Posts Tagged: ‘environment’
When viewed from the standpoint of geologic time, what is humanity’s ultimate contribution to the planet? As destructive and game-changing as the cataclysmic events separating whole epochs, have we ushered in an Age of Man with our agriculture, industrialism and war? What was the world like before our steam-powered industrial ascension? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Julie and I ask hard questions about humanity’s relationship with planet Earth. Will we continue to remake the world as we see fit, or will we become true stewards of the planet?
There is no big shortage of guys in search of cheap, abundant, free energy. We are, after all, going to eventually run out of fossil fuels — if we haven’t already — and we will require something to keep the global economy humming, lest it shut down. One of my favorites is a man in Florida who figured out a way to make common saltwater burn. Anything that can be made combustible is inherently potentially useful for energy, since at the very least heat can be used to create steam which can be used to turn a turbine, which can generate electricity. And what’s more abundant on the surface of Earth then salt water?
How many people are born every minute? — Alice, Galway City, Ireland
Marshall Brain Answers…
How is waste water treated? — Sasha, San Antonio, Texas
Marshall Brain Answers…
“The Lorax” was first published by Dr. Suess in 1971. This was during the dark ages of environmental protection. Keep in mind that the EPA did not open its doors until December of 1970, and at that point the amount of pollution in the United States was staggering. One of the events that brought the EPA into being was the fire on the Cuyahoga River in Ohio in June of 1969. Yes, an entire river lit on fire, as seen in this video…
This is an older video that I don’t think I have seen before. It is called “The Story of Stuff”, which obviously lies in the HowStuffWorks sweet spot. The video explains how the products we use every day get to us, and where they go after we get done with them. It contains a pretty […]
Here’s a really good reason why you should think for yourself: if you don’t, civilization as we know it will crumble and the streets will run red with the blood of the innocent. So that second part was fabricated, yes. The first part, about civilization crumbling, appears to be for real.
Oooo, lordy, I love it when the liberals are in power. I’m about to make me a cool $4,500 from the federal government. NPR was all atwitter on the way in to work with news of the Cash for Clunkers bill that’s easily made its way through the House and is poised to pass the Senate sometime in the near future. The bill gives a nearly five grand rebate to people who trade in their cars that get 18 miles or less to the gallon for a car that gets 28 miles or more per gallon.
Let’s put this puppy to bed, shall we? Coming in at the number one spot, eclipsing all others, ladies and gentlemen — I give you switchgrass.
Switchgrass is a warm season grass, nothing more than a prairie weed. But just because it has the word grass in it, don’t think it’s anything like the fescue growing in your back yard. A full season of growth for switchgrass can top out at ten feet high with tough, thick stems.
Turns out, this stuff is a miracle worker when it comes to producing biofuel. A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences states that switchgrass can produce 500 percent more renewable energy than the energy required to be grown and processed.
On today’s list of top biofuels, we have jatropha. I bet dollars to donuts that most of you haven’t heard of this one, and I hadn’t either until I started to dig in and do some research. Here’s the skinny on jatropha curcas:
- It’s a shrub that can grow most anywhere
- It’s highly drought resistant
- Doesn’t compete with food crops
- Its seeds are about 35 percent oil
- Originated in Central America, now grown in Asia
- Oil can be burned in a standard diesel engine
- Generates topsoil and stalls erosion
- One bush can live up to 50 years
It also produces four times as much oil per hectare as soybean and a whopping ten times as much as corn. So what’s the problem? Well, it’s poisonous to both man and cattle and as if now, it needs to be harvested by hand, making it very labor intensive.
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