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Another Nail in Corn Ethanol's Coffin



February 08, 2008 – Comments (6)

Turns out, it can be much much worse for the environment than the so-called "greens" in favor would have you believe. Why? Because as food prices go up with the drop in supply, rain forests and other natural carbon-capture lands are slashed and converted to low-quality farmland.

Hey, I didn't say it. Science did.

Let's not forget that it takes thousands of gallons of water -- which we ain't got limitless supplies of, especially in the Midwest -- to create a gallon of crummy corn ethanol. And the fertilizer runoff from increased mono-culture farming is killing the Gulf of Mexico.

In short, corn ethanol is really looking like an environmental disaster. Trouble is, it's not a pinpoint oil spill, easily comprehensible by the "man-bites-dog" news media, and so, is unlikely to be reported as such a problem.

6 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On February 08, 2008 at 8:17 AM, TMFBent (99.27) wrote:

Ooops. I think this is the one that most directly treats the current situation.

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#2) On February 08, 2008 at 8:22 AM, TMFBent (99.27) wrote:

Oh, and for those ethanol fans too busy/lazy to click the links, President Shrub's ballyhooed "switchgrass" ain't the answer either.

Biofuels from switchgrass, if grown on U.S. corn lands, increase emissions by 50%. This result raises concerns about large biofuel mandates and highlights the value of using waste products.

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#3) On February 08, 2008 at 8:13 PM, abitare (30.18) wrote:

Mt Award Winning PEIX Pitch: 

Berkshire Hathaway Charlie Munger on Ethanol    

When asked by a shareholder about ethanol, Charlie Munger made the following statement: Wheat and Corn Fields

"Running cars on corn is about the stupidest thing I ever heard of. Our government is under tremendous political pressure [to keep pushing and supporting corn ethanol] even though it makes no sense." He goes on to state an unpopular view in Nebraska, "More energy is used producing ethanol than it creates and that's without considering the damage to the topsoil producing fuel when we could be producing food." Munger further states that it's silly to drive up the price of food in order to provide an uneconomic fuel, as well as a dumb government policy.

I have to say that it takes some guts to be against anything that drives up the price of corn. Brave Mr. Munger, very brave.

Mr. Buffett said, "Well Charlie, we'll be sneaking you out of Omaha tonight."'s_Trades/Neuberts_Trades/Berkshire_Hathaway_Charlie_Munger_on_Ethanol_20070

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#4) On February 08, 2008 at 11:26 PM, Imperial1964 (94.60) wrote:

Can someone please explain to me the reasoning going into the idea why we want to keep our costs high?

We've got to have high-cost housing.  Somehow it makes people rich.

We have to have high corn prices.  I'm from the midwest and I still don't understand why it is in our national interest to have high food prices.

I, like most people, do more buying than selling, so I like to keep the prices of my necessities like food and shelter LOW.  It infuriates me that they're wasting my tax dollars to try to increase my expenses.  Or am I just an idiot who doesn't understand?

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#5) On February 09, 2008 at 2:47 PM, TMFBent (99.27) wrote:

"idiot who doesn't understand" is often = the little kid who noticed just how little the emperor was wearing...


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#6) On February 11, 2008 at 4:47 AM, greyfairer (< 20) wrote: 

"The most important factor in favor of Brazil's sugar cane Ethanol compared to US corn, however, is far from being its production cost. The fundamental issue is that the energy balance of ethanol produced from Corn is negative[9]. It is necessary approximately 1 joule of source energy (Fossil Fuel, Electricity, etc...) to produce 0,7 joules worth of Ethanol energy, given current technology. In other words, Corn ethanol is not viable as a source of energy as it wastes more than it generates. Sugar Cane ethanol, on the other hand, after 3 decades of reasearch, have reached 1 to 8 joules of energy production balance, that is, 1 joule is spent to produce 8 joules worth of ethanol energy."

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