We have all heard and read stories about ETHANOL, the new savior of the environment. Our questions to you are:
IS ETHANOL REAL? AND IS IT REALLY GREEN?
Several articles describing ethanol are set out below for you to review. You will note that a surprising problem with ethanol is its inefficiency. It takes almost one and a half times as much ethanol to move a car as it does gasoline. Other problems with ethanol are that it is a direct competitor for resources with your dinner table. Every acre dedicated to the production of ethanol takes an acre out of production of food crops.
These acres dedicated to ethanol production are not marginal or fallow acres that appear like magic out of a silk hat. Ethanol is made from corn. The acres dedicated to ethanol are acres that are already in production making corn as a food product. Most corn raised in the U.S. goes to the production of silage. You don't eat silage but the pigs and cattle that go into your Mc Burger and into your Breakfast Bacon eat silage. A natural result of the increase in Ethanol production will be increased food prices. No other result is possible. Brazil is given as an example of a nation that has complete independence from foreign oil due to its reliance on ethanol. Brazil is different than the U.S., in that its ethanol is made from sugar cane. Brazil is also burning off its rainforest and converting uncultivated land into farmland. The U.S. has long ago converted all the land available to cultivation and if we did have any rainforest, I don't think any of us would like to burn it off to grow ethanol.
Another problem with ethanol is the trickle down effect of increased ethanol production. The U.S. and Canada have traditionally been the breadbaskets of the world during times of famine, flood and other natural disasters. Each acre that is dedicated to ethanol removes a supply of food that had been available to feed those in need. Much of this assistance given in time of disaster was from a surplus on hand in Canada or the U.S. With Ethanol becoming a cash crop the size of that surplus will shrink and eventually disappear. In future if we wish to feed those who are suffering from a natural disaster we will be required to divert food that is headed to a U.S. dinner table since there is no surplus.
Who benefits from ethanol? Big Farmers and the Chemical Industry benefit. Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) benefits as the biggest producer of ethanol. Ethanol will create a cash crop similar to tobacco. It is a non food product with a very predictable demand curve. Those agricultural states that rely upon the Agro-Industry for their survival will benefit. That includes the whole U.S. Midwest. With a fixed demand cash crop, the Agro-Industry will not be at the mercy of food production to generate a profit. In all likelihood, the ethanol industry will be very stable and predictable for corn growers.
Ethanol poses as many environmental questions as environmental solutions. Please tell us how you feel about this issue by commenting here in this blog or discussing this on our forum.
For more information, see: