How Can We Reduce Our Fossil Fuel Use?

It’s pretty simple. The use of fossil fuels as an energy source is not sustainable. The process of extracting fossil fuels from the ground is extremely destructive to the environment and all life. This includes you! You do like access to clean drinking water, right? You do like breathing clean air, right? Not to mention we don’t need extreme weather, earthquakes, acid rain, and greenhouse gas caused by these destructive industries.

To be clear, we realize that there is no way to outright ban fossil fuels. There is just too much machinery and infrastructure that runs on fossil fuels. We know this. What we CAN do however, is prevent new fossil fuel projects from becoming reality. We can greatly reduce fossil fuel use and transition to sustainable, clean energy solutions like biofuels.

Let’s briefly examine the leading destructive ways that we fulfill our energy needs: 
photo credit: Mother Nature Network

COAL: A large coal-burning plant annually burns 3 million tons of coal to produce 11 million tons of carbon dioxide. Is that worth it? (The answer is NO.) Mountain top removal coal mining is making West Virginia, known as the mountain state, FLAT. The companies who do this literally blow the tops off mountains with tons and tons of explosives, then push all the debris over the hillside. They have buried thousands of miles of streams and destroyed habitat for wildlife. In addition, coal mining causes deforestation and releases toxic amounts of minerals and heavy metals into the soil and water. Coal mining’s effects persist for years after coal is removed. Entire communities are being poisoned because they live near coal mines or coal slurry ponds. For more detailed information, see this page at Greenpeace.org.

Israel Oil Spill. Credit: oilandgaspeople.com

OIL: Oil provides 40 to 43 percent of all energy used by the world. Oil and coal each account for 40 percent of global warming emissions from fossil fuels worldwide, according to Oil Change International. If we hope to maintain a stable climate, the world cannot afford to burn more than one quarter of the carbon contained in already identified fossil fuel reserves – so why on earth is the oil and gas industry spending in excess of $150 billion each year looking for new reserves? The most publicized environmental effect of using petroleum as a fuel is oil spills, highlighted by the spill of 40,000 tons of oil from the tanker Exxon Valdez off the coast of Alaska in 1989. Although over a billion dollars was spent in the clean-up, many of the beaches were ruined and numerous species of aquatic animals suffered damage that will not be healed for decades. But by world standards this was not a large oil spill. In 1979, the Atlantic Empress was involved in a collision off the coast of Tobago in the Caribbean, spilling 305,000 tons, and in 1978 the Amoco Cadiz ruined many miles of French beaches with a spill of 237,000 tons. There are lots of smaller spills. U.S. tankers alone spilled an average of 215,000 tons per year in 1970-1974, and 380,000 tons per year in 1975-1979. At any given time, over 100 million tons of oil is being transported by ships, so it is not surprising that some of it occasionally ends up in the water. And we haven’t even discussed the greenhouse gases that form once the oil is burned.

Toxic fracking water in PA. Credit: nofrackingway.usToxic fracking water in PA. Credit: nofrackingway.us

NATURAL GAS AND FRACKING: Fracking involves injecting millions of gallons of toxic, chemically treated water underground to break up shale formations and release natural gas. The Environment America Research & Policy Center report, Fracking by the Numbers, was the first to measure the damaging footprint of fracking. The highlights:

  • 280 billion gallons of toxic wastewater generated in 2012—enough to flood all of Washington, DC, in a 22-foot deep toxic lagoon
  • 450,000 tons of air pollution produced in one year
  • Thousands of abandoned wells leaking methane gas into the atmosphere
  • 360,000 acres of land degraded since 2005
  • 100 million metric tons of global warming pollution since 2005

Most of the general public opposes fracking. Our lawmakers who accept bribes from these dirty energy companies should be ashamed of themselves, should be held accountable, and should be removed from office. Read more about the dangers of fracking at SierraClub.org and EcoWatch.com.

Take Action!
Tell your elected officials that you want them to stop funding the problems and start funding the solutions.

 

So What’s the Solution? It’s Biofuels!

 

The climate scientists are telling us we need to leave fossil fuels in the ground. The United Nations’ latest climate assessment says we need to phase out fossil fuels or face ‘Irreversible’ climate impact. So what’s the solution?

Many people seem to have forgotten that fossil fuels were never used as an energy source until the late 1800s. What fuels did the world run on before this? How did the world at that time produce heating oil or lubricants for machinery? How did the world produce paints, varnishes, oil for lamps, etc? People of the world had all of these things. If they were not produced from fossil fuels, then what were they made from?

The answer of course, is plants. Annual farm crops such as the hemp plant were fully capable of providing all of the world’s energy needs, and still are. These energy crops can easily be converted into a clean-burning charcoal that can be used by large power plants instead of coal to generate electricity. Energy crops could also be grown on a large scale to produce seed oil, which can be processed into clean-burning deisel, methanol, or a number of other fuels. Problem solved.

Burning fossil fuels has major disadvantages. Before they are even burned, fossil fuel extraction is not sustainable. Once, depleted, they’re gone, at the cost of vast environmental destruction. Then, once fossil fuels are burned, they release harmful greenhouse gasses like CO2, mainly because they contain sulphur. Smog pollution kills. Not only that, but we now know that the natural gas industry has many gas wells that leak methane gas into the atmosphere. In short, fracking speeds up human-caused climate change, thanks to methane leaks alone. Yep, it turns out, methane is a super-potent greenhouse gas, which traps 86 times as much heat as CO2 over a 20-year period.

So what can we do about all this? We need to phase out fossil fuels and encourage farmers to grow energy crops. We should reduce fossil fuel use by 90 percent as soon as possible. Got investments in fossil? Get out now. The end of the fossil fuel era is coming. People around the world including Catholic bishops and the Pope, are calling for an end to the devastation.

The obvious solution is a simple one. Grow energy crops, specifically, the hemp plant on a large scale, just as farmers had always done up until the 1940s. The environmental benefit would be huge. As the plants grow, they would actually breathe in much of the CO2 that is currently polluting our air. That’s right, these energy crops could actually clean up the environment and reverse some serious problems from greenhouse gases, which is exactly what the climate scientists are telling us needs to happen.

Until about 130 years ago, 80% of our economy depended on the hemp plant for paper, fiber, oil and fuel. It is by far the single best source for all of those things. Most of our textiles, fabrics, clothes, linen, drapes, bed sheets, etc. were made from hemp until the 1820s with the introduction of the cotton gin. There are other crops that also could be used for fuel such as corn, kenaf, and sugarcane, but the hemp plant is superior to all others. In 1916, the U.S. Government Dept. of Agriculture predicted that by the 1940s, all paper would come from hemp and that no more trees would need to be cut down.

Oregon State University conducted an extensive study on the feasibility of industrial hemp production in the Pacific northwest. Popular Mechanics touted hemp as the “New Billion Dollar Crop.” Read more incredible hemp facts here.

Visionaries such as Henry Ford saw the value in energy crops and the clean-burning fuel produced from them. Ford never intended for his cars to be run on fossil fuels. His vision was to build cars that were “grown from the soil” and assembled using plastic body panels produced from energy crops, and powered by clean biofuel derived from hempseed oil. See for yourself:

Hemp fuel is non-toxic, biodegradable and does not contribute to sulfur dioxide air poisoning. A pipeline spill of biofuel would simply become fertilizer, rather than an environmental disaster. So what’s holding us back? Politics, greed, corruption, corporate lobbyists, investors, etc. Much of the US Congress is in bed with these multi-national fossil fuel companies that would make way less money if the laws against hemp farming were repealed. It’s complete insanity to outlaw the only plant that can provide all of our energy needs sustainably.

The following information comes directly from the United States Department of Agriculture’s 1942 14-minute film, Hemp for Victory, which was required viewing for all US farmers during WWII by Federal mandate. It encouraged and instructed ‘patriotic American farmers’ to grow 350,000 acres of hemp each year for the war effort:

…(When) Grecian temples were new, hemp was already old in the service of mankind. For thousands of years, even then, this plant had been grown for cordage and cloth in China and elsewhere in the East. For centuries prior to about 1850, all the ships that sailed the western seas were rigged with hempen rope and sails. For the sailor, no less than the hangman, hemp was indispensable…

…Now with Philippine and East Indian sources of hemp in the hands of the Japanese…American hemp must meet the needs of our Army and Navy as well as of our industries…

…the Navy’s rapidly dwindling reserves. When that is gone, American hemp will go on duty again; hemp for mooring ships; hemp for tow lines; hemp for tackle and gear; hemp for countless naval uses both on ship and shore. Just as in the days when Old Ironsides sailed the seas victorious with her hempen shrouds and hempen sails. Hemp for victory!

Victory indeed.

 

 

This car runs on hemp fuel. Credit: HempCar.org. Download large image here.

 

The Hemp plant, in conjunction with wind, solar, tidal and hydroelectric power, could save the planet by providing all of our energy, fuel, paper, fiber, and 10 to 30% of our medical needs, naturally. It would also reduce acid rain and chemical pollution, rebuild the soil, and reverse the Greenhouse Effect (no other plant can do this!)

We must demand that the unjust laws that outlaw this energy crop be repealed. Please refer to this excellent article from Reason.com. We, the people, are concerned with the health of the planet and our future generations. We are not concerned with huge profits for a few dirty energy companies. The farmers must be allowed to grow biomass to meet most of our energy needs sustainably, which would create green jobs and stimulate the economies in communities across America.

“Make the most you can of the Indian Hemp seed and sow it everywhere.”
– George Washington, U.S. President

“Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth & protection of the country.”
– Thomas Jefferson, U.S. President

 

What Can Be Done Right Now?

 

Although our American farmers are not allowed to grow the best biomass to supply most of our energy needs, you can still try to avoid using fossil fuels. Reduce the demand. Go solar. Build a windmill. These two things can eliminate your electricity bill, while reducing the amount of coal being mined and burned.

Don’t forget to TAKE ACTION!
Tell your elected officials that you want them to stop funding fossil fuel subsidies. Tell them to let farmers grow industrial hemp.

Please raise awareness & share this page- Tell your friends and family. Hashtag #LetFarmersGrow

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