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View Diary: Ethanol: Rent Seeking in Action (34 comments)

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  •  beats the hell out of fossil fuels is exactly it (0+ / 0-)

    We need to do something.  Ethanol, precisely because it is in part a political solution, is one of the easiest.  Rural America would get behind ethanol 100% and Urban America is already liberal, so how is this not a no-brainer?

    Someone who believes in God will believe anything. Base your reality on facts, not myth.

    by RequestedUsername on Wed Jun 21, 2006 at 07:49:10 AM PDT

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    •  The point is... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      farmerchuck

      ...at what cost? Any cost? Some cost? Do you really want to enrich politicians and huge agri-buisness through the rent-seeking money machine otherwise known as subsidies?

      Again, I'm not "bashing" on ethanol, I think it is an OK alternative, not the best but better then what we have.

      If oil firms, producers of carbon, and ethanol firms ALL were taxed their rents, the market would naturally shift towards not only ethanol, but as farmerjoe points out, towards better fuel alternatives yet to be discovered.

    •  The Auto Industry will be destroyed (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eire1130
      Peak Oil = Urban Ruin

      Your essentially trying to build a time machine-

      If we now try to produce this same energy density or burn rate using immediate biotic sources, we run into a little problem -- a time travel problem as it were:  a normal growing season doesn't deposit that much energy in a vegetable crop.  Our desired burn rate is grotesquely disproportionate to the growth rate of biotic sources, whether vegetable or animal -- you couldn't drive around carrying the amount of raw feedstock needed to produce the calories to keep the vehicle moving.  So we have to invest a lot of heat/pressure (i.e. energy) to provide even a feeble approximation of the time compression we want.  In other words, burn a lot of coal (or something else fairly dense) to make ethanol;  and burn a lot of fossil fuel in artificial soil enrichments and fossil-powered factory farm equipment to force a higher-than-natural yield rate, to wrench as many calories per acre as we can from depleted soil.  (Again trying to optimise density, not overall EROEI)

      The private auto, the jet aircraft, and the planing heavy vessel are the ultimate worst case for fuelling, because they require high energy density (high burn rate), which is the costliest thing to achieve in a fuel.

      And here's the rub.  We don't produce energy. (Nor can we "produce" time.)   There are only three processes that produce energy:  sunlight striking the surface of the planet, the thermal activity of the molten core, and the instability of certain isotopes found in the crust [and many an astrophysicist would scoff at this and say that these things no more produce energy than a Duracell battery -- they merely release, over time, the tremendous initial energy of the Big Bang, the original Wound Up Spring].  What we do is harvest or concentrate energy -- what all life processes do, in fact.

      James

    •  it's not so much what, (0+ / 0-)

      as how...there are at least 3 processes (chemical) for producing ethanol from cellulose, all are languishing or have been dumped, as all funding went to corn to ethanol. fermentation/distillation is very inefficent, and is worse when we are talking corn as substrate.

      the time has come the walrus said, to speak of many things....

      by farmerchuck on Wed Jun 21, 2006 at 10:38:37 AM PDT

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      •  Your pessimism would be more convincing (0+ / 0-)

        if Brazil weren't already running on ethanol.  100%, AFAIK.  On sugar cane, granted, but the point is that ethanol works and it does so now.  That's a good match for when we need a solution.

        Someone who believes in God will believe anything. Base your reality on facts, not myth.

        by RequestedUsername on Wed Jun 21, 2006 at 11:44:36 AM PDT

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        •  MY point (one of them) (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          eire1130

          is that sugarcane works, and corn doesn't

          the time has come the walrus said, to speak of many things....

          by farmerchuck on Wed Jun 21, 2006 at 11:45:59 AM PDT

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          •  You know why it works? (0+ / 0-)

            Because statistics lie.  The energy yield from sugarcane is counted using what you get when you burn the leftovers.  That's fine, but the energy yield from corn does not count what you get when you feed the leftovers to cattle.  Comparing apples to apples, corn isn't that much worse and the political advantage is enormous.

            Someone who believes in God will believe anything. Base your reality on facts, not myth.

            by RequestedUsername on Wed Jun 21, 2006 at 12:26:30 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

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