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Lord Turnbull’s comments

I thought that Lord Turnbull’s speach in front of the House of Lords on December 8, 2009 was very well done. It does an excellent job of praising many in the community for their efforts in addition to appropriately questioning the correct next action. As this is a public forum paid for by British taxpayers, I feel that I can include his complete comments here.

I especially like the realism in his comments about the exporting of carbon usage to China (or other less developed countries) and then blaming those countries for their dramatic increase. This is an issue that is often overlooked in the discussion of curtailing carbon output in any individual country.

U.S. Biofuel Boom Running on Empty

As nations around the world begin to plan for Copenhagen to discuss the next generation Kyoto treaty, it is increasingly obvious that they will be ineffective.

Chief among the reasons for this ineffectiveness is that with the price of oil at its current state, it is simply not cost effective to use alternative fuels that will dump less CO2 into the atmosphere. The oil producing nations are probably not maintaining crude at this level to doom the planet to disaster, they are simply smart business people that are providing their “drugs” to the “addicts” at a price and in a way that will insure that no one can ever move off.

New Priorities For Our Energy Future

Boone Pickens and Ted Turner are well respected businessmen (the former a big  investor and the latter a media mogul and founder of CNN). Both have a history of speaking their mind on public issues and both have a history of making huge sums of money.

While I certainly do not begrudge this gentlemen the right to speak their mind, I wonder if this message (that may be good for America) also is good for their business interests. Mr. Pickens is renown in the energy sector and a large scale switch to natural gas would likely help his wallet. Mr. Turner is a very large landowner in the western States and my gut is that he has found large deposits of natural gas under some of his holdings.

All that being said, I tend to agree with the core of their opinion. The United States should concentrate more on natural gas. It would most likely help the environment and it would help to lessen the choke hold that foreign interests have on our economy.

The following parts of their opinion appeared in the Wall Street Journal.

Renewable energy and clean-burning natural gas are the basis of a new strategy the world needs to create a cleaner and more secure future. And the global transformation to a clean-energy economy may be the greatest economic opportunity of the 21st century. According to the authoritative Potential Gas Committee (administered by the Colorado School of Mines), the U.S. sits on top of massive reservoirs of natural gasan estimated 2,000 trillion cubic feetthat contain more energy than all the oil in Saudi Arabia.

Harnessing this large supplyplus developing wind, solar and biofuel energy sourcesis essential to achieve three strategic national priorities:

Energy security: The internal combustion engine makes us dependent on oil that’s concentrated in a handful of countries in some of the world’s most volatile regions. In June, we imported 374 million barrels of oil, nearly two-thirds of what we used, at a cost of $24.7 billion. With 70% of imported oil going into cars and trucks, our transportation system is perilously at risk to shaky oil markets and even shakier regimes.

Economic security: Last year more than $155 billion was invested in clean energy technologies such as wind and solar, and China and India plan to invest hundreds of billions in renewable energy sources. The annual market for clean energy may escalate in the next decade to between $1 trillion and $2 trillion. The race is on.

Climate security: Likewise, the clock is ticking on potentially devastating climate changes. We already are witnessing the disintegration of polar ice, melting glaciers, rising sea levels and altered weather patterns. But if we act now, we can prevent catastrophic human and economic impacts.

Ethanol’s Grocery Bill

Very good article in today’s Wall Street Journal regarding the use of ethanol and how it costs a great deal to add it to our liquid fuel supply.  The article points out that depending on the technique used to create ethanol, it adds 5%-34% more greenhouse gas to the environment than pure petroleum.

There is also a case to be made that there is pressure put on food prices due to ethanol production as well.

I am not totally against using ethanol as an additive. I think there is some advantage to keeping the market alive and viable to spur development of new techniques of creating the liquid and new crop energy sources other than corn.

One last chance to save mankind

Here is an excellent interview with famed scientist James Lovelock.  Dr. Lovelock is best known for formulating the controversial Gaia hypothesis in the 1970s, which states that organisms interact with and regulate Earth’s surface and atmosphere. Later this year he will travel to space as Richard Branson’s guest aboard Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo.

If you read this site often, you know that I really don’t like carbon trading.  I don’t think it will help solve any problems and it is only a way to tax people and push industries into doom.  Dr. Lovelock appears to agree with me and he is a fairly strong supporter of the theory that global warming is man made. 

Everyone Hates Ethanol

The use of biological processes to create energy for our cars is very suspect.  The current sources of ethanol compete with our food supply which only drives up the price of food which is an extreme burden on the ultra-poor.

While there is a lot of research on alternative sources of ethanol that would not compete with food, this research has yet to make it to development.  The Wall Street Journal put out a good article discussing this a few weeks ago so I thought I would share the highlights.  Click through here to read the entire article.

Nuclear war would cause more global warming

I don’t understand why this study was commissioned. Isn’t the death and destruction of nuclear war bad enough to deter pushing the button? Does anyone really believe that a leader of a nuclear power or a terrorist would be about to start the holocaust and then pause because they were concerned about the environment?

I guess when you work at Stanford though, such thoughts cross your mind. Or maybe it is just the constant pressure within acedemia to “Publish or Perish” to keep your job. Or maybe it has some deeper and political purpose.

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!