The mission of the Cascadia Carbon Institute (CCI)
is to educate policymakers, agriculturalists, members of the energy industry,
and the public about matters related to sustainability, agriculture,
energy, and global climate change.
Sustainability. True sustainability is more than just
grafting the word onto an exisiting product or practice. Some of the
earliest progress toward sustainability came in the area of sustainable
Energy. The most logical new source
of energy is our region's excellent agriculture industry, but getting
there isn't so simple. For more on this important topic, see our latest
paper, Issues and Options for Northwest Energy: Canola for Biodiesel,
available for free download.
Agriculture. Farmers farm carbon and nitrogen.
They use solar energy and various crops and animals to shape these
elements (and a handful of others) into forms that are useful to humans
as food, fiber, and fuel.
Education. There are national and international movements
in progress to increase access to sustainability education at all levels.
CCI is working with Washington State University toward this goal at WSU's
Let's be clear about this: our current energy consumption is much too
great to allow energy independence to become a reality without significant
reductions in energy use. It will take many changes in the way we work,
play, and travel before true energy independence will be within reach.
That said, there is much we can do to produce more energy right here
in our region. Farms and farmers will be a key part of the solution.
Recent fuel price spikes and world events have raised awareness of our
reliance on energy sources from outside our region. We're used to having
plenty of renewable hydropower, and more and more of our electricity
comes from wind power, but gasoline, diesel, and natural gas all come
from sources outside of our bio-geographical area. There's great potential
to use agriculture to convert solar energy into fuel, but the transition
to an energy agriculture will take careful management and good understanding
of what can be done and what should be avoided.
The Northwest is virtually
unique in the world for our hydropower development. In many ways,
our access to hydropower is a byproduct of our agricultural development.
Grand Coulee Dam was conceived as a way to provide
irrigation water for Washington State, for example. The dams on the
Snake River were built to transport agricultural products from as far
inland as Lewiston, Idaho, to markets downstream. Hydropower has had
obvious environmental impacts, but Washington-grown biofuels can actually
prevent some serious environmental impacts from happening.
Energy Independence: Everyone's
region -- and ourselves individually -- must move toward energy
independence. As Washington's 2006 Energy Freedom Act says: “…dependence
on energy supplied from outside the state and volatile global energy
markets makes its economy and citizens vulnerable to unpredictable
and high energy prices….”
Join Cascadia Carbon Your
membership in Cascadia Carbon will help us continue or work to analyze
issues and educate policymakers and the public. We depend on members
for most of our financial support. Please join us!
It Won't Happen Without Agriculture The
Northwest has about 12,000,000 acres of cropland, with an average
farm size of 400 acres (an acre is a little larger than the playing
surface of a football field, a little larger than half the size of
a soccer field). The Northwest boasts one of the most diverse agricultural
industries in the country, with over 35 major crops. In addition
to an impressive ability to produce crops, the Northwest's farmland
has huge potential to sequester carbon.
Types of Bioenergy We
can think of bioenergy products as embodied solar
energy. Plants turn solar energy into energy-rich compounds that
can be used directly or processed to make energy products.
Ethanol is made from carbohydrates; biodiesel is made from fats.
Bio-methane, made by anaerobic digestion, and solid fuels like good
old fashioned firewood are other important examples of bioenergy.
Bioenergy and Global Climate Change One
cause of global climage change is the production of greenhouse gases,
particularly carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is produced when any
fuel is burned, but when fossil fuels are burned, the resulting carbon
dioxide causes a net increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in
the atmosphere. Biofuels do not produce fossil carbon dioxide --
instead, they recycle carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
is an enormously important topic, and issues of sustainability are
present in every aspect of our lives. Yet topics related to sustainability
are only just becoming incorporated into formal education in the
United States. Cascadia Carbon is actively working to make progress
in this area.