Future Energy

Cross-posted from Singularity Watch:

Here’s an interesting item: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-05/asfm-swt051409.php

New ideas for using “lignocellulosic biomass” as fuel. Lots of research on figuring out which poplar trees are the exact correct species to use.

Am I the only one thinking this situation might be just a little hypocritical when there’s this: http://www.hemp4fuel.com/news.php?item.204.11 ?

I did a quick survey of the Internet to find the reason we’re not looking at using hemp – a naturally occurring substance that doesn’t need trillions of research dollars to develop because god/evolution already did that – for at least part of our energy needs. Upshot: I couldn’t find much anti-hemp information.

I’ve been watching this hemp controversy for about ten years. It’s been going on a lot longer than that, but that’s how long I’ve been watching it. The pro-hemp arguments have pretty much been the same all along: it’s cheap to grow, environmentally safer than anything else, there’s a million things you can do with it including using it as a fuel source. Strong arguments you’ll agree and in fact tons of industrialized countries are already using it. The U.S. is lagging. Through all these ten years of my watching the arguments for hemp not changing, the argument against hemp hasn’t changed either. It remains this: the cops can’t tell the difference between industrial hemp and marijuana.

So that’s the reason. The question you ask then is why is marijuana illegal in the first place? The pro-hemp sites offer up a diabolical and bizarre Dupont/Carnegie/Hearst conspiracy that started way back on the 1930s. It’s a long story but the result is that today marijuana is illegal even though almost everybody has either tried it at least once or uses it regularly with fewer ill effects than alcohol usage. Personally I think the people with power don’t like the way pot makes people at peace with the world. Who would fight the wars if everybody was stoned?

At any rate, because the cops can’t tell the difference between THC-free industrial hemp and THC-laced marijuana we can’t grow the miracle substance of the century.

Whether or not the hemp advocates are right or wrong is not the issue here. The issue is that we don’t know if they’re right or wrong because there’s no research dollars to find out. The reason there’s no research dollars is because nobody wants to do research on something that might never be available because of illegality. So.

How do we make cultivation of cannabis legal? Answer: change the law. How do we change the law? People demand the law be changed. By “people” I mean the bulk of Americans, the middle class. Unfortunately these are the people that have a dread fear of their children growing up to be drug addicts. And they’re convinced a straight line between recreational marijuana and full blown heroin addiction exists. That is a whole other argument and not the issue here either.

The point is, if industrial hemp provides a source of cheaper fuel, people (American middle class) will get behind legalization in a heart beat. The price of fuel determines American middle class politics. It got us a regime change didn’t it?

Our future lies in our energy resources. Isn’t it hypocritical to pretend we’re working fervently on solving our energy needs using long drawn-out procedures when some real quick answers are right around the corner?

I’m not a pot-smoker, but I am an energy user and a tree-hugger. Let’s leave the trees for the birds and termites. Get a cannabis field going.

Sue Lange
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