Opinions on Ethanol

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by stevento, Jul 4, 2008.

  1. stevento macrumors 6502

    stevento

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    #1
    I want to hear them.
    I think ethanol is great. It burns far cleaner than gas. When I buy a gallon of E85, I'm buying fuel that is 85% corn oil so that money, mostly, is not going in the pockets of Saudi royalty or Dick Cheney, it's going to Susie Q American Farmer. Let's say oil prices continues to rise and rise. Only 15% of E85 is made of oil so I'm not at the mercy of whimsical oil speculation. If corn prices stay flat, then E85 generally will as well. Increases in corn production will lower the price of E85.
     
  2. zioxide macrumors 603

    zioxide

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    #2
    It would be great if it was more widely available and more cars could use it.
     
  3. jmadlena Guest

    #3
    I think the idea of ethanol is a great one, mostly for the points you outlined. It's not gas, it is sustainable, and supports farmers. Awesome.

    But, with talks of a global food shortage on the horizon, it doesn't seem like a good idea to base a fuel, of which we would consume countless gallons (or ears, haha), on food.

    Also, what about people who don't even have food? Villages in Africa and South-Eastern Asia, as well as South American nations, are struggling to feed their citizens, but we have so much food that we are choosing to burn it?

    I know that last point is slightly ridiculous, but it makes you think. What could we be doing with the food that would be more worthwhile? And I'm not suggesting just giving all of the food that they need because 'charity' is such a destructive force when not used wisely.
     
  4. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6

    ucfgrad93

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  5. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

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    #5
    I like electric cars.

    Though the electric grid needs upgrades, the power plants scrubbers, and then there are those aging transformers that haven't been replaced until they catch fire along with the high demands on some lines already sagging the lines enough to short em out.

    It's not oil and we have resources in the US and Canada, if we don't use them China will be glad to buy the mines and ship the stuff overseas.
     
  6. Badandy macrumors 68040

    Badandy

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    #6
    It isn't.

    It isn't as efficient, mileage decreases per gallon.

    And by Suzie Q American Farmer, you mean agri-business that has more control over the government through lobbying than the oil industry.

    Speculation isn't bad. That's not why the price of gas is high. Many commodities are based on speculation. These "future speculators" can be airlines: They want to ensure a price, so they make a contract for buying a couple million gallons at an elevated price. This elevates the price, but then their price is ensured at that level. Speculation is not the problem, our dollar is.

    Corn is one of the least efficient ways for making ethanol. It's incredibly wasteful, takes more energy to produce than it yields, and causes global food prices to go up. Agri-business has done a "great" job in duping people like you into believing corn based ethanol is any kind of solution. I literally can't believe people like you fall for this crap.



    Can you be any less informed?
     
  7. Cleverboy macrumors 65816

    Cleverboy

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    #7
    Steve, good topic. You should check out this thread though:
    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=504751

    There's probably many more threads about it, but that was a recent one that contained a lot of interesting discussion of its good and bad points. My general attitude is that CORN ETHANOL is unbelievable BAD for the economy. When you cross FUEL supply with FOOD supply, you suddenly make food prices go up, and worse... corn ethanol is the WORST type of ethanol we would be making. It is woefully inefficient when compared to its counterparts, but the corn industry is extremely BIG and hard to stand against.

    Moreover, foreign interests aren't necessarily removed from the equation. First off, there isn't enough capacity for our corn farmers to make much of an impact on foreign oil. Moreover, McCain (free trader) opposes the current subsidies given to corn ethanol, and would like to see more energy efficient ethanol, like that made in South America from "sugar", to have more of a chance in the American market... but that's got a hard road.

    Personally, I agree with Obama's stance... which does smack of protectionism... that we should "fix" the sourcing of ethanol in our country before opening the floodgates. That causes a rather unflattering, yet accurate criticism, "Bad for the economy, bad for consumers, bad for the planet — what’s not to love?".

    Meanwhile, I'm hearing some stunningly good things regarding cellulosic ethanol (I believe its called). In general, I'm VERY fearful that somehow the U.S. will keep pushing "corn" ethanol, and subsidizing it in a way that breaks our economy... and that we'll play "stupid" about it until its far too late. Obama has been advocating a "mixed" approach to solving our fuel crisis, which I think has been the consensus... that there is NO silver-bullet... and that its a mistake to think there is.

    ~ CB
     
  8. Iscariot macrumors 68030

    Iscariot

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    #8
    Replacing a non-renewable resource with a renewable resource we are not using in a renewable way is not something that makes any kind of sense.
     
  9. adroit macrumors 6502

    adroit

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    #9
    Agreed

    Agriculture based bio-fuel is, by far, the most ill conceived, short sighted, and irresponsible thing that humanity has come up with in a long long time.

    The alge based sources are intriguing though.
     
  10. pooky macrumors 6502

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    #10
    Except that it takes a HUGE amount of oil to grow corn. Really huge. Both in terms of fossil fuels burned during production and (mostly) the massive amounts of fossil-fuel derived fertilizer needed. So most of your purchase dollars for ethanol ARE going to the Saudis and Dick Cheney, so to speak. Not only that, but your money is supporting the continued over-fertilization of the land, resulting in large plumes of nitrogen and phosphorus winding up in the Mississippi River, contributing to dead zones in the gulf.

    Finally, "Susie Q American Farmer" went out of business a long time ago, at which time she was replaced by Suisie Q Incorporated International Foods Conglomorate™, a wholly owned subsidiary of MegaCorp International, which has its fingers in, you guess it, the oil industry.

    I hate to be so cynical, I swear. And I'm not even mad at ethanol, really (some of my favorite memories were ethanol-induced). But the way we go about producing it in this country is quite simply the wrong way to do it. Driving 10 miles on E85 actually burns more fossil fuels and puts out more carbon than if you had driven those same 10 miles on diesel fuel, and that's exactly how the oil industry wants it to stay. Until we switch to an ethanol source not based on corn, stay away from E85.
     
  11. Warbrain macrumors 603

    Warbrain

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    #11
    I absolutely hate it. As others have said, the MPG for the fuel is lower than gasoline, making it not worth using unless the price of ethanol drops extremely low compared to the current price of gasoline but that's not likely to happen any time soon. As long as the prices are comparable it's not worth while to use.

    The algae sources for ethanol are intriguing as well as the usage of sugarcane remains as only so much of it can be used and it's utilizing waste. But as long as corn is the source in the U.S., it's not worth the time.

    We would be better off developing cars with better fuel economy than relying upon corn ethanol.
     
  12. Queso macrumors G4

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    #12
    Great idea if there were only 1 billion humans on the planet. Unfortunately the other 5 billion also have to eat, and taking food out of someone's mouth in order to run a luxury like personal transportation shouldn't really sit well on anybody's conscience.

    Rather then trying to replace fossil fuels with plant oils we should be trying to lower our usage of the stuff.
     
  13. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

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    #13
    It's one of those things that seemed a good idea at the time...

    I still think ethanol is a viable alternative to petroleum-based fuels, but only in limited applications, as a supplement to other fuel sources - we can't grow enough food to feed ourselves and burn it as ethanol fuel. Sustainability is the issue here.
     
  14. sushi Moderator emeritus

    sushi

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    #14
    Now this is a great idea.

    Ethanol is not.

    We need to focus on other fuel concepts. Also open up oil fields that are currently protected from drilling. Talk about shooting oneself in the foot.

    Ideally we would create something that uses our waste products to produce a fuel that we can burn.
     
  15. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #15
    Like Biodiesel created from waste vegetable matter or grease from restaurants.


    Lethal
     
  16. glocke12 macrumors 6502a

    glocke12

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    #16
    Bad, short sighted idea, more than likely pushed by food producers who thought they could turn a quicker, greater profit. When all this talk of using ethanol as fuel started, I predicted it would cause food prices to increase. I am simply amazed that people fell for this.

    Forget ethanol, forget oil, forget ANWAR and offshore drilling. Electric cars, and maybe hydrogen cells are what are needed to be developed.
     
  17. stevento thread starter macrumors 6502

    stevento

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    #17
    yeah but at least i'm supporting american workers. i cant stand the idea of putting more cash into Dick Cheney's pocket every time oil jumps. the main thing urking me about E85 is the food shortage and higher grocery prices.
    but at today's prices of oil and E85, you're still spending less because E85 is that much cheaper. let's say you drive a chevy impala that takes E85, you can see it still costs less by comparison. and that's at today's prices. if oil jumps over $150/barrel, heaven forbid, E85 prices wont jump as much as gas prices and it'll cost even less by comparison.
    and for me really its not about how much i'm spending, it's about poking OPEC and Dick Cheney in the eye. that might mean putting more cash into ConAgra's pocket, but at least ConAgra employs workers in the USA.

    If i can decrease the amount i spend then it is a solution, and it burns far cleaner, so i'm not melting the polar ice caps. i know it has lots of problems, but if i'm spending less then it is a some kind of solution. it has its downsides but its something.
    I don't think corn is going to take us all the way to energy independence but its a small step that I can take. save the insults for someone else please. for all we know that info you're getting is from Halliburton.
     
  18. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

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    #18
    Electric cars are little better than Ethanol in the long run because you still need to get the electricity from somewhere. Hybrids are good because they are more efficient (in theory) than non hybrids - but electric cars are not necessarily more efficient in terms of the actual amount of fossil fuel (burned at the power station) needed to go a given distance. Electric cars as an alternative to oil is only viable if the electricity comes from a power plant that doesn't use fossil fuels (nuclear, hydroelectric, wind etc.)
    .
    Hydrogen fuel cell cars promise a great deal in terms of efficiency and "greenness" but all of that is contingent on the solution of major technical hurdles to produce a viable car AND (perhaps more importantly) widespread, environmentally sustainable production of fuel cells and hydrogen fuel. We have many of the best minds in the world working on it but it is by no means a sure thing even in the long term.

    The best short-term solutions are more efficient gas/diesel vehicles to make the most of the fuel we are using while alternatives are developed. And the quickest way to get there BY FAR is extremely simple - smaller/more efficient vehicles and less driving.

    It doesn't even have to be a radical change. As IJReilly pointed out in another thread somewhere, if people reduced their driving by a fifth (which is significant but very possible), the impact would be huge - both on the fuel producers and the environment.
     
  19. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #19
    stevento, the mpg from an ethanol mix is less than the mpg from straight gasoline. Ergo, per mile, more CO2 from ethanol. So, if you believe that CO2 contributes to global warming, you don't want to use ethanol.

    Next: It's subsidized. It's not cheaper than gasoline; it's more expensive. You're thus riding on the backs of other taxpayers, as well as what you, yourself pay in that tax subsidy. ADM luvs ewe, you little taxpayer, you. :D

    Any senator or representative who voted for that, voted directly for higher food prices worldwide. We pretty much can afford it. In many other countries, they're starving because of it.

    'Rat
     
  20. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

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    #20
    This, more than any environmental or cost concern, is why ethanol-based fuel is a bad idea. The thought that I'm driving around burning food while people are starving bothers me more than any environmental worries.
     
  21. stevento thread starter macrumors 6502

    stevento

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    #21
    Honda and GM already have fuel cell, zero emission vehicles on the road. the question is where that fuel is coming from. Ford came up with a car that is both E85 capable AND a hybrid, but its not ready for the market
     
  22. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #22
    Stevento,

    It sounds like much of you support for corn Ethanol is based out of spite for "big oil" and not because it's really a viable alternative to the problem at hand. You specifically asked for people's opinions on Ethanol so why get defensive when people chime? Corn ethanol is bad for many reasons so instead of getting pissy w/the people pointing out why corn Ethanol is bad why don't you get pissy w/the people that manipulated you, and millions of other Americans, into believing that corn ethanol is good?


    Lethal
     
  23. stevento thread starter macrumors 6502

    stevento

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    #23
    yes i do have spite for big oil. Oil CEOs like Bush and Cheney do not care that Americans and people all over the word are having trouble figuring out how they are going to fill up the tank or heat their homes in the winter. Corn oil is not a viable solution that the entire USA can switch to and rely on, we know that, but it is something I can do in my life to bring oil prices down.
    i haven't been manipulated into thinking Ethanol is the silver bullet solution. i just looked at the upsides and downsides, did the math and figured out that its best for me and probably a lot of other people as well. how do you know the oil companies aren't manipulating you into thinking its bad?
     
  24. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

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    #24
    Because most opponents of the oil companies (who have every reason to propose viable alternatives) have determined that the costs outweigh the benefits.

    Bio-diesel is a better alternative than Ethanol, if you want to go the biofuel route, because you can use waste vegetable oil, However,biodiesel (unless you are producing it yourself) still potentially diverts food production and waste oil will never exist in the necessary quantities to replace fossil fuels.
     
  25. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #25
    But "big agro" conglomerates do have the common man's best interests at heart?
    So aside from it being more expensive, less efficient, a key factor in driving up food prices, and not as CO2 reducing as some would have us believe you give corn ethanol a thumbs up?
    IMO, things like biodiesel and hydrogen would be good for many governmental and commercial vehicle uses. City buses, for example, could be switched to an alternate fuel w/o the need for the widespread support structure (refueling stations, trained mechanics, etc.,.) required for successful adaption by the general public. Biodiesel stations aimed at truckers could be built along trucking routes anywhere where the local argo waste would be enough to support a biodiesel plant/refinery (whatever you call them). I think it's already been said, but we aren't going to find one thing that will entire replace oil. We'll need to employ a number of different solutions to meet our energy needs.


    Lethal
     

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