Ethanol. Corn-based ethanol is neither cheap nor ‘green’ it seems. Did its proponents claim that it will solve the world’s energy problems? I am not sure. But what I am sure of is that far more of its negative outcomes outwiegh the positives, when producing corn-based ethanol. An article by Phil Mckenna from technologyreview.com lists them;
– Ethanol derived from corn consumes up to three times more water than previously thought, according to a new study.
– Corn ethanol is already plagued by environmental concerns such as pollution from fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides; soil erosion; greenhouse-gas emissions from production; and competition for agricultural land with food crops.
– “This is one more nail in the coffin for ethanol,” says David Pimentel of Cornell University, in Ithaca, NY, whose own studies have shown that ethanol requires more energy to produce than it releases when burned, and that the fertilizer used to grow corn for ethanol has contributed significantly to dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico (areas of the ocean with low oxygen content due to increases in chemicals in the water).
Read the whole article here.
And in the seattlepi.com from the economist this article says,
Ethanol is not much used in Europe, but it is a fuel additive in the U.S., and a growing number of cars can use either gasoline or ethanol. It accounted for only around 3.5 percent of U.S. fuel consumption last year, but production is growing by 25 percent a year because the government subsidizes domestic production and penalizes imports. As a result, refineries are popping up like mushrooms all over the Midwest, which sees itself as the Texas of green fuel.
Despite all the controversy, it has apparently been very agreeable to most, in the U.S. anyway – the government, the auto industry, farmers, taxpayers, the hawks and even the oil industries themselves;
Why is the government so generous? Because ethanol is just about the only alternative-energy initiative that has broad political support. Farmers love it because it provides a new source of subsidy. Hawks love it because it offers the possibility that the U.S. may wean itself off Middle Eastern oil.
The automotive industry loves it, because switching to a green fuel will take the global-warming heat off cars. The oil industry loves it because ethanol as a fuel additive means it is business as usual for the time being.
Taxpayers seem not to have noticed they are footing the bill.
Ethanol is not at all popular in Europe nor elsewhere in the world. This short-term, instantly gratifying, fast-paced life is exactly American. I would know after having lived in New York City for more than a decade’s worth of my time.