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Should we all set up our own stills?

Popular Mechanics – May 8, 2008

Saw this article on Popular Mechanics.  It really isn’t that hard to set up your own still to create ethanol to burn in your flex fuel vehicle.  This Micro Fueler looks good but your housing association may have something to say about setting up a fueling station in your side yard!

While this isn’t going to make a huge dent in our development of CO2, it is an interesting idea to explore.  Perhaps the best way to reduce foreign oil dependence and cut back on CO2 pollution is to make everything smaller and closer to home.

Al Gore’s Doomsday Clock

Wall Street Journal – July 22, 2008

Sometimes I think that this site exists solely to condemn Al Gore.  He is easily the person that we discuss more than all else when you consider his film, his rock concerts, and his foolish statements it seems that it is all that one can read on the subject of energy. And to think that this man was a heartbeat away from being the President of the United States for 8 years in addition to a few hanging chads from being elected to the office himself.

Scientists find bugs that eat waste and excrete petrol

Times Online – June 14, 2008

The title of this original article is not quite accurate.  Scientists didn’t FIND the bugs – they MADE the bugs.  The title should be:

Scientists create bugs that eat waste and excrete petrol.

While this doesn’t truly solve the problem of excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it does inadvertently.  Since the process of excreting this oil from waste cellulose and then burning it as liquid fuel is carbon negative, massive use of this synthetic oil would make the driving of cars “good” for the environment and would suck up the CO2 from industrial uses.

Now, I just hope that they have a way to turn these bugs off if they escape from the vat!

Toyota Will Offer a Plug-In Hybrid by 2010

The New York Times – January 14, 2008

Toyota is not going to be out-done by GM.  Yesterday, I discussed that GM is spending a lot of effort and money to develop alternative fuels and alternative propulsion options. This article shows that Toyota is not going to stand still in that important competitive battle.

Toyota will offer the first plug-in hybrid in 2010. Plug-in hybrids are important because it is far more efficient to produce electricity at an industrial power utility plant than it is to burn gasoline in your car in the form of a “traditional” hybrid vehicle.

New Fuel Standards Are Poised to Advance

Wall Street Journal – December 1, 2007

An important step has been taken in a new bill to increase the required fuel mileage per gallon required for US cars.  Late Friday evening a deal was struck with the major players in the House which should lead to passage in the House.

The new CAFE standard (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) will increase 40% and must be attained by 2020. It should reduce the amount of CO2 produced by autos slightly as well as slightly reduce the dependence on foreign oil.

The estimated cost increase to the consumer should be about $1400 and save the consumer about $200 in gas costs.  Frankly, I never believe these estimates as they tend to be worse than global climate models in their accuracy.

Can you buy a greener conscience?

Los Angeles Times – September 2, 2007

P.T. Barnum supposedly said that there was a sucker born every minute. Sometimes, when I read about carbon credits, I am not sure who the sucker is – the person buying, the person selling, or the general public for thinking it is helping!

I really don’t like carbon credit schemes.  I have written about them multiple times and most of what I read simply doesn’t make sense and is closer to scam than it is to solution.

In order for credits to be feasible and to be more than a “feel good” gesture, we need solid accounting, accountability, and penalties. We have none of that now and this article makes this painfully clear. We cannot allow credits to be used for minor contributions to a project. The credit must go to the cost of reducing the greenhouse gas. 

With Corn Prices Rising, Pigs Switch To Fatty Snacks

WSJ.com – May 21, 2007

There is a much greater demand for corn with the increased demand for ethanol. This demand has had a dramatic impact on the cost of corn and has made it too expensive for some ranchers to use corn to feed their livestock. Instead, they appear to be using over-supply of food that is traditionally used for humans.

This, of course, begs the question as to the USA’s ability to effectively produce ethanol. If we are using our food to power our cars will that significantly hurt the poorest people in our nation, not to mention our exports to foreign lands that are impoverished.