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Re: [carfree_cities] Transit pass - Best Weapon Against Climate Change?

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  • Jym Dyer
    ... =v= Hard to do without seeing how they arrived at their figures. Much would seem to hinge on the assertion that methane has 21 times the warming potential
    Message 1 of 18 , Oct 17, 2007
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      > Can anyone document or refute any of their assertions?

      =v= Hard to do without seeing how they arrived at their figures.
      Much would seem to hinge on the assertion that methane has "21
      times the warming potential of CO2" and what "warming potential"
      actually means.

      =v= Their writing is a bit sloppy:

      | All told, livestock are responsible for 18% of greenhouse-gas
      | emissions worldwide, according to the U.N. -- more than all
      | the planes, trains and automobiles on the planet.

      No, the transport sector is responsible for more emissions than
      that, any way you slice it. The question would actually seem
      to be which type of emission has more impact.
      <_Jym_>
    • Eric Dupre
      The LA Times article (and possibly the respondent below) bases their conclusions on corn-fed cattle. It would seem that grass-fed cattle would have less
      Message 2 of 18 , Oct 17, 2007
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        The LA Times article (and possibly the respondent
        below) bases their conclusions on corn-fed cattle. It
        would seem that grass-fed cattle would have less
        impact (less methane), and would actually contribute
        to soil fertilization, reducing the usage of natural
        gas for man-made fertilizers. (Section 3 of The
        Omnivore's Dilemma) Does anyone know how to calculate
        the difference?

        Eric Dupre


        --- Erik Sandblom <eriksandblom@...> wrote:

        > --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, Todd Binkley
        > <todd_binkley@...> wrote:
        > >
        > > An editorial in yesterday's LA Times claims that
        > the methane and
        > > nitrous oxide produced (worldwide) by cattle,
        > coupled with the
        > > pollution associated with producing their feed,
        > and clearing
        > forests
        > > for them to graze combines to create more
        > greenhouse gases than
        > all
        > > the planes trains and automobiles on the planet.
        > Therefore a
        > > westerner could do more for climate change by
        > eliminating beef
        > from
        > > their diet than giving up their car. Can anyone
        > document or
        > refute
        > > any of their assertions?
        > >
        > >
        >
        http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-ed-
        >
        > > methane15oct15,1,848859.story
        >
        >
        >
        > It is self-evident that meat requires much more
        > energy to make than
        > vegetarian food. Either you eat the produce directly
        > or feed it to
        > the cow and then eat the cow -- obviously it is more
        > efficient to eat
        > the produce directly. You can make the meat in
        > different ways, but
        > you can't escape the simple physics. Meat is not
        > green.
        >
        > Manure is used for fertilizer and it is not trivial
        > to replace manure
        > with sustainable, inorganic fertiliser. One
        > possibility is to use
        > human manure.
        >
        > Regarding the car issue, there was an interesting
        > study published in
        > Sweden last summer. It concluded that people driving
        > their cars to
        > the grocery store caused more emissions than the
        > rest of the food
        > transportation chain put together! This is because
        > the food industry
        > makes more money if they make their logistics more
        > efficient. Also
        > because 10kg of groceries can never support 1000kg
        > of car used to
        > move it. So driving to the grocery story can never
        > make green sense
        > for consumers.
        > http://www.dn.se/DNet/jsp/polopoly.jsp?a=637433
        >
        > Anyway, why choose? Why not drive less *and* eat
        > less meat?
        >
        > Erik Sandblom
        >
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        >
        > Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        > (Yahoo! ID required)
        >
        > mailto:carfree_cities-fullfeatured@yahoogroups.com
        >
        >
        >


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      • Richard Risemberg
        ... Although this is getting off-topic, I suggest that all interested parties check the site for Eating Alaska, a new documentary by filmmaker and photographer
        Message 3 of 18 , Oct 17, 2007
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          On Oct 17, 2007, at 3:36 PM, Eric Dupre wrote:

          > The LA Times article (and possibly the respondent
          > below) bases their conclusions on corn-fed cattle. It
          > would seem that grass-fed cattle would have less
          > impact (less methane), and would actually contribute
          > to soil fertilization, reducing the usage of natural
          > gas for man-made fertilizers. (Section 3 of The
          > Omnivore's Dilemma) Does anyone know how to calculate
          > the difference?

          Although this is getting off-topic, I suggest that all interested
          parties check the site for Eating Alaska, a new documentary by
          filmmaker and photographer Ellen Frankenstein. The film itself is
          about eating locally (both meat and non-meat foods sourced within 100
          miles), which is important for a carfree city on various levels, and
          the site has links to much relevant material.

          The film is not yet available; the site (which I built for her) is
          part of the fundraising effort.

          http://www.eatingalaska.com/

          Cheers,

          Rick
          --
          Richard Risemberg
          http://www.bicyclefixation.com
          http://www.newcolonist.com
          http://www.rickrise.com
        • kyle3054
          ... Methane has a greater impact, but this impact declines over time; however this may not matter if we re at a tipping point. Methane from animals has a 23
          Message 4 of 18 , Oct 17, 2007
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            Jym Dyer <jym@...> wrote:

            > No, the transport sector is responsible for more emissions than
            > that, any way you slice it. The question would actually seem
            > to be which type of emission has more impact.
            > <_Jym_>

            Methane has a greater impact, but this impact declines over time;
            however this may not matter if we're at a "tipping point."

            Methane from animals has a 23 times stronger global warming potential
            than does Carbon dioxide, but the difference is that methane breaks
            down in the atmosphere into carbon dioxide and water, with a half-life
            of 7 years. That is, if you put 100 units of methane into the
            atmosphere today, they contribute to global warming like 2,300 units
            of carbon dioxide, but after 7 years there are 50 units of methane and
            50 of CO2, with an effect of 50x23 + 50 = 1,200; after 14 years, it's
            25x23 + 75 = 750, and so on.

            So if we stopped all CO2 emissions today, that stuff would still be
            there forever, but if we stopped all methane emissions today, its
            effect would decline over time.

            Now, that decline may or may not matter, in that if we're at some
            "tipping point" where the human-added effects lead to a feedback loop,
            then that methane will be less tomorrow doesn't help us today - if the
            climate's on the edge of a cliff, that what gives it the final shove
            over to fall under its own weight will later decline doesn't matter.


            Good farming practices mean a small level of meat consumption, and
            would lead to much less methane emissions.

            Absent fossil fuels to make fertiliser, etc, we'll need animals on the
            land. And that sort of mixed farm, the "traditional" one with family
            cow, a pig or two, a chicken coop, a vegetable garden, few acres of
            grain and pasture, works very well. Those animals will breed (you have
            to breed cows if you want their milk), and that'll be more than the
            land can support, so you have to kill them; you may as well eat them.
            This however leads to a much lower meat consumption than we see today
            in the West; in the USA and Australia it's something like 110kg
            (240lbs) annually per person. In an economy of mixed farms it'd be
            more like 10kg.

            Animals on mixed farms produce far less methane than animals in
            feedlots being fed corn. Combine that with less livestock overall, and
            you'll get considerably smaller methane emissions.

            I think that carfree cities would inevitably mean less meat in any
            case, as with trade reducing in range, and less volume of trade
            overall, the large factory farms producing it all would become
            financially unviable. About ten years back it was seriously proposed
            that all of the EU's pig-farming could be done in a large central
            facility in Poland. That sort of One Big Facility, whether for pigs or
            electricity or t-shirts, is not really practical in terms of the
            carfree cities concept, as I understand it.

            Cheers,
            Kyle
            http://greenwithagun.blogspot.com/
          • J.H. Crawford
            ... Actually, that s not so regarding CO2. It is being absorbed in the oceans in quite large amounts. The problem is that this raises the pH of the oceans,
            Message 5 of 18 , Oct 18, 2007
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              Kyle said:

              >So if we stopped all CO2 emissions today, that stuff would still be
              >there forever, but if we stopped all methane emissions today, its
              >effect would decline over time.

              Actually, that's not so regarding CO2. It is being absorbed in
              the oceans in quite large amounts. The problem is that this
              raises the pH of the oceans, probably affecting coral growth.
              Furthermore, the ability of the oceans to continue to absorb CO2
              appears to be declining. This also leads to the removal of
              calcium ions from the upper levels of the ocean, as it reacts
              with CO2 to produce insoluble calcium salts that precipitate to
              the ocean floor, mainly as calcium carbonate (limestone, eventually).

              >I think that carfree cities would inevitably mean less meat in any
              >case,

              Let's say "sustainable cities" instead. This is not a direct
              result of moving to carfree cities, and it might even be
              possible to avoid it BY adopting carfree cities (i.e., more
              energy available to continue current poor farming practices).
              I do agree that the very high levels of meat consumption now
              common in the West are probably going to have to decline under
              nearly any scenario for sustainability.

              >as with trade reducing in range, and less volume of trade
              >overall, the large factory farms producing it all would become
              >financially unviable. About ten years back it was seriously proposed
              >that all of the EU's pig-farming could be done in a large central
              >facility in Poland. That sort of One Big Facility, whether for pigs or
              >electricity or t-shirts, is not really practical in terms of the
              >carfree cities concept, as I understand it.

              Not necessarily so. The Reference Design permits a huge volume
              of rail-based freight transport. It is not NECESSARY to reduce
              the volume of trade in order to develop carfree cities on a
              large scale, so long as energy can be found to power rail and
              seaborne freight. Do recall that we could go back to sail for
              sea freight and that rail freight uses comparatively small
              amounts of energy (which could be considerably reduced by a
              serious campaign of efficiency improvements).

              Regards,





              ----- ### -----
              J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
              mailbox@... http://www.carfree.com
            • ktsourl
              I have never understood how someone can compare methane emissions from animals with the carbon emissions from fossil fuels. The former belongs to the carbon
              Message 6 of 18 , Oct 22, 2007
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                I have never understood how someone can compare methane emissions from
                animals with the carbon emissions from fossil fuels. The former
                belongs to the carbon cycle part between atmosphere and biosphere,
                which has a recycle time of few months or years, the latter to the
                carbon cycle between biosphere and atmosphere on one side and the
                underground carbon deposits on the other side, which has a recycle
                time of million years. Bovines and other methane producing animals and
                natural procedures have been around for million years, even before the
                apparition of the human species, without serious threats for the
                climate stability. The problem with fossil fuels is that natural
                procedures will require million of years using sun energy to remove
                what is extracted in few hundred years back in the underground carbon
                deposits.


                --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, Todd Binkley <todd_binkley@...>
                wrote:
                >
                > An editorial in yesterday's LA Times claims that the methane and
                > nitrous oxide produced (worldwide) by cattle, coupled with the
                > pollution associated with producing their feed, and clearing forests
                > for them to graze combines to create more greenhouse gases than all
                > the planes trains and automobiles on the planet. Therefore a
                > westerner could do more for climate change by eliminating beef from
                > their diet than giving up their car. Can anyone document or refute
                > any of their assertions?
                >
                > http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-ed-
                > methane15oct15,1,848859.story
                >
                > Killer cow emissions
                >
                > Livestock are a leading source of greenhouse gases. Why isn't anyone
                > raising a stink?
                >
              • Jym Dyer
                ... =v= While this is true, carbon is carbon. By industrializing animals lifespans, humanity has contributed carbon and other gases to the atmosphere at a
                Message 7 of 18 , Oct 22, 2007
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                  > I have never understood how someone can compare methane
                  > emissions from animals with the carbon emissions from fossil
                  > fuels. The former belongs to the carbon cycle part between
                  > atmosphere and biosphere, which has a recycle time of few
                  > months or years ...

                  =v= While this is true, carbon is carbon. By industrializing
                  animals' lifespans, humanity has contributed carbon and other
                  gases to the atmosphere at a rate that exceeds the capacty of
                  plant life to reabsorb it. Another piece of this, of course, is
                  the clearing and clearcutting of land for these very processes.

                  =v= I have seen the above line of argument advanced to support
                  the use of biofuels, no matter how wasteful (e.g. to run cars).
                  The problem is too serious to split hairs over which carbon is
                  okay to burden the atmosphere with.
                  <_Jym_>
                • ktsourl
                  Next to clearing and clearcutting of land you may also add up the fossil fuel use for transporting, farming, warming and other processes used for meat (but
                  Message 8 of 18 , Oct 26, 2007
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                    Next to "clearing and clearcutting of land" you may also add up the
                    fossil fuel use for transporting, farming, warming and other processes
                    used for meat (but also other foods) production. Certainly every human
                    activity is disrupting of the natural processes, especially if it is
                    in industrial mass scale. However concentrating attention on cow
                    bleeches and comparing them to fossil fuels emissions is misleading,
                    because it is comparing problems of different scale and of different
                    nature. If tomorrow humanity and every human activity would disappear,
                    it will take months to return to the previous methane concentration
                    levels, but thousands or million years to return the extracted fossil
                    fuels carbon back to undrground deposits.

                    The problems of biofuels are more complicated (and include also food
                    prices, deforestation etc). But I see very often this line of argument
                    - comparing a big harm with a less one, so that it may more easily
                    accepted. It is like saying: "if you are against car use, you
                    shouldn't eat meat either". However (apart from the previous explained
                    fallacy of this approach) meat consumption is not limitless (modern
                    medicine is already suggesting to avoid it) while car use (and other
                    energy intense devices) may become virually limitless.

                    Almost every human activity is nowadays unsustainable. The difference
                    is that some can become easily sustainable, some less easily and some
                    is imposible to become sustainable at all (e.g. the wastful car
                    priority traffic policy)


                    --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, Jym Dyer <jym@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > > I have never understood how someone can compare methane
                    > > emissions from animals with the carbon emissions from fossil
                    > > fuels. The former belongs to the carbon cycle part between
                    > > atmosphere and biosphere, which has a recycle time of few
                    > > months or years ...
                    >
                    > =v= While this is true, carbon is carbon. By industrializing
                    > animals' lifespans, humanity has contributed carbon and other
                    > gases to the atmosphere at a rate that exceeds the capacty of
                    > plant life to reabsorb it. Another piece of this, of course, is
                    > the clearing and clearcutting of land for these very processes.
                    >
                    > =v= I have seen the above line of argument advanced to support
                    > the use of biofuels, no matter how wasteful (e.g. to run cars).
                    > The problem is too serious to split hairs over which carbon is
                    > okay to burden the atmosphere with.
                    > <_Jym_>
                    >
                  • dubluth
                    Kyle I believe brought up the half-life issue. Ruminants and termites generally manufacture methane from plants. The CO2 from the breakdown of such methane
                    Message 9 of 18 , Oct 28, 2007
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                      Kyle I believe brought up the half-life issue. Ruminants and termites
                      generally manufacture methane from plants. The CO2 from the breakdown
                      of such methane shouldn't count as an agravator of global warming
                      (unlike the methane) because it would have been released when the
                      plants were burned, metabolized, or decomposed -- something that
                      inevitably happens. The carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids in grass
                      and all other biological stores of carbon also half lives. The CO2
                      from burning fossil fuels and from destroying forests count as CO2
                      worth worrying about because this alters the atmosphere and oceans in
                      a way not previously experienced by our species.

                      I believe CO2 lowers rather than raises the oceans pH. Acids have
                      lower pH. Another fact for reference purposes.
                    • dubluth
                      ... The visionary engineer Paul MacCready has made an arresting calculation: Ten thousand years ago, human beings (plus their domestic animals) accounted for
                      Message 10 of 18 , Oct 28, 2007
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                        --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, "ktsourl" <ktsou@...> wrote:

                        > Bovines and other methane producing animals
                        > and natural procedures have been around for
                        > million years, even before the
                        > apparition of the human species


                        "The visionary engineer Paul MacCready has made an arresting
                        calculation: Ten thousand years ago, human beings (plus their domestic
                        animals) accounted for less than a tenth of 1 percent (by weight) of
                        all vertebrate life on land and in the air, Back then, we were just
                        another mammalian species, and not a particularly populous one (he
                        estimates eighty million people worldwide). Today, that percentage,
                        including livestock and pets, is in the neighborhood of 98!"

                        Currently our pets and livestock outweigh us about 3 to 1.

                        Daniel C. Dennett in 2006 refering to a chapter "The Case for Battery
                        Electric Vehicles" in _The Hydrogen Energy Transition_.
                      • kyle3054
                        ... Yes, it goes like this, emissions in millions of tonnes Wetlands (including about half from rice paddies), 225 Termites, 20 Ocean, 15 Hydrates, 10 Human
                        Message 11 of 18 , Oct 28, 2007
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                          --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, "dubluth" <dubluth@...> wrote:
                          >
                          > Kyle I believe brought up the half-life issue. Ruminants and termites
                          > generally manufacture methane from plants.

                          Yes, it goes like this, emissions in millions of tonnes

                          Wetlands (including about half from rice paddies), 225
                          Termites, 20
                          Ocean, 15
                          Hydrates, 10
                          Human energy production, 110
                          Landfills, 40
                          Livestock, 115
                          Waste treatment (our poo), 40
                          Crop and forest burnoffs, 40

                          Total methane emissions, 600.
                          Total human-caused emissions, 440

                          Methane sinks are,
                          Soils, 30
                          Tropospheric hydroxl reactions, 510
                          Stratospheric loss, 40
                          Total sinks, 580

                          Emissions - sinks = 600 - 580 = 20 million tonnes of methane being
                          added to the atmosphere each year.

                          20Mt CH4 produces a global warming effect equivalent to,
                          Year 1, 20 CH4 x 23 (CH4 multiplier) = 460 CO2 equivalent
                          Year 7, 10 CH4 x 23 + 10 CO2 (CH4 decays to CO2 and H2O = 230 + 10 =
                          240 CO2 equivalent
                          Year 14, 5 CH4 x 23 + 15 CO2 = 115 + 15 = 130
                          and so on

                          However, if 20CH4 are added each year then,
                          Year 1, 20 CH4 x 23
                          Year 7, original 20CH4 has become 10CH4, but 7x20CH4 have been added,
                          thus,
                          10CH4 + 140CH4 + 10CO2 = 150CH4 x 23 + 10CO2 = 3,460 CO2 equivalent.

                          By comparison, annual CO2 emissions are about 25,000. Carbon dioxide
                          like methane is a natural substance and has a natural cycle. However
                          we humans have produced it in such amounts so quickly that we're
                          overwhelming the system's ability to process it.

                          It's exactly like getting drunk. If I consume a small amount of
                          alcohol, my body processes it and it has no effect on me. But if I go
                          from (say) one drink an hour to two, the alcohol starts to build up in
                          my system, it overwhelms my liver's ability to process it, and stays
                          in my blood, gradually poisoning me (thus, "intoxicated" - it's a
                          toxin, a poison). If I stop drinking then my body can return to normal
                          as my liver gradually removes it from my blood and my kidneys flush it
                          out of my body. But if I keep drinking, I'll get drunk and eventually
                          very ill and even die.

                          And if I drink a lot over time, it alters my body's systems. I become
                          better at processing alcohol, but get all sorts of diseases.

                          The Earth, like my body, is a complex system, carefully balanced. It's
                          got quite a bit of "give" in it, it's hard to really push it off the
                          edge. But if you keep trying, it'll happen.

                          Really it's a question of scale. Humanity in (say) 1800 was like a man
                          drinking a beer every hour or so. Now we're like a man downing a shot
                          every half hour and a beer over half an hour. The toxin is
                          overwhelming the man's ability to process it.

                          > I believe CO2 lowers rather than raises the oceans pH. Acids have
                          > lower pH. Another fact for reference purposes.

                          Yes, it turns the oceans acidic. It also makes it harder for shellfish
                          to form their shells, and for corals to form. It will doubtless have
                          other effects on the biosystem in the seas...

                          Yet another reason to rid ourselves of cars :)

                          Cheers,
                          Kyle
                          http://greenwithagun.blogspot.com/
                        • Jym Dyer
                          ... =v= I addressed this point last Monday. The inevitably part is relevant. Industrializing the rate of processes that occur naturally changes the
                          Message 12 of 18 , Oct 28, 2007
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                            > The CO2 from the breakdown of such methane shouldn't count
                            > as an agravator of global warming (unlike the methane)
                            > because it would have been released when the plants were
                            > burned, metabolized, or decomposed -- something that
                            > inevitably happens.

                            =v= I addressed this point last Monday. The "inevitably" part
                            is relevant. Industrializing the rate of processes that occur
                            naturally changes the picture, specifically by keeping more CO2
                            in the atmosphere for longer than it would be.

                            =v= I strongly disagree with the "shouldn't count" mindset.
                            People are far too willing to ignore variables that they should
                            be paying attention to, side-effects, second-order costs, and
                            long-term consequences. All of this is precisely why we are in
                            the mess we are in, and we aren't going to get out of it without
                            thinking more ecologically.

                            =v= The "shouldn't count" argument is routinely advanced to
                            support the use of biofuels to run cars. The notion is that all
                            we need to do is swap a fuel source and society can continue to
                            run the same fleet of cars the same distances they're run now.
                            Nobody bothers to tally up all the "shouldn't count" variables,
                            so they delude themselves that they're doing something that's
                            better for the environment.
                            <_Jym_>
                          • kyle3054
                            ... Regarding biofuels, some may find this blog post of mine relevant: http://greenwithagun.blogspot.com/2007/06/fuelling-world.html Setting aside
                            Message 13 of 18 , Oct 28, 2007
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                              Jym Dyer <jym@...> wrote:

                              > =v= The "shouldn't count" argument is routinely advanced to
                              > support the use of biofuels to run cars. The notion is that all
                              > we need to do is swap a fuel source and society can continue to
                              > run the same fleet of cars the same distances they're run now.
                              > Nobody bothers to tally up all the "shouldn't count" variables,
                              > so they delude themselves that they're doing something that's
                              > better for the environment.

                              Regarding biofuels, some may find this blog post of mine relevant:
                              http://greenwithagun.blogspot.com/2007/06/fuelling-world.html

                              Setting aside environmental and health and social concerns, I look
                              just at how much biofuel we could reasonably produce given current
                              technology, and ignoring all energy inputs; ie I take the most wildly
                              optimistic view of it.

                              I assume that we put the entire world on minimum rations of grain, and
                              consume no grainfed meat, or fruit or vegetables, and maintain current
                              high levels of food production, putting it all into biofuels: we ought
                              to be able to produce 118lt of ethanol per person; putting half our
                              vegetable and plant oils to biofuel gives us another 30lt, so that we
                              get almost a barrel of biofuel each.

                              Current average fuel consumption for transport, world: 3.2 barrels of
                              oil annually
                              US/UK/Australia: 10-15bbl
                              Efficient "green" countries (eg Denmark): 4-10bbl
                              Developing countries (eg China): 2-4bbl
                              Impoverished countries (eg Ghana): 0-2bbl
                              Available biofuels: 1bbl

                              The country most famous for producing ethanol, Brazil, in 2004 made
                              3,989 million gallons, or 94Mbbl of ethanol, for a population of 188
                              million - or 0.5bbl per person - and _still_ used another 4bbl of oil
                              per person - or 3bbl for transoprt. This tells us something about how
                              easy it is for a country to rely only on ethanol - even when it's the
                              world's single largest producer of the stuff, in a tropical country
                              where they can grow the efficient feedstock sugar cane, and have low
                              labour costs.

                              If the biofuels were used only for mass transit and freight, then I
                              think that single barrel of biofuel per person annually, in
                              combination with electric-powered stuff, might be enough. But it'll
                              never be enough for us all to be zooming around in our own cars.
                              Alternately, the masses could have no transport at all aside from
                              their feet, while the elites could still have biofuel-powered cars.

                              Obviously I prefer the mass transit option... :)

                              The biofuel picture looks less rosy when you consider energy inputs
                              (eg, the farm tractor requires fuel, as do the distillery plants and
                              fuel trucks) and the fact that the world is _not_ going to go onto a
                              minimum-grain vegetarian diet just so that people can keep zooming
                              around in convertibles, or that soil degradation and climate change is
                              likely to make our crop yields drop significantly, etc. But the point
                              is that even with the most unrealistically optimistic assessment, the
                              biofuels _won't be enough_ for us to all be driving cars.

                              I mean, it's 21,000 million barrels of oil annually just to have 1,000
                              million people driving or being passengers in cars. And biofuels are
                              supposed to let all 6,600 million people drive? I don't think so.

                              Biofuels today are the process by which poor people go hungry so that
                              rich people can keep driving.

                              Cheers,
                              Kyle
                              http://greenwithagun.blogspot.com/
                            • dubluth
                              If you re comparing the impact of carbon going into the atmosphere as methane AS OPPOSED TO carbon going into the atmosphere as CO2, counting the warming
                              Message 14 of 18 , Oct 29, 2007
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                                If you're comparing the impact of carbon going into the atmosphere as
                                methane AS OPPOSED TO carbon going into the atmosphere as CO2,
                                counting the warming effect of the CO2 breakdown product of CH4 makes
                                no sense. If you're regarding the methane breakdown CO2 as aberant,
                                the CO2 in cattle exhalations is also aberant and we should count that
                                also. Why don't we count the CO2 in bull's breath although we count
                                the methane coming from either end? Because it's two entirely
                                different questions. Cattle produce methane, a powerful greenhouse
                                gas, and humans husband lots and lots of cattle (some in cattle lots).
                                Living things emit CO2 -- at least those in the food chain rooted in
                                green plants. We don't generally count the CO2 emmissions of life as
                                worrisome because for living things to be emitting, plants had to have
                                first incorporated the CO2 into their bodies and plants continue to
                                grow at roughly the rate they get eaten. That isn't to deny that
                                humans are doing a number on the carbon stored in trees, to mention
                                just one bad effect of deforestation. However we don't generally feed
                                our hungry cattle tropical mahogany. If we did, we should ask, how
                                quickly do our cattle convert that mass of wood into CO2 (and CH4)
                                compared to other uses of the wood and how much carbon does that
                                regrowth capture?

                                I don't believe I said anything that a reasonable person should
                                interpret as an endorsement for transportation biofuels. Don't lump
                                me in with the booblers who think that because we can construe or
                                misconstrue biofuels to be 'carbon neutral' (and not imported) we
                                gotta love anything putting down the road burning canola oil.

                                --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, Jym Dyer <jym@...> wrote:
                                >
                                > > The CO2 from the breakdown of such methane shouldn't count
                                > > as an agravator of global warming (unlike the methane)
                                > > because it would have been released when the plants were
                                > > burned, metabolized, or decomposed -- something that
                                > > inevitably happens.
                                >
                                > =v= I addressed this point last Monday. The "inevitably" part
                                > is relevant. Industrializing the rate of processes that occur
                                > naturally changes the picture, specifically by keeping more CO2
                                > in the atmosphere for longer than it would be.
                                >
                                > =v= I strongly disagree with the "shouldn't count" mindset.
                                > People are far too willing to ignore variables that they should
                                > be paying attention to, side-effects, second-order costs, and
                                > long-term consequences. All of this is precisely why we are in
                                > the mess we are in, and we aren't going to get out of it without
                                > thinking more ecologically.
                                >
                                > =v= The "shouldn't count" argument is routinely advanced to
                                > support the use of biofuels to run cars. The notion is that all
                                > we need to do is swap a fuel source and society can continue to
                                > run the same fleet of cars the same distances they're run now.
                                > Nobody bothers to tally up all the "shouldn't count" variables,
                                > so they delude themselves that they're doing something that's
                                > better for the environment.
                                > <_Jym_>
                                >
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