JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Biomass burning kills 250,000 people a year

The headline at Science Daily is that wildfires and other burns lead to climate change. The paper itself asks: “As such, particle burn-off of clouds may be a major underrecognized source of global warming.” For me what matters are the deaths in the here and now:

“We calculate that 5 to 10 percent of worldwide air pollution mortalities are due to biomass burning,” Jacobson said. “That means that it causes the premature deaths of about 250,000 people each year.”

 This is similar to Indur Goklany’s conclusion in 2011:

Killing people with “concern”? Biofuels led to nearly 200,000 deaths (est) in 2010.

In a study  published in  Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Indur Goklany calculated the additional mortality burden of biofuels policies and found that nearly 200,000 people died in 2010 alone, because of efforts to use biofuels to reduce CO2 emissions.

Goklany (2011) estimated that the increase in the poverty headcount due to higher biofuel production between 2010 and 2004 implies 192,000 additional deaths and 6.7 million additional lost DALYs in 2010 alone.

He compared this death tally to the WHO figures for deaths attributed to global warming and finds that [...]

Bugs produce diesel on demand

The irony: the answer to “clean” energy might not be the glossamer sun or the lilting breeze, but an infectious germ.

[Science Daily] …a team from the University of Exeter, with support from Shell, has developed a method to make bacteria produce diesel on demand. While the technology still faces many significant commercialisation challenges, the diesel, produced by special strains of E. coli bacteria, is almost identical to conventional diesel fuel…

They’re not there yet, yields are … tragic.

[BBC] Professor Love said it would take about 100 litres of bacteria to produce a single teaspoon of the fuel.

“Our challenge is to increase the yield before we can go into any form of industrial production,” he said.

But speaking as someone who did microbiology, sooner or later, the bug solution is coming. I presume everyone knows the old exponential growth story where one bacteria weighing 10-12 of a gram, doubles every 20 minutes, and if Earth were a cheesecake, 2 days later you’ve converted it into E.Coli (and 4000 times over)? (There’s more on this theme here).

There is power in them efficient little biology machines. Our chemical factories are mere shadows of the curmudgeonly ‘Coli. Though in the [...]

Biofuels benefit billionaires

Follow the money. As usual the Green trail ends at a Greenback (so-to-speak). In this case it’s the euro-colored kind. The EU is focusing on “first generation” biofuels — corn, soy, sugar and palm oil — which pushes up prices of food, and cuts down forests.  (In a recent study, sugar cane ethanol was shown to produce 10 times the pollution of gasoline and diesel.)  In contrast “second generation” biofuels are waste products. If the EU were interested in the environment, they would favour the second type. Instead, the policy hurts the poor and enriches the rich and does little to help the environment.

In 2010, Indur Goklany calculated the additional mortality burden of biofuels policies and found that nearly 200,000 people died in that year alone because of efforts to use biofuels to reduce CO2 emissions.

Where are the Greens protests?

Jo

The press release:

Biofuels benefit billionaires [...]

There goes the biofuels $21 billion dollar industry: Reality bites in EU draft

From Charlie Dunmore, Reuters: E xclusive: EU to limit use of crop-based biofuels – draft law

Another green goodwill project (that just happens to be worth billions) is facing the bad news that the bureaucrats are fingering the axe. A leaked EU proposal to cut public subsidies to biofuels is quite a u-turn. Only three years ago the EU raved about biofuels.

The plans also include a promise to end all public subsidies for crop-based biofuels after the current legislation expires in 2020, effectively ensuring the decline of a European sector now estimated to be worth 17 billion euros ($21.7 billion) a year.

If you are wondering how serious they are, read this:

“The (European) Commission is of the view that in the period after 2020, biofuels should only be subsidized if they lead to substantial greenhouse gas savings… and are not produced from crops used for food and feed,” the draft said.

Well that’s it then isn’t it? If they actually have to reduce emissions that kills it off right there, but just to make sure, they must also not be taken from the mouths of people or animals.

Under the proposals, the use of biofuels made from crops such [...]

Sugar cane ethanol biofuel produces 10 times the pollution of gasoline and diesel

Indur Goklany calculated that biofuels policies killed nearly 200,000 people  in 2010 alone. That was before this study showed things may be worse than we suspected.

Brazil is the largest sugar cane ethanol producer in the world, but people are burning four times the area of sugar cane plantations than previously realized, and it’s producing far more pollution than they thought. For every unit of energy generated, the ethanol-biofuel use produces a lot less CO2 (plant fertilizer) but more volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), more carbon monoxide, more nitrous oxides, as well as more sulphur dioxides. (See Graph b below).

Compared to gasoline and diesel, over its whole life cycle, every unit of energy produced with sugar cane produces 10 times as much volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), carbon monoxide,  and nitrous oxides.  The amount PM10′s and PM2.5′s produced with ethanol fuels is even higher. Most of the pollution comes from burning fields of sugar cane (see graph a). Hence the people suffering the most from ethanol production will be villagers and rural farmers living near areas of sugar cane production. While there have been efforts to encourage farmers to produce cane without burning fields, over half of sugar-cane crop loads continue [...]

Killing people with “concern”? Biofuels led to nearly 200,000 deaths (est) in 2010.

The precautionary principle is exposed again for the insidious mindless posturing that it is.

Biofuel policies push more people into poverty as food prices rise and the poor are forced to spend more of their income on food. In a study  published in  Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Indur Goklany calculated the additional mortality burden of biofuels policies and found that nearly 200,000 people died in 2010 alone, because of efforts to use biofuels to reduce CO2 emissions.

Bad Government is a killer.

“Could Biofuel Policies Increase Death and Disease in Developing Countries?

Goklany (2011) estimated that the increase in the poverty headcount due to higher biofuel production between 2010 and 2004 implies 192,000 additional deaths and 6.7 million additional lost DALYs in 2010 alone.

He compared this death tally to the WHO figures for deaths attributed to global warming and finds that the biofuels policies are more deadly. (And he is not including any increase in poverty due to other anti-global warming practices).

1. Biofuel policies are retarding humanity’s age-old battle against poverty.

2. Since according to the World Health Organization’s latest estimates, 141,000 deaths and 5.4 million lost DALYs in 2004 could be attributed to global [...]

Unintended Consequences: Greens protect coal deposits and destroy rainforest

In Borneo, the Dypterocarp forest, one of the species-richest in the world (F), is being replaced by oil palm plantations (G). These changes are irreversible for all practical purposes (H).

Oops.

Brought to you by the same kind of people who regulate free markets to the point where you can get detained for selling light bulbs heat balls, comes the cry for a “free market solution” on carbon emissions. These people wouldn’t know a free market if it was the only bridge across a swamp full of crocodiles. Is that a stable path; a simple choice; a tested way through the quicksand?  No No! There’s a log (it looks like a log)… “it’s natural”. (It’s two hundred million years of natural selection.)

Playing with fake markets is begging to be bitten, and what do you know? A carbon market puts a price on life, but it only applies to some goods (all pigs are equal… but some are more so). The loop-holes pile on loop-holes until out the other end of all those angelically good circular intentions pops the exact one answer they were trying to avoid.

Figure it out. If global policies devalue concentrated energy underground and [...]