2005 Archive

12/31/2006 The last message of this unfortunate year.  Now we too have our own little Gulag.  Comrade Stalin is smiling in hell...(Click here to read the article)
12/331/2006 Hey, the Titanic has been sinking for a while.  Can the rich have some fun?  Sure...(Click here to read the article)
12/30/2006 While gluttony rules here the Earth is quietly shrugging us off (Click here to read the article)
12/26/2006 Who needs the stupid dolphins anyway?  The Chinese economy is growing 10% per year all the way to hell!  (Click here to read the article)
12/22/2006 The big offshore lease fee giveaways pale in comparison with the astronomical incremental costs of producing these leases (Click here to read the article)
12/21/2006 Will oil shale become the energy savior of US?  According to the pretty cartoons in this NYT article, yes. According to my experience and knowledge of the subject, no. (Click here to read the article)
11/22/06 How much stuff is too much? Try way too much for the Americans (Click here to read the article)
11/19/06 China is running out of the environment to support its hallucinations about world domination with 1.5 billion people and not enough air, water, and soil to keep them alive. (Click here to read the article)
11/09/06 So what Greenpeace has been saying for months is now official: ADM is going after the tropics.  As I have been saying in my presentations, this move marks an accelerated end to the Earth we all used to know.  The new Earth will look a lot more like the Middle East, hot, parched and inhospitable.  But corporate profits are more important than human survival.  Everyone knows that... (Click here to read the article)
11/02/06  With the price of corn hitting $3.30/bushel, just the corn input cost of  $3.30/2.5=$1.32/gallon EtOH, translates to $2.06/gallon of energy as gasoline equivalent, because ethanol has 64% of the heating value of gasoline.  This is not good news for ethanol producers, especially that the other costs of making and distributing ethanol add at least $1/gallon EtOH or $1.56/gallon gasoline equivalent.  At $3.62/gallon gasoline equivalent to make, ethanol cannot compete. (Click here to read the article)
10/30/06 Delusions, exploding militarization of science,  and ever less real funding for energy rule the day. (Click here to read the article)
10/27/06 Is environment destruction compatible with religion? (Click here to read the article)
10/27/06 Ethanol and corrosion?!  Oh my God!  Haven't we known this inconvenient truth in detail for 100 years?  In 1906, Mr. F. B. Wright published his "Practical Handbook on the Distillation of Ethanol and Denaturing," in which he stated the following: "Ethanol dissolves a large number of substances insoluble in water and acids, such as many inorganic salts, phosphorus, sulfur, iodine, resins, essential oils, fats, coloring matters, etc."  For the scientifically challenged policymakers here is my translation: In any gasoline tank that has metallic salt crud and water, ethanol will dissolve the water-insoluble metal salts, and  partition them into the water, thus forming a strong electrolyte.  This electrolyte will then make electrical batteries of  every metal junction (weld or solder) and every chemical impurity of the metal wall.  After a while, corrosion will eat through the walls of the tank and there will be leaks. With the newer fiberglass tanks, ethanol will partition from gasoline into the bottom water, and the concentrated ethanol solution will dissolve fiberglass resins and delaminate the fiberglass.  The neat thing is that the ethanol rich electrolytes gather at the tank bottoms, that is in the most dangerous location. Are we in for the Round II of surprises with underground storage tank leaks that will make the MTBE fiasco look like the summer's night dream? (Click here to read the article)
10/25/06 Have you tried to live in San Francisco on $8/hr?  (Click here to read the article)
10/24/06 As I have said several times here, Ford has been working very hard to bankrupt itself (Click here to read the article)
10/17/06 The epigenetics of human development are poorly known, but there are reasons to be worried, very worried... The synthetic chemicals from distributed sources, are primary sources of endocrine disruptions in humans as well as severe birth defects, both mental and physical (Click here to read the article)
10/01/06 An interesting tidbit on Californian politics.  Instead of developing public transportation and rebuilding LA, our legal eagles are suing the car companies. As the article's author correctly points out : "There could basically be no life in California � or in the United States generally � without cars and trucks."  I agree, this is how bad the situation really is (Click here to read the article)
10/01/06 Part 3 of the NYT article on water problems in India (Click here to read the article)
09/30/06 We all know that because of less regulation and corporate vitality, the US economy has been creating more jobs and fuller employment than the bureaucratic, stagnant economies in the EU.  Right?  Well, think  again...(Click here to read the article)
09/30/06  1.1 billion people, too little water?  Try to imagine what will happen. (Click here to read the article)
09/29/06  Look at India for the future of water supply in many parts of the world.  So when we talk about expanding water use by industrial agriculture by another factor of 2-3, we should stop and think twice...(Click here to read the article)
09/24/06 In the meantime, the boom is on for ethanol plants.  The South Sea Bubble is being repeated all over again, albeit at a much smaller scale (Click here to read the article). And the good old taxpayers are picking up the tab (Click here to read the article)
09/21/06 We have a government whose agencies work directly against the citizens who elected them and pay their salaries from federal taxes.  So, the Department of Interior conspires to give away mining rights with no regard to the environmental damage and public interest.  (Click here to read the article)  The Environmental Protection Agency conspires to poison and pollute us under  the disguises of the Blue Sky Act and cost-saving measures. (Click here to read the article) The US Forest Service conspires to cut valuable trees under the disguise of fire protection, while building massive new roads into the wilderness. (Click here to read the article)  The Food and Drug Administration conspires to allow new untested and harmful drugs on the market. (Click here to read the article)  The US Department of Energy spends billions on the politically motivated non-science, instead of working on our energy supply.  The US Department of Agriculture is a subservient subsidiary of big agribusiness, and does not protect the farmers and farmland. (See most everything else on this web site)  And the list goes on and on. No wonder we have all enjoyed watching the Pirates of the Caribbean. At least the pirates there admit that they like raping and pillaging, and they do not wrap themselves in a  national flag while pursuing their real pleasures ... 
09/20/06 Mr. Friedman does not comprehend the scales involved in abusing the contemporary environment for energy and the penalties paid for this abuse.   So I would urge Mr. Friedman to include himself in the dumb category he so nicely defined for the rest of us. Mr. Friedman has been admonishing us for some time to follow the Brazilian sugarcane ethanol success story and gain independence from the Middle East oil. It is commonly said that ethanol has displaced 40% of crude oil use in Brazil. The truth is somewhat more complicated. First, Brazil is a developing country, whose consumption of crude oil has been tiny, 10 times less than that in the US. For the last 40 years, the energy consumed in Brazil as crude oil has been smaller than the calorific value of corn grain in the US! Second, if one divides the total energy of anhydrous ethanol consumed in Brazil by the energy of crude oil consumed there, the average ratio is a mere 8%. Third, gasoline fuel use in Brazil is less than 1/2 of diesel fuel use there and sugarcane ethanol has added 40% to gasoline supply in Brazil. Fourth, Brazilians are now almost self-sufficient in oil supply because of their competent national oil company, Petrobras. They are busy selling sugarcane ethanol to Sweden, Japan, US, and other countries, while driving on petroleum products at home. Therefore, unless we do the following in the US, we should not deceive the public: (1) For an equal per capita use of petroleum, we must cut down petroleum consumption in the US by a factor of 6. (2) This would mean driving all US vehicles one day per week. (3) All gasoline-powered passenger cars and SUVs would have to be driven only  one day every two weeks. I bike to work.  Does Mr. Friedman? (Click here to read the article)
09/19/06 The Mississippi River is no longer replenishing the Louisiana coast with silt. So who is guilty? (Click here to read the article)
09/19/06 The Green Revolution certainly benefits Monsanto.  Does it also benefit the poor farmers in poor countries? (Click here to read the article)
09/16/06 As I have been saying for some time, the American automakers suffer from their inability to think clearly.  I guess this is a national trend these days...(Click here to read the article)
09/03/06 China's pollution is a real killer (Click here to read the article)
08/10/06 Americans will shell out billions of dollars to drink unpolluted water, if they can get it at all.  Would there be a correlation between industrial agriculture, ethanol plants, and these huge out-of-pocket expenses? Yes(?) (Click here to read the article)
08/10/06 Detroit's top managers have been caught in a time warp.  Or is it lack of responsibility and plain stupidity?  Higher  bonuses are in order while their companies are going kaput...(Click here to read the article)
07/26/06  Are we sliding slowly towards a global recession while trying to launder agricultural subsidies? (Click here to read the article)
07/24/06  What is a mere 47.9 billion dollars per year in agribusiness subsidies, if one wants to make ADM, Cargill, Bunge, etc. happy, and ensure their payments to the political coffers at all government levels?  Unfortunately, the developing countries have no respect for our noble senators, the National Corn Growers Association, and the ethanol and biodiesel lobbyists. The WTO agricultural tariff talks are dead for now... (Click here to read the article)
07/22/06 NASA deletes "understand and protect our home planet" from its mission statement. Did we collectively die under the current Washington regime?  If so, when did this happen? (Click here to read the article)
07/18/06 So who destroys the Amazon forest faster than others?  Unfortunately,  it is an American corporation, Cargill.  But not to worry, two other American corporations, ADM and Bunge, are not far behind, and McDonalds uses the cheap meat. (Click here to read the article)
06/20/06 So let's pretend we do something about CO2 emissions.   Paper is patient and it can be reused in toilets...(Click here to read the article)
06/20/06 Will we ever learn not build houses on the beaches?  Probably not...(Click here to read the article)
06/10/06 China alone is capable of poisoning the entire earth with the byproducts of coal combustion. The already monstrous coal emissions in the U.S. are also poisoning the whole globe.   120 new coal-fired plants are on the drawing boards.  If they are ever built, the U.S. will be locked into the earth-killing race at a much higher speed. (Click here to read the article)
05/31/06 Is General Motors a danger to its employees, the US, and the world? Yes, it is.  Their cosmic stupidity is the reason why Toyota today is worth $198.9 billion and G.M. $15.8 billion. G.M. is worth just slightly more than Harley-Davidson, the motorcycle company ($13.6 billion). ..(Click here to read the article)
05/30/06 Can our federal government help in damaging the environment?  Of course...(Click here to read the article)
05/28/06 "Clean coal"?  Are you kidding? (Click here to see the video)  (Click here to see the graphic)
05/28/06 Sharpshooters with silencers killing at night? There is no better metaphor for our true relationship with Nature. (Click here to read the article)
05/21/06 Instead of moving into the cities, many people are forced to move far away from them, only to commute back for 4-6 hours each day.  That's 25-30 hours, or two full days of active life, per working week!  Think about it as spending 1 year in jail every 3-5 years, or a  10-year sentence for the average 30-year work career. What happened to the land of the free?!  (Click here to read the article)
05/14/06 Now China has joined US in scientific cheating, only here the cheaters are many and there are no retributions. (Click here to read the article)
05/14/06 With gasoline above $3 per gallon and ethanol above $5.60 per gallon (gasoline energy-equivalent and accounting for subsidies), perhaps it is time to start investing into our country to ease Ms. Aline Lacombe and countless others'  pain. (Click here to read the article)
05/14/06 The US military is the single largest user of fossil fuels in the U.S.  An F-16 jet fighter uses 1.5 tons of fuel per hour. (Click here to read the article)
05/10/06 Will something useful be born from this ruin of our political system? (Click here to read the article)
05/08/06 What happens when a failed politician wants to talk with an executive of a failing computer company about things they both don't know? They write a silly NYT Editorial... (Click here to read the article)
05/07/06 The CBS 60 Minutes The Ethanol Solution program reminds me of the old communist propaganda films:  The same intellectual sophistication and the same adherence to science and truth. I am longing though for the red flags waving and heroic choir singing in the background. Call it nostalgia, but seeing Comrade Rather puts me in this mood...(Click here to read the article)
05/05/06 Despite popular belief, the environment's capacity to absorb our waste is limited.  So we need to burn less fossil fuels, gasoline for example...(Click here to read the article)
04/27/06 Ethanol: A Tragedy in 3 Acts: Amid the current panic about gas prices many people are embracing ethanol. But that's not such a good idea     (Click here to read the article)
04/23/06 Clean beaches in Hawaii?  Think twice, and upgrade the sewer infrastructure once...(Click here to read the article)
04/22/06 Are metals increasingly in short supply? Yes, even if one discounts the current speculation (Click here to read the article)
04/22/06  So, finally the shortages of gasoline.  This is the big ethanol's chance to step in and keep gas stations well-supplied.  Just kidding...There is not enough ethanol in the entire US to do that. (Click here to read the article)
04/20/06  Have you ever tried to cover yourself on a cold winter night with a child's blanket?  You cover your torso, and the legs stick out... The child's blanket is the earth with all of its resources, and the big guy stretching this blanket to the point of breaking it is us. Welcome to the Alice in Wonderland world of sustainable economies. Unfortunately, in this version of the book, the big bad Queen will walk off with our collective empty head. (Click here to read the article)
04/20/06 On this Earth Day, let me remind you that since this day has been established we have destroyed another 1 billion acres of forests on the earth (the total land area of Sweden) (Click here to read the article)
04/16/06 Trans fats (plus high fructose corn syrup) = a sick population and nice corporate profits  (Click here to read the article)
04/15/06 Decline of agriculture in Iraq is catastrophic (Click here to read the article)
04/13/06 CHINA: ANGRY OVER POLLUTION, VILLAGERS ATTACK FACTORIES About 200 villagers in eastern Fujian Province, angry over the polluting of their water supply, attacked three factories and a sewage treatment plant, smashing windows, air-conditioners and other items, a Hong Kong newspaper, The South China Morning Post, reported. (REUTERS)
04/11/06 As always, Nicholas Kristof hits the nail in the head: High fructose corn syrup made of 20% of U.S. corn (2% of that corn goes to feed people) has killed and maimed more Americans than all terrorists and wars since WWII.  Is the Homeland Security Department responding to this clear and direct threat to the lives of American citizens? I guess not... (Click here to read the article)
04/10/06 ADM and its corrupting power are analyzed by Legal Times (Click here to read the article)
04/10/06  This naive article from the NYT espouses virtues of Brazilian sugarcane ethanol, implies that the U.S. could do better, but leaves out the essential details: (1) With 187 million people, vs. 300 million in the U.S., Brazil uses only about 4.5 billion gallons of gasoline vs. 140 billion gallons in the U.S.  (2) In 2004, Brazil produced 2.4 billion gallons of gasoline equivalent as ethanol, while the U.S. produced ~2.0. billion gallons of gasoline equivalent, and imported 140 million gallons of ethanol from Brazil. (3)  At 1.799 real/L, the energy-equivalent price of ethanol is 2.856 real/L, which makes it more expensive than unleaded gasoline. (4) Brazil exports plenty of ethanol to E.U. and U.S., and uses the domestic production of crude oil to satisfy its minuscule need for automotive fuels. 

As I have shown before, the silly net energy balances are just political manipulations, and have little to do with the physics and thermodynamics of biofuel cycles.  The fact is that sugarcane ethanol plants cause huge pollution.  The bagasse and sugarcane leaves now burned in the refineries no longer protect and fertilize the plantations, which are depleted from nutrients and eroded away.  The largest sugarcane plantations are fertilized with synthetic fertilizers, and the runoff water pollutes local rivers and groundwater. The displaced cattle feed plantations are being moved into the Amazon jungle by burning vigorously what is left of it.  The whole scheme will fall apart in about 50-75 years from the exhaustion of natural resources. 

Instead of talking about ethanol and sugarcane, we need to talk about cutting automotive fuel consumption in the U.S. by a factor of 2 or 4, because we surely cannot cut it by a factor of 15 to become a Brazil equivalent. (Click here to read the article)

03/25/06 As they say, hell is paved with good intentions...  If Mr. Koshla simply stopped driving his Chevy Tahoe and moved to a smaller house, he would do infinitely more for the earth than he does now throwing money at ethanol production.  (Click here to read the article)
03/04/06 Is concentrated cow manure good for the environment?  To see and smell, please visit our friendly neighborhood CCC (Cattle Concentration Camp) near Harris Ranch, CA, along Highway 5. (Click here to read the article)
03/02/06 Among its many scientific failures, NASA's cutbacks in the earth-monitoring satellite programs hurt the most, and cuts in the deep-space exploration come next. (Click here to read the article)
01/15/06 NASA has quietly terminated the Deep Space Climate Observatory, citing "competing priorities." The news media took little notice. Few Americans, after all, had even heard of the program. But the entire world may come to mourn its passing...(Click here to read the article)
01/12/06 Scientists studying a fast-dwindling genus of colorful harlequin frogs on misty mountainsides in Central and South America are reporting today that global warming is combining with a spreading fungus to kill off many species... (Click here to read the article)
01/12/06 China's pollution may destroy it...(Click here to read the article)