A must read for anyone who likes articulate scientists writing very approachable articles about important subjects!
Corn Can’t Solve Our Problem – washingtonpost.com
If every one of the 70 million acres on which corn was grown in 2006 was used for ethanol, the amount produced would displace only 12 percent of the U.S. gasoline market. Moreover, the “new” (non-fossil) energy gained would be very small — just 2.4 percent of the market. Car tune-ups and proper tire air pressure would save more energy.
Proper tire pressure is not sexy, and does not lead to billions of dollars of profits!
The net effect is that ethanol from corn grown in the Corn Belt does increase atmospheric greenhouse gases, and this increase is only about 15 percent less than the increase caused by an equivalent amount of gasoline
Corn is such a boondongle, it’s amazing what the ADMs and Monsantos of the world can do.
This means that when tropical woodland is cleared to produce sugar cane for ethanol, the greenhouse gas released is about 50 percent greater than what occurs from the production and use of the same amount of gasoline. And that statistic holds for at least two decades.
Brazil will not solve all your problems (unless they’re samba related!). Increased demand for ethanol from Brazil could lead to clearcutting of the rain forest/other fallow grassland.
Across the full process of growing high-diversity prairie hay, converting it into an energy source and using that energy, we found a net removal and storage of about a ton and a half of atmospheric carbon dioxide per acre. The net effect is that ethanol or synthetic gasoline produced from this grass on degraded land can provide energy that actually reduces atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide.
It’s a very well written article.