Biofuels? Are you crazy?
We can learn from history here. What if ethanol catches on? The last thing I want to see is the 82ond Airborne invading Nebraska to "liberate" the corn from the good people that live there (Protestants & Catholics alike).
How 'bout Biodiesel? Most of the local Bio comes from eastern Oregon - again, I fear a military occupation to follow if we become dependent upon Biodiesel.
Call me crazy, but my carbon footprint isn't nearly as important as keeping the US Military as far away from me as possible.
I am not an expert on this subject. I have a layman's interest and read what I chance across on the subject.
The big oil companies do not want any competition or non petroleum alternatives so I assume they have launched a miss information campaign. It may be true that ethanol made from corn is not sustainable. I don't know if it is true that if all the available crop land were used to raised fuel, it would supply only 10% of what we used now.
I think all of these are true, yet I think big businesses are making money by manipulating and destabilizing commodities markets partly through circulating rumors. In the last month I have heard repeatedly that corn is not suitable for sustainable energy production, which is true, but why is the media circulating this information at this time?
Ethanol from sugar cane apparently is sustainable as far as a crop but could not supply more than about 10% of the demand world wide. I assume sugar cane will not grow in most of the US, but sugar beets grow in the same areas that corn grows in and might do better than corn for ethanol.
Cellulosic ethanol might work out a lot better, and well as butanol from algae, which might be able to be grown at sea and not use crop land. Butanol is more energy dense than ethanol or petrol gasoline which makes it a lot more desirable than both of them.
I think Evs are a lot better than hybrids and we are wasting precious time fooling around with bio fuels for the general public to use to drive to the mall and to work. What we should be doing is mass producing carbon nano tube super capacitor batteries that would store electrical energy that would power Evs, not hybrids.
Then we should promote the use of decentralized residential renewable energy electrical generators such as PV panels and wind turbines that connect to the grid which should be nationalized to prevent price gouging.
The reason we don't approach the energy problem head on is 2 fold.
The public is ignorant because the media is owned by mega corporations that have infiltrated government regulators and now go as far as setting foreign and domestic policy, which is the effective loss of the 4th estate.
Both big business and government are getting money from the system the way it is and don't want it to change and will do anything not to allow it to change.
A frequent topic to come up in EV chat rooms is why the big three automakers continue to produce ICE automobiles when they now have proven that EV's are viable and reliable vehicles. Of course there are as many conspiracy theories out there as there are used automobiles. The truth is easy enough to derive if you just follow the money.
The United States tax economy runs on oil. Simple as that.
The Federal government cannot allow for the introduction of Electric Vehicles on a large scale as it would undermine the tax structure that keeps the tax coffers full. This explains why such stringent rules are always set in place to prevent the vehicles from being mass produced.
On the average day the United States uses 400,000,000 gallons of gas. That is four hundred million gallons. The Federal tax on this is 18.4 cents per gallon.
If you take the daily use and multiply it by the number of days in a year you come up with 146 billion gallons of gas consumed per year. At 18.4 cents per gallon that is $27,000,000,000 (27 billion dollars) in Federal taxes yearly. That is a lot of tax revenue to try to replace!
The tax on gas at the state level varies a great deal, you can look up your state's fuel tax at http://www.virginiagasprices.com/tax_info.aspx
The average of 50 cents will be applied though, and that results in $73,000,000,000 (73 billion dollars) of state level taxes. That is a huge amount of tax revenue to have just go away. How would the government fund pet projects without that kind of money?
So in summary, to introduce a viable electric vehicle to the market would kill $100,000,000,000 in taxes. Plus it eliminates the easiest method the Federal government has for dipping in to your wallet.
On another note: Many people wonder why that 9/10 of a cent thing is on every gallon of gas price. There are many stories about this, one of them is probably true, but the fact of the matter is that that 9/10 extra on the price generates an additional $141,000,000 (141 million dollars) for the oil companies.
Now the answer to the question is fairly obvious. The United States government can't afford an electric vehicle industry.
By focusing on such a small subject area you seem to be highlighting the differences people have and creating a heated debate which must be good for ratings, like WWF pro wrestling, but I think the listeners deserve a real debate on real solutions, not this kind of sensational journalism. For those of you with kids and grand kids, what are you going to do if life becomes unsustainable, are you going to say to them ?at least we had good ratings??
By taking such a micro view of the problem and just looking at bio fuels instead of asking the correct question, ?what is the most energy efficient and environmentally responsible way to provide transportation to the masses? you are effectively by-passing the point.
Interesting points on taxes but I'd add that a change to bio-fuels would allow a huge cutback in spending on the US War for Oil Military, thus theoretically allowing a cutback in taxes of what, maybe a wild guessed 60 percent?
Now, as far as electric vehicles and taxes, I sure pay my share of taxes on my home electric bill, so paying more taxes for electricity to power transport is just shifting my tax paid from gasoline to electricity and would be easily done, it's already metered.
But really, bio-fuels are still hydrocarbons and now that we know global warming is real and we need to drastically cut back on burning hydrocarbons, changing to bio-fuels is absolutely the wrong answer.
I suggest that a massive change to windmills combined with small scale home hydrogen generation, storage, and fuel cell heating and electricity units; and hydrogen powered vehicles, will get us out of Oil, skip the toxic heavy metal chemical problems with batteries, stop the burning of hydrocarbons, and essentially get us completely sustainable energy-wise.
And think of how haute couture fashionable those long slim beautiful windmills are, standing so tall against the clear blue sky. I predict that electric windmills will become a cherished icon just like those lovely Dutch windmills and a full on marketing campaign is what is really needed to get things going.
I like your thinking. I have been writing letters off and on through the years to our governor and senators on this topic as well.
One of the main arguments that I have heard to refining cellulosic and other non-food material (garbage, grease, etc.) into biofuel is that it takes more energy than is generated by the end product (biofuel). While I don't know if this is in fact true, here's my thoughts.
Recently the wind farms in the gorge produced so much power on one day that it almost overloaded the grid. My thought for years has been that when we have surpluses of this sort, why not use that "unusable" surplus of power for the creation of biofuel or to create the gases necessary for fuel cells or for carbon sequestration, etc.? By using the "surplus" power in this way, you use what would otherwise be wasted to achieve positive results. This biofuel or the fuel cells can be used to supplement the power grid's needs when solar or wind power runs short to kind of even out the ebb and flow of power generation dependant upon the sun and or wind.
One of the longest term problems with electricity has been the "battery" problem, the ability to timeshift the electricity from the time when it is produced to when it is needed for use. And I think you have some good ideas about that.
Creating and storing hydrogen during good winds and then using it later would be my preference but I had not thought of your ideas.
"Recently the wind farms in the gorge produced so much power on one day that it almost overloaded the grid."
What a great and wonderful problem to have, too much free wind-power! I'm gigglin! That should be very embarrassing to the "we need more nukes" and "we need to drill in the wildlife areas" and "we need clean coal" folks. Too much free wind, what a hoot!
I heard that story and wondered why the dams didn't just hold back more water for later use in generating instead of just spilling it. Odd response, I thought. I'd like to see the dams eventually removed and the 300 million fish salmon runs restored, and massive investment in windmills with accompanying storage and time-shifting facilities could do it.
"The big oil companies do not want any competition or non petroleum alternatives ...."
They have been relabeling themselves "energy" companies and I suspect that they want to continue their monopoly control of energy markets while the world changes from Oil to whatever else gets used. And so I suspect the ultimate Oil/energy lobbyests, Bush/Cheney/Rice/etc, want to prevent Iran from enriching uranium for energy because that would be a competitor and weaken their monopoly.
OK, not an expert here and since I don?t personally dictate what goes in the company truck, I can honestly say I haven?t kept up on any further advances so I?m not sure if things have gotten better in the last year or so...
My concerns with the bio-diesel are cold temperature usability and carbon particulate emissions.
If you have never been stranded at a rest area in eastern Wyoming because your fuel jelled overnight and you engine won?t start until long after the sun starts the morning warming up, you may not recognize the issue as quickly. That said, those of you with diesel engines that don?t hibernate in a heated garage might catch on once winter comes... last I knew, bio-diesel and the various vegetable oils jell at even higher temperatures than #2 highway (low sulphur) diesel. Can any of the guests address if this is still true and what might be on the horizon to address this? I would suspect that the starter fluids used to lower the jell point of the mix are actually far more environmentally hazardous than quite a bit of petro diesel.
This brings me to the second point (though again, I haven?t read much on this since I started driving ?local? a little over a year back), industry trades were reporting that carbon particulate is actually HIGHER with the bio-diesels that with standard #2. The brown stuff you see over L.A. is mostly carbon particulate, the other negative emissions are relatively colorless.
A side note, the most polluting diesels are the ones used off road (in construction, within larger work-sites like rail yards and the like), they are allowed to use much higher sulphur fuels... seems odd to me.
Further ideas that should be looked at for fuel economy and polution reduction in big rigs seem to slip under the radar, but I suspect the show today won?t have much interest in my bringing them up... let me give you one example, though: provide incentives for highway semis to replace engine brakes with ?Tesla? (magnetic) brakes... in high volume stop and go traffic areas like the city metro?s, this could go a long way to reduce actual emissions. Imo, of course...
How about insulating the fuel tanks and using engine heat to warm the fuel up for overnight stops. Maybe even battery powered heaters to warm the fuel in the tank and lines.
Wouldn't Tesla brakes involve big and heavy sets of batteries? Or would they just be used to stop the rig and not to start back up again?
And aren't engine brakes illegal in most cities? Don't I remember signs at the top of the hill in Wood Village that say no engine, no "Jake", braking allowed?
Bring up your ideas here anyway, electrons are cheap, there's lots of posting space and maybe someone will read them and get your idea going. Worth a try anyhow.
On insulating: it may be an option for passenger vehicles. Tanks on semis, however, are in specific places by law and actually insulating them and the lines misses that when the temp is low, everything gets cold eventually. Many places now make idling overnight illegal (New York is one that is especially agressive about this), and many companies (including one of my former OTR employers) restrict continuous idling by forcing the engine to shut down. In larger terminals in cold climates, many companies have plug in heaters for the trucks, but there is a dearth of semi parking places in this country, much less ones that take low temps into consideration. When it is really cold, however, you can jell up WHILE driving (engine warm and all), and this is with current #2. My point in noting the higher jell temperature is that what now is not a huge problem for most of the populated areas of the country (i.e., the Great Basin, Rockies, and Great Plains states excepted) will become so if the jell temp is even ten degrees higher.
On mag brakes: Actually, Electro Magnetic Retarders (my calling it a ?Tesla? shows my own ignorance... that was what I had been taught it was called by the one guy I know who has one) are already deployed (an example would be this page http://members.dodo.com.au/~marcellomicheli/industrial_brake/retarders.htm ). They are housed in a contraption that sits around the drive shaft and in the week or so I was in a truck that has one, I was sold on their value. They do a wonderful job, powered directly from the electricity the engine generates; there is no friction (hence no wear) and make a Jake brake obsolete (imho).
Engine brakes, commonly called ?Jake? brakes, are not only not illegal in most states, they are what currently keeps most western states from having the runaway truck ramps being used nearly as much as they could be. Trust me, the most horrible feeling on earth is to know your brakes have gone soft from overheating when you have 80,000 (or more) pounds under you; without Jakes, the grades at Mount Ashland, Cabbage Hill, and the Grapevine (to name just a few) would be a lot deadlier. Most western states with restrictions have them in towns and usually it is only the ?unmuffled? ones (few modern ones are disqualified over this). Most drivers will shut them off in towns, especially at night, as a courtesy, but no, they are basically standard equipment.
My original point about the Jakes, however, is that when they are engaged a certain amount of poorly burnt or unburnt diesel fuel is blasted into the air... in stop and go traffic this is a major issue. You might notice trucks (especially heavy hauls) coming down any hill into Portland (say from the Terwilliger curves to the split on I-5) putting out dark plumes while slowing, that would be Jake pollution. What I was trying to identify is that the Electro Magnetic Retarders supply the crucial braking without ANY pollution or performance degradation. Incentives to companies to buy these units on ALL new truck and retrofit older ones would benefit everyone and be a direct influence in places like the LA basin that have way too much stuff in the air to start with.
"Electro Magnetic Retarders"
That is interesting, are they too expensive? The site argues pretty well for them.
Thanks for the info on jelling and jakes. I've heard jake brakes as a logger and I love that sound but I can see that they wouldn't be welcome in a city.
I was in LA as a kid in the fifties and the smog now is not anywhere near as bad, I mean it burned your eyes and nose all the time back then. And sometimes visibility was only like six blocks.
We heavily subsidize Big Oil, I think we ought to at least consider subsidizeing cures for the problems they cause, like your idea about electro magnetic retarders.
An interesting blog post about driving (and buying) 99% bio-diesel from Arizona to Oregon:
do the economics of keeping dollars in oregon and the nw make biofuel more advantageous rather than taking money out of the community? There is also some advantage to having the western and eastern portions of the state engage in more trade, by bringing these different communities together. No?
I support the use of biofuels, but I am concerned on the impact corn ethanol may have on the world food supply. One alternative is algae. Some studies have shown algae may produce 30 times the energy per acre compared to other terrestrial crops. Plus the stuff grows very quickly, can be grown in waste water and gobbles up carbon dioxide! Too good to be true? Maybe.
Here's a wikipedia link on Algae fuel I meant to include in the original message: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algae_fuel
I drive a bio-diesel car filled with 99.9% biodiesel in my business every day. I do it because I wish to operate outside of the gas & oil economy.
I am concerned that bio-fuel would replace food crops and drive up food prices worldwide, but at the same time - that is by far not the only factor affecting food prices worldwide & it is not a reason to go back to petroleum fuel. It is a reason to innovate furtherso that bio-fuels exist alongside food crops and use non-edible or recycled bio-materials for fuel creation.
Erik B - Portland
I have a 2007 Prius and the mileage drops by 20% with Oregon's mandated additive. I am a huge fan of biofuel but this mileage loss totally defeats the purpose FOR ME of owning this car. It's bad enough it was hyped as getting 60mpg and only gets 40-48 in summer, and 32-34 mpg in winter. I don't see how this reduces reliance on fossil fuels. I am at the pump way more than I want to be. Thankfully I can bike to make up some of the difference, but I would never have spent the money to buy this car had I known this in ahead of time.
Obviously nobody in this discussion has spent any time around a farm. Crop residues from corn (or any other crop) aren't just waste, they get used as silage for animal feed or left on the fields as compost that gets cycled back into the soil. If those residues were used for cellulosic biofuel production, something would have to replace them in those feed and nutrient streams
I have a VW Golf TDI. I loved the idea of biofuels but as an organic farmer I know what it takes to grow acres and acres of corn. Corn is one of the worst crops to grow in terms of environmental impacts. To grow corn you need mass amounts of liquid ammonia, nitrogen, and phosphates not to mention herbicides and insecticides...all of which eventually leach into the environment. This past year the U.S. recorded the largest dead zone ever in the Gulf of Mexico due to runoff from farms growing corn.
This is completely unsustainable and we need to find an alternative crop to use for biofuels...
Ethanol decreases the fuel economy of the car...why are we using corn???
Bio-fuels are good for the environment and the regional economy.
Food for fuel is not viable, nor is it the primary issue that it is made out to be. There are several reasons for the increased food costs, of which Bio-fuels is a minor contributor. Bio-fuels are just an element of the equation, similar to wind energy and solar energy... all are important. Conservation will be the biggest impact and should be expanded.
Feedstocks (the material used to make bio-fuels) are transitioning quickly and need to be economic to compete with petro.
Algae will probably be the best future oil feedstock for Bio-Diesel and is under advanced development at Universities and industry. Algae ponds can be used to cleanse the emissions of carbon fueled power plants and it can be grown quickly, economically and densely.
Cellulosic Ethanol from waste (wood, trash, human,...) will be the potential future replacement for corn ethanol, which is not a great idea.
Bio-fuels are important, but not a petroleum replacement.
(50 mpg since 1976... VW Rabbit)
There's research going on at Oregon State University in the Sustainable Technologies Laboratory in the Biological and Ecological Engineering Department, http://stl.bee.oregonstate.edu/, into creating biodiesel from renewable materials and using algae.
Algae is the answer. Some species are over 50% lipids, i.e. oil. The seminal research paper is by Professor Michael Briggs of the University of New Hampshire Physics Department. To quote Professor Briggs:
...to replace all transportation fuels in the US, we would need 140.8 billion gallons of biodiesel, or roughly 19 quads (one quad is roughly 7.5 billion gallons of biodiesel). To produce that amount would require a land mass of almost 15,000 square miles. To put that in perspective, consider that the Sonora desert in the southwestern US comprises 120,000 square miles. Enough biodiesel to replace all petroleum transportation fuels could be grown in 15,000 square miles, or roughly 12.5 percent of the area of the Sonora desert (note for clarification - I am not advocating putting 15,000 square miles of algae ponds in the Sonora desert...
Link to Professor Briggs paper: http://www.unh.edu/p2/biodiesel/article_alge.html
I make biodiesel on a small scale. The total cost of making it my self is about $1.00. Even with the added road taxes that makes the total cost of a gal about $1.50. Why then is the sequential biodiesel offered at the pump around $5? It seems that since it is made locally and not a whole lot refining is necessary it should be cheaper to the consumer.
What about the potential of growing plants that are effectively weeds on marginal lands?
Consider hemp, a crop currently grown in Canada, that yields seeds (for oil and/or food), stalks (for fiber), and residual plant material that could serve as an input in a biogas digester (for fertilizer and methane). Yet it is a very robust plant that can grow in many circumstances with minimal inputs: aka a weed.
We wouldn't take land out of food production, we'd be bringing marginal land into production. And with the low energy inputs, we'd displace much more fossil fuel than with corn ethanol.
If the government were to enact rational policies regarding hemp, it could be a very valuable crop indeed.
I drive a diesel but was a little late to the biofuel game. It's now more expensive that 5-20% biofuel. So most of the time I fill up with 5-20%. I don't mind paying the price but it seems like using biofuel vs. 5-20% is kind of a wash.
Why is Diesel more expensive that gas? Historically it's been much cheaper. I realize it has to do with supply and demand but as I understand it, Diesel is a a less refined fuel so in theory it should be cheaper. If Oil speculators are driving up the price of fuel is there an artificial inflation of Diesel? Is our government trying to cripple our economy by allowing this speculation?
Obviously it's great in some ways. People are driving less. All the people with large SUVs are finally feeling the pinch. I think this has been a blessing in a lot of ways but who will lead us out of this?
"Is our government trying to cripple our economy by allowing this speculation? "
Ken Lay of Enron advised the Cheney Secret Energy Group and the current unregulated speculation sure stinks of Enrons deregulated and manipulative energy trading practices. Remember what they did to Oregon and California?
Maybe it's just me, but I don't get it when people like one of the callers calls for more electric cars over combustion engines. Doesn't the overwhelming majority of our electricity come from carbon based fuels? Just because more people plug in cars doesn't mean the wind will blow any harder or water will run through turbines quicker. Before we ask for the public to jump over to any new technology we need to make a fundamental change in our primary energy sources, something the government and big energy producers seem unwilling to take serious.
The primary benefit as I understand it is that of emissions: it's easier to scrub pollution at a single central power plant than it is at a million tail-pipes.
Also, as we bring more solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources into the grid electric vehicles would automatically "update" their power supply without the need to update the hardware of the car (as you might find with a diesel conversion kit, etc.)
I think local control is important, vital even, for the success of utilizing biofuels and other renewable energy sources. True local control by communities is empowering to the citizens of those locales, as it can offer sustainable jobs. As Wendell Berry asserts, local control means better environmental stewardship because people will not wish to destroy their own homes. So much of the major renewable energy development that is happening is being done by large corporations, many of which are foreign-based. This would seem to be a continuation of the same exploitative energy-extraction industries that we have suffered through for the past century.
This should be a major part of the discussion on renewable energy, as should whether biofuels are sustainable in the long run. The organization I work for, Oregon Rural Action (based out of La Grande) is sponsoring a Homegrown Prosperity Renewable Energy Tour this summer, in partnership with the other groups under its mother organization, the Western Organization of Resource Councils. From August 18-27 we will be taking a biodiesel bus throughout Eastern Oregon to offer solutions to reduce greenhouse gases; increase energy efficiency in homes and businesses; clean, renewable energy; small-scale cooperative biodiesel production; local foods production, distribution and consumption; and good-paying jobs and income for rural communities. The bus and crew will make stops in Ontario, Baker City, La Grande and the Grande Ronde Valley, Pendleton and Hermiston, and will work with community leaders to address local needs, interests, and concerns. For more information feel free to visit www.homegrownprosperity.org. And if you are in Eastern Oregon in late August, please stop in at one of our events and keep this conversation going!
"I think local control is important, vital even, for the success of utilizing biofuels and other renewable energy sources."
And widely dispersed generation takes away the possibility of "terrorist" attacks crippling the whole system.
I understand that if all agriculture is converted to bio-fuels the total output would still only be a small percentage of what is used today. Thus bio-fuels alone does not solve the transportation problem. Also vehicle efficiency was not mentioned in th discussion. A solution would be for inner city vehicles to be powered by batter/electric sources and only long haul vehicles would use gas/diesel. The electricty shold be generated from wind and solar.
This morning's program had a caller, "Ben", who suggested an solution that is an existing research program. I can't remember which American university is engaged in this successful endeavor to use waste products from plant crops as fuel. It is a single gene incorporated into the cellulose structural cells. Spontaneous ethanol creation begins when the plant is killed. Only the stalks are involved.
I briefly made it onto the air today regarding the topic of potentially using local solid waste infrastructures already in place to produce fuel (methanol) on a massive national scale. Unfortunately, I think I failed, verbally, to do this topic the justice it may deserve (disorganized stammering, I apologize for that). I would like to follow this topic up in this forum, perhaps tapping expertise that I sorely lack on the topic. The answer I received on the air did not satisfy my curiosity. (Summ: it's gross, it can be done...)
First, I was able to witness electrical production using human and animal waste in a small vilalge in Belize, called Hattieville, in the early 1990's. This village was off the grid, and its youth had an alarming rate of illiteracy. International volunteers created an underground cistern-like "digester" that families fed with buckets each day. This tank produced flammable gases which were used to spin a generator, poering each home with light in the evening (not a lot of electricity), providing opportunity for people to read and study into the evening and, ultimately, improving literacy and the level of education in the community. Pretty cool stuff...why not use this on a larger scale?
It seems to me that our current human waste managemnent infrastructure (toilets, sewers, centralized treatment plants) would provide a conduit for virtually every home in the country to funnel their wastes to localized central locations, reducing the need for transporting the material and keeping the source of this energy local. This is a dependable and constant source of energy that takes no effort to produce... using this waste in this way could also help to solve the chronic problem of waste disposal. Perhaps, also, fuel production from human waste could fit in nicely with some of the urban experiments in grey water purification and reuse?
I have also wondered if this potential fuel source is being ignored due to its inherant economic implications. Current sources of fuel are wrapped up with the market system, supply and demand, trade, production, and profiting. To create fuel using governemnt operated facilities and communually owned and produced (free) raw material might not be well accepted by the corporate and political machinery in place.
I am no expert on this topic, just a curious layperson. I am wondering what the inherant flaws are with using human waste to produce fuel. Are there assocaited public health hazards? Would it be so inefficient as to make the alterations in our solid waste management plants counterproductive? Am I seriously off base with the idea of being able to produce fuel in this way?
It was great to hear some balanced coverage on biofuels.
#1 we all have to drive less, walk and ride bicycles and use public transportation more.
Having said that, we're never going to lose the need for liquid fuel. We have a handful of choices, and they all take energy to produce. Biodiesel has the highest return on energy of anything we have -- for every unit of energy you put in you get 3.2 units out. That's a total lifecycle and transportation calculation. Using the same calculus, petroleum is a net loss at 1 to .8 and ethanol is only slightly positive at 1 to 1.3.
What biodiesel does is reduce the amount of ten million year old carbon we pump from sequestration under the earth into the atmosphere. It reduces the toxicity of tailpipe emissions massively. It creates local jobs, improves our energy security, and is ten times less toxic than table salt. It isn't flammable, requires no conversion to use in a normal diesel engine, and biodegrades faster than leaves. Some extremely smart people are working on biodiesel from algae, and that gives me great hope for our future.
As far as the food vs. fuel debate goes, there is a tremendous amount of waste in all of our systems. I read a report recently that Americans waste 40% of their food. 40%!!! I think we can all agree there is room for improvement there, and that losing even 40% of our food production might be overcome being more thoughtful about our food use. Who knows how much we could save if people stuck to a reasonable caloric intake as well?
More importantly, China is going to an American meat-heavy diet, and they are sucking up a lot of grain production to feed those cows. It takes 50 times the grain to feed every meat eater. And petroleum prices have gone through the roof. Remember all those people who said we'd never have oil over $70 per barrel? They seem pretty silly now. Those are the primary causes of food prices increasing.
Corn ethanol is a factor, but everyone in ethanol knows that corn ethanol is a short term bridge strategy. Nobody in the industry seriously believes we'll be harvesting corn for fuel for long. But we're in trouble and we have to find a way to jump start production, and corn is what farmers know how to grow - they have seeds, equipment and experience.
Part of the solution is driving more electric cars, but even electric cars aren't perfect. In Oregon more than 50% of our electric energy comes from non-renewable resources like coal, which is about as bad as you can get as an energy source. Not only does coal pollute, but it adds radioactivity to the atmosphere. Why isn't that ever discussed? And the energy cost to create those batteries is quite high as well - and let's not forget that those batteries have to be replaced every few years, and improper battery maintenance can rapidly reduce the useable life of the battery pack. Still, I'm glad that Tesla is now selling cars and I hope they someday put GM out of business.
There are no perfect solutions. We'll have to compromise. So let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
BlueSky Fuel (the owner of the pump described in the start of the show)
Well thought out. I learned something here.
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