HEMP, THE PREMIER RENEWABLE RESOURCE
. . . the most important thing is not to be dualistic. Our "original mind" includes everything within itself. It is always rich and sufficient within itself. You should not lose your self-sufficient state of mind. This does not mean a closed mind, but actually an empty mind and a ready mind. If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few.
-- Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, Weatherhill, 1985, p. 21.
In the news:
We tend to conceptualize the process of switching back to a renewable
energy economy as something that, once we implement this, we'll simply be
"oh kay". But it is imperative in all this to re-cognize the
larger perspective so precisely articulated by Bill Keepin in his
lecture at the World
Uranium Hearing in held in Salzburg in 1992:
by Dr. Bill Keepin, Beyond Nukes, The Promise of Renewable Energy
[W]hat we label as a crisis in our environment is equally as much a
crisis within ourselves, a crisis of human consciousness and
values. And there are several dimensions
to this that actually serve as hidden driving forces for the
ecological crisis, and I'll just mention a couple of them. One is
the psychological pollution of continual bombardment of corporate
advertising and the consumer culture, another is the dominance by
an hegemony of the masculine gender and related problems of class
and racial oppression. A third is the epistemological tyranny of
western science and market economics. And finally, the spiritual
bankruptcy of secular technological modernism.
-- Lecture by Dr. Bill Keepin, Beyond Nukes, The Promise of Renewable Energy
Also however, renewables for energy production are not "the rest of the story". Cultivation of renewable natural resources for food production, medicines, building materials, textiles, and paper and cardboard products also will provide the alternatives we MUST re-adopt and re-employ IF we are to fulfill our response abilities to the seventh generation yet unborn, as well as our role of stewards for the earth of all life exploring itself on, in, and above Gaia's body.
For the present moment, we present articles and documentation on the Hemp plant, the world's premier renewable resource. It is essential to keep "in mind", that [i]n the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few.
Biomass is the term used to describe all biologically produced matter. World production of biomass is estimated at 146 billion metric tons a year, mostly wild plant growth. Some farm crops and trees can produce up to 20 metric tons per acre of biomass a year. Types of algae and grasses may produce 50 metric tons per year.
Dried biomass has a heating value of 5000-8000 Btu/lb. with virtually no ash or sulfur produced during combustion. About 6% of contiguous United States land area put into cultivation for biomass could supply all current demands for oil and gas. And this production would not add any net carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. . . .
Pyrolysis is the thermochemical process that converts organic materials into usable fuels. Pyrolysis produces energy fuels with high fuel-to-feed ratios, making it the most efficient process for biomass conversion, and the method most capable of competing and eventually replacing non-renewable fossil fuel resources. . . .
It is the cellulose in low moisture herbaceous and woody plants that provides the hydrocarbons necessary for fuel production. Hemp is 80% cellulose and is both a low moisture herbaceous and a woody plant. . . .
Hemp yields an average of nine dry tons per acre. This yield could be even greater in a warm humid climate such as exists in Puerto Rico, and in this climate hemp can be harvested at least three times per year. Therefore, using the University of Hawaii bio-methanol facility production and cost estimates: 95,000 acres planted in hemp will supply a facility capable of producing 1700 MLPY (449 Million Gallons Per Year) of methanol, with the total investment in building the facility at $335 million.
Seeds of the plant cannabis sativa, hemp seed, contain all the essential amino acids and essential fatty acids necessary to maintain healthy human life. No other single plant source has the essential amino acids in such an easily digestible form, nor has the essential fatty acids in as perfect a ratio to meet human nutritional needs. . . .
Hemp is not unique in having all the essential amino acids in its embryonic seed. Flax seeds also contain all the essential amino acids as do many other seeds in the plant kingdom. What is unique about hemp seed protein is that 65% of it is globulin edistin. That is the highest in the plant kingdom. . . .
The body needs the necessary kinds of amino acids in sufficient quantity in order to make proteins such as the globulins. Proper quantities of the right kinds may not be available to the body much of the time. So even though the body has enough essential amino acids available to prevent deficiency diseases, it may not have enough to build quantities of immunoglobulins necessary for the immune system to repel infection.
The best way to insure the body has enough amino acid material to make the globulins is to eat foods high in globulin proteins. Since hemp seed protein is 65% globulin edistin, and also includes quantities of albumin, its protein is readily available in a form quite similar to that found in blood plasma. Eating hemp seeds gives the body all the essential amino acids required to maintain health, and provides the necessary kinds and amounts of amino acids the body needs to make human serum albumin and serum globulins like the immune enhancing gamma globulins. Eating hemp seeds could aid, if not heal, people suffering from immune deficiency diseases. This conclusion is supported by the fact that hemp seed was used to treat nutritional deficiencies brought on by tuberculosis, a severe nutrition blocking disease that causes the body to waste away. [Czechoslovakia Tubercular Nutritional Study, 1955]
Hemp seed oil comprises 35% of the total seed weight. This oil has the lowest amount of saturated fatty acids at 8%, and the highest amount of the polyunsaturated essential fatty acids at 80%, total oil volume. Flax seed oil comes in second at 72% combined total essential fatty acids.
Linoleic acid (LA) and linolenic acid (LNA) cannot be made by the human body and must be obtained through the diet, so they are called essential fatty acids (EFA). LA and LNA are the most important fatty acids in human nutrition and health. They are involved in producing life energy from food and the movement of that energy throughout the body. EFAs govern growth, vitality and state of mind. Still, much is unknown about their functioning in the body.
Fat is the second most abundant substance in the human body (water is first). The exact percentage varies with diet, exercise, genetic disposition, age and gender. . . .
Ideally, one third of the fat consumed should be EFAs. At least 10% of daily calories should be LA and at least 2% LNA. The optimal ratio of LA to LNA in the diet is between 2 to 1 and 5 to 1. The 2 to 1 ratio of LA to LNA is more advantageous in stemming fatty degeneration diseases. Flax seed oil is 58% LNA, possibly making it the best seed oil to combat degenerative disease, but it contains only 14% LA. Hemp seed oil is 55% LA and 25% LNA, or 2.2 times more LA than LNA, making it the best seed oil for optimal health and prevention of fatty degeneration. . . .
Plants have created the perfect container to safely store the EFAs and protect them from light and oxygen damage. It is the seed. And as long as we get our essential fatty acids by eating whole seeds the lifeforce within us is charged with vitality. Hemp seeds contain the perfect balance of the essential fatty acids required by the human body. Hemp seed oil is indeed the oil of life.
The nutritional composition of oil from the marijuana plant could be beneficial to your health. To most people, Cannabis sativa is synonymous with marijuana, but the plant's Latin name means the "useful hemp." Species designated sativa (useful) are usually among the most important of all crops. In fact, the utility of hemp is manifold: the plant has provided human beings with fiber, edible seeds, an edible oil, and medicine, not just a notorious mind-altering drug.
Hemp is a renewable natural resource capable of providing biomass alternatives to fossil fuels. Hemp cellulose and fibers can supply the demand for all products derived from wood.
The corporate industrial energy complex is collectively holding its breath on the topic of biomass resource conversion to replace fossil fuels. The industrial energy giants spend millions in public relations explaining how they are environmentally responsible energy producers. Yet it is the fossil fuel resources they peddle that are endangering the fragile ecosphere. The majority of scientists throughout the world agree: the single most effective way to halt the greenhouse effect is to stop burning fossil fuels.
It was proven in the 1970's that biomass, specifically plant mass, can be converted to fuels that will replace every type of fossil fuel currently produced by industry -- and these biomass fuels are essentially non-polluting. . . .
Nature took millions of years to concentrate the ancient plant mass into what we call fossil fuels. The eons long process that converted the once living biomass into hydro-carbon rich fossils also compressed sulfur into the fossil biomass. It is this sulfur that causes acid rain when belched out of power plant smoke stacks. According to Brookhaven National Laboratory 50,000 Americans and 10,000 Canadians die each year from exposure to acid rain.
Mankind through the science of chemical engineering can transform modern biomass into hydrocarbon fuels that contain no sulfur because the fresh plant mass contains no sulfur. And the scientific method of biomass conversion into hydrocarbon fuels requires mere hours instead of eons to accomplish.
The inherent problem with burning fossil fuels to power industrial energy systems and economies is the mega-ton release of CO 2 into the air. However biomass derived fuels are part of the present day global CO 2 cycle.
The quantity of CO 2 released into the air from burning biomass fuels is equal to the amount of CO 2 the biomass energy crop absorbed while it grew. If the energy crop is an annual plant then one years biomass fuel when burned will supply the CO 2 needed for the next year's fuel biomass growth. There will be no net increase in atmospheric CO 2.
For over 100 years industrialized nations have burned hydrocarbon fuels that are not part of the current ecosystem. The delicate balance between life and climatic cycles is being undone by injecting ancestral CO 2 into the atmosphere.
Methanol-powered automobiles and reduced emissions from coal-fired power plants can become a reality by using biomass derived fuels. The foundation upon which this will be achieved is the emerging concept of energy farming, wherein farmers grow and harvest crops that are converted into fuels. Energy farming can save American family farms and turn the American heartland into a prosperous source of clean renewable energy production. . . .
Farmers should be encouraged to grow energy crops capable of producing 10 tons per acre in 90-120 days. The crop has to be naturally high in cellulose. It must grow in all climactic zones in America. And it should not compete with food production for the most fertile land. It could be grown in rotation with food crops or on marginal land where other crop production isn't profitable. . . .
Both Dr. Serge Gratch, director chemical sciences laboratory, Ford Motor Co. and Dr. Joseph M. Colucci, director fuels and lubricants General Motors Research Laboratories testified their companies were willing, especially Ford, to make cars that would run on methanol fuel. The scientists said it would take several years to tool up factories to make methanol powered autos. They said industry could solve the problems associated with methanol as fuel. And it would take about the same amount of time for the energy industry to build methanol production facilities.
So why don't we have methanol at the filling station? The scientists said the problem was government certification under the Clean Air Act required automobile manufacturers meet standards set by the EPA based on fuels available on a national level. Since methanol fuel standards had not been set, the car makers couldn't make the new fleet until the methanol fuel was available at the pump. This catch-22 situation continues today. Government is unwilling to subsidize pilot energy farms and biomass refinery construction because fossil fuel producers control the energy industry.
The way to end this political stalemate is to start literally from the ground up. When farmers can grow hemp for biomass they will make a profit energy farming. Then it will not take long to get 6% of continental American land mass into cultivation for biomass fuels -- enough to replace our economy's dependence on fossil fuels. And as the energy crop grows it takes in CO2 from the air; when it is burned the CO2 is returned to the air, creating a balanced system. We will no longer be increasing the CO2 content in the atmosphere. The threat of global greenhouse warming and adverse climatic change will diminish. . . .
To keep costs down pyrolysis reactors need to be located within a 50 mile radius from the energy farms. This necessity will bring life back to our small towns by providing jobs locally. The pyrolysis facilities will run three shifts a day.
Charcoal and fuel oil can be "exported" from the rural small town in the agricultural community to the large metropolitan areas to fuel the giant power plants generating electricity. When these utility companies use charcoal instead of coal, the problems of acid rain will begin to disappear.
When this energy system is on line producing a steady supply of fuel for utility companies, it will have established itself in commerce. Then it will be more feasible to build the complex syngas systems to produce methanol from biomass, or make synthetic gasoline from methanol by adding the Mobil Co. process equipment to the gasifier.
To accomplish this goal of clean energy independence in America we must demand an end to hemp prohibition, so American farmers can grow this energy crop. Our government foolishly outlawed it in 1938.
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Sustainable/renewable energy technologies have come a long way in the past 20 years. The following resources provide an inkling of just how biospheric sustaining and economically competitive these fundamentally de-centralizing by definition alternative energy technologies currently are: