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Biofuels worse than gas?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by SByer, Feb 9, 2008.

  1. SByer

    SByer '08 #383

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    Nation & World | Biofuels make greenhouse gases worse, scientists say | Seattle Times Newspaper

    As we've discussed elsewhere, you can dive endlessly into primary, secondary, tertiary and beyond effects for additions/subtractions to greenhouse gas emissions for any particular technology and / or fuel.

    I personally never felt that ethanol (or any other non-waste-product oriented biofuel) passed the sniff test for actually reducing emissions. But then again, I don't believe waste product oriented biofuels will scale to a significant part of the vehicle market.
     
  2. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Yeah we seem to be "shooting ourselves in the foot" with some of the efforts to bring bio-fuel production online. I read a number of articles showing problems with efforts to produce more palm tree based bio-fuels in Asia, including this one:

    Sustainable Biodiesel: The Ecological Cost of Fuel
     
  3. Kardax

    Kardax Member

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    Bio-fuels suffer all the same problems as any other kind of farm product. But, like any farm product, it is renewable, so for that reason alone it represents one of our best options as the oil supply tightens.

    -Ryan
     
  4. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    The argument would be that modern farm products aren't renewable. Today's agriculture consumes large amounts of petroleum and natural gas in the form of fuel for farm machinery, fuel for shipping, and feedstocks (mostly natural gas) to produce fertilizer and pesticides.

    For most of history agriculture was based on muscle power -- human and animal -- and those muscles required calories to operate. As a result, farming was very labor-intensive and only produced, on average, about 10% more food than it consumed. Which meant, 90% of the population had to be farm workers in order to feed themselves and the remaining 10%.

    Now our food production is automated and "supercharged" with large amounts of fossil fuels. That's why we can have six billion people on Earth today, and the huge majority of them don't have to be farm workers.

    Agriculture on this scale has led to some big problems. One problem will be how to keep it all going when petroleum and natural gas (and irrigation water, possibly) become scarce. Another problem is all the synthetic fertilizer that's been running off into our rivers, into the ocean, and unbalancing the ocean's chemistry (along with massive over-fishing).

    To me these are more vexing problems than global warming. Warmer temperatures are generally good for agriculture, after all.
     
  5. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    The mindset that warmer temperatures will be better for some causes me concern. Many cultures are already struggling to grow crops in desert like conditions and additional heat will make them suffer even more. For every Eskimo that dreams of sunny waterfront property there is already someone who doesn't have enough water elsewhere in the globe.

    Even if climate just moved around that would be a problem. It would take massive efforts to rebuild dams in different places if the patterns of snowfall and waterflow moves. If it gets too hot in some places it isn't easy for entire cities to relocate to a new place where the climate is more tolerable.

    People thrive when there is climate consistency. If we end up playing "musical chairs" with the hospitable parts of the world we are going to suffer. Only those very well off will be able to afford to relocate. Others will be stuck where they are and may find that conditions become worse.
     
  6. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    Higher global temperatures should result in increased rainfall in most parts of the world, because of higher evaporation rates from the oceans: what goes up must come down, somewhere. The Sahara Desert is already in retreat. Antarctica is accumulating ice rather than losing it -- because of increased snowfall. (Antarctica is also warming, but it's still so far below freezing that thawing isn't a factor there.)

    With global warming you get the smallest temperature increases near the equator and greater increases at higher latitudes. Winter temperatures will tend to increase more than summer temperatures. Rainfall, on average, should increase globally. This is a recipe for increased global agricultural output.


    The climate has always changed, and people have always moved around in response. It may be happening a bit faster now. . . but we also are able to adapt faster, with all the resources we have at our disposal. Lomborg covered a lot of these topics in Cool It, you should check it sometime.
     
  7. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    #7 TEG, Feb 12, 2008
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2008
    So what do you think about the possibility that the North Atlantic currents could get disrupted that could possibly freeze England & Scotland and cause the Equator to get even hotter?

    Frank Lesko - Ocean Currents and Global Warming
    Will global warming trigger a new ice age? | Environment | The Guardian
    The Pentagon's Weather Nightmare The climate could change radically, and fast. That would be the mother of all national security issues. - February 9, 2004

    http://www.climate.org/PDF/clim_change_scenario.pdf
    "There is substantial evidence to indicate that significant global warming will occur during the 21st century. Because changes have been gradual so far, and are projected to be similarly gradual in the future, the effects of global warming have the potential to be manageable for most nations. Recent research, however, suggests that there is a possibility that this gradual global warming could lead to a relatively abrupt slowing of the ocean’s thermohaline conveyor, which could lead to harsher winter weather conditions, sharply reduced soil moisture, and more intense winds in certain regions that currently provide a significant fraction of the world’s food production. With inadequate preparation, the result could be a significant drop in the human carrying capacity of the Earth’s environment."
     
  8. WarpedOne

    WarpedOne Supreme Premier

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    #8 WarpedOne, Feb 13, 2008
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2008
    ... substantial evidence to indicate ...... are projected ...... gradual in the future...... have the potential to be manageable ...... suggests ...... a possibility ...... gradual ...... could lead ... ... relatively ...... could lead ...... the result could be ...

    Sorry, but this is not science, this is storrytelling and manipulation based on fear.
     
  9. malcolm

    malcolm Active Member

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  10. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    I have yet to see science that will tell us with absolute certainty what will happen in the future. Trying to avoid possibly very bad scenarios is a good idea even if you can't absolutely prove that they will happen in the first place.

    Admittedly this is just one of very many possible problems that loom in the future.
     
  11. SByer

    SByer '08 #383

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    So, whether global warming has a human-contributed component is out for debate.

    But:

    - It's still really stupid to suffer deforestation for fuel crops.
    - It's really really stupid to have any kind of fuel based on feed crops.
    - Burning things (coal, oil, biofuels) for energy if an alternative is available is just plain dumb.

    Given that biofuels really don't seem to solve anything, we should just skip that useless step and go straight to BEVs (REEVs only when necessary). The sooner we make the oil-producing countries irrelevant the better.
     
  12. WarpedOne

    WarpedOne Supreme Premier

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    SByer: That is a piece of rational and sound reasoning.

    A lot of things are probable to happen sooner or later. Yellowstone will eventually blow up, megameteor will hit Earth again, a killer pandemia will sooner or later delete massive numbers of people - again. What to do about that?

    Have you noticed that global warming is somehow not "cool" anymore? Now it is all about climate-change. But that is a tautology! Whatever happens they will be right, they will be yelling "We told you so! We warrened you but you didn't listen!". It is a pure and pristine religion, unfortunately very dangerous one.

    Why?

    Because it preaches off a nonproblem so much less resources and attention is given to bigger problems - real pollution such as SO2, CO, heavy metals, fertilizers, smog, etc. CO2 is just no polutant.
     
  13. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    I think bio-fuels may have a long-term niche, for things that are hard to run off batteries. Aircraft would be the top example. Farm machinery, construction machinery, trucks and military vehicles might qualify as well.

    However. . . Light passenger vehicles -- cars, basically -- burn such a large portion of the petroleum that is used today, that if you could get cars running on electricity, then it would free up a huge amount of petroleum for use in aircraft, etc. So in that scenario it might turn out that there's little economic incentive to move them off oil anytime soon.

    I still think the most promising biofuel in the long run is algae. That's what most petroleum geologists believe oil came from in the first place.
     
  14. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    #14 TEG, Feb 13, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 13, 2016
    Yes, you guys are re-iterating some things I tried to say earlier including these main points:

    * We need to reduce consumption of crude oil based fuel for a number of reason including saving what's left for aircraft and such.
    * Do this to avoid fights over the remaining oil as well as other types of pollution (e.g.: smog)
    (If we help avoid man made climate change in the process that might be a good thing, but lets avoid chasing our tails debating that aspect)

    I was just watching a show about that last night.
    (Invention Nation: Power Surge)
    Apparently Algae is a much faster growing organism to use as a source of bio fuel.



    29815 ALGAE – THE HOLY GRAIL OF BIOFUEL? by MultiVu -- Revver Online Video Sharing Network
    "If we took 1/10th of the state of New Mexico and converted it to Algae production we could meet all the transportation needs of the entire United States".
     
  15. jcstp

    jcstp Active Member

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    http://green.autoblog.com/2011/02/16/ineos-new-planet-bioenergy-break-ground-on-waste-to-ethanol-faci/

    I think waste to ethanol is the future for biofuels!
    Not so long ago I saw on tv, more then 20% (I think it was 30%) of produced food is thrown away because it dous not fit into the boxes for it's transportation, or does not have the wished color or measures!
    + all biological waste we make at home! (kitchen, garden)

    with cars getting more and more electrified!

    enough to make biofuels for the whole planet I guess! ;-)



    And using farmland to make biofuels is unneeded stress on foodprices I think!
     

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