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  1. #1
    Eruption
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    Default Ethanol Causing a Food Shortage

    Ethanol is a renewable, homegrown fuel that can help lower U.S. dependence on foreign oil. But as more and more ethanol is made from corn, less and less corn is available for food production, and thatīs causing some unforeseen problems.

    Corn is a mainstay of American agriculture- itīs an important ingredient in cereals and baked goods, and corn syrup is used to make processed foods like candy, chips and soft drinks. But most importantly, corn is the major source of food for cattle, pigs, turkeys and chickens that are headed for the dinner table.

    A recent study conducted by the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University (which receives funding from grocery manufacturers and livestock producers) reported that U.S. ethanol production could consume more than half of U.S. corn, wheat and coarse grains by 2012, driving up food prices and causing shortages. The study estimates that booming ethanol production has already raised U.S. food prices by $47 per person annually. In Mexico, protests have already erupted over the high price of corn tortillas, a staple food in the local diet.

    Planting more corn is one solution, but that means planting less of other crops that are also widely used in foods, such as soybeans and wheat. Tilling fallow land could create more growing space for corn, but might lead to soil erosion and impacts on wildlife habitats.

    According to a December 2006 study by the International Food Policy Research Institute, producing enough ethanol to fuel all of the worldīs vehicles would require five times more corn than is planted today and 15 times as much sugar cane.

    A more promising solution is to make ethanol from cellulose instead of starches and sugars-using plants such as switchgrass and organic waste instead of corn and sugarcane. This would also reduce greenhouse gas emissions much more effectively than making ethanol from corn.

    Growing switchgrass in large quantities would probably require taking some other crops out of production, which would create challenges for farmers. The more attractive alternative is to make ethanol from waste materials such as leftovers from logging and paper mills. However, cellulosic ethanol is not expected to become economically competitive with corn-based ethanol until scientists can develop enzymes that are more efficient at breaking down woody plants. The federal government is funding research aimed at making cellulosic ethanol commercially viable, but many technical issues still need to be worked out.

    For now, whether corn is used to make food or fuel depends on economic factors such as the fluctuating price of oil. When oil prices are high, demand for ethanol goes up. That helps keep your costs down at the pump, but you may pay more for steak and corn chips.

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  2. #2
    Atomic Punk WinterlessIceness's Avatar
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    Buy ethanol from Russia?


    Anyway once there's a technology to clone food, or anything else, there wont be such issue as food shortage. I hope I live to the day when it happens.

  3. #3
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    It takes 1.29 gallons of gas to make 1 gallon of Ethanol. That's like trying to get rich by spending $1.29 to make $1.
    "Viking - last to sleep, first to rise, last to leave, that's how the Nords of old rocked the house." ~ timmac in the 'Texas Linkers' thread talking about yours truly. :-)

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    Good Enough pal1800's Avatar
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    It's complicated and there are negative reactions for every action taken in hopes of becoming energy independent. But, if we hang in there and keep trying, I'm confident we can come to a reasonable solution. Of course the real problem is the out of control population. How do we begin to addresss such a subject? POPULATION CONTROL!! We are going to have to confront it eventually.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viking View Post
    It takes 1.29 gallons of gas to make 1 gallon of Ethanol. That's like trying to get rich by spending $1.29 to make $1.
    I don't expect our government to really get behind ethanol until the ratio is 3.0 gallons gasoline to one gallon ethanol. Then it'll truely be wasteful enough for federal support.
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  6. #6
    Hang 'Em High janthraxx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VanHalenRocks View Post

    Corn is a mainstay of American agriculture- itīs an important ingredient in cereals and baked goods, and corn syrup is used to make processed foods like candy, chips and soft drinks. But most importantly, corn is the major source of food for cattle, pigs, turkeys and chickens that are headed for the dinner table.
    I like how there's not a peep about the excessive wastefulness of using animals for food, which is FAR more wasteful than ethanol--it takes up to 16 pounds of grain and a gallon of oil to make one pound of meat.

    A recent study conducted by the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University (which receives funding from grocery manufacturers and livestock producers) reported that U.S. ethanol production could consume more than half of U.S. corn, wheat and coarse grains by 2012, driving up food prices and causing shortages.
    Surprise, surprise!
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  7. #7
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    Default Other alternatives to ethanol

    I've heard a lot of positives about algae use. And it tends to reproduce quickly.

    http://venturebeat.com/2007/01/24/th...ve-fuel-algae/

    I don't know if it's relevant or not, but I don't think they should just concentrate on ethanol.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by pal1800 View Post
    It's complicated and there are negative reactions for every action taken in hopes of becoming energy independent. But, if we hang in there and keep trying, I'm confident we can come to a reasonable solution. Of course the real problem is the out of control population. How do we begin to addresss such a subject? POPULATION CONTROL!! We are going to have to confront it eventually.
    With gasoline prices rising on a weekly basis, we need to begin seriously looking at alternative fuels. Hydrogen seems to be the most logical solution to end our dependence on foreign oil. Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe and can be produced from readily available sources such as methane and water. The problem lies in developing a feasible hydrogen production method.

    Hydrogen is simply an energy carrier, like electricity, and they both require energy to produce - which in most traditional methods requires the burning of fossil fuels. This defeats the purpose of creating a clean-burning fuel, and makes hydrogen fuel more costly to produce than gasoline.

    There are several "clean" methods that could be used to produce hydrogen fuel: solar and nuclear. My choice would be nuclear. Nuclear energy has the potential to efficiently produce large quantities of hydrogen without producing greenhouse gases. Right now the USA has over 100 nuclear power plants in the USA producing electricity. There is no reason we could not develop nuclear hydrogen plants in the same manner.

    A 1000-megawatt nuclear power plant costs around $2-billion to build. If we built 100 of them to produce hydrogen fuel with, the cost would be $200-billion. There are around 100,000 service stations in the USA. They would all need to be converted to sell hydrogen, which would cost around $200,000.00 per station (new tanks and pumps) - which would total $20-billion. Automakers are already producing hydrogen-powered vehicles, which would gradually replace the gas-burners on the road.

    So, for less than half of the cost of the Iraq war, we could say goodbye to Middle East oil, and hello to clean-burning, low-cost hydrogen fuel that would never run out.

    What are the chances of our politicians pursuing this? Go figure.
    Last edited by VanHalenRocks; 05.02.08 at 03:05 PM.

  9. #9
    Hang 'Em High janthraxx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VanHalenRocks View Post
    This would rid us of dependence on foreign oil, and also get rid of the pollution and greenhouse gases.
    Oh, you forgot about the nuclear waste pollution, which remains radioactive (read: deadly) for a couple hundred thousand years. Not to mention the mining, transportation, storage, potential for terrorist attack, massive water usage, etc.
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  10. #10
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    I guess I don't understand Hydrogen - I always figured it was an intangible gas like helium - would we just have an air nozzle on our car and literally pump the tank full of Hydrogen? Or does it come in a liquid form like gasoline (well, it makes up water - would we fill our tanks with water and somehow remove the Oxygen?). All I know, if I ever have a car that runs on Hydrgen, I'm staying the hell away from Lakehurst, New Jersey!

  11. #11
    Eruption
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    Quote Originally Posted by janthraxx View Post
    Oh, you forgot about the nuclear waste pollution, which remains radioactive (read: deadly) for a couple hundred thousand years. Not to mention the mining, transportation, storage, potential for terrorist attack, massive water usage, etc.
    It's already happening with the nuclear power plants around the world. Maybe they could just dig a 20-mile hole in the earth and bury it.

  12. #12
    Good Enough pal1800's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VanHalenRocks View Post
    With gasoline prices rising on a weekly basis, we need to begin seriously looking at alternative fuels. Hydrogen seems to be the most logical solution to end our dependence on foreign oil. Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe and can be produced from readily available sources such as methane and water. The problem lies in developing a feasible hydrogen production method.

    Hydrogen is simply an energy carrier, like electricity, and they both require energy to produce - which in most traditional methods requires the burning of fossil fuels. This defeats the purpose of creating a clean-burning fuel, and makes hydrogen fuel more costly to produce than gasoline.

    There are several "clean" methods that could be used to produce hydrogen fuel: solar and nuclear. My choice would be nuclear. Nuclear energy has the potential to efficiently produce large quantities of hydrogen without producing greenhouse gases. Right now the USA has over 100 nuclear power plants in the USA producing electricity. There is no reason we could not develop nuclear hydrogen plants in the same manner.

    A 1000-megawatt nuclear power plant costs around $2-billion to build. If we built 100 of them to produce hydrogen fuel with, the cost would be $200-billion. There are around 100,000 service stations in the USA. They would all need to be converted to sell hydrogen, which would cost around $200,000.00 per station (new tanks and pumps) - which would total $20-billion. Automakers are already producing hydrogen-powered vehicles, which would gradually replace the gas-burners on the road.

    So, for less than half of the cost of the Iraq war, we could say goodbye to Middle East oil, and hello to clean-burning, low-cost hydrogen fuel that would never run out.

    What are the chances of our politicians pursuing this? Go figure.
    We still have a lot of work to do before we are free from Middle East Oil, but I do believe we will eventually get there. It's just not going to be easy or quick and we had better be flexable. Petroleum is more a part of our lives than just the fuel we use for our cars and trucks. It's hard to find something you use everyday that doesn't rely on oil or is a by-product of oil. For the children, lets hope we figure it out sooner rather than later.

  13. #13
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    It may take a few tries before we get there. Kind of like going from vinyl records to 8-tracks to cassettes to CD's. Ethanol is probably the equivalent of the 8-track. What will be the CD? Hydrogen? Electric?


  14. #14
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    fuck corn! i eat it one week and it doesnt come out for two. and when it does, it seems to have regrouped into kernels. corn is evil.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sisca View Post
    fuck corn! i eat it one week and it doesnt come out for two. and when it does, it seems to have regrouped into kernels. corn is evil.

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