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TIME’s “The Clean Energy Scam”

By Archive, March 31, 2008  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Archive
This article provides excellent reporting on ethanol and how it is leading to the destruction of vast amounts of the Amazon. Sample: "The grain it takes to fill an SUV tank with ethanol could feed a person for a year." Check out The Clean Energy Scam and share your thoughts on what we should and shouldn't do about this dilemma.
Category: Green Action




Matthew Kowal says ...
The TIME article did a nice job bringing to light some consequences of the biofuel industry. Often it is hard to see the full cycle an industry must complete to produce food or products. I find it disheartening that the human diet is not more scrutinized. The use of animals as a food source is incredibly inefficient means to distribute nutrition. Environmental vegetarianism is not just about helping the environment and the animals but about helping yourself! The following segment is quoted from Wikipedia with sources from the USDA and the BBC linked below. "Animals fed on grain and those which rely on grazing need more water than grain crops. According to the USDA, growing crops for farm animals requires nearly half of the U.S. water supply and 80% of its agricultural land. Animals raised for food in the U.S. consume 90% of the soy crop, 80% of the corn crop, and 70% of its grain.[4] In tracking food animal production from the feed through to the dinner table, the inefficiencies of meat, milk and egg production range from a 4:1 energy input to protein output ratio up to 54:1" http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3559542.stm http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/sb973/sb973.pdf
04/03/2008 10:33:19 AM CDT
Papa Giorgio says ...
(FYI -- un-edited) I think some of this issue is overblown for political reasons... and then in response to the “Soros involved” activism and his money finding its way to both Marxist organizations as well as environmental organizations who seem to have similar ideas to ANSWER and MoveOn, the more conservative side (mine -- letting my biases be known) reacts in full, which can be a turn off as well to some. I will touch on just a few ideas here that I talk about in my best friends classroom once a semester so some deprogramming can happen to these kids that are inundated with myths in the media as well as in their school. I will take a portion of my son’s sixth-grade Toast Masters speech to kick off the issues below: ###[-quote from sons sixth-grade paper-]### William Shatner, Captain Kirk of Star Trek fame, mentioned in a National Geographic video that, “rainforests [are] being cleared at the rate of 20 football fields per minute.” If this were truly the case, the forests would have been completely wiped out years ago. In fact, the co-founder and long-time director of Greenpeace, Patrick Moore, said: “All these save-the-forests arguments are based on bad science…. They are quite simply wrong… [Phillip Stott and I] found that the Amazon rainforests is more than 90% intact. We flew over it and met all the environmental authorities. We studied satellite pictures of the entire area.” Phillip Stott, who has 30 years of studying tropical forests under his belt as well as being professor of biogeography at London University mentioned that, “there are now still – despite what humans have done – more rainforests today than there were 12,000 years ago.” ###[-un-quote-]### This is just one issue I raise in the classroom of high school kids. Some other historical points I touch on are that of wine production. The Roman’s produced wine on the Salisbury Plains in Britain in the 8th century, today it is entirely too cold for such a production of wine, right now at least. Another issue I raise is that of the Vikings. They had enough crop production to sustain long “naval expeditions” over the watery horizon, tree’s to build their armada of ships, homes, and the like. Today, the ground is permafrost for the most part. It was called Greenland for a reason at one point in history. To make the point clear here: ###[-quote-]### The very warm climate during the MWP allowed this great migration to flourish. Drift ice posed the greatest hazard to sailors but reports of drift ice in old records do not appear until the thirteenth century (Bryson, 1977.) The warmer climate would also result in a greater harvest in Iceland than would be experienced today so the land must have looked more inviting in the past than it does today. The Norse peoples traveled to Iceland for a variety of reasons including a search for more land and resources to satisfy a growing population and to escape raiders and harsh rulers. One force behind the movement to Iceland in the ninth century was the ruthlessness of Harald Fairhair, a Norwegian King (Bryson, 1977.) ###[-un-quote-]### I want to caveat here that that quote is from the following man who is one of the many thousands of specialists who say global warning is not anthropogenic (man-caused): ###[-quote Bryson from article-]### Reid Bryson, known as the father of scientific climatology, considers global warming a bunch of hooey. The UW-Madison professor emeritus, who stands against the scientific consensus on this issue, is referred to as a global warming skeptic. But he is not skeptical that global warming exists, he is just doubtful that humans are the cause of it. ###[-quote bio-]### Reid A. Bryson holds the 30th PhD in Meteorology granted in the history of American education. Emeritus Professor and founding chairman of the University of Wisconsin Department of Meteorology—now the Department of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences—in the 1970s he became the first director of what’s now the UW’s Gaylord Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies. He’s a member of the United Nations Global 500 Roll of Honor—created, the U.N. says, to recognize “outstanding achievements in the protection and improvement of the environment.” He has authored five books and more than 230 other publications and was identified by the British Institute of Geographers as the most frequently cited climatologist in the world. Long ago in the Army Air Corps, Bryson and a colleague prepared the aviation weather forecast that predicted discovery of the jet stream by a group of B-29s flying to and from Tokyo. Their warning to expect westerly winds at 168 knots earned Bryson and his friend a chewing out from a general—and the general’s apology the next day when he learned they were right. Bryson flew into a couple of typhoons in 1944, three years before the Weather Service officially did such things, and he prepared the forecast for the homeward flight of the Enola Gay. Back in Wisconsin, he built a program at the UW that’s trained some of the nation’s leading climatologists. ###[-un-quote-]### Another example I give the kids is in regards to the northern face of the Mammoth Mountains where there was a volcanic eruption about 1350 A.D. that, in similar fashion to the Mt. St. Helen explosion, stripped the trees off the mountain side but leaving the roots and the lowest portion of the trunk allowing specialists of various fields to study these older trees. The tree line then was much higher than the current tree line. There are even other species of trees growing then that do not grow there today. In order for the tree line to be at its height above sea-level and the types of trees that grew there, the area would have to be 3.8 degrees Celsius warmer then that it is now. This is of course taking into account the uniformitarian understanding of events in the past (in other words, current geology). Another challenge to the scare tactics used by those who would purport to want to help the environment (like the GreenPeace “kids” that straddle the doors of Whole Foods) is that of volcanic eruptions that cause more “greenhouse gasses” than the entire history of mankind. Krakatoa for instance. Another historical blow comes from ship travels through areas now covered by ice. ###[-quote-]### The British coined the term Northwest Passage for the potential northern oceanic pass that would allow vessels to move between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The earliest explorations for the fabled passage were by Cortes in 1539. The late 1500's were marked by British explorers, Martin Frobisher, Humphrey Gilbert, and John Davis. Several expeditions followed, all with little success of finding the passage but tempered by the acquisition of new lands. Some attempts lead to deaths of entire crews. Notable of these is the Sir John Franklin expedition in which all of the crew members were lost to starvation, scurvy, cannibalism, and lead poisoning from food sealed in tins. The first to transverse the Northwest Passage was Sir Robert McClure using a combination of both sledge and ship. Ironically this was done during the search for Franklin's team in which McClure's own ship became trapped in the ice for three winters. The passage was finally conquered entirely by sea by the Norwegian Amundsen in 1906. ###[-un-quote-]### Many of these trips, notably the trip in 1906, went through an area now covered in an ice shelf. The same ones people are scarred about melting. History is a bit%^ to those with political dogma as their guide. After noting some historical cases I get into some of the issues raised by environmentalist that purport to be reasonable responses using fossil fuels (which I do not believe to be fossil fuels but that oil is always produced [a-biotic] by the inner workings of the earth and then pushed to the crust by the pressures of said inner workings). For instance all the animal life these wind farms end: ###[-quote article-]### The Audubon Society, a party to the lawsuit settled last year, noted among the birds deaths are between 456 and 1,129 raptors killed each year, including 75 to 116 golden eagles killed annually. ###[-un-quote-]### The reason many birds die here is because many rodents set up homes at the base of these “death machines” and birds are then attracted to the area. Another reason is the placing of these wind mills in natural “wind corridors” that are also migratory paths for birds. Another myth is that of solar power, for instance some big concerns regarding the moderately high energy costs to build solar panels, and considerable toxic waste exposure issues in making and disposing of solar panels loom on the horizon of “planet health.” Not to mention the European Union's estimate that the future replacement of these panels as they are warn by the sun’s natural breaking down of materials and the subsequent end in a landfill caused them to say that “these [environmental hazards] are greater concerns than nuclear waste or nuclear accidents.” OUCH! And as already discussed here (with links) and a comment by a reader, there seems to be a misunderstanding of the issue at hand. It isn’t about what some stats from a few years back are about animals being fed grains. It is about what the future holds for the amount of grains needed to both feed said animals as well as being produced for fuel. This is the main culprit in the riots a few months back in regards to poor Mexicans not being able to buy corn tortillas. Here is the issue as I see it: ###[-quote article-]### ... The EU adopted a goal of producing 10 percent of its fuel for road transportation from biofuels by 2020. The U.S. government (cheered on by the agriculture industry and environmentalists) adopted a mandate of 36 billion gallons of biofuel production by 2022 -- a five-fold increase over 2006 levels amounting to 28 percent of the U.S. grain harvest. Congress and the president joined hands to pass this feel-good legislation just when, as the Wall Street Journal pointed out, new data were demonstrating that biofuels cost more energy than they save. "When the hidden costs of conversion are included, greenhouse-gas emissions from corn ethanol over the next 30 years will be twice as high as from regular gasoline. In the long term, it will take 167 years before the reduction in carbon emissions from using ethanol 'pays back' the carbon released by land-use change." The amount of global warming that this investment in biofuels was designed to obviate was truly trifling (if GW exists at all). Economist Bjorn Lomborg's work (see "The Skeptical Environmentalist" and "Cool It") is absolutely essential to understanding this issue. He has pointed out that even if all of the world's industrial nations reduced their outputs of greenhouse gases by 20 percent as the Kyoto Protocol would have required by 2012 (and many of the signatories are not on track), the reduction of global warming would have been 0.1 F degrees lower than it would otherwise have been, thus delaying global warming by a mere five years. The costs, on the other hand, of meeting these or other targets are substantial. There are the opportunity costs -- funds spent on reducing global warming are diverted from other worthy efforts like supplying clean drinking water to Africa, fighting malaria, and improving flood control infrastructure. And as we are now seeing on our front pages, there are direct costs like dramatically increasing the price of food and pushing millions of poor people to desperation. "When millions of people are going hungry," Palaniappan Chidambaram, India's finance minister told the Journal, "it's a crime against humanity that food should be diverted to biofuels." ... ###[-un-quote-]### This and the other issues I raised here and with students in my friends class to counter Al Gore’s film and the morning announcements the public schools program these kids with is the issue that few hear from the political cult that stands in front of our store. Much Thought and Reason, Papa Giorgio
04/26/2008 1:44:41 PM CDT
Dirk says ...
Hallo Papa Giorgio, You are right with your comments and opinion. One should view at history with a sense of reality and not been brainwashed with what romantics want to see. I had a catholic education, but tell me: the first christian community was a sect for the romans at that time; Imagine some guys who told you that your slave must be freed, meanwhile living in holes, (catacombs) who was quite natural by lack of other shelters. And if I look now at the ceremonies in Rome, I imagine the chief of protocol invecting the cardinals to be quiet, to lign up, asking if everybody went to the toilet - as surely some cardinals must wear a diaper being incontinent - till the curtain opens (means the television cameras zooming in) and then you see them all very humble, putting their hands together and showing deep religious feelings. Really, I'm not convinced by this show. But I accept that others are. To say that I like your realistic approach on our climate, discoveries and that it's really a crime to use biofuel or to make plastic bags from potatoes or sugar as I saw two weeks earlier in a Hypermarket. I'll never will buy this. Dirk
04/29/2008 7:28:58 AM CDT