Wednesday, March 15, 2023

The problem with ethanol

I only saw a few snippets of President Trump's speech in Iowa, and he was criticizing DeSantis' lack of support for ethanol, a big deal in corn-growing Iowa. He needs to do more research and change lanes. In my blog in 2007 I wrote about how ethanol degrades the environment based on information published in 2003. I had become interested in that topic when I worked in the Ag Library in the 1980s. I assume the technology and efficiency have changed in 20 years, but the basics are the same.

"But let's look at the ethics of ethanol.

 . . . about 29% more energy is used to produce a gallon of ethanol than the energy in a gallon of ethanol. Fossil energy powers corn production and the fermentation/distillation processes. Increasing subsidized ethanol production will take more feed from livestock production, and is estimated to currently cost consumers an additional $1 billion per year. Ethanol production increases environmental degradation. Corn production causes more total soil erosion than any other crop. Also, corn production uses more insecticides, herbicides, and nitrogen fertilizers than any other crop. All these factors degrade the agricultural and natural environment and contribute to water pollution and air pollution. Increasing the cost of food and diverting human food resources to the costly inefficient production of ethanol fuel raise major ethical questions. These occur at a time when more than half of the world’s population is malnourished. The ethical priority for corn and other food crops should be for food and feed. Subsidized ethanol produced from U.S. corn is not a renewable energy source." Abstract, "Ethanol Fuels: Energy Balance, Economics, and Environmental Impacts Are Negative," Natural Resources Research, Volume 12, issue 2 (June 2003), p. 127-134.

And he doesn't even mention the bioterrorism of a well-placed fungus that could wipe out the Americans' dependence on corn for fuel the way the potato blight sent the Irish running for a new country in the 19th century. Also, when so much of the world suffers from hunger is it even moral to use land to grow crops to run your cars? There's more:  Collecting My Thoughts

No comments: