Taking a closer look at the full costs of energy acquisition and dissipation
Found this in a news letter I get at work, and thought it was interesting:"Car Talk As Energy Ace reported last month, the bloom may be off the ethanol rose, especially ethanol from corn. Orders for new plants are being cancelled and stocks are near 52-week lows. However, not all ethanol is from corn. In Florida it is reported that a group of investors will build an ethanol plant using citrus peels. Orange and grapefruit waste will be converted into 4 million gallons a year of ethanol. This will turn a waste disposal problem into an asset and it will smell good, too!"
Obviously, we are still technologically years away from switching over to any kind of alternative energy source. The thing is, we are moving forward. Corn may cost more than it's worth now, but things are changing. How would such a drastic change in uses efffect corn prices?
I believe that the use of corn for ethanol is a terrible idea, but if the trend would continue to grow and corn ethanol becomes a important commodity, the United States would become somewhat of a "energy superpower" like the OPEC countries. Perhaps this is the reason politicians are not coming out to fight the use of corn for Ethanol.
Hopefully politicians will see the problems with ethanol and that it really is not energy efficient. Instead of pumping more and more money into this market why not help out, for example, the plug in hybrid market, which is way more energy-efficient.
I disagree that we're TECHNOLOGICALLY years away from switching to an alternative energy source; the technology is there, but the knowledge and support for these changes simply are not. I agree with logan about the plug-in hybrids, which are not only some of the most energy efficient, but also some of the most well-designed vehicles in production right now. The question is, what major vehicle company is willing to invest in these cars? After the systematic killing of Saturn's EV1, the first ever electric car on the market, it's hard to believe that any major company will put their name on it. And, even so, it won't be long before politicians and their friends in the oil business start working against these innovations.
It seems everyone is interested in making a political choice instead of the right choice. Politicians have to evaluate the pro's and cons before speaking out. Don't they have scientists that work for the government that can help with these decisions?
They do, but political red tape kills any chance they have of quick change. The government doesn't have the money to pay the best scientists though. This is proven by the fact that the scientists at the government patent office had to "take their word for it" when evaluating the patent for Toyota's hybrid technology. They didn't have any available scientists who understood the type of hybrid techonology that Toyota was employing when they applied for a patent so they granted the patent without true knowledge of what it was for. If we can expect that kind of resource availability in the government, it's hard to see them acting quickly on a subject this complicated.
I believe Drew is dead on. The negative externalities caused by fossil fuel consumption are not the reason for most of the corn ethanol that is being produced, I don't think. I think it really comes down to cash. Most corn farmers and politicians are just looking to make a dime off people thinking they are helping the environment by consuming corn ethanol, when really it is just creating more negative externalities. I think the only way politicians are going to start investing monetarily and legislatively is if they can figure out how to make more cash switching to clean energy instead of oil or corn ethanol.
Or, more than likely, a major company or two (and I mean major like Exxon, Microsoft, Walmart, whatever it takes) to commit to this kind of energy change in a major fiscal way to make politicians take note. There are some great alternatives out there, but most of them are used or researched by small companies, colleges or individuals that can't waive enough money in front of politicians to make them notice.
Ethanol may not be the long term answer, and obviously it has its downfalls; but it is a now usable form of renewable energy that the US has mastered its production. Importing less oil, exporting more corn all for the sake of global warming, I think sounds great. Maybe it will help with our global PR since our kyoto decision or lack there of. Obviously, ethanol can not be the world's or even the US's only answer instead it is only a single piece to this complex puzzle. I think the country needs to use multiple forms of renewable safe energy. Becoming too dependant on any one form can only lead to another problem like the one we are in with oil. Jonathan Forte
As Graham said; politicians can continue to "make the political choice and not the right choice" by promoting and funding corn ethanol, because a great number of people are not educated enough about this topic to oppose it. A lot of people don't see the down side of switching to corn ethanol as an alternative fuel, they only see the benefits that politicians talk about: less dependency on foreign oil, and American farmers are making money. Sounds like a great, simple solution to someone who will not dig any deeper. Read some of the comments posted at the bottom of the article...sue reuschle
this is going to be a very exciting technological switch and it is in our very near future. there will be great environment benefits but there may also be a few negatives, such as the price in crops since the demand for them will shoot sky high. it is uncertain exactly how much the price will rise. however because of this demand i believe it will attract more people to the industry of growing these crops. this may allow unemployment to hover around the same percentage since auto plant workers are losing their job, this is the chance for them to remain in the industry and make an environmental change.
Corn based ethanol appears to have a negative effect overall. There are other types of ethanol that we should be exploring in an effort to reduce the use of fossil fuels. An area I think we should investigate is the use of grease from fast food resturants as a biofuel option. I heard about this a couple of years ago as an alternative. Never the less corn based ethanol takes away from food, hinders some farmers and is not a environmentally friendly as was thought.
It's easy to see how the ethonol market will not work with the economy or the environment. I don't see why on earth everyone in the government is not looking into the plug-in cars and other electirc vehicles
my dad works as a vp for Syngenta, one of the larger global chemical(and especially pesticide) producers.talking with him the other day about this he said that since the rise in demand for ethanol, business has been booming. with land now being cleared for food and for energy, farmers are needing more and more of syngentas products. he doesnt think it will end here though. he and i beleive (or at least hope) that ethanol is only a stepping stone to easing our country into the renewable energy playing field.
that was lauren fields by the way, sorry...
looks like corn based ethanol isn't the dream fuel people have been saying it is. Not only will it cause problems with food production and prices, it really isn't that efficient.-Rachel Bisesi
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