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January 17, 2010: "Saving the World at $10 Per Gallon" 
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Post Re: January 17, 2010: "Saving the World at $10 Per Gallon"
Ok

Let's try to get this back on track

Has anyone except me seen the movie?

James's review is spot on. This is scary stuff.

Forget the Prius. Forget your monster trucks.

What if the guy is RIGHT?
Rob


Thu Jan 28, 2010 3:10 am
Post Re: January 17, 2010: "Saving the World at $10 Per Gallon"
Well as fun as arguing has been, I guess I will get back on track. Having not seen this, I really can't comment, but I hope he isn't right. In any case, I hope to enter grad school next year in Chemical Engineering. I plan to focus on thermodynamics and fluid dynamics as far as research goes. Maybe, just maybe, I can be apart of the next energy boom. Off the top of my head, the Stirling Engine comes to mind as a strong contender :D


Thu Jan 28, 2010 7:43 pm
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Post Re: January 17, 2010: "Saving the World at $10 Per Gallon"
jonathan wrote:
It's strange to reflect that about 150 years ago the world thought they were heading towards oblivion because we were running out of coal... and then oil was discovered.

I think it's wise to be concerned about a post-oil world, but we needn't be alarmed. The billionaires of the next 15-20 years will be people that discover and pioneer the next step. It might not be one solution. It could well be the incorporation of a multitude of energy sources and processes -- solar, hydro, wind, etc. It's unsurprising that people are worried about running out of oil and the calamity that could create, but it's also not the first time society has feared for its security as a result of depleting a resource. We'll be fine, but there is no doubt that the global economy will change greatly over the next 20-30 years.

But the way economics works, chances are we'll never actually 'run out' of oil (before anyone jumps on me, I KNOW it is a finite resource). It'll just become prohibitively expensive, and that will force everyone else to find alternate means. It may seem impossible now as every single stage of just about everything in our economy relies on oil being cheap, but it will happen. Hey, this might herald the end of the gross imbalance in wealth that exists today.


I am not a doomsday scenarist, and I don't believe this one, but to play Devil's Advocate...

150 years ago, nuclear weapons did not exist. They do today. If the depletion of oil results in increased anarchy in the areas of the world where the weapons are stored (former USSR), it wouldn't be hard for a terrorist organization to possess and use one or more of these devices. The real concern surrounding the depletion of oil is not that it will go away but that the enormous spikes in prices will cause a global financial collapse. When that happens and governments become unstable, nothing can be taken for granted. We now have the capacity to pretty much destroy the planet (or at least make it unlivable for human beings), which is something that was not the case as recently as 70 years ago.

I believe this is alarmist thinking, but I cannot deny that there is a kernel of validity in it.


Mon Feb 01, 2010 12:56 pm
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Post Re: January 17, 2010: "Saving the World at $10 Per Gallon"
Fascinating discussion! It's really interesting to see how people's views differ (I've never seen anyone defending SUVs before).

Malcolm Gladwell on the illusion of SUV safety.

From here in British Columbia, it seems obvious that the long-term trend of gas prices is up. The (right-wing) government introduced a gradually rising carbon tax a couple years ago; the revenue from the carbon tax is then offset by lowering income taxes. People weren't too happy about it, especially when gas prices spiked (they didn't trust the government to reduce income taxes, and opponents called it a tax grab). But the governing party did about the same in the subsequent election as in the previous election, so it's not political suicide. It's currently at $15/tonne of CO2, rising to $30/tonne three years from now; I'd expect it to continue rising after that.

Technically, I thought that replacing gasoline for personal commuting was more or less a solved problem--battery technology has been improving fast enough for all-electric vehicles to reach the mass market shortly. I'd expect that within 10 years, more than half the personal vehicles on the road in Vancouver will be electric. All the taxis here are Priuses. Of course the additional electricity needs to be generated, but there's a number of options there (the major ones being coal with carbon capture and storage, nuclear, renewables, conservation). In BC, we rely primarily on hydroelectricity, and I'd expect to see expansion of existing hydroelectric dams, plus a continued push for conservation.

The more that jurisdictions anticipate rising gas prices and plan for it, the easier it'll be to adapt. It's a lot more cost-effective to replace a vehicle fleet over a period of 10 years (because they wear out and get replaced anyways) than it is over one or two years.

By the way, the total environmental impact of a car comes primarily from operating it over its lifetime, not building it. Google Answers.


Wed Feb 03, 2010 10:05 am
Post Re: January 17, 2010: "Saving the World at $10 Per Gallon"
I can't resist. Check this SUV out...and the panties drop :D

http://www.autofiends.com/wp-content/up ... /p4xl1.jpg

In case you're wondering..yes, it is too big and ugly for even me.


Sat Feb 06, 2010 5:48 pm
Post Re: January 17, 2010: "Saving the World at $10 Per Gallon"
James Berardinelli wrote:
jonathan wrote:
It's strange to reflect that about 150 years ago the world thought they were heading towards oblivion because we were running out of coal... and then oil was discovered.

I think it's wise to be concerned about a post-oil world, but we needn't be alarmed. The billionaires of the next 15-20 years will be people that discover and pioneer the next step. It might not be one solution. It could well be the incorporation of a multitude of energy sources and processes -- solar, hydro, wind, etc. It's unsurprising that people are worried about running out of oil and the calamity that could create, but it's also not the first time society has feared for its security as a result of depleting a resource. We'll be fine, but there is no doubt that the global economy will change greatly over the next 20-30 years.

But the way economics works, chances are we'll never actually 'run out' of oil (before anyone jumps on me, I KNOW it is a finite resource). It'll just become prohibitively expensive, and that will force everyone else to find alternate means. It may seem impossible now as every single stage of just about everything in our economy relies on oil being cheap, but it will happen. Hey, this might herald the end of the gross imbalance in wealth that exists today.


I am not a doomsday scenarist, and I don't believe this one, but to play Devil's Advocate...

150 years ago, nuclear weapons did not exist. They do today. If the depletion of oil results in increased anarchy in the areas of the world where the weapons are stored (former USSR), it wouldn't be hard for a terrorist organization to possess and use one or more of these devices. The real concern surrounding the depletion of oil is not that it will go away but that the enormous spikes in prices will cause a global financial collapse. When that happens and governments become unstable, nothing can be taken for granted. We now have the capacity to pretty much destroy the planet (or at least make it unlivable for human beings), which is something that was not the case as recently as 70 years ago.

I believe this is alarmist thinking, but I cannot deny that there is a kernel of validity in it.



This is definitely true. Nuclear weapons, and technology that can bring about mass destruction generally, is getting cheaper and easier to obtain. Depletion of oil could exacerbate that, particularly in those areas you mentioned.

As for the global financial collapse... It IS possible that could happen, of course. But a global financial collapse could happen at any time for any number of reasons. The spikes in prices won't happen overnight. They'll gradually increase. We're already at a point where we ('we' being humans) know we need to wean ourselves off oil. Economics will find a way.

Just to play the role of the optimist...


Sat Feb 06, 2010 9:44 pm
Post Re: January 17, 2010: "Saving the World at $10 Per Gallon"
I skimmed through this discussion, and did not see anything about biomass fuel. If it was previously mentioned, my apologies.

There is only one plant on the planet that I am aware of that could be mass-produced for fuel is hemp (which, despite having less than 1% THC, or in other words can't get you high if smoked, is banned by the U.S. federal government). Hemp biomass derived fuels and oils can replace every kind of fossil fuel energy product. The first car, Henry Ford's Model T, was made out of hemp plastics and ran on hemp fuel.

During transpiration, the growig hemp plants "breathe in" CO2 (carbon dioxide) to build cell structure; the leftover oxygen is breathed out, replenishing Earth's air supply. Then when the carbon rich hemp biomass is burned for energy the CO2 is released back into the air. The CO2 cycle comes close to ecological balance when the new fuel crop is grown the next year. Growing trees keeps 10 times the carbon dioxide in the Earth by keeping the infrastructure of the microbes, insects, plants, fungi, etc. alive for each tree. The older and bigger the tree, the more carbon dioxide is kept out of the atmostphere. Not all of the biomass crop gets converted into fuels. Some leaves, stalk stubble and all of the roots remain in the field as crop residues. This carbon rich organic matter adds to the soil fertility, and with each passing season a little more carbon dioxide from the air enters to soil, so the biomass fuel crops slowly reduce the amount of carbon dioxide from our polluted atmosphere.

Biomass conversion through pyrolysis (applying high heat to organic material in the absence of air or in reduced air) produces clean burning charcoal to replace coal. Sulfur emitted from coal fired boiler smokestacks is the primary cause of acid rain. Measuring acidity on the pH scale, the rainfall in New England often falls between household vinegar and lemon juice. This is bad for every cell membrane the rain comes in contact with, doing the most harm to the simplest life forms. Charcoal contains no sulfur, so when it is burned for industry no sulfur is emitted from the process.

The biomass "cracking" process also produces non-sulfur fuel oils capable of replacing fossil fuel oils such as diesel oil. And the net atmospheric CO2 doesn't rise when biomass derived fuel oils are burned.

Pyrolysis uses the same "cracking" technology employed by the petroleum industry in processing fossil fuels. The gasses that remain after the charcoal and fuel oils are extracted from hemp can be used for driving electric power co-generators, too!

This biomass conversion process can be adjusted to produce charcoal, methanol and fuel oils to process steam, as well as chemicals important to industry: acetone, ethyl acetate, tar, pitch and creosote.

The Ford Moto Co. successfully operated a biomass "cracking" plant in the 1930s at Iron Mountain, Michigan, using trees for cellulose fuels. (Earth-friendly hemp is at least four times as efficient as trees for fuel, and is sustainable.)

Hemp stems are 80% hurds (pulp byproduct after the hemp fiber is removed from the plant). Hemp hurds are 77% cellulose - a primary chemical feed stock (industrial raw material) used in the production of chemicals, plastics and fibers. Depending on which U.S. agricultural report is correct, an acre of full grown hemp plants can sustainably provide from four to 50 or even 100 times the cellulose found in cornstalks, kenaf, or sugar cane - the planet's next highest annual cellulose plants.

In most places, hemp can be harvested twice a year and, in warmer areas such as Southern California, Texas, Florida and the like, it could be a year-round crop. Hemp has a short growing season and can be planted after food crops have been harvested.

An independent, semi-rural network of efficient and autonomous farmers should become the key economic player in the production of energy in this country.

The United States government pays (in cash or in "kind") for farmers to refrain from growing on approximately 90 million acres of farmland each year, called the "soil bank." And 10-90 million acres of hemp or other woody annual biomass planted on this restricted, unplanted fallow farmland (our Soil Bank) would make energy a whole new ball game and be a real attempt at doing something to save the Earth. There are another 500 million marginal unplanted acres of farmland in America.

Each acre of hemp would yield 1,000 gallons of methanol. Fuels from hemp, along with the recyclingof paper, etc., would be enough to run American virtually without oil.

Any hemp is not limited to just fuels, but could replace wood paper and plastics as well.

But of course, because the cousin of hemp is marijuana, it must remain illegal. The logic behind it? Because law enforcement officials wouldn't be able to tell apart the hemp from the marijuana, despite the fact that hemp grows tall and thin, and marijuana is short and bushy. They are very easily identifiable.

If anyone wants to check my sources....

- Progress in Biomass Conversion" Vol. 1, Sarkanen & Tillman, editors; Energy Farming in America, Osburn, Lynn, Access Unlimited.
- Popular Mechanics, Dec. 1941, "Pinch Hitters for Defense."
- The Emperor Wears No Clothes by Jack Herrer (which much of this post was copied from. All the verified sources are in the book).


Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:14 pm
Post Re: January 17, 2010: "Saving the World at $10 Per Gallon"
Timmy Shoes wrote:
I skimmed through this discussion, and did not see anything about biomass fuel. If it was previously mentioned, my apologies.

There is only one plant on the planet that I am aware of that could be mass-produced for fuel is hemp (which, despite having less than 1% THC, or in other words can't get you high if smoked, is banned by the U.S. federal government). Hemp biomass derived fuels and oils can replace every kind of fossil fuel energy product. The first car, Henry Ford's Model T, was made out of hemp plastics and ran on hemp fuel.

During transpiration, the growig hemp plants "breathe in" CO2 (carbon dioxide) to build cell structure; the leftover oxygen is breathed out, replenishing Earth's air supply. Then when the carbon rich hemp biomass is burned for energy the CO2 is released back into the air. The CO2 cycle comes close to ecological balance when the new fuel crop is grown the next year. Growing trees keeps 10 times the carbon dioxide in the Earth by keeping the infrastructure of the microbes, insects, plants, fungi, etc. alive for each tree. The older and bigger the tree, the more carbon dioxide is kept out of the atmostphere. Not all of the biomass crop gets converted into fuels. Some leaves, stalk stubble and all of the roots remain in the field as crop residues. This carbon rich organic matter adds to the soil fertility, and with each passing season a little more carbon dioxide from the air enters to soil, so the biomass fuel crops slowly reduce the amount of carbon dioxide from our polluted atmosphere.

Biomass conversion through pyrolysis (applying high heat to organic material in the absence of air or in reduced air) produces clean burning charcoal to replace coal. Sulfur emitted from coal fired boiler smokestacks is the primary cause of acid rain. Measuring acidity on the pH scale, the rainfall in New England often falls between household vinegar and lemon juice. This is bad for every cell membrane the rain comes in contact with, doing the most harm to the simplest life forms. Charcoal contains no sulfur, so when it is burned for industry no sulfur is emitted from the process.

The biomass "cracking" process also produces non-sulfur fuel oils capable of replacing fossil fuel oils such as diesel oil. And the net atmospheric CO2 doesn't rise when biomass derived fuel oils are burned.

Pyrolysis uses the same "cracking" technology employed by the petroleum industry in processing fossil fuels. The gasses that remain after the charcoal and fuel oils are extracted from hemp can be used for driving electric power co-generators, too!

This biomass conversion process can be adjusted to produce charcoal, methanol and fuel oils to process steam, as well as chemicals important to industry: acetone, ethyl acetate, tar, pitch and creosote.

The Ford Moto Co. successfully operated a biomass "cracking" plant in the 1930s at Iron Mountain, Michigan, using trees for cellulose fuels. (Earth-friendly hemp is at least four times as efficient as trees for fuel, and is sustainable.)

Hemp stems are 80% hurds (pulp byproduct after the hemp fiber is removed from the plant). Hemp hurds are 77% cellulose - a primary chemical feed stock (industrial raw material) used in the production of chemicals, plastics and fibers. Depending on which U.S. agricultural report is correct, an acre of full grown hemp plants can sustainably provide from four to 50 or even 100 times the cellulose found in cornstalks, kenaf, or sugar cane - the planet's next highest annual cellulose plants.

In most places, hemp can be harvested twice a year and, in warmer areas such as Southern California, Texas, Florida and the like, it could be a year-round crop. Hemp has a short growing season and can be planted after food crops have been harvested.

An independent, semi-rural network of efficient and autonomous farmers should become the key economic player in the production of energy in this country.

The United States government pays (in cash or in "kind") for farmers to refrain from growing on approximately 90 million acres of farmland each year, called the "soil bank." And 10-90 million acres of hemp or other woody annual biomass planted on this restricted, unplanted fallow farmland (our Soil Bank) would make energy a whole new ball game and be a real attempt at doing something to save the Earth. There are another 500 million marginal unplanted acres of farmland in America.

Each acre of hemp would yield 1,000 gallons of methanol. Fuels from hemp, along with the recyclingof paper, etc., would be enough to run American virtually without oil.

Any hemp is not limited to just fuels, but could replace wood paper and plastics as well.

But of course, because the cousin of hemp is marijuana, it must remain illegal. The logic behind it? Because law enforcement officials wouldn't be able to tell apart the hemp from the marijuana, despite the fact that hemp grows tall and thin, and marijuana is short and bushy. They are very easily identifiable.

If anyone wants to check my sources....

- Progress in Biomass Conversion" Vol. 1, Sarkanen & Tillman, editors; Energy Farming in America, Osburn, Lynn, Access Unlimited.
- Popular Mechanics, Dec. 1941, "Pinch Hitters for Defense."
- The Emperor Wears No Clothes by Jack Herrer (which much of this post was copied from. All the verified sources are in the book).


Very good read. If you don't mind my asking, do you have a background in this area (engineer, geologist, biologist, etc), or are you just an avid researcher/reader?

Also, I remember that hemp was a cousin of marijuana, but my sandals are made of hemp, and what about hemp necklaces that people buy?


Tue Feb 16, 2010 4:01 am
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