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Nevada Likely Wins Tesla’s Giga-War

September 4, 2014

Reno Industrial ParkTesla Motor’s compass points due east a few hundred miles to the outskirts of Reno, Nevada as the site chosen to build and operate their massive $5 billion “gigafactory” that will pump out lithium-ion batteries for their upcoming and more affordable Model 3 as part of a partnership with Panasonic, which will make the battery cells and invest in the plan. The State of Nevada still has to drop the gavel on a $500 million incentive package.

See also: http://www.forbes.com/sites/michelinemaynard/2014/09/03/nevada-appears-to-have-the-winning-hand-for-teslas-gigafactory

Where are the Videos of Birds Combusting Inflight Over CSP Plants – Streamers?

September 1, 2014

daffy-duck-128311In “‘Streamers': Birds Fried in Midair by Solar Plant, Feds Say,” NBC News reported on Aug 18, 2014, “Federal wildlife investigators who visited the BrightSource Energy plant last year reported an average of one “streamer” every two minutes. They’re urging California officials to halt the operator’s application to build a still-bigger version until the extent of the deaths is assessed. Annual estimates range from a low of about a thousand by BrightSource to 28,000 by an expert for the Center for Biological Diversity environmental group.”

A perfunctory search on the net and YouTube resulted in few hits depicting this phenomenon. “Solar Farm Killer Death Rays Torching Birds” on YouTube showed essentially nothing, and ditto with “Evidence Suggests World’s Largest Solar Farm Burns Birds That Fly over It.”

In today’s world of instantaneous global media coverage of almost everything, the scanty coverage of in-flight streaming is somewhat strange, especially when it is claimed to be rather frequent. Would be nice to see hard evidence!

Need reliable data to understand the problem, its magnitude, proposed methods to ameliorate the problem and cost justification followed by implementation and field performance.

The airline industry addressed the issue when human life was at stake. Yet with all that has been done at airports to minimize the problem, bird strikes still occur, see FAA Wildlife Strike Database . For example, from Jan 1, 2014 to August 31, 2014, the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport alone reported 66 instances of animal strikes (65 birds and 1 stripped skunk) with no apparent damage to the aircraft.

Also, it would be helpful to review the environmental impact study conducted on the sites in question to see, if and to what extent, “streaming” was covered.

In closing, it is not a question of shutting down operating CSP plants and stopping their development, should a real problem exist, but how to reasonably manage the risk.

A Week’s Worth of Horror Stories:

August 29, 2014

??????????????????????????????????????????????????Did someone say anthropogenic climate change is made-up science? Dream on your shift not mind. It’s not when anymore! It’s Now and only getting worse!

Draft Of Upcoming IPCC Report Presents Stark View Of The Future As Climate Change Rages On

“Global warming is here, human-caused and probably already dangerous — and it’s increasingly likely that the heating trend could be irreversible, a draft of a new international science report says.” Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/26/un-panel-global-warming-_n_5717139.html

and

“As Louisiana Sinks And Sea Levels Rise, The State Is Drowning. Fast

“In just 80 years, some 2,000 square miles of its coastal landscape have turned to open water, wiping places off maps, bringing the Gulf of Mexico to the back door of New Orleans and posing a lethal threat to an energy and shipping corridor vital to the nation’s economy. Scientists now say one of the greatest environmental and economic disasters in the nation’s history is rushing toward a catastrophic conclusion over the next 50 years, so far unabated and largely unnoticed.” Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/28/louisiana-sea-level-rise_n_5731916.html

Are We Practically Corn Chips on Legs?

August 26, 2014

Copyright Best Master’s In Healthcare Administration and MS in Healthcare Management

Copyright Best Master’s In Healthcare Administration and MS in Healthcare Management

This discussion compliments of Healthcare Administration and MS in Healthcare Management is an entire reproduction of Top Master’s in Health Care publication “Children of the Corn.” Also, it has no relations to Stephen King’s 1977 short story and 1984 supernatural horror film of the same name. It is however presented in response to my pervious discussion, “Did the US DOE win the debate over Biofuel Crops vs. Food Crops?” Please visit “Children of the Corn” to view tables and charts not included in this discussion.

Children of the Corn

Americans love corn! In fact, we consume one third of the world’s corn supply. As a result, scientists have determined that over half of the American human biomass can be traced back to the consumption of corn. We took a look at the corn industry to see just how big it is, and here’s what we found.

It’s Really, Really Big

In 2013/14 the U.S. planted 95.4 million acres of corn.

  • That’s just over 5% of the contiguous U.S. (Contiguous US landmass: 1,891,098,508 acres).
  • That’s roughly the size of Montana (Montana: 94.1 million acres).
  • Most corn fields are in the Midwest.

Corn Bushels

One acre of corn yields 158.8 bushels of corn.

In 2013/14 the US produced 13,925,000,000 bushels of corn

  • That’s 389,900,000 tons of corn.
  • That’s just over 1 quadrillion kernels of corn.
  • That’s enough ears of corn to stack end to end all the way to Mars!

One bushel of corn weighs 56 pounds and contains about 72,800 kernels. That’s enough to do one of the following:

  • sweeten 400 cans of soda
  • make enough oil for two pounds of margarine
  • make enough starch for a ton of paper
  • make 15 pounds of carbon dioxide “fizz” in soft drinks
  • produces 6 pounds of beef
  • produces 13 pounds of pork
  • produces 20 pounds of chicken
  • produces 28 pounds of catfish

It takes 5,096 gallons of water to produce one bushel of corn. Annually, the industry uses about 71 trillion (70,961,800,000,000) gallons of water.

  • That’s 64.4 cubic miles of water.
  • That’s almost 2 Lake Tahoes (39 trillion gallons).
  • That’s 27 gallons of water for every person in the world every day! (world population: 7,184,206,600)
  • That’s 610 gallons of water for every person in the U.S. every day! (U.S. population: 318,613,900)

Corn Price

Since 2005 the price of corn has fluctuated from $1.77 per bushel (November 2005) to $7.63 per bushel (August 2012).

Corn subsidies in the United States totaled $84.2 billion from 1995-2012 including $10.1 billion in 2005. Iowa raked in the most subsidies at 15.3 billion dollars between 1995-2012.

Corn Use

Uses of corn in 2013/14

  • Feed: 38% (5,175,000,000 bushels)
  • Fuel: 37% (5,075,000,000 bushels), Roughly 1/4th of this (1,293,000,000 bushels) becomes DDGS, a co-product of ethanol, which is then used for feed
  • Food: 10% (1,385,000,000 bushels)
  • Exports: 14% (1,900,000,000 bushels)

Grains produced for feed in 2013/14:

  • Corn: 95.3% (5,175,000,000 bushels)
  • Oats: 1.8% (98,000,000 bushels)
  • Sorghum: 1.7% (95,000,000 bushels)
  • Barley: 1.2% (63,000,000 bushels)

Grains produced for food in 2013/14:

  • Corn: 81.8% (1,385,000,000 bushels)
  • Barley: 9.1% (155,000,000 bushels)
  • Sorghum: 4.7% (79,000,000 bushels)
  • Oats: 4.4% (75,000,000 bushels)

Corn Consumption

Americans consume one-third of all corn produced in the world.

  • Consumption of corn (excluding corn syrup) in the U.S. increased 205% from 1970-2012:
  • Consumption of corn sweetener in the U.S. increased 286% from 1970-2012.

We Are What We Eat

The Mayan creation story tells us of how the gods made man out of corn. They believed that humans were literally made out of corn.

But were they wrong?

Modern scientists now have the capability to forensically determine the diet of humans. It’s pretty simple how it works:

  • Most plants absorb the carbon-12 isotope: a carbon atom made up of 6 protons and 6 neutrons.
  • But corn absorbs the carbon-13 isotope: a carbon atom made up of 6 protons and 7 neutrons.
  • If a person has a higher ratio of carbon-13 than carbon-12 in their flesh, it means that person has had more corn in their diet.

When scientific researchers took a look at the amount of carbon-13 isotopes present in North American diets, they found that more than 50% of the American human biomass can be traced back to corn consumption.

The Mayans were right—we’re practically corn chips on legs.

But how can that be true?

Sure, we eat corn chips, high fructose corn syrup, and corn on the cob, but how could we be eating so much corn that our isotope ratios make us look like mobile cornstalks?

Because corn is basically everywhere.

Three out of four supermarket products contain corn.

All in all, there are more than 3,500 different uses for corn products.

acetic acid, acidulants, alcohol, alcoholic beverages, alkali cooked products, alpha tocopherol, amino acids, antibiotics, artificial flavorings, artificial sweeteners, ascorbates, ascorbic acid, aspartame, aspirin, astaxanthin, baby corn, baby foods, bakery products, baking powder, barley malt, beverages, bleached flour, blended sugar, boiled sweet corn, breakfast cereals, breakfast foods, brewed beverages, brown sugar, calcium citrate, calcium fumarate, calcium gluconate, calcium lactate, calcium magnesium acetate, calcium stearate, calcium stearoyl lactylate, canned corn, canned fruits, canned hominy, canned juices, canned vegetables, caramel and caramel color, carbonmethylcellulose sodium, cellulose microcrystalline, cetearyl glucoside, cheese spreads, chewing gum, chicken nuggets, chocolate drinks, choline chloride, citric acid, citrus cloud emulsion, coco glycerides, coffee whiteners, colloid emulsions, condiments, confectioners sugar, confections, cordials, corn, corn alcohol, corn bread, corn extract, corn flour, corn gluten, corn nuts, corn oil, corn oil margarine, corn starch, corn sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, cornflour, cornmeal, cornstarch, crosscarmellose sodium, crystalline dextrose, crystalline fructose, custards, cyclodextrin, d-gluconic acid, datum, decyl glucoside, decyl polyglucose, dehydrated foods, desserts, dextrin, dextrose, diet sodas, dietary formulations, diglycerides, distilled white vinegar, drying agent, erythorbic acid, erythritol, ethanol, ethocel 20, ethyl acetate, ethyl alcohol, ethyl lactate, ethyl maltol, ethylcellulose, ethylene, extracts, fermentation feedstock, fermentation medium, fermented beverages, fibersol-2, flavor enhancers, flavorings, food starch, fortified foods, french fries, frostings, frozen desserts, frozen meals, frozen seafood, fructose, fruit jams, fruit juice, fruit juice concentrate, fruit preserves, fumaric acid, germ, germ meal, glazes, gluconate, gluconic acid, glucono delta-lactone, gluconolactone, glucosamine, glucose, glucose syrup, glutamate, gluten, gluten feed, glycerides, glycerin, glycerol, golden syrup, gravies, grits, gum candies, hamburger patties, high fructose corn syrup, hominy, honey, hydrolyzed corn, hydrolyzed corn protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose pthalate, icings, inositol, instant breakfast foods, instant tea, invert syrup or sugar, iodized salt, ketchup, lactate, lactic acid, lauryl glucoside, lecithin, linoleic acid, liqueurs, liquid thickener, low-cal sweeteners, lysine, magnesium citrate, magnesium fumarate, magnesium stearate, maize, malic acid, malonic acid, malt extract, malt syrup from corn, maltitol, maltodextrin, maltol, maltose, mannitol, mayonnaise, meat products, medicinal syrups, methyl cellulose, methyl gluceth, methyl glucose, methyl glucoside, methylcellulose, microcrystaline cellulose, modified cellulose gum, modified corn starch, modified food starch, molasses, monoglycerides, monosodium glutamate, msg, natural flavorings, nougats, olean, olestra, pan coatings, pastry fillings, peanut butter, pet foods, pharmaceuticals, pickled baby corn, pickled products, pinole, polenta, polydextrose, polylactic acid, polysorbates, polyvinyl acetate, popcorn, posole, potassium citrate, potassium fumarate, potassium gluconate, powdered cellulose, powdered sugar, precooked meals, pregelatinized starch, prepared cereals, prepared condiments, prepared desserts, prepared egg products, prepared soups, prepared soups & sauces, propionic acid, propylene glycol, propylene glycol monostearate, pudding, puddings, retortable thickeners, saccharin, salad dressing, salad dressings, salt, sauces, semolina, simethicone, snack foods, sodium carboxymethylcellulose, sodium citrate, sodium erythorbate, sodium fumarate, sodium lactate, sodium starch glycolate, sodium stearoyl fumarate, soft drinks, sorbate, sorbic acid, sorbitan, sorbitol, sorghum, soup, soup mixes, splenda, starch, stearic acid, stearoyls, sucralose, sucrose, sugar, sweeteners, taco meat, threonine, tobacco products, tocopherol, treacle, triethyl citrate, unfermented beverages, unmodified starch, vanilla, vanillin, vinyl acetate, vitamin d milk, vitamins, water treatment, wine products, xanthan gum, xylitol, yeast

Even bottled water contains corn! Okay, so bottled water doesn’t contain corn, but many of the plastic bottles themselves are made from corn.

abrasive papers, adhesives, boiler compounds, bookbinding, briquettes, candles, carpeting, casting binders, ceiling tiles, ceramic clay binders, ceramics, chemical precursor, cleaning compounds, coatings, composite binders, cord sizing & polishing, cork products, crayon & chalk binders, decorative items, detergents & cleaners, disinfectants, dispersion agents, drilling fluids, dry cell batteries, dye component, dyes & inks, edge paste, engine fuel, explosives, fiberglass sizing, fillers & caulks, fireworks, food packaging, foundry binders, fuel octane enhancers, gypsum wallboard, incendiary compounds, industrial alcohols, insecticides, insulating materials, label adhesives, labels, leather products, leather tanning, lubricating agents, metal plating, molded plastics, oilcloth, ore refining, ore separation compounds, oxygenate in engine fuels, paints, paper color carriers, paper products, plastic molding, plasticizers, plastics, plywood & wallboard, poster paints, powdered cosmetics, powdered insecticides, printing inks, rayon, rubber tires, sandpaper, shade cloth, shoe polish, soaps, solvents, surgical dressings, textile color carriers, textile finishing, theatrical makeup, wallboard, wallpaper, well drilling mud

And even if you’re in a coma, you can’t avoid it—nearly all nutrient formulas designed for tube feeding contain corn.

Children-of-the-Corn

Copyright Best Master’s In Healthcare Administration and MS in Healthcare Management

Sources
• Goetz, Delia, Sylvanus Griswold Morley, and Adriâan Recinos. Popol Vuh : The Sacred Book Of The Ancient Quichâe Maya. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1950. Print.
• Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. New York: Penguin Press, 2006. Print.
• http://www.cornallergens.com/list/corn-allergen-list.php
• http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1859018,00.html
• http://www.businessinsider.com/everyday-foods-contain-corn-prices-soar-2012-7?op=1
• http://www.ncga.com/uploads/useruploads/cornusesposter.pdf
• http://www.themaize.com/planting_facts.html
• http://www.gotahoenorth.com/about-tahoe/tahoe-history-and-facts/fun-facts
• http://www.businessinsider.com/facts-about-the-corn-industry-2012-7
• http://www.medicine.virginia.edu/clinical/departments/medicine/divisions/digestive-health/nutrition-support-team/nutrition-articles/MaloneArticle.pdf
• http://www2.kenyon.edu/projects/farmschool/food/bushel.htm
• http://www.iowacorn.org/en/corn_use_education/faq/
• http://www.usda.gov/oce/commodity/wasde/latest.pdf
• http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex13760
• http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_Subject/result.php?7B832B80-F468-398F-8A28-F9C76A50551B&sector=CROPS&group=FIELD%20CROPS&comm=CORN
• http://farm.ewg.org/progdetail.php?fips=19000&progcode=corn&page=states&regionname=Iowa
• http://www.nass.usda.gov/Charts_and_Maps/Agricultural_Prices/pricecn.asp
• http://www.usda.gov/nass/PUBS/TODAYRPT/pspl0314.pdf
• http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-availability-(per-capita)-data-system.aspx#.U-UuFlb1iXk

 

 

 

Did the US DOE win the debate over Biofuel Crops vs. Food Crops?

August 24, 2014

Food-vs-Fuel-320x240In Washington, USDA just released its August 2014 World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE – 532) report. Relevant to this discussion, the report stated: “Corn use for ethanol and exports are raised 45 million bushels and 20 million bushels, respectively, for 2013/14, based on reported data to date. Projected corn use for 2014/15 is higher with use for ethanol and exports each raised 25 million bushels, and feed and residual disappearance 50 million bushels higher with the larger crop. Projected ending stocks for 2014/15 are raised slightly to 1,808 million bushels. The projected season-average farm price for corn is lowered 10 cents at both ends of the range to $3.55 to $4.25 per bushel.

Great news but so what? Flash back to late 2007 when the debate over the socioeconomic impact of using feedstocks as fuelstocks started to catch the public’s attention. Maggie Ayre reported for BBC News in WILL BIOFUEL LEAVE THE POOR HUNGRY? (October 2007), “Green groups and aid agencies cite biofuels as forming part of the “perfect storm” of poor harvests, rising oil prices and a surge in demand for food from China and India that are all pushing up the price of everything from pasta to a loaf of bread.”

Then on April 16, 2008, the Earth Policy Institute issued a document, WORLD FACING HUGE NEW CHALLENGE ON FOOD FRONT: BUSINESS-AS-USUAL NOT A VIABLE OPTION, authored by its founder and president, Lester R. Brown. Mr.  Brown pointed out “rising food prices due to fuel crop production is causing social strife throughout the world. ……. The stage is now set for direct competition for grain between the 800 million people who own automobiles, and the world’s 2 billion poorest people. The risk is that millions of those on the lower rungs of the global economic ladder will start falling off as higher food prices drop their consumption below the survival level.”

In response to Mr. Brown’s article, the Office of the Biomass Program of the Department of Energy (DoE) issued the following rebuttal (May 2008), “The Lester Brown article takes a short-term snapshot of U.S. agriculture and ethanol production.  It is probable that we will see significant fluctuations in corn prices over the next three years as an unprecedented expansion in ethanol production takes place.  Eventually, the growth in ethanol production will be mediated by corn prices and other construction and operating costs.  A longer term more rational view suggests that corn production will be able to keep pace with ethanol production through 2015.  For example, the National Corn Growers Association is estimating that the average per acre corn production in 2015 will be 180 bushels based on historic yield increases.  This increase over 2006 would allow the production of 6.7 billion gallons of ethanol without taking any additional corn out the current system.  In addition, there are currently 35 million acres in the Conservation Reserve Program.  If 50% if this acreage was brought back into corn production, this would produce enough corn to supply an additional 9 billion gallons of ethanol.  All of these decisions will be driven by the marketplace supply and demand.  Figure 1 shows historical data on corn prices and ethanol production.”

Lester Brown Article & Detailed DOE Response

DoE Response to Lester Brown Letter Table

Figure 1.  Corn Price and Ethanol Production

Sources:  USDA, NASS, ERS, NCGA, and Renewable Fuels Association

Sources: USDA, NASS, ERS, NCGA, and Renewable Fuels Association

In conclusion, the brouhaha over fueling vehicles with crops is hardly over. Thankfully, the fight will be fought in the economic arena rather than on the public soapbox. The social response will reflect the realities of supply and demand. At this time, both sectors – agriculture produces and ethanol produces – seem satisfied how the resources are currently shared between the two. This however may be eclipsed by changes in demographics, productivity, weather patterns, and price of the king of the road, petroleum. Oh, almost forgot to thank the DoE for addressing the issue in clear and uncertain terms.

Fracking What Makes it Tick? -Demystifying the Why’s, Technology and Science behind Unconventional Oil and Shale Gas Extraction

August 23, 2014

witch brewContrary to some media reports, hydraulic fracturing is not a “drilling process.” Also, many wrongly view hydraulic fracturing as the midnight shadow of witches dancing around the fiery cauldron brewing a magical potion of eye of newt, toe of frog, wool of bat, and tongue of dog, with adder’s fangs, blind women’s string, lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing to be forced into the bowels of earth to cause death and destruction throughout the world.

In actuality, hydraulic fracturing is a highly technical method to create or restore small fractures in an underground rock formation by a scientifically derived mixture of fluids and materials in order to stimulate production of oil and gas from new and existing unconventional rock formations. Hydraulic creates paths that increase the rate at which fluids can be produced from the reservoir, in some cases by many hundreds of percent.

To fill in this in this information gap, I will be conducting a live Webinar on the advanced technologies used to recovery oil and gas from unconventional rock formations. The conference is designed to improve our understanding of hydraulic-fracturing and fracture mechanics that established a foundation for rational discussion of fracturing risks.

Please join me on Tuesday, September 23, 10, 2014 at 1:00 EDT, for my live webinar on “Fracking What Makes it Tick: Demystifying the Why’s, Technology and Science behind Unconventional Oil and Shale Gas Extraction.”

The webinar focuses on the advanced technologies used to recovery oil and gas from unconventional rock formations. Use code BSTEVENS20 to receive $20 off the registration price. To learn more, please visit: http://www.audiosolutionz.com/energy-environment/unconventional-oil-and-gas-recovery.html

Can it be True, Frac Wastewater Injection Well Seismicity is a Miscue?

August 19, 2014

Workers inspected earthquake damage at St. Gregory’s University in Shawnee, Okla., in 2011.

Workers inspected earthquake damage at St. Gregory’s University in Shawnee, Okla., in 2011.

Two years ago (06/15/2012), an AP report, Fracking-Earthquake Report Suggests Low Risk For Large Tremors, by Seth Borenstein stated, “The controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas does not pose a high risk for triggering earthquakes large enough to feel…..”

But these less than formal announcements failed to quell the public’s concern over the relationship between hydraulic fracturing wastewater disposal in deep injection wells and the rash of seismic activity near disposal sites. Fast-forward to today (08/18/2014)! Seth Borenstein in “Less shake from artificial quakes, fed study says,” announced the results of a study by U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Susan Hough – “Man-made earthquakes, a side effect of some high-tech energy drilling, cause less shaking and in general are about 16 times weaker than natural earthquakes with the same magnitude……..”

In closing, the study seems sound and somewhat consistent with reports from the Texas Railroad Commission (TRC). Yet, the TRC, which has been ridiculed for siding with the oil and gas industry on controversial issues, has announced this week in the Star-Telegram, “After months of disappointing decisions — or mostly indecision — in response to a rash of seismic rumblings in North Texas that some studies have linked to hydraulic fracturing, the Texas Railroad Commission ….. approved new proposed rules that would require oil and gas drilling permit seekers to provide additional information, including data on a region’s seismicity and any history of earthquakes recorded by the U.S. Geological Survey, before drilling new injection wells.

Nevertheless, as a resident of Tarrant County, Texas living on top of the Barnett Shall Play and a proponent of environmentally safe hydraulic fracturing that ensures public safety, it is hoped the report reflects reality. In any event, it is just an issue of managing risk, which we can and no different than any other human activity.

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