Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Hope for Us Here

Bio-Energy and Bio-char

Experimental fields in the Llanos of Colombia, showing maize growth with 0, 8 and 20 t/ha (from left to right) bio-char dry matter applied two years before the photo was taken (J. Lehmann, photo).

This research explores the opportunities and constraints to combining a bio-char soil management with energy production using novel low-temperature pyrolysis. Three real-world issues justify this approach: (1) The ever increasing pressure on rural land users to generate sufficient income from their land with decreasing market prices for food; (2) the necessity to provide sustainable production systems that minimize on- and off-site pollution and soil degradation; and (3) the demand for solutions to global warming.

While food prices do not increase sufficiently enough to ensure healthy farm economies without subsidies in many industrialized countries, energy prices increase at unprecedented rates. Within the past two years, gas and diesel prices increased by 150% (DOE, 2005). In contrast, the proportion of a household income spent for food decreased from 21% in 1950 to 10% in 2000 (ERS, 2005). One strategy to resolve this dilemma for farmers is to engage in energy production over the long term in addition to food production in order to diversify income. Several different strategies for land-based bio-energy production exist that build on modern biomass technology (in contrast to traditional biomass, UNDP 2004). The underlying principle is usually the sustainable land-based production of an energy crop or the use of waste biomass (also animal manures!) and the conversion into bio-fuels by various mechanisms. Possible avenues for producing bio-fuels from biomass are ethanol production through microbial fermentation, extraction of oils from crops, pyrolysis and gasification of biomass (Caputo et al., 2005). Farmers have begun to understand the economic opportunities associated with bio-energy. This proposal introduces an emergent strategy of combining energy production using modern biomass with land application of bio-char which is a residue from the energy production that has multiple environmental benefits.

The proposed technology is low-temperature pyrolysis that yields bio-oil, hydrogen or directly electricity as the energy carrier (including valuable co-products), with bio-oil being the more advanced and more wide-spread technology (Meier and Faix 1999; Bridgwater et al. 2002). The biomass feedstock may include a wide variety of biomass (Yaman 2004) such as wood chips or pellets, bark, crop residues such as nut shells or rice husks, and grass residues such as bagasse from the sugarcane industry. More importantly, however, planted energy crops can be used with the sole purpose of producing bio-fuels, such as short-rotation woody plants (e.g. willow), grasses (e.g. Miscanthus spp.), or herbaceous plants. The key for securing environmental benefits is the production of a bio-char by-product during pyrolysis which can be applied to soil.

Inspired by the fascinating properties of Terra Preta de Indio, bio-char is a soil amendment that has the potential to revolutionize concepts of soil management. While "discovered" may not be the right word, as bio-char (also called charcoal or biomass-derived black carbon, recently in context of agricultural application also named agri-char) has been used in traditional agricultural practices as well as in modern horticulture, never before has evidence been accumulating that demonstrates so convincingly that bio-char has very specific and unique properties that make it stand out among the opportunities for sustainable soil management.

The benefits of bio-char rest on two pillars:
1- The extremely high affinity of nutrients to bio-char
2- The extremely high persistence of bio-char

These two properties (which are truly extraordinary - see details below) can be used effectively to address some of the most urgent environmental problems of our time:
1- Soil degradation and food insecurity
2- Water pollution from agro-chemicals
3- Climate change

"Soils with bio-char additions are typically more fertile, produce more and better crops for a longer period of time."



DEN said...

All the tools we need to exist on this planet have been provided.

It is why we were given superior intellect over the animals.

We are the caretakers.

Love your Earth.

micki said...

Den...wonderful comment to your post!

I hope you get increased traffic on your blog because of the content of your important message today!


micki said...

Court rebuffss FCC on fines for "indecency"

bush and cheney must be effin' this and effin' that this fine morning!!! Sorry guys. You set such a high standard!

WASHINGTON, June 4 — If President Bush and Vice President Cheney can blurt out vulgar language, then the government cannot punish broadcast television stations for broadcasting the same words in similarly fleeting contexts.

That, in essence, was the decision on Monday, when a federal appeals panel struck down the government policy that allows stations and networks to be fined if they broadcast shows containing obscene language....

DEN said...

Lead by example.

snicker, snicker.

(but try not to shoot yourself in the foot or place that same foot in your oral cavity)

"I'm the Cuss-ider"

Tee hee.

micki said...

The new assault on Al Gore

Al Gore is either ignored or trashed by much of the media.

The unthinking sheeple dutifully fall into line, apparently loving it that they are treated as though they are stoooopid morons eagerly looking forward to more of the same treatment.

I'd sure like to have a smart president again.

micki said...

Libby gets 30 months and a $250,000 fine.

BUT...BUT... BUT.....does he go to prison during his appeals?

DEN said...

Dear Dennis,

Urge your Senators to restore habeas corpus today!

Of the many assaults on our civil liberties and American values that transpired when the Republicans held complete control of our government, one of the last was also one of the worst. Many of you may recall the hasty passage of the Military Commissions Act in the weeks leading up to last year's election, a bill that set new rules for trying detainees, in particular those currently being held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Even a Supreme Court dominated by Republican-appointed justices had found the Bush Administration's Guantanamo setup to be unconstitutional. This bill, rushed through a rubberstamp Republican Congress, was the Bush Administration's way to keep court review in the future to a minimum.

The passage of this bill was a profound mistake, and its elimination of habeas corpus review was its worst error. Like the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, the elimination of habeas review was a reflex driven by fear and is another stain on America's reputation in the world.

Righting this wrong is one of my top priorities, and on the first day of this Congress I joined with Senator Arlen Specter, the Ranking Member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, in introducing the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2007 (S. 185). This bipartisan bill already has 17 cosponsors, but it faces a crucial vote in the Judiciary Committee this Thursday so we need your help.

Please e-mail your home-state Senators today and urge them to protect our fundamental liberties by supporting the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act.

The Great Writ of habeas corpus traditionally guaranteed every person the right to challenge government detention before a fair and independent court, to protect against the unlawful jailing of people and depriving human beings of their most basic liberties. Enshrined in our Constitution in Article I, Section 9, the Great Writ was of primary importance to our founders -- it is one of the only rights guaranteed in the main body of the Constitution and it is so fundamental that it dates back to the Magna Carta.

Unfortunately, the Military Commissions Act crossed this line by eliminating this right for any non-citizen who is unilaterally asserted to be an "enemy combatant" by the Bush administration. Such unchecked power to deprive people of liberty is anathema to the principles of our great nation.

But the Military Commissions Act barred the assertion of habeas rights from more than just the several hundred individuals held at Guantanamo Bay: It gives President Bush the power to lock up any one of the more than 10 million lawful permanent residents based on his unilateral assertions and deprive such US residents of their constitutional rights to have an independent judge determine whether such detention and deprivation of their liberty and livelihood is lawful.

These draconian rules would apply to legal residents who are in the US, living lawfully with their families, contributing to our economy and our society and serving in the military.

Considering the history of our nation's founding and the basic rights that we have held dear for more than two hundred years, there is only one word that can be used to describe this suspension of the Great Writ of habeas corpus: un-American.

That is why I hope that you will e-mail or call your home-state Senators today and urge them to support the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2007.

The Habeas Corpus Restoration Act is our first chance to reverse one of the Bush Administration's many assaults on our civil liberties -- and it's critical that we act now.

We all want to make America safe from terrorism, but turning us into a state that can "disappear" its own residents does not make us safe. And it certainly violates the values that we have held dear for centuries.

The elimination of basic legal rights undermines, not strengthens, our ability to defeat terrorists. It is from strength that America should defend our values and our way of life. It is from the strength of our freedoms, our Constitution, and the rule of law that we can prevail. We can ensure our security without giving up our liberty.

I will keep fighting for this issue until we restore the checks and balances that are fundamental to preserving the values that define us as Americans. And I hope you'll take just a minute, today, to join me in speaking out -- before Thursday's Judiciary Committee vote.

Please help me restore a fundamental American right by urging your home-state Senators to support the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act Today!


Patrick Leahy
U.S. Senator

Patrick Lehy's website

DEN said...

Oh crud, spelled Leahy wrong, sheesh!

Alan said...

I seen a youtube while ago showing Def-Con's airplane-towing message at the opening of that creation museum. The message said Def-Con says "Thou shall not lie".

Alan said...

Check out the "char" on this new product.

UMass team develops a polymer with dual benefits
It's practically fireproof and it's nearly green

AMHERST, MASS. — Some plastics burn so readily that they are referred to as solid gasoline. So for years, a fireproof, affordable plastic has been the Holy Grail for everyone from NASA to the makers of children's clothing.

A team of scientists at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst has developed a polymer — the basic building block of plastic — that has the dual benefits of being nearly fireproof and green.

It contains none of the compounds typically added to plastics as flame retardants that can be damaging to human health, chemicals that have been banned in some countries.

The synthetic polymer, called bishydroxydeoxybenzoin or BHDB, was developed by a team led by UMass polymer scientists Richard J. Farris, E. Bryan Coughlin and Todd S. Emrick. The researchers recently presented an update on their work to industry representatives and scientists from the FAA, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the U.S. Army. The team described the new polymer in the journal Macromolecules last year.
When a plastic burns, it decomposes. Some of it becomes a gas, which burns as flame. But what doesn't burn becomes what polymer scientists refer to as "char," which is the solid that is left behind.

More char, fewer volatiles

The goal when creating fire-resistant plastics is to have a very high char yield. More char means less fire and fewer volatile chemicals being released.
Most common plastics burn readily. For instance, polypropylene has a char yield of zero. BHDB has a char yield of 70 percent. When burned, it releases water vapor.

º¿carol said...

Woo hoo! I just read the FCC post, Micki, and I can hardly believe it! Common sense actually came into play somewhere in this ignorant country!?!?!

º¿carol said...

The New Assault on Al Gore

That's what the enemy does, it's what it did to John Kerry, too. By the time they're done assassinating their characters most of the population believes them. Pathetic.

º¿carol said...

I am sitting here with all the windows closed and a sweater on and I'm this close to turning the furnace on!

WHY IS IT SO COLD?!?!? It's June 5!

micki said...

It's cool here in the City of Subdued Excitement, too. Darn right chilly after all the sunshine.

But, I sure love the way it looks with all the flowers in bloom with the dramatic overcast sky as their background lighting!

DEN said...

Cold front moving through the West Coast causing sprinkles here and there.

Hi temps 72-75 in Sacramento.

Carol, turn on the furnace, life is too short to be freezing yer ass off!

I LOVE flowers, so many different ones, each detailed beyond belief.

Flowers and Birds are natures' Gold reserves.

º¿carol said...

We've been fighting with my external hard drive. Plugging it in, unplugging it, plugging it in different receptacles, now I'm all warm and actually opened the computer room window!

At least we got the drive working. Must be something wrong with the power cord, or maybe it's just us. Yeah, probably just us.

DEN said...

US Attorney Resigns
Following Conyers’ Request for BBC Documents

by Greg Palast
June 1, 2007

Tim Griffin, formerly right hand man to Karl Rove, resigned Thursday as US Attorney for Arkansas hours after BBC Television ‘Newsnight’ reported that Congressman John Conyers requested the network’s evidence on Griffin’s involvement palastconyerswsubtitle.jpgin ‘caging voters.’ Greg Palast, reporting for BBC Newsnight, obtained a series of confidential emails from the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign. In these emails, Griffin, then the GOP Deputy Communications Director, transmitted so-called ‘caging lists’ of voters to state party leaders.

Experts have concluded the caging lists were designed for a mass challenge of voters’ right to cast ballots. The caging lists were heavily weighted with minority voters including homeless individuals, students and soldiers sent overseas.

Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee investigating the firing of US Attorneys, met Thursday evening in New York with Palast. After reviewing key documents, Conyers stated that, despite Griffin’s resignation, "We’re not through with him by any means."

More here

David B. Benson said...

Carol --- Climate change models predict more extreme waether events. So hoter than you expect, colder than you expect, wetter than you expect, dryer than you expect.

Penance for our sins of burning too much fossil fuel...

micki said...

Penance for our sins of burning too much fossil fuel...

Hmmmm. Penance? I wonder what the punishment will be.

Alan said...

Scooter Libby Love Letters

*first one's from rummy

Gerald said...

Those love letters defending Libby's character reads like a Who's Who under Nazi Germany's Third Reich.

Carville's name is another sign that the Dems are sleeping with the Nazi Party. Dems and repukes are opposite wings of the SAME BIRD.

I was talking to a friend in accounting and finance and he sees little hope for Nazi America. Nazi America needs a Depression Era to awaken the Nazi people.

How is that for a return to some form of democracy? A Depression Era!!! It sounds about right.

Gerald said...

Poverty USA

Gerald said...

St. Francis DeSalles, the first social worker, says people who work with the poor will not need to fear death and God's Judgment on them.

Gerald said...

Four paragraphs from Paul Craig Roberts' article, "If you think Bush is evil now, wait until he nukes Iran"

Five years of unsuccessful war in Iraq and Afghanistan and Israel's recent military defeat in Lebanon have convinced the neocons that America and Israel cannot establish hegemony over the Middle East with conventional forces alone. The neocons have changed U.S. war doctrine, which now permits the U.S. to preemptively strike with nuclear weapons a non-nuclear power. Neocons are forever heard asking "what's the use of having nuclear weapons if you can't use them?"

Neocons have convinced themselves that nuking Iran will show the Muslim world that Muslims have no alternative to submitting to the will of the U.S. government. Insurgency and terrorism cannot prevail against nuclear weapons.

Many U.S. military officers are horrified at what they think would be the worst-ever orchestrated war crime. There are reports of threatened resignations. But Dick Cheney is resolute. He tells Bush that the plan will save him from the ignominy of losing the war and restore his popularity as the president who saved Americans from Iranian nuclear weapons. With the captive American media providing propaganda cover, the neoconservatives believe that their plan can pull their chestnuts out of the fire and rescue them from the failure that their delusion has wrought.

The American electorate decided last November that they must do something about the failed war and gave the Democrats control of both houses of Congress. However, the Democrats have decided that it is easier to be complicit in war crimes than to represent the wishes of the electorate and hold a rogue president accountable. If Cheney again prevails, America will supplant the Third Reich as the most reviled country in recorded history.

Gerald said...


This is one time that I wish I am wrong.