Planetary Healing: Can Hemp Help the Planet? – Part 3

 

The following was written by Wes Annac for the ongoing “planetary healing” section of The Aquarius Paradigm Weekly Newsletter, which is being offered for $11.11 a month. Income from the newsletter helps my family and I get by, and the option to subscribe will be given below.

Continued from our hemp discussion. The recommended audio version of this article can be found here.

Beyond the fact that hemp is clearly a better source of paper and biofuel than most others, how much quicker can it grow than trees? Hemphasis explains.

“One acre of hemp can produce as much paper as 4 to 10 acres of trees over a 20-year cycle, but hemp stalks only take four months to mature, whereas trees take 20 to 80 years. This information was known in 1916, according to a USDA report. Hemp paper can also be recycled more often, though this fact is not of much value, since hemp is a reusable resource.” (4)

Pay attention to these statistics, fellow seekers.

A singe acre of hemp produces as much paper as four to ten acres of trees, and it’s clear that we’re fast running out of trees and could use the ability to save as many of them as possible. It can take a tree eighty years to grow to the point needed to cut it down for paper, but in one year you can grow and harvest acres upon acres of hemp three times.

Beyond what can only be pinpointed as corporate greed and uncaring of the damage caused to our environment, why have we not long switched to hemp paper? Why did we even make the changeover in the first place?

My personal opinion is that propaganda against marijuana, hemp’s relative, successfully outlawed our ability to grow and use hemp for industrial purposes. A small amount of hemp is utilized around the world compared to the number of trees we’re using, and I think that hemp can and will solve the deforestation problem if we can just open up to using it.

Hemphasis gives us some more chilling facts about deforestation that’ll hopefully wake us all up further. We’re also told about other alternatives beyond hemp, such as kenaf, and the reasons that hemp is still a better option.

“Since 1937, when hemp was effectively outlawed, 70% of American natural forests have been destroyed. Today, only 4% of America’s old-growth forest remains standing, and there is talk of building roads into that for logging purposes! Hemp growing could completely negate the necessity to use wood at all because anything made from wood can be made from hemp.

The plant kenaf is better suited than hemp for making some qualities of paper, but hemp has one huge advantage, hemp generates an immense amount of plant matter in a four month growing season. Plants like Kenaf just cannot produce enough plant material to make enough paper for what the world demand is and will soon become, making hemp the only organic paper which makes sense. If hemp farming were only geared toward papermaking, it would still be a giant move to improve the planet.” (4)

We’re then told about the transition of two mills from Germany’s largest paper company from tree to hemp-based, and the costly but necessary equipment changes required.

“Germany’s largest paper company converted two mills to hemp-based paper production, even though large mills require 40-60% of the equipment to be retooled to switch to hemp based paper. Hemp paper is the one area of the possible hemp market that would require a lot of equipment change, but the need exists to change the equipment, or we will not be left with any more trees for shade, scenery, and good old-fashioned air. The construction costs to convert our paper mills from tree-based paper to hemp is around $100-300 million, which would at the same time open doors for new jobs and opportunities to build new equipment.

The reason for these equipment changes lies in the fact that the hemp fiber is so strong. The chains of cellulose molecules are arranged as a rigid structure glued together by the lignin, which must be separated before the fiber can be arranged into paper.

Hemp currently makes up around .05% of the world annual pulp production volume at around 120,000 tons/year because importation costs result in prices which are 2-3 times that of tree paper (…).” (4)

Beyond the work that’ll need done to convert mills worldwide to be able to process and make hemp paper instead of tree paper, which the referenced source even mentioned could bring in jobs, I think it’s very important to address the amount of trees being cut down every day and put a stop to it.

Some of the facts about deforestation may be a bit haunting, but this is the unfortunate state of affairs on our planet. In the name of making money off of a resource that’s much easier to profit from than hemp and other alternatives, a startling percentage of the world’s forests have been outright eliminated since the 30s when marijuana, and subsequently hemp, were outlawed in the United States.

It’s sad to see one of the world’s most important resources go unused because it’s not the best option for people who want to make money off of commodities everybody deserves to be able to have without a price tag attached, but we can band together and support what’ll be numerous and difficult but necessary transitions to hemp.

So far, we’ve explored hemp as a potential biofuel source and a clearly better means to produce paper than trees. Is there anything else that this super-plant can do?

There are multitudes of benefits the hemp plant provides for our society, and try as I might, I won’t be able to cover all of them here. I can cover what seem to be some of the most important aspects of the utilization of hemp, and I’d now like to get into the benefits of switching to hemp to produce plastic over our current polluting and chemical-laden ways.

Plastic is an “interesting” substance in and of itself, and obviously hasn’t been around for very long. It’s a relatively new invention, and one of the biggest problems with it is that it pollutes our Earth in incredible doses after we throw it out.

I’d imagine that even the process of making plastic is harmful and polluting in its own right, but it turns out that hemp provides a great alternative to making plastic that isn’t as harmful. Hemp-Guide tells us about hemp vs. regular plastic.

“Hemp plastic is tough, durable, contains no harmful chemicals and looks fantastic!

Although not a new concept, natural based plastics is slowly re-entering the world of consumer goods. This versatile plant has once again proven to be highly useful to a nation needing to re-assess its ecological impact.

There’s no denying that the petro chemicals being used to create plastic today are toxic to the environment and to the employees who work in these factories on a daily basis. Also, it is not biodegradable which means that it lasts forever.” (5)

We’re then told more about the harmful environmental effects caused by plastic and given some more alarming statistics.

“Take for example the billions of plastic debris floating around in the oceans at this very moment that are killing a variety of species and risking the lives of others like birds who swallow bottle caps and [whales who] swallow more plastic debris than plankton.

It’s alarming to say the least. We must as a global effort support the development of [biodegradable] products for the sake of our planet.

Did you know that the United States alone discards more than 60 billion pounds of plastic every year that end up stuffing landfills or are swept away in bodies of water?

Would you believe that the number has risen from 4 billion to 60 billion pounds in less than 30 years? It certainly makes you wonder about the (…) bottled water industry and the attention it’s been getting lately! (…) As grim as this all seems, there is hope as more and more people are utilizing hemp and other natural materials to bring us eco plastic.” (5)

In the face of these stats and the ones given above, I can only agree with Hemp-Guide that we should support biodegradable product development, biofuel research and the replacement of conventional plastic with hemp plastic.

Footnotes:

(4)- Hemp-Guide: “Hemp Paper: An Alternative to Deforestation” at:

http://www.hemp-guide.com/hemp-paper.html

(5)- Hemp-Guide: “Hemp Plastic” at:

http://www.hemp-guide.com/hemp-plastic.html

Concluded in part 4 next week.

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2 thoughts on “Planetary Healing: Can Hemp Help the Planet? – Part 3

  1. Pingback: Wes Annac – Planetary Healing: Can Hemp Help The Planet? – Part 3 – 28 November 2013 | Lucas 2012 Infos

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