Monday, April 18, 2005

ethanol and wholphins: better than soylant green

The Future of Ethanol
Back in the mid 1990s, Brazil ended its ethanol subsidies. Nevertheless, with world oil prices hovering around $55 a barrel, the price of ethanol today is only half that of gasoline.

Brazilian biorefineries are virtually energy self-sufficient because they burn bagasse to power and heat the mill and refineries. Bagasse, the fiber fraction of cane, is brought to the mill along with the sugar cane. In Minnesota the corn stover (stalk, etc.) is not transported to the mill along with the corn kernels.

Brazilian car population is much smaller than the U.S., but in the quantities they are generating now it appears that the fuel may have positive EROEI. Sugar is the source material in Brazil; I don’t know how it stacks up to corn. The million dollar follow up question is how much crop land is being set aside for what population of cars. This is important because few countries have massive croplands they can set aside for non-food production. Anybody out there speak Portuguese? This is one I'll be following up on.

Worse than the Dust Bowl
The Bonneville Power Administration, the Portland-based federal agency that markets electricity from US government dams on the Columbia River, expects power prices to surge this summer because of drought.

So, since I last posted on the local energy situation in Washington State (and California), Washington recieved a clump of rainfall, stocking up the west side of the mountains with ¼ to ½ of normal snowpack. Better than nothing, unless you are a farmer on the east side of Washington State – there you still get nothing. And the snow is done until November. Now we all pick straws.

Energy industry takes aim at US coast
The Atlantic and Pacific coasts and the eastern Gulf of Mexico are protected by a federal ban on new oil and natural gas extraction. But with rising worry about US dependence on fuel imports and soaring prices, energy producers feel they now have a unique opportunity to relax or eliminate the restrictions.

Unique isn’t the word. The word is profit. The estimated reserves of oil in the heretofore untapped coastal regions add up to a half year of world oil supply. But they won’t affect the peak. It will be years before this oil begins to dribble out.

It’s Not Even Worth Chewing Through the Restraints
I thought it was funny that a recent study shows that Harvard student are dissatisfied with Harvard, at the same time as an op-ed piece by the horrid Michael Boskin appeared in the Wall Street Journal. Boskin is the Stanford economics "professor" who developed the actual statistical methods of lying about inflation, namely the infamous "hedonic" adjustments that have distorted the Consumer Price Index so much that it has become a joke among economists

Eric Rachner pointed out that I should search on “Michael, Boskin, hedonic, method” following my post on the Consumer Price Index of a few days back. Aha.

Study: Salmon From Farms Breed Sea Lice
“We know that the lice do infect other species,” said Krkosek, a University of Alberta mathematical biologist. “The transmission from farmed fish to wild fish is much larger than what was previously believed.”
Adult salmon can survive such infections, but the younger salmon are more vulnerable. “Normally, juvenile salmon have time to build resistance and put on body mass before they encounter these parasites,” Krkosek said.

Sixty years ago, the biggest problems with fish in schools were simple things – blowing bubbles, running in the halls. My, how things change. Fish today are unprincipled reprobates, and have been sent a plague of lice to punish their “lifestyle choice” of living off the dole and breeding fish babies.

Maybe this is why the wild salmon aren’t returning to spawn this year. Or maybe the Wholpin ate them. Somehow, they died. More evidence that humans have this whole life on Earth thing figgered and should ramp up population to 9 billion peeps.


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