Re: [asa] UN Downgrades Man's Impact On The Climate

From: Don Winterstein <dfwinterstein@msn.com>
Date: Mon Dec 11 2006 - 10:29:20 EST

The advance publicity for Pimentel talks about intensively farmed crops such as corn and soybeans. There's long been a concern that these won't be economical long-term--although I've read that those who are producing the ethanol from corn say their processes are economical by a sufficient margin.

The important thing about this recent Bus. Week article is that it doesn't concern such intensively farmed crops but plants like switchgrass and the Asian grass miscanthas, which don't need to be cultivated but only harvested from existing or new prairies. Also, waste paper, wheat straw, etc. Anything with cellulose or hemicellulose. The corn and soybean processes in contrast make use of sugars and oils. The big problem at the moment is finding an efficient way to break down cellulose into its constituent sugars. The article discusses several alternatives that are being explored.

There certainly will be important problems they're probably minimizing at the moment. For example, how many times can you harvest grass before you have to apply fertilizer?

Don

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Ted Davis<mailto:tdavis@messiah.edu>
  To: Dawsonzhu@aol.com<mailto:Dawsonzhu@aol.com> ; asa@calvin.edu<mailto:asa@calvin.edu> ; dfwinterstein@msn.com<mailto:dfwinterstein@msn.com>
  Sent: Monday, December 11, 2006 6:28 AM
  Subject: Re: [asa] UN Downgrades Man's Impact On The Climate

>>> "Don Winterstein" <dfwinterstein@msn.com<mailto:dfwinterstein@msn.com>> 12/11/06 9:03 AM >>>writes:
   Don't forget too, that there are other looming issues such as energy.

  The current issue of Business Week (Dec. 18) states in an article entitled
  Put a Termite In Your Tank, "If efforts [involving 'bio breakthroughs' for
  digesting cellulose] can be scaled up efficiently, America's forests,
  agricultural waste, and 40 to 60 million acres of prairie grass could supply
  100 billion gallons or more of fuel per year--while slashing greenhouse gas
  emissions. That would replace more than half the 150 billion gallons of
  gasoline now used [by the US] annually...."

  Lots of "ifs" there, but still a rather remarkable statement. Pilot
  facilities are already being built.

  Ted responds:
  A couple of months ago, I heard a lecture by David Pimentel that all but
  rejected this approach as unrealistic, both economically and in terms of
  energy production. Advance publicity is here:
  http://www.dickinson.edu/news/nrshow.cfm?981<http://www.dickinson.edu/news/nrshow.cfm?981>

  Ted

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Received on Mon Dec 11 10:29:16 2006

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