problem solving

Archive for the ‘Global Cooling’ Category

Nut shell

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Big water and grass land in Africa
Biosolid application methods and design factors



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Animal excrement and self produced biomas are the food stuffs of plants and insects. More

Water Myth

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Data from the Soil Conservation Research project at McCredie during the summer drought of 1953 showed the corn crop exhausting the soil moisture to a depth of 3.5 feet under the fertilized soils. The equivalent of only 1.04 inches of water was left in that entire depth. Where the soil was not fertilized, the crop dried out the soil to a lesser depth. It left the equivalent of 4.5 inches of water in the upper 3.5 feet.
On the unfertilized corn, which took 14 inches of water from the soil, the yield was only 18 bushels per acre. It required 26,000 gallons of water to make a bushel of corn. On the fertilized soil with a yield of 79 bushels, only 5,600 gallons of water per bushel were required.

The drought was a case of plant hunger rather than thirst.

The Drought Myth

Strategic Difference

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The strategic difference in this plan is: Rather than addressing expanding desertification unsuccessfully at the margins of the Sahara ( symptoms ) this plan calls for addressing the root cause of desertification: failure of the Tibesti and Ahaggar fresh water function to be self sustaining due to soil depletion, savanna and forest loss, or more simply, insufficient ground nutrients to self sustain a stronger water cycle.

Big Water and Grass

Over grazing = desert

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Grass and Biosolid – We may want to consider the possibility that converting savanna grass lands to desert over the past 6,000 years of agricultural empire building is responsible for climate change effects rather than the reverse view that climate change causes deserts.

Big Water and Grass – Africa

Biosolids = Grass = Paper

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Biosolids = Grass = Fuel

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High grade bio fuel from grass land.

I agree completely that the most promising biofuels experiments are those using mixed native grasses. We discuss Tilman’s work and its many potential benefits on page 95-96 of Earth: The Sequel. These include:

– increased storage of carbon in the soil
– improved soil structure
– water infiltration and fertility
– radically reduced need for energy inputs (tilling, seeding, fertilizing)
– avoidance of competition with food production
– reduced pollutant run-off
– enhanced biodiversity, with all its benefits

I also agree that corn ethanol is generally a bad idea, given its poor energy/carbon balance, land and water impacts, and effects on food price and availability.

For net energy analysis, I rely on the work by Alex Farrell and Daniel Sperling of the University of California. They have developed a low-carbon fuel standard by assessing the “global warming impact” (GWI) of each fuel, measured as grams of carbon dioxide per megajoule of fuel burned. The GWI for gasoline is 92, for corn ethanol 76, for Brazilian sugarcane-based ethanol 36, and for cellulosic ethanol just 4.

Amyris’ fuels, because they’re made from sugarcane, currently offer about the same net reductions in carbon emissions as sugarcane ethanol. However, by making pure hydrocarbons and avoiding the distilling process, their energy inputs are lower. Their long term goal is to have the sugar inputs originate in cellulosic materials, like those native prairie grasses.