Professor W. Robbins
12 November 2008
Ethanol, is it really good?
Throughout the history of man we have used different types of energy sources. These
different types of energy sources have caused different problems to the environment which
mankind has had to atone for. Energy is a fundamental need of mankind though and there is no
arguing it. Gasoline and other fossil fuels have been our major source of energy consumption for
the last hundred plus years. Now we are trying to move over to ethanol because it is supposedly
better for the environment and global warming. Ethanol is considered to be good by its
supporters. However, non biased science proves otherwise. That is why I propose that ethanol
should be barred from use altogether by our President and our Congress due to ethanol being an
economically and ecologically hazardous to the Worlds environment.
This is how I plan to make my proposal successful. My proposal will not allow any use
of ethanol by dismantling the companies that produce it. Along with dismantling the companies
that produce it I plan to have the US Government enforce legislation on a nationwide ban on
ethanol. Any production of ethanol will be ceased and will be finable by Governmental law
within our country. This have to be an amendment because if it was not states could choose not
Ethanol has the potential to do far worse damage to the environment than oil or natural
gas ever would. To begin with ethanol does not burn cleaner than gasoline, nor is it cheaper
(Rolling Stone). This is because you have to use more ethanol to get the same amount of
mileage output from your car because it is less efficient. Our increased ethanol use will also
cause shortages of food worldwide. To prove this all you need to do is to look at the price of
corn which has doubled causing more third world people to go hungry (Rolling Stone). This will
cause about 600 million more people to starve (Rolling Stone). This, for people who do not
understand easy to understand things, means that the staple crops like corn that go toward
making ethanol and our food will be at a higher demand and a higher price. This means that we
will not be able to give away free food to these countries and this will cause the increase in
hunger. This means for Along with doing this ethanol would cause the prices of meats like
poultry, beef, and pork (Rolling Stone). This is because poultry, beef, and pork have, like most
animals, a dependency on corn and other staple crops that are going into the ethanol market. In
fact beef, poultry, and pork have risen 3% in the last half year (Rolling Stone). Using ethanol
would also cause an extreme loss of land and forests. In figures found in a “Rolling Stone”
article about ethanol which stated that ethanol only makes up 3.5% of our entire gasoline
consumption right now while using 20% of the entire United States corn crop (Rolling Stone).
For reference the United States provides most of the world’s corn supply (Corn). We as a nation
grow 44% of all world supplies and make up for 68% of all world corn exports (Corn). This is
just corn used for food. It also logically would mean less land for crops that are staple crops.
Next it will also cause Brazil to tear down more rainforests in South America causing an increase
in global warming (Rolling Stone). They will do this in an attempt to grow more sugar cane for
ethanol production. This will cause an increase of greenhouse gases because the rainforests in
the Amazon and in Africa provide us with a natural sink hole for those greenhouse gases. They
also are major oxygen sources for the world. So tearing them down to gain more land for
ethanol use would be devastating for the entire world ecosystem.
Ethanol also requires more fertilizers to cultivate it. So likewise you would have to use
more natural gas to produce more fertilizer for plants or corn in this case. This extreme wide
fertilizer use would cause us to a degree to virtually salt our own lands with fertilizer. Too much
fertilizer degrades the soil and if used too much will kill growth. Then the fertilizers will
eventually all run off slowly into the Mississippi River and make its way down into the Gulf of
Mexico causing some damage to sea life in the Gulf waters (Rolling Stone). Another negative
about ethanol is that it is a very inefficient energy source. It depends on large amounts of fossil
fuels to produce it (Rolling Stone). Also you have to burn more of it to get the same BTU output
of energy. This in laymen’s terms means that you would actually have to go to the gas station
more and fill your tank more. Using circular reasoning this means that you will fill your tank
more and that means that you will use more of a gas ethanol blend and it will pollute just as
much as before. Ethanol also cannot be transported through preexisting oil pipelines or any other
oil transportation lines. This is because ethanol absorbs water and impurities in the pipes and
storage tanks (Chemical). This will also cause storage tanks to corrode faster which will be a big
hassle. So ethanol will force us to spend even more money because now we would have to use
truck or rail for transportation (Chemical). This effect would cause more pollution during
transportation and in general because now you are using more of it to supply a lesser demand.
Ethanol is also causing gas price to stay up because ethanol is more expensive than gas (Business
Week). Along with that you will not have the rainforests as previously mentioned: so in theory
this would be doing more damage to the environment, kill millions of different species of
animals and medicinal cures still not found in the rainforest, cause a pollution of drinking water
and the oceans, and increase the effect of global warming. This problem will affect everyone
just as oil does but to a higher degree. It is making everyone now choose to feed their family or
feed their car with fuel.
A solution to this problem would be hydrogen or just continuing to use fossil fuels.
There are three things that are fueling our desire to find new energy sources and they are the
threat of global warming, the diminishing world supply of oil, and where the oil is located. The
solution is not using ethanol but to continue to use oil, developing cellulosic ethanol which
comes from any plant life, and continuing to develop hydrogen. Honda already has a working
hydrogen car and BMW has a prototype for one. All Honda or BMW needs for their cars is fuel
stations that provide the compressed hydrogen that the cars use for fuel. That is the future for
renewable energy right now and that is where we need to be investing money. Until we get
infrastructure for hydrogen we will need to focus on drilling for more oil in new places. For
example, now that we have melted the ice in the north we can drill all the oil that is on the sea
floor there. Alaska also has oil in the Anwar region in the north. The Dakota’s have newly
found large deposits of oil in the Black Hills. Also there are new oil deposits off the East Coast
of the United States that are substantial in size. These solutions should address the problem at
hand and solve the energy and national security crisis caused by oil at the moment. The main
reason why it should work is that we would not have to totally redo our infrastructure to do it. It
is reasonable because you would not pollute as much and do less environmental destruction to
the environment than ethanol would do.
The opposition to my proposal might believe the lie that ethanol is really good. Ethanol
supporters say that it will be good because it will bring wealth to farmers in the Midwestern
United States because their corn will become more valuable. Another reason to support ethanol
is that they are now finding ways to make ethanol from everything. An example of this is a
factory in Georgia (Range). It has brought new jobs, which is helping the economy and they can
make ethanol from wood chips (Range). The only problem is that the government is not
investing research in cellulosic ethanol production so companies have to do it on their own time
(Range). Different types of ethanol that do not use food crops sound great but they do not
produce enough energy to be worth the while. Another thing is that no matter what energy
source we choose to go with we will still have to change our infrastructure. So either way it will
cost us money to switch over to whatever we choose. Ethanol they say will be the future but if
that future involves starvation, more wars, and further pollution I do not want to be a part of that
Most of the opposition would probably work as farmers, as previously mentioned, work
for the ethanol industry, and might be a politician from a corn producing state, someone who
would make money off ethanol in some way, or might be a scientist that is paid to do biased
research for the ethanol industry. Other than having monetary connections to ethanol there is
really no reason to support the use of it. The opposition to my stance does not have viable
reasons that are scientifically proven, to back up their argument.
After discussing the background behind I think ethanol is bad I will make my proposal.
My proposal is that ethanol should be banned from use in our country. Ethanol seems to be a
great idea because it is completely renewable. Oil and natural gas will only last us so long but
ethanol is not its replacement. Ethanol will, if we do not stop major usage or usage at all, cause
far more damage and regrets after the fact than oil or natural gas have. Sometimes people look
for that quick fix without taking the time to think about the side effects from it. Fidel Castro said
the United States is making world hunger worse by burning food for fuel (BBC).
To conclude upon my proposal I think that our Government needs look at the facts
behind ethanol and make an educated decision upon what the facts. This is rare for our Congress
but is necessary before we do even more damage to people’s lives and to the environment. I
would like people to realize the true dangers in using ethanol as a fuel source, just as I do. That
is why I propose that ethanol should be barred from use altogether by our President, our
Congress, and the rest of the Worlds powers due to ethanol being an economically and
ecologically hazardous to the Worlds environment.
"BIOFUELS DISTRIBUTION." Chemical and Engineering News 85(2007): 28-30.
"Castro in new US biofuel attack." BBC News 04 Apr 2007 29 March 2007
"Corn." Building Global Markets for America's Grains. 2008. U.S. Grains Council. 9 Apr 2008
Goodell, Jeff. "The Ethanol Scam: One of America's Biggest Political Boondoggles."
Rolling Stone Issue No.103209 March 2007 <http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/
"Range Fuels to build first cellulosic ethanol plant is Georgia, USA." Focus on
Catalysts 4(2008): 142-147.