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Renewable energy: what we need

If you can’t take your adversaries down with reason, there’s only one left to do — hack their e-mail.

This apparently was the logic behind an unknown individual hacking and disseminating thousands of e-mails from a server used by the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. The CRU reported that all of the leaked e-mails appear to be real.

Climate change skeptics say the hacked e-mails reveal collusion among climate scientists to change and or withhold information that appears to weaken their arguments that the world is getting warmer due to higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

To tell you the truth, I’m not much for running with pilfered data in a news story, nor am I too enthused about depending on altered data either. But I do know this. We need to remove the hackers, politicians, pseudo-scientists and all-round wackos from the climate change debate. We need to tone down the climate change talk and press ahead with a genuine discussion of renewable energy.

Why worry about the potential impact of half a degree rise in global temperature? The bottom line is that we are currently relying too much on energy resources that are non-renewable. At some point, we will exhaust those resources. That’s a fact, not a theory.

Secondly, the use of biomass, municipal waste and wind and solar energy will not only reduce the rate at which we are using up fossil fuels, but using these energy sources can significantly reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. That’s two birds with one stone.

Unfortunately, shifting the debate to renewable energy will not mean an end to misinformation. For example, a recent study by Joe Fargione, a scientist for the Nature Conservancy, concludes that biofuel production releases more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than it eventually saves.

Fargione assumes that increasing biofuel production, primarily ethanol, will require more U.S. cropland, including CRP land, and ensuing cultivation will release so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that it will offset the greenhouse-gas-reducing benefit of biofuel. There would also be an indirect effect around the world because other countries would have to bring more non-crop land into production to offset all the corn going to ethanol instead of food.

However, according to a policy brief prepared by the New Rules Project, which advocates rules and regulations that promote local self reliance, Fargione doesn’t consider the fact that no-till crop production can sequester a significant amount of carbon, possibly as much as CRP land can.

Secondly, he doesn’t consider the huge increases in yields that agricultural technology has seen over the last decade. Higher yields will reduce the land requirement.

There’s much more on the subject in the brief. You can find it at Ethanol and Land Use Changes.


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