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.

Algae.

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