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Thursday, August 2, 2007

Oh, The Irony

Fairy Dust


I really have no interest in trashing respectable Democratic candidates, but this cannot go unanswered. Charlie Brown, running for Congress in California's 4th disctrict after a near-miss in '06, is over at DailyKos with a post titled A Green, Energy Independant Military?

One can at least show gratitude for the question mark.
The Air Force is listed as the largest U.S. fuel consumer, using 2.6 billion gallons of fuel in 2006. According to recent press reports, it is certifying its B-52 fleet (a fleet used heavily during Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom by the way) to run on alternative fuels, has launched an effort to make all Air Force aircraft certified to run on synthetic fuel by 2010, and 50% of all aircraft flights in the United States running on synthetic fuel by 2016.
Synthetic fuel? And what would that be?
So far, the Air Force program has focused on using synthetic fuels made from natural gas. Future efforts will look at fuels made from animal fats. Tyson Foods is partnering with Syntroleum to build a $150 million dollar production facility. This will create ample amounts of biodiesel for aircraft...
Oh.

From commentor ANKOSS:
Has anyone done the math?

How much American topsoil has to be burned to keep America's out-of-control war machine running? Forget guns or butter; how about corn or jet fuel?

The absurdity of running a gigantic global military establishment on biofuels does not seem to prevent diarists like Mr. Brown from dreaming about a "green military."

Show us the math, Charlie.
SS Eye responds (I am tempted to snip this comment to what I consider its salient points, but in all fairness the SS Eye leaves himself with some "wiggle room" by claiming this can work in tandem with other solutions):
go live with the Amish then

We have plenty of other sources of energy and plenty of ways of converting it to something useful.

Take a long view of history and you'll see that biofuels are a part of the solution, not the whole solution.

I don't see anyone claiming that simply substituting biofuels for oil will be the entire energy solution. That's what hydrogen and electric cars are for.

But people such as yourself who love to attack biofuels - I'm not sure what the motive is, frankly, and I don't care - also love to make all kinds of other silly extrapolations, like the idea that biofuels mean powering the entire economy on big monocultures of corn.

Everyone who knows anything knows that the current corn-to-ethanol thing is one part "what we can do now" and two parts farm subsidy. But there are lots of other fast-growing crops that don't need pesticides and fertilizers and don't need to displace existing farmland. The processes for extracting fuel from them are not quite ready for full-scale production, but there are many, many competing attempts (there is money in this, you know), and some of them are going to become The Real Thing in the next 5-10 years. So biofuels do have life beyond the current, experimental phase of doing it with corn.

Got any more straw men? Even better, why don't
you show us your math, and then maybe we can talk.
Fine, here's the math. All life on this planet is fueled by annual sunlight. The "biomass" we've been harvesting - oil - was fueled by sunlight past. As in long, ancient past. Once we begin burning currently fueled biomass (i.e., corn, animal fats, etc.), then we will see the math - you only get so much solar energy a year. Period. And that quantity pales in the face of the vast amounts we have become dependant upon this past 150 years (and I guess that would be your "long view of history," BTW.)

When we look at the limits to this resource, are we really prepared to burn food in order to continue to try to prop up this ridiculous energy economy?

In freaking military vehicles, no less?

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