23 Dec 2008

From the Mouths of Babes

...comes truth (via ES):

December 22, 2008

Dear Editor,

We have been polluting our world too much. Naturally, we have tried to do something about it. What we use to create energy is the big problem, so people have tried to come up with a new, renewable energy source that is easily obtained. We have already figured out several non-polluting techniques: wind, water and solar power. But another attempt is not working out so well: ethanol. The problems start at the very beginning.

Most ethanol is made from corn. However, that corn must be supplied in enormous quantities, and corn is used in much food for humans and animals. If we use corn for fuel, more will need to be grown, on huge farms receiving government subsidies. We are paying extra so that our food can be used for fuel.

The corn is grown using chemical fertilizer, which is awful for the environment. Most pesticides are made from petroleum, exactly what ethanol is supposed to be preventing the use of. Also, the machinery on big farms needs massive quantities of gas.

The next step is even worse. The corn, grown with petrochemicals, must be distilled in factories to become ethanol. These factories need to get their energy from somewhere, and that somewhere is fossil fuels. It takes about nine-tenths of a gallon of fossil fuel to make a gallon of ethanol. Ethanol pollutes the environment about the same amount as if we just used fossil fuel.

To add insult to injury, ethanol is not as efficient as fossil fuel. In short, ethanol is stupid. It just doesn't do what it's supposed to do - namely, reduce our carbon footprint. Our government needs to start focusing its attention elsewhere. Wind, water and solar energy could use some boosting.


Bottom Line: Give that girl a PhD.


  1. The issue of ethanol pushing out food production is not a very compelling one. Consider this: From the beginning of agriculture millennia ago, until the early 20th century, a huge percentage of the world's arable land was devoted to energy production. This was necessary to feed the beasts who provided nearly all the transportation and manufacturing labor, and to provide firewood for heat. A contributing factor in Rome's downfall was its inability to increase its energy (grain) supplies, which reduced GDP. The development of coal, oil, and inorganic nitrogen fertilizers allowed far more agricultural production to be devoted to feeding humans.
    Not trying to defend ethanol here, just offering a bit of historical perspective.

  2. My hope for our future gets a big boost when young people like Madeleine speak there minds about issues like this.
    She says ethanol is stupid, well being older I could think of some more colorful words to use but, when I think about it stupid fits just fine.


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