The tragic tale of ethanol

“… one of the best ways for us to not sacrifice is with ethanol, because ethanol makes us feel like the energy crisis has been solved, and allows us to keep living the way we always have; in our cars… the great thing about ethanol is not only do we not have to sacrifice, neither do the oil companies, because to get 100 gallons of ethanol, you have to burn 129 gallons of fossil fuel. So, we can break our addiction to fossil fuels, without sacrificing our dependence on fossil fuels.”

Last year biofuels consumed a third of America’s maize harvest; filling up an SUV with ethanol expend enough corn to feed an average person for one year. Now consider feeding the other 2 billion people who lack food security due to various degrees of poverty; it is then merely common sense to comprehend that producing biofuel from food crops only mean further violating our global food security. This biofuel comparison chart produced by Seattle Post-Intelligencer displays just how devastating it could be if corn and soybeans were to replace only half of America’s fuel demand. It is even more unfortunate to hear about America and Europe’s subsidy programs upon this niche market. In the midst of this change in crop demands, the world is facing the most severe food price inflation in history, on a scale never seen before.

Rather than allocating resources to derive the better fuel of the future, an endless condition of combustion and emissions, the intelligent solution is to alleviate this behavior, or the demand for this process, all-together; to eliminate fuel dependent activities and social infrastructures. This is however the ideal scenario. The inconvenient truth is, society is not perceptible to allow this change to occur. What is left to do is to praise and encourage research for intelligent alternatives, whilst introducing our next generation to the ideal sustainable lifestyle. Intelligent alternatives are activity that removes problematic constituents, but still tolerating the need to travel; constituents that ravages the commons. In this notion research on second and third generation biofuels (cellulosic/algae) holds immense potential. Furthermore even electric vehicles are prime investment because it removes diverse emission sources to electric generation nodes. In this instance the focus and research on energy generation, and reducing adverse health effects, hence becomes vastly condensed. Perhaps worth a mention is the compressed-air engine, a potential zero carbon-emission candidate for future road travel.

1. April 28, 2008, The Colbert Report.
2. Harvest done, mries!, Flickr.
3. This is the car we drove around in high school, af jamison, Flickr.

There are 2 comments.
  • May 29, 2008 · 8:20 AM
    Eric posted:

    Good shit. Talk to you after my deadlines.

  • June 15, 2008 · 9:58 PM
    Tim posted:

    wow, I never thought of it that way. We are constantly thinking of ways to replace fuel that we don’t really consider the possible consequences.

    just to add, in addition to all the alternative sources, most of them still come from “dirty fuel”. for example, electricity is still generated by coal, and that is not going to stop carbon dioxide emission…

May 29, 2008 · 2 Comments
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