18 April 2007


I'm happy that a lot of people, including tons of bloggers, are taking notice of ethanol. Especially that they're talking about how it isn't all it's cracked up to be.

The largest problem I see with ethanol is the contribution it'll have on world hunger and the environment. It would take huge swaths of land to produce the corn needed, and we're already far over what the limit should be with agricultural practices like factory farming. And because so much corn will be needed to meet our demands, poorer nations will suffer horribly. A lot of people that depend on cheap corn will have to either find something else to eat (which isn't easy) or starve to death.

Recently, people have started talking about how ethanol isn't actually as green as it's supposed to be. Here are two related articles: That's Fit and LiveScience.

What really worries me about ethanol is that the Bush administration and "fake" environmentalists will use it as a publicity deal. Instead of actually researching and studying how to make transportation and fuel more efficient, they will just jump on the bandwagon and go with what makes them look good. I hope more and more people will talk about ethanol in the future, and that it'll break into the mainstream.

Updated: Discovery has another article.


Anonymous said...

Southern Resurgence

Here is an idea that the Republicans, oil, tobacco companies will hate.

How about we plant sugar cane in the states of Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. We encourage them to stop planting tobacco which is killing millions. Sugar cane is 7 times more efficient than corn in making ethanol.

You want proof that it works? Just google Brazil and find out for yourself. Now you won’t be using a food product or even displacing a food product……

Completely renewable and no one is hurt except for those purveyors of death the tobacco companies.

OH! This could all be done in one year……….No more dependence on foreign oil.

Cars are already to go, made by Chevy!

Anonymous said...

In case you are unaware that Brazil is totally indepent from imported oil, they are!

The use autos made by Chevy which are called flex-cars which will burn any combination of oil and ethanol. Works great...

Who was the pinhead who chose corn for ethanol?

Sugar cane is 7 times more eficient. If we need more sugar cane we could open trade with Cuba. :)

Anonymous said...

Here is an article from Bloomberg. Debunking common myths about ethanol.
May 27 (Bloomberg) -- Sometimes two things look pretty much the same, like a Cartier diamond and a Home Shopping Network cubic zirconia.
There's a world of difference between the two.
The same is true of ethanol made in the U.S., mainly from corn, and ethanol from Brazil derived from sugar cane. They look the same, though that's where the similarities end between what I like to call ethacorn and ethacane.
Although ethacane doesn't produce a fraction of the negative economic, environmental and social problems that ethacorn does, as international food prices soar and environmental concerns mount, both are being thrown into the same pinata to get hammered. Ethacorn deserves the beating, not ethacane.
It's hard to know whether those wielding the sticks are just temporarily blindfolded or whether they have an interest in defending the fossil-fuel industry or the agricultural subsidies of rich nations.
There are four main arguments against the wide use of Brazilian ethacane:
-- Food prices are being driven out of sight as farmers grow more-profitable sugar cane instead of other crops.
-- Amazon rainforest is being destroyed to make way for cropland.
-- Ethacane pollutes as much or more than oil-based fuel.
-- Cane production uses the equivalent of slave labor and is morally unjust since it takes food from the mouths of the poor to put in the gas tanks of the rich.
Myth Busting
Each of these points is a myth.
To start with, let's make a broad point. ``Brazil has the oldest, most advanced and efficient ethanol programs in the world,'' according to the report of an international conference on biofuels in February 2007 at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.
That brings up the first question: If ethacane were responsible for higher food prices, wouldn't food cost more in Brazil than elsewhere? It doesn't.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO, Brazil is one of the world's cheapest producers of corn, soybeans, beef, chicken, pork, milk and rice. In a clear sign of agricultural competitiveness, Brazil is also a leading exporter of food.
``When we talk about the influence of biofuels on the economy of grains, we are talking about the corn from the U.S., not the sugar cane from Brazil,'' said Abdolreza Abbassian, secretary of the Intergovernmental Group on Grains within FAO. A recent study by the International Monetary Fund shows that Brazil's ethacane hasn't been responsible for higher international food prices.
Room to Spare
Brazil also has all the room needed to grow sugar cane and increase agricultural productivity without tearing down a single tree in the Amazon. Five hundred years ago, the Portuguese learned that the Amazon isn't the best region to grow sugar cane, which requires a long dry season.
Out of 320 million hectares of arable land in Brazil, only 3.2 million hectares, or 1 percent, are used to grow sugar cane for ethanol. Moreover, Brazil has 100 million hectares of underutilized pastures suitable for agriculture. That's more land than France and Germany combined.
While every hectare, equal to about 2.5 acres, of Brazilian pasture feeds one cow, in many countries there are as many as six cows per hectare. If Brazilian ranching becomes slightly more intensive, the country could easily boost production of food and biofuels without destroying the forest.
Reverse Malthus
Proving economist Thomas Malthus wrong, in the past 15 years, Brazil increased the amount of land used to grow grains by 21 percent, while production soared 119 percent.
Arguing that ethacane pollutes more than fossil fuels is ludicrous. While oil already costs $130 a barrel and will eventually run out, ethacane is renewable, cleaner and more efficient.
In comparison with gasoline, ethacane reduces the emission of greenhouse gases by more than 80 percent, according to the U.S. Energy Department.
As for efficiency, ethacane produces 8.2 joules of energy per unit of fossil-fuel input, compared with 1.5 joules for ethacorn and less than 1 joule for diesel and gasoline.
Ethacane is twice as productive as ethacorn -- 6,800 liters per hectare for the former and 3,100 liters per hectare for the latter. It also produces 24 percent more fuel per hectare than the beet- or wheat-based ethanol common in Europe.
Manual Labor
The argument that ethacane pollutes the environment because the cane must be burned before being manually harvested is a nonstarter. In the state of Sao Paulo, which produces 62 percent of Brazil's ethanol, more than half of the cane is already harvested mechanically and manual cane-cutting will be abolished by 2014. That should also put an end to the argument that cane harvesting relies on the equivalent of slave labor.
Nor does ethacane take from the poor and give to the rich. Agricultural subsidies in wealthy nations do that.
Far more problematic than any of these issues is the U.S. Congress's refusal to eliminate a 54-cent tariff on each gallon of imported ethanol. This levy was introduced in 1980 to protect U.S. makers of corn-based ethanol from competitors such as Brazil, which can produce ethacane for 22 cents per liter, while U.S. ethacorn costs 35 cents per liter. Lifting this tariff would ease the demand for corn and take a step toward easing pressure on food prices.
Brazil is threatening to challenge the U.S. tariff at the World Trade Organization. Pascal Lamy, the director-general of the WTO, has already said Brazilian ethacane ``isn't competing with food'' and ``is more respectful to the environment than the corn-based ethanol in the U.S. and Europe.''
Sooner or later, the WTO might have the chance to decide whether the world can finally have a real substitute for oil. Until then, we'll have to live in a world where fake goods are passed off as the real thing.
If you want to end the oil shortage convince Congress to eliminate the tariff on imported ethanol until we get our own ethanol or ethacane operation going. Force Congress to allow the import of Chevy flex-cars as they would sell like hotcakes. Force Congress to force the oil companies to add an additional pump is gas station that would be for ethanol.
The solution is not to drill offshore, in this you are dead wrong and only playing into the hands of the oil companies.

Phil Waste said...

If Ford and Chevy want to survive? I hope you do, so why don't you put E85 pumps in all your dealerships and advertise your flex-fueled cars which you have been making for years now?

Start pushing sugar cane and sugar beet ethanol which is 7 times more efficient than 'corn' ethanol and it doesn't rob our food supplies.

You can do it now or be forced to do it later. Make your choice.