Food for thougth - Cut your carbon footprint … take the car

This is an interesting viewpoint - Link: Cut your carbon footprint … take the car.

“It makes more sense to drive than to walk if walking means that you need to eat more to replace the energy you have lost,” he said. “Walking is not zero-emission. We need food energy to move ourselves from place to place. Food production creates carbon emissions.”

Siphoning Off Corn to Fuel Our Cars

Interesting article in the Washington Post on the consequences of pushing for more ethanol in gasoline. Keeps the price down for cars (good for votes) and makes farmers richer (the "corn lobby" is very strong in the US).

Link: Siphoning Off Corn to Fuel Our Cars -

Across the country, ethanol plants are swallowing more and more of the nation's corn crop. This year, about a quarter of U.S. corn will go to feeding ethanol plants instead of poultry or livestock. That has helped farmers like Johnson, but it has boosted demand -- and prices -- for corn at the same time global grain demand is growing.

This is part of a series. The article refers to a publication in Science (Feb 29/08):

Although ethanol was once promoted as a way to slow climate change, a study published in Science magazine Feb. 29 concluded that greenhouse-gas emissions from corn and even cellulosic ethanol "exceed or match those from fossil fuels and therefore produce no greenhouse benefits." By encouraging an expansion of acreage, the study added, the use of U.S. cropland for ethanol could make climate conditions dramatically worse. And the runoff from increased use of fertilizers on expanded acreage would compound damage to waterways all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

An abstract of the article is here, and a link to the podcast -live or transcript, is here.

New Scientist has a good summary of this too, here.

The New York Times has a related Op-ed - "Dumb as we wanna be" - discussing the proposal by Clinton and McCain to just cancel Federal gas excise taxes for the summer. Would stave off rising food prices somewaht, and also let American's drive to the cottage worry free this summer. Crisis? What crisis? Article says in part: 

It is great to see that we finally have some national unity on energy policy. Unfortunately, the unifying idea is so ridiculous, so unworthy of the people aspiring to lead our nation, it takes your breath away. Hillary Clinton has decided to line up with John McCain in pushing to suspend the federal excise tax on gasoline, 18.4 cents a gallon, for this summer’s travel season. This is not an energy policy. This is money laundering: we borrow money from China and ship it to Saudi Arabia and take a little cut for ourselves as it goes through our gas tanks. What a way to build our country.

When the summer is over, we will have increased our debt to China, increased our transfer of wealth to Saudi Arabia and increased our contribution to global warming for our kids to inherit.

The NYT also has an article on Obama's postition that this is only a short term fix:

Mr. Obama derided the McCain-Clinton idea of a federal tax holiday as a “short-term, quick-fix” proposal that would do more harm than good, and said the money, which is earmarked for the federal highway trust fund, is badly needed to maintain the nation’s roads and bridges.

Tiny beetle tramps over emission targets

Link: Globeand Mail Tiny beetle tramps over emission targets.

A pine beetle study released this week by Natural Resources Canada contains the eye-popping revelation that B.C.'s forests – far from being a weapon in the fight against carbon dioxide – have been spewing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere for six years. The culprit is the pine beetle, which has turned vast swaths of forest into rotting stands of punky wood. Next year, those decaying logs will emit 73 megatonnes of carbon dioxide – more than the entire economy of British Columbia, which is likely to clock in at something just over 70 megatonnes.

Where's this global warming?

The last few winters have been unusually mild, so people were ready to claim those short term fluctuations were proof of gradual global warming. Lots of snow and cold so far this winter, what's with that? Is Al Gore wrong and is the tag team of Harper/Baird right? Do two half wits make a full wit?

I was out today shoveling for almost two hours. Forecast was for 20-30 cm depending where you looked, hard to tell what we got with the winds whipping up drifts but was a lot. We did get plowed, which piled it up a couple of feet. I'm on an inside corner, the plow load depends on how close they cut the corner. At least I've convinced my neighbours across to not all just push their snow across the street - it just gave the plow more to carry along to me. I have a smallish shovel, with a long handle, so while it takes a bit longer it's not a lot of strain on my bad back. I cleared a path right out to the road first, I told my neighbours that's in case I collapse, so the paramedics can get to me without waiting for someone to clear a path for them. A lot helped each other,my neighbour used his snow blower to clean up part of the end of the driveway, so saved me some heavy lifting. I checked my blood pressure when I came in, and was surprised to see it was only 144/85. Then I lit a warm fire, took a muscle relaxant for my back, and washed it down with a cold beer. 

I had thought my bp was fairly normal, until I went to the optometrist a few weeks ago. She also takes a digital image on the back of the eye, to check for problems. She keeps it on file to compare - this year there was a "flame" hemorrhage at the back of one eye. Not a problem, they are re-absorbed, but can indicate high bp. I was due to talk to my doctor, Dr. Wijay, about cholesterol, so asked him to pump me up and see what the reading was. 200/140. Yikes! He tried twice more, read a little lower but still unusually high. Meds are helping while we look for a cause, but props to Dr. Helene Laurin for identifying a potential problem during my eye exam. Oh - and I'm getting new glasses too.