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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The new Ham Radio craze

Weird but I get the strangest deja vu feeling about fans of bio-diesel fuel. The collective at Biodiesel Blogs curiously reminds me of enthusiasts of ham radios and their combination of community spirit mixed with technical competitiveness. The aura given off is one of "Who has the best recipe?", "Who has the biggest pump?", instead of "Who has the best DIY schematic?" and "Who has the biggest antenna?"

Like all analogies, I can't stretch this one far at all before breaking its utility, but wouldn't it turn out great if the Ham radio/biodiesel of today became the cell phone of tomorrow. Basically, a technology that anyone can pick up and use without having to become a geek. Monkeygrinder snarkily lays out the ultimate optimistic hi-tech outcome:
We'll all be driving around in cars containing an enclosed vat of algae outgassing methane. 300mpg city, 500 mpg freeway.
Polyunsaturated fat chance of that happening.

Last week, liberal radio talk-show host Ed Schultz spent about an hour talking to a bio-diesel advocate. I caught most of it and found his guest's (Terry Gerger?) enthusiasm entertaining. However, he went a little bit overboard in neglecting the EROEI energy investment needed to generate vegetable oil (or ethanol for that matter). None of the callers challenged the guy and they all showed a surprising amount of interest and anticipation in going to bio-diesel in a big way. Maybe a bit naive, but I would not consider that a bad thing at this stage.


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