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updated: 8/2/2011 4:49 AM

Hemp, solar, wind won't solve problem

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It's difficult to tell whether opinions recently expressed in Fence Post about climate change and energy are due to a lack of knowledge or bad logic.

First, with respect to hemp, switch grass and cellulosic ethanol: cellulosic ethanol hasn't gotten beyond the laboratory and pilot stage and will not be a credible method for producing ethanol in the foreseeable future. Ethanol from corn is a bad idea and it's understandable why someone would grasp at straws (switch grass), when arguing against corn-based ethanol. Unfortunately, cellulosic ethanol, including from hemp, is a pipe dream -- pun intended.

The idea of saving energy to defend against climate change defies logic, not that using energy efficiently is a bad idea. Ending the so-called climate change threat requires the U.S. to cut its CO2 emissions below the level of emissions in 1910, and this must happen before 2050, according to the UN's IPCC.

On a per-capita basis this would require cutting CO2 emissions from 20 tons per person to 2.1 tons by 2050. Saving energy can't cut CO2 emissions 80 percent as required by Al Gore. Accomplishing such a drastic cut in emissions can't be done by turning the lights off when they aren't needed.

Cutting it that much requires stopping the generation of electricity from coal and natural gas, which together produce roughly 70 percent of our electricity. It also means virtually stopping the use of automobiles since they produce roughly 30 percent of our CO2 emissions and there is no meaningful substitute for gasoline.

I realize that some people believe that wind, solar and other so-called green solutions can provide the electricity and energy we need, but they can't. It is an indisputable fact that wind and solar cannot generate very much electricity, and what they do produce is outlandishly expensive.

Donn Dears


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