A Good Day To Recycle

Cause it's Earth Day again. Where did the time go?

Without further ado, here's last years Earth Day post, exhumed and propped up, all green and stinking.

"By...[1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s."

Ehrlich sketched out his most alarmist scenario for the Earth Day issue of The Progressive, assuring readers that between 1980 and 1989, some 4 billion people, including 65 million Americans, would perish in the "Great Die-Off."

Ah, the classics! Time cannot wither nor custom stale, eh? But since I don't want to take the slightest risk that any of you are going to go away feeling shorted, here's something just a little bit fresher. It's an email interview with James Kunstler, courtesy of Mark Maynard.

Here's my very favorite part...

Mark Maynard: I can appreciate your pessimism, and, generally speaking, I share it, but do you think that yours is a message that will motivate people to change their behaviors? Are you so convinced that efforts to stop what is coming will be futile that you don’t feel as though we should even try? Might it not be better to offer a chance for success, rally people together, and go out swinging?

James Kunstler: I resent the hell out of being labeled a "pessimist." In my writings, I offer a comprehensive view of how we can respond intelligently to these new circumstances. That's neither pessimistic nor cynical. So fuck you.

Sometimes life can be beautiful.

Shell E&P says it is ahead of schedule to restart production from its Mars TLP [Tension Leg Platform], which is the largest producing platform in the Gulf of Mexico that was affected by Hurricane Katrina, representing about 5% of current GoM daily production...

Shell expects to complete construction activities necessary to restart production at Mars by the end of April...Mars production is expected to be restored to pre-Katrina rates by the end of June.

Moving right along, here's some hopeful news from the wilds of Oregon...

Chemical engineering researchers at Oregon State University have developed a tiny chemical reactor for manufacturing biodiesel that is so efficient, fast and portable it could enable farmers to produce a cleaner-burning diesel substitute on their farms using seed crops they grow on their own land...

The microreactor...consists of a series of parallel channels, each smaller than a human hair, through which vegetable oil and alcohol are pumped simultaneously. At such a small scale the chemical reaction that converts the oil into biodiesel is almost instant.

Although the amount of biodiesel produced from a single microreactor is a trickle, the reactors can be connected and stacked in banks to dramatically increase production. "By stacking many of these microreactors in parallel, a device the size of a small suitcase could produce enough biodiesel to power several farms, or produce hundreds of thousands of gallons per year," Jovanovic said.

Isn't that nice? Of course, it's still highly speculative technology. Best we don't get our hopes up, hey? So how about this, instead?

Professor Alan Goldman and his Rutgers team in collaboration with researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have developed a way to convert carbon sources, such as coal, to diesel fuel.

Goldman explained that the breakthrough technology employs a pair of catalytic chemical reactions that operate in tandem, one of which captured the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry...

The work grew out of a National Science Foundation-funded research consortium, the Center for the Activation and Transformation of Strong Bonds, based at the University of Washington.

Fischer-Tropsch yields a wide distribution of molecular weight hydrocarbon products but without any way to control the desired mix. The low-weight and the high-weight Fischer-Tropsch products are useful – the light as gas and the medium-heavy as diesel fuel, Goldman explained.

“The problem – the greatest inefficiency of the process – is that you also wind up with a substantial quantity of medium-weight products that are not useful and you are stuck with them,” Goldman said. “What we are now able to do with our new catalysts is something no one else has done before. We take all these undesirable medium-weight substances and convert them to the useful higher- and lower-weight products.”

One word, Ben. Catalysts.

Have a happy Earth Day, everyone. Go for a drive in the country. Take someone you care about. And watch out for pirates!

posted by Justin on 04.22.06 at 10:01 AM


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"Eat your beets, recycle...recycle...
Don't eat your beets, recycle...recycle
The message is; 'THERE IS NO MESSAGE' "

-Devin Townsend, "Earth Day"

B. Durbin   ·  April 22, 2006 2:18 PM

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