Do you feel something happening? Do you feel like maybe we are on the brink of something incredible (possibly) as humans? For as much havoc as we have wreaked on this planet (and continue to wreak), sometimes I feel like the way we are coming back together, to stand together, to rise together, to be guided by our own individual moral compass rather than the tyrannical leaders is the point of this grand social experiment.
Recently, UN scientists released a report that apparently shows the ‘human-made’ hole in the ozone layer is reversing in size. Okay, so what if we can work together and accomplish sometimes great?
Such is the case with the legalization of industrial hemp.
Hemp is now being recognized for being a healing and practical plant and is finally allowed to grow freely again. The mainstream is becoming okay with hemp. Even the politically-conservative, good-ol’ farming neighbors down the road have two fields of hemp growing this year.
To really see where we could be headed with hemp, think about a recent estimate from biofuel expert Tim Castleman:
“Hemp ethanol could be produced for 1.37 per gallon plus the cost of the feedstock, with technological improvements and tax credits reducing the price another dollar or so per gallon.”
If this statement is true, then the possibilities are truly amazing (I couldn’t read more into this as the address cited directed me to a website that was forbidden on my server). What information is out there about the growing of hemp, though, does offer a bit of hope.
Here are a few hemp facts:
1) Hemp doesn’t need as much fertilizer or water as corn, switchgrass or other energy crops
2) Hemp doesn’t require the expensive drying required of corn and sugar cane
3) Hemp can be grown where other energy crops can’t
4) Hemp is more resistant to “adverse fall weather” than other crops
5) Hemp has long been known to be the lowest-moisture highest-cellulose crop
6) Hemp remediates the soil, meaning hemp the ability to extract heavy metals and pollutants from the soil
7) Hemp can be grown in nearly every type of soil, which means nearly every country around the world can grow its own fuel source, which means no more oil wars (what? Oil wars?)
Digging around a little bit, one can find the facts about the first automobiles. The following information comes from a commentary by Hugh Downs in 1990:
“At one-time marijuana seemed to have a promising future as a cornerstone of industry. When Rudolph Diesel produced his famous engine in 1896, he assumed that the diesel engine would be powered by a variety of fuels, especially vegetable and seed oils. Rudolph Diesel, like most engineers then, believed vegetable fuels were superior to petroleum. Hemp is the most efficient vegetable. In the 1930s the Ford Motor Company also saw a future in biomass fuels. Ford operated a successful biomass conversion plant, that included hemp, at their Iron Mountain facility in Michigan. Ford engineers extracted methanol, charcoal fuel, tar, pitch, ethyl-acetate and creosote. All fundamental ingredients for modern industry and now supplied by oil-related industries.”
The fact that (Rockefeller’s)Standard Oil, (Mellon’s) Gulf Oil and DuPont had a large part in the prohibition of hemp is a story for another day.
So with all of this plant’s versatility in the realm of fuel (hemp can be used to make biodiesel and ethanol), the low cost (under 50 cents per gallon for hemp fuel) and the long list of environmental bonuses, if people are really catching on to certain things and we are really coming together to stand up for what we know could be another truth about oil for energy, then it’s only a matter a time before we start seeing motor vehicles running on non-petroleum, hemp-based fuels…again.