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  • Getting to Green

    An administrator pushes, on a shoestring budget, to move his university and the world toward a more sustainable equilibrium.

Car-ma (2) and chaos (2)
August 26, 2010 - 9:15pm

Pretty busy this week, with all the usual opening activities. Still, I stumbled across a couple of interesting post-scripts to earlier rantings.

First, an arguably better idea than running a car on human waste: running a car on the byproduct of a process that I'd like to see done much more frequently -- whisky distilling. The biofuel (butanol) produced is about 30% more energy-dense than ethanol (you'll have noticed how ethanol is less potent than gasoline). And that's when it's made at Glenkinchie -- a lowland distillery near Edinburgh which puts out a timid malt often described as a gentle first step for those who aren't yet sure they really like Scotch. Think of the potential puissance of a product made by applying the same process alongside a distillery on one of the Scottish isles -- Islay, for instance. Butanol made from the leavings of a Laphroig, a Lagavulin or a Bowmore should be about double the potency already achieved, I'll wager.

More seriously, though -- a correspondent put me onto a recent article from The New Yorker which puts a lot of detail around my feeling that the chaos of what passes for American political discourse -- especially when it comes to issues potentially affecting the fossil fuel industries -- is far from random. Jane Mayer is a much more subtle writer than I'd ever claim to be, so I don't want to put words into her mouth even by accident. But the case she builds (and she's described activities on the other end of the political spectrum, at similar length) is important and extremely timely. After I was directed to it, I heard an interview with Mayer on the radio. The interview was informative, but the article is far, far more so. It needs to be read. Widely.


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