Global Warming ~ Is Hemp The Solution?


This week the eastern U.S. coast had a visitor by the name of Sandy. She came through with a wide path of destruction, and left quite a mess in her wake, including devastating flooding. The news stations and internet were inundated with photos of her impressive size. Is this a sign of what is to be the norm, due to global warming?

The scenes in New York were also a reminder of a film I saw years ago, “The Day After Tomorrow.” It was quite frightening, yet I was riveted. Will it come to this? I certainly hope not.

Steps must be taken NOW to stop the devastation, and the practices that contribute to global warming, which include CO2 emissions from fossil-fueled power plants, CO2 emissions from methane, CO2 emissions from fossil-fueled vehicles, deforestation, and increased levels of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides on commercial and large-scale crops.

I pulled up a blog article I wrote earlier this year, and I believe it is apropos to bring it up again, in light of Hurricane Sandy.

“In the past decade global warming has come to the forefront. This isn’t something new; the earth’s climates have always fluctuated throughout the centuries and millenia. What makes global warming more of an ‘issue’ now is the fact that people are becoming more aware of some of the practices that are not HELPING the global warming situation; it is said that the past 10 years have seen the fastest moving temperature changes.

What causes global warming? One cause is the buildup of CO2 (carbon dioxide) in the atmosphere, which holds the sun’s heat and causes the warming. Fossil fuels are the main culprits; coal burning plants and automobiles are 2 of the biggest contributors to the blanket of CO2 in the atmosphere.

CO2 emissions are at an all-time high; extensive removal of forests is adding to the problem, since CO2 is neutralized by plants and trees. The Amazon rainforest is being destroyed at a very quick pace. At over a billion acres, it is one of the planet’s most treasured ‘air cleaners’. Destruction of the rainforest is contributing to the warming we see today, as well as loss of habitat for animals and increased land erosion.

So, what is the remedy for halting or even reversing global warming? One way to counter the effects of global warming is growing hemp – on a global scale.

Industrial hemp uses photosynthesis to remove the CO2 from the atmosphere and convert it to oxygen. The hemp plant can convert huge amounts of CO2, more than most plants. Not only does it remove the CO2 from the air, it also deposits the CO2 into the soil, enriching it and causing it to be more fertile. Hemp is one of the very few crops that does NOT deplete the soil after it is grown and harvested.

There is a move to replace fossil fuels in automobiles with biofuels and hemp fuels. Homes are being built with hemp materials (making the hemp homes carbon neutral and in some cases carbon negative). Products typically made with petroleum and timber are being made with hemp. The move to green consumption is growing.

It is unfortunate that the US cannot legally grow hemp at this time. But steps are being taken, people are making their voices heard. We are inching toward the day when hemp can be farmed in the United States – and we can contribute to making our planet clean, green, and fresh again.”

I want my children and grandchildren to have a beautiful, clean planet to live on, one that practices sustainable, healthy ways of living. One that is not damaged by oil drilling, fracking, pollution, not one that is disease-ridden and environmentally unsafe. No, our children and grandchildren deserve something better, and the time is NOW to turn to practices that nourish the earth.

Why Replacing Natural Gas With Hemp-Derived Methanol Is A Great Idea


On February 29 I was browsing through CNN.com and I came across an article titled “How a billionaire fills gas tank for $1 a gallon.” Below is an excerpt from that article:

Gasoline at $4 a gallon is no worry for T. Boone Pickens, the billionaire energy investor from Texas. He drives from his home to his office in a car that runs on fuel costing less than $1 a gallon.

His method: He has a device that fuels his Honda Civic GX with natural gas from the pipes that serve his home. And he thinks there’s a lesson there for America’s energy woes.

Pickens, who is speaking Wednesday at the TED2012 Conference in Long Beach, California, said America needs to make natural gas a building block of a plan for ending oil imports from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Natural gas is “cheaper, it’s cleaner, it’s abundant and it’s ours, and we’re fools not to use it,” Pickens said in an interview with CNN.

Pickens, an 83-year-old trained geologist who has been working in the energy field since 1951, said the United States could use domestic resources to replace the 5 million barrels of oil imported daily from OPEC, which makes up a quarter of America’s daily use of oil. The U.S. natural gas reserves amount to the equivalent of three times the oil reserves possessed by Saudi Arabia, he said.

“All you need now is leadership,” he said, lamenting that America “has no plan, we’ve gone 40 years with no energy plan. We’re the largest user of oil in the world.”

Pickens’ plan is encapsulated in the Natural Gas Act, a bill with Democratic and Republican sponsors, that would provide tax credits to replace diesel-fuel burning truck engines with natural gas-powered engines; users of natural gas as a transportation fuel would pay fees that would make up for the lost government revenue.

His firm, BP Capital, has a vested interest in energy policy since it invests in energy futures and the shares of firms in a variety of parts of the industry.

Now, here is why I have a problem with this. First of all, the process of extracting the natural gas can be harmful to health and environment.

“The practice of hydraulic fracturing, the process of using a combination of chemicals ranging from harmless to toxic to force natural gas to the surface from reservoirs with low permeability, has come under scrutiny internationally due to concerns about environmental and health safety, and has been suspended or banned in some countries.” (Wikipedia)

“The most direct connection is if fracking fluids are injected directly into rock formations that also serve as freshwater aquifers and underground sources of drinking water. According to EPA, there are coalbed methane formations that undergo hydraulic fracturing, but also serve as freshwater aquifers.

  1. Fracking chemicals have the potential to migrate, as liquids or gases, from leaky wellbores into adjacent groundwater aquifers. There is the possibility for migration may occur, as well, through vertical and horizontal fractures into groundwater or even to surface water.
  2. Even if the fracking chemicals, themselves, do not migrate into groundwater, the hydraulic fracturing operation may change the underground geology in such a way that new pathways are formed that allow hydrocarbons such as methane, and benzene, to migrate away from their original location. Fracturing, which causes mini-seismic events under ground, may also introduce more sediment into groundwater aquifers, changing the water quality temporarily, or possibly permanently.
  3. A final pathway for contamination is if fracking fluids are spilled onto the ground or into waterways. Spills may be of unused fracking chemicals, or used fracking fluids that flow back out of the well after it has been hydraulically fractures. Any volatile compounds in spilled fracking fluids may enter the air and be carried downwind. (earthworksaction.org)

Second, natural gas (derived from fracking) is NOT a renewable resource.

Third, doesn’t the sound of ‘investing in energy futures’ bring to mind the Rockefellers and Standard Oil? (And their monopoly and price gouging, AND the fact that the stock market is the main reason for high fossil fuel prices?)

So, what is the alternative?

Hemp-derived methanol. Hemp is 77% cellulose, which is the main component for fuel. Methanol from hemp is clean, renewable, and does not require large amounts of dangerous chemicals to process.

If hemp were grown in the U.S. using 6% of farmland, we could remove our dependency on foreign oil, fossil fuels, and natural gas. To me, this is ideal, since natural gas fracking is harmful to the environment, and the health of populations nearby.

Industrial hemp methanol would be an inexpensive, healthy alternative – giving us freedom from using hydrocarbon fuels and replacing them with healthy carbohydrate fuels.

There are some commercial kitchens/stoves that can use methanol without upgrading the equipment; I would love to see a household version – a gas stove that uses hemp methanol. It’s the best of both worlds – clean, efficient, inexpensive energy…and a renewable one at that.