Archive for December, 2007


“Bioethanol – ethanol derived from the fermentation of crops such as maize or sugar – is becoming increasingly available as a ‘green’ and sustainable alternative to gasoline. It is often sold at the fuel pumps as E85 – an 85:15 mixture of ethanol and gasoline. Now, however, Mark Jacobson of Stanford University is calling into question the environmental credentials of fuels consisting mainly of bioethanol. The Stanford scientist ran computer models of the impacts on atmospheric pollution and human health of vehicles running exclusively on an ethanol mixture and concluded that the number of respiratory-related deaths and illness would increase.”

Related results from studies in Brazil, where ethanol has been used extensively as automobile fuel for over ten years, are discussed here.

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Treehugger.com is an excellent site for environmental issues. In this case, the Treehugger article gives a good introduction to ethanol as fuel, and discusses the differences between corn ethanol (US) and ethanol derived from sugar cane (as in Brazil). Note that the best form of ethanol production IMHO, from cellulose and other biomass, is not quite ready for prime time and needs more R&D (the money being use to subsidize corn ethanol would be a great place to get the R&D funds).

The Treehugger article is not polarizing (somewhat surprisingly) and will help most people get a good sense of what the basic ideas and issues are. It is, however, “soft” on corn ethanol and also on Brazilian ethanol from sugarcane (which is far superior to corn for producing ethanol, but that conclusion ignores the terrible exploitation of people and the environment that is going on in Brazil).

The comments to the Treehugger article offer valuable additional information- please read them also. Then you can see more detailed analysis here by searching for ethanol to find discussion and references to both scientific and popular articles on problems with corn ethanol, health problems from using any ethanol as fuel at HighlightHealth, problems with biofuels obtained from rain forests, and the effect of biofuel “mining” on local food supplies (the latter two points being extremely important according to many, including Jane Goodall).

Additional links to stories on corn ethanol as fuel (including several different viewpoints that I disagree with, but which you should read and decide for yourself):

Note, this article may not be available to everyone (the policies seem to change almost daily with commercial science journals. I realize that is an exaggeration, but if you can’t read the article, which is a PDF, any library or University will have access). Here is a key quote:

“Biofuels need new technology, new agronomy and new politics if they are not to do more harm than good… The common complaints about biofuels — and they seem to become more common by the day — are that they are expensive and ineffective at reducing fossil-fuel consumption, that they intensify farming needlessly, that they dress up discredited farm subsidies in new green clothes, and that they push up the price of food. All these things are true to some extent of corn-based ethanol, America’s biofuel of choice, and many are also true of Europe’s favoured biodiesel plans.”

 

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© James K. Bashkin, 2007

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Why President Bush’s corn ethanol subsidy plan, supported by numerous governors and state legislatures as well as Congress, is terrible for the environment and US taxpayers, doing nothing but sending tax money down the drain, or more literally up in smoke. Independent opinions from another site, that I am not connected to, but which I agree with strongly in this case.

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By now, I have written and blogged quite a bit on this topic, so you can find more information by searching this site for ethanol or clicking here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. Feedback is welcome as always.

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5. You can have one in your backyard…

A summary of geothermal power from a site devoted to energy and fuel alternatives and sensible choices. Recommended read!

Just another brief post to introduce an environmental blog that has a lot to say about energy, energy sources, and the politics and ideas related to addressing energy and pollution problems.

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A related story is posted here.

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An excellent description in layman’s terms of a scientific study about how the decline of fish populations is causing fishermen to turn their attention to the parrotfish, and how declining parrotfish populations are leading to algae accumulations on coral reefs: yet another way that the exceedingly fragile coral is being threatened.

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How to make an impact on improving environmental behavior and practice through simple conversations with businesses you interact with. Many more great posts on this site about protecting the environment in a practical and personal way. I highly recommend this blog for all. Even if you don’t believe in global warming, I do think you can see that we reduce pollution by conserving energy and other resources. This blog, Simple Green Choices, gives many practical solutions and a highly engaging discussion of how to help the environment, irrespective of your political leanings.

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If you follow green, environmental and sustainable news, Best Green Blogs (BGB) provides a useful meta page where the latest postings from the green blogosphere show up on one page. Originally found by Greendigit and posted here as well to help spread the word.

This site has a very large collection of blogs on nearly all aspects of environmental concerns and action.

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This story gives explanations of all of the symbols indicated in the tags below: various types of fair trade, recycling symbols, energy star compliant, USDA organic, green seal certified. Tags: nature | aquaculture | energy star | Fair Trade | green | green seal certified | organic cotton | recycling symbols | sustainability | sustainable cotton

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Accounting for 12% of CO2 emissions in the US, emissions from aircraft are significant. As reported by Earthjustice and Climate of Our Future, environmental groups are teaming with cities and states to demand rules from EPA to reduce this CO2 impact or an explanation of why the EPA is failing to act.

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