Landfill Garbage Methane Gas Counterpoint

One of the biomass fuels that have been given little attention is methane gas generated from garbage in Waste Management dumps. Waste Management is converting methane gas from rotting trash into electricity power. The gas powers turbines that turn generators, producing electricity for a power grid. In the U.S. the number of methane gas projects has grown to 510 and generate more than 1.563 megawatts per year, or supply energy to power 1.6 million homes. A landfill will produce gas for 20 to 30 years, and is a reliable consistent source. Economics, energy legislation mandates, and technology advancements are the reason for the fuels development. At the present, landfill gas power cost is about the same as from wind, but is still more expensive than from coal-generated power (Cents per kilowatt-hour: Coal=3 to 8, Landfill gas=7 to 10, Wind=5 to 11).

Methane is the second most important green house gas after carbon dioxide. Reducing its emissions in the atmosphere, and using it for energy power generation and a component of natural gas are good reasons landfill methane-electricity projects made up 10.8% of the country’s renewable energy output. The EPA says, landfill methane becomes a greenhouse gas at least 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, the principle greenhouse gas, when it rises in the atmosphere.

The 1.6 billion tons of garbage, 550 lbs per person, is a growing potential source for clean energy. The methane generated in the landfills should be used for energy power instead of being released to the atmosphere.

Other Reference info:

EPA Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP)

A look at Waste Management and landfill gas energy resources

Sources of Energy-the fossil fuels

FEC harnesses methane gas to create energy

Garbage to gas

Fun Facts about Fungi

California garbage trucks fueled by…


Green Jobs and Coal Counterpoint

Articles are now being written that state “The wind industry now employs more people than coal mining in the United States.” Wind industry jobs increased to 85,000 in 2008, while coal mining employs about 81,000 workers. The increase in wind energy generation is due to proposed climate change and carbon tax legislation. The 50% increase in installed wind capacity in 2008 is one third of the nations total, and is still leading the green energy industry. The future of wind energy generation seems to be tied to the tax credit due to global credit crisis delays and investor liabilities.

The coal, oil, and natural gas industries have become fairly stable for the last few years, as the ability to find new sources has been limited and mining more efficient. The increase of green (renewable) energy jobs has increased due to strong global government support. It has been estimated that the nearly $2 billion in money from the American Recovery and Investment has been spent on Wind Power, but 80%of that money has gone to foreign manufacturers of wind turbines. It is a fact that renewable energy makes up 3% and coal 50% of our nations electrical energy. Then why does the wind industry require more jobs than coal?

Does wind power really provide more jobs than coal?

Refer to “Coal and jobs in the United States.”

Other interesting reading:

Green Jobs, Fact or Fiction?

Defining Green and meaningful net jobs.

Renewable energy is more for jobs than dirty coal.

Coal is not the answer.

Green policies in California generated jobs?

Premature Births and Infant Mortality Counterpoint

After reading several recent articles on US premature births and infant mortality in reference to the US health care, I decided to research the facts and data. The US ranks 33rd in the world in infant mortality, an indicator of the health of a nation.

Approximately 13 million worldwide are born premature and 56 million infants die within one year of birth, of which 1 million are premature. The US has 475,000 born premature and 27,000 infants die annually. Premature births occur when the infant is born before the completion of the 37th week of pregnancy.  The question is why the US has the premature birth and infant mortality rates for a nation with advanced health care?

The following are among the factors that could increase the risk of premature birth:

I have tabulated the data collected by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the CIA, however it is very spotty (especially on preterm births) and needs more consistent collection (some does not make sense).

Data of Population, Annul Births, Premature Births, Infant Mortality
Premat Premat Infant Infant
Popul. Births Births Births Births Mortal Mortal
Annul Annul Annul Annul Annul Annul
(millions) (1000s) Pop/1000 (1000s) Birth/1000 (1000s) Birth/1000
China 1338.6 18740 14.0 2101 112.1 431 23.0
India 1156.9 25220 21.8 1723 68.3 1387 55.0
U.S. 307.2 4239 13.8 475 112.1 27 6.3
Indonesia 240.3 4518 18.8 386 85.4 120 26.6
Brazil 190.0 3496 18.4 298 85.2 83 23.6
Pakistan 174.6 4819 27.6 258 53.4 325 67.5
Banglad 156.0 3853 24.7 229 59.3 202 52.5
Nigeria 149.2 5476 36.7 29 5.2 600 109.5
Russia 140.0 1554 11.1 233 149.9 26 16.6
Japan 127.1 966 7.6 206 213.2 3 3.2
Germany 82.4 676 8.2 133 197.3 3 4.3
Britan 60.3 645 10.7 97 151.1 3 4.8
Canada 32.5 335 10.3 53 157.1 2 4.8
Afghanist 28.5 1297 45.5 46 35.6 204 157.0
Uganda 26.4 1262 47.8 43 33.8 97 76.9
Australia 19.9 249 12.5 32 129.5 1 4.4
Sum 4229.9 77345 6341 3512.9
World 6796.0 137959 20.3 13000 94.2 56356 40.9
Africa 4047 119
N America 480 106
Asia 6907 91
L America 933 81
Oceania 20 64
Europe 466 62

The data considered are taken from:

It is concluded that the US still rates high for health care, and there is not much that can be changed for preterm births and infant mortality without more societal changes.

Other articles of interest:

Who are the Uninsured Health Care Counterpoint

What are some facts and who are those Americans with Uninsured Health Care:

(Most figures come from an annual report issued by the United States Census Bureau)

  1. There are 46.3 million (15.4% of population) in 2008
  2. 36-39 million of uninsured (78-85%) are naturalized citizens
  3. 14.8 million uninsured Hispanics (32.1% of Hispanics)
  4. 7.4 million blacks (19.5% of blacks) lack insurance
  5. 8.1 million children (under 18 yrs) are uninsured
  6. 8.0 million young adults (18-24 yrs) are uninsured
  7. 70% uninsured non-citizens live in California, Texas, Florida, New York
  8. 13.5 million uninsured make below $25,000/yr income
  9. 14.5 million uninsured make $25,000-$49,000/yr income
  10. 8.5 million uninsured make $50,000-$75,000/yr income
  11. 9.1 million uninsured make above $75,000/yr income
  12. 20% of uninsured are able but elect not to collect insurance
  13. 25% of uninsured are eligible for public insurance, but elect not
  14. 56% of uninsured need financial assistance
  15. 5 million uninsured are uninsurable because of pre-existing conditions
  16. The per capita spending on 46 million uninsured is about half that of the 253 million insured
  17. 83 million (27.8% of population) is covered by public government insurance

Other interesting articles for consideration:

The number of uninsured Americans is at an all time high.

US Census Bureau News

Uninsured count needs explanation

Uninsured immigrants Burden the Health Care System


Click here to see other Counterpoint articles

Biomass Fuel, Energy, Power Counterpoint

Biomass is a term being more frequently used for renewable fuel, energy and power made from any organic material from plants or animals. Sources are organic crops, plants, and trees, agricultural food and feed crops, and residues from plants, crops, wood, and animals-in other words what is left over or scraps. The usable by-products are gas additives (ethanol and biodiesel), methane gas (burned as fuel), and organic fibers and wood (for heat and generating electricity).

I became more interested in biomass after previously covering the following topics:

Solar Power/ Energy

Wind Turbine Power

Natural Gas Car Fuel

U.S. Oil Reserves

Price of Oil

Corn Food Fuel

Car Fuel Efficiency

Global Warming and Energy Reserves

Electrical Utilities are facing new rules requiring them to generate 20% of their power from renewable resources by 2020. Solar and wind power has been considered by most utilities and many don’t have the resources, or have run into legislative roadblocks. With all Utilities being required to meet quotas, they are now considering, and building, “Biomass” Power Plants, since they can get significant federal tax credits.

Most studies are based on data such as that from “The Engineering Toolbox”.  The data shows that the biomass energy is free, since the process is considered nearly carbon neutral, because the plants only emit the carbon they absorbed while they were growing. The time and volume of usage is neglected-it is not explained that more is used than grown, and in between there are fewer trees to absorb the carbon dioxide. The real world is more like Fig. 3 Plot “Pounds of CO2 per KWH” of the article “How to measure fuel efficiency, energy costs, and carbon emissions for home heating”.  Both coal and wood have the same high-level carbon footprint.

An interesting article, “Biomass Energy Facts”, is a good comprehensive worthwhile list. It is not mentioned that renewable energy in 2007 was 7% of the US energy supply, and of this 3% is biomass. In 2020 20% of US energy is to be by renewable, with a good part of the increase by biomass, meaning a much-increased usage of wood from trees that takes time to replace and is now a big source of CO2 absorption.

Of major concern is that states (Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Missouri, etc.) are now proceeding with biomass energy projects based on the process being considered nearly carbon neutral because the plants only emit the carbon they absorbed while they were growing. Is this a fact-based conclusion? And will the increased biomass usage have any effect on the natural cycling of CO2 because it takes time for volume replacement?

Other biomass information of interest:

Biomass Emissions-Air Emissions from Modern Wood Energy Systems

Massachusetts Forest and Environment Threatened

Spending of 2009 US Tax Dollars Counterpoint

I recently read an interesting article “So Here’s What Your Tax Dollars Buy”, by Brian Riedl. In particular, the statement “Washington will spend $33,880 per household in 2009…nearly $8000 more than last year.” A research of the approximate number of US households was estimated to be 112,900 for 2009. That calculates to 3.825 trillion dollars spent; a lot of money, so-what. But spending $33,880 dollars per household registers with me as a lot of money.

I decided to look at some facts that resulted in the following (a lot of numbers):

Estimate Estimate Article
Year 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2009







US Budget Tot ($B) 2700 2800 2900 3100 3550 3825
Soc Sec/Medicare (%) 42.9 43.8 41.5 41.1 40.5 27.8
Int on Debt (%) 7.8 8.7 9 8.4 4.6 3.6
Defense (%) 19 19.6 16.6 16.6 18.6 17.3
Health (%) 2.4 2.3 2.2 2.1
Transportation (%) 2.6 2.8 0.4 0.4 2 1.6
Vets Benefits (%) 2.5 2.6 1.4 1.4 1.5 2.4
Education (%) 3.3 3.2 1.9 1.9 1.3 1.2
Justice (%) 1.1 1.6 0.7 0.7 0.7 1.3
Fed Ret. Benefits (%) 2.9
Unemploy Befits (%) 2.7
Financial Bailout (%) 18.7
Anti-poverty (%) 14
All Other (%) 20.8 16.7 22.8 27.2 28.6 4.4
Financial Bailout ($B) 787 746
Anti-poverty ($GDP) 3 3 3 3 4 4
Tot Tax Recepts (%) 81.5 85.7 91.7 87.1 67.1 54
Tot Tax Receipts ($B) 2200 2400 2660 2700 2381 2063
Indiv Income Tax (%) 44 45.8 47 44.8 44.6
Soc Security Tax (%) 37.2 36.2 34.9 35.2 39.8
Corpaorate Tax (%) 10 15.4 11.8 12.6 9.3
Excise Tax (%) 3.4 2.7 2.6 2.6 3.2
Estate & Gift Tax (%) 1.2 1.1 1 1 0.8
Custom Duties (%) 1.3 1.1 1.1 1.1 1
Other (%) 2.9 2 1.9 1.8 1.5
Social Security (%) 20.2 19.9 21 20.8 19.5
Medicare (%) 12.8 14.1 13.3 13.2 12.8
Medicaid (%) 9.9 9.9 7.2 7.2 8.2

What is tabulated is the US total budget dollars for the years 2006-to-2010 with a listing of the category where spent, as given in the article by Riedl. The last column compares the article with the US government facts. The facts came from:

2006 United States Federal Budget

2007 United States Federal Budget

2008 United States Federal Budget

2009 United States Federal Budget

2010 United States Federal Budget

Items to notice:

The financial cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan war are not part of the defense budget.

The financial bailout and anti-poverty funding are separate funding.

The Total Tax Receipts have been shown broken out to show our total taxes.

The Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid funding has been broken out for each fund.

The Total Tax Receipts are given as billion dollars and as per-cent US budget.

It’s difficult to get a good uniform listing of actual US Tax dollar spending by category.

80% to 85% of US Taxes come from individual’s (Income and Social security) taxes.

The percentage corporate taxes doesn’t appear to be going up.

It is concluded that the detailed numbers given by the article tax dollar categories are suspect (not much), however the $33,880 spent per household may be conservative. Can you believe it?

Reference other info:

United States Federal Budget-wikipedia

2008 US Federal Budget-Kevin Colby news

USA Spending 2009

Projection of number of US Households


Click here to see other Counterpoint articles

Panorama Photos Counterpoint

Panorama photos are a way to extend the view of a photo opportunity so that a greater view may be obtained. These extended views have normally been considered horizontal (partial angle), but they can also be vertical, matrix (eg-2high x 2wide), 360 degree, and spherical. Many times this translates from an ordinary to a spectacular photo, and always shows more than what the normal camera can view.

Double-click one of the following for an example:

Horizontal (partial angle)



360 degrees

Spherical-see Rice University, Houston Texas, USA

My Panorama Site just started-for other examples

I’ve learned that it doesn’t take much equipment or software to get started with panorama photos. I have a Canon Powershot S45 digital camera and tripod, and several software programs:

PhotoVista V-2.0

EMC V-10 Photosuite Panorama Assistant

Canon Photostitch

Autostitch V-2.2

Photoshop Elements 3 “PhotoMerge”

MGI Photosuite 4 “Stitching”

Panorama Factory V-1.6

It has been found that no one program can be assured of making a good panorama photo from the set of photos taken. All of the above is older software, but some is better than newer software.

Another newer software I am now using is Panorama Studio 1.6 that gives good results in a short time.

For the partial angle and 360 degree panoramas a ptviewer.jar and ptviewer.class files are used for showing the panoramas on the web site. You should be able to see the source files. To view these panoramas on the internet your web browser must have the Java 6 add-on download.

Sites used for reference in learning are:

Autostitch  site.

Panorama Factory site.

Panoguide how to.

Panoramic Network-Panorama Stitchers.

Canon Photostitch Opinion

Stitching and Authoring Panoramas.

Panoguide product reviews

Gregwired Panosauurus Tripod Head

Hope that this might spark your interest or get you started with panorama photos.