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Great post. I've been meaning to get 'round to adding biofuels, especially methane in to the mix, but haven't had the time.

My only major quibble with your post is that I disagree with the prospect of burning animal waste. My disagreement fits here into a much broader, related issue of needing to totally re-think how we go about agriculture. We're still losing so many feet of topsoil a year, monocultures have sucked every last nutrient and mineral out of the soils to the point that the food produced has little other than caloric value, and after a couple of hundred years of this in some places, we are now facing massive productivity collapse (Australia, with its incredibly fragile soils is the canary in the mine here). Add to that the massive amounts of fossil fuels required for modern farming techniques and fertiliser, and how the energy we are extracting is an order of magnitude less than the energy we put in, and we have a very serious problem.

the solutions are going to vary from place to place, but the general principle of going to small, intensive mixed cropping and farming, massively reducing meat consumption (we really can't afford to feed the majority of cereal crops to cows in feedlots), and using organic matter - ie poop and bulk matter -  to start to rebuild soils.

So in short, I think we might need that animal waste for another essential transition if we are to survive on anything like the scale we currently operate at.

"This can't possibly get more disturbing!" - Willow

by myriad (imogenk at wildmail dot com) on Wed Oct 19th, 2005 at 11:35:29 PM EST
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I agree burning the solid animal waste is a huge misuse of recourcs but I was suggesting that it be put into a digester to produce methane. The waste from the digester can be used to enhance soils. This technology s being used in villages where previously dried dung was used directly as a fuel and   very low tech collectors and burners use the gas that is piped round the village. Collective sanitation provides a source of human waste to add to the mix. Developing world countries are not the only ones that can benefit from the process as it can be scaled up given appropriate safety precautions (little known is that the large digester on the Windsor farm owned by the Queen blew up because of technical problems!)
by Londonbear on Thu Oct 20th, 2005 at 12:31:52 PM EST
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