[extropy-chat] A Grim Vision ...?

Morris Johnson mfj.eav at gmail.com
Fri Apr 13 00:42:54 UTC 2007

Message: 2
Date: Thu, 12 Apr 2007 00:42:36 -0400
From: Samantha Atkins <sjatkins at mac.com>
Subject: Re: [extropy-chat] A Grim Vision ...?
To: ExI chat list <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>
Message-ID: <C846F93D-53FC-4BF0-8C91-22044454BD43 at mac.com>
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On Apr 11, 2007, at 8:45 PM, Morris Johnson wrote:

> We need not look farther than the massive trial of bio-energy this
> year in North American agriculture.

Basing bio-energy largely on corn will be a colossal failure with the
side-effect of driving various food costs higher.  A later side-
effect will be a lot of farming business problem, calls for subsidies
and bail outs and so on.  It is very predictable


has links to the original papers on this page.

Research on prairie biofuels recently published in the journal Science!
Abstract  Full Text Supplement
Research on biofuels published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences. Text Supplement


Science 8 December 2006:
Vol. 314. no. 5805, pp. 1598 - 1600
DOI: 10.1126/science.1133306

Prev | Table of Contents | Next
Carbon-Negative Biofuels from Low-Input High-Diversity Grassland Biomass
David Tilman,1* Jason Hill,1,2 Clarence Lehman1

Biofuels derived from low-input high-diversity (LIHD) mixtures of native
grassland perennials can provide more usable energy, greater greenhouse gas
reductions, and less agrichemical pollution per hectare than can corn grain
ethanol or soybean biodiesel. High-diversity grasslands had increasingly
higher bioenergy yields that were 238% greater than monoculture yields after
a decade. LIHD biofuels are carbon negative because net ecosystem carbon
dioxide sequestration (4.4 megagram hectare–1 year–1 of carbon dioxide in
soil and roots) exceeds fossil carbon dioxide release during biofuel
production (0.32 megagram hectare–1 year–1). Moreover, LIHD biofuels can be
produced on agriculturally degraded lands and thus need to neither displace
food production nor cause loss of biodiversity via habitat destruction.

1 Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, University of Minnesota,
St. Paul, MN 55108, USA.
2 Department of Applied Economics, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN
55108, USA.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: tilman at umn.edu

Globally escalating demands for both food (1) and energy (2) have raised
concerns about the potential for food-based biofuels to be sustainable,
abundant, and environmentally beneficial energy sources. Current biofuel
production competes for fertile land with food production, increases
pollution from fertilizers and pesticides, and threatens biodiversity when
natural lands are converted to biofuel production. The two major classes of
biomass for biofuel production recognized to date are monoculture crops
grown on fertile soils (such as corn, soybeans, oilseed rape, switchgrass,
sugarcane, willow, and hybrid poplar) (3–6) and waste biomass (such as
straw, corn stover, and waste wood) (7–9). Here, we show the potential for a
third major source of biofuel biomass, high-diversity mixtures of plants
grown with low inputs on agriculturally degraded land, to address such


> Fertilizer takes petroleum. Crops can go to food or fuel subject
> only to market drivers.
> crop Inputs are being diverted to energy over food.

Do your bio-energy as much as possible using fast growing weeds that
take little in the way of such inputs.

In effect synthetic prairie is just that a complete ecosystem,
a swiss army knife of crops , so to speaK...MFJ

> Some food sectors will have to adjust economics, marketing, or
> simply reduce available  food supply.

Yep, as long as we are stupid enough to turn a primary, relatively
high input, food into ethanol.

On this front the scams have had great success and 200 ethanol plants are
built or will be by year end.   However most of them can be rebuilt
for cellulosic ethanol.  The ethanol waste products can be
feedstocks for  other bioproduct streams.
I am as frustrated as you, in that people bought into the right thing
but for all the wrong reasons.
But in this case the right reasons were not saleable to investors and

Perhaps longevity and H+  industry ramp up can learn from this.
People seem to like death and are  uncomfortable with the responsibilities
that go with living long enough to have to live with the consequences of
your  human footprint.

Proper commercialization strategy for  H+  is  really neat because it ought
to be a way for
extropians to profit from a new tech wave.

However even deep pockets kurzweil has a teeny tiny $ at risk foootprint.
Something is not quite right with this picture......?


> North americans will not starve in 2007, but will consumers revolt,
> will changes to diet occur , will consumption patterns and
> personal budget decisions adjust and if so how fast?
> The other question is .. how stable a long term pattern is this.
> Is it a  paradigm shifted or a fad?

It is a meaningless sop that will enrich many "in the know" and
various opportunists while in the long run making a valid timely
energy solution less likely in the US.  DOA

> Is the shift just starting with more evolution on the way  or is it
> more fixed in stone?

Fixed in stone?  Only until the next Directive comrade.

- samantha
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