[Marxism] land use and global warming (was: Freeman Dyson ...)

dave.walters at comcast.net dave.walters at comcast.net
Fri Aug 17 15:54:31 MDT 2007


I haven't comment on biofuels except to say that I generally agree with Castro's 
position. However…the problem with this discussion is that it is very narrow and is 
only focusing on the big agro-industrial production of ethanol. 
 
Ethanol is hardly the only way to go with biofuel. Left out of the discussion are 
algae (which takes up little land and is really a form of 'solar industry') bio-
diesel production facilties, which there are several pilot plants running, in Arizona 
and Australia.
 
Fran Barlow is a socialist activist on the Aussie left and has sets of links that people 
can read as a socialist alternative to capitalist ethanol. I'm not completely convinced 
by she makes a real good case for going in this direction.
 
Here is part of her comments on this question:
 
"I'd like to add my endorsement to the further exploitation of algae for biodiesel. This approach is far 
the most promising route to the development of biofuels. Algae can actually yield as high as 25,000 
US gallons per acre of diesel if covered ponds with technology to upwell the water is used. Greenfuels 
have a system that can be tacked on to the flues of industrial and power plants absorbing emissions of 
81% of NOx and 40% of CO2. When burned biodiesel's hydrocarbon output is much less than that of 
any other conventional fuel and there is a fraction of the PM, no benzine and so forth. 
 
"Since the algae produces starch one can also ferment this using the Ramey method, which uses to types 
of clostridium to produce butanol -- a four carbon ethanol product that can be swapped neat for gasoline 
and that produces similar fuel economy with greater safety. When burned, butanol leaves behind no 
Carbon Monoxide. But it doesn't stop there. In addition the butanol produces hydrogen as a byproduct 
which can be used in stationary fuel cells to produce zero-combustion (no emission) electricity with 
pure water as "waste". The waste heat from the cell (about 670 kelvins) can also be used to either run 
a second turbine (combined cycle) for more power or for a cogeneration process (eg if you need steam 
for an industrial process such as gasification of coal). Glycerol is also a byproduct of algae and this can 
be used in the manufacture of polymers (rather than petroleum). 
 
"Finally the algae yields up proteins -- animal feed ready -- and sulfates for fertiliser. Algae can also be 
used in brackish water settings -- where crops won't grow and be fed by potentially harmful run off 
or sewage. Some species of algae (eg c. rheinhardtii) can actually be used to produce hydrogen 
during photosynthesis (rather than oxygen). It's high time this course was taken. In one step the US 
could overnight stop spending its blood and treasure protecting access to an environmentally 
hazardous resource, funding its enemies and polluting its skies while channelling much needed income 
to those of its farmers willing to use low grade land and waste water to make something 
commercially valuable. How hard a decision can that be?":


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