Hemp Environmental Benefits

The environmental benefits of the plant Cannabis sativa L., hemp, will be found in the many rooms of the U.S.A. Hemp Museum, but the importance of these benefits suggest we give them a room of their own. We live on a small planet, shared by more than six billion humans and more than two million other species. What we do as humans profoundly affects the quality of life for all these living beings. From the start of agriculture, the village and civilization maybe only 15,000 years ago, people have learned to control their environment and were able to reproduce far beyond the natural order that had existed for millions, maybe billions of years. Anyone who believes that the human population can not lay waste the planet earth has not taken a serious look at our handiwork, or at the billions of people in need of food and resources. We need to buy time to turn the situation around. The heroes of today and tomorrow on the earth will be those who forgo being parents for the good of the planet, our common home.

Hemp will help. Hemp can bring us back closer to the renewable and sustainable resources we started with as humans. Hemp helps the soil. Field hemp, sown close, sends a strong tap root into the subsoil where it finds and feeds on new deposits of minerals and pulls them up into the topsoil roots and plant.

260000_people …BY THIS TIME TOMORROW, 260,000 more people on Earth. We need to get a grip on the reality of the situation. Every man and woman in the world who might choose birth control should have it available.

We live in a time of enormous environmental problems: overpopulation by humans, habitat destruction for other species, global warming, deterioration of the ozone layer surrounding the earth, destruction of the rainforests and forests in general, famine, air and water pollution, pollution and over-fishing of the oceans, topsoil loss and pesticide pollution of farmland, reliance on non-renewable resources, storage of nuclear wastes, and many others.

Using hemp for paper could slow the cutting of forests for paper. Hemp is four times as efficient at producing pulp as trees. Homegrown paper with hemp.

Hemp hurds or sticks after the fiber has been removed. These hurds are reported to be 77% cellulose, whose atomic structure is shown below. The carbon (C) in cellulose is from carbon dioxide (CO2) which plants breath in from the atmospheric gases that make up the air. The plant breathes out oxygen.

The cellulose of plants can be turned into the simplest alcohols, methanol (CH3OH) and ethanol (C2H5OH) both of which are clean burning fuels that can be used in internal combustion engines. See Hemp Bio-fuels Room.

CottonBale

Cotton bale. Cotton is the dominant fiber produced today by American agriculture, and its environmental price is high.

John Muir stated in a quote on one of my tee-shirts sporting a picture of a carrot embedded in the earth, “When you tug a one thing in nature, you find it connected to the rest of the earth.” And so we have it with hemp, tugged out of nature by forces clearly acting in their own self interests–fossil fuel development, timber and wood-pulp industry, synthetic medical-chemical industry, and the government anti-drug bureaucracies. Thomas Jefferson made a profound statement in the Declaration of Independence: “…all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed.”

Environmental talk can be depressing, if you are not depressed it’s because you haven’t thought about the world situation lately. Or maybe you’re working hard trying to fix the earth and haven’t time to be depressed. I hope the latter. Each of us is involved. Tell your children there is hope for another few generations with hemp energy and paper and plastics, all reducing the greenhouse effect. We can lead the world in coming global summits on the warming of the earth, or we can lag behind and risk our home.

HpressboardssmThese boards show how present greenhouse carbon can be tied up out of the atmosphere by the use of hemp in ways where it is not burned as in fuel – paper, boards, plastics, paints. There are tens of thousands of paper products alone that could be made of hemp.

HpressedBallsThe right three balls are hemp, the left is Styrofoam, which could be replaced by lightweight hemp. The far left ball is hemp cement, a mix of fine hurd pulp and quicklime and water, which was formed by hand. It is very hard and very light.

 

“The task facing a legitimate politics of ecology is twofold. Firstly, it must engender in each of us a sense of personal responsibility for the fate of the planet – an awareness that our personal choices, no matter how apparently trivial, when aggregated together are what determine that fate.

The second task is that of developing and articulating a political vision that will shape the individual choices of millions upon millions of individuals so that the sum of all their individual choices is the voluntary choice of an ecologically sustainable world.

It is the task of the politics of ecology to affirm positively the mutual interdependence of the ecology and the economy, of people and nature.”

~author unknown. (Let us know)

GLOBAL WARMING COMMENTARY: Commentary Submitted to the Los Angeles Times

NOVEMBER 10, 1999
Los Angeles Times: Op-Ed Commentary.
ATTN: Robert Berger

RE: GLOBAL WARMING: FACING UP…

In a recent editorial, the Times stated: “In recent months climatologists have come to agree that global warming is a certainty and that government should take economical steps to prepare for it.” Nowhere in the editorial was mention made of the cause of the global warming, also known as the greenhouse effect, or steps that should be taken to mitigate and reverse global warming. While the earth shows natural periods of cooling and warming over the eons, what we are faced with at the present is a people-made problem, that may well have people-made solutions.

First, let’s look at the problem. Picture the earth like a giant greenhouse, the sun shines in and warms the earth. A portion of the light bounces back toward space, but is reflected back by the roof of the greenhouse, adding to the warming effect. In our picture, greenhouse gasses trapped in the atmosphere act as the roof of the earth greenhouse. The people part of the problem is that we put these gasses into the atmosphere as a result of our industry and lifestyle over the past two hundred years.

The most important greenhouse gas, because of its volume in the atmosphere, is carbon dioxide or CO2. This natural gas we animals breath out as a result of our metabolism is breathed in by plants, which use the carbon in leaves, roots, flowers, or wood and give off oxygen or O2, which animals breath in. This is called a natural cycle of life. Teach your kids about this cycle, and learn about this yourself. It is not too strong to say the future of the planet earth depends on how fast we learn this lesson. The problem is with fossil fuels, petroleum oil, coal, and natural gas from these fuels. Removed from the atmosphere by plants during the age of dinosaurs and huge amounts of vegetation, excess carbon formed pools of oil, fields of coal, and pockets of gas beneath the surface of the earth. The end results of burning any carbon substance, if burned cleanly, are carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O). The more fossil fuel we burn, the more CO2 goes into the atmosphere. Couple this with the rapid destruction of forest and rainforest acreage, which would naturally remove and store CO2 as wood, and we see the concentration of CO2 has doubled in the last 50 years. With the many other volatile people-produced chemicals (methane and remember CFC’s?) that act as greenhouse gasses we have the makings of an ecological disaster.

Carbon dioxide from which plants make cellulose is the dominant greenhouse gas due to the heavy fossil fuel burning of the past two centuries. When cellulose is made into building materials, paper, plastics, or textiles, greenhouse carbon is removed from the atmosphere and recycled into these items. Hemp does this best.
I want to propose a solution, because doing nothing or trying to adapt to a climate shift could mean missed opportunity now. I prefer to think of this as an opportunity to recycle some of the 80% of the oil reserves of the U.S. burned in the last decades. How do we recycle CO2 out of the atmosphere? Grow green plants. Better still grow the agricultural crop that pulls CO2 out of the atmosphere better than any other. Our lives may depend on it. Use the plant in place of trees for paper and building materials, in place of fossil fuels as fuel for cars and trucks and as feed stocks for plastics, in place of cotton for fabrics, in place of corn for animal and people food, and for thousands of other products we use daily. There is an old saying: “Anything that can be made from hydrocarbons (coal, oil, natural gas) can be made from carbohydrates (plant material).” We even know how to make synthetic gasoline from plants. What I’m trying to show here is that there are solutions. One of these is hemp.

~Richard M. Davis, Curator U. S. A. HEMP MUSEUM

TOPSOIL IS LIFE: Letter Submitted to the Los Angeles Times

MAY 11, 2000
Los Angeles Times: Letter to the Editor.

RE: Farms: LA Sludge Dispute.

What do we do with our wastes? While there are no easy answers, the telling sentence came from an EPA microbiologist who said, “The science behind this is poor.” Pay the bill, do the science. If we can find the gene for a specific disease, we can certainly tell if heavy metals are taken up by a green crop. And while the science is being done, a little planning might help.

What if we make the farmers in Kern County our partners in maintaining one of the largest urban centers in the world. Farmers get 85% of the useable water in California, water in which all Californian’s have an interest, by amendment to the State Constitution in 1928. Los Angeles needs clean air and a place to safely dispose of sludge wastes. Farmers need markets for non-edible crops grown with composted sludge wastes.

The crop that stands out as one solution to this dispute is hemp. Industrial hemp is by far the number one producer of biomass, 10 tons per acre in four months. Exactly the kind of biomass needed to compost sludge. Reduction of nitrogen levels by composting prevents nitrate contamination of groundwater and facilitates the destruction of harmful bacteria and objectionable odor. This same hemp biomass can be converted into alcohol fuels, including ethanol, which can be sold back to Los Angeles to fuel our transportation needs and help clean the air. The Air Resources Board should demand variable fuel technology on all cars starting next year. The CA Energy Commission has researched alcohol fuels and variable fuel technology since the 1980’s. That science is not poor.

The United States Supreme Court ruled in U.S. v. Butler, 1936, that Congress was “prohibited” and “forbidden” from regulating farm production, because that right is reserved to the states and the people by the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It is time for our state government to act. Pass the bill to allow hemp farming in California. Where do we get the notion that all power is invested in the Federal Government? There is no interstate commerce in this plan. Read the Tenth Amendment, Governor Davis, so we can get on with real planning.

~Richard M. Davis, Curator. U.S.A. Hemp Museum

RECYCLING AND HEMP

Hemp paper can be recycled seven times, as opposed to 3 times for wood-pulp paper. The demand for paper continues to skyrocket! Hemp saves trees.
Recycling fossil fuels.
As was noted above, much of the carbon of burned fossil fuels remains in the atmosphere, causing a problem called the greenhouse effect or global warming. What if we could recycle these gasses back out of the air and into environmentally sound products like paper, fuel, building materials, and food? We can do this with hemp better than any other crop.

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