Also don't be so quick to pat yourself on the back for coiled Fl. bulbs. The matereials used to make them are highly toxic and end up in landfills. Not to mention all those rechargeable batteriesin everything from radios to lap tops to hybrid cars, they are also highly lethal items that will soon be clogging our landfills and leeching noxious chemicals into our environment.

There are no easy answers.
My name is Bob and I approved this signature.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:29AM
Product Placement at 2:30PM, April 14, 2008
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bobhhh
There are no easy answers.

Ah the epiphany of truth.
Those were my two cents.
If you have any other questions, please deposit a quarter.
This space for rent.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:49PM
dueeast at 2:32PM, April 14, 2008
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The whole ethanol thing seems a scam to me. It hasn't produced anything good thus far and were I a conspiracist, I'd say it was used just to hike overall food industry profits.

And if the other energy alternatives made money, the industries would be all over them, too.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:17PM
Product Placement at 4:00PM, April 14, 2008
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They could make money… but the gasoline market is so deeply rooted into the western society that changing it would require a massive deconstruction throughout the entire market. There are so many high profile companies that would loose out if gasoline becomes a secondary fuel and few are willing to take that risk.
Those were my two cents.
If you have any other questions, please deposit a quarter.
This space for rent.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:49PM
Toshubi at 11:00AM, April 26, 2008
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I agree with Lothar on this one.
Biofuel is nothing more than another form of gasoline, (Or diesel) it just gets prosessed from a diffrent resource. It still produces hydrocarbons and carbonmonoxcide. Hydrogen cars are not as eco friendly as they make them out to be. Sure you have almost no harmful emissions from the tail pipe, but they still need oil changes to maintain thier engines. That used oil has to go somewhere, and even with recycling there is still the filtered out sludge that must be delt with.
There is one vehicle type that I do think is eco friendly… fully electric cars. Battries are 100 percent recyclable, (No sludge or waste byproduct.) and they don't use oil to lubercate any gears because there isn't any. All that would need to be replaced is the bearings and the grease inside those bearings. (Bearings and grease go a looooong way.)
Internal combustion engines need the following consumables regardless of fuel type.
Engine oil
Transmission oil
Gear oil
Air filter
Oil filter
fuel filter
PVC valve
Grease
Coolant

A fully electric car would need the following consumable for maintanence.
Grease

Quite a diffrence there I'd say.
Ya know that tough material they make the “black box” on airplanes?
Why don't they make the whole plane out of that stuff?
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:33PM
bobhhh at 2:57PM, April 26, 2008
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Good points.
My name is Bob and I approved this signature.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:30AM

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