Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Green Technology

I'm sure this is going to get someone's goat.

Look, we need to move beyond dogmatic horseshit and move to a better, more humane, more ecologically benign future. We need to think about how to do that. We need real answers and we need them now. We need to cook food, stay warm, wash our bodies, and stay sensibly comfortable. Burning wood, or biomass as it's fashionable to say, has been the means to do that for all but the last 100 years of human existence.

Has it been subject to abuses? Of course. Has it been sustainable? Not by any stretch: the forests of Europe and the UK were destroyed to build navies, and the in the United States, we more or less threw it all away for pennies on the dollar. Has it been efficient? Not really. Can it be? Yes, obviously, and the technology exists. It is at crime to cut a tree? Not any more than eating carrots, so far as I can see, if the net result is a healthier environment. IF. I'm sure it can be.

One must understand that dry wood, as fuel, has almost 50 percent of the energy of fossil fuels. That is a LOT, when you start doing the math, and will provide for you most of a home's energy needs, which consists of heat products directly, in a real and very efficient manner. There is no way, at all, that other biofuels can compete with this level of efficiency--especially for home use, where the primary needs are simply heat. Once you understand this, and you look out on a piece of property in Hawaii, for example my three acres, and you begin to quantify the tonnage of limbs and other stuff that can be used without ever cutting a tree--and it's worth per pound half of the value of propane--if I have the skills to use it--man, if a light bulb doesn't go on you've got a blown fuse.

When you consider that the single largest reason for forest destruction in the world is the cutting of rain forest to plan palm oil trees for biofuel you can see very quickly how far many have their head up their asses.

Modern technology, such as the rocket stove, can go a very long way to making biomass energy very efficent and very green--IF we cap consumption. Unfortuately there are always those who have the means and the desire to burn more than their fair share. While you can't run a jet airplane on wood, still abuses will occur. On an island like Hawaii, there needs to be some resistence to that, otherwise we face the real risk of denuding the place. It would be sensible, I expect, to make illegal(or Kapu, if you prefer) the sale of firewood. If you want to use it, that which grows on your property, it's your business. If you want to hire people to cut it, on your property, that's sensible too. But it does force one to live within their means--elsewise you'll just cut down every last tree on your place and you'll be done with.

And your property won't be worth, well, twigs.

1 comment:

RadioRay said...

One of the diffis as you've pointed out, the lack of a kapu to use only what you need, not what you can profit from makes for dificuty in living within our own means. If you use efficient stoves, keep your water clean and live a shelter that is a delight, but not a supstitute for a dick, your neighbors may not. In general and especially over hte last hundred years, people have become more self absorbed and practically allergic to being frugal, which used to be a virture. For the matter virtue is not longer a virtue. So, your resources are still prone to being eaten up by thos who wurn as they damn well please, chop down and sell the rest, crap in the river and generally acy like politicians in Washington DC.

Kapu is really a better way to handle this, especiall as generation pas and people mold to the new reality of low consumption, grow a bit more than you need, save for a 'rainy day' etc. What we have no is a regulation and enforcement model which I really do not see as a good answer, but people are conditioned to want that.

Example: I live on the water in my small sail boat. There are those on land who demand that this be made illegal, because we're evading taxes (not true, I'm still prone to silly taxes) , because we 'pollute the water' (not true, I have a marine head and discharge ashore , just like them, but with stricter standards) my electrical is measured in kilowatts per year, not days and is solar recharged. However, 'they' use law enforcement and politicians to make us an easy target.

I would hope that when things go 'bang!' that the politicians are powerless, else this can turn into hell-on-Earth. It's rathe rlike Heinlein novels - no matter WHAT hapens, including nuclear war, it's all OK during hte rebuilding stages, until the moment when it's safe enough for politicians to crawl out from their shelters to 'help' us. THEN life becomes miserable.

>RadioRay ..._ ._
s/v Milenka
Weems, Virginia