Monday, February 16, 2015

Oh poop !

As expletives go, “oh poop” is a pretty mild utterance, roughly on the same scandal level as “oh darn” or “dagnabit“. Expletives, of course, are necessary to relieve our temporary frustrations, but there’s another side of “poop” that most of us aren’t aware of.

Yesterday’s Arizona Republic contained an article titled “Double Duty”, which described how 2 Arizona dairy farms (Triple G Dairy and Stotz dairy) were converting methane gas produced by their cows into renewable energy. Between them, the 2 dairies have 20,000 head of cattle, which means that they have a lot of (um) poop to deal with.

The power generated by the converted methane gas is sold to Arizona Public Service Company, which produces revenue for the companies. The systems used by the companies to produce power also reduce the odor from their manure lagoons, and they help in other ways as well. Water from the lagoons is treated, and is used for irrigation, and the less liquid components from the lagoon are made into fertilizer, which is spread onto food crops. Any methane that is left over after all the other conversions is burned, which renders it harmless.

Farms in other states have also realized the economic value of recycling manure. The Blue Spruce Farm in Bridport, Vermont, installed a generator roughly six years ago to convert manure to electricity. The installation generates $250,000 a year in income for the farm, and produces enough electricity to power 400 homes.

Believe it or not, global warming IS real, and it’s exacerbated by human activity, despite what people like Jim Inhofe might believe. If you’re not familiar with him, he is the senior senator from Oklahoma, and is a member of the Republican Party. Inhofe is considered to be one of the most conservative members of either chamber of Congress, and has been the foremost Republican promoting arguments for climate change denial in the global warming controversy. He famously said in the Senate that global warming is a hoax, and has invited contrarians to testify in Committee hearings.

Naturally, he is now the ranking member of the United States Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Oversight. His position is, of course, roughly equivalent to putting Michele Bachmann in charge of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which meant that while she was the chair of the committee, she oversaw the CIA, the National Security Agency, and the rest of the U.S. intelligence committee.

Methane gas is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas (after carbon dioxide) but its impact on climate change is 20 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 100 period. Although it IS a naturally occurring gas, it is also produced by human activities like the raising of cattle or leakage from natural gas systems. In the United States, cattle produce 6 million tons of methane every year, which is roughly 20% of all methane gas emissions.

For their efforts in being “environmentally friendly businesses” , both dairies were recently awarded an Environmental Stewardship Award by the Arizona Farm Bureau.

There’s an old saying that if you have lemons, you make lemonade. The logical extension of that saying, of course, is that if you have poop, you make power. Another old saying that can now be laid to rest, though, is, “that shit don’t fly around here”, since all of us can even learn lessons from bird poop - but that’s all that I’ll say about that.

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