Red Shoulder Hawk

Red Shoulder Hawk

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Put your head between your knees...

From the American Institute of Biological Sciences, regarding the feasibility of moving to ethanol fuel:

"The authors of the study assessed the energy required to produce the crops and to manufacture and distribute the resulting fuels. In the United States, ethanol yielded only about 10 percent more energy than was required to produce it; in Brazil, where a different process is used, ethanol yielded 3.7 times more energy than was used to produce it. The researchers, Marcelo E. Dias de Oliveira, Burton E. Vaughan, and Edward J. Rykiel, Jr., also weighed effects of fuel ethanol use on carbon dioxide emissions, soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, and water and air pollution, assuming vehicles representative of each country. "

The result?

"the carbon dioxide emissions, cropland area requirements, and other environmental consequences of growing corn and sugarcane to produce fuel ethanol indicates that the 'direct and indirect environmental impacts of growing, harvesting, and converting biomass to ethanol far exceed any value in developing this energy resource on a large scale.'"

Why does the US process yield a mere 10% energy gain? It's the feedstock: corn. Why is the cost too high in Brazil? It's because of the deforestation that would need to be done to plant enough sugar cane. Look at sugar cane's energy abundance, however: a 370% energy gain!

People need to look at these sorts of studies and wonder about how shifting away from petroleum could be made to work, rather than showing how we have no options. Becuase if we really have no options, if we truly must use petroleum in order to support ourselves, then we are in fact doomed.

(Those of you who know the numbers for bio-diesel already know the journey to forever is achievable)

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