The Unz Review • An Alternative Media Selection$
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 Ellen Brown Archive
Nature’s Own Fuel Could Save Us from the Greenhouse Effect and Electric Grid Failure
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information


Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • B
Show CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Thanks, LOL, or Troll with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used three times during any eight hour period.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

On July 14, the European Union unveiled sweeping climate change and emissions targets that would, according to Gulf News, mean “the end of the internal combustion engine”:

The commission’s draft would reduce permitted emissions from new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles to zero from 2035 – effectively obliging the industry to move on to battery-electric models.

While biofuels are a less high-tech, cheaper and in many ways more effective solution to our dependence on petroleum, the United States and other countries are discussing similar plans to the EU’s and California is already on board. But in a recent article in the Los Angeles Times and related video, Evan Halper argues that we may be trading one environmental crisis for another:

The sprint to supply automakers with heavy-duty lithium batteries is propelled by climate-conscious countries like the United States that aspire to abandon gas-powered cars and SUVs. They are racing to secure the materials needed to go electric, and the Biden administration is under pressure to fast-track mammoth extraction projects that threaten to unleash their own environmental fallout.

Extraction proposals include vacuuming the ocean floor, disturbing marine ecosystems; and mining Native American ancestral sites and pristine federal lands. Proponents of these proposals argue that China controls most of the market for the raw material refining needed for the batteries, posing economic and security threats. But opponents say the negative environmental impact will be worse than the oil fracking that electric vehicles are projected to replace.

Not just the batteries but the electricity needed to run electric vehicles (EVs) poses environmental concerns. Currently, generating electric fuel depends heavily on non-renewable sources. And according to a March 2021 report from the Government Accountability Office, electric vehicles are making the electrical grid more vulnerable to cyber attacks, threatening the portions of the grid that deliver electricity to homes and businesses. If that is true at current use levels, the grid could clearly not sustain the load if all the cars on the road were EVs.

Not just tribal land residents but poor households everywhere will bear the cost if the proposed emissions targets and EV mandates are implemented. According to one European think tank, “average expenses of the poorest households could increase by 44 percent for transport and by 50 percent for residential heating.” As noted in Agence France-Presse, “The recent ‘yellow vest’ protests in France demonstrated the kind of populist fury that environmental controls on motoring can provoke.”

People who can barely make ends meet cannot afford new electric vehicles (EVs), and buying a used EV is risky. If the lithium battery fails, replacing it could cost as much as the car itself; and repairs must be done by pricey dealers. No more doing it yourself with instructions off the Internet, and even your friendly auto repair shop probably won’t have the tools. Except for the high-end Tesla, auto manufacturers themselves are largely losing money on EVs, due to the high cost of the batteries and low consumer demand.

Off the Electric Grid with Clean Biofuel

Whether carbon dioxide emissions are the cause of climate change is still debated, but gasoline-fueled vehicles do pose environmental hazards. There is an alternative to gasoline that does not require sending all our combustion engine vehicles to the junkyard. This is alcohol fuel (bioethanol). Not only are greenhouse gas emissions from ethanol substantially lower than from gasoline, but as detailed in a biofuel “explainer” on the website of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology:

As we search for fuels that won’t contribute to the greenhouse effect and climate change, biofuels are a promising option because the carbon dioxide (CO2) they emit is recycled through the atmosphere. When the plants used to make biofuels grow, they absorb CO2 from the air, and it’s that same CO2 that goes back into the atmosphere when the fuels are burned. In theory, biofuels can be a “carbon neutral” or even “carbon negative” way to power cars, trucks and planes, meaning they take at least as much CO2 out of the atmosphere as they put back in.

A major promise of biofuels is that they can lower overall CO2 emissions without changing a lot of our infrastructure. They can work with existing vehicles, and they can be mass-produced from biomass in the same way as other biotechnology products, like chemicals and pharmaceuticals, which are already made on a large scale.… Most gasoline sold in the U.S. is mixed with 10% ethanol.

Biofuels can be created from any sort of organic commercial waste that is high in carbohydrates, which can be fermented into alcohol locally. Unlike the waste fryer oil and grease used to generate biodiesel, carbohydrates are supplied by plants in abundance. Methanol, the simplest form of alcohol, can be made from any biomass – anything that is or once was a plant (wood chips, agricultural waste of all kinds, animal waste, etc.). In the US, 160 million tons of trash ends up in landfills annually. Estimates are that this landfill waste could be converted to 15-16 million gallons of methanol.

In the third in a series of national assessments calculating the potential supply of biomass in the United States, the US Energy Department concluded in 2016 that the country has the future potential to produce at least one billion dry tons of biomass resources annually without adversely affecting the environment. This amount of biomass could be used to produce enough biofuel, biopower, and will bioproducts to displace approximately 30% of 2005 U.S. petroleum consumption, said the report, without negatively affecting the production of food or other agricultural products.

Energy Independence

A documentary film called Pump tells the tale of the monopolization of the auto fuel industry by the petroleum cartel, and how that monopoly can be ended with a choice of biofuels at the pump.

Henry Ford’s first car, built in 1896, ran 100% on alcohol fuel, produced by farmers using using beets, apples, corn and other starchy crops in their own stills. He envisioned the family piling into the car and driving through the countryside, fueling up along the road at independent farms. But alcohol was burdened with a liquor tax, and John D. Rockefeller saw a use for the gasoline fuel that was being discarded as a toxic waste product of the kerosene market he had cornered. In 1908, Ford accommodated Rockefeller’s gasoline fuel by building America’s first “flex-fuel” car, the Model T or “Tin Lizzie.” It could be made to run on either gasoline or ethanol by adjusting the ignition timing and air fuel mixture. Rockefeller then blocked competition from Ford’s ethanol fuel by using his power and influence to help pass Prohibition, a Constitutional amendment banning the sale and transport of alcohol.

The petroleum monopoly was first broken in Brazil, where most cars are adapted to run on bioethanol made from sugar cane. Existing combustion engines can be converted to use this “flex fuel” with simple, inexpensive kits. The Brazilian biofuel market dates back to the oil crisis of the 1970s, when gas had to be imported and was quite expensive. With the conversion to biofuels, Pres. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva achieved national energy independence, giving a major boost to the struggling Brazilian economy.

The U.S. push for biofuels was begun in California in the 1980s, when Ford Motor Company was enlisted to design a flex fuel car to help reduce the state’s smog problem. But again the oil industry lobbied against it. They argued that bioethanol, which in the U.S. is chiefly made from corn, was competing for corn as a foodstuff at a time when food shortages were a major concern.

David Blume counters that it is not a question of “food or fuel” but “food and fuel.” Most U.S. corn is grown as livestock feed, and the “distillers grains” left after the alcohol is removed are more easily digested by cows than unprocessed grain. Distillers grains have another advantage over hay as a livestock feed: its easier digestion reduces the noxious cow emissions said to be a significant source of greenhouse gases.

Fuel from a Weed: The Wide-ranging Virtues of Hemp

Opponents, however, continue to raise the “food versus fuel” objection, and they claim that biofuels from corn are not “carbon neutral” when the steps used to create them are factored in. Even the fertilizers needed to grow them may emit CO2 and other greenhouse gases. But corn is not the only biofuel option. There are plants that can grow like weeds on poor soil without fertilizers.

Industrial hemp – the non-intoxicating form of cannabis grown for fiber, cloth, oil, and many other purposes – is a prime candidate not just for fuel but to help save the environment. Hemp has been proven to absorb more CO2 per hectare than any forest or commercial crop, making it the ideal carbon sink. It can be grown on a wide scale on nutrient poor soils; it grows remarkably fast with almost no fertilizer or irrigation; and it returns around 70% of the nutrients used in the growth cycle back to the soil. Biofuels usually require substantially more water than fossil fuels, but hemp needs roughly half the amount needed for corn. Hemp can also be used for “bioremediation” – the restoration of soil from toxic pollution. It helps remove toxins and has been used by farmers to “cure” their fields, even from radioactive agents, metals, pesticides, crude oil, and toxins in landfills.

An analysis published in the journal Science in 2019 concluded that a worldwide tree planting program could remove two-thirds of all the CO2 emissions that have been pumped into the atmosphere by human activities. As reported in The Guardian in 2019, one trillion trees could be restored for as little as \$300 billion – “by far the cheapest solution that has ever been proposed.” The chief drawback to that solution is that trees grow slowly, requiring 50 to 100 years to reach their full carbon sequestering potential. Hemp, on the other hand, is one of the fastest CO2-to-biomass conversion tools available, growing to 13 feet in 100 days. It also requires much less space per plant than trees, and it can be grown on nearly any type of soil without fertilizers.

In a 2015 book titled “Cannabis Vs. Climate Change,” Paul von Hartmann notes that hemp is also one of the richest available sources of aromatic terpenes, which are known to slow climate change. When emitted by pine forests, terpenes help to cool the planet by bouncing energy from the sun back into space. In a mature hemp field, the temperature on a hot day can be 20 degrees cooler than in surrounding areas.

Reviving an American Staple

Hemp has many uses besides fuel. Long an American staple, its cultivation was mandated in colonial America. It has been used for centuries in pharmaceuticals, clothing and textiles; it is an excellent construction material; its fiber can be used to make paper, saving the forests; and hemp seeds are , providing protein equivalent by weight to beef or lamb.

The value of industrial hemp has long been known by the U.S. government, which produced an informational film in 1942 called “Hemp for Victory” to encourage farmers to grow it for the war effort. Besides its many industrial uses, including for cloth and cordage, the film detailed the history of the plant’s use and best growing practices.

Henry Ford used hemp as a construction material for his Model T, and Porsche is now using hemp-based material in the body of its 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport track car to reduce its weight while maintaining rigidity and safety. “Hempcrete” (concrete made from hemp mixed with lime) is a “green” building material used for construction and insulation, including for building “tiny homes.”

Hemp can replace so many environmentally damaging industries that an April 2019 article in Forbes claimed that “Industrial Hemp Is the Answer to Petrochemical Dependency.” The authors wrote:

[O]ur dependency on petrochemicals has proven hard to overcome, largely because these materials are as versatile as they are volatile. From fuel to plastics to textiles to paper to packaging to construction materials to cleaning supplies, petroleum-based products are critical to our industrial infrastructure and way of life.

… Interestingly, however, there is a naturally-occurring and increasingly-popular material that can be used to manufacture many of the same products we now make from petroleum-derived materials …. That material is hemp.

… The crop can be used to make everything from biodegradable plastic to construction materials like flooring, siding, drywall and insulation to paper to clothing to soap to biofuels made from hemp seeds and stalks.

The authors note that while hemp was widely grown until a century ago, the knowledge, facilities and equipment required to produce it efficiently are no longer common ly available, since hemp farming was banned for decades due to its association with the psychoactive version of the plant.

Fueling a Rural Renaissance

In an effort to fill that vacuum, a recent initiative in California is exploring different hemp varieties and growing techniques, in the first extensive growing trials for hemp fiber and grain in the state since the 1990s. The project is a joint effort among the World Cannabis Foundation, hemp wholesaler Hemp Traders, and Oklahoma-based processor Western Fiber. The Pennsylvania-based Rodale Institute, a nonprofit that supports research into organic farming, has also partnered on a USDA-supported research project on the use of hemp in the development of biochar (charcoal produced by firing biomass in the absence of oxygen). On July 31, the World Cannabis Foundation will host a field day and factory tour in Riverdale, California, where an old cotton gin has been converted to hemp textile manufacture. The event will also feature presentations by a panel of hemp experts.

How to decarbonize 51 billion tons of greenhouse gases annually with hemp technology and regenerative farming will also be the focus of a COP26 “fringe festival” called “Beyond the Green,” to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, in November along with COP26, the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference.

A 2018 article summarizing research from the University of Connecticut concluded that hemp farming could “set a great example of a self-sustainable mini ‘ecosystem’ with minimal environmental footprint.” Henry Ford’s vision was to decentralize industry, with “small [factory] plants … on every stream,” a rural renaissance fueled not with oil but with alcohol. Hemp fuel and other forms of bioethanol are renewable energy sources that can be produced anywhere, contributing to energy independence not just for families but for local communities and even for the country. And it doesn’t place the burden of addressing climate change on the middle or working classes.

This article was first posted on ScheerPost. Ellen Brown is an attorney, chair of the Public Banking Institute, and author of thirteen books including Web of Debt, The Public Bank Solution, and Banking on the People: Democratizing Money in the Digital Age. She also co-hosts a radio program on PRN.FM called “It’s Our Money.” Her 300+ blog articles are posted at

(Republished from ScheerPost by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Science • Tags: Global Warming 
Hide 31 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
  1. Hemp is one of the most useful plants but if it cuts into the profits of any large industry and keeps products from being patented, you will have a hundred modern Rockefellers blocking it in every turn. Lithium batteries are the flavor of the day and politicians with less scientific understanding that a five year old will continue to promote anything that’s sexy, totally useless and based on bad science if it will make them and their administrations look good. Before covid, the flavor of the day was Greta Thunberg’s man-made carbon dioxide is causing the world to heat up. This conveniently ignores that it was so warm 1000 years ago that Vikings were farming in southern Greenland and raising livestock. By 1450 it was too cold and they left. By 1600 it was so cold in western Europe that the Thames River froze every year with ice so thick that they had winter fairs on it. Since the late 19th century we are warming up again which has nothing to do with how much carbon dioxide we produce. Water vapor has a far more effective “greenhouse gas’ storing orders of magnitude more heat than the carbon dioxide we produce.

  2. The stoners answer to every problem is hemp, grow up

    Solar powered EVs are the way, the ICE is going to slowly decline

    Yes it looks strange, but a 1000 mile range, the ability to get up to 40 miles a day from solar PV, and every charger is a fast charger, Aptera have the winning formula

    • Replies: @Ellen Brown
  3. Matter unwinding by Pons and Fleischman, wrongly labelled “Cold Fusion”back in the 1980’s, works and has been working for at least 20 years.

    There is absolutely no need to continue living in the chemical dark ages.

  4. Several technologies should be used for the energy we all need. Any new effort should be aimed at the long term elimination of the electrical grid as we know it, since the grid is a single point of failure and easily attacked by man or nature. Bio fuels need the grid for efficiency and hence are a dead end, just like large wind turbines.

    Solar belongs on the roof tops of individual houses with modest electrical needs that can be accommodated by the roof’s surface area. Supermarkets and other large retail stores could also supply their own power at least during daylight hours to help support any new load that EV’s represent.

    New grid power should come from Small Modular Reactors (SMR) running the Thorium fuel cycle. Industrial parks could have their own SMR independent of the nation’s grid thus providing resilience to an attack on the grid for as long as the grid exists.

    In general, the ‘grid’ should be eliminated over time as technology allows for people to generate their own power. It also makes people less reliant on gov’t controlled boards that are all politicized.

    • Replies: @Realist
  5. This is silly.

    The process of creating carbohydrates in large enough mass to power a sizeable civilization is energy negative, you put more in than you get out. There are scientists all over the world exploring how to get alcohols from cellulose and lignin in mass quantities, but we are not there yet. Various termites digest these feedstocks every day, but there are a vast number of enzymes involved that we can neither unravel nor create efficiently (different termites specialize on different feeds).

    That we will get there some day is probable, but we are nowhere near that day yet. The Monty Python skit was funnier.

  6. “Except for the high-end Tesla, auto manufacturers themselves are largely losing money on EVs, due to the high cost of the batteries and low consumer demand.”

    Tesla makes it’s “profit” by selling tax credits to other manufacturers… Not from the cars

  7. Realist says:

    Here is some information about Chinese research on Thorium Molten Salt Reactors

    • Replies: @RoatanBill
    , @RoatanBill
  8. I appreciate Ellen Brown’s ideas about Public Banking, but oh bruther, we are going to run industrial civilization on hemp?

    I’ve got a better idea. Stop driving Cars. That is where this energy quandary arises. The Automobile was the worst single thing to ever happen to humanity. I am not just talking out my as*, I do not drive, drive, drive around every day. Americans cannot not even comprehend this idea, their car is more intrinsic to their nature than the air they breathe.

    The solutions to our predicaments can be solved by 2 things:

    1. Jettison most technologies that arose in the 20th Century and beyond
    2. Live like the Amish.

    There is no technological fix. How can you fix something by doing the same thing that caused the problem?

    • Agree: Badger Down
  9. @Realist

    Already saw it. Very poor overview, so I tuned out after a few minutes.

    Thanks for the thought.

    • Replies: @Realist
  10. While biofuels are a less high-tech, cheaper and in many ways more effective solution to our dependence on petroleum

    I like Ellen for here financial ideas, but this statement is horseshit. If it were true? We’d be converted already over to it. I couldn’t read any further past this misguided bit of nonsense, but I did scan it a tad, and saw the usual references to lithium batteries which are clearly not sustainable.

    The whole climate warming is a hoax. We could burn coal and gas for centuries and it would not matter.

    While it might be important to find alternative sources of fuel, this should let it take its place as time goes by.

    To the guy in the comments who claims cold fusion has been going on for 20 years now? On what planet has that been happening?

    • Replies: @Ellen Brown
  11. @RoatanBill

    Very good. What’s the catch?

    • Replies: @RoatanBill
  12. @Ralph B. Seymour

    There is no catch that I’m aware of in the current theory and the MSRE that was actually built decades ago.

    What’s needed is a scaled up version of the MSRE to raise power levels and temperatures and also to hang a generator back end on to the reactor to produce at least a small scale usable power plant, something in the 20MW range. Things that work at the lab scale may run (probably will run) into operational difficulties that need to be solved when scale is increased.

    Hastelloy N alloy is thought to provide the corrosion resistance to handle the radiation and chemical environment inside the reactor but no one knows for how long or what problems to expect. Metallurgy is probably one of the remaining issues to be worked out.

    It’s a shame the Chinese will have more knowledge about this technology that was invented in the US decades ago as they are scaling things up. The plant going into Indonesia (Thorcon) is a bastardized version of a LFTR but still qualifies as a MSR and will provide the US with some added data. It’s really disgusting they were prevented from doing it in the US.

    • Replies: @Realist
  13. Electric cars are the most cost effective choice for most person’s needs. And their performance in most categories blows away all others.

    The most cost-effective way electricity is generated today is through solar. The trouble, though, with solar is that its production is choppy – so one needs to be able to store its energy.

    I have had solar panels on my house since 2012 and have driven electric cars since 2015. I am very happy with the arrangement.

    A relatively new company in Finland had caught my attention not too long ago who have a system to store energy in sand. They are called Polar Night Energy:

    People interested in these matters (as I have been for decades) should look into this if they haven’t seen it already. There are interesting videos about this out their on the interwebs.

    • Replies: @RoatanBill
  14. For a moment it’s a nice dream to make biofuels from non-food crops on wasteland. You just keep going there and cutting the plants. The soil was pretty thin to begin with, but in x amount of time becomes sand or dust or bare rock.

    When someone figures out how to move and store heat, we’ll be laughing.

    • Replies: @blake121666
  15. Realist says:

    It’s a shame the Chinese will have more knowledge about this technology that was invented in the US decades ago as they are scaling things up.

    It’s really disgusting they were prevented from doing it in the US.

    The U. S. does not like nuclear energy sources that do not produce plutonium to be used in weapons.

  16. Realist says:

    Informative, but I already know the information provided and do not want to watch two hours of it.


  17. Realist says:

    I was not vouching for the quality…just merely presenting it as it was timely and just popped up.

  18. @blake121666

    These storage methods are meant for utility scale projects, not a single family home. The only realistic method an individual has of storing energy is via battery technology. Storing energy at the utility scale may seem like a good idea at present, but a much better idea is to get rid of the Grid and the utilities as they currently exist.

    Much smaller and more local grids powered by SMR’s can provide uninterrupted service and be very inexpensive since molten salt reactor technology has addressed the major issues with light water reactors successfully. There’s no point in storing energy when you can make it as needed.

    All the storage options from batteries to sand to mechanical, etc will all disappear once SMR’s are implemented. SMR’s are a true solution while all the storage options are a band aid to keep the existing infrastructure alive just a bit longer. I think we’ve reached the point where patching the current system should be minimized and replacing it should be the goal.

    BTW – flow batteries are available for small scale projects. They’re just not as well known.

    • Replies: @blake121666
  19. Ellen Brown says: • Website
    @(((They))) Live

    I wasn’t writing about marijuana but about hemp. The farmers in colonial America were required to plant it, and it was a staple US crop for 200 years. It should be again. I just got this from someone in Canada —

    “I really enjoyed your article on hemp. In saskatchewan it has started to replace other crops like canola or wheat. The grain trading cartels have farmers at their mercy so hemp fibre could replace cotton. I planted about 6000 square feet into yellow clover this year and watered lots. It got about 6-8 feet high and I will harvest for seed and leaves the roots for 2 more years.”

    Solar EVs look cool but have drawbacks. Only a couple of extra miles of range from the sun per day, according to this —
    citing this —

    “The exterior really sets itself apart from the other Sonata models by its new solar roof. Hyundai didn’t give out too many details, but the automaker claims that the roof is capable of increasing the vehicle’s annual range by about 800 miles, provided it gets six hours of daily charging from the sun. Assuming 365 days of use each year, those six hours of charging provide, on average, just a couple extra miles of range each day.”

    A quick google search also turned up this.
    Glad to be proven wrong!

    • Replies: @(((They))) Live
  20. Ellen Brown says: • Website

    Agreed on climate warming. I’m just going with their premises and pointing out that they don’t work. Converting all transportation to electric is unsustainable and makes us very vulnerable to grid failure and centralized control. Clearly there is another agenda at play here.

  21. @Ellen Brown

    So glad to hear from a person who I admire for her clear-headed and incisive reporting and ideas. I will read the entire article, and I have a feed to your blog for 3 years now.

    One thing, Ellen, you have been on the Keiser Report several times, but when you are not on, Max often goes into claiming that what we have now in the economy is MMT and UI. I know that you do not believe that and your understanding and explanation of MMT is far more nuanced than Max Keiser’s.

    Is there any chance you will be going back onto his show and clearing up things?

  22. @Ellen Brown

    Aptera is not a new company, they almost produced a car about 10 years ago, but the founders of the company were forced out and the new management failed to get a car on the road, I think this was deliberate sabotage. last year the original owners were able buy back their IP and start again, their new car is better in every way than the version they wanted to sell 10 years ago, it really does make solar powered cars possible, you can get up to 40 miles a day range from the PV on the car (of course it depends on where you live) but with a solar system on the roof of a house its possible for most people to power the car using the Sun

    The people bashing Aptera from 10 years ago are not talking about Steve Fambro or Chris Anthony, if you don’t like Aptera or think its a bad idea, thats fine, but the people running the company today are honest and I believe they will be successful this time around

    Aptera are also working on a 4 wheel version, my guess is it will look like the VW XL1 but will be even more efficient, so like the 3 wheel car it will also Solar powered

    Just to add, I think they are looking at using Hemp for some parts of the car

  23. @RoatanBill

    I brought up 3 separate matters in my post.

    Solar is the most cost-efficient.

    It is impractical for the foreseeable future to think that everyone will be their own energy source. Of course, no one will ever be one’s one SMR administrator – so I think you were talking about 2 different things as well.

    Nuclear waste handling makes nuclear prohibitively expensive. That will never not be the case. You can forget about SMR.

    Solar farms is the winner today and should remain so for the foreseeabe future.

    Another interesting tidbit I learned relatively recently: Nio EVs in China have their batteries swapped at service stations for a ridiculously low price. It beats the pricing of fast chargers – and is much quicker.

    I probably should have commented about the main gist of the article. I don’t see gasifiers (that’s what she’s talking about here – gasifying solid fuel like hemp) as a better solution than the current situation. I myself don’t really care about “greenhouse gasses” or whatever. That talk is and always has been largely a crock. Gasified fuel is lower energy density than current fuels. I’d choose the current situation over it any day of the week. It’s another thing to throw into the mix – but it has always been hard to think of why one would choose it over alternatives. The only reason people do it is when they don’t have access to better fuels – or wish to be self-sufficient on that front (such as Germany early last century). It is simply more trouble than it is worth for the way we use high energy density liquid fuels. I (and anyone) would much rather have a gas tank or a battery pack on a vehicle rather than a bulky gasifier (which is toxically dangerous – a gasifier’s output is mostly carbon monoxide).

  24. @Badger Down

    You should have read my post – 2 posts up from yours.

    I’m intrigued by Polar Night Energy’s method of storing heat in sand:

    Looks very interesting. It’s pretty much a cheap plug and play for cities with “district heating”.

    Sand is easier to deal with than water – water boils off at 100C – can hold 10x the heat.

  25. TG says:

    Around 1900, he population of the Earth was a bit below 2 billion. It is now about 8 billion and rising rapidly, and mostly because of so-called ‘pro-natalist’ policies of the rich and powerful, who value the easy profits of cheap labor above all.

    Consider the United States: according to the US census, without post-1970 third world immigration, the population would have stabilized at about 239 million. All growth past 239 million is due to specific post-1970 government policies – and immigration does NOT just move people around, it maximizes total population growth: everyone escaping from a place like India or Bangladesh just makes room for another person to be born and survive to adulthood back home.

    By 1888, with a low fertility rate and abundant resources, the United States had become an industrial powerhouse. America was built neither by immigrants nor by slaves, but by free Americans in the North. Starting at 1888 the rich opened the borders to then-third-world Europe, and wages were crushed even as profits soared. The nation did not recover until after an extended immigration time-out from just after the Wall Street crash of 1929 to about 1965. Bottom line: without the intervention of the rich, the population of the United States would have likely stabilized at about 100 million.

    Now with the borders open to third-world invasion, the United States is likely going to hit a half billion before too soon, and likely a billion within the span of those now living. So the rich took a country that would have stabilized at 100 million, and pushed it to 500 million and beyond. Yes, the rich really are behind the population explosion.

    Similar stories can be told about Brazil and Mexico and Iran and South Africa and now Canada etc.

    Bottom line: if the population of the Earth had been allowed to stabilize at 2 billion or so, we could get basically all of our electricity from hydropower. Non-polluting, reliable base load, high surge capacity plus multi-year energy storage, a mature technology. We had the solution a century ago. But hydropower only has so many viable sites that can be used. As the rich jam in ever more people, we need to go to ever more exotic and complicated systems, and ever more regulation and oversight, and of course, eventually “we” (everyone but the rich people responsible) will have to give up all of “our” luxuries and freedoms to “save the planet”.

    • Agree: Bert
  26. @Ellen Brown

    Yeah, Ellen, I never thought you would wuss out on MMT. I guess the Max Kieser show and all the other MMT trolls have censored you??

    I don’t know, Ellen, but I thought at the very least you’d talk back to these ignorant people.
    At the very least. Ellen, nothing changes if you do not push back. Can you come out of the closet just a little bit more?

    I do not understand your silence and your reticence. What gives?

  27. Carney says:

    I wish EV and ethanol advocates would get along. Instead, each hurls myths and smears about each other’s alternatives that only benefits the oil cartel and could well have both originated there.

    Before the Chevrolet Volt was released, GM was promising that it would not only be a plug-in hybrid but also a flex-fuel vehicle. Thus giving drivers the convenience of plugging in each night and by morning have the full charge for everyday commuting and local errands, then being able to use renewable biofuel for long distance driving, easily refueled in 5 minutes for hundreds of miles more range, and only having to fall back on gasoline as a third choice if nothing else was available.

    It would have been the best of both worlds and avoiding the worst of each. Thanks to ethanol and the internal combustion engine, no need for huge expensive batteries that price cars out of reach, no need for slow recharge times that impede long distance driving. But thanks to the plug and battery, also no need for the hassle of schlepping to a filling station every other weekend or more just for the fuel for everyday routine trips, less fear of the (groundless in any case) food vs fuel myth, and you’re getting high efficiency to either minimize the impact of using fossil fuel to charge up, or to maximize the benefit of the renewable energy you’re using to charge up.

    Unfortunately GM didn’t include flex-fuel capability when it rolled out the Volt, citing the need to make the release deadline as its excuse but promising to add the capability in a future model year. Which it never did.

    One of the most interesting elements in the movie Pumped that the author here doesn’t mention is its coverage of John “Fuelverine” Brackett – a muttonchop-wearing alt-energy enthusiast resembling the Marvel superhero Wolverine. Fuelverine specializes in unlocking the ethanol compatibility already present in first-generation Volts but which GM concealed from and didn’t mention to its customers or the public. As Fuelverine shows with diagnostic tools and software, the calculations and settings for ethanol are already laid out and programmed into the Volt’s computer, but disabled by GM, apparently at the last minute. When he removes the block, he makes the Volt into the car it could and should have been.

    What a terrible shame that when Obama took that photo op with the Volt (a car that had started under his predecessor), the oil-corrupted establishment conservative infotainment stream viciously rounded on a breakthrough car that was a well-thought out balance among price, performance, and practicality between various fuels and drivetrains, an excellent vehicle to help bridge the gap between old and new, the best of American know-how. Yahoos hurled childish insults, influencers spread reckless or malicious lies, and spread scorn, resentment, and animus that stigmatized, demonized, and all but crippled what might otherwise have become an iconic sales triumph rather than a mere engineering marvel.

    • Replies: @blake121666
  28. @Carney

    Anyone recommending a hybrid over a BEV is recommending the worst of both worlds.

    I’ve had BEVs for over 6 years – currently have a Chevy Bolt (with a “B”). There’s no need for any hybrid for me (or anyone).

    I bought it new for \$26k – so it wasn’t particularly expensive. I get about 300 miles with its 60 kWh battery pack – which is fine for me and most people. All charging to date has been at home from my L2 charger. And I live in an area (MD) which has plenty of fast chargers within a 350 mile radius. So I could drive anywhere without the need for an ICE – which requires much more service than a BEV (which requires none at all for its engine).

    There’s no need for any hybrid for me or anyone. 300 miles range is well within the needs of most people. Hybrids are an unnecessary complication. If someone has a need for long distance travel he can rent an ICE vehicle for that travel.

    The Chevy Volt was a ridiculous idea.

  29. I think the Volt was an excellent idea, you can drive electric and ignore the public charge network, when the Volt first hit the market there were few public chargers so it made sense at the time

    I know people driving plug in hybrids they love them, drive electric Monday to Friday, do what you want on the weekend

  30. anon[191] • Disclaimer says:

    Questions not answered in this article:

    * How many kilograms of vegetation are required to create one liter of fuel-quality oil suitable for use in a modern engine?

    * How many square meters of arable land are required to produce the kilos of vegetation to create one liter of fuel?

    * How many liters of water are required per day to produce the kilos of vegetation to create one liter of fuel?

    * How many times per year can those quantities of vegetation be harvested?

    * How many liters of fuel are required per day to support an industrial civilization?

    This is a basic, physics 101 level analysis, that the article is conspicuously lacking.

Current Commenter

Leave a Reply - Comments on articles more than two weeks old will be judged much more strictly on quality and tone

 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments have been licensed to The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Commenting Disabled While in Translation Mode
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Ellen Brown Comments via RSS
How America was neoconned into World War IV
“America’s strategic and economic interests in the Mideast and Muslim world are being threatened by the agony in...