Saturday, June 07, 2008

again: ethanol is not the answer!

(for the full article, go to blatant reality).

ethanol fuel is probably one of the worst things we could do from both an environmental and an economic standpoint.

the most common version is made from corn, one of the most important grains produced in the united states. now, having to process corn to create ethanol isn’t the problem because, as you well know, we have to refine crude oil to create gasoline and such. The problem comes when you look to see just how much energy it takes to create ethanol.

it can takes roughly 1.29 gallons of fossil fuel to produce just 1.0 gallon of corn-based ethanol fuel. now, when one of the main reasons to use biofuels is to decrease co2 emissions, this figure just makes the whole process seems outrageous.

one must also take into account another environmental impact caused by promoting biofuel production. according to basic economics, the more of some product that is demanded, the higher price that product fetches in the marketplace. with higher potential to make money, more suppliers will then enter into the market in order to supply that product.

what this means from an environmental standpoint is that farmers are going to have more incentive to plow under land to produce corn. this might be tracks of forest on their properties or just land that, at previous corn prices, wasn’t economically feasible to plow under. less forested land and natural habitats = less biodiversity and less co2 sequestration = very bad.

this whole corn ethanol business is very heavily subsidized. for example, in 2006, the ethanol business got $7.0 billion to produce just 4.9 billion gallons of ethanol . that comes out to being about $1.45 per gallon of ethanol. in my opinion, that is a completely outrageous amount of money for such an impractical solution to our energy needs.

more importantly, because of these subsidy, corn prices are kept at an artificially high level. a high price of any other commodity might not be too bad but since it is corn, the results can be an increase in almost all food prices. the reason for this is that the price of corn basically controls the price of every single staple we eat.

cereal? made from corn.
beef? chicken? pork? fed corn. (another reason to go vegetarian).
milk? produced by cows that have been fed corn.
cheese? yogurt? made from milk that was produced by cows that have been fed corn.
those little fruit cups? i guarantee that they are made with high fructose corn syrup.

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