ByJustin Gammill

Jun 12, 2014

I like to think of myself as a pretty savvy shopper. I cut the occasional coupon. I read product reviews on Amazon. I even once researched a pair of socks for 3 days to make sure that they were the right footwear option for my uses. You may scoff at that, but I’m telling you right now, losing a toe to frostbite or jungle rot will ruin your ballet career faster than you can say “Hey doc, does this foot look weird to you too?”

With that being said, even the savviest shopper like myself can get duped with a product that isn’t exactly what it is sold to be. Volcano insurance, for example, probably wasn’t one of my smarter buys. In my defense; the salesman, Bob, showed me a clip from “Dantes Peak” and explained to me that even though I am in Texas, “volcanoes are sneaky.”

Well, apparently Bob has been at work selling sketchiness across the U.S. for quite some time. Right now in over 20 states there is a pollution source that is making coal burning power plants look like a saintly endeavor …

That sneaky Bob sold the concept of Biomass-produced power generation as a clean, green, sustainable source of power, and the fact that the country bought it makes as much sense to me as an Eskimo buying an icemaker. I will apologize for the use for the word “Eskimo” in advance. Although, not only am I pretty sure they don’t have the Internet in those igloos, I can hear a sled dog team a mile away.

So how does Biomass energy production work? It’s a giant fire of wood and a few select fibrous crops that generate steam like a coal burning plant. Since it’s all natural materials, it’s got to be “green”, right? Absolutely not. Burning wood releases 50 percent more pollution per energy unit than burning coal. So regulate the emissions with “carbon capturing” magic, right? Nope. Biomass burning plants are allowed to produce more pollution because of their supposed “sustainability.” So basically, it turns out that Biomass energy production does not rival coal burning as far as far as air pollution is concerned. It simply blows it out of the water.

Now when Biomass power production was introduced as “sustainable”, that was based on the fact that technically we can re-grow the trees and crops that we cut down to burn. Right, because old forest growth just springs back up after you clear-cut it. Even though there are specific crops that can be grown for energy production, those crops are grown and harvested, just to be burned. Unfortunately, they aren’t the soil-friendliest plants on the block due to their hearty, fibrous nature. Not to mention, the millions of gallons of water needed to grow them. Oh, and don’t forget the amount of diesel burning equipment it takes to harvest all these resources, and all the sudden “green” only applies to what the barren waste land used to look like before the deforestation required to stoke the fires happened.

Taking all these factors into consideration, add in the fact that Biomass-produced energy is heavily subsidized and we get the real culprit; money. Guys like Bob have spun the buzz-words “green” and “sustainable” to the point where something dirtier than coal burning is getting traction amongst the alternative energy competitors. I don’t know about you, but I feel like we are all standing around like Nuk-A-Luk the Eskimo, wondering what in the hell we are going to do with an ice cube maker.

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By Justin Gammill

He is "stealthy like a ninja at midnight, yet brazen like a champion Mexican fighting chicken". Justin Gammill approaches his topics in a manner that provokes thought, laughter, and the occasional “did he just say that?”. Chances are, yes, he most certainly did just say that. So, buckle up … you never know where the train of thought is going.