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The growing, transportation and processing of corn into ethanol is a net negative in energy output. Insane any way you look at it. Brazil makes ethanol from sugar cane and is almost independent in it's energy production. The US could do the same turning sawgrass into methanol. But will we? Of course not; corn ethanol is a way to placate the environmentalists without reducing the profits of the oil companies.

Doesn’t Cuba raise a lot of sugar cane? Also I understand we will not buy ethanol from South American countries like Brazil. Is corn the only thing we can raise in America that will run our cars.

There has got to be a way to make water or compressed air run those autos. I wish those folks in those UFO’s would land long enough and give us some hints on how that can be done. I suspect they know that would be tampering with our evolution of consciousness.

In a capitalist system with the focus on profits the emphasis must be on profits not what is good for the citizens or the environment. I.e. farmer’s corn and oil profits.

Interesting statistic I just heard on TV the price of oil for American’s has gone up over 300% since 2001 but for the Europeans folks it has only gone up 92%. Why is this? The devalued dollar means it takes many more dollars to buy a barrel of oil. They did not explain how they arrived at that figure.

Yes their gas is much higher than ours but those higher prices pay for many social benefits like health care and childcare. And I suspect those higher prices cause most people in Europe to buy smaller cars with better mileage. When I was in Rome a couple of years ago it appeared to me most people rode on scooters.

FYI, here's a good article on food shortages and their possible connection to ethanol production.

I wonder why they don't use Kudzu as a biofuel?

Kudzu is too invasive - it devastates the natural environment. But I agree that ethanol is definitely not the answer. Hydrogen might be. Why not use solar energy to create electricity in the deserts (as Portugal is doing), then use that to electrolyse seawater into oxygen and hydrogen? Of course, that means converting cars to run on hydrogen...

There are environmental consequences to every alternative fuel.

Solar energy takes up alot of land, the output is variable, you can't run a base load off of it. Hydrogen cars exhaust water vapor. Sounds benign until you consider that water vapor is a greater greenhouse gas than CO2- if it stays in the atmosphere, if not it falls as rain. Increased rainfall would certainly alter our ecosystems.

Biofuels shows what happens when you rush into an alternative without considering the possible downsides.

Personally, I think the best solution is to diversify and use a little bit of each type of energy in your infrastructure, including some fossil fuels and nuclear, but not to be so dependant on any single source that you are strangled if the cost of one skyrockets, as we are now with oil.

Not only is it not an efficient answer to fossil fuels, I think grain or grass for fuel simply feeds into the same greed that has kept a portion of the human population hungry or energy poor for centuries, at the same time it's created our ecological crisis and encouraged overpopulation.

Greed and energy solutions don't go together. Greed is a sickness that is antisocial at best and murderous at worst.

Well Barbara and Tony S, surely neither of you can object to the Air Car?

I'd heard of that, Ross. Interesting option. I'm also interested in the Aptera:

Unfortunately, I don't think any energy option or energy saving device is going to save us from the core of the problem

I'm reading a fascinating book on the subject of energy, about ten years old but still relevant: The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight by Thom Hartmann. I recommend it to EVERYONE. It illustrates very well how the problem of using more energy than we have is not new, but as old as the human race itself, and a result of our perpetual tendency to think short term rather than long term about how what we do affects our world and our own future. What is new is that ancient sources of stored up energy -- coal and oil -- have only been available to us for a relatively short time. Coal since around 1100 and oil since the mid-1800s. Up until then we (all humans) were busy stripping forests for wood, also a big mistake, and one we're still continuing at an alarming rate. We're very near the end of all those resources, and we still haven't learned, and we're letting the most greedy, short-sighted people on earth direct the completion of our mass suicide. Depressing, I know, but unfortunately true.

The biggest problems are overpopulation and the resulting forest and soil depletion, as well as a vast reduction in biodiversity. We're nearing 7 billion people on a planet that was probably capable of supporting 1 billion at most in a truly renewable manner (rather than what the author calls "pseudo-green"), long term. If we don't control our population growth and energy use, Mother Nature will do it for us -- and it won't be pretty.

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