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Humanity's Impact on the Earth


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Your both wrong. Orange Juice is the fuel of the future. :rofl:

Seriously, does ethanol occur naturally, and if so, if what quantities? If not, what does it cost to make it and what is the process? What about combustion rates? While I'm not sure hydrogen is the answer, I'm a little skeptical that ethanol is solution.

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What ever happened to refining good, clean diesel from hemp oil and where did I leave my Doritos?

I saw quite a bit of info on E85 in kiosks inside the Minneapolis international airport. It does look promising but will Oil let it happen before an absolute crisis? I would like to see the #1 and #2 cash crops being accepted by the general public for more than their food and entertainment values.

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I concur that biofuels (like ethanol, biodiesel, etc) are our best chance for adapting to a post-oil environment. Of course there won't be nearly as much fuel available, since it much more difficult to produce ethanol than to simply pump crude out of the ground and refine it.

Hydrogen has the problem that pure hydrogen doesn't really exist on Earth - it has to be captured from natural gas (another fossil fuel vulnerable to depletion like oil) or generated with electrolysis, which, as monsoon stated, will require massive amount of electric power. I've seen numbers more like 1000 nuclear reactors to supply today's needs.

Of course what this really means is that our society cannot afford to be so wasteful in the decades ahead. Burning 5 gallons of fuel a day commuting to work in a 2 ton SUV is just wasteful and is not sustainable. Fuel will be in shorter supply and will need to be dedicated to things like food production, mass transit, and the like. This means suburban sprawl is literally futureless development (see James Howard Kunstler's books or website) and when this becomes obvious it will be very painful for very many people. More compact and walkable cities would be a great way to reduce energy usage but you don't redesign a city in a day or even a couple of decades.

With the current politics of the USA I don't expect any politician to attempt to address this, and the bleakness of today's "futureless reality" I believe will lead to far more oil wars before it ever addresses the root cause - wasteful use of energy. Jimmy Carter tried to move the USA to a more forward-looking energy policy and was perceived as the equivalent of a prude trying to take the punchbowl away from the party at 9pm. Now its more like midnight and the party (of cheap oil) is almost over. We (the USA) have had our binge, now the pain awaits..

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E85, a mixture of 85% Ethanol & 15% gasoline is already being used throughout the Midwest by tens of thousands of people.  Eventually they could go to 100% ethanol if the politics would allow for it.


Interesting. I assume they are using it in farm machinery and not their cars?


People can use it in cars now if you have the right kind. There was another thread about this somewhere. We just had a gas station here in Columbia that added an E85, and I almost filled up my non-compatable car with it. :o

Anyway, Ethanol seems more likely in the near future.

Hydrogen seems like a great idea, but my question is do you get the same miles per gallon with it? I don't want to hav to pay more money for a fuel that won'y get me as far.

They just recently opened a hydrogen station in DC.

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  • 3 months later...

I'd have to dig it up but I've taken many of these so called reports and with the help of a few UNF students and professors have completely obliterated their findings.

Half the time these reports are paid advertisements from companies trying to scare people into using their upcoming alternative fuel source.

Urban Legend, I'm very familiar with that report you mentioned and I must tell you that it is grossly off. Our Earth could support all citizens at American levels for another 98 years. That includes using the medium range of population growth. If you use the bottom end, it lasts until 2223. If you use the high end, it's cut to just another 45 years.

However, it's impossible to get the entire world up to US standards of living even in 100 years.

By the way, the next best altervative fuel source is He3 and only 3 countries have the capabilites, or will by the time oil is set for replacement, of retrieving it...USA, China and Japan.

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Urban Legend, I'm very familiar with that report you mentioned and I must tell you that it is grossly off.  Our Earth could support all citizens at American levels for another 98 years.  That includes using the medium range of population growth.  If you use the bottom end, it lasts until 2223.  If you use the high end, it's cut to just another 45 years.


This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. Actually, it's downright delusional.

In order to analyze what it takes to support a civilization, you must start with energy. Without abundant energy, it is difficult (if not impossible) to undertake large scale conversion of resources into manufactured products. Of course, in the world today the dominant form of energy is fossil fuel, particularly oil as it runs the world's transportation system required for nearly all economic activity.

Note that the US imports an increasing amount of its resources, including oil. American oil production peaked in 1971 and no amount of techno-savvy has been able to reverse that. Thus America today imports a substantial amount of oil (over half of its consumption) from other parts of the world to maintain the "American level" of lifestyle. Hence the growing trade deficit you might have heard about. My point here is that even today, the world is subsidizing the American lifestyle with its resources.

Oil production globally is pumping at full capacity yet somewhere we have energy resources to provide a complete consumer lifestyle to the billions of people in the world barely surviving in urban ghettos and subsistence farms? If we are going to produce at least one automobile for every person on earth, where is the energy required to run the factories and power these vehicles for 98 years? Oil production in the world today is maxed out and there is little evidence of new discovery to boost current production substantially higher.

Of course, the issues in supporting a wealthy lifestyle for over 6 billion are much more extensive than just energy. All 6 billion people are supposed to eat beef, right? Where is all that beef going to be grazed and fed? All 6 billion people are supposed to eat fish, right? Where do those fish come from? They all need clean fresh water, wood to build their American style McMansions, steel for their SUVs, copper for their electronic toys, etc, etc.

Maybe your point is that if we possessed some magic tool to extract every single resource from the planet and leave nothing but a bare, hollowed out rock, then somehow we could support such a lifestyle for everyone. But that is not realistic and definitely not sustainable.

In summary, it is completely delusion to claim that Earth can support 6 billion people at "American levels" even today, it's even more delusional to claim such resource usage could continue for a minimum of 45 years.

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