22 May 2008

Ethanol is Dumb, part 54

James and Stephen Eaves wrote this piece [PDF] last fall but apparently nobody read it, since we have seen almost all their analysis and predictions supported by recent events, i.e.,
When we assume the ethanol production process is fully renewable, it would take all the corn in the country to displace about 3.5 percent of our gasoline consumption — only slightly more than we could displace by making sure drivers’ tires are inflated properly. There are also ethical considerations. In particular, the United States is responsible for over 40 percent of the world’s corn supply and 70 percent of total global exports. Even small diversions of corn supplies to ethanol could have dramatic implications for the world’s poor, especially considering that researchers believe that food production will need to triple by the year 2050 to accommodate expected demand. Furthermore, ethanol would not necessarily be a more reliable source of fuel. By displacing gasoline with ethanol, we are displacing geo-political risk with yield risk, and historical corn yields have been about twice as volatile as oil imports.
James Eaves graduated from my department (Go Aggies!) a few years ago. He and his brother deserve congratulations for pointing out that the emperor has not been wearing clothes for quite some time. Too bad the politicians have continued to ignore the factual stupidity of ethanol in favor of shoving more pork down the swollen gullets of their agribusiness campaign contributors -- while the poor and hungry of the world grow more angry....

Bottom Line: Anyone who says "I didn't see it coming" needs to have his head examined. The only good thing about the ethanol program is that the evidence of its stupidity is so vast that we may be able to end it quickly. We cannot wait for wisdom in the Congress. Tell them to stop the disaster.