Mama Gone Green is a blog dedicated to raising happy children and reducing our impact on the Earth. My name is Taryn and I am the mother of 2 young kids and an environmental studies instructor at a community college in Portland, Oregon. Please join me as I journey through life as a mama, teacher, knitter, photographer, gardener, and environmentalist!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fuel: A Review

I watched this documentary after reading about it on a blog that I follow, Lady of the Arts. Honestly, I was surprised that I hadn't already seen it, or at least heard of it, as I tend to watch a lot of environmental documentaries, but pregnancy #2 has made me so tired that until the past week or so, watching a movie actually seemed like a chore.
Anyways, this is a great film that talks about the problem with our dependence on fossil fuels, and shows how we can realistically solve the problem by turning to biofuels. The filmmaker, Josh Tickell, has devoted his life to the campaign for biofuels, and has stuck with them through ups and downs.
Biofuels are fuels created from renewable sources, things like wood and plants that will grow back relatively quickly (as opposed to fossil fuels, oil, which takes millions and millions of years to form). Biofuels have sort of gotten a bad rap lately.... as food crops, such as corn, are converted from growing food for human or animal consumption and turned into a source of fuel, many have complained that these "ecofuels" are taking away from our food supply. This is partly so, although most of that overproduced corn would be used to make corn syrup anyways, which is simply horrible for us and doesn't need to be made. Point aside, using soy and corn as a fuel source does take away from our potential food growing capabilities, and in countries where food is not so plentiful, this could be a huge deal. Even aside from our food supply, growing corn takes so much fertilizer and pesticides (which are both petroleum based) that the total biofuel energy gained from turning corn into a fuel is basically zero. That's right, it takes almost as much petroleum energy to grow corn as the corn-fuel ends up replacing in the end. Pointless. So yes, biofuels do deserve to be criticized.... BUT, only when they are coming from corn or soy.
Biofuels can be derived from used cooking oil, which is awesome become folks are taking something out of the waste stream and reusing it for fuel. Plus, it is relatively easy to get locally. Problem is, there is just not enough used cooking oil out there to power the American fleet. I have the owners of a local Salem-based biofuels company, Sequential Biofuels, speak to my class every year, and they can't get enough used oil to meet the demand they have for biodiesel. Some other sources of biofuels include weed-ish plants that will grown without fertilizers or pesticides on marginal lands that couldn't be used for agriculture anyways. And the newest in the making is algae. I think that one is going to be a big hit in the future, so keep your eyes peeled.
Anyways, this is an interesting film that is definitely worth watching. I will be showing it to my class when I teach about energy and fuels again in a few terms. And, biofuels are just awesome. When I was in Eugene last weekend, we had a chance to get gas (regular unfortunately, as we don't drive a diesel) at the Sequential Biofuels filling station. This place had solar panels, a green roof, and the market was full of organic goodies. When I saw this place, it was just my dream for the future. All we need are some more people with a dream and determination and we will be well on our way! Pin It Now!

1 comment:

  1. I SO agree with your last line:
    All we need are some more people with a dream and determination and we will be well on our way!
    This is what keeps me passionate about talking about environmental issues that I feel strongly about- especially to young children- They are going to be strapped with such a burden and they will also hopefully see many waves of positive changes- They are the future.

    Thanks for the shout out and link love--