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June 13, 2006

Comments

Cervus

Wishful thinking, I fear. The government can only affect the market so much, and mandates aren't really the way to go. The technology will not magically be there when certain dates are reached.

amazingdrx

Subsidies need to be cut to fossil and nuclear corporations and turned into tax breaks to individuals. Tax breaks for homeowners and small business owners to install solar and wind and buy plugin hybrids and electric vehicles.

The more imported oil and CO 2 emmissions saved the bigger the tax break.

Forget about fuel farming, it's a boondogggle that doesn't cure global climate change, and can only ptovide a few percent savings in energy imports.

The vast majority of ethanol will be imported from Brazil, farmed on destroyed carbon sink rainforest. In fact cellulosic ethanol uses up land in conservation reserve that stores 15 to 30% of the CO 2 that we emit every year.

Cellulosic ethanol from "waste" products like straw or wood chips takes stored CO 2 that should be returned to the soil as organic matter, and burns it. Releasing it into the atmosphere.

chris_sendak

Here we go again. Just because you repeat it like a parrot doesnt make it true.

And get your rhetoric right. You can either take the birkie stance that ethanol is a political boondoggle spurred on by BIG CORN or bitch about the rainforests (You never seem to answer requests for links on where this theory comes from and ignore debunk links that show Brazil is using viable farm and wasteland for the majority of their ethanol production. typical) but not both.

Those tariffs are in place for a reason. Pluck your guitar and sing about it until the cows come home but you still arent seeing the whole picture. Just what suits your agenda.

heyeyey

chris_sendak

Actually you should just cut and paste this stuff drx. I dont understand how you demonstrate such clairity in some posts and such tunnel vision in others.

What would John Pence do

Robert

While converting forests or wetlands to croplands is probably not a winning move, carbon-wise, converting existing croplands, or fallow lands, to perennial grass production as an energy crop will create new carbon sinks: it appears that due to their extensive root networks, perennial grasses maintain a higher soil carbon inventory that most cropland and many natural ecosystems.

Harvey D.

Let's not panic. Sun, wind and waves could supply many times the clean and sustainable energy the world requires. Clean sustainable sources could supply the majority (80+%) of the energy, the remainder could be from non-fossil and nuclear sources.

Continental power distribution grids and low cost distributed storage are required. Installing and managing continental grids is not a major problem. Most of the infra-structures are there allready.

There are many ways to store energy produced during peak production hours. Huge water reservoirs is a possibility in many parts of Canada. On-board batteries in 100 to 200 million PHEVs and EVs in USA/Canada could do part of the job. Stationary batteries in 100+ million homes and commercial buildings could also help. Conversion to other types of energy carriers such as Hydrogen, new future technologies etc could do the rest.

The end of Oil/Gas/Coal is not a disaster but will provoke a transition to cleaner sustainable energy sources. We will all be better off.

What is needed is a world concerted effort to accellerate the development of more efficent, lower cost wind and sun energy captors + short term (20 years?) incentives to ensure accellerated widespread installations.

Carbon taxes + reasonably higher clean energy prices could cover the cost of direct and indirect incentives.

amazingdrx

Yep, what Harvey said!

Along with superconducting energy storage rings. and energy intensive factories, like foundries that sgut down during peak demand to smooth the power mismatch, those are already online.

The reason I keep repeating myself is that these mistaken assumptions about fuel farming keep on coming, impelled by huge government subsidies to companies like Archer Daniels Midland. Switchgrass is farmed with fossil based chemicals for fuel farming. That will not build the soil up as a carbon sink like conservation reserve land stores CO 2.

As far as the insults, Jim has forbidden any counterattacks. It is his blog, I will abide by his wise leadership. Have a nice day. Hehey.

chris_sendak

By your "logic" then the majority of our soil should already be depleted and we should all have starved to death. Try harder please. You make it sound like fossil fuel farming is a recent proposition on the table instead of what agribusiness has been doing for years.

And yes youve repeated this thing about "attacks" religiously too. But in your case its a way to avoid having to actually respond to anything with any level of seriousness. Why offer hard evidence or links someone requests when you can sub in your dumb catchphrase and make broad statements without substantiation.

Your obvious intelligence is completely wasted by your myopia. Hehey.

amazingdrx

Yes, the majority of chemically farmed soil is depleted of organic matter. Adding to the greenhouse gas surplis in the atmosphere caused by fossil fuel combustion.

It has happened over the last century or so, as fossil fuel fertlizer gas accelerated the breakdown of soil organic matter.

since conservation reserve land, a small percentage of active crop land, absorbs 15 to 30% of the cO 2 we emot, then boosting that effect by 4 to 7 times should absorb all of our cO 2. Then switching to renewable electric transportation instead of oil would cut cO 2 enough to actually reverse global climate change.

Organic soil would absorb CO 2 just like this reserve land does. more fossil feuled and fertlized fuel farming keeps this natural carbon sink from working.

chris_sendak

Thank you for actually addressing my point. Well illustrated.

Robert

If amazing thinks that fertilizer use is to blame for SOM depletion in farmed land, then he would be surprised to learn that in long-term studies, century-plus studies, SOM depletion slowed, stopped, or in some cases even reversed in more recent decades, corresponding to heavy chemical fertilizer use.

Farming usually depletes SOM because most annual crops invest most of their photosynthetic product into an above-ground portion that is not returned to the soil. Meanwhile, the soil decomposer community is busy respiring carbon dioxide from existing SOM. SOM is depleted when the amount of carbon added to the soil is less than that decomposed. We have a great deal of control over the first number, and rather little over the second.

Farming with organic manures adds carbon to the soil, but so does growing perennial grasses and legumes, that have extensive underground portions and rapid year-to-year turnover of fine roots. Interestingly, proposed energy crops such as switchgrass have been shown to increase SOM when grown on lands already somewhat depleted by long-term grain production.

And interestingly, even chemical fertilizer use has been beneficial to SOM content: when crops grow more, they grow more everywhere, including their roots, and fertilizing plants has led to them depositing more photosynthetic product into the soil.

amazingdrx

The speed at which the composting of organic matter proceeds in the soil is depemdent upon the carbon to nitrogen ratio.

In peat bogs, for instance, there is a nitorgen deficcienvy and organic matter builds up year after year for eons. That store almost all of the carbon acummulated by photosynthesis.

In US prairie soil carbon was stored for eons, then farming started. For awhile the results were spectacular, a booming farming economy resulted, until the available nutrients were used up. That boom went bust.

So farmers moved to new prairie land and so forth. But the same process repeated itself.

Until chemical fertilizer from fossil fuel was applied. that ingusion of nitrogen got the microbial composting going again and another boom occurred. but all the organic matter stored over eons was quickly depleted.

Leaving the soil a practically inert growing medium. Only the fertilizer added each season keeps the crops growing.

Then that inert soil starts to migrate in huge dust storms due to drought and wind. A huge cloud of dust reminiscient of the Dust bowl enveloped Pheonix recently.

Then it was discovered that returning organic matter from crops and animal waste to the soil built it back up, and that crop rotation including nitrogen fixing plants like clover actually restored the carbon nitrogen ratio without burning the organic matter out of the soil.

And so it goes, a short history of modern agriculture.

I am proposing we expand the carbon sink effect with more reserve land, in the form of a new national park on the northern great plains, that doubles as a wind energy resource.

And that organic farming take over from fossil fertilized and fueled farming on a massive scale using renewable electric powered robotics.

These are ways to actually increase agricultural efficiency while turning the soil back into a huge carbon sink again. And the wind power will cut the use of fossil fuel combustion that is causing global climate change.

It will also creat huge new industries. Wind power, agricultural robotics, and so forth. Restoring an economy, now built upon shifting middle eastern political sands, to one built on a firmer foundation.

Robert

Until chemical fertilizer from fossil fuel was applied. that ingusion of nitrogen got the microbial composting going again and another boom occurred. but all the organic matter stored over eons was quickly depleted.

Except that the primary benefit of having organic matter in soil is its beneficial effects on soil structure, moisture holding capacity, drainage, cation exchange capacity, etc... it benefits soil fertility by being there, not by being respired into carbon dioxide. The application of chemcial nitrogen to soil benefits plant production directly, not through the mediation of rapid soil biomass disintegration.

The accumulation of biomass it wetland soils has to do with a lack of oxygen, more than a lack of nitrogen. It's hard to oxidize biomass without access to air.

amazingdrx

Anerobic digestion still occurs (in the absence of oxygen), as in a rural sewer system, as long as a suitable carbon to nitrogen ratio exists. Methane is released, freeing stored carbon on an even more potent form of greenhouse gas. Methane is many times more dangerous than cO 2 as a greenhouse gas.

Actually the application of nitrogen DOES temporarily benefit the soil ecosystem, reviving the microbial processes that help roots absorb nutrients. But it quickly burns through all organic matter if no organic matter is returned to the soil.

As is the case with cellulosic ethanol, where virtually all organic matter is turned into fuel. I'll admit that switchgrass leaves some carbon in the roots, but not very much percentage wise.

Renewable electric powered transportation uses zero combustion of fuel, has 90+% total efficiency, (compared to 14% for internal combustion engines, and maybe 30% for oil production and refining, total=14% of 30%, atrocious waste!) and allows land, otherwise used for fuel farming, to store carbon. And would remediate and actually reverse global climate change if employed on a wide scale.

amazingdrx

"...SOM depletion slowed, stopped, or in some cases even reversed in more recent decades, corresponding to heavy chemical fertilizer use."

That is not very surprising. Let us consider this thought experiment.

Take an inert growing medium like sand. It contains essentially no organic matter. If we add chemical fertilizer and seed, plants grow and die. Soil is built up, organic matter increases.

If legumes, like clover, are employed? Well then the ecosystem starts fixing it's own nitrogen from the air.

The soil ecosytem is up and running with only an initial addition of fertilizer.

So of course totally depleted cropland starts to recover given a burst of fertilizer. As the plants grow and die, soil is built up.

And studies designed to bolster the case for chemical agriculture are not surprising either, given the current climate of corruption where "science" is for sale.

marry.johnsohn

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