Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What's big, yellow...

I was never good at those shark in the custard jokes.

Two letters in reply to a piece I missed in the Indy (which I am sure is traceable):

Sir: Your feature on the huge area of land occupied by oilseed rape (12 May) made me recall a conversation with my father, a former airline pilot. I remarked about how much of France and England were covered in yellow fields and he said that this was how you could tell, from 37,000 feet, where the boundaries of the EU were. Present airline pilots may like to confirm if this is still the case. This would seem to indicate that the supply of oilseed rape products is determined by subsidy, rather than demand.

Sir: "The Rape of Spring"?(article, 12 May) "Garish"; "Slicks of Day-Glo yellow"; "an intercontinental crisis"? What an emotive introduction to a report that fails to find any evidence for a major role for oilseed rape in hay fever. This is a crop that produces a useful and healthy oil, which could also help to cut our carbon dioxide production.

Interesting. I am also keen to understand how it helps cut our CO2 production.

This allows me to air one of my odd ponders, like what happens to the inland climate if we suck all the energy out of the air coming in from the sea with wind farms (just asking - it may be minimal).

I remember an album from my youth, called, I think, Albedo 0.39, which was the reflectivity of the Earth.

My ponder is what the effect of such high reflectivity crops are vs. a darker green on the whole sun beating down thing? One has to presume there may be one if the coverage gets significant.

It struck me as I was leaving the UK for Geneva to help save the planet with RE:tie. By air, I have to admit. But as the Indy did point out yesterday - Deforestation: The hidden cause of global warming (I must mention two things. One is that I do recall us all being a bit worried about cutting down rain forests even when I was a kid, so how hidden it is/was escapes me. Two: that's no excuse to keep on wasting away now) - the whole travel thing rather pales (pun intended) in comparison to other effects... possibly.

Grist - If not an answer, a lead to further info


Dave said...

Re: The potential of Oilseed Rape in reducing CO2 emissions.

A simple transesterification process can turn the oil (for which farmers receive a few pence per litre), which is currently largely used to produce lower grade cooking oils, into a very usable bio-diesel. By definition, oilseed rape is a fully renewable source of usable fuel.

I know of several farmers who make their own bio-diesel this way - its something of a win-win-win for them; rape is fast growing, requires little attention and low levels of herbicides, they get subsidised for growing it, and once its grown, they can press the seed into cakes which are very nutritious as livestock food, and the resultant oil can easily be turned into a low cost bio-diesel fuel. I don't suppose that many of them let Uncle Gord's customs and revenue officials know that though.

Peter said...

Just back from an exhausting day at the NECltrying to flog RE:tie. Some hopefull leads.

Thanks for the reply.

It is a matter of some interest to me.

When (!) I make some serious dough from RE:tie, and after ten years' worth of debts are cleared first, I intend to look at what to do with our ageing fleet (well, me and the missus') of petrol cars.

Options of course include various conversions, especially as bodyworks still seem fine.

However, one notion is a Saab biodiesel, which looks nifty and seems to have a bit of grunt, too.

Thing is, I am worried that bio-crops, and hence those that use their fuel derivatives, are looking more and more like there needs to be some serious thought on an enviROI basis before getting too enthusisastic, too quickly.

But it's hard to argue with the fact it's better than petrol though!