Monday, January 07, 2013

Corn to Ethanol Fiasco

As the WaPo noted, the US has a wide variety of idiotic "go green!" energy policies. It makes a little more sense once you realize that sacrifice and wasted resources are actually the goal, as in any religious exercise.

But the very worst is likely the requirement that companies find a way to use more bio-fuels.  And in THIS special place of stupidity, the focus on corn-based ethanal is the worst, of the worst, of the worst.

Given the amount of petroleum based fertilizer we use to raise corn, the environmental return on converting from oil to ethanol fuel is about 0.8.  That is, all things considered, the net impact of ethanol bio-fuel is actually harmful to the environment, given the distortion in land use and the expanded conversion of forested land into cornfields.  That's bad.

The world price of corn has gone up, and people all over the world are finding ways to grow more corn.  That is partly bad, and partly good.

But, we are NOT using the corn for food!  And that is really hurting poor people who depended on corn as a high calorie source, and protein source.  That, dear ones, is the worst, of the worst, of the worst, of the dumbest darned thing I can think of.  We waste petroleum to pay politically connected corporations to build useless ethanol stills so poor people can starve.  Really?  

1 comment:

back40 said...

The dominant method of synthesizing nitrogen fertilizers uses methane as a feedstock. The sought after part is the hydrogen it contains (CH4). No petroleum is used, just methane. Hydrogen is also available from other sources, such as water, but not as cheaply at present.