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Author Topic: Biofuels debate in Rothamstead  (Read 2831 times)

another_someone

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Biofuels debate in Rothamstead
« on: 02/11/2007 13:37:09 »
For those people living near west Hertfordshire who may be interested in the subject, there will be a lecture on the biofuels issues at Rothamstead, in Harpenden (just off junction 9 of the M1) on the 20th November (Tuesday evening).



 

Offline Alandriel

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Biofuels debate in Rothamstead
« Reply #1 on: 03/11/2007 20:33:04 »
I hope they publish some transcripts on their website - this is interesting, thanks George. :)

Sadly (well, actually not LOL) I don't drive here and even if I did, evenings I can't go nowhere much LOL

and intersting counterpoint to biofuels is also here - Forget biofuels - burn oil and plant forests instead



There's an interesting little quote I'd like to take out for you from the current New Scientist mag:
(hope you don't mind me posting this here. Did not want to open a new thread specifically)


The latest planetary health assessment shows we need 1.l4 Earths to sustain the average lifestyle. The UN Environment Programme released its fourth Global Environment Outlook (GEO) report last week. And while the human ecological footprint is 21.9 hectares per person on average, the Earth's biological capacity is just 15.7 hectares per person.

According to the Global Footprint Network, we went into ecological debt on 6 October this year, having consumed more than the planet can regenerate in one year. Similar footprint calculations recently found that Cuba is the only nation developing sustainably.
About half of our footprint is accounted for by the areas that are required to absorb our greenhouse gas emissions, says Neville Ash of the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge UK. Theother half is theland which produces our food, the forests which produce our timber, the ocean and rivers which produce our fish.
The inflated size of our footprint is partially the result of the growth of the human population. Currently estimated at 6.7billion it could reach 8-10 billion by 2050. Ash says we could sustain the current and projected population if we all lived sustainably, the question is how?
Article titled 'We'd like another half a planet please' by Catherine Brahic

we certainly will need lots more ideas and better technologies - and soon!

« Last Edit: 03/11/2007 20:53:18 by Alandriel »
 

another_someone

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Biofuels debate in Rothamstead
« Reply #2 on: 03/11/2007 23:17:43 »
I hope they publish some transcripts on their website - this is interesting, thanks George. :)

My past experience is that it is all very low budget, and minimum effort (these are professional scientists doing this is their spare time, their day job is working at the research institute, and much of this is fairly amateur, out of necessity, but all the more interesting for that).  I did previously suggest more web presence, with the opportunity to do discussion on the issues after the lectures, but they simply don't have the manpower to spare on that.

Sadly (well, actually not LOL) I don't drive here and even if I did, evenings I can't go nowhere much LOL

Can't do much about your free time (consequence of being a parent I assume), but there is a railway station in Harpenden, about a mile from Rothamstead, so the transport issue could in theory be alleviated, but not the time issue.

and intersting counterpoint to biofuels is also here - Forget biofuels - burn oil and plant forests instead

Problems are twofold.

Firstly, although there is probably enough oil for another hundred years or so (no doubt different people will apply wildly different estimates, based on very different assumptions), it is not indefinite.

Secondly, where do we get the land to keep planting trees, and what do we do with the trees we have planted.  Mature forests are carbon neutral (i.e. as fats as new growth of wood may absorb more carbon, so old wood is degraded and converted back to CO2 and methane), so to keep absorbing more CO2, we need to keep expanding our forests, but expand into what?

Biofuels allow us to grow new vegetable matter, and then do something with that vegetable matter, so freeing up the land to grow even more vegetable matter.  I am not saying that biofuels are a panacea (there is still a problem that the land is used to grow fuel where it might otherwise may be used for something else, such as growing food; but at least the land is reusable, rather than reforestation, where the land is a one time use, allocated to creating a forest, and once the forest is in place, the land cannot be reused again, since to do so would be to release the carbon that is locked up in the forest).


There's an interesting little quote I'd like to take out for you from the current New Scientist mag:
(hope you don't mind me posting this here. Did not want to open a new thread specifically)


The latest planetary health assessment shows we need 1.l4 Earths to sustain the average lifestyle. The UN Environment Programme released its fourth Global Environment Outlook (GEO) report last week. And while the human ecological footprint is 21.9 hectares per person on average, the Earth's biological capacity is just 15.7 hectares per person.

According to the Global Footprint Network, we went into ecological debt on 6 October this year, having consumed more than the planet can regenerate in one year. Similar footprint calculations recently found that Cuba is the only nation developing sustainably.
About half of our footprint is accounted for by the areas that are required to absorb our greenhouse gas emissions, says Neville Ash of the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge UK. Theother half is theland which produces our food, the forests which produce our timber, the ocean and rivers which produce our fish.
The inflated size of our footprint is partially the result of the growth of the human population. Currently estimated at 6.7billion it could reach 8-10 billion by 2050. Ash says we could sustain the current and projected population if we all lived sustainably, the question is how?
Article titled 'We'd like another half a planet please' by Catherine Brahic

So we should all live in an economy like Cuba - I don't think that will be very popular (I suppose US sanctions imposed upon Cuba do help constrain the Cuban economy to a level where it has limited capacity to consume raw materials - is that considered a positive aspect of US foreign policy - how is that to be judged against US sanctions against Iran, and other countries?).

Although I have not read the New Scientist article, I would be very dubious of there being any set, knowable, sustainable capacity for the Earth.  There are so many variables, most of which we still don't fully understand.  It may be that we are already 3 times over capacity, or still only one third of capacity (it in any case rather depends on what you measure, since many mineral resources are irreplaceable, so how do you judge our sustainable use of metals, such as gold?).
 

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Biofuels debate in Rothamstead
« Reply #2 on: 03/11/2007 23:17:43 »

 

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