Sunday, March 11, 2007

gas woes

it's amazing how prices of gas have suddenly shot up in the last month. looking over my gasoline prices recently you see that over the last few months i had been doing ok finding low gas prices thanks to gas price tracking software but suddenly in march, my average price per gallon goes from $2.50 to $3.04. and yesterday when we were driving to LA, it seemed that the mobile station in la jolla wasn't expensive ($3.14) because that was the price everywhere else.

of course, according to npr, california has about 20% higher average gas prices than the nation. until we find a new source of fuel (like a huge asteroid made of tylium we remain dependent on fossil fuels.

but the one good thing about high gas prices, since i'm fortunate enough to work about 4.6 miles from my home, is that it is fueling the growth of biofuels. one blog that i read regularly is Treehugger, which obviously has a huge environmental bias but is interesting nonetheless. they've been recently posting a lot of user-made videos about the environment, which i have yet to watch. but through this blog and various digg, which has a great search engine, and boingboing posts i've been looking into alternative fuels, just for hypothetical reasons.

The biggest hype recently is about biofuels, especially producing ethanol from corn.

Ethanol dazzles white house, wall street
Bush wants world to cut down on fuel through biofuels
Redesigning crops to harvest fuel

Recently the biofuel engineering field has grown so much. because fuel prices are so high and there's so much political attention on alternative energy sources and oil independence, biotech companies are popping up left and right to invest in corn-to-ethanol technologies. among other ways to make biofuel are using trash, including all the turkey remnants after thanksgiving.

Anything into oil
Plasma process converts garbage into clean energy
Generator eats garbage, poops energy
Guide to alternative fuels - what's with all this association of garbage energy and poo?
Venture Capitalists Want to Put Some Algae in Your Tank

However, the more I think about it the more I realize that biofuels will be just as disastrous for the environment and the world as gasoline addiction. we're not solving the root of the problem by developing alternative fuel sources such as ethanol, but we're simply creating a greater demand for different fuel - it's like instead of changing bad eating habits, a fat boy starts eating too much meat instead of too much sweets, or something like that.

well that fat boy is the direct cause of some crises in tortilla loving countries like mexico, and beer loving countries like me. corn has actually been diverted to producing fuel instead of more important things, like low priced tortillas which are a staple in many countries. see what I mean, making biofuels is still "fueling" our addiction to consumption, and not solving any problems at all.

First tortillas, now beer

so to balance it out here are some articles on the dangers of biofuels:

World must wake up to the dangers of biofuels
US Focus on biofuels is foolish

I think, short of moving back into a nomadic lifestyle or at least a village based native american/indigenous society, we need to make changes that actually lower our consumption. for example - even though i live so close to work, i still drive every day. i'm looking forward to when I can move back to boston, because there will be no car ( boohoo ) but the old bike and the T will provide all my transportation needs.

but if we really are going to make money off of ecotechnology, we might as well make it truly alternative, rather than diverting corn and agricultural products into making a more profitable, just as harmful product. if i had a house, i would definitely invest in solar power:

Selling homeowners a solar dream - this looks like a sweet solar renting deal
Solar heater - chinese homes already do this

what about hydrogen? seems like a long tech shot...but both hydrogen and solar are at the top (9 and 10, but probably most realistic) of a top ten list.

Professor demonstrates new hydrogen fuel system
Top 10 Future Energy Solutions

and LEDs and alternative light sources, which are the beginning to curbing our consumption of energy.

City tries to cut energy bills with LEDs - Rick, you better get on top of this
Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs
World's smalles LED light goes into production

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