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ECONOMICS: ENERGY,ENVIRONMENT AND COMMERCE
We predict that the net effect of ending American hemp prohibition will be to generate ripple effect economics a revitalized American agriculture, producing hemp as the raw material for a multitude of industries, creating millions of good jobs for skilled and semi-skilled professional workers throughout America. The resulting wealth will remain in local communities and with farmers, smaller businesses and entrepreneurs.
Energy and the Economy
The book Solar Gas, Science Digest, Omni magazine, the Alliance for Survival, the Green Party of Germany, the United States and others, put the total figure of our energy costs at 80% of the total dollar expense of living for each human being.
In validation, 82% of the total value of all issues traded on the New York Stock Exchange and other world stock exchanges, etc., are tied directly to:
- Energy producers such as Exxon, Shell Oil, Conoco, Con-Edison, and so forth.
- Energy transporters such as pipeline companies, oil shipping and delivery companies.
- Refineries and retail sales of Exxon, Mobil, Shell, So. California Edison, Con-Edison, etc.
Eighty-two percent of all your money means that roughly 33 of every 40 hours you work goes to pay for the ultimate energy cost in the goods and services you purchase, including transportation, heating, cooking, and lighting. Americans - 5% of the world population - in our insatiable drive for greater net worth and productivity, use 25-40% of the worlds energy. The hidden cost to the environment cannot be measured.
Our current fossil energy sources also supply about 80% of the solid and airborne pollution which is quickly poisoning the environment of the planet. The best and cheapest substitute for these expensive and wasteful energy methods is not wind or solar panels, nuclear, geothermal and the like, but the evenly distributed light of the sun for growing biomass.
On a global scale, the plant that produces the most net biomass is hemp. Its the only annually renewable plant on Earth able to replace all fossil fuels.
In the Twenties, the early oil barons such as Rockefeller of Standard Oil; Rothschild of Shell, etc., became paranoically aware of the possibilities of Henry Fords vision of cheap methanol fuel, and they kept oil prices incredibly low - between one dollar and four dollars per barrel (there are 42 gallons in an oil barrel) until 1970 - almost 50 years! Prices were so low, in fact, that no other energy source could compete with it. Then, once they were finally sure of the lack of competition, the price of oil jumped to almost $40 per barrel over the next 10 years.
By the year 2000, the U.S. will have burned 80% of its petroleum resources, while our coal reserves may last 100-300 years longer. But the decision to continue burning coal has serious drawbacks. This high-sulfur coal is responsible for our acid rain, which already kills 50,000 Americans and 5,000-10,000 Canadians annually. In addition, the acid rains destroy the forests, rivers, and animals.
Conversion to biomass fuels should begin immediately to stop both planetary pollution and lemming like genocide, and to make us naturally energy independent.
Clean, Renewable Fuel Source
Fuel is not synonymous with petroleum and coal. Biomass energy systems can supply a sustainable source of fuel and will create millions of new clean jobs. Hemp biomass derived fuels and oils can replace every type of fossil fuel energy product.
During transpiration, the growing hemp plants breathe in CO2 (carbon dioxide) to build cell structure; the leftover oxygen is breathed out, replenishing Earths air supply. When the carbon rich hemp biomass is burned for energy, the CO2 is released back into the air. The CO2 cycle comes close to ecological balance when the new fuel crop is grown the next year. Growing trees keeps 10 times the carbon dioxide in the Earth by keeping the infrastructure of the microbes, insects, plants, fungi, etc. alive for each tree. The older and bigger the tree, the more carbon dioxide is kept out of the atmosphere.
Biomass conversion through pyrolysis (applying high heat to organic material in the absence of air or in reduced air) produces clean burning charcoal to replace coal.
Sulfur emitted from coal fired boil smokestacks is the primary cause of acid rain. Measuring acidity on the pH scale, the rainfall in New England often falls between household vinegar and lemon juice. This is bad for every cell membrane the rain comes in contact with, doing the most harm to the simplest life forms. Charcoal contains no sulfur, so when it is burned for industry, no sulfur is emitted from the process.
The biomass cracking process also produces non-sulfur fuel oils capable of replacing fossil fuel oils such as diesel oil. And the net atmospheric CO2 doesnt rise when biomass derived fuel oils are burned.
Pyrolysis uses the same cracking technology employed by the petroleum industry in processing fossil fuels. The gasses that remain after the charcoal and fuel oils are extracted from hemp can be used for driving electric power co-generators, too.
This biomass conversion process can be adjusted to produce charcoal, methanol and fuel oils to process steam, as well as chemicals important to industry: acetone, ethyl acetate, tar, pitch, and creosote.
The Ford Motor Company successfully operated a biomass cracking plant in the 1930s at Iron Mountain, Michigan, using trees for cellulose fuels. (Earth-friendly hemp is at least four times as efficient as trees for fuel, and is sustainable.)
Hempseed contains 30% (by volume) oil. This oil has been used to make high-grade diesel fuel and aircraft engine and precision machine oil. Throughout history, hempseed oil was used for lighting in oil lamps. Legend says the genies lamp burned hempseed oil, as did Abraham the prophets. In Abraham Lincolns time, only whale oil came near hempseed oil in popularity for fuel.
Biomass for Energy Abundance
Hemp stems are 80% hurds (pulp by-product after the hemp fiber is removed from the plant). Hemp hurds are 77% cellulose - a primary chemical feed stock (industrial raw material) used in the production of chemicals, plastics, and fibers. Depending on which U.S. agricultural report is correct, an acre of full grown hemp plants can sustainably provide from four to 50 or even 100 times the cellulose found in cornstalks, kenaf, or sugar cane - the planets next highest annual cellulose plants.
In most places, hemp can be harvested twice a year and, in warmer areas such as Southern California, Texas, Florida, and the like, it could be a year-round crop. Hemp has a short growing season and can be planted after food crops have been harvested.
An independent, semi-rural network of efficient and autonomous farmers should become the key economic player in the production of energy in this country.
The United States government pays (in cash or in kind) for farmers to refrain from growing on approximately 90 million acres of farmland each year, called the soil bank. And 10-90 million acres of hemp or other woody annual biomass planted on this restricted, unplanted fallow farmland (our Soil Bank) would make energy a whole new ball game and be a real attempt at doing something to save the Earth. There are another 500 million marginal unplanted acres of farmland in America.
Each acre of hemp would yield 1,000 gallons of methanol. Fuels from hemp, along with the recycling of paper, etc., would be enough to run America virtually without oil.
Family Farms or Fossil Fuels?
In 2000, when our petroleum resources have dwindled to 20% of their original size, America will have six choices to avoid economic and environmental ruin:
- Use more coal, further polluting the environment.
- Continue to fund nuclear power and risk annihilation of the planet.
- Convert forests into fuel, permanently altering life sustaining ecosystems.
- Continually wage wars over foreign oil.
- Build massive wind, solar, geothermal, and tidal energy systems.
- Establish energy farms to grow biomass fuels.
The last two choices are the only rational, life sustaining choices.
Farming only 6% of continental U.S. acreage with biomass crops would provide all of Americas gas and oil energy needs, ending dependence upon fossil fuels.
Hemp is Earths number-one biomass resource; it is capable of producing 10 tons per acre in four months. Hemp is easy on the soil, sheds its lush foliage throughout the season, adding mulch to the soil and helping retain moisture. Hemp is an ideal crop for the semi-arid West and open range land.
Hemp is the only biomass source available that is capable of making the U.S. energy independent. Ultimately, the world has no other rational environmental choice but to give up fossil fuels.
So, Whats the Catch?
The catch is obvious: The energy companies! They own most of the petrochemical, pharmaceutical, liquor, and tobacco companies, and are intertwined with insurance companies and banks.
According to the press, many politicians now in power are bought and paid for by the energy companies, and their U.S. government arm is the CIA. The Bush/Quayle Administration was uniquely tied to oil, newspapers, pharmaceuticals - and the CIA.
The world struggle for money is actually a struggle for energy, as it is through energy that we may produce food, shelter, transportation, and entertainment. It is this struggle which often erupts into open war. If we remove the cause, these conflicts may never occur.
If introduced to Third World nations, hemp biomass could drastically cut our overseas aid and reasons for war, while raising the quality of life there by quantum leaps.
New, non-polluting industries will spring up everywhere. The world economy will boom like never before. The race of man would at last be betting on environmental survival instead of indulging in the suicidal consumption of fossil fuel, which threatens all life on the planet.
Free Enterprise and High Profit
There are many other areas of the economy that would benefit from ending hemp prohibition and the resulting stimulation of commerce in rediscovered hemp products, according to the Hempstead Company, Ecolution, The Body Shop, HanfHaus, etc.
Legal hemp would return billions of dollars worth of natural resource potential back to the farmers and bring millions of good jobs in energy production to Americas heartland. Hemp energy farmers will become our nations largest producers of raw materials.
Family farms will be saved. Crops can be tailored to the needs of the nation. Hemp can be grown for BDF (biomass derived fuels) resources at about $30 per ton. Hempseed crops will again supply the paint and varnish industries with a superior organic and life sustaining alternative to petrochemicals. Hempseed oil has chemical properties similar to linseed oil. And the market is wide open for highly nutritious and delicious foods made from hempseed with its health-giving essential fatty acids and proteins.
Hemp grown for fiber will take the paper and textile industry out of the hands of the multinational corporations, and back to the local communities.
Research by various hemp business associations indicate there are around 50,000 non-smoking commercial uses for hemp that are economically viable and market competitive. These include:
Long-Wearing High Fashion
Drawing on hemp fibers special attributes: absorbency, insulation, strength and softness, clothing manufacturers and designers will once again put hemp into linen to produce new lines of durable and attractive clothing, rugs and textiles of all kinds.
The arrival of imported hemp-cotton blended clothing from China in 1989 marked the beginning of a new era for the rapidly changing world of fashion. Now, in 1998, companies are creating beautiful and durable fashions and accessories from many varieties of 100% hemp fabric imported from China, Hungary, Romania, and Poland.
While we applaud the efforts of these nations in supplying first-rate hemp fabrics, we look forward to the day when U.S. hemp fabric will share the runway!
Outerwear, warm bed sheets, soft towels (hemp is 4 times more water absorbent than cotton), diapers (even disposable ones that you dont have to cut down trees to make), upholstery, wall coverings, natural rugs, even the worlds best soap - all these can now be designed and made from 100% hemp; generally better, cheaper, more durably, and ecologically safer.
Trade barriers on hemp and laws restricting the use of imported cannabis fibers must be removed.
Right now textiles and apparel are the biggest share of imports into the U.S., at 59%. In 1989, textile imports accounted for 21% of the U.S. merchandise trade deficit. Foreign governments often subsidize their textile industries and do not require companies to follow environmental and health regulations. Hardy hemp does not cause the huge range of environmental problems associated with cotton.
The United States imports more textiles than anything else. The government no longer obstructs hemp textile and apparel importation. But, hemp textiles will not be fully cost competitive until hemp fiber can be grown and processed domestically, avoiding bloated federal import fees and lowering the costs of transportation.
Sturdier Paper Products
The devastated environments and job markets of the American Northwest and other timber regions stand to made a dramatic comeback once hemp is reintroduced to the domestic paper industry.
Recent studies indicate that depletion of the ozone layer threatens to substantially reduce world loblolly pine production (the major source of pulp for paper) - by up to 30% or even 50%, depending on the fluctuation of the density of the ozone shield. But hemp not only resists the damage caused by increased ultraviolet radiation - it actually flourishes in it.
Paper mills can return to full production levels and loggers will find new work in hemp trades.
Truck drivers can continue to haul pulp to the mills, and lumber for construction, although the price of lumber will go down as other demands on our timber resources are reduced by substituting farm-grown hemp for forest-grown wood pulp.
There will also still be a lot of work to do in reforestation. Our rivers will go through a period of recovery when hemp replaces wood pulp in the paper industry resulting in a 60-80% reduction of paper making chemicals being dumped into them.
This means more fish and more fishing, as well as increased camping and tourism in the beautiful and vital new growth forest regions - and the spared old growth forests.
Biodegradable Replacements for Plastic
Cellulose is a biodegradable organic polymer. Coal tar, the primary resource for synthetic polymers like nylon, is a non-biodegradable fossil resource. It is not part of the living ecology of Earth. It smothers life wherever it is dumped or spilled.
From hemp, a source of high-grade cellulose, comes paper that is stronger and has better folding endurance than wood pulp paper. Hemp cardboard and paper bags will last longer, with a more useful secondary life, than similar products made from wood pulp or plastic.
Spin-Off Trades & Taxes
Biochemical resources obtained from hemp can be used in literally tens of thousands of products from paint to dynamite. Each application means new business opportunities and new jobs.
As each new hemp trade develops, money will flow from it to re-energize seemingly unrelated areas of the economy. The American worker and soon-to-be-rich entrepreneurs will bring millions of new jobs and new products to the marketplace.
They will also buy millions of homes, cars and other non-hemp goods - or will they be hemp also? - thus stimulating a real economic expansion based on the ripple-out effect, rather than former President Reagans trickle-down economics which, in fact, pumped money directly into the bloodstream of corporate America rather than benefiting Americas heartland.
Revived farms mean more purchases of equipment and each new business creates spin-off jobs in the shipping, marketing and commodities areas.
Farms, banks and investment houses would also realize large profits, and the billions of hemp dollars in the legitimate economy would increase tax revenues and increase the liquid capital available for investment and purchasing of consumer goods.
Federal, state and local governments would realize a windfall of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues without raising taxes or insanely continuing to poison the earth.
George Soros Lindesmith Foundation is supporting many of the medical marijuana and re-legalization state initiatives currently going on around the United States.
In fact, the Lindesmith Foundation financially supported Dennis Perons medical marijuana initiative (Proposition 215) in California, that passed in 1996.
In 1997-98, Soros funded medical marijuana initiatives in such states as Washington, Oregon, Washington, D.C., Maine and Colorado, and helped fund the referendum that was successful in stopping Oregons legislation and governor from recriminalizing cannabis in June 1997.
When American farmers grow hemp to supply American industries with the primary feedstocks for fiber, fabric, fuel, food, medicines, plastics, and recreational/relaxational herbal products we will see a rapid greening of the land and economy.
The green economy based upon the use of agricultural resources to supply industry will create a diversified locally based system of production. This decentralized green economy will enable everyone to participate and share in the wealth of a truly free market democracy. For there can be no true democracy unless every citizen has the opportunity to share in the wealth of the nation.
Land & Soil Reclamation
Land reclamation is another compelling economic and ecological argument for hemp cultivation.
Until this century, our pioneers and ordinary American farmers used cannabis to clear fields for planting, as a fallow year crop, and after forest fires to prevent mud slides and loss of watershed.
Hemp seeds put down a 10- to 12-inch root in only 30 days, compared to the one-inch root put down by the rye or barley grass presently used by the U.S. government.
Southern California, Utah, and other states used cannabis routinely in this manner until about 1915. It also breaks up compacted, overworked soil.
In the formerly lush Himalayan region of Bangladesh, Nepal, and Tibet there is now only a light moss covering left as flash floods wash thousands of tons of topsoil away.
Independent Bangladesh, (formerly East Bengal, India) which literally means canna-bis-land-people (it was formerly called East Bengal province, a name derived from bhang-cannabis, la-land), signed an anti-drug agreement with the U.S., promising not to grow hemp in the 1970s. Since that time it has suffered disease, starvation, and decimation, due to unrestrained flooding.
Hemp seeds broadcast over eroding soil could reclaim land the world over. The farmed out desert regions can be brought back year after year, not only slowing the genocide of starvation but easing threats of war and violent revolution.
Instead of a National Guard, why not establish a Natural Guard of environmental soldiers to be our front line for survivalplanting trees, harvesting biomass (e.g., hemp) from marginal farm lands?
A Natural Guard of electricians, plumbers, engineers, and laborers who work re-building the infrastructure of America: our roads, bridges, dams, canals, sewers, railroad tracks, etc.
Isnt this the humane, civilized, and socially responsible way to use our human resources, rather than warehousing persons like animals in prisons?
Copyright © 1998 Jack Herer
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