• Feb 21, 2008
Jon Markman at MSN Money doesn't hold back when he says "Corn-based ethanol production is sure to go down as one of the greatest mistakes ever in U.S. energy policy." It's even more provoking when he writes "replacing fossil fuels with corn-based ethanol would double greenhouse gas emissions over the next three decades. The studies show that switchgrass, an alternative to ethanol that's more weed than plant, would boost emissions by 50%."
The problem isn't with the cars, the problem is with what it takes to grow the biofuel in the first place. Clearing the land, harvesting, and refining the crops, plus the loss of forest and wild lands and habitats, amounts to creating a carbon footprint worse than fossil fuels. According to the Science article which, admittedly, posits an extreme scenario, it would take 423 years to even out the carbon debt if Indonesia's peat lands were converted to palm oil fields.

The research is starting to give some people pause, such as the folks at the European Union who declared they wanted ten-percent of the block's transport fuel to come from plants. And Joe Fargione of the U.S. Nature Conservancy asks, "Is it worth it? ...[S]urprisingly the answer is 'no'. These natural areas store a lot of carbon, so converting them to crops results in tons of carbon emitted into the atmosphere."

Thanks for the tip, Zo!

[Source: MSN Money]


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  • 100 Comments
      Ed
      • 6 Years Ago
      How do you like those apples.....or should I say corn, all you Left Wing Greenies?
      • 6 Years Ago
      But the car commercials tell me my Flex Fuel F150 Supercrew is a green vehicle that is saving the planet. What should I believe? All my opinions are formed by what I see on TV.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Don't worry. "FlexFuel" badges boost mileage by 50%!!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Phil (comment 13):

      you actually can run a car off CNG, and some small fleet vehicles have been doing so for years. the problem is range, and a loss of power, two things that americans are not willing to put up with for a lower $ per mile.
      add an almost day long required tank inspection annually, and US households have never been ready to accept it.

      I ran a 1987 ford falcon in argentina for years on CNG (or GNC as they call it) and it was fine for cruising and puttering around town, if 20% ish down on power.

      The onlything ehthanol is good for is letting turbocharged cars make lots of power (25-30% more than 93 octane) by enabling more timing, boost, and leaner burning at far less than race gas pricing.

      For daily driving, it doesn't make financial sense since the savings per gallon are pretty eaten by the percentage drop in MPG.
      Fossil fuels (ie ancient chemically stored solar energy) still make the best fuels (gasoline, diesel, CNG) and are also the source of one of the "alternate/green" fuels everyone is gaga over, ie hydrogen which can only be efficently and cost effectively produced by cracking methane.

      When you think about it though, except nuclear power, everything actually is solar powered...
      • 6 Years Ago
      I refuse to be a ethanol lemming. All this fear mongering is making me wish the government would quit teaching(indocternating) our childern to believe this crap. Just read the fear in some of these postings, I can't believe you get all your thoughts from one source, chicken little environmentalist. Well I don't believe the sky is falling, I believe there are a lot of dishonest people out there trying to seperate me from my hard earned money. I'm sick of it.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Can't we use the fat for fuel extracted from cosmetic surgery from those fat asses in CALI ?
      Becky Coke
      • 6 Years Ago
      What about the water that we don't have, that will be needed to grow the corn.
      • 6 Years Ago
      PLEASE! For the sake of my continued livelihood, do NOT stop using fossil fuels! It's my bread and butter. See, every single gas station on the entire planet is an environmental catastrophe (oe at least one waiting to happen) and, as an environmental consultant, I make most of my money from cleaning them up.

      If it weren't for fossil fuels, we environmental consultants would have a much, much harder time making a living... ;)
      • 6 Years Ago
      Biofuels do not accomplish the goal of the "progressive" elites: devolving society back to feudalism.

      Therefore, they must be rejected, regardless of future promise (switchgrass, algaculture, hermal depolymerization, etc.).
        • 6 Years Ago
        Obviously, that should have been "thermal," not "hermal." :-/
      Kevin
      • 6 Years Ago
      Darin we need you in the White House.
      • 6 Years Ago
      http://i-r-squared.blogspot.com/search/label/ethanol

      I would check out the above for straight talk on ethanol, Robert is a chemical engineer who has worked with a variety of biofuels.

      Ethanol can never be a sustainable large scale replacement for petroleum fuels unless consumption is scaled back dramatically.
      • 6 Years Ago
      1,000 gallons of fuel from a single acre of cattails. 200 gallons from an acre of corn. Just over 600 from an acre of sugar cane. What should we be using?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Corn base ethanol is a joke.
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