May 19

Fighting about Ethanol

I live in a very walkable town, and Tony and I like to walk to Starbucks, the mini mart, and restaurants in the area. Well, we were walking back to our place when these people had set up a booth right in front of our pathway with all sorts of signs about lowering the price of gas and how ethanol is causing the food shortage. They approached us and asked us what we thought about ethanol and whatnot.

I, obviously, disagree with this. From everything I have read that’s not oil-friendly propaganda, it’s not ethanol that’s really the problem, it’s a broken food distribution system, the fact that GM plants are creating havoc with native species of food crops while producing lower yields than the natural varieties, and the price of oil and meat consumption that’s really the issue.

I brought up the meat consumption first, and she was really surprised that I said that, which frankly, blows my mind. How can you be so passionate about food scarcity and not realize that meat puts such a strain on the food chain? For example, according to the USDA, to get two and a half pounds of chicken on your dinner plate, it takes over seven and a half pounds of grain, and that is the most efficient ratio. To get two and a half pounds of pork, it takes 19 pounds of grain. It’s simple math, really. If that grain was available to us to eat, then there would be more food for everyone.

I’ve never really cared about whether or not people eat meat (other than myself) but if you do eat a lot of it, realize that you are contributing to the food shortage. There is not enough grain in the world for every person to eat meat every day. But some people would rather blame a new fuel source than look to their own habit.

Do I think ethanol is the end all be all of oil replacements? No. I really think that we will need multiple energy sources to replace the influence of fossil fuels. We need geothermal heating and solar and wind power to replace heating oil and energy in homes, and we will need combinations of ethanol and electric cars to replace gas. There isn’t going to be one savior that’s going to pull us out of this thing, and demonizing one component of the solution not only doesn’t help, it sets us back.

Tony brought up a great point: you are lamenting the energy crisis, but against a solution? That just doesn’t make sense.

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