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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.

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Al Gore’s statements for the Senate

These statements are part of the public record so I am comfortable that I do not harm any copyrights by reproducing them in entirety here.  Please note that these are the prepared statements of former Vice President Al Gore.

If you don’t want to read such serious stuff, I suggest you read “Canceled Due to Global Warming” and have a good chuckle.

Statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee As Prepared Hon. Al Gore Wednesday, January 28, 2009

We are here today to talk about how we as Americans and how the
United States of America as part of the global community should address
the dangerous and growing threat of the climate crisis.

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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!

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Trouble In Paradise: Global Warming A Greater Danger To Tropical Species

ScienceDaily – May 6, 2008

A team of University of Washington scientists has been studying the insect population of the tropics and concluded that an increase in temperature could many species at risk of extinction. I give more credence to these types of studies to articles on climate models since, in this case, it is possible to do some true cause and effect analysis as well as maintain a control group. The problem with climate models is that they are simply mathematical equations that are developed by mathematicians and then run on moderately powerful computers.

I wrote about Brazilian ants several months ago. This new study seems to be in contrast to the conclusions of that article. This is not unusual in science that different studies with different techniques results in different conclusions.

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The butterfly no longer flaps its wings

One of the key techniques in the understanding of our world is the use of chaos theory. Many of you will be familiar with the common question: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas? What many of you may not be aware of is that is the title of a speech by Ed Lorenz. Dr. Lorenz passed away last week, a victim of cancer. We grieve the passing of this scientist and wish his family well.

Dr. Lorenz work on chaos theory is a key component of the way that we understand our environment. His work was critical to meteorology today. You can read Wikipedia’s excellent write up of Dr. Lorenz and chaos theory.

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Is Your Global Warming?

GUEST ARTICLE 

By J Schipper

Carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas linked to global warming, is accumulating in the Earth’s atmosphere at an increasing rate, according to a new study released by the US government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The research has renewed concern that the ability of the environment to absorb the gas may be waning. The NOAA study said the average atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide in 2005 reached 381 parts per million, up from 2.6 ppm since 2004. The annual rate of increase, which has been recorded since the 1950s, now exceeds 2 ppm for three of the past four years. This is an unprecedented increase; 50 years ago, the annual increase was less than 1 ppm.

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Biofuels May Hinder Antiglobal-Warming Efforts

Wall Street Journal – February 8, 2008

This is a different twist over what I usually propose.  In general, I am for increasing our use of ethanol and other biofuels to reduce our CO2 production as well as to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels from the Middle East. Most people are aware that one of the downsides to this issue is the pressure on food that results. This article points out that the conversion of non-agrarian land to crop land will result in a net spike of increased carbon dioxide release.

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South Africa: Marion Island Clue to Global Warming Threat

allAfrica.com – August 8, 2007

An extremely interesting article even though I think the title is making a basic claim that is not proven by the article!

I have written about the adaptability of species on this site before (see here and here and here). I found this article to have a unique spin. I am not convinced though that this article is about the dangers of global warming or the dangers of man introducing new species into another environment.  Wikipedia has a great write-up and other links on the dangers of species invasion and you may want to do some background reading there as well as check out their references.

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Brazil’s Urban Ants May Predict Reaction To Warming Trends

Wall Street Journal – April 27, 2007

Interesting article that discusses how ants have adapted to the heat caused by our large urban cities.  The study is important because it can compare insects that live in a city (where it is warmer) than in the rural parts of the country.  Insects can be gathered from both locations and tests can proceed giving a very stable comparative reference.  The IPCC is predicting mass extinctions due to the increase of global temperatures, this study suggests that our fellow inhabitants on this planet may be more resistant than some think.

It’s getting hotter in the human hive, and in some ant colonies, but the ants are learning to live with it.

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Brazilians Blame U.S. for Global Warming

Angus Reid Global Monitor – April 17, 2007

This article contains a poll on who Brazilians believe is to blame for global warming.  Guess what – it is the fault of the US.  This is unfortunate since most studies point to the massive increase in commercialization in Asia as the huge problem.  Yes, the US is a large producer of CO2 but much of the nation is a large carbon sink.  The Brazilians do have the right to point fingers though since they are such a huge user of ethanol.  The rest of the world should follow their example, if not for climate change issues but also for geopolitical reasons. 

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