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Wakum Mata!
Politcally Incorrect Musings
Biodiesel is bad. Stick with Big Oil. 
7th-Mar-2006 04:48 pm
Worse Than Fossil Fuel

Biodiesel enthusiasts have accidentally invented the most carbon-intensive fuel on earth

By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian 6th December 2005

Over the past two years I have made an uncomfortable discovery. Like most environmentalists, I have been as blind to the constraints affecting our energy supply as my opponents have been to climate change. I now realise that I have entertained a belief in magic.

In 2003, the biologist Jeffrey Dukes calculated that the fossil fuels we burn in one year were made from organic matter “containing 44×10 to the 18 grams of carbon, which is more than 400 times the net primary productivity of the planet’s current biota.”(1) In plain English, this means that every year we use four centuries’ worth of plants and animals.


The last time I drew attention to the hazards of making diesel fuel from vegetable oils, I received as much abuse as I have ever been sent by the supporters of the Iraq war. The biodiesel missionaries, I discovered, are as vociferous in their denial as the executives of Exxon. I am now prepared to admit that my previous column was wrong. But they’re not going to like it. I was wrong because I underestimated the fuel’s destructive impact.



Interesting article, and fully referenced.

In short, vegetable oil for biodiesel is mainly coming from oil palms. Large areas of rainforest are being cut down to make way for this new cash crop that cannot be eaten. The plants cut down must be burned and contain far more carbon than the palm oil. Thus, larger amounts of carbon are going to be released into the atmosphere than if we stuck with petroleum. Not to mention the people being displaced to make way for the palm growers.

Looks like we are back to using nuclear power - clean, less "pollution" byproducts per kilowatt, and far more efficient. The new pebble bed reactors look real promising - no (as in zero) chance for a meltdown.

Make all the cars electric. Lithium-sulpher batteries look like a good technology. Rebuild the US train system. Why are we looking to make cars more efficient instead of improving mass transit?
8th-Mar-2006 12:14 am (UTC)
Thw technology is there to make gasoline powered engines that get 100 miles to the gallon, but the oil industry doesn't want them made. Or so Andrea told me when she was studying for her dissertation.
8th-Mar-2006 02:27 pm (UTC)
I'd love to see her documentation.
8th-Mar-2006 05:25 pm (UTC) - my 2 cents
Rebuild the US train system. Why are we looking to make cars more efficient instead of improving mass transit?
Here, here! When I was in Germany, trains in Europe ran well and ON TIME.
Is there even one bullet train in the US? there are whole cities in Europe and the Far East that something like 80% of the population does not even own a car! While most of what comes out of his mouth is crap, Bush was correct when he said Americans are addicted to oil.
8th-Mar-2006 08:09 pm (UTC)
Why are we looking to make cars more efficient instead of improving mass transit?
For the exact same reason you someday dream of ownin a Jaguar... we are in love with our cars the the freedom of the road. The BIG difference between us and Germany/Europe is that it takes a few hours to cross Europe by car. It takes several DAYS to cross the US. Not that trains and mass transit are bad... I would love to be able to board a cheap bullet train to Phoenix instead of an expensive plane ride.
8th-Mar-2006 10:08 pm (UTC) - Other alternatives
What about solar? Do we really have to go 75 miles an hour all the time? Perhaps the problem lies within our fast paced culture. Perhaps we all need to just give up the cars and get on bicycles and horses and leave the pollution spewing machines for emergencies (fire trucks, ambulances, police cars/motorcycles)
9th-Mar-2006 02:24 pm (UTC) - Re: Other alternatives
Anonymous coward
75mph is required due to the vast size of this country. Solar power is not a viable option for passenger vehicles since it will easily leave you stranded.

Insolation values for Colorado on a simple flat plate tilted south is 3 to 4 kilowatt-hours per square meter for December and 5-6 kWh/m^2 for June. But the typical commercial solar panel is only 12-14% efficient so you can only extract a pitiful 360W-h in December. By comparison, an alkaline D-cell battery has 20.83W-h. A square meter of solar panel will yeild FAR less power than a m^2 of D-cell batteries.
9th-Mar-2006 02:25 pm (UTC) - Re: Other alternatives
sorry... that was me
9th-Mar-2006 04:28 pm (UTC) - Re: Other alternatives
Here is yet more info on solar energy:


This is one of three solar "farms" that together generate about 10Megawatts. A lot you say? A typical home in Pasadena, CA uses 600 kWh of electricity per month and has a peak usage of about 3 kW. That means that this farm in Bavaria could supply power to 3000 to 4000 homes (not all will be peak all the time). Keep in mind that is only during daylight hours and sunny days. Also, that is a lot of arable land occupied by non vegetation.

Cheap power means more power usage (the "welfare" effect - give it away and demand will increase).
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