Ethanol Is Not The Answer

More “greenhouse gases”, higher costs, less power and world hunger. A bad idea is getting worse.


“There is a right way and a wrong way to produce (ethanol),” the New York Times editorialized on Feb. 24. “Done right, ethanol could help wean the country from its dependence on foreign oil while reducing the emissions that contribute to climate change. Done wrong, ethanol could wreak havoc on the environment while increasing greenhouse gases.”

There is not, in fact, a right way to produce ethanol. But several wrong ones — spawned by congressional and presidential edicts — are already wreaking havoc on food prices and the natural environment. What we need to do is free up the ingenuity of innovators to devise a variety of approaches to biofuel production, and then permit the marketplace to decide the winners and losers.

The reality is that with current technology, almost all of this biofuel would have to come from corn because there is no other feasible, proven alternative. But because of the inefficiencies inherent in producing ethanol from corn and the relatively meager amount of energy yielded by burning ethanol, the demands on farmland would be staggering.

An analysis by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development suggested that replacing even 10% of America’s motor fuel with biofuels would require that about a third of all the nation’s cropland be devoted to oilseeds, cereals and sugar crops. Achieving the 15% goal would require the entire current U.S. corn crop, which represents a whopping 40% of the world’s corn supply.

In the short and medium term, ethanol can do little to affect oil consumption. But the diversion of grain from food to fuel exerts widespread and profound ripple effects on various commodity markets. It has already been catastrophic for the poor around the world.

The whole story.


2 Responses

  1. You are assuming that the greenies care about those poor carbon emitters when they are actually interested in human extinction. An increased number of developing world deaths due to hunger and opportunistic diseases among the malnourished would be considered an attribute of ethanol production.

    In the meantime, go farmers! About time for y’all to get a pay increase.

  2. […] Posted on Tuesday March 11, 2008 by Robert D I’ve covered some of this already. (link) But the evidence is mounting against ethanol as an alternative energy source. The benefits do not […]

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