Some folks write lots better than my compositions. (Hat tip to Dean Crockett at Boeing for catching my miss spelling of Dr. Robert Bussard.) I was a little surprised and taken aback by the criticisms of ethanol and other biomass sources of carbon based fuels and feedstocks. I am simply not going to link or otherwise justify such work by listing the URLs, titles or authors. That might seem small of me, but the reality is, there is a war a comin’ over the use of land worldwide, and the tools that will be used are going to be “studies” and “research” that can get a lot of press play and no widespread rebuttal. Naturally, the play went off big at the New York Times and other mass media players who it seems care little or nothing for quality or facts.

I must be spoiled; I’ve been told several times that the period from 1940 to 1980 was the high point of quality journalism. Both before and since the quality was and is much lower, with the drive for viewers and “numbers” leading to ever lower quality in the search for advertising revenue.

Getting on with it, last week saw a news stories based on the idea from academic studies that biofuels are worse as substitutes for petroleum than petroleum itself. It was in my first impression wild and outlandish claims, failing even in common sense. I hear some astonishing numbers about biofuels, such as the water required, and other inputs that from my own personal experience and the facts anyone can easily get from several land grant universities, right out of “Public Relations #1” – scare the devil out of people – make a conflict where there isn’t one. It’s not a new technique, some believe with considerable evidence that the “press” has managed to drive conflicts to open war such as alleged about William Randolph Hearst. It’s a common enough to be a theme for a screenplay as in “Wag the Dog.” Yellow journalism is not dead.

Ronald Bailey

But there are top quality people working, methodically, thoroughly and to factual ends for our benefit. In answer to the fabrications of last week and offering strong and quality insights to the facts I offer Ronald Bailey’s “Are Farmers Stupid, or Deluded, or Both?” in Reason Magazine. While the title goes to the agricultural community, it applies to all of us in a large way. There is a lot of money involved both through government incentives and payouts and in our personal and business energy budgets. Being ill informed has big consequences. The article is medium length, tightly written in Ron’s quality professionalism. To be well informed, albeit not terribly deeply, this article is a top pick. If you like the Friend’s of the Earth group, be forewarned, they are Mr. Bailey’s foils, and justifiably so.

Tyler Hamilton

Another writer I’ve come to respect is Tyler Hamilton who writes the CleanTech blog and works at the Toronto Star. I take it that Mr. Hamilton is “youthful” and the extent of his experience while broad and deep isn’t as tempered by years as one might expect from the professional level of his work. I like that young perspective. He is sharp enough to get to the facts and drill for conclusions that fit. The hyperbole skills are absent and the information pretty complete for someone trained to “fit the column.” On Sunday February 24th 2008 Mr. Hamilton briefly touches the issue Mr. Bailey so adroitly disassembles. The blog title is Biofuels vs. Electrification? Why Treat Them as Competing Options?” Only a politician could answer that. The reasons to compel a competition is a political game for advantage with all sides seeing any other side as getting their shot at the money or special advantage.

Mr. Hamilton sets about making clear that your best interest and mine are not served by competition for advantage. He even points out that the responsibility may have gone off the rails. He says, “So let’s stop demonizing biofuels. It’s at times like these that I’m ashamed of my own industry for oversimplifying the debate with sensational headlines.” Now I’ve gone and done it – I posted the quote out of context.

The post is short, covers several topics in the title’s area and concludes with a as much of an opinion as Mr. Hamilton will allow himself on a blog post saying, “Maybe I’m oversimplifying things, but it seems to me it makes more sense to target particular approaches to particular problems rather than have all approaches try to be all things to all industries. I encourage a look at Mr. Hamilton’s blog.

I hope these top quality works will assist you in forming good views and aid you to help others to grasp what is worth knowing. If one overlooks the use of a foil in Mr. Bailey’s article there is a lot to learn – all of it useful and beneficial. There are gems scattered about the internet and these are but only two good ones.


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