Comments

  1. Danny Lemieux says

    What? That can’t be? Of course the BDS crowd will howl, but the fact is that, after steep declines in alternate energy funding during the Clinton years (1992-2000)http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd/doe07pf1.pdf, ChimpyBushHitlerBigOilMcHaliburton poured enormous resources into alternative energy development over the past 6 years that are only now bearing fruit – the only reason that most people don’t have a clue about this is that the MSM refused to report it, preferring stoke the fevered cries of, “Biiig Oooil!”. Ditto for GW’s expenditures in education, by the way.

  2. JJ says

    There are some problems here, though. Mexico is already experiencing tortilla riots, as Mexican growers ship their corn north for conversion to bio-fuels instead of keeping it home and eating it. Over the last few months, even with as little as we’re doing, it’s caused the price of corn to rise, tripling the price of tortillas. Which sounds funny, but it isn’t, and there have been riots in Mexico over this.

    Bruce E. Dale of Michigan State is an optimist – where does he think we’re going to find 40 to 60 million acres of arable land to grow prairie grass? 40 to 60 million acres that isn’t already in production trying to keep us fed?

    The entire state of Kansas is 52.36 million acres, (with 47% of it already being farmed). I guess we could bulldoze Kansas City, Salinas, etc. flat, and take every arable inch (it isn’t all arable) of it to grow prairie grass and that would get us halfway there – but then you’d have to make up that 24 million acres currently growing food somewhere else.

    Same just about everywhere, we already have most of the arable land in this country pretty busy.

    Iowa has 35.76 million acres, of which 32 million is already working, but I suppose you could forget the food and switch it to prairie grass, and that, combined with Kansas, would get us there.

    But then you have to replace that 56 million acres that was producing food.

    This is going to be perhaps a little trickier than Bruce has allowed for, even with all the help the termites can give us.

  3. Danny Lemieux says

    I agree that there are some challenges, ahead. However, there are more-than enough sources of cellulose. For one, consider that, at present, only the head of grains are used – the stalks are considered waste matter. Similarly, wood processing (harvesting, lumbering) leaves huge amounts of waste materials. The attraction of switch grass is that it grows in areas that otherwise can’t support significant agriculture. Here’s an excellent review article on the subject: http://www.switch-grass.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=21&Itemid=36. No doubt that, in the short term (next 5 years, or so), we (the world) face some serious agricultural dislocations. However, nobody wants nuclear, nobody wants to drill offshore or convert oil shale and tar sands…so what to do? Nothing in life is free.

  4. JJ says

    Here is something, somewhat off the point of the post, but interesting nonetheless. I have no references, I just heard it on the radio earlier today, but it is being posited that most of the power we need (“power” as opposed to “fuel”) could be had simply for the digging. When you get down, apparently not very far, you begin to run into the fact that the earth, down in the mantle below the crust, is quite hot. Which we all knew, of course, it’s a blob of lava with a liveable surface – but using it for power?

    Someone – again, sorry, no references – is doing reserach to get down into hot rock beds that could be used for electrical generation, which would be inexpensive and totally emission and waste free. Taking the idea of Iceland to a larger scale, though Iceland is uniquely located atop a number of geological hot spots right at the surface.

    This strikes me as, if workable, a good idea. research maybe to support.

  5. says

    core taps have been in science fiction for awhile. A couple of problems seem to be pressure, maintenance, and well, being able to drill that far with current drills.

    So far the price tag on even oil drilling seems to be rather… high. It is hard to do research and development on something you can’t do because of the price tag.

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