Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Worth of Us All

In case you missed the story on the clean coal quash, here is Plenty Magazine:

"Just days after President Bush promised to “fund new technologies that can generate coal power while capturing carbon emissions” his Department of Energy (DOE) has shot down America’s flagship clean-coal project. The privately run experimental plant, known as FutureGen, was to have been built in Mattoon, a nowheresville town set among the cornfields of Illinois; in theory, the facility would have developed and demonstrated an innovative near-zero emission technology known as CCS, which converts coal into clean-burning hydrogen and easily stored carbon dioxide.

But this week - barely a month after the site for the new plant was announced - the DOE said it was pulling funds from the project amid spiraling costs. That’s somewhat disingenuous: The project’s price-tag had certainly spiraled, from $950 million to almost $1.8 billion, but the overspend was to be paid by FutureGen’s industry backers. The DOE’s contribution, in fact, had been capped at $800 million, the amount the department had originally pledged."

As I wrote just last year, Clean Coal is a Myth and it is a dangerous misappropriation of the limited resources and time we have to develop the technologies and infrastructure that will move us away from our ancient habits of burning things to gain energy.

Now today, there are two new studies out about biofuels. They indicate that almost all biofuels used today cause more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels .

Here is part of the story from the Herald Tribune

2 studies conclude that biofuels are not so green after all
Elisabeth Rosenthal
Published: February 7, 2008

Almost all biofuels used today cause more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels if the pollution caused by producing these "green" fuels is taken into account, two studies published Thursday have concluded.

The benefits of biofuels have come under increasing attack in recent months as scientists have evaluated the global environmental cost of their production. The new studies, published by the journal Science, are likely to add to the controversy.

These studies for the first time take a comprehensive look at the emissions effects of the huge amount of land that is being converted to cropland globally to support biofuels development. The destruction of natural ecosystems - whether rain forest in the tropics or grasslands in South America - increases the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere because the ecosystems are the planet's natural sponge for carbon emissions.

"When you take this into account, most of the biofuel that people are using or planning to use would probably increase greenhouse gasses substantially," said Timothy Searchinger, the lead author of one of the studies and a researcher on the environment and economics at Princeton University. "Previously, there's been an accounting error: Land use change has been left out of prior analysis." more

Once again, even with the caveats that should be applied here, the pattern is clear. We are faced with the withering realization that we must leave our current horse and buggy age and move towards a new photonic energy web and a solid state world.

We must imagine a new future for ourselves.

That future will likely require a rethinking of almost everything,

Our cars, our cities, our economic models, our belief in full employment.

Yes, in the the advanced civilization we must imagine,

We will listen to IPR and gauge the success of the economy

by how low employment is, not how high.

Instead of mining the planet for all it's worth,

We'll start honoring it for the worth of us all.


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