So I want to take a bit of a break from chemicals - but I'll be back, oh yes, I will be back - and talk about ethanol. This issue is a bit of a thorn in my side right now for a number of reasons. From what I've pulled together after reading Newsweek, listening to MPR, and grasping bits and pieces from other sources, something just doesn't add up. Worse, we may look back at the ethanol movement as one of the worst humanitarian blunders in recent memory. I realizet that's a strong statement, but consider the following points I've gleaned from recent news reports (and I will post my sources at the end of this post so you can interpret the information as you like):
1) Ethanol is, at best, no worse than fossil fuels when it comes to greenhouse gases. This is due to the enormous amount of fertilizer to grow enough corn to make ethanol, and the fuel needed to drive the tractors and process the corn into fuel. Furthermore, no one knows for certain whether the fumes that ethanol emit out the exhaust pipe are actually better for the atmosphere than gasoline.
2) Because farmers are making so much money from ethanol, many farmers are switching from other crops to corn. So not only does the demand for corn go up due to increased demand, but the prices of wheat, rice, soy and so forth go up as supply goes down. And as you may have noticed, your grocery prices are soaring. Don't think these two things are not related.
3) Not only are our grocery prices going up, but so is the cost of staples like rice and wheat in the rest of the world, including for those who have to live on $5 a day. They cannot afford to eat, so they are going hungry. In turn, they are protesting in ever increasing numbers, riots are starting, people are starving.
Conclusion: Ethanol is being incorrectly touted as the environmental and economic alternative to fossil fuels. Since no one seems to care that it's apparently doing nothing more than making farmers rich, the gov't insists we have to make more. Grocery prices go up, staple foods become more expensive around the world, people starve. And for what exactly? This is the part where I become confused, and if someone can't provide an explanation that actually makes sense, I will have no choice but to become very angry (you can practically feel the collective American government tremble in reaction to my threat).
Want to check out the information for yourself? Please do.
and one more
And by the way, I heard about this last one - the EU debate - on NPR the other evening.