How does one become a super-node on the Internet? Newspaper editors believe “if it bleeds, it leads.” Taking an opposite approach, the Instapundit has found that a steady diet of good news can attract a large audience. (Note: he also tells readers not to rely on him as their only source of information)
Rising food costs have made biofuels controversial. The Instapundit refers us to an exciting story with this:
BIOFUELS VS. FOOD SUPPLIES: The debate continues: “More to the point, though, is the mistaken notion that we have to use food crops for fuel production. In test fields in Minnesota, Tilman and his colleagues have found that the best energy yields actually come from native prairie grasses, not corn or soy.”
The story is as exciting as he bills it. “Scientists weigh in on biofuels vs. food debate“, Popsci.com (16 April 2008) — Excerpt”
With debate raging on whether biofuels are robbing the world’s hungry of food, scientists and engineers at the first annual BioMass conference in Minneapolis say it ain’t so.
… to the point, though, is the mistaken notion that we have to use food crops for fuel production. In test fields in Minnesota, Tilman and his colleagues have found that the best energy yields actually come from native prairie grasses, not corn or soy. And, said Tilman, “there’s a surprising benefit from the mixture of species. Farmers know this from growing pastures. Nobody plants a pasture of a single species. They put out a variety of grasses, legumes…and so on. They do that because that gives them a higher yield.”
What’s that mean for energy? “We see here we get 238 percent more energy per acre of land that we can harvest mowing this hay in the autumn by growing a high diversity mixture of species than we can get on average by growing any one of those species by itself.”
Tilman’s test plots were “on land that is incredibly unproductive, with very infertile soils… We did not fertilize it, we didn’t water. We put out high diversity native prairie, let them grow….” And energy production from the harvest went through the roof. “Another thing which happened which really surprised us is that we have a lot of carbon being stored in those soils.”
So, growing inedible biofuel crops on otherwise unproductive farmland not only will ease the current pressure on food crops exerted by biofuels, but will also help remove harmful CO2 from the atmosphere. Seems like a win-win.
Wonderful! This is the cellulose to ethanol conversion process (celllulosic ethanol). Unfortunately the aricle neglects to mention that this still experimental, as the process works but is not yet commercially feasible. The same can be said of converting lead into gold. While the odds that cellulosic ethanol will become practical is far higher, it too is still a dream — not the reality this article implies.
The Internet can make us smarter — or dumber. It depends on us, how we use it.
For more information about Peak Oil
- When will global oil production peak? Here is the answer! (1 November 2008)
- The most dangerous form of Peak Oil (8 April 2008)
- The world changed last week, with no headlines to mark the news (25 April 2008)
- Peak Oil Doomsters debunked, end of civilization called off (8 May 2008)
Here is an archive of my articles about Peak Oil.
Here are other resources about Peak Oil.