Follow-Up: In race to reach Barbados by month-end, Earthrace becomes entangled with old fishing net

Here’s the latest info on the wavepiercing trimaran called Earthrace as it zooms back to Barbados –

At approximately 4:00 pm April 12th, Earthrace became snared with some old ropes and fishing net as she made her way Westwards towards Hawaii.

According to to the trimaran’s skipper, Pete Bethune, there was a sudden series of vibrations, and on stopping, a trail of ropes could be seen dangling behind the stern of Earthrace. The crew dived underneath the hull to cut away sections of rope that were wrapped in a tight ball around the 3-inch shaft and propeller. Bethune says the debris looks like an accumulation of lots of old bits of fishing gear, and judging by the amount of algal growth, it has probably been floating around for years.

A total of around 15 minutes time was lost in removing the debris from the starboard propeller, and Earthrace is now safely on her way back towards Hawaii. The wavepiercing vessel reached Maalaea on the Island of Maui by Friday afternoon.

The Earthrace was topped up with B100 biodiesel, as well as receiving regular extensive maintenance. Engineer Scott Fratcher says after they fixed a vibration that’s slowing the boat, the trimaran’s next heading for Majuro, in the Marshall Islands, on the next leg of her round the world speed record attempt which concludes in Barbados.

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  1. Don’t like to rain on anyone’s parade, but bio-fuels as a replacement for oil are a pipe dream. Once world oil goes into decline (which some oil industry analysts and geologists see happening as early as within 5 to 10 years – google “peak oil” for details) no bio-fuels are going to allow us to continue the happy motoring, jet setting lifestyle which so many of us have come to know and to love and which millions more across the globe are doing their best to emulate.

    Energy Outlooks: The Decline & Fall of Practically Everything

    By Dale Allen Pfeiffer


    Certainly, there is a lot of talk about renewable energy sources (wind, sun, tide, geothermal, etc.), and various other energy schemes such as hydrogen fuel cells, methane hydrates, and ? the alternative de jour ? biofuels. Yet, when you take a hard, close look at these various alternatives and the amount of energy we currently consume, you find that at best none of these alternatives will ever replace more than a fraction of our current energy usage.

    In the past, we have analyzed the amount of energy available from sunlight and compared it to our current oil consumption.1 In doing so, we demonstrated that our basic energy problem is one of over-consumption. To replace US daily oil consumption with the products of photosynthesis would require 46% of the planet’s entire surface area. The world would require the entire surface area of the planet and then some.2 This is a direct appropriation of the entire product of photosynthesis, leaving nothing but a barren Earth.

    Biofuels transform the products of photosynthesis into a useable fuel. They do so at an energy loss. If the direct energy of photosynthesis is not enough to replace our current oil consumption, then biofuels will never do so. Furthermore, biofuels are dirty and environmentally destructive.3 And biofuel production will compete with agriculture for prime farmland, exacerbating a rise in hunger as oil-based modern agriculture begins to fail. Biofuels will harm the poor, as a study by economists at the University of Minnesota contends.4

    Using photovoltaics, the US would require 17% of the planet’s entire surface area, or 59% of the land surface to replace its current daily oil consumption. The entire world would require 40% of the entire planet’s surface are, or 1.37 times the entire land area.5

    Continued at: Energy Outlooks

  2. I am so curious as to why someone took all this trouble to neatly and precisely refute an environmentally sound alternative? LOL, anyhow… The shrink-link tag is corrupted, getting an SQL error!

  3. I am so curious as to why someone took all this trouble to neatly and precisely refute an environmentally sound alternative?

    Because it is not an environmentally sound alternative, especially if we think (as many apparently do) that bio-fuels and other alternatives will enable a burgeoning world population to live the extremely energy intensive North American type lifestyles that North Americans have grown accustomed to over the last 50 years and which the rest of the world is doing its best to imitate.

    There might be very few people smarter than Einstein, but at least we should be smarter than a monkey.

    Faustus and the monkey trap

    by John Michael Greer

    Albert Einstein?s famous dictum about trying to solve a problem with the same sort of thinking that created it has rarely been so relevant. Notably, many of today?s attempts to do something about peak oil rely on the same logic that got us into our present predicament, and turn out ?solutions? that promise to make our situation worse than it is already.

    Of the dozens of good examples in the daily news, the one that seems most worth noting right now is the economic blowback set in motion by the US government?s attempt to bolster its faltering petroleum-driven economy with ethanol. As corn and other grains get diverted from grocery stores to gas tanks, commodity prices spike, inflation ripples outward through the economic food chain, and the possibility of actual grain shortages looms on the middle-term horizon. More than twenty years ago, William Catton pointed out in his seminal classic Overshoot that the downslope of industrial society would force human beings to compete against their own machines for dwindling resource stocks. His prediction has become today?s reality.

    It?s all very reminiscent of an old metaphor in cognitive psychology. Many centuries ago in southeast Asia, some clever soul figured out how to use the thinking patterns of monkeys to make a highly effective monkey trap. The trap is a gourd with a hole in one end just big enough for a monkey?s hand to fit in, and a stout rope connected to the other end, fastened to a stake in the ground. Into the gourd goes a piece of some local food prized by monkeys, large and solid enough that it can?t be shaken out of the gourd. You set the trap in a place monkeys frequent, and wait.

    Sooner or later, a monkey comes along, scents the food, and puts a hand into the gourd to grab it. The hole is too small to allow the monkey to extract hand and food together, though, and the rope and stake keeps the monkey from hauling it away, so the monkey keeps trying to get the food out in its hand. Meanwhile you come out of hiding and head toward the monkey with a net, if there?s a market for live monkeys, or with something more deadly if there isn?t. Far more often than not, instead of dropping the food and scampering toward the safety of the nearest tree, the monkey will frantically keep trying to wrestle the food out of the gourd until the net snares it or the club comes whistling down.


    The same dilemma on a larger scale underlies current efforts to deal with the imminent decline of world oil production by finding something else to pour into our gas tanks: ethanol, biodiesel, hydrogen, you name it. Our petroleum-powered vehicles ? not just cars, but the trucks, trains, ships, and aircraft that make our current way of life possible ? are the food in the monkey?s hand and the pact that binds Mephistopheles to Faustus? service. The problem of peak oil, as many people even in the peak oil community see it, is how to find some other way to keep the fuel tanks topped up. This seems like common sense, but that?s what the monkey thinks about getting the food out of the gourd, too.

    Approached as a question of finding something to fill our gluttonous appetite for highly concentrated energy, the problem of peak oil is just as insoluble as the monkey trap when that?s approached as a question of getting food. The discovery and exploitation of the earth?s petroleum reserves gave human beings a fantastic windfall of essentially free energy, and we proceeded to burn through it at an astonishing pace. Now that the supply of petroleum is beginning to falter, the question before us is not how to keep burning something else at the same pace, or how to find some other way to power a civilization of a sort that can only survive by burning extravagant amounts of energy, but how to scale back our expectations and our technology drastically enough to make them fit the much more modest energy supplies available to us from renewable sources.

    Expecting some other energy resource to provide energy on the same scale and level of concentration as petroleum, just because we happen to want one, is a little like responding to one huge lottery win by assuming that when that money starts running out, another equally large win can be had for the cost of a few more tickets. This is close enough to today?s consumer psychology that it?s easy to imagine somebody in this position pouring all the money he has left into lottery tickets, and throwing away his chances of avoiding bankruptcy because the only solution he can imagine is winning the lottery again. And this, again, is exactly the mentality of current attempts to fuel industrial society by pouring our food supply into our gas tanks.

    Faustus and the monkey trap

    As to which way we should be heading if bio-fuels don’t provide the answer see: Powerdown: Options and Actions

    Sorry you couldn’t get the link above to the article “Energy Outlooks: The Decline & Fall of Practically Everything” by Dale Allen Pfeiffer to work. It works for me ok, when I click on it. Maybe the server was having a problem or was busy when you tried . However here is the tiny URL link again: I can’t post the direct URL because the software cuts it off and it gets truncated, but you can find the article by going to and look for the author index on the left side of the page under the search button about halfway down. Then look for Pfeiffer under “P”. Clicking on the name Pfeiffer will take you to the article


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