Monday, October 15, 2007

The Environment (and how to help)

Well, today is the official blogger action day, and this year, the subject is the environment. So I've decided to blog about something that I often do, and that is the importance of Alternative Sustainable Energy.

Now, the first question this usually brings up is not why is it important? but rather: what is it? So, first off,

Alternative simply means, different from the norm. Right now, the world gets most of it's energy from fossil fuels, which we all know are dirty, so an alternative energy would have to be something other than a fossil fuel.

Sustainable means something that that will be able to continue indefinitely (pretty much forever) Now, we all that fossil fuels aren't sustainable, we are all ready running out (which, in case you ever wondered, is one of the main reasons gas gets more and more expensive). Now there are other forms of fuel that would qualify as alternative, like Nuclear power, that aren't really sustainable because they are eventually going to either run out, or result in a situation that would force us to stop using them.

So, in order for a source of energy to really benefit the environment, we see that it has to be both alternative and sustainable.

So, if we've eliminated fossil fuels (gas, coal, petrol, diesel) then whats left? Actually a lot. Energy sources like the wind, rivers, the ocean, and then Sun are all around us. Unfortunately, harvesting energy from these sources can often have a bad effect of the environment (don't believe me? just visit the land up stream from a hydroelectric dam, or see what happens when a flock of geese flies through a wind farm) so today I want to bring to attention an often over looked source of alternative sustainable energy that is very easy to access, efficient to use and, best of all, is something that we as individuals have access to and can start to use, without having to wait for governments and big business. The fuel is: Biomass.

Now, most people (normal people anyways) have never even heard the term before. But it's really rather simple. Bio means life, and mass means anything that has, um mass, so biomass just means something that was alive, something that grew i.e. grass clippings, wood chips, corn, logs, weeds, your dog fluffy.

"Now wait a minute." you say "Isn't burning stuff bad for the environment?" Well, yes, in some situations. The first one is if you are introducing new matter into the environment and burning it, like oil. When you burn oil, you are taking all this matter from under ground with all of its own toxins and carbons, combusting it, and releasing all those poisons into our environment, thus, the big whole in the ozone over the Antarctic.
The second is if you are burning inefficiently, which is why thing like wood stoves and fireplaces have gotten such a bad rap. Burning inefficiently means that your not burning as much of the matter as you could, hint, if you see smoke, it's not efficient, thus, the haze over all of China's Major cities.
So in order to burn stuff and still do the environment a service, you need to 1. use things that were already in the environment, and 2. do it efficiently.
Biomass is obviously already in the environment(when a piece of wood falls off a tree and rots, it produces the same amount of carbon that it would if you pick it up burn it), and thanks to technology that has developed just in the past couple of years, we can now burn it efficiently.

As an added bonus, since biomass is all around us and doesn't have to be mined, or hauled in from a distant country, it always much cheaper than fossil fuels. So so you can save money at the same time.

"So just how can the average person use biomass?" I've included some links to websites that show biomass units (machines that allow for the combustion of biomass in a safe, efficient way) Many some of these sites even tell how to get one, and offer support for installing and using them.

Check them out:

GreenWood Furnaces


Thanks for reading!

- Andrew


Mattea K. said...

Yes, I did steal your survey...but hey, I liked the topic and it was the only fun thing I could think of at that moment.

han said...

hey! I'm actually doing a report on this right now! You just gave me some help. Thanks.

* Han*

Andrew said...

haha, no problem!

= )

Sherlock said...

Nice post andrew! Poor fluffy...

anyhoo, sad that i missed blogger action day. I would have done a post on floridian alligator hugging and it's negative effect on the huggers face.

dobyfootster said...

Hey Andrew,
Great job on the biomass. Good to meet you last Friday at Pro-Fab. How was the 29 hour ride back? Did you get to drive some of the way? It is great flying west. I left Winnepeg at 5 p.m. and got back to Vancover at 5:30. Only a 2,000 mile, 1/2 hour flight. Pretty cool.
Bill Foote
Greenwood-Bellevue, WA.

Andrew said...

I actually didn't get to drive on the way back, which made it seem longer, but on the other hand, we got back alive which is always a plus, and Mr. Kimball and my Dad had finished business planning, which I think was the main reason they risked their lives on the way up.

half an hour?!

no comment....