By David L. Brown
The Lords of Ethanol just won’t give up, and yet I guess I can understand it because they have collectively invested hundreds of millions and perhaps more even billions in this dead end scam.
I got another news release yesterday from the Renewable Fuels Association, the outfit created to publicize and hype the ethanol craze. It was full of braggadocio about how the RFA had defended ethanol to the meeting of the G8. Hmm, must have worked, since I didn’t see any move during that meeting toward a freeze on the evil practice of turning food into fuel, nor did I see anything about the World Bank study that blames 75 percent of food price increases on biofuels, as we reported here recently.
What the Lords of Ethanol don’t realize is that they have entered a mine field of resentment and disgust from which they would be wise to retreat sooner rather than later. It is appearances that count, and what they are doing looks horrible. For example, here is an editorial cartoon by Michael Ramirez as it appeared on the cover of the current issue of The Quill, the magazine of the Society of Professional Journalists:
It is the real world images similar to this that will soon be turning the eyes of humanity on their sins. When the press begins to see this issue as being a crime against humanity, as this cartoon suggests they are, there will be growing pressure to stop the ethanol scam in is tracks.
The RFA is now taking the tack that using corn and other food crops is only a temporary step toward the use of cellulosic processes that use switchgrass, sawdust, and other non-food plant material. To that I say, Bull Muffins! These ethanol plants that have been built or are under construction are made to process corn into alcohol, pure and simple, and chances are slim to none that they can be easily converted to some entirely different process. That just isn’t their plan, and to argue otherwise is hypocrisy at its worst.
This argument is the same one used for decades by the builders of coal fired power plants, telling us the dirty plants will only tide us over until we have clean, efficient fusion power. And we will have fusion power when exactly? Apparently the odds are that the answer is “never”.
Cellulosic alcohol production may be a reality some day, but for now it is a technology that does not exist, and which any way has many inconvenient difficulties including the energy budget required to grow, harvest, transport and brew the cellulose. Any process that uses a lot of conventional energy to produce fake fuel (as the present ethanol processes do) is not a solution, but merely another problem. Ethanol is a money-making scam and political pork aimed at buying the votes of farmers, full stop.
So what can we individually do about this? Well, for one thing, stop patronizing any fuel station that spikes its gas with ethanol. In my case, that is going to be an inconvenience because the other day when I stopped for a fill-up at the nearby Shell station I noticed with horror that the pumps now feature placards stating that all their gasoline grades contain ethanol.
I will not be a customer at that station again, which will unfortunately require me to drive several miles further to find a station that sells real gasoline, not fake fuel made from food on which the hungry residents of the Third World depend. But, it’s the least that I can do. Here is a little ditty to remind you what to do:
Cry it out and spread the word, That ethanol’s a dirty word. Shun the pumps that hold the stuff, And tell the world, Stop! Enough! Let the farmer have his pride, Keep his crops on the righteous side. Say to the Lords of Ethanol, In words of flaming vitriol, To Hell with you and all your sins, Get your hands off our grain bins.
And in closing I will repeat once more my mantra on this subject:
The mythic teacher Jesus is said to have turned water into wine, but only a living Satan would turn wine into water or food into fuel.