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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 09-10-06, 04:18 PM   #1
Slow Train
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Starving the People To Feed the Cars

More on the ethanol debate ...

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Starving the People To Feed the Cars
By Lester R. Brown
Sunday, September 10, 2006; Page B03


High oil prices are much more than just a drain on drivers' pocketbooks or a sign of tough economic times ahead; they could also prove to be a leading indicator of the unraveling of our global civilization.

That may sound unlikely, or melodramatic. But consider this: Now, almost everything we eat can be converted into automotive fuel. And once the price of oil surpassed $60 a barrel last year, the business of transforming wheat, corn, soybeans and sugarcane into fuel for cars instead of food for people became hugely profitable. As crops that have long sustained us are diverted to provide fuel, we may encounter the same fate that brought down great civilizations of the past.

Starving the People To Feed the Cars
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Old 09-10-06, 04:30 PM   #2
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this country drops its silly ethanol subsidies and it will die a very quick and abrupt death, check the historical spot prices of ethanol vs gasoline or diesel, its always higher---it has to be, it takes petroleum or hydrocarbons to make the stuff
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Old 09-10-06, 05:05 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by pedex
this country drops its silly ethanol subsidies and it will die a very quick and abrupt death, check the historical spot prices of ethanol vs gasoline or diesel, its always higher---it has to be, it takes petroleum or hydrocarbons to make the stuff
That's just part of the growing pains that are going to be present with any widely used, new fuel or mode of transport. As we progress, things will get easier and now new fuels will become cheaper to produce, i.e., a farm that runs on ethanol and bio-Diesel, et. al., to produce more fuel than it consumes.

If everybody jumped immediately to bicycles for transport the problems would be astronomical.

Right now we're still in the experimental stage with all this stuff. Concrete conclusions won't be seen for years, but will never be realized if we don't start now.

Remember the headaches caused by unleaded gasoline in the '70's? Available everywhere now, it, or a blend of it, is the only gas available.
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Old 09-10-06, 05:14 PM   #4
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wont matter, not with corn based ethanol, no amount of economy of scale will erase this problem, the EROI isnt anywhere near high enough, might get away with it short term, ie over 40-50years using sugar beets or cane but even then soil erosion and fossil fuel inputs for growing the stuff will do it in unless of course you somehow manage to use mostly human only labor and a closed cycle system

right now the commonly used number that seems to be accpepted is 1.37:1 for corn ethanol and thats using coal for distillation heat and diesel for harvesting and planting and transport plus natural gas inputs for fertilizer, in essence trading some perfectly good fuels and a bit of sunlight and soil to get another liquid fuel

but yes, the food versus fuel issue is a big problem no matter how you cut it, even with biodiesels with much higher EROI's, our biggest issue is scale, we just have way too many cars to feed and way too much wasteful use of fuel period---any of these solutions all still mean one thing, cut car usage by 60-70% or more if we plan on using liquid fuels all else being equal

Up until 2004 Brazil was making more ethanol than the US, not anymore, and we've been making this stuff for a long long time, it isnt an unkown at all, what nobody seems to want to try though is set up a test farm with a closed system and see how it does. Im guessing it wont be any better than it was back in the early 1900's, and those numbers are already well known as well. Back then good farmers using human power and animals for traction power were getting about 25% of their crop back to use for alcohol, that isnt much. Why use this as a comparison, because it shows what happens when the fossil fuels arent available.

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Old 09-10-06, 05:52 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Slow Train
More on the ethanol debate ...
What they will attempt is to try and grow corn optimized for fuel production and then convince us that we like to eat it. All the while the variety of corn available on this planet will shrink.
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Old 09-10-06, 06:11 PM   #6
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Consumer Reports has a story in the Oct. '06 issue called "The Ethanol Myth." This report focuses on the flexible-fuel vehicles (FFVs) that the auto companies are pushing. Here are some points, some pro, most con, from the article:
"E85...emits less smog-causing pollutants than gasoline, but provides fewer miles per gallon, costs more, and is hard to find outside the Midwest."

"Government support for FFVs...is indirectly causing more gasoline consumption rather than less."

"The FFV surge is being motivated by generous fuel-economy credits that auto makers get for every FFV they build, even if never runs on E85." (This is related to the CAFE standards.)

"FFV engines are designed to run more efficiently on gasoline."

"Most recent studies have shown a positive energy balance for ethanol--between 23 and 40 percent."

Regarding greenhouse gas emissions: Some studies show an "8 to 15 percent reduction per mile for ethanol. Another study shows that "equivalent CO2 emissions from corn ethanol are 50 percent higher than those from gasoline."

"Even with the most optimistic estimates, ethanol on its own will never be able to provide Americans with energy independence."
Of course, Bush is touting ethanol in many recent speeches. More big lies on behalf of his buddies in the energy industry!
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Old 09-10-06, 06:20 PM   #7
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Just like his pushing of hydrogen fuel.....
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Old 09-10-06, 06:54 PM   #8
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Ethanol actually will work, just needs to be done down south like Louisiana or Alabama or Mississipi, has to be warm enough and get enough rainfall and grow cane, I believe they already do this in some places. I think sugar beets will grow in the US too. So will rapeseed I think(for biodiesel). Still, no matter what you pick, its gonna take arable land away from food production, which we do have some extra capacity, but nothing like whats needed to use as fuel to run cars.

Other countries are already facing these issues, and this will probably end up what happens for awhile, poor third world nations will sacrifice and work like dogs and kill their land and then export the stuff to us. The Palm oil industry is already going nuts because of it. Some places are doing massive slash and burn operations to make feedstock for fuels, people really will starve to make somebody some $$.

Whats really gonna be noticeable is when the US grain exports come to an abrupt halt as we ramp up ethanol production and farmers get sucked into doing monoculture, these ethanol subsidies are quite dangerous methinks.
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Old 09-10-06, 08:12 PM   #9
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Read this opinion about our food supply and delicate the balance
really is to see just how stupid converting corn to fuel really is.

Something to think about when you drive that car...........

http://www.huttoncommentaries.com/su...odSecurity.htm

It's long but worth the time.
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Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?
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Old 09-10-06, 08:42 PM   #10
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seems like ive seen the current supply reserve somewhere lately, IIRC the world had about 47 days of grain on hand, way down from normal levels----the world keeps moving more and more towards "just in time" delivery and cutting storage of everything down

typical grocery store only stocks about 3 days worth under normal conditions, dunno about the local warehouses, cant be very much, ive been to a few of them

I try to keep about 3 months of non perishable stuff around all the times plus my "emergency bag" which is a backpack with everything I need if I have to leave suddenly for some reason. Plus I stocked up lots of things which all of sudden doubled and tripled in price in the last 2 years like razors for example. I doubt many people would handle a power outage for a long time or any other sort of big change in normalcy, but it can happen quite easily. Even away from hurricanes and quakes, you just never know, stuff happens. Its cheap insurance.

For a superpower we really arent prepared for any real emergency, Katrina made that abundantly clear.
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