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Ah, the plot thickens

For this week, aside from looking and contacting experts, I decided to dig deeper into my subject: Methane.

When I pulled this topic out of the hat, and did the initial research on it, I immediately gravitated towards the agricultural route.  That led my down a road that eventually stumbled upon CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations), and while that subject is a very interesting one, I feel is one that definitely gets its share of the limelight.
Because of that, I decided to trace back my steps and go back to the fork on the road to where it all began. I still had two paths to explore. I went down the rabbit holes of Industry and Waste and came out the other side… relatively unscathed.

So, in honor of the concept maps we did in the last class (which I found to be very helpful) I created a mini concept map on the other sub-topics I explored – excuse the ripped up envelope, inspiration struck and this was the closes thing I could write on:

FullSizeRender 5

They were both interesting, but waste is something that I gravitated towards more than industry. As I kept digging more and more, I stumbled upon a YouTube video about the Huls Dairy Farm in Corvallis, Montana that built Montana’s first “methane digester.” A methane digester is basically a machine that uses the Manure that is produced by the dairy animals to power an engine and generator to produce electricity.
This was very interesting to me because it not only brings together the agriculture and waste aspects of my topic, but it also bring together the whole side of energy consumption and alternate energy sources.
I’m toying with the idea of doing a smaller, affordable version of a methane digester for my project. I’m not sure yet, and I have to do a lot more research on this–there’s surprisingly a ton of DIY resources on the internet, so we’ll see.

digester

I emailed the Huls farm owners, in the hopes of getting more information about the digester, and to see if they can shed light on how they went about creating this and where the idea came from–since they were the first ones to do it in Montana.
I also emailed Kate Tibbetts (a woman Ben Light put me in contact with). She’s currently writing a graphic adaptation of  Ben Franklin’s letter to the Royal Academy of Brussels… on farts. You can read the content here. I’m interested in at least looking into this topic as it’s usually the one that gets thrown back at me whenever I mention Methane. While farts composition are usually only 7% methane, it’s definitely a subject that engages people and I wonder if there’s something interesting I could do with that.

A bit of a longer post that I was expecting, but hopefully interesting to read all the way through.

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Sidenote:

I decided to watch this documentary called “Food Chains” over the weekend. I was interested to see the side of agriculture labor workers, and man did this leave me depressed. The documentary was mostly focused on farmers and produce, but it still sheds the light on was is basically modern slavery and just outright exploitation.

I think it hit a little closer to home for me, because I lived in Florida for 9 years and me and my family shopped (and still do) at Publix–a food chain that’s a focus on this documentary. It saddens me deeply that they hold the chips to change this situation, and for three years have refused to do nothing about it.
Of course while watching it you feel outraged and say to yourself “just pass the laws, and fix the minimum wage and that’s it!” but the reality is that all of this is tied to issues that are not easily fixed… or “wicked problems” as we call them in class. So what can we do then?
This is a question I’ve been wrestling with for a while now. The more information and knowledge I acquire in political and social issues, the more frustrated I get, but the more I realize that there’s no right answer. The biggest problem is that I feel like all those resigned voters that say “my vote doesn’t do anything,” and I struggle to see how I can create a bigger impact on the issues I care about.

Published inTemporary Expert: Anthropocene

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