Obama's links to Ethanol Interests - Good or Bad?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Cleverboy, Jun 23, 2008.

?

Do Obama's links to Ethanol interests suggest undue influence?

  1. Yes

    11 vote(s)
    61.1%
  2. No

    3 vote(s)
    16.7%
  3. Not Necessarily

    4 vote(s)
    22.2%
  1. macrumors 65816

    Cleverboy

    Joined:
    May 25, 2007
    Location:
    Pocket Universe, nth Dimensional Complex Manifold
    #1
    New York Times just did a story linking the Obama
    campaign to Ethanol interests.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/23/us/politics/23ethanol.html
    While favoring the many different kinds of ethanol, Obama has opposed lowering the tarriffs on cheap Brazillian ethanol from sugar, saying that switching out foreign oil for foreign ethanol, isn't exactly the best route to energy independence for America.

    While I think the use of corn-based ethanol is a LOSING proposition for a number of reasons, I think the main issue is its intersection with the food supply. There is a lot of promising research with other ethanol sources that I think need to be adequately cultivated and explored.

    On the otherhand, McCain's "free trader" advocacy does sound compelling from time to time. It's just that we've seen what lower foreign wages have done to the textile industry, so I think there's some argument to be made for protecting our nations interest... at least while we're getting things back on the track we should have been on.

    I think Obama has an "exposed" flank when it comes to the windfall profits being made by corn farmers these days. It doesn't seem like he's in too much of a rush to criticize the excessive corn ethanol usage we have. I can only assume he will push to build out our infrastructure on alternative ethanol sources when he becomes president.

    At least I hope...

    ~ CB
     
  2. Ugg
    macrumors 68000

    Ugg

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2003
    Location:
    Penryn
    #2
    Anyone who takes on the corn lobby has to have balls of steel.
     
  3. Moderator emeritus

    WinterMute

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2003
    Location:
    London, England
    #3
    The current obsession with bio-fuels appears to be driving the price staple foodstuffs up right across the world, it's a knee-jerk response to the Gore global warming scam, and when those chickens come home to roost Obama had better be able to account for his interests.

    A gallon of ethanol takes more energy to produce than a gallon of petrol it seems, go take a look at Jerry Pournell's site, Chaos Manor for a more informed debate.
     
  4. macrumors G3

    clevin

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2006
    #4
    nobody is saint, just a problem about who is less "bad", or relatively more "good".
     
  5. thread starter macrumors 65816

    Cleverboy

    Joined:
    May 25, 2007
    Location:
    Pocket Universe, nth Dimensional Complex Manifold
    #5
    Agreed.
    I don't like broad generalisations if they omit the necessary "asterisks". I'd imagine this is true for corn, but is the same true for sugar, switchgrass and cellulosic ethanol? It's becoming abundantly clear that not all ethanols are created equal, and I'd hate to listen to any wouldbe pundit that doesn't acknowledge the context of their personal preference on America's fuel direction.

    ~ CB
     
  6. Moderator emeritus

    WinterMute

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2003
    Location:
    London, England
    #6
    Is it really a good way to choose a president, the one who can most successfully defend their dodgy dealings gets to sit in the White House?

    More likely: "sure he's a bastard, but he's our bastard"

    Yeah, better brains than mine are divided on this issue, Pournelle is one of the better brains who I trust, he's been flagging up the problems of ethanol production for some time, and is very concerned about the economic impact of fuel from food.

    It's still cheaper to produce petrol, the economy is set up for it, the raw materials are still reasonable plentiful and CO2 doesn't produce global warming...!

    Watch where the money goes, whose benefitting from the billions being pumped into alternative fuels now? It isn't the third world or the poor thats for certain.
     
  7. macrumors G3

    clevin

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2006
    #7
    :) it might not be the best (which doesn't exist...), but it seems to be the reality.....
     
  8. thread starter macrumors 65816

    Cleverboy

    Joined:
    May 25, 2007
    Location:
    Pocket Universe, nth Dimensional Complex Manifold
    #8
    Yeah... I'd just like to always be clear... when comparing the cost/benefits of one fuel over the other, EXACTLY what fuel is being referred to. My strong feeing is that he's talking about "corn ethanol". It would be very useful to know if he was referring to an average of ALL of the various types. He could have started off condemning the obvious problems with corn ethanol, and he could be continuing to criticise it... but he might not be referring to other ethanol sources that are NOT linked to the food supply. The thing is... our infrastructure can be migrated to more efficient fuel crops. With fossils, we really don't have the option to change a mine or a well into a better form of the same renewable fuel. So, these distinctions are HUGELY important to anyone making criticisms on ethanol energy economy. Much more so than just "following the money".

    Logic and accurate data is the stuff of good decisions and sound judgment. Inference quickly just becomes fear mongering, when paired with a pre-existing and deeply rooted bias against something. --And I say that not being any "friend" of corn-based ethanol.

    ~ CB
     
  9. Moderator emeritus

    WinterMute

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2003
    Location:
    London, England
    #9
    Since when have logic and accurate data got in the way of money and big business? Gore's gagging of informed debate on global warming has nothing to do with good science and data and everything to do with bolstering his economic power.

    However (big breath) I think proper research into alternative energy sources is not just important, it's essential, as you say we can alter the world's economic structure, but I expect the change to be bloody and very expensive. This research needs to be conducted by informed and independent people, but it will never be, too many interests are in charge of the funding.

    This is an discussion that will go on long into this century... My vote is nuclear, but thats only because I always wanted an nuclear car....!
     
  10. macrumors 68030

    Iscariot

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2007
    Location:
    Toronteazy
    #10
    What makes you think it's a scam, much less one spearheaded by Al Gore? Even if global warming is an elaborate hoax, oil is still not a renewable resource and we will still face exactly the same kind of shortages.

    The difference is that ethanol is produced, whereas petrol is refined. I really don't understand why anyone thought biofuels was some kind of genius idea. Why don't we all go back to heating our homes with wood-burning stoves?
     
  11. Ugg
    macrumors 68000

    Ugg

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2003
    Location:
    Penryn
    #11
    Your statement outlines one of the major issues that is affecting the discussion on future energy sources.

    It seems to me that everyone is looking for a single source for all our energy. Whether hydrogen, solar, wind, biofuels, etc. That's a very simplistic approach to take.

    Grist recently put up a map showing that the vast majority of the best wind and solar sources are west of the Mississippi River. It makes little sense to force Maine into using solar if they spend more money shoveling the snow off the solar panels than they generate in electricity. However, since the bulk of manufacturing is in the Great Lakes Region, it makes sense for policies there to look at energy capture from factories.

    By the same token, in the midwest and parts of the southeast, it makes perfect sense to use ethanol because of all the biomass generated.

    We need to get away from binary approaches and start looking at things from a local or a regional viewpoint.

    I live in California's central valley. With water being increasingly scarce it makes no sense to grow corn for ethanol, hydropower is maxed out, there's virtually no manufacturing here, what there is is lots and lots of sun.

    What makes sense for you in York County would make no sense for us here in Butte County.

    Local solutions for local problems.
     
  12. macrumors 68030

    .Andy

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2004
    Location:
    The Mergui Archipelago
    #12
    There' still people like this around?


    (edit: just to clarify this is not directed at Wintermule)
     
  13. macrumors 68020

    revenuee

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2003
    Location:
    A place where i am supreme emporer
    #13
    Ethanol is Junk

    LOL ... alright, perhaps a slightly rash statement -- BUT there are a lot of concerns with it, the food supply is obvious. How much land will be needed to satisfy our energy needs. In the case of corn; will the corn used for eating be modified to be a more potent fuel - this will further affect food supplies. (from an investment perspective i see some interesting arbitrage opportunities in creating swaps).

    we are entering an interesting era of alternative fuel sources --- from my research there should be much more work being done on micro algae -- essentially pond scum who's bi-product is a very high protein substance that can be further used for feed.

    please read -- i was very excited about this

    http://oakhavenpc.org/cultivating_algae.htm

    AND when I saw this i nearly fell off my chair because all the blood rushed out of my brain to power my erection, figuratively speaking offcourse.

    my friends the future of energy - salt water

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGg0ATfoBgo
     
  14. macrumors 68030

    .Andy

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2004
    Location:
    The Mergui Archipelago
    #14
  15. macrumors 68020

    revenuee

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2003
    Location:
    A place where i am supreme emporer
    #15
    well the obvious part is the energy required to actually create the radio frequency ... LOL
     
  16. macrumors 603

    solvs

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2002
    Location:
    LaLaLand, CA
    #16
    I think you have that backwards. Gore, and others (it's not just him), have been talking about studying GCC for years now. Long before it became "fashionable". Most of the minority that don't believe humanity is making things worse are usually the ones who are politically or financially motivated. Most scientist and GCC supporters aren't exactly rolling in dough. And almost no one thinks that GCC isn't happening at all. The debate is over how much humans are causing and/or making things worse. Gore is actually on the lower end of the spectrum, there are some in the scientific community who believe it is far worse. An overwhelming majority can provide proof that it is happening, and how we are affecting things negatively. Let alone the obvious reasoning that if you pump that much waste into the air and water, there are bound to be negative consequences. The only "conspiracy" is that some are taking the debate over how much damage we are doing and turning that into a debate over whether it's happening at our hands, or even at all. It is happening. There's no doubt about that. And besides, even if they're wrong, the worst that happens is that we work on better, cleaner technologies, vs. if they're right and we don't listen and we're screwed. More here:

    How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic

    Anyway, they needed to study things like ethanol better, but instead they jumped into it, are declaring it a dud, and prices will continue to rise anyway, especially with so many economies hurting and the price of oil skyrocketing, even with inflation. We need to do something. But for now, this isn't it. I'm hoping Obama does something better with this if given the chance.
     
  17. macrumors 68030

    Iscariot

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2007
    Location:
    Toronteazy
    #17
    I certainly agree with "local solutions for local problems", but I don't think ethanol makes sense anywhere. Producing ethanol (or rather, producing biomass specifically for the production of ethanol) requires large quantities of water and some level of access to sunlight. By introducing another step into the process we are reducing the efficiency of energy production.
     
  18. macrumors 68030

    .Andy

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2004
    Location:
    The Mergui Archipelago
    #18
    Which is exactly the same argument for why (from a sustainable resource sense) we should all strive for a vegetarian diet. Meat is another step in the process and a wasteful use of resources. I wonder if most people against ethanol extend the same logic to their diets?
     
  19. macrumors G3

    NT1440

    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Hartford, CT
    #19
    I personally dislike places like FOX news declaring ethanol a bad source of energy. Ethanol from corn ? bad idea, but its like they refuse to let anyone know that there are many ways to make ethanol. What really needs to be done is more research into ethanol instead of our politicians forcing an unready product to market in the name of making it look like something is getting done.
     
  20. macrumors 68040

    mactastic

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2003
    Location:
    Colly-fornia
    #20
    Algae diesel baby! If we're gonna grow our way out of this fuel problem, this is a very promising candidate.
     
  21. macrumors 68030

    Iscariot

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2007
    Location:
    Toronteazy
    #21
    Well, at the very least, I do. In fact, that is the primary reason I have been a vegetarian my entire adult life.
     
  22. macrumors 603

    solvs

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2002
    Location:
    LaLaLand, CA
  23. macrumors 68000

    hulugu

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2003
    Location:
    the faraway towns
    #23
    In 2004, there were numerous reports that the Pentagon had commissioned a study on the possible effects of climate change and future warfare.

    Linky.
     
  24. macrumors 68000

    hulugu

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2003
    Location:
    the faraway towns
    #24
    I absolutely agree. In the southwest (especially in Tucson where it feels like every photon from the sun is falling on your rapidly toasting noggin) solar seems like an nearly ideal energy source. Backed up by nuclear, I think most regions can use some form of renewable energy. Moving cars to electric platforms (hybrids, plug-in hybrids, etc.) will help as well.

    For Wintermute, I'll politely disagree with you about whether or not climate change is a 'scam' but at the very least I think of moving away from an energy policy based on petroleum/coal is a Pascal's Wager. Someone in the PRSI forum reminded me of this term and I think it's apt.
    If we assume that climate change is real, then by acting we have several advantageous scenarios:

    1. Climate change is real and by reacting in time, we halt it. The global climate changes, of course, but less rapidly and we give ourselves and other species time to evolve.

    Or:

    2. The science is wrong, but by acting, we end up with cleaner skies and an economy based on new technology with new jobs and manufacturing.

    Either way, we win. The key is to act without cratering the economy and as I noted in the "Gore burns ants for fun" thread, I tend to think we can invent our way out of this. I may be naive, but acting is a lot more interesting than continuing to do the same thing.
     
  25. macrumors 68020

    Beric

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2008
    Location:
    Bay Area
    #25
    Would have known it.

    Ethanol: one of the huge numbers of failures perpetrated by the government due to the lack of being able to do a simple cost-benefit analysis. The CFC ban would be another such failure, and the DDT ban a third. All of these things have good intentions, but the benefits are minimal and the costs are huge. If the government would put its research into more cost-benefit analyses, we would see why ethanol is such a failure.

    My family consumes more than a gallon and a half of milk A DAY. Because of ethanol, the milk prices (milk cows need corn) have skyrocketed. We now spend almost $1000 more on milk per year than we used to.

    And most studies seem to say it takes almost as much or even MORE than a gallon of gasoline to produce a gallon of ethanol. And that's not even factoring ethanol's lower MPG effectiveness than gasoline.
     

Share This Page