The Best Stuff We've Read This Week

Interesting articles on the pandemics on the way, skepticism toward Skeptics, classic car crashes and more neat stuff.

Geothermal Energy: Earth's Gift to Mankind

Green energy is good for all, and it doesn't get much greener than using the Earth's own heat to warm your home or office. Learn all about geothermal energy in today's new episode.

How Droughts Work

Droughts can be an inevitable feature of a local climate or a catastrophic result of human meddling. Learn the ins and outs of droughts including the American mother of them all, the Dust Bowl.

How the Frick Fracking Works

Fracking, the process of breaking trapped resources like natural gas and oil from shale, has led to a revolution in energy production in the U.S. It's also given rise to increasing worries that the process can have sweeping environmental impacts.

Michael Jackson, Perpetual Energy and the Saving of the Earth

There is no big shortage of guys in search of cheap, abundant, free energy. We are, after all, going to eventually run out of fossil fuels -- if we haven't already -- and we will require something to keep the global economy humming, lest it shut down. One of my favorites is a man in Florida who figured out a way to make common saltwater burn. Anything that can be made combustible is inherently potentially useful for energy, since at the very least heat can be used to create steam which can be used to turn a turbine, which can generate electricity. And what's more abundant on the surface of Earth then salt water?

Be a Lazy, Unimaginative Schmuck, Destroy Civilization -- Simple as That

Here's a really good reason why you should think for yourself: if you don't, civilization as we know it will crumble and the streets will run red with the blood of the innocent. So that second part was fabricated, yes. The first part, about civilization crumbling, appears to be for real.

Cash For Clunkers: Yet Another Testament to Congress' Ability to Write Bills With Delightful Names

Oooo, lordy, I love it when the liberals are in power. I'm about to make me a cool $4,500 from the federal government. NPR was all atwitter on the way in to work with news of the Cash for Clunkers bill that's easily made its way through the House and is poised to pass the Senate sometime in the near future. The bill gives a nearly five grand rebate to people who trade in their cars that get 18 miles or less to the gallon for a car that gets 28 miles or more per gallon.

Let's put this puppy to bed, shall we? Coming in at the number one spot, eclipsing all others, ladies and gentlemen -- I give you switchgrass. Switchgrass is a warm season grass, nothing more than a prairie weed. But just because it has the word grass in it, don't think it's anything like the fescue growing in your back yard. A full season of growth for switchgrass can top out at ten feet high with tough, thick stems. Turns out, this stuff is a miracle worker when it comes to producing biofuel. A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences states that switchgrass can produce 500 percent more renewable energy than the energy required to be grown and processed.

On today's list of top biofuels, we have jatropha. I bet dollars to donuts that most of you haven't heard of this one, and I hadn't either until I started to dig in and do some research. Here's the skinny on jatropha curcas: It's a shrub that can grow most anywhere It's highly drought resistant Doesn't compete with food crops Its seeds are about 35 percent oil Originated in Central America, now grown in Asia Oil can be burned in a standard diesel engine Generates topsoil and stalls erosion One bush can live up to 50 years It also produces four times as much oil per hectare as soybean and a whopping ten times as much as corn. So what's the problem? Well, it's poisonous to both man and cattle and as if now, it needs to be harvested by hand, making it very labor intensive.

Today's entry into the top 5 biofuels sweepstakes is rapeseed. This mustard green is also known as oilseed and canola. Though it is indeed and leafy green, it's largely grown for it's seeds, which are about 40 percent oil. China and Europe produce most it, to the tune of about 47 million tons per year in total. Rapeseed has been used for making soap, oils and plastics manufacturing, but it really shines as a biofuel. In fact, Europe is the leader in making biodiesel from rapeseed oil. Why? Mainly because they heavily subsidize the stuff in Europe, much like the United States does with corn. The EU wants to have 10 percent of its vehicles running on biodiesel by the year 2020 and rapeseed looks to be a major player.