Saturday, May 10, 2008

Really Inconvenient Truths

The Really Inconvenient Truths: Seven Environmental Catastrophes Liberals Don't Want You To Know About - Because They Helped Cause Them

Author Iain Murray's new book is discussed by the author himself at this remarkable seminar at the Heritage Foundation.

The story of Rachel Carson (whom Al Gore and the liberal environmental movement consider an idol and heroine) and the global malaria tragedy will cause anyone who hears it to never see environmentalism as populist cult and secular religion quite in the same way again.

Mr. Murray also exposes the role of biofuels such as corn and sugar-based ethanol in the unfolding food price crises and the wholescale destruction of the world's forests. Meanwhile, here Sen. Migz Zubiri and DOE Secretary Angelo Reyes are continuing to beat the biofuels drum as if they do not hear the ominous warnings against this entirely deluded leap. Mr. Murray calls the biofuel mandates in Europe and the US, and of course here in the Philippines, "an affront to the ideals of humanity." He notes as an example that the 450 pounds of corn needed to produce 25 gallons of ethanol could feed one person for a year. The corn burned as automobile fuel in the US alone in 2006 would've have fed 260 million people for a whole year.

Most significantly he presents the alternative to Al Gore's "decarbonization" proposals in the form of a comprehensive conservative strategy for addressing global environmental problems.

Listen to the whole thing!


Dave said...

Here in the USA, it takes 1.5 barrels of crude oil to make 1.2 barrels of fuel needed to produce 1
barrel of ethanol. Can you say "going backwards"?

In addition to which, only the kernels of corn are used. The rest of the plant is still treated as waste. Were you to ferment everything, the result would be methanol. Now methanol has 60% of the calories of diesel compared to ethanols 70%. BUT, you can get at least 2 to 3 times the amount of methanol for the same effort.

Bottom line is that our agricultural surplus has turned into a slight agricultural shortage. What this scam has done to less productive countries promises to be severe.

Dave said...

One more thought: Any organic matter can be converted to (drum roll please) crude oil. A matter of H. Sapiens replicating in a short period of time what M Nature took eons to do.

The fuel gained from refining the crude is much better quality than the low-grade furnace fuel of "bio-fuels". Even though there will be a lessened quantity of fuel, what you get will drive your car farther. Plus, you will get all those plastics, fertilizers etc that, while called by-products, are as vital to our well-being as fuel.

The plants that do the converting can be set up using wind, solar, even nuclear, as their power source thereby eliminating any petroleum overhead.

And as a by-product of the conversion, what will you get? Ethanol and methanol.

So changing waste has potential. But those who persist in burning groceries should be taken in front of Judsge Roy Bean and given one of his "suspended sentences". By the neck. Until deceased.

blackshama said...

Methanol can be a good alternative since agricultural waste can be used to produce it. But getting the hydrogen gas as a reactant may be energy intensive.

DJB Rizalist said...

methane is actually ten times worse than CO2 as a green house gas. which is why there are serious proposals to start feeding all ruminants (cows, goats, sheep) with GARLIC because that would reduce their altogether dangerous emissions.

There are appears to be hope for one of the favorite Philippine food crops to become a major global export!

beside that would make adobo dishes even more famous and widespread. haha!

Anonymous said...

aside from fart,methane of course is the byproduct of garbage.
That is why there are many methane to energy proposals.

I remember a trailer of the show "beauty and the geek" ,on how to prevent green house gases, and the girl answered ;prevent eating fatty foods.

Anonymous said...

Another proposal for biofuels source are algae combined with plastics.

Well, now; that might be a better alternative than food sources.

mesiamd said...

Most of us believe we need to do something about our carbon emissions. We need to find alternative sources of fuel other than from traditional coal and fossil. Researches are ongoing to explore biological, fossil, solar, water, coal, hydrogen, nuclear, chemical, electromagnetic technologies etc. From their effort, we hope to find something that can solve our problems.

At this time, we're seeing the backlash of corn use. But there are those who push energy development from grasses, algae, bacteria, and from other seemingly waste plant and animal products.

Regrettably, tech development (mostly from abroad) takes years to bear fruit and we have to deal with energy & food scarcity now. Our leaders and thinkers are slow in catching up (Somebody asks why we elected such a weak team of leaders.)

With specter of hunger hovering us, the use of corn for oil seems a joke. Against environmental concerns, even America hasn't abandoned tapping their oil fields in Alaska, but even then the reserve can only last for a few decades.

What we need is a dynamic leadership to help us tie-up all variables to make us food and energy sufficient. These variables cut across a lot of issues: cash flow, oil prices, mental capital, social behavior, poverty burden, population rise, technology development etc. But even with this multi-pronged approach, our energy problem is bound to stay for a while. Time Magazine's issue this week predicts it will grow worse for the entire world.

What irates many is the "catch word" approach of solving our problems. We find it hard to anticipate and prepare for the worst. When someone from outside trumpets "biofuels" our local leaders easily jump into the bandwagon. And they don't do their due diligence. They only shrug their shoulders.

DJB Rizalist said...

Karl, Mesiamd,
Very thoughtful comments, but I think the whole gamut of biofuel ideas are largely wrong from the standpoint of physics. When we consider that ALL energy on earth comes directly or indirectly from the sun, it would seem only logical to look at cutting out all the "middle men" like food crops (certainly!) and most other biological processors, especially when we know how to tap that energy more or less directly through such things as photovoltaics and solar-thermal.

Karl, I am especially against fooling around with the PLANKTONIC life as suggested not by a microbiologist or botanist but an Ateneo environmental scientist. They are the basis of all the plant and animal life in the sea. Once start feeding them to the cars, who knows where it'll get to!

mesiamd said...

If energy can be tapped in sources other than food crops-- safely, cheaply, in a large scale, and less pollution, why not? I think the thrust of research is to find something that works in lieu of coal and oil sans their obvious disadvantages.

A Filipino was even hailed before for "discovering" tap water to serve as gasoline. He didn't go far coz' he could say so, but couldn't deliver.

Interference with planktonic life is closely related to the issues that surround genetic engineering, cloning, stem cell research. As we unlock genomic riddles, there's always that possiblity that we bring out the worms of Hades.

Dr. Venter of California is now on his way to produce a new organism. Though we know his intention is benevolent, nobody knows where his discoveries will lead to.

Oil-producing algae, CO2 gobbling bacteria, equine producing anti-venom, bovine synthesizing immunoglobulins, sunscreen from seaweeds, and flood-fighting rice strains are all in the works. We can only ask, "who knows where they'll get to!"

Dave said...

One way of generating electricity
uses soap and water.

Dihydrogen Monoxide is mixed with sodium borahydride. The mixture is then passed over a grid which separates the hydrogen atoms from everything else. Those atoms then combine with the oxygen of outside atmosphere to power a fuel cell.

The result has been dubbed "mule fuel". Named after the Twenty Mule Teams that used to haul the borax needed to make sodium borahydride. A van powered this way was demonstrated at the borax mine in Boron CA.

I think the automotive applications of Mule Fuel were exaggerated. But I can see some very useful stationary applications.

By the way, Boron is right next to Mojave which is the home of the spaceship that flies on laughing gas and old tires. Spaceship One,
courtesy of Bert Rutan.

Hmmmm. Amazing what free enterprise can come up with while the bureaucracy dithers.

DJB Rizalist said...

I'm all for genetic engineering, especially for the development of new food crops. in principle there may be fuel applications as well, but the research on "oilgae" implies a major agro-industrial endeavour to produce them in vast quantities that will require use of land or sea area that I think ought to be directed at food production. Solar energy engineering seems to me a far more productive area of R&D for energy production. Unless the science is driven by science and not ideology we seem to get into the "silent spring" mode of Rachel Carson. Malaria would not be the problem that it is today, especially in Africa had environmental religions not acquired such populist power.

Cocoy said...

McDonough and Braungart wrote a book called Cradle-To-Cradle. it is about rethinking how to build sustainable cities. you can find it here: which also has McDonough's tedtalk.

what's interesting is towards the last part of that video where he shows a City design he made for the Chinese and it is my understanding they are implementing it.

yeah, when it comes to alternative energy, we got to do the numbers on whether we are actually consuming more energy than what we produce and what implications are when we do. the treehuggers are not wrong in that we really do need alternative energy sources but we shouldn't jump into blindly.

Anonymous said...

Now back to our fossil fuel power plants.

50 % of our electric bill consists of genaration costs.

It is said that most of our power plants,lack preventive maintenance, particularly the boilers and the condensers including the heat exchangers.

Most of the delapidation is due to biofouling.

maybe just a basic preventive maintenance technology to maximize the heat transfer process would also help in reducing geneartion costs,which is half our electric bill.

Anonymous said...

pardon my typos and wrong spelling guys,sorry 'bout that.

cvj said...

Here's a rejoinder to the accusation against Rachel Carson. Basically, it says that DDT was never banned for Malaria purposes and that Carson's [valid] concern is that spraying DDT would have resulted in DDT-resistant mosquitoes, as it has in Sub-Saharan Africa.