Why Ethanol is a Bad Idea, Part 2

Ethanol is a bad idea. Why, you may ask?

1. ROI? Well, it turns out that you invest a lot of energy, water, and resources to grow that corn and turn it into ethanol. A gallon of ethanol requires 26 pounds of corn. 26 pounds! So a standard 15 gallon tank could be filled with the equivalent of 360 pounds of corn. Once. Do you have any idea how incredibly land-intensive that is? And what if you’d chopped down a forest to grow that corn?

2. Ethical? So people starve in the world, and you’re burning edible food to make fuel? Jean Ziegler, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, called biofuels a “crime against humanity,” and in October 2007 called for a 5-year moratorium on the production of biofuels from edible crops. This, he argued, would give time for technology to develop to turn waste (such as corn cobs) into biofuel instead.

3. Bad economics? For human beings lucky enough not to be starving, an Iowa State University study published in May 2007 estimates that food prices rose an average of $47/person because of the 2006-2007 ethanol boom. That’s thanks to heavy government subsidies. A 2006 Businessweek article asks, “If the government hadn’t mandated this product, would it survive in a free market?” Doubtful. Hey government, don’t create that market!

4. Not very effective. Ethanol gets bad fuel mileage. E85, which has 85% ethanol content, has a lower energy content and drops a car’s miles per gallon 20-30%. It may even interfere with the performance of some cars.

It makes me wonder why we continue to push ethanol as a green alternative.


1 Comment »

  1. Paige said

    Can’t we just use solar panels?? Come on… let’s harness global warming for OUR use!

    Although, when Ethanol first came out, i thought it would just use corn cobs and so I liked it. I like anything that helps farmers, as I come from a long line of them. But corn doesn’t help us, just rice and soy.

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