Public Comment

Commentary: Biofuelishness Tanks; Where Do We Go Now?

By James Singmaster III
Friday April 11, 2008

With the Time Magazine, April 7 issue, the BP program at Berkeley now becomes so useless that one can not find words to describe it. On March 29, the chief scientist at the United Kingdom’s Department of Environment, Farms and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Dr Bob Watson, was cited for his calling on the European Union to drop its whole bioethanol program as being a causer of increased emissions of greenhouse gasses (GHGs) not a reducer of such emissions. And a paper in ‘Nature’ has now stirred up charges that the IPCC report with various supposed control steps for global warming are basically unattainable pipedreams. 

Meanwhile back on the globe, food costs are skyrocketing, causing riots in Egypt, Haiti and now India as various food crops have been pushed off the land for biofuels, events BP appears to be unaware of. Al Gore starts a big ad campaign calling for emission cuts that will mainly do nothing to cut the 35 percent, and growing, overload of carbon dioxide already on the globe, which continues to melt the icepacks and permafrost, changing ocean acidity, which in turn causes coral deaths, and worsening weather. We have to find some way to cut into that overload and should take advantage of what nature gives us. I wonder if Mr. Gore’s attention can be directed toward the food problems, so that his Alliance for Climate Protection will call for rescinding bioethanol subsidies. 

Again the program of pyrolyzing organic wastes will lead to charcoal formation that can be buried to bring about a real reduction in our carbon footprint and will also destroy problems of germs, toxims and drugs in wastes, thereby greatly cutting costs in future waste disposal programs and in water pollution problems. For faster reduction of our carbon footprint, I have pointed out before that we need a well organized tree-farming system that would supply wood for pyrolysis to get charcoal, perhaps some energy and a distillate of organic chemicals that could supply needs in drug and other chemical manufacturing. With increasing temperatures and humidity likely to increase termites and molds that feed on wood, new home construction may need to shift away from wood as global warming’s effects expand. 

So where do we go now? First order is to scream for the rescinding of bioethanol and oil subsidies. Corn farmers losing their fatted calf will quickly get wheat and rice acreages up because that is where big money will soon be gotten. I urge you to contact any fed or state official to tell him that we have to drop the bioethanol program to get farming back to growing food. 

Next we should call for no more coal plants, and tell officials such as our governor to get energy from the wind within the state, thereby creating thousands of new jobs here. Windmill-generated electricity uses some of the energy overload created by burning fossil fuels, emits no GHGs or mercury, usurps no land or water from crop production. leaves no environmental messes like those that occur with fossil fuel mining, allows farming beneath them, and requires no security costs such as those incurred with nuclear power. We may soon have hydrogen available as two catalysts to split water to hydrogen with sunlight energy have recently been reported. 

While hydrogen and wind can give us energy free of GHG emissions, we still have that overload of carbon dioxide hanging over us. So the last point is to call for the development of the pyrolysis process to be applied to organic wastes to clean up the messes, especially polluting water, that they presently are causing across the world. With that process we cut into nature’s carbon cycling process to actually reduce the overload, albeit slowly. By getting a tree-farming system to supply pyrolysis plants, we would greatly speed up the reducing of our carbon footprint by cutting into nature’s recycling of carbon dioxide and thereby getting control of global warming. 



Dr. James Singmaster, III, is a retired Environmental Toxicologist living in Fremonr.