Scum of the Earth

This essay is something of a companion piece to my last one, in which we explored the fallacy of the leftist dogma of “alternative energy” solutions to oil and gas prices. Since I wrote that piece, Dear Leader Obama has weighed in with his proposal for a solution to the problem.


Yep. That’s right. The Brilliant One has pinpointed pond scum as the way to “energy independence”.

“We’re making new investments in the development of gasoline and diesel and jet fuel that’s actually made from a plant-like substance — algae… Believe it or not, we could replace up to 17 percent of the oil we import for transportation with this fuel that we can grow right here in the United States.” Dear Leader in a speech at Miami University. (Quote from IER)

Well, maybe there’s something to that. After all, where does oil come from? The transformation of organic matter into oil. We know we can create biofuels from used cooking oil. So maybe there’s something to this, right? I decided to look into it.

I went to the website of the Institute for Energy Research (Link) and lo and behold, they had an article on just that topic (Here). It seems that from 1978 to 1996 the Department of Energy funded research into the development of algae – pond scum – as an alternative fuel source. But they ran into several problems.

To meet 100% of our fuel needs would take algae farms that would cover an area the size of the state of North Dakota. Even if we set a target of meeting only 17% of our fuel needs – per Dear Leader’s speech – that still requires farms that would equal an area the size of South Carolina. Now, I doubt that the residents of either state would be too keen on evacuating just to make room for scum farms, so someplace would have to be found to grow the stuff.

Remember, we’re talking pond scum, so it would have to be in the South, because the stuff won’t grow in the cold. It would have to be warm all year round. Which means we’d probably have to fill up our southern deserts with scum farms. Wouldn’t that disrupt the habitats of some turtles or something? Oh, well, a problem for another day.

Of course, scum needs water in which to grow. A lot of water. About 350 gallons of water for each gallon of scum oil. Where’s that going to come from? Especially in the desert? Well… maybe we can locate these scum farms near the rivers instead of in the deserts. But now we’re back to inhabited areas again. Are those people going to be any more willing than the Dakotans and Carolinians to just up and move away to make room for the scum?

Then we’re going to need a whole new technological infrastructure – refineries – to process that green stuff into stuff you can put in your car. You can’t refine scum in an oil refinery. Oh, no! Even more disruption of the environment!

That’s the problem with these hare-brained ideas that come from the leftists: they’re … well… hare-brained.

© Brian Baker 2012

58 comments on “Scum of the Earth

  1. says:

    He sounds like a desperate person. Much like Hitler’s non existant armies that were going to save Germany long about March or April of ’45..

  2. Mrs. AL says:

    Nicely done, BrianR. Let’s see, we have hares’ brains and pond scum here. That sort of sums all this up rather succinctly!

  3. thedrpete says:

    Pond-scum fuel would be a CHANGE and is terrible for brewing beer. You can either skim it or scoop it, and that gives me HOPE.

    Nothing’s perfect, BrianR. Why just point to the flaws? Why not look at the plusses? Hhmmmmm. Hhmmmmmmmmmm.

    Never mind, I just answered my own question.

    • BrianR says:

      LOL, DrP!

      Well, that’s a good point. The plusses. Hmmm…..

      I think I need some time on that. Lemme get back to you.

    • BrianR says:

      Yeah, great link. Limbaugh really needs to do his research before shooting from the lip.

      “Proven reserves” have an even more specific meaning than that article states. A deposit has to have been “developed” to be considered “proven”. By that, it must have a road (access) and/or on-site structures or equipment. So, the enviro-wacks simply deny permits to build roads or on-site buildings or equipment, and voila! It’s not a “proven” reserve! It doesn’t count! We have an oil shortage!

      It’s a total bait-and-switch. Complete bootstrapping.

      Here’s some more info from the IER:

      “[A]lthough the U.S. is said to have only 20 billion barrels of oil in reserves, the amount of oil that is technically recoverable in the U.S. is more than 1.4 trillion barrels, with the largest deposits located offshore, in portions of Alaska, and in shale in the Rocky Mountain West. When combined with resources from Canada and Mexico, total recoverable oil in North America exceeds 1.7 trillion barrels, or more than the world has used since the first oil well was drilled over 150 years ago in Titusville, Pennsylvania. To put this in context, Saudi Arabia has about 260 billion barrels of oil in proved reserves.

      “One reason to view ‘reserves’ estimates with caution is the fact that they are constantly in flux. In 1980, the U.S. had oil reserves of roughly 30 billion barrels. Yet from 1980 through 2010, it produced over 77 billion barrels of oil. In other words, over the last 30 years, the U.S. produced over 150 percent of the proved reserves that it had in 1980. If the massive quantities of U.S. oil are made available to explore and produce, the current estimated reserves of 20 billion barrels would certainly increase, providing much more production over decades to come. In other words, reserves are not a stagnant number.[4]”

      Those numbers are actually low, because in shale in the Green River formation ALONE we have about 1.8 TRILLION barrels, at least 800 BILLION of it recoverable, according to the Dept of the Interior.

      Bet you never read about THAT in the newspapers. Pass it on.

  4. Gunny G says:

    I just got done airing up my tires and getting a tune up too!

    Liberals NEVER have great ideas and the ones they put into effect are never voluntary…only mandatory (even as they exempt themselves from it, i.e., ObummerKare.)

    Pond scum? Obama is familiar with that, coming from Sh*tcago.

    • BrianR says:

      Guns, the ONLY way they can get their stupid ideas into play is to mandate them. No one with half a brain and any common sense at all would do it voluntarily.

      You’re getting close to my double-entendre joke with the title…

  5. Hardnox says:

    When I heard zero utter his drivel about algae I damn drove into a ditch. Who writes his speeches? That was the most asinine statement from a head of state that I have ever heard. The algae to fuel technology is theoretical and has NEVER been done.

    In the meantime, the jackass keeps yammering that we consume 20% of the world’s oil. THAT”S A LIE. We consume 20% of the world’s AVAILABLE oil reserves. That’s a totally different conversation.

    As you know, we have a shitload of oil here in the good ole USA but we are not allowed to touch it for a thousand reasons.

    Oil link other commodities is fungible whereas any change or threat of change effects the price since it is traded globally. If a POTUS, not this asshole, were to announce that we will drill everywhere the price of oil would tank instantly. The Arab and other oil producing countries would shit razor-blades since they need oil to be over $75 a barrel to continue financing their version of Utopian welfare.

    Sorry for the rant…

    • BrianR says:

      Are you kidding? That was a GREAT rant! And I couldn’t agree more. If we announced that we were lifting all obstacles to domestic extraction immediately, the world price of oil — and thereby gas at the pump — would plummet immediately to its realistic level, not the current level created by the artificial shortage we create by refusing to drill here, drill now, baby!

  6. I used to have a link to a video about an algae to fuel operation, but the link went bad. Using vertical tubes in a greenhouse-like building, it can be done in less area and even in northern areas. The fuel worked, but again it would take a lot of infrastructure to start making enough of it to become economically viable. Will it become a major source of fuel? Not in our lifetimes.

    • BrianR says:

      Craw, first of all, you’ve been AWOL for a while at your own site. What gives?

      Now, as to what you wrote:

      “Using vertical tubes in a greenhouse-like building, it can be done in less area and even in northern areas.” Maybe… but on what scale? Billions and billions of barrels? Because that’s what Bat Ears is talking about. How big would that building have to be? As big as the Death Star in Star Wars?


      As you say, not in our lifetimes.

  7. Grey Neely says:

    In 2009, I worked on a proposal for an “Algae to Diesel” facility for the TVA Electric Generating Plant in Choctaw County Mississippi. This generating plant uses the lignite fields located near Ackerman, Mississippi, for fuel and is a “state of the art” plant that was constructed in the late 1990’s. (During this time I was the General Manager of a municipal electric utility that was a TVA power distributor. I worked closely with TVA on the changes this plant would make to the TVA transmission system in NE Mississippi.)

    The main reason for this “Algae to Diesel” facility was a reduction in the amount of carbon dioxide produced by the generating plant. Carbon dioxide would be piped to the facility and used to “jump-start” the growth of the special algae. After the algae had fully grown, it would be harvested and the diesel fuel removed. The dead algae would be dried using waste heat from the generating plant. Then the bio-diesel fuel and the dried biomass would be used as an additional fuel in the boilers of the generating plant. (Land is cheap in Choctaw County and readily obtainable next door to the TVA plant. An “Algae to Diesel” facility would look like a large catfish farm and require large amounts of land.)

    Two old friends (a civil engineer and an architect) and I developed this proposal. However, as none of us were FOO’s (Friends of Obama), TVA decided not to fund any further research into the project.

    Of interest in all of this is the fact that fuel producing algae is ONLY economically feasible in a limited number of cases and locations. To say that you are going to produce ALL the fuel needs for the US by growing special algae is ludicrous at best (and completely brain-dead stupid at the worst).

    • Grey Neely says:

      Brian, if you would like to see some of the drawings and illustrations of what the facility might have looked like, I would be glad to email them to you.

      • BrianR says:

        Thahnks, Grey. I got your email; I’ll get a chance to read them a bit later today.

    • BrianR says:

      Yeah, I think I’ll go with the “at worst” option.

      That’s an interesting project, Grey, and falls in line with the ability to produce other bio-fuels, too, like the reprocessing of used cooking oil. The problem, as you note, is one of scale. That’s where these kinds of ideas fall apart.

      The sheer quantity of fuel required to do what Bat Ears proposes requires these huge spaces to be dedicated, which is the thrust of my essay. Where the heck do we raise that much scum? Where do we get that much used frying oil? Etc.

      Where are the processing plants to create that much fuel?

      • Grey Neely says:

        And note Brian, my proposal was for a very limited application (i.e., one fossil fueled plant out in the middle of no where). Land next to this site is very inexpensive ($500.00 per acre). And the main reason for the algae facility was NOT producing bio-diesel but rather reducing the CO2 and heat emissions from the plant.

        O’Vomit has shiite for brains if he believes that bio-fuels will ever be anything more than a limited application approach to solving a site’s problems.

        As for “fueling” the US, I would like to volunteer the states of New Jersey and Illinois as the locations of a total state-wide bio-fuel facility. Perhaps O’Vomit can be the manager of the Illinois facility. And besides bio-fuel, they can raise catfish, fed by Liberals who would like to decrease the population of the world. I would also like to volunteer Red Nancy and Dingy Harry as the first inductees into the Catfish Food Hall of Fame.

      • BrianR says:


        Man… You’re on a roll this morning.

  8. Hardnox says:

    Since we in Virginia have had a rather wet winter and a recent warm snap i would like to report that I have a crapload of algae growing in my pastures. I have sent zero an email requesting that the department of energy arrive with shopvacs and remove the slime…. just trying to do my part to save the planet.

    • BrianR says:

      You’re a great environmentalist, Hardnox, and I’m proud of you.

      I’m sure Obambi will rush that vac out to you without delay. Please be sure to let us know when it arrives. I’m waiting with baited breath.

  9. jevica says:

    Another dream by the radical enviro crowd, and BHO.

    This all sounds soo sweet till you look under the cover. The media never [or most of them don’t] let out this news after one of the anointed ones speeches.

    Another good post by Brian.

  10. clyde says:

    Great post and comments.Let’s carry this further. The moonbats HAVE a source of water for scum ponds of this size. Ever hear of those little ponds called the Great Lakes? Imagine the Wetstone XL water pipeline from Toledo to Texas.I’m SURE the envirowackos in this region would be more than tickled to GIVE UP the water contained therein to help “wean us from oil”. Now,as to producing scum in the colder regions,simple. Build solar-powered green houses. No problemo,right? What’s that? You say there isn’t enough SUNLIGHT in a day during the winter months to heat it up? Snow cover on the sheet plastic,blocking what little sun light there may be?? Won’t grow at below zero?With AGW,shouldn’t be cold enough to snow,eh? The sheer lunacy of these lefties OUGHT to be enough to humiliate them right out on their kiesters,but,it seems as if the “dumbing down” has been more successful than THEY could have imagined. HOW on Earth can ANY rational,sentient being listen to the BECS and take him seriously? Christ on a crutch.

  11. CW says:

    Well, Brian, you’re obviously one of those annoying people who likes to consider all of the possible consequences and ramifications to a proposal (aka a “conservative”). I hope you understand this disqualifies you for public office.

  12. says:

    After carefully considering the idea of using pond scum for gas, wind power for electricity and after pouring Billions (with a capital B) down the drain on solar poer, I have been wondering…
    Just when will Obama get around to the transmutation of lead into gold??

  13. EDamon50 says:

    To be the smartest guys in the room they have the stupidest ideas! Pond scum? Really? Here in the Great State of North Carolina, we want pond scum removed not for fuel, but because it gets all hung up in our fishing lines!

    Is this what an Ivy education is for? To dream up crackpot schemes for turning pond scum into fuel?

    • BrianR says:

      Excellent linked article, Jev, addressing a crucial issue. Bush did get Congressional approval for Iraq, though that falls far short of a formal declaration. Both he and Congress failed in their constitutionally-mandated duties. Bat Ears hasn’t even bothered with that; he just charges ahead like a Caesar.

  14. says:

    Another thing the greenies will go after is the wind energy but only should it ever prove successful and profitable.
    Because enough wind generators could act as a braking force on the prairie winds much as coastal forests slow down hurricane winds the greenies will, one day, start demonstrating against wind power. They’ll claim the numerous wind generators so slow the wind down they are a direct cause to man made global warming or global cooling whichever is popular at the time.

    • BrianR says:

      They’re already going after it out here in Commiefornia becauase the windmill blades kill birds, including the sainted condor.

      Can’t have that!

  15. jevica says:

    Brian the usual suspects. Might not be able to find as many public pools this summer.

    “Trial lawyers unwrap Obama gift on ADA tomorrow”

    “The Obama administration insists that they won’t enforce the rule … for now, anyway. They don’t have to enforce it themselves, though. The ADA allows for individuals to sue non-compliant “public access” facilities for violations of any of the ADA rules in effect. ”

    Lawyers wonder why people hold them in the regard they do, well this is one reason.

    • BrianR says:

      Another great link, Jev, and thanks.

      That whole article describes a completely despicable situation, on so many levels. The intrusiveness of the ADA; the capriciousness of enforcement; the vagueness of interpretation; the incompetence of Obama’s & Holder’s Justice Department, on and on and on.

  16. says:

    Get a tuneup?

    Funny thing.

    You buy a new Buick the manual recommends your first tuneup at 100K.

    No schidt. Check it out. That’s what modern engineering and unleaded gas has done for automobiles.

    • BrianR says:

      Not good enough for the eco-Nazis!

      Yeah, I remember when 20MPG was considered GREAT gas mileage.

      That’s exactly what modern engineering can accomplish, but the eco-freaks don’t believe in the free market; that’s the bottom line. They can IMPOSE their dreams by imperial fiat, market be damned.

      I used this example on a newspaper thread the other day: Jules Verne predicted the use of nuclear power in his 19th Century novel “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”, but it took about 70 years for technology to advance enough to actually make it possible. There was no way to wave a magic wand and make it happen immediately.

      But the eco-Nazis think they can do exactly that. They’re idiots.

  17. says:

    Repeating what I said in Crawfish’s blog,
    When private enterprise finds a profitable way to manufacture a battery/hybrid it will be on the market. And a lot cheper than the Volt, I’ll bet.
    I’d look for someone who is already in the market to someday come up with a viable car.
    Someone like Club Car, EZ Go or Yamaha.

    • BrianR says:

      Of course. The MARKET will respond, like it always does.

      The problem (one of myriads) with leftists is that they think they can dictate to and control the market.

      So did the USSR.

  18. jevica says:

    Yes leave it to the market, not the big overgrown government.

  19. AfterShock says:

    And I was afraid all that swamp-land behind my house was useless, Weelll dogies, it appears I’m a regular Jed Clampett! Yessir, …and up through the pond comes a bubblin’ crud, pond scum, Minnesota g — algae that is — green gold.

    Oh yeah, that’s right, I plum forgot the EPA calls my ‘ol swamp a protected wetland. And besides, I reckon a man’d be a dang fool to leave all this natural beauty for some kinda mansion in Californee.

  20. Very efficiently written information. It will be helpful to everyone who utilizes it, including myself. Keep doing what you are doing – for sure i will check out more posts.

  21. Philosophocon says:

    Hey Brian, long time no see, I trust you’re well. I’m doing OK myself, kids growing, cancer not returning, and even possibly upcoming nuptials.

    Pleasantries aside, I was reading the following article on the Tunisian situation which I found very interesting, and I expect applies to the the ME Arab Spring writ large, and I thought that you might find it of interest if you hadn’t already come across it.

    ” Radical Islamists are making inroads in the Arab world’s most advanced, liberal, and tolerant country. And the secularists think the United States is helping them do it.

    Demonstrators were protesting Washington’s warm relations and close cooperation with the new ruling party which already appears to be slipping in popularity.

    “People here think the United States is cooperating with Ennahda,” said local journalist Ashraf Ayadi, referring to the Islamists who won 42 percent of the vote in the election last October.

    “People here are against the United States helping Ennahda,” Ayadi continued. “All Americans who come here are against the Islamists, but the American government is supporting them.

    “It is a fascist party,” Sghayier continued. “They tried to convince people they’re just defending religion and they won the election that way, but they have a fascist program.

    Obama’s apparent support for Ennahda, real or imagined, is making it difficult to improve our image in the hearts and minds of Tunisians who share our values.

    “Most journalists in the West,” I said, “describe Ennahda as a moderate party in almost every single article about this country.” “These are not serious people,” she said. “They have no idea what they are talking about. Ennahda is not moderate.”

    Of course, even though the article is pretty good wrt to the ME stuff, when it comes to the author’s reference to the U.S., the American journalist can’t help but be true to his profession and demonstrate his ignorance:

    “It’s important to remember that the majority of Tunisians voted against Ennahda. If either the Democratic or Republican party in the United States won a mere 42 percent of the vote, the election would rightly be called an epic shellacking.”

    Yeah, what was Clinton’s popular vote tally again? Yup, I sure remember all those “Clinton receives epic shellacking at the polls” headlines from the NYT.

    • BrianR says:

      Philos! Great to see you! And I’m happy to hear all the news, too. Congrats on getting hitched.

      Very interesting article. It clearly illustrates a couple of things. The first, of course, is Bat Ears’s complete incompetence, in this case specifically on the diplomatic front. The second, which ties directly into that, is the MSM’s absolute refusal to see Islamic fanaticism for what it is. They will NEVER, it seems, call that for what it is.

  22. BrianR says:

    Submitted anonymously. Not on-topic. So, I don’t have any idea who submitted this, or what their point is.

  23. Thanks for finally talking about >Scum of the Earth The View from the
    Island <Liked it!

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  25. Does he constantly carry himself in this manner?

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