Yay Green!

It means jobs.

Macon-based Alterra Bioenergy announced plans Tuesday for a new biodiesel refinery in Plains. It is the second such plant the company is building in Middle Georgia, and Alterra President Wayne Johnson said more may be on the way.

17 comments

  1. Harry says:

    From NCPA: As the “global warming” agenda is pushed, little focus is
    paid to the real causes, says Rep. John Linder (R-Ga.).

    For example:

    o The most prevalent and efficient greenhouse gas is not CO2;
    it is water vapor, which accounts for about 60 percent of the
    heat-trapping gases while CO2 accounts for about 26 percent.

    o We currently have CO2 levels of about 380 parts per million
    parts of atmosphere (ppm); a recent study completed at UC
    Davis concluded that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere 300
    million years ago was on the order of 2,000 ppm.

    o Methane, another greenhouse gas, has other sources as well;
    76 percent comes from wetlands, which produce 145 million
    metric tons of methane per year during the decomposition of
    organic material.

    The current push to blame humans for global warming is not unlike the
    debate surrounding the depletion of the ozone layer years ago, says Rep
    Linder. It too was filled with misinformation:

    o The world’s production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) peaked
    at 1.1 million tons per year; if 100 percent of that was
    released it would have added 750,000 tons of chlorine into the
    atmosphere.

    o That number is insignificant compared to the 300 million tons
    the oceans yield annually by the evaporation of seawater
    alone.

    Hopefully, as people realize the earth is going through the same cycles
    of heating and cooling that we have seen over hundreds of millions of
    years, the global warming myth will do the same, says Rep. Linder.

    Source: Rep. John Linder, “Global-Warming Theory And The Eugenics
    Precedent,” Washington Times, February 19, 2007.

    For text:

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/op-ed/20070218-100445-1207r.htm

    For more on Global Warming/Science:

    http://eteam.ncpa.org/issues/?c=science

    For more on Environment Issues:

    http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/?Article_Category=31

  2. jsm says:

    Hmmm… Not really sure what global warming has to do with this. I’m glad that, because of this venture, new jobs are coming to a town that needs them, new sources of energy are being utilized, new technologies are being developed, new demand is being created for farm products, and a new and valuable industry is growing.

    Global warming debate aside, taking care of our planet and developing alternate fuel sources is a good thing. In fact, I’m disappointed that farm production can’t meet projected future ethanol demands if we were to fully integrate that fuel source. Here’s to hydrogen–maybe a decade will put that technology in our driveways.

  3. jkga says:

    Harry,

    The fact that H2O accounts for a huge amount of the retention of the Earth’s heat (greater than CO2) is not a secret that climate scientists are trying to cover up. It goes into all of their climate models. Their models still show that adding more CO2 to the atmosphere leads to significant global warming.

    How can that be?

    The answer is something that anyone who has taken college chemistry can appreciate. Different molecules absorb different frequencies of infrared (heat) radiation. The Earth is radiating over a continuous spectrum of frequncies. The water vapor in the atmosphere already absorbs almost all of the radiation in certain frequency bands. Adding more water vapor won’t have much effect because there’s so little radiation left at those frequencies.

    In contrast, there is a lot of heat currently leaving the Earth in the form of infrared radiation at frequencies where adding more CO2 will make a big difference. So CO2 makes a sizeable difference.

    For similar reasons (also because it can intrinsically absorb more) methane is acknowledged by climate scientists to be an important greenhouse gas, even though it’s present at a much lower concentration than CO2 or H2O. There is interest in trying to control methane release from farm animal flatulence.

  4. jkga says:

    Harry,

    Rep. Linder is missing some important science regarding chlorine and CFC’s. A lot of chloride ion is released into the atmosphere by sea spray. (Remember, salt is sodium chloride.) That chloride dissolves in water and quickly returns to the oceans when it rains. CFC’s are very hydrophobic, do not dissolve in raindrops and stay in the atmosphere where they contribute to ozone depletion.

    Representative Linder must have taken some college chemistry courses to get into dental school. It’s too bad he doesn’t remember it, and it’s even more of a shame that he doesn’t trust real science.

  5. jkga says:

    Jeff,

    I think that we can all accept that the world’s population, and particularly the world’s population of people who can afford to eat meat every day, has increased a lot over the past century. There’s definitely a lot more cattle farting going on now than any time in history.

  6. DougieFresh says:

    JSM,

    Hydrogen is a pipe dream. Hydrogen has extremely low energy density as a gas. In order to use it in a car, you would have to carry it around as a liquid (which still has low energy density as liquid fuels go, containing less than 1/4 of the energy of an equivalent amount of gasoline). Hydrogen has an extremely low boiling temperature (-423 F) and thus would have to be stored in a cryogenic container.

    “Mining” hydrogen is another matter. There are no natural hydrogen springs that one can tap. In the presence of chlorine, fluorine, oxygen or other oxidizers, hydrogen is consumed in the atmosphere, and thus is all locked up in other compounds. Therefore, it must be manufactured.

    It can be manufactured the most economically by converting methane (natural gas) into hydrogen and CO2. Sadly, this converts a higher energy product into a lower energy product (in essence you consume the CO2 forming energy at the plant instead of in the application.

    Another method is to use electricity to convert water into hydrogen and oxygen. Unfortunately, this requires about three times the energy of converting methane. Also, the electricity needs another energy source.

    Hydrogen is also a bomb waiting to go off. Unlike gasoline, which is relatively safe as fuels go, hydrogen immediately forms an explosive mixture with the air the moment it is free from its container. Also, hydrogen burns in a nearly invisible spectrum, so a small hydrogen storage fire can burn like a torch for a long time before being noticed, eventually leading to storage container failure and an explosion.

    Having hydrogen cars reminds me of those old westerns where the main characters are carrying either “sweating” dynamite or nitroglycerin across a rocky trail. Would you want to drive one of those vehicles?

    About the only viable use of hydrogen is in energy storage and transfer, generally when tied to nuclear power. When the demand for nuclear power is low, you could run your turbines at full capacity to make hydrogen from water. Store that energy, and when demand peaks, burn it to make up for any shortfall.

    If you want a truly viable alternative fuel, look at coal. Out country has 10 times the energy in coal than the entire Middle East has in oil. Coal has been converted into liquid fuels since between the first and Second World War (that’s how Germany got a lot of its fuel, as well as South Africa during the apartheid years). If we did a two prong strategy of nuclear power and coal liquefaction, we would be completely energy independent.

    Instead our politicians talk about ethanol and farm subsidies.

  7. DougieFresh says:

    Also, in regard to water vapor and green house gasses….

    Water vapor forms clouds which some have noticed as those puffy white things you see passing overhead. Anyway, they reflect a great deal of energy back to space. CO2, on the other hand passes a great deal of energy. This energy is then absorbed by the ground and retransmitted as lower bands of energy in the form of heat (infrared). CO2 reflect infrared, which it reflects back to earth.

    Increasing the amount of water in the atmosphere; therefore, reduces the amount of energy striking the earth, even if it reflects infrared back to the ground. (Clouds are not vapor, but tiny droplets of water and tiny fragments of ice).

  8. jkga says:

    Harry,

    Sorry, I skipped your second point. The January 5 paper in Science magazine by Montañez (from UC Davis) et al. is called “CO2-forced climate and vegetation instability during late paleozoic deglaciation.” It shows that these high CO2 levels coincided with marked warming and the transition from an ice age to a hot, reptile-friendly climate. The paper itself is too technical for me;
    here is a more accessible article.

    It is not in any way a challenge to the mainstream thinking that human activities are leading to warming.

  9. jkga says:

    Dougie-

    I’m with you 100% on the science of hydrogen and clouds. (My understanding is that the heating effects of water vapor as a greenhouse gas and the cooling effects of clouds are roughly balanced.)

    I’m undecided on nuclear and not too jazzed about ethanol for a number of reasons. I’m all for energy independence, but burning more coal won’t help reduce CO2 production

  10. DougieFresh says:

    jkga,

    I am currently unmoved by global warming as a threat. Whether it is manmade, natural, real or non-existant, warm temperatures have always been a boon to life. It is cold temperatures that cause suffering.

    The data that is suggesting warming is far to small to reliably predict any long term consequences, and is not enough to decouple it from solar fluctuations.

    According to some half remembered data I once read, the sun has been burning along at about 0.1% more energy than normal. If one takes into account our current average temperature (about 15 C)and assumes that the earth gets all of its heat from the sun, the temperature increases are easily explained by solar activity. 15 C is actually 288 K (same units as C, but based from absolute 0). An increase of 0.1 % would be about 0.3 C or about 0.5 F, which is in line with what scientist say they have observed.

    There is no hurry to wreck economies based on speculation, especially if the results could actually be benefitial to mankind.

  11. jsm says:

    Dougie,

    You have certainly done more research than I have on alternative fuels, and your thoughts on coal are interesting. I someteimes get the feeling that the world may be on the verge of a technological advance that will take the majority of transportation away from gasoline power. It’s about time for a leap in energy technology.

  12. Harry says:

    Subsidizing biofuel and subsidizing public transport is fine so long as the subsidy unit cost (direct and indirect) is reasonable. The devil is in what’s reasonable.

  13. DougieFresh says:

    jsm,

    I was a chemical engineer at one point and had a professor at tech who had done a great deal of research in coal liquefaction. Mostly, any chemist or chemical engineer can see the problems with “alternative” fuels based on the chemistry alone. Not to mention the additional problems introduced by thermodynamics.

    Unfortunately energy has to come from somewhere.

  14. jkga says:

    Dougie,

    No argument from me that warmth is a boon to life in general. Bacteria, algae, mildew, insects, and reptiles, yes; human life I’m not so sure about. I sure as heck don’t want to see it get any warmer than it already is in August in Atlanta.

    When it comes to climate change, you can call me a conservative – rapid change is bad! Having to switch crop types, deal with different pests and diseases, install air conditioning where it wasn’t previously needed, shut down ski areas and open new ones farther north – this is a huge amount of social and economic upheaval.

    I applaud the bold spirit of your one-step calculation on solar forcing, and I’ll resist the temptation to nit-pick about the details. But what I really want to understand (honestly! I’m not just being snarky!) is why you trust your own back-of-the envelope calculation more than the output of years of modeling by a whole community of scientists with access to all the data available and some really powerful computers.

  15. DougieFresh says:

    jkga,

    I have no faith in it, I just have not seen it addressed in a mathematical way. The people making the claims that global warming is man made have discounted it, saying that solar radiation is not enough, as it is only about 0.1 percent stronger than the average. However, based on a simple it can be demonstrated that it is possible.

    The burden on the people calling for government action is to disprove it. Disproving is not making statements with no science or math to back up the conclusions.

    Anyway, as a person trained in science and engineering (I studied astrophysics and chemical engineering in college) I know bad science.

    Maybe if the government wants to fund global warming research, they should fund equally the side that suggest man made and the side that suggests natural processes. Unfortunately, no one wants to spend money on someone that says everything is going to be alright, so the crisis du jour crowd always win.

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