It is safe for the environment -- if you spill biodiesel into waterways, fish will happily (and safely) eat it.
You get to feel good about not drilling in pristine environments.
There are, however, several drawbacks to using biodiesel. Firstly, it is alot more expensive to produce than petroleum based diesel. Secondly, even if us hippies could convince people to switch to it, it wouldn't be possible to grow enough additional plant crops to generate enough biodiesel to fuel all of America's cars. Even using all the crops we currently use as livestock feed, there wouldn't be even close to enough.
Some communities have started generating biodiesel using medical and slaughterhouse waste, which seems to be working out fairly well. There's alot of turkey, pig, chicken, and cow carcasses -- not to mention the thousands of gallons of celebrity liposuction waste -- that are now being used to generate fuel rather than just throwing it away. This is a good responsible use of a material that we never really thought of as a resource before.
While listening to the hippies scientists on NPR's Science Friday talk about the impending fuel shortage crisis, my mind began to work to come up with other untapped "resources" that people may not have ever considered using before. I think what I came up with is pretty groundbreaking, and I'll tell you about it now.
A projected 2,528,000 people will die in 2005 in the United States alone. As the average weight of Americans is roughly 175 pounds, we could multiply that figure by the number of people who will die this year and come up with 44,200,000 pounds of dead people. According to an article in Discover Magazine (Vol. 24 issue No.5), if broken down into component parts a 175 pound human would yield us 38 pounds of high quality oil, 7 pounds of clean-burning natural gas and 123 pounds of sterilized water. The gas could be used as-is, but the 38 pounds of oil would then need to be processed giving us roughly 6.5 gallons of biodiesel per person. Multiply that by the number of people who will die in 2005 and we get 1,432,000 gallons of efficient clean biodiesel and 1,769,000 pounds of usable clean-burning natural gas that would otherwise not exist.
As Americans use 750,000,000 gallons of gasoline a day currently, my plan barely makes a dent in that figure. As fuel prices continue to rise and availability becomes limited, however, people are going to start wanting more efficient vehicles that use a more efficient fuel – meaning my plan could then start to make more of a difference.
I think this is a fabulous idea, in particular as Americans (and people throughout the world in general) are getting more obese as time goes by... It certainly is more enviro-friendly than burying (cut down a tree for the coffin, most coffin linings are synthetic- think petroleum based fabrics, metal on the handles and hinges, toxic varnishes, clothing getting in the way of natural decompostition, etc) and cremation, which releases toxic smoke and chemicals into the air.
Unfortunately, you would have to contend with the religious belief that a Messiah will come back and bring the dead back to life- a little difficult if there's no body to be attached to (as most who have this belief that I know of feel). Personally, I'm of the belief that if your God is all-powerful, then he could give you a new body for your soul... and would probably look more kindly on you for agreeing to be biofuel and being a better steward for the planet. I'm all for this idea- at least it isn't Soylent Green!
The author lives in Vancouver, Washington, USA with his girlfriend and a menagerie of cats, rats, fish, birds, guinea pigs and robots.
Among other inanities, he strives to use investigative techniques to work young starlet breasts into every aspect of rational discourse -- focusing on the discourse, thus making it not perverted. Also, has recently begun a career as "Internet hairstylist."
He can be contacted via email and Jabber IM at 'firstname.lastname@example.org'. He likes to be contacted.
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