Saturday, October 27, 2007

loving the oil

Isn't it handy I happen to have pictures of the Board of Water and Light from last year, hehe.

This guy, J. Peter Lark, the general manager of the Board of Water & Light in Lansing, wrote an editorial about how Michigan used to be an industrial giant, the supplier of WWII machinery (whoohoo!), Detroit was considered the “Arsenal of Democracy.” The good old ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s, eh? When the economy was fueled by wars and we were shooting for the moon and the stars.

He says we should sign on, like 24 other US states, and pledge to use wind power and landfill gases to generate electricity. Hey, this is the general manager of the Board of Water & Light talking! He says only 3 percent of the electricity sold in Michigan is from renewable resources. He wants to see that tripled in the next decade.

Mr. Lark is saying Michigan can be the “Arsenal of Green Energy” instead of the “Arsenal of Democracy.” I like that. Envision less dependency on foreign oil. Envision less dependency on foreign oil. Envision less dependency on foreign oil. Envision fewer reasons for you know what. Yep, "protecting our interests"/loving the oil. Oil and blood, both running, one out of, one into, the ground.

Our Michigan auto execs failed us. They decided to nix the electric car. So, we have to keep “protecting our interests” in oil. Remember what that means. (I still haven’t seen “Who Killed the Electric Car?” gotta see it.)

Don and I would buy a wind turban for the farm if we could afford it ($6,000-22,000). Maybe we’ll try to afford it in a few years. Depending on available wind, we could reduce and/or eliminate our need for electricity fueled by oil. And the process of converting methane gas from landfills around here for electricity, that doesn’t break my heart either.

But what I’m getting pretty excited about is a bio-diesel burning car. After my Chevy Aveo I’d like to get one of these. I would go around to restaurants and ask for their frying oil. Hey! Michigan being the state with the highest number of fat people, that means leftover French Fry oil is plentiful! Heather, does Chris know a lot about making biodiesel?

This site talks about biodiesel fuel processors you can buy, but it also says you can build your own if you’re handy. Hey, I’m married to a handy guy.

So here are some benefits of biodiesel according to this site:

* It can be made from almost any vegetable oil. Most restaurants will gladly give you their used oil for this, but it’s best if it hasn’t been used too many times. You can make a batch in a day (6 hours).

* It’s actually good for your car’s engine, naturally cleans it.

* Biodiesel is so pure you can drink it! “100 times more biodegradable than petro-diesel, is cleaner burning, does not contribute additional Co2 to the atmosphere when burned" (Don, science teacher explains: regular diesel is made from crude oil that contained trapped carbon for millions of years in the ground, so burning it brings new carbon into the atmosphere. But biodiesel is burning carbon that was already in our atmosphere, so plants have already recycled it and we're not putting additional carbon into the air), "less explosive and less dangerous in a spill or accident, and smells like a deep fryer when it burns instead of the nasty diesel smell.”

* You can make top quality biodiesel for $.50-.90 a gallon.

So, am I right that any diesel burning engine can take biodiesel? I read that you might have to change rubber fittings for Viton, since biodiesel erodes rubber.

I’m sorry, but I just don’t believe converting to these new technologies is that hard. It just takes WILL. JFK said he wanted a man on the moon in 10 years. It happened in 8. Could Al Gore (i.e., President Al Gore) do the same, different goal? Convert dependency to foreign oil to dependency on the available energy from the sun, wind and trash (including trashed oil)? OMG, can you imagine a 10 year goal like that?


Raw Kale said...

Yes, I can imagine this- and I can imagine far more than 9% of board of water and light's energy being green!

Wonderful post!

Ruth said...

I agree, RK, 9% seems ridiculously puny. "Tripling" sounds so big. I don't know if people are thinking small, or if they think change will happen more surely if it goes slowly, or what. I do think with radical leadership radical things could happen. And Gore is the only viable person I could imagine taking radical courses of action.

Loring Wirbel said...

A friend of mine, Shea Pickelner, teaches Utah students how to convert their own cars - it's something feasible for those with time and pluck.

I think your "Manhattan Project" idea for Michigan is great, but one problem I've consistently seen with too many Michiganders, particularly those who grew up in the auto industry, is a tendency to be passive instead of innovative. I know this is over-stereotyping and there are many good innovators in the state, but changing the focus of Detroit and creating an "Arsenal of Green Energy" will require getting more residents of the state to believe that they can be in charge of their own destiny. I pray this can really happen!

Ruth said...

I know what you say from experience myself, Loring. Leaving Michigan in 1979 for California, we found out how different states could be. And there is something about the culture of this state that lags behind. I hope the disillusionment of auto workers and their families will turn into something to energize changes.

Rauf said...

My friend Bala in all his innocence said something stunning after reading my post on Americans.
He said their bombs are getting rusty and they have to drop them somewhere to make way for the new ones. you have some 9000 plus nukes(inside US) and don't know the number of bio and chemical weapons

This is a case of money going in the wrong direction. Michigan auto ececs did not fail you Ruth. Their ideas, ambitions and efforts were crushed and buried for the time being. Just imagine the same money going towards geen energy.

Actually Ruth, You don't have to do anything. You have to just lie down under a tree and rest. The earth is so rich that it gives you nearly everything. Earth can still feed twice the number of people. Last week i saw a woman losing her grip on her red umbrella and it flew out of her hands. i saw the whole thing, perhaps a school teacher, some books slipped out of her hand while trying to grab them she lost the grip on her umbrella. some school boys ran and got her umbrella back undamaged. it was fun for them as the umbrella kept flying away from tham. many boys were trying to catch it. the shape of the umbrella and the wind energy trapped in it made me smile.
We have just to convert it to our favour.
Luckily there was not much traffic.

Without digging without damaging we can use the energy available to us for free.
billions and billions of dollars are invested in oil. They will stop all your efforts to provide cheap energy. there will be more and more damage to control the oil.
these people will stop at nothing.
Human life has no value.

Ruth said...

I love the umbrella story, rauf, it's so easy for me to visualize it. It's a comfort to me, actually. Because I fear what you write.

lesleyanne said...

what amazing ideas, i feel so enlightened by this! this is what i WANT to see all the officials running this country and other countries thinking about! honestly, how difficult would it be? it's really all a matter of dependency right? well i'm sure there's much more involved than i even have a clue.

most of the time i feel pretty out of it. i just don't think about fuel anymore, it's so weird. it's only been, what, a YEAR since i stopped driving a car, and i feel like it's been longer. depending on electric transportation is not something i'm going to be able to give up easily.

by the way, i love the photo of those oil cans. "Amalie" dad showed those to me when i was there in August because of the name, and i suggested he turn them into lamps!

Ruth said...

Les, I agree, and I think that's what makes it even more frustrating, is that it just doesn't seem like it would be THAT hard or take that much. I mean this guy's goal is 6-9% of our energy sources being renewable.

I wish we had mass transit. Dad and I talk often about a rail between Williamston and Grand Ledge. We could drive to Grand River at the end of Meridian Road, hop on a train along with other commuters. I'm guessin it'll never happen, annoyingly.

Lamps, eh? Cool idea, hmm.

Ginnie said...

Preach it, Sistah!!!!!

Ruth said...

Boots, I just saw a piece on the news about Denmark. They are currently relying 20% on renewable resources for their country's energy. Their goal is 50%. Some of their towns (or maybe only one, I don't remember) are relying 100% on wind for electricity.

And have you heard about the new wave turbans? Using the seas, harbors, etc. for creating energy, and it's not harmful to sea life?