Salad Greenhouse and Renewable Energy

Renewable Fuels and Salad Greenhouse

Fossil Fuels Disappearing

Climate Change

Survival Alarm

Salad Greenhouse and Renewable Energy

SG  designs, builds and operates greenhouses for the year round growing of pure, fresh vegetables.  We are compelled, and motivated to use renewable biomass fuels because they are sustainable.  Now, with the coming storms of climate change , species extinction, recession, and the rising cost of fossil fuels, the move away from fossil fuels as a source of energy is imperative.  The currency of the future will be energy and food,

When fresh food supplies fail, history (world wars, great depression, past civilizations) has shown that degenerative diseases such as arthritis, heart disease, cancers become common and incurable.  Infections from every microbe around rise, and life spans shorten.  In other words, without fresh foods, you die.  The use of renewable fuels to grow fresh food in greenhouses is connected.

The Buzzard
SG designed and developed a non polluting biomass generator to provide heat and electricity to our greenhouses.  The equipment is on the same site as the greenhouses. A turbine is used to generate electricity.  Surplus heat and electricity can be supplied to the community.  The stretched version is 81' / 24.6m long, and 12' / 3.6 m wide.  At peak output it produces 10 million Btuh or 300 boiler horse power (enough to heat 100 homes in the winter) and 120kW of electricity.  It is relatively low cost, and the key to producing our own electricity and heat from renewable fuels.  It lowers our production costs, and gives us long term energy security and sustainability. 

Biomass fuels can be: straw, peat, manures, other agricultural waste; forest, and mill waste; construction and factory waste; and sorted municipal waste. Millions of tons are available. Because the furnace can burn anything, we call it the Buzzard. The fuels are first shredded, then compressed into dense bales (45-50 kg / 110 – 165 lbs) at the source of the fuel.  In some cases such as sawdust and manures, the fuels are sealed in a bag.  The bales are then trucked to the furnace which in most cases would be located far from the source.  The Buzzard can also be adapted to use geothermal hot water.

With the Buzzard, we can locate our greenhouses in locations not served by gas and electric lines.

Renewable Fuels and Salad Greenhouse

The use of renewable fuels in agriculture is inevitable because the world is running out of cheap oil. It is now estimated the average distance a food product travels is 1500 miles and more (1).  Its common to now see a trucking bill of $10,000 cost more than the food being delivered.  As the price of oil keeps going up, local production of produce for local markets is becoming the only way of doing business.  SG can do this in greenhouses powered with renewable fuels.  By using renewable fuels, our production costs will be controlled, and the benefactors will be our customers.  We can locate a greenhouse within minutes of markets and this will keep transport costs to a minimum.

Renewable Fuels: Direct Incomes to SG
- Produce sales
- Carbon credits where applicable
- Pickup fees for some fuels
- Electricity sales off grid
- Heat sales to buildings off site
- Location of greenhouses in areas where there are no gas or electric lines

Renewable Fuels: Direct benefits to community
- Pure, healthy, produce sold locally year round at affordable prices
- Jobs:  construction, production, and sales year round
- Eliminate reliance on diesel electric generators in some community situations
- Better health and lower medical costs
- Low cost heating and electricity for businesses and homes
- Less carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere through reduced consumption of fossil fuels
- Reduction in landfill volumes
- Reduction in potential ground water pollutants
- An option for the survival of individuals and communities

(1) Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology

Fossil Fuels Disappearing

Oil and the Food Chain

Oil and gas reserves are falling rapidly and with the fall, oil and food prices will rise.  The food industry is almost entirely dependent on fossil fuels.  It currently requires 15 energy units of fossil fuels to produce one energy unit of food.  If a lion spends 10 times the energy catching an antelope than is taken from eating the antelope, the lion will die. 

In the food chain, fossil fuels are used for: herbicides and pesticides, electricity, heat, oil diesel and gas for transport; refrigeration, packaging, and promotion, cooking, and disposal.  Without fossils fuels the current food chain would collapse in a week. Oil dependent food will either be too expensive, or vanish from the shelves. Predictions as to what will happen are panic, inflation, food riots, robbery, health crises, race friction, migrations, high taxes, high heating and gasoline costs, rage, and huge debt. Eventually the population will drop to a sustainable 2 billion from the current 7 billion (and rising)
Downhill From Peak Oil  
We are coming to the end of the age of cheap oil energy.  In terms of history, the use and expansion of oil for energy over the last 100 years has been sudden.  A bubble of abundant cheap fuel and food developed, and the population of the earth soared.  In the last decade, 1 billion more people have been added to the earth. We are now on the downside of peak oil availability.

David Goodstein states the following: “America’s (and Canada’s) dependence on oil could prove fatal. In the course of a few generations, we have nearly used up the Earth’s entire supply of accessible petroleum. When that and the other more-difficult-to-use fossil fuels are used up, we will have nothing to live on except the light from the sun and whatever nuclear fuel on Earth we haven’t burned.” In his book, “Hubberts Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage,” retired geologist Kenneth S. Deffeyes’ estimated conventional oil supplies peaked in 2004. After that we will have no choice but to live on less oil. The challenge is to kick the fossil fuel habit over the next decade. The alternative is to have our civilization slide into oblivion.

- The U.S. is spending $1.2  billion per day  importing 60% of the 21 million barrels a day it consumes (12M  x $100 per barrel). 
- Fossil fuels are being used at a rate 1,000,000 times faster than they were formed.
- In one day, we use fossil fuels that took 500 years to form.  
- One billion barrels of oil now takes only 12 days to burn at current world consumption rates of 96 million barrels a day (35 billion per year). 
- For a dramatic show of oil consumption at over 1,000 barrels a second, go to the website

US Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, gave a presentation on Peak Oil, to Congress and C-Span cable in Apr. and May of 2006. He cited 2 reports requested by the Dept. of Energy (“google” Hirsh Report) and U.S. Army (“google” Roscoe Bartlett). Highlights are:

• Oil supplies are peaking now; it will be abrupt and not temporary
• There are no energy substitutes for the convenience of oil energy on the horizon
• The end of cheap oil will end civilization as we know it
• Economic, social, and political costs will be unprecedented – a social convulsion – riots, wars, and migrations

The remaining 500 billion barrels of recoverable oil on the planet will be gone in less than14 years. This is not sensational, alarmist, or threatening, it is arithmetic. Daily consumption of oil per day in 2016 is 96 million barrels, or .096 billion barrels. Yearly consumption based on 2016 use is 35 billion barrels (365 days x .096 billion barrels = 35 billion bbl). The time remaining for the disappearance of oil is 14.7 years (500 B / 35 M bbl = 14.2 years). 
Natural Gas in Canada
The total proven natural gas reserves in Canada is 1,754 billion cubic meters (bcm). Production of gas is 150 bcm. Therefore the remaining years of gas reserves at a production level of 150 bcm is 11.6 years (1,754 / 150).

Canadian proven reserves of natural gas peaked in 2001 at a use rate of 18 bdf (billion cubic feet) / day. In the next 20 years, Canadian production decreases while consumption increases, and LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) imports will start while we are still exporting to the U.S. Full gas production from McKenzie delta and Arctic sources (1.5 bcf by 2022) will not be enough to sustain tar sands production alone. The tar sands are a pig for energy. More value in coal, water, and natural gas is required to extract a barrel of oil from bitumen than the barrel is worth.

It is estimated the natural gas left for Canadians (minus tar sands use) in bcf/day is: 4.9 in 2010 (self sufficient), 3.3 in 2015, 1.8 in 2020, 0.2 in 2025, -0.6 in 2030.

Cuban Example
In the late 1980s, farmers in Cuba were highly reliant on cheap fuels and petrochemicals imported from the Soviet Union, using more agrochemicals per acre than their American counterparts. In 1990, as the Soviet empire collapsed, Cuba lost those imports and faced an agricultural crisis. The population lost 20 pounds on average and malnutrition was nearly universal, especially among young children. The Cuban GDP (Gross Domestic Product) fell by 85% and inhabitants of the island nation experienced a substantial decline in their material standard of living. Cuban authorities responded by breaking up large state-owned farms, offering land to farming families, and encouraging the formation of small agricultural co-ops. Cuban farmers began employing oxen as a replacement for the tractors they could no longer afford to fuel.  

2008 Example
 In 2008, when oil went to $147 per barrel, the economy based on cheap oil fell.  Food prices soared and there were food riots in 39 countries.  The financial crisis that followed was an aftershock because company earnings based on cheap oil energy were gone.

Climate Change

The planet’s biosphere is failing and oceans are dying. This is not a warning but a fact.  So get ready.  Never in human history has there ever been such a critical point. Social unrest and upheaval, water wars, starvation migration, debt, and invasions are guaranteed if history is any guide.

Human activity is changing the climate.  In pre-industrial times, the carbon dioxide (C02) level in the atmosphere was 280 ppm (part per million). The highest levels in recent geologic history between 3 and 3.2 million years ago is 400 ppm and this number was set as the tipping point.  In May, 2010, the level was 387 ppm and rising fast.  The point of no return, or tipping point is closing and everything must be done to reduce fossil fuel consumption.

Rising temperatures will have dire consequences. One scenario suggests that a 2 degree C rise in temperature will be sufficient to melt the polar ice caps and raise the level of the oceans by 2 meters. This would flood all the deltas and lowlands in the world, and these are usually productive agricultural areas that export food. Most of Florida and the Gulf coast will disappear under water. At the last peak of CO2 levels, about 150,000 years ago according to ice core records, global mean temperature was 2C warmer than it is today. About 80 million years ago during the time of the dinosaurs, CO2 was about 8 times what it is today, at which time the polar temperatures were at least 15C warmer, though equatorial temperatures were similar. When compared to cooling, a 1.5 to 2C cooling would be sufficient to initiate a glacial advance.

The following is expected to happen with increasing temperatures:

One Degree
Over the last century there has been a 1 degree C (1.5F) rise in temperature which is high by earth’s standards.  Elevated C02 levels today are melting the polar caps and major ice fields that supply rivers with irrigation water – especially in the Himalayas.  With a rise of 1 more degree the Greenland ice sheet will melt, and it is already starting. 

Two Degrees
If the world heats up by another 2 degrees C (3.5F) the results will be catastrophic. Ocean levels will rise by 2 meters.  A new world conference attended by up to 24,000 people in Copenhagen in the fall of 2010 sounded the alarm. This level was expected at 2050, but trends show it happening faster.

Three Degrees

A 3 degree C (5.4F) rise in temperature guarantees disaster.  This will cause the Greenland sheet to melt completely, and the ocean levels will rise more than 25 m (80’).   Coastal cities will disappear setting of general panic. A 3 degree rise would burn away the Amazon forest, flood major cities and lowlands, and release more C02 from the melting of the methane hydrates now frozen on the floor of the Arctic ocean.  Already there are methane vents in the floor of the Eastern Siberian Sea. There are more methane hydrates than all the known oil and gas, and methane is 8 times more potent as a greenhouse gas as C02.  There was a 3 degree rise 3 million years ago, and sea levels were 25 m (80’) higher than today. If we follow the current rate of fossil fuel burning, then temperatures will rise 2-3 degrees by mid century, much sooner than predicted.  Scientists say that we are now on a trajectory of 5-6 degrees C.

Rising air C02 levels are heating the air, which in turn heats the oceans.  This increases ocean volume which adds to coastal flooding.   Dissolved C02 in the ocean forms carbonic acid which lowers the pH of the ocean toward acid which kills animals, especially coral.  Furthermore, garbage, over fishing, and polluted dead zones are turning the oceans into lifeless dumps.

Rivers are fed by glaciers that supply water used for irrigation, and the glaciers are disappearing.  When the glaciers are gone, as in the Tibet plateau for example; China, India, and Pakistan will fail to grow adequate wheat crops, and this will drive up the world price of wheat and rice.

Tug of War
The earth is starting to bake 1 degree at a time.  But the heating is offset, or masked by the cooling effect of particulate matter in the air (soot, carbon, nitrates, sulfates) from the burning of fossil fuels.  Particulate pollution attracts water droplets, which form bright clouds that act as giant reflectors or mirrors.  This layer can be 3 km (1.8 mi.) thick and is happening all over the world.  Since 1960, the dimming of the sun has been from 10% to 20% depending on the location.  There is a tug of war going on, between greenhouse gases, and particulate cooling from the dimming of the sun.  Global dimming, or cooling has lulled people into a false sense of security and has been protecting us from an even greater threat – accelerated global warming.  More than ½ of the warming effect has been masked by particulate cooling.  But, the heating effect is forcing the climate to a warmer state with the constant addition of C02 (40 billion tons per year (2
)) of C02 to the air. To confirm this, vapor trail absence resulting from the 9/11/2001 ban on air travel resulted in an immediate rise in the temperature difference between day and night of 1 C (1.5F).  That is, the nights were cooler and the days hotter, and the change was sudden.  The man made clouds from aircraft were gone. 5,000 weather stations made the measurements.  Three other separate projects verify global dimming from particulate: pan evaporation observations, NASA Aquasat satellite, Maldives project (google these).

More reflective clouds can alter global rainfall patterns. Normally, every summer, the heat of the sun warms the oceans north of the equator in the northern hemisphere.  This draws the rainfall over the equator northward.  But now, the clouds in the north are having a cooling effect on the ocean and the rain belt moves south rather than north.  The heat that was required to draw tropical rains northward is not there.  So the life giving rain belt stays away.  This will have a enormous effect on the monsoons for India and China, and the rains in Africa, California, and Mexico.

(2) Band of C02 1 km wide and 100m deep 3.26 times around the earth each year (134,780 / 40,000)

Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming: General Notes

Greenhouse gases are mainly carbon dioxide and methane and are a result of energy derived from fossil fuels. These gases trap infra red radiation from the sun within the earth's atmospheric envelope, and this elevates atmospheric temperatures. Levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have risen from 280 parts per million (ppm) at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century to 400 ppm as of about June 4, 2012, an increase of over 42 percent, primarily because of increased fossil fuel combustion.  400 ppm is considered the "tipping point" where melting accelerates.  It is expected that the current level will double some time in this century. Every month its up, and the Arctic is melting like an ice cube in the sun. Greenland and Antarctic ice is melting faster.

In 1998, Environment Canada stated that global warming was responsible for a 2.5 degree C (4.5 F) general rise in temperature in Canada, a 4 degree C (7 F) rise in arctic temperatures, and 2.7% less precipitation. This magnitude of temperature rise was predicted 3 years ago to occur in 2040. This is 40 years ahead of schedule! This indicates that the trend of global warming is long term, rapid, and dangerous for some areas. Those areas experiencing negative effects now will surely feel them more in the future.

If the lowlands are flooded, the suggestion has been made that agriculture would cover this loss of land by growing food in the warmer northern areas. However, traditional agriculture depends on a soil base, that has been built up over the centuries from previous growth and laid down as topsoil which is generally not the case in northern regions.

As stated by David Price et al, of the Dept. of Natural Resources Canada, “Humanity is conducting a one time experiment with greenhouse gases which may result in marked changes in the global environment affecting us all. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is the only sensible approach to keeping our options open”.

The operation of 100 SG ranges consumes and prevents the emissions (diesel transport from the southern U.S.) of 190,000 tons of CO2 per year. SG may realize an income in the form of carbon credits because of this consumption.

Survival Alarm

The world may have only 7 years to start reducing the annual buildup of greenhouse gas emissions that otherwise threatens global catastrophe within decades.  The Inter-governmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC: A group of 2800 scientists worldwide who regularly provide peer reviewed information on climate change; winner of the Nobel Prize, and headed by R.K. Pachauri) have affirmed for years that greenhouse gas emissions are raising the Earth’s temperature.  The Earth is on a trajectory to warm more than 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit by around mid century.  Exceeding that threshold could augment a series of phenomena: Arable land will turn into desert, higher sea levels will flood coastal areas, and changes in the convection of the oceans will alter currents such as the Gulf Stream, that determine regional weather patterns.

Manhattan and Florida will be underwater, while Nevada and the Southwest will have no water at all.  St. Petersburgh in Russia will be lost as will delta areas all over the world.  Millions would flee coastal flooding and the desertification of farmlands, creating instant “climate refugees.” 

The IPCC recently said: “The cities, power plants and factories we build in the next seven years will shape our climate in mid-century.  We have to act now to price carbon and create incentives to change the way we use energy – and thereby avert nothing less than an existential threat to civilization.”

While some industries will prosper, other sectors of the economy, especially those that produce or rely on coal, oil, steel and cement, will contract.  Electricity prices will increase in the near and middle terms.  With the rising costs of energy, the costs of food production and distribution will go up, therefore greatly increasing the cost of food.

Either the temperature of the planet warms more than 4.5 degrees F and vast regions slide toward being uninhabitable, or we start to change, now.  The reward will be survival. 

We are doing something