Ethanol – No Answer To Global Warming (Official)

Regular readers of Sparrow Chat will be aware of my objections to ethanol as a substitute for oil-based gasoline. I’ve expressed concern on numerous occasions that ethanol is not a suitably “green” alternative, merely a convenient way for high profits to be made and a means of by-passing the importation of crude oil.[1]

George W Bush recently described plant-ethanol production to replace gasoline as a “win-win” situation; a ‘green” fuel for vehicles with little engine modification required (just what the motor manufacturers ordered), huge profits for the producers and processors (the farmers who grow it, and the multi-national companies that process it) and the carbon-based gases emitted from the engines that use it are only what the plants who made it absorbed in the first place.

So what, you may ask, is the problem?

Sustainability is the problem. As a species we use so much of the stuff there’s insufficient room to grow food for ourselves and our vehicles. Even if, as politicians have promised (ha!) ethanol can be produced from grasses rather than corn or palm oil, the demand for these high profit crops will ensure vast areas of rainforest are stripped to grow the stuff.

It’s happening already. In Indonesia, huge swathes of rainforest are being cleared to produce palm oil. In Tanzania, the UK-based Sun Biofuel Plc[2] are having over 11,000 villagers evicted for jatropha biodiesel.[3]

Today, the European Union has finally admitted they were wrong to push ethanol as a viable alternative to gasoline.

A BBC report[4] states:

“Europe’s environment chief has admitted that the EU did not foresee the problems raised by its policy to get 10% of Europe’s road fuels from plants.

Recent reports have warned of rising food prices and rainforest destruction from increased biofuel production.

The EU has promised new guidelines to ensure that its target is not damaging.

EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said it would be better to miss the target than achieve it by harming the poor or damaging the environment.” [my bold]

EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas told the BBC:

“We have seen that the environmental problems caused by biofuels and also the social problems are bigger than we thought they were. So we have to move very carefully…….we have to have criteria for sustainability, including social and environmental issues, because there are some benefits from biofuels.” [my bold]

Quite how the whole of the European Commission failed to notice that the environmental and social problems associated with biofuel production were “…..bigger than we thought they were…..” is difficult to fathom, given the amount of scientific evidence available to confirm them.

If Sparrow Chat was able to make such an assessment nearly a year ago, it seems inconceivable ‘expert’ politicians weren’t aware of it.

Of course, the truth is they were well aware, but pressure from the corporate masters and a greed for profit caused political blindness, until the situation became so desperate they could no longer justify ignoring it.

In the United States, no such admission has been forthcoming.

Here, corporate pressure on government, and a president ignorant of all but his own ego, will likely prevent any action to stop this systematic rape of the planet and its inhabitants (a crime likely to prove equal to, if not eventually dwarf, that perpetrated in Sudan over the last five years) making it unlikely the disastrous expansion of agro-fuel production will be curtailed during the office of George W Bush.

While the EU is to be cautiously applauded for finally submitting to humanity and common sense over this issue, so long as governments are bought and paid for by our Corporate Monarchs, the slogan, “Profit Before Planet” will continue to resound throughout the corridors or power.

[1] – Sparrow Chat May 3rd, 2007

[2] – Sun Biofuels plc (Tanzania)

[3] –

[4] – BBC News ‘EU Rethinks Biofuels Guidelines’

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3 Replies to “Ethanol – No Answer To Global Warming (Official)”

  1. It is so clear, RJA, we just don’t want to make changes to our MacLiving. Though with the seismic collapse of the current economy there wont’t be funds in anyone’s pocket to cover a bicycle. I’ve seen vast swathes of land converted to corn for the future ethanol ‘miracle’. We are all barking mad and prove it with the simple-minded puppets we elect into the highest offices.

  2. Flimsy – as I understand it, the problem with separating hydrogen and oxygen from water, apart from the obsession of big oil with buying up every patent, has always been the amount of energy required to do so. Invariably, it takes more than that produced by the two gases. As yet, Kanzius has not, it seems, worked out how much energy (in this case in the form of radio waves) it would take to make the process work. No doubt Big Oil with buy it and bury it anyway.

    WWW – India has just unveiled its latest car, costing $2,200 to buy! It’s expected to flood the Indian market with millions being sold throughout the sub-continent. Needless to say, its an environmental monstrosity. Had the US car industry an ounce of savvy they could by now be leading the world in quality ‘green’ vehicles. Instead, they continued churning out the same old gas-guzzling, five, six, and eight liter dinosaurs that no-one wants anymore, and wondered why the Japanese and Europeans are stealing their markets. Due to upper management negligence, no-one in Detroit works in the car industry anymore. (But they still vote for Romney, who made a fortune as consultant to those same upper managers!)

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