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View Diary: This May Be The BIG ONE: Gas From Grass (237 comments)

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  •  Ethanol leads to higher food prices (7+ / 0-)

    Corn that is not used for food production or for the feeding of cattle is being diverted into ethanol production, thereby driving up the cost of various corn-based products as well as the cost of beef, hamburger, etc.

    •  That's awesome! (5+ / 0-)

      After all, corn is artificially cheap because of financial and environmental subsidies, so ConAgra and the like end up pushing high fructose corn syrup crap on people, driving up health care costs.  Since beef is a massively carbon intensive food, I'd take your point as yet another big plus.  If we can eliminate some of that corn being used to feed destructive cows and get people to shift to more sustainable foods, that'd be awesome.  Get carbon neutral fuel, reduce beef consumption AND reduce health care costs?  What's not to like?

      However, if it uses a tenth the acreage of ethanol production, the impact on driving up beef prices will be sadly negligible.

      •  It's not really awesome when the rising price of (16+ / 0-)

        corn causes food riots across the world.

        And the solution to the beef issue is to move towards grass fed beef combined with free range poultry, and to spread that pasture land around some more. That would force a drop in herd size that would prevent damaging runoff.

        Those pastures are habitats now. Since the Arboreal Shift, human-maintained pasture land has been an important habitat for a number of bird species as well, but that's only really a problem in Europe. The conversion of pastures into wheat, maize, and soy farms in Europe is threatening the survival of over a dozen bird species, with several hundred species relying on pasture land.

        I'll get you citations on all that if you want. I wrote my philosophy thesis on that subject in 2006 (so it'll be a bit dated. Also, I'll need to find the damned thing.)

        The thing that bothers me about a lot of green thought is that it ignores the fact that humans have been an active part of the ecosystem for thousands of years. We have a place and an effect, and not all of our effects are negatives.

        Our farms are habitats for hundreds of species, species that exist now only because we brought them through the arboreal shift.

        There's a way to continue those behaviors which have a net positive effect.

        It involves de-industrializing farming, though.

        An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail.

        by OllieGarkey on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 08:48:48 AM PST

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        •  the solution to the beef issue (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          susanWAstate, sacrelicious, Tuba Les

          is don't eat it or significantly reduce consumption.  That would also help lower health care costs.

        •  Ironically, it's a hot topic for ecologists (3+ / 0-)

          The way ecosystems interact with human impacts has been a very hot topic of study among ecologists (which I use in the technical sense of biologists who study the interactions among populations and species to shape communities and ecosystems, i.e., scientists, rather than the colloquial "people who care about the environment")  

          It sounds like your philosophy thesis would make very cool reading, since that notion of man v nature dualism really is very wide spread in conservationist circles, but as you note, the reality of quite a bit more complicated.  

          And as for food riots, a significant portion of those arise not so much on the limitation on corn, but rather the fact that you can earn a lot more if you turn it into beef for rich people than you can if you sell it as corn to poor ones.  While it is obviously something to be aware of an to take into consideration (my somewhat cheeky take on it notwithstanding), as with so many of these arguments, the issue isn't so much the environmental solution causing a problem as a social and economic problem that needs to be addressed independently.

      •  HFCS (0+ / 0-)

        High Fructose Corn Syrup is no worse for anybody than plain sugar. HFCS isn't driving up health care costs. If we're going to blame someone, let's try the profiteers first.

        The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there. - Yasutani Roshi

        by lotusmaglite on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 12:25:27 PM PST

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        •  Well (0+ / 0-)

          eating a whole ton of plain sugar isn't so hot for you.

          But yes, profiteers, by all means.

          •  LOL (0+ / 0-)

            No, it is not. Which is why we need a crass, pitiless, Bill-O'Reilly-of-the-left (or right, I wouldn't care if the message was correct in essentials) to come out night after night and tell us to stop stuffing our fat faces.

            Maybe Gym class should stop being forced on teens - who couldn't need it less - and be forced on adults. I sure could use a refresher...

            The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there. - Yasutani Roshi

            by lotusmaglite on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 09:18:04 PM PST

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      •  Snark? (0+ / 0-)

        FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

        by Roger Fox on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 12:51:37 PM PST

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    •  So don't use corn. (4+ / 0-)

      Sugar Cane is already 3x as productive as corn.  Louisiana should be the ethanol capital of America, not Iowa.

      -7.75 -4.67

      "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

      There are no Christians in foxholes.

      by Odysseus on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 08:01:02 AM PST

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      •  Neither. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pescadero Bill, Dvalkure, FarWestGirl

        Both sugar and corn are government-subsidized. Which is crazy, since they end up in beef, pork, and sweetened foods--which means we're subsidizing cancer, heart attacks, stroke, Alzheimer's, and diabetes.

        We should be taxing corn and sugar, at least for food purposes, not subsidizing them.

        That would probably end the US sugar industry, which would be unable to compete with cheap sugar imports. Fine. Better uses for our tax money.

        "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

        by HeyMikey on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 09:01:05 AM PST

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        •  I would think... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          HeyMikey, highacidity, isabelle hayes

          ...if this process works as advertized the use of food crops (the edible parts) would not be necessary.  I would love to see this be a reality.  
          Our energy problems are not technologically based: the influence of political/special interest's attempts to roadblock  anything that would change the "balance" of money and power, is the problem.

          Tip & Rec'd

          "if you don't make peaceful revolution possible, you make violent revolution inevitable." ….JFK. .......{- 8.25 / -5.64}

          by carver on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 11:55:40 AM PST

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        •  And when (0+ / 0-)

          ...we destroy the US sugar industry, where do you think the sweeteners will come from? Corn.

          I think you have the right idea (better food, I'm assuming), but I also think you're coming at it from the wrong end.

          The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there. - Yasutani Roshi

          by lotusmaglite on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 12:27:44 PM PST

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