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

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 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 ...

                =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 7 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 8 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 9 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 10 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 11 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 12 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 13 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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