Via Planetizen: The Morality of Biofuels
“Last September, Lester Brown, the president of the Earth Policy Institute wrote in a Washington Post opinion piece that the amount of grain needed to make enough ethanol to fill a 25-gallon SUV tank ‘would feed one person for a full year. If the United States converted its entire grain harvest into ethanol, it would satisfy less than 16 percent of its automotive needs.’ Brown said the ongoing ethanol boom in the U.S. was ‘setting the stage for an epic competition. In a narrow sense, it is one between the world’s supermarkets and its service stations.’ More broadly, ‘it is a battle between the world’s 800 million automobile owners, who want to maintain their mobility, and the world’s two billion poorest people, who simply want to survive.’
3 responses to “Food versus Fuel”
I used to work for an electric utility and while I was there I learned that a LOT of energy that doesn’t get used it just grounded. I wonder why they can’t use this “excess” electricity to build hydrogen plant along the coast? I know, the NIMBYs wouldn’t like it, just like they didn’t like the wind turbines out Kennedy’s window in Massachussetts. I don’t think using cropland for fuel is a good idea, AT ALL, whether it be for ethanol or this biodiesel they are trying to cram down our throats.
Producing ethanol from grain is neither cost effective or efficient. The public continues to be scammed by the biofuel supporters of ethanol. It can hardly be called renewal energy when it takes more energy to produce the product than is derived from the end result. In Brazil, ethanol is produced from sugar cane. Not only does ethanol from sugar cane appear to be cheaper to produce than ethanol produced from grain, but the octane rating is higher and therefore a vehicle can go farther on a gallon.
It is totally unfair to pit drivers against feeding the poor. It is not as if the motorists want this product that is being socially engineered and forced into their gas tanks. Ethanol from grain reduces the miles per gallon as much as 15% and possibly shortens engine life. Furthermore, if all of those tax dollar subsidies that are spent on streetcars, transit, curb extensions and bicycle infrastructure were redirected to feed the poor, it would probably cover the entire price tag. Looking the spin in that light, the users of alternative modes of transport can be judged as at fault for eating up tax dollars that otherwise could be used to feed those in need.
“Furthermore, if all of those tax dollar subsidies that are spent on streetcars, transit, curb extensions and bicycle infrastructure were redirected to feed the poor, it would probably cover the entire price tag.”
Subsidies for transit actually benefit the poor in this country, whereas American agricultural subsidies screw poor farmers and producers all over the world. It sounds like you are against transit subsidies and for agricultural subsidies, so in essence you are for screwing the poor. (I know you are not BTW). Oh, and I agree with your sentiment with regard to ethanol which is nothing more than a giant subsidized handout to big ag.