Planetary Healing: Can Hemp Help the Planet? – Part 2

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 last week’s hemp discussion. The audio version of this part 2 can be found here.)

I for one would love to see a biofuel developed from hemp at my nearest gas station, but as Hemp-Guide explains, there’s still some work to be done before the technology can reach that stage.

“(…) biofuels do have some drawbacks at the moment. The first one is energy density. Petroleum is an incredible energy dense liquid that remains liquid at useful ranges. Alcohol carries much less energy per gallon than gasoline does; in general, a gallon of alcohol will take you 55% as far as a gallon of regular gas.

Biofuels can also cause rubber gaskets and tubing to wear out faster and can coagulate when the temperature gets chilly. This isn’t to say that biofuels do not have tremendous potential, in fact, with the modern advances in technology and the advocacy of research, solutions to these minor problems will surely emerge.

So, if you’re [committed] to reducing greenhouse gases, support the use of biofuels and make your next car a flex fuel car (flex fuel hybrid).” (2)

Biofuel is still in need of some development before it can reach the point of being as useful for our society as most people would like it to be, but in my opinion, we have to start somewhere and we can perhaps start by supporting a biofuel developed from hemp and any other plant that proves or has proven to be useful for this purpose.

It could take us no time to develop a proper biofuel derived from hemp if we really set ourselves to the task, and doing so is just one way we can use hemp to build a greater and more sustainable future.

The next aspect of hemp I’d like to explore is the paper that can be made from it, which is much more environmentally feasible than paper from trees for reasons we’re about to discuss.

Perhaps you’ve heard about hemp paper and some of the famous things from our past that have been printed on it, which we’ll get into, but the hidden truth about it is that it’s much better than paper from trees.

Before we get into the benefits of hemp paper, let’s take a look at deforestation and the damage done from cutting down trees that take much longer to regrow than hemp. Hemp-Guide tells us a little bit about deforestation and the importance of addressing it, mentioning hemp as a possible solution.

Precious Ecosystems are the backbone of our planet, whether we like to admit it or not. We need each other to survive and to keep the cycle of life going.

Unfortunately, these ecosystems don’t stand much of a chance when they are faced with a dozen bulldozers and multi billion dollar companies. Every year, millions of forest acreage are destroyed along with any wildlife contained within it for paper.

This practice is not sustainable to say the least. Compare it to the human race. What would happen if the human population died faster than it could reproduce? Yep, we would become extinct. It might take a while, but it would be inevitable.

The same applies to trees. If we destroy more than is being reproduced, the consequences to us could be deadly. Forests absorb carbon dioxide and we already know that there’s just too much of that (…) in the atmosphere. They are also home to a number of species that are a part of the food chain, and that chain includes us.

There are, however, alternatives to deforestation. Tree free paper made from hemp and post-consumer recycled paper. Hemp is sustainable, renewable and can be used in an array of products including paper and [envelopes].” (3) tells us about the pulp and paper industry and the damage their method of utilizing trees for paper is causing the environment.

“Producing pulp and paper casts an ecological shadow far beyond its impact on the world’s forests. Converting trees into paper uses large amounts of water, energy, and chemicals and generates vast amounts of air and water pollution.

The pulp and paper industry is the fifth largest consumer of energy, accounting for 4 percent of all the world’s energy use.

The pulp and paper industry uses more water to produce a ton of product than any other industry.

Consumers play a pivotal role in reshaping the future of the pulp and paper industry.” (4)

Four percent of all of the world’s energy use is quite high for an industry that’s cutting down trees faster than we’ll be able to replenish them, and I don’t know what these companies execs’ business plans are for when there are no more trees left and we’re unable to see a grown tree for 20-80 years, but I don’t want to wait around and find out.

As Hemphasis tells us, trees are actually among the silliest things to make paper out of because of their small cellulose percentage. Almost anything else would be better!

“Making paper from trees is kind of a joke, because trees are made up of only 30% cellulose. The other 70% of the tree must be removed using toxic chemicals, until the cellulose can be formed into paper. The higher the percentage of cellulose in a plant, the better, because fewer chemicals need to be used, and less work needs to be done before the paper can be made. Almost any plant in nature with a strong stalk is better suited to make paper than trees, especially hemp because it can be 85% cellulose.” (4)

Now that we have an idea of the damage cutting down trees for paper is doing to the environment and to humanity’s future, we can turn toward hemp as a possible deforestation solution and a much better paper source than trees and even many other famous contenders.

As we’re about to learn, hemp paper is much better than tree paper in terms of quality, how long it lasts and other important factors. Hemp is also a very sustainable natural resource that grows quickly enough for continual replenishment, automatically making it a better choice than trees.

Hemphasis tells us about some of the famous things that have been printed on hemp paper when it was widely understood as among the best things to derive paper from. We’re also told about the increasing paper demand that trees just won’t meet.

“Hemp fabric was smashed down into thin sheets to make the world’s first paper. 75-90% of all paper in the world was made with hemp fiber until 1883. The Gutenberg Bible, Thomas Paine’s pamphlets, and the novels of Mark Twain were all printed on hemp paper. Both the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were drafted on hemp, and then copied onto parchment.

Both the long bast fiber and the short bast fiber (hurd or pulp) can be used to make paper. Fiber paper is thin, tough, brittle, and rough. Pulp paper is not as strong, but is easier to make, softer, thicker, and preferable for most everyday purposes.

In the next 20-30 years the paper demand is supposed to at least double due to the economic emergence of third world countries, and the ever-expanding worldwide population. There is no way to meet this demand without clear-cutting every tree in the entire world. Paper is big business, and 93% of the world’s paper is made of wood.” (4)

We’re then told about hemp paper’s strong and long-lasting nature.

“Hemp makes paper stronger and (…) lasts centuries longer than wood paper, which could be very valuable for people who want to keep records aside from on computers. Hemp paper does not yellow, crack, or otherwise deteriorate like tree paper does now. The acids which are needed for wood paper eventually eat away at the pulp and cause it to turn yellow and fall apart. Because of this publishers, libraries, and archives have to order specially processed acid free paper, but they could just buy hemp paper which already meets their quality standards.

Hemp paper also does not require any bleaching, and so does not poison the water with dioxins or chlorine like tree paper mills do. The chemicals involved in making hemp paper are much less toxic, in fact, both paper made from hemp hurd, and from the long bast fiber can be made without any chemicals at all, but it takes longer to separate the fiber from the lignin. Making paper from hemp could also eliminate erosion due to logging, [reduce] topsoil loss, and water pollution caused by soil runoff.” (4)

Here we see that some of the biggest pollution related problems in regards to using trees for paper can be solved if we as a society turn toward hemp and begin growing acre after acre for biofuel research/development, paper and everything else we can use it for.


(2)- Hemp-Guide on Hemp and Biofuel:

(3)- Hemp-Guide on Hemp Paper:

(4)- Hemphasis on Hemp Paper:

Continued in part 3 next week.


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