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« Economic Security: Consumer Driven. Ethanol Powered. | Main | Veterans Day 2009: Veterans, Persian Gulf Wars, and Energy Security »

August 25, 2009

Your Environmental Security: Code Blue, Orange, and Red

Ethanol: Fact vs. Myth

Learn the truth about ethanol...

There are three elements to consider when you assess your environmental security. Consider yourself and the air you breathe the bull’s-eye (Code Blue), your immediate surroundings as the next outer circle (Code Orange), and from there to the ozone as the last circle of your personal environmental perimeter, or biosphere (Code Red).

Every Breath You Take… Every Move You Make…

Bulls_eye Code Blue (Risk to Your Health)
The air you breathe has an immediate and long term impact on your personal health.  The known carcinogens in gasoline and the emissions from burning them have been proven to cause cancer (according to the sign on the gasoline pump), respiratory problems like asthma, and even heart attacks.  In the days of carbon monoxide alerts in 39 of the nation’s largest cities – the number of heart attacks increased on days with the safe level was exceeded.  The good news -- the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 required gasoline retailers to add clean burning oxygenated fuels (like ethanol) to gasoline. That move alone has almost eliminated this particular air quality problem. Ozone and smog are also attributed to gasoline emissions and the reformulated gasoline program also required gasoline retailers to include oxygenated fuels (like ethanol) to reduce the level of toxics in gasoline.  Today, the renewable fuel standard is making us all safer at many levels, not only our immediate air quality.

Ethanol: On Target to Improve Your Environmental Security

The Coming of Biofuels: Study Shows Reducing Gasoline Emissions Will Benefit Human Health

A “Life Cycle Impact Assessment” has shown that a biofuel eliminating even 10-percent of current gasoline pollutant emissions would have a substantial impact on human health in this country, especially in urban areas.

Code Orange (Risk to Your Immediate Surroundings)
Many of us have become jaded from hearing “code orange” every time we enter or leave an airport. However, this announcement is a constant reminder of a real and imminent danger and security threat to the lives of a large majority of Americans. Code orange is a real and present danger to those that frequently travel or live in large metropolitan areas -- such as Manhattan.  The differences between the U.S. culture and many countries in the Middle East, where 88% of the world’s proven oil reserves are located, are not going to be resolved soon.  The U.S. is in a long-term war over these cultural differences. As a result, military service is becoming more of an everyday family or neighborhood occurrence. Over 5,000 American soldiers have died and over 30,000 have been wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq protecting our economic, environmental, energy, political, and religious freedoms. Protecting the free flow of the world’s oil has been part of our national security strategy since 1945.  This “oil protectionist” strategy, and our nation’s addiction to imported oil, have a direct impact our geopolitical strategies and our ability to interact with many nations.

Code Red (Risk to Your Biosphere and Planet)
I grew up in an era of code red days.  I was not allowed to go outside and play because of bad air quality – unless I had baseball or football practice.  I was not told why. When I found out why, it was one of the reasons I dedicated my career to advocating alternative fuels for cars and wound up writing this blog with my Oreck air filter running in the background -- and two FFVs and a hybrid in the driveway.  Holes in the ozone and climate change where lessons soon to follow on my selfish journey to protect myself.  It took many years and many millions of dollars, but over time the consensus and conclusion was that man made emission were the culprit -- imagine that. The majority of emissions causing the pollution that were threatening my life, and the planet that I had become dependent on, were coming from jobs or the cars people used to get to their jobs.  From my viewpoint, as a capitalist and patriot, I realized then that our country was not going to give up either of those freedoms without a fight.  The risk is as "easy as pie" to understand.

The Majority of GHG Comes From Burning Fossil Fuels: A Large Portion is From Transportation.

GHG Easy as Pie_lores

The weapon I choose to enhance my environmental security is consumer choice.  I choose to put higher blends of ethanol, like E85, in my FlexFuel Vehicle (FFV).  In my immediate environment, I am doing something right now to impact my economic, environmental, energy, and national security.

I have compiled several articles and studies below that will help you understand the real and immediate threats to your environmental security – resulting from our nation’s addiction to oil, and more importantly, gasoline.  How you choose to protect yourself is always your choice – and for the first time in 100 years, FFVs and E85 give you one.

First and foremost, we are not going to achieve environmental security without economic security being placed first – or the majority of businesses and consumers (i.e., democracy) just won’t care or be able to afford to act responsibly.

More Information and Research:

Connecting Economic and Environmental Security: Survey Finds That Support for Cap-and-Trade Hinges on Economy:  Reuters, Nick Zieminski, July 12, 2009
U.S. manufacturers would be much more likely to support cap-and-trade legislation to limit pollution if they believed the industrial economy was about to improve, according to a survey commissioned by accounting and consulting firm Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, which represents many Midwestern manufacturers.

Is gasoline toxic or carcinogenic?
There are several known toxins in gasoline, some of which are confirmed human carcinogens. The most famous of these toxins are lead and benzene, and both are regulated. The other aromatics and some toxic olefins are also controlled. Lead alkyls also require ethylene dibromide and/or ethylene dichloride scavengers to be added to the gasoline, both of which are suspected human carcinogens. In 1993 an International Symposium on the Health Effects of Gasoline was held. Major review papers on the carcinogenic, neurotoxic, reproductive and developmental toxicity of gasoline, additives, and oxygenates were presented, and interested readers should obtain the proceedings, or just look at some of the papers will put a chill down your spine…

Is unleaded gasoline more toxic than leaded?
The short answer is no. However that answer is not global, as some countries have replaced the lead compound octane-improvers with aromatic or olefin octane-improvers without introducing exhaust catalysts. The aromatics
contents may increase to around 40%, with high octane unleaded fuels reaching 50% in countries where oxygenates are not being used, and the producers have not reconfigured refineries to produce high octane paraffins.

The Real Reason Your Kids Should Not Play in Traffic...
Hodgkin’s lymphoma in children increased 25% and 51% per doubling g of traffic associated benzene and NO2 levels, respectively, during pregnancy (Raaschou Nielsen 2001) doubling traffic-Raaschou-Childhood cancer (OR 5.90), especially leukemia, increased within 750 ft of roadway with > 20,000 VPD (Pearson 2000) within
HAPs  Approx. 280 379/1,000,000 new cases cancer per yr in LA due to ambient levels of benzene, formaldehyde and 1,3 butadiene (MATES II 1999) 280-1,3-MATES-
Approx. 980/1,000,000 new cases cancer per yr in LA County due to diesel particulate emissions (MATES II 1999) to MATES…Environmental & Energy Systems Institute and Shell Center for Sustainability Rice University. Wednesday, November 19, 2003.

...And Why You Should Roll Up Your Windows on the Way to Work

Abstract  Benzene is an established cause of  leukemia in adults, especially acute non-lymphocytic leukemia (ANLL). A few studies have indicated that exposure to gasoline is a cause of childhood leukemia. The purpose of this study was to investigate if environmental exposure to benzene from gasoline and car exhaust was associated with leukemia in children and young adults. The exposure to gasoline and car exhaust was estimated by the number of cars per area. In this ecology study, data on the incidence of cancer in each municipality of Sweden during an 11-year period (1975–1985) were compared with the number of cars per area. For more information: The Mickey Leland National Urban Air Toxics Research Center (NUATRC).

More About Code Orange (Personal Risk: A Real and Imminent Danger):
Absent increased ethanol production figures, it’s all bad news. The Congressional testimony by Jim Woolsey, former director of Central Intelligence, says it all and connects the dots of national security, terrorism and provides a complete and simple explanation of how crude oil/gasoline use are fueling both sides of the Wars we are fighting in the Middle East.  War has placed the Department of Defense as the world’s largest petroleum user and created an immediate threat to the personal surrounding environment of those in battle and at home.

For a number of reasons we must strive for a similar path of decline in influence for oil – away from being a strategic commodity and toward being simply a commodity.  Oil will still be useful and valued for its high energy content and its relative ease of shipment for a long time…But in the interests of our national security, our climate, and our pocketbooks we should now move together as a nation – indeed as a community of oil importer nations – to destroy, not oil of course, but oil’s strategic role in transportation as quickly and as thoroughly as possible.

The national security reasons to destroy oil’s strategic role are substantial. Over two-thirds of the world’s proven reserves of conventional oil lie in the turbulent states of the Persian Gulf, as does much of oil’s international infrastructure.  Increasing dependence on this part of the world for our transportation needs is subject to a wide range of perils.

Just over a year ago, in response to bin Laden’s many calls for attack on such infrastructure, al Qaeda attacked Abcaiq, the world’s largest oil production facility, in northeastern Saudi Arabia.  Had it succeeded in destroying the sulfur-clearing towers there through which about two-thirds of Saudi crude passes -- say with a simple mortar attack -- it would have succeeded in driving the price of oil over a hundred dollars a barrel for many months, perhaps close to bin Laden’s goal of $200 a barrel.”  April 18, 2007, Testimony of R. James Woolsey, U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming Hearings on Geopolitical Implications of Rising Oil Dependence and Global Warming,

Code Red (Risk to Your Planet): Easy as Pie
The possible personal effects of climate change include severe weather damage to property and body, job loss, productive land loss, insurance rate increases, health risks from insect migration and disease, and even national security.  Is climate change real? Who am I to totally disagree and dismiss the findings of scientists from over 130 countries that contributed to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report?  The report included more than 2,500 scientific expert reviewers, more than 800 contributing authors, and more than 450 lead authors.  They have reached a consensus that the impacts from climate change in just 20 short years away.
Believing climate change is happening and its possible risk and impact is an individual choice. However, the source of the man made emissions (e.g., our role vs. the planet) is as easy as pie to understand. Over half of the greenhouse gas emissions come from burning fossil fuels, and the majority of that fossil fuel is used to fuel our cars, homes and jobs.

For more information and reports go to IPCC website. Selected presentations collected on the IPPC link were given by prime IPCC representatives on various occasions. The preparation of each presentation is under the responsibility of the presenter.Original figures from the IPCC reports can be found here.
You can also find information on Wikipedia.



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