Energy RSS feed

Have we drastically underestimated the productive capacity of plants?

Posted by Chad Kruger | August 28, 2014

A new paper published in Environmental Science & Technology (DeLucia et al., 2014) suggests that scientists have drastically underestimated the earth’s theoretical potential to produce biomass – by as much as 2 orders of magnitude! That’s going to take a minute to wrap my mind around.

x10x10

Read more »

Filed under Climate Change, Energy, Sustainability
No Comments

The Reactive Nitrogen “Wicked Problem”– critical nutrient, disastrous pollutant

Posted by Craig Frear | August 11, 2014

Nobel Peace Prize recipient and Director of the Purdue University Climate Change Research Center, Dr. Otto Doering, recently gave a keynote speech where he highlighted his definition of Wicked Problems facing the globe and the US.

In brief, he used US struggles regarding affordable health care and the debate regarding the Affordable Health Care Act as a prime example of a Wicked Problem. Regardless where one might stand politically on such an issue, it is clear that the issues of affordable health care and potential policy solutions are of great importance to many, with its tentacles reaching into vast and diverse sectors of our society. No clear consensus on how to solve the problem appears to be present, due to the complexities and interrelationships involved. In particular, solutions can be shown to result in a cascade of unknown consequences, either positive or negative, with individual stakeholders holding a diversity of economic, personal and social viewpoints.  Read more »

Closing the Nutrient Loop

Posted by Georgine Yorgey | July 2, 2014

There are a number of sustainability issues getting a fair amount of attention these days: climate change, regional and local food systems, and soil health, to name a few. While this is obviously good, there are also issues that may be getting somewhat less attention than they deserve. And closing the nutrient loop is one of these. Read more »

Filed under Energy, Sustainable Practices and Technology
No Comments

The “Rest” of the Food System

Posted by Craig Frear | January 22, 2014

In recent years, increasing numbers of consumers have become interested in making sure the food system is more sustainable. However, the bulk of effort and attention has gone toward the part of the food system that leads up to their forks. Much less attention has been paid to the “post-fork” part of our food system. This part of the food system is big. In 2008, food losses were estimated to be 30% at the retail and consumer levels in the U.S., with a total estimated retail value of $165.6 billion (Buzby and Hyman 2012). Other estimates are similar, ranging from 25–40%. Read more »

Safety first, please! Even renewable fuels can be hazardous

Posted by Chad Kruger | June 18, 2013

The fertilizer plant explosion in Texas a few weeks back provided a stark reminder of one of the downsides of energy technology – that they can be dangerous. More recently, a “backyard” entrepreneur in Washington State discovered the same while experimenting with hydrogen fuel – though thankfully with no loss of life.  As reported in the Bellingham Herald.

While one of the frequently celebrated aspects of many renewable fuels is the potential for decentralized, local (and even home-based) production, please let these recent stories be a reminder that experimenting with any source of energy or fuel, even a renewable, can be extremely hazardous. If you are uncertain about what you are doing, it would be best to exercise caution.

Filed under Energy
1 Comment

Anaerobic Digestion: Beyond Waste Management

Posted by Chad Kruger | June 13, 2013

After nearly a decade of work, we’re finally ready to “show off” our achievements in improving the environmental performance of dairies. Take a look at the brief video we recently produced describing our efforts and join us in the field on July 10th!

Frequently Asked Questions about climate change and agriculture: Part 2

Posted by Chad Kruger | August 9, 2012

Last week I introduced a series of frequently asked questions and began by addressing the first:

The EPA says agriculture only accounts for 6% of US greenhouse gas emissions. Shouldn’t we focus our efforts on bigger problems such as coal fired power plants and automobile emissions instead?

Today I’ll address the following:

Do “food miles” – the distance that food travels from producer to consumer – really matter to the climate?

Not only is this a “frequently asked question”, but it has become a fairly contentious issue in both the commercial retail industry as well as in local / community food systems discussions. As with many catchy slogans, the phrase “food miles” hints at a larger truth but is actually too simple to adequately address issues of transport of food. Read more »

Filed under Climate Change, Energy, Food Systems, Sustainability
No Comments