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Thread: Bio-fuels - not all they are cracked up to be?

  1. #1

    Default Bio-fuels - not all they are cracked up to be?

    I have been listening to the news in the last day or so and getting the impression that the government is now backtracking on its commitment to one of the latest renewable energy crazes, that of bio-fuels. It would now appear that certain types are more polluting than petrol.

    Also, because so much land is now planted to bio-fuel crops there is a shortage in food crops. Apparently, farmers in America are getting large subsidies to grow bio-fuels, so of course they will swop over if its more profitable than growing food crops.

    Save the planet, allow us to drive our gas-guzzlers, but forget to feed the people.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rupert View Post
    Save the planet, allow us to drive our gas-guzzlers, but forget to feed the people.
    How will driving gas guzzlers feed the people?

    The problem with things like this is how people perceive the consequences of their actions.

    You can basically split our perceptions into 3 areas.

    1. Positive or negative

    2. Immediate or in the future

    3. Certain or uncertain.

    The trouble with tackling climate change is that it(the consequences) is mostly portayed as negative, in the future and uncertain. The weakest scenario for people to change their ways.

    The most positive thing to come out in recent months is that we are faced with consquences that may give us reason to change our ways that are more positive or neative, immediate and more certain. Basically, loss of energy supplies from competition to the East.

    So though I broadly welcome the use of biofuels where land is not substituted for use for food etc, I think it is imperative that we keep exploring for new ways to be more carbon free and self sufficient. Some won't work, some will, we as a society must adapt to one thing that can't be done. That is keep burning fossil fuels like we are doing.
    Last edited by Rheghead; 08-Jul-08 at 12:21.
    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
    Courage to change the things I can,
    And wisdom to know the difference.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rheghead View Post
    How will driving gas guzzlers feed the people?
    Are you just being obtuse Rheghead? Of course I meant by growing loads of bio-fuels, that land can't be used to grow food for people. Did I really have to explain that?

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    Quote Originally Posted by rupert View Post
    Are you just being obtuse Rheghead? Of course I meant by growing loads of bio-fuels, that land can't be used to grow food for people. Did I really have to explain that?
    You still haven't linked feeding the people with gas guzzling. No, I'm not being obtuse, catch my drift?
    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
    Courage to change the things I can,
    And wisdom to know the difference.

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    Rupert,
    While you and Rheghead obfuscate, I'd like to say that as usual the government is chasing its own tail with promoting bio-fuels and then realising that no, that ain't going to work.

    More importantly, what I see already working, and working extremely well, is the high price of fuel. I read recently where our consumption of it in this country is already down nigh on 20%. Long may the trend continue.

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    Tilter: "More importantly, what I see already working, and working extremely well, is the high price of fuel. I read recently where our consumption of it in this country is already down nigh on 20%. Long may the trend continue."
    Ehh?
    You do realise that companies are going to the wall because of high fuel costs? - we are officially on the edge of a recession, are you aware that high food costs are mainly because cost of delivering them has to come from somewhere? Every 1p increase in the price of fuel adds 600 a year to the cost of driving a heavy goods vehicle, according to the Road Haulage Association.. and a 5p increase in the cost of diesel in recent weeks has already added 3,000 to a trucker's annual fuel bill.

    Just wonder what Lala land you live in. What's your form of transport - a pushbike? - we live out west and it 'aint cheap to drive East to the food stores.. and me being a cripple, can't use the bike; the shopping bags fall off too.

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    To make bio-fuel, diesel is needed in the process, so where does that leave us?
    cape locum et fac vestigium

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    This is could be the start of something big rather than wholesale reliance on biofuels.

    http://energy.pressandjournal.co.uk/...7479?UserKey=0
    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
    Courage to change the things I can,
    And wisdom to know the difference.

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    Surely, someone was clever enough awhile ago, before all these bio-fuels were grown, to have realised that they were worse than using conventional fuel?

    Surely, someone should have realised that if you put thousands of acres of productive land into fuel crops you risk making food more expensive and more scarse?

    Surely, by paying American farmers subsidies to grow these crops someone should have realised that they would all grow them rather than food crops?

    Seems to me there hasn't been a lot of joined up thinking here.

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    While the bio-fuel debate is very concenring I think that another debate should perhaps be runningalong side it. I have been following with interest the concernes of bee-keepers on their declining numbers around the globe. Food production is almost certainly goin to be greatly reduced if some of the stories are proven to be true. Take look at this short example http://www.medindia.net/news/Declini...ps-38785-1.htm

    the United States is witnessing a massie reduction in bees and will see a reduction in productivity on farms even if other factors are not present. Bees are under threat from a range of problems from the man made the lack of biodiversity in the areas where they are used like factory workers. Many hives are seeing por production but it is th vast numbersof hives driven across America's food belt that is he big cause for concern. Reports I have heard on Radio suggest that the bees have not been well treated by arringin oin areas where there is mono-culture providing very little variety in their diet and causing the to be less well and for their well-being to decline.

    Added to the biodiversity problem is the Varroa Mite now attacking hives all around the world. Bee-keepers have been only too well aware of this problem for some years. Soon we may all unfortunately feel the results in reduced food roduction of many crops where bees have been significant pollinators. An example of the worrries can be seen at http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/pests...als/varroa.htm in New Zealand. The mites are in the UK and spreading.

    So is the bio-fuels debate going to run in tandem with the bee problem or be over-looked. both of these are huge concerns for the whole world population as food shortages re likely with both. Will governments around the globe be able to tackle the problems. Bio-fuels is easy but bees in trouble may be much bigger problem to solve by comparison.
    Last edited by Bill Fernie; 08-Jul-08 at 20:31.

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    I've seen a couple of mentions of subsidies for American farmers to grow bio-fuels. As fas as I'm aware there is no subsidy, other than the increased price of corn (maize) caused by a growing demand for bio-ethanol. The net result has been food riots in Mexico, where corn tortillas are a staple part of the diet. Using corn in this way has to be a short term tactic only. There must be more scientific research (and you can bet the oil-addicted Bush administration will not do anything about this) into using alternative feedstock for ethanol production. Ideally this would be something that will grow on poorer land rather than the prime farm land used to grow corn. The good news for those dependent on corn for food is that once the recent floods drain away in the US Midwest, corn crops are expected to be very good this year. Since most years are too dry this is only to be expected.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Fernie View Post
    Bio-fuels is easy but bees in trouble may be much bigger problem to solve by comparison.
    It amazes me how many believe that a declining bee population means nothing more than a shortage of honey. Ignorance is bliss.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bekisman View Post
    You do realise that companies are going to the wall because of high fuel costs? - we are officially on the edge of a recession, are you aware that high food costs are mainly because cost of delivering them has to come from somewhere? Every 1p increase in the price of fuel adds 600 a year to the cost of driving a heavy goods vehicle, according to the Road Haulage Association.. and a 5p increase in the cost of diesel in recent weeks has already added 3,000 to a trucker's annual fuel bill.
    Don't forget the cost to the council. Every 1p increase hits essential services like fire, ambulance and police at a staggering rate. Guess who will be footing that bill as well.
    There are two rules for success:
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    Quote Originally Posted by bekisman View Post
    You do realise that companies are going to the wall because of high fuel costs? - we are officially on the edge of a recession, are you aware that high food costs are mainly because cost of delivering them has to come from somewhere? Every 1p increase in the price of fuel adds 600 a year to the cost of driving a heavy goods vehicle, according to the Road Haulage Association.. and a 5p increase in the cost of diesel in recent weeks has already added 3,000 to a trucker's annual fuel bill.

    Just wonder what Lala land you live in. What's your form of transport - a pushbike? - we live out west and it 'aint cheap to drive East to the food stores.. and me being a cripple, can't use the bike; the shopping bags fall off too.
    Bekisman, I understand what you are saying. I don't live in La-la land, I live 8 miles from the town and need a car to get there, and I'm already thinking twice over the necessity of my journeys. I think I'm just taking a longer-term view of things than you. We're running out of fuel. Governments are incapable of doing much as they need to please everyone and get reelected. Food and fuel prices are going up. Sooner or later, people will start screaming about all this and this government will have to take action - perhaps through increasing the public transport infrastructure, ceasing to allow huge shopping centres away from towns, putting clout behind energy efficiency, and the myriad other things government could be doing and isn't, and won't do till, as I say, we start screaming for it. Change in the government will always be preceded by change in the people.

    Bill, I agree with everything you are saying about the bees. The human race will be out of business without them. Our beekeepers are dedicated hobbyists with no government subsidies, no government encouragement for new beekeepers, and only something like 4 inspectors or something ridiculous for the whole country. Varroa hasn't made it over the Ord yet, but it's just a matter of time.

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    I remember hearing a while back that if the bee population becomes extinct, within 4 years so will we. if you'll pardon the expression, it's food for thought.
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    Terrible about the bees but my reliable source tells me all cereal crops and grasses are pollenated by wind rather than our furry friends.

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    That is correct Rupert. Also some other insects (wild ones) will cover some of the pollination efforts of the bees, but it has been found that fruit and nut trees give better yields if bees are around to enhance the pollination rate. I read somewhere recently that a lot of the problems with bees are *because* they are trucked around from place to place to pollinate different crops at different times. This puts stress on the colonies, and also increases the rate of cross-infection with this mite that is going around. If I owned an orchard I would get hold of my own bees and make them resident. Besides I love honey!

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    I read something recently about a Hydrogen fuel route starting up between Aberdeen and Peterhead, I think. Does anyone know anymore about this type of fuel and would that be a better bet than these bio-fuels? (Sounds awfully dangerous to me - isn't Hydrogen very explosive?)

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