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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.

Cap and Trade is here

Let me start by explaining that I am not a lover of cap and trade.  The systems that have been proposed to date are simply taxes on certain types of energy so that other forms seem to be more competitive.  They also tend to reward industries that can have a flexibility in energy sources while punishing industries that have to purchase high BTU energy sources.  Finally, they can reward industries and organizations that did nothing to improve their energy use – they were just lucky enough to use less carbon.  To make cap and trade look better, you may also see it referred to carbon trading or carbon offsets but a rose is a rose, regardless of its name (or in this case – a tax is a tax, regardless of its name).

Global Warming and the Price of a Gallon of Gas

KUSI

John Coleman spoke before the San Diego Chamber of Commerce on the subject of global warming.  Mr. Coleman is not your typical weatherman!  Some say he is the father of the weatherman on TV (not likely) but at the very least he is one one of the most successful.  A full profile is available for him on Wikipedia but among his many accomplishments, he was the first weatherman on the national morning talk shows (remember David Hartman?) and also founded The Weather Channel.

Mr. Coleman is pretty adamant that the current global warming trend (which many question actually exists) is most likely natural in origin and has little to do with the influences of man.

Saving Gas – 11 tips that might help – Part 3 of 3

Your driving habits really affect your gas mileage. While I am not condoning the extreme hypermiling techniques, we can all learn a bit in doing a better job. Read this extremist article but be careful going overboard. This is the third and final entry of this Saving Gas series.

Earlier in this Saving Gas series I wrote that price of crude compared to the price of gold has been pretty steady state. It still hurts when we get a market correction and it affects your budget. This article has 11 tips that might just help a little bit!

Saving Gas – Part 2 of 3

This is the second of our series on dealing with the high price of gas.  Yesterday, we discussed what the true price of gas was but that still acknowledged that the rapid increase has left people and companies feeling the pinch in the budgets.

Don’t buy the fuel enhancing gadgets that are advertised.  Even if you see them advertised on this site, these things are a waste of money and time.  MSN Money reports:

Over the years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has tested myriad gas-saving devices that burst onto the consumer scene: devices that bleed air into the carburetor or bubble air through a container of water and antifreeze mixture, fuel-line gadgets that heat the gas before it enters the carburetor, magnets that clamp to the inside or outside of the fuel line to change the gasoline’s molecular structure and metallic fuel-line additives with dissimilar metals that claim to ionize the fuel.

Saving Gas – Part 1 of 3

A little departure from the typical columns on this site.  Rather than simply discussing an aspect of global warming, I am going to discuss a related topic – gas prices.  There are quite a few articles out there on the discussion but I think I have a different perspective for everyone to consider.

First, how bad is it?  Yes, I know that at the time of this writing, gas is over $4 a gallon (just filled up last night) but perhaps we need a reality check.  The good folks over at InflationData.com compiled a table of average crude prices which they also inflation adjusted for 2007.  I have combined that with a chart from WiseGeek that details the price of gold.  Since the WiseGeek site stopped at 2000, I put in the price of gold at the end of 2007 from Goldprice.  I also added today’s approximate pricing for gold (Kitco) and oil (MSNBC).

John McCain’s recent speech

Junkscience.com – May 15, 2008

I was about to write a review of John McCain’s recent speech.  I was reading other comments on it first to make sure that I had my thoughts put together and I found Steven Milloy’s review.  He has done an excellent job of discussing the speech.

I am going to pull the highlights from Steven’s article.  Click through at the end to read the whole commentary.

Next to solar power, however, wind power is the most heavily subsidized form of energy. Taxpayers cough up an astounding  $23.37 per megawatt hour of electricity produced, according to the Wall Street Journal. In contrast, coal and natural gas are only subsidized  to a tune of $0.44 and $0.25, respectively.

Carbon-Market Concept Moves to Mainstream

Wall Street Journal – May 14, 2008

I really do not like the concept of trading in carbon. I think that carbon offsets trading only reward bad processes that are extremely cheap and are a band-aid to the real problem. If it is assumed that we need to vastly reduce the carbon footprint then the buying public should be encouraged to buy energy and products that result from lower carbon emissions and discouraged from buying the carbon rich ones.

Allowing a utility that has a coal burning plant in one part of the world to offset that footprint with a geo-thermal plant in another part of the world really doesn’t solve anything. If the two plants served the same marketplace, then their energy would compete but if the two plants are separated by oceans then we really haven’t solved any problems, we have just allowed a company to financially afford a carbon-rich coal plant.

Reader questions – Part 1 of 4

I enjoy emails from readers of this site.  My contact information is in the About page and the comments and encouragement I receive makes this site a joy to run.  I recently received an email from Brittany C asking four questions.  Brittany is allowing me to publish her questions and my answers.  These answers are a combination of scientific fact with conjecture and opinion from me.

Question 1: Why is the warming that has taken place in this past decade been such a big deal when there seems to be a similar warming trend in the 1930s?  Is there a difference between the two? 

Great question.  I am going to break it up into 3 parts:

Bush Wants to Beef Up Earth Monitoring

AP – February 4, 2008

The new budget for the US Bush Administration has additional scientific vehicles to better understand and monitor the world and its climate. While these improvements are good, I have repeatedly called for better efforts in computer modeling and analysis and these still did not receive the attention that they deserved.

One of the problems with the models employed is the sparseness of the data that they use and computing shortcuts that are employed. We need more points of data in the models that cover multiple distances off the planet and we need larger, faster, and more advanced computing power so that these data points can be left discrete for the entirety of the computing effort.