[LMB] energy OT:

Bill Johnson bill at prezence.com
Sun Jun 29 02:06:40 BST 2008

Starting to show its age, but well worth reading, and the e-book is free

(Warning: Not Fantasy, Contains many scifi fan references, not intended for
beginners of scifi)

Authors: by Jerry Pournelle, Larry Niven and Michael Flynn


> -----Original Message-----
> From: lois-bujold-bounces at lists.herald.co.uk 
> [mailto:lois-bujold-bounces at lists.herald.co.uk] On Behalf Of 
> anmar mirza
> Sent: Friday, June 27, 2008 8:48 AM
> To: Discussion of the works of Lois McMaster Bujold.
> Subject: Re: [LMB] energy OT:
> Meg Wrote:
> >
> > > Beyond the whole fuel vs. food thing?  As a gardener, I keep 
> > > thinking about all the emerging plans to use the parts of plants 
> > > that most people think of as 'waste' but that are vital 
> to keeping 
> > > the organic levels of cropland soil up, and then using what?
> > > for fertilizer when most commonly used fertilizers are made from 
> > > petroleum.
> > >
> > > Or am I clear out in left field on this one?
> >
> (warning, I am going to make assertions that I can support, 
> but I do not want to make this post a a dissertation.  I will 
> preface by saying that I have actively studied alternative 
> energy all of my life from an engineering and social policy 
> standpoint.  I have a large amount of practical experience in 
> this field.  I will try to emphasize that which is opinion vs fact).
> It's a complicated issue with no clear cut answers.  The 
> biggest problem is political, not biological/engineering (of 
> course, this is true of most things).
> Biomass is a quick way to get portable fuels and has the 
> POTENTIAL for being carbon neutral.  It also has the 
> potential for being a net carbon gain (more carbon).
> It has the potential for being done in a sustainable manner, 
> and it has the potential for being done in an environmentally 
> destructive manner.
> Currently the world wastes a lot of biomass as far as 
> untapped energy source.  This is in part because up until 
> recently energy costs were low enough that it made recovery 
> uneconomical.  Heck, we even waste a large amount of fossil 
> fuels (one only has to look to large flare offs of natural 
> gas in oil fields).
> The political side comes in when large corporate and 
> investment interests trump sound social and ecological 
> policies, which is sadly the case in the US.
> Currently biomass from
> the politicians is more concerned with large farming 
> interests rather than more diffuse sources.  If a few large 
> companies ran all of the sewage treatment plants and 
> municipal landfills, we'd see energy and resource recovery a 
> higher political and corporate priority.
> Personally, I believe biomass energy from food crops is about 
> as wasteful a use of biomass we can have since food 
> represents the most energy intensive form of biomass.  But 
> biomass energy itself represents a high potential for 
> supplying a large percentage (25-50%) of the liquid fuels the 
> US currently uses, and can be more readily done from other 
> sources than food crops.  I can write a *lot* more on energy 
> sources and energy policy, but I think I'll leave that for 
> another day.
> ObSF:  Dyson Spheres are not out of the question if humanity 
> survives long enough.
> Ed Wrote:
> >
> >
> >
> > People don't think about it, but farming is mineral mining 
> from a very 
> > thin layer of the soil.  We take minerals out of the ground 
> with every 
> > crop.  We don't put back much more than nitrogen.  Eventually, this 
> > will have to stop.
> >
> > If we use plants for energy fuels, the entire problem will be 
> > acerbated because we'll be taking even more of the minerals 
> from the 
> > ground.  It MUST be replaced.
> >
> > We could probably go for a few thousand years of soil mining IF we 
> > make arrangements to stir the surface soil down a few hundred feet.
> >
> >
> Not exactly.  Some plants and a very few animals/insects 
> bring minerals up from the underlying bedrock.  Trees are 
> excellent at this as are many deep rooted plants.
> From a geological standpoint, soils are constantly being 
> eroded/reformed, even on relatively small geological 
> timeframes (tens to hundreds of years).
> Minerals are cheap and easy to add to soils as surface 
> treatment, and have very low energy input required to do so.
> SOME crops we grow are very bad about mineral depletion, and 
> in some places we are indeed mining the minerals, but it 
> won't be a crisis because minerals are not difficult to 
> replace, and once the minerals become the limiting factor, 
> they will be replaced.
> --
> Anmar Mirza EMT, N9ISY, Central Region NCRC Coordinator, 
> Owner Lost Creek Packs, blog.myspace.com/anmarmirza
> --
> Lois-Bujold mailing list
> Lois-Bujold at lists.herald.co.uk
> http://lists.herald.co.uk/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/lois-bujold

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