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Corn Ethanol: Not the Greatest Thing Since Sliced (Corn)bread

This is exactly the problem with corn ethanol. Just a few years ago corn ethanol was promoted endlessly by politicians of all flavors, industry processors, farmers organizations, lobbyists – you name it. Politicians famously promoted corn ethanol on the basis of fighting global warming. Now let me ask you…How many politicians do you know who really have a passionate concern for global warming?

Scientists differ in their opinions and their study results for corn ethanol. David Pimintel, a professor of agriculture at Cornell University produced a study that concluded that a gallon of corn ethanol contained about 77,000 BTUs of stored energy. Not too shabby, but for comparison a gallon of gasoline contains around 124,000 BTUs

Pimintel went a bit further and calculated the energy required to produce that 1 gallon of ethanol. As it turns out, there is a lot involved in making that gallon of ethanol – big farms, labor, fertilizer, lots and lots of big fuel hungry machines, transportation to refineries, refining – you get the picture. He concluded that ll this effort to produce that 1 gallon of ethanol required around 131,000 BTUs of energy.

Hmmm…Doesn’t sound like such a good deal does it?

As mentioned, studies and results vary. The U.S. National Renewable Energy Lab concluded that 1 BTU of energy input is required to produce about 1.3 BTUs of energy from corn ethanol. Well, if we take these more optimistic numbers, at least our numbers are into the positive range. But it is still a WHOLE lot of effort to get that 30% gain.

 

Starvation, Global Food Prices

With the nation mobilizing to shift arable land into production of corn ethanol and away from food production we witnesses dramatic increases in grain prices. This was land that could have been used to produce food for humans or feed stock for agricultural animals.

Pimintel estimates that about 11 acres is required to produce fuel for one car for a year. That same 11 acres, in contrast, could feed about 7 people.

Let’s not forget that there are

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about a billion people living on the earth without enough food to eat.

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How Much More are We Projected to Consume?

The US budget deficit has been for several years relentlessly in the public’s eye. But is this focus really warranted?

Globally, we face many major long term challenges. The US budget deficit is not only not one of them but is distracting public consideration, focus, and problem solving away from far more critical issues.

Global population sits presently at around 7 billion and has recently seen explosive growth. The earliest widely accepted estimates of population date to around 10,000BC at between 1-10 million people. In approximately the next 11,500 years population grew to about 425 million. In the last 500 years, however, population has ballooned exponentially to over 7 billion – that is over 1500% increase! By around 1950 global population was at around 2.5 billion. At 7 billion today, that is 180% growth in just 60 years. By 1500AD population growth had averaged around 37,000 people per year. In the period since 1950 that number has exploded to an average of 75,000,000 per year!

As pointed out in One Scary Chart about 50% of people live in poverty, and the vast majority of those not in poverty have standards of living far below those of us in the West. Part of the UN’s assumptions about population stabilizing at around 10 billion is that as people increase their standard of living and become involved in more industrialized economies, they chose to have fewer children. So the underlying premise has to be that even as population grows to

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10 billion, the vast majority of people consume far more resources than is presently the case.

UN projections estimate that population will stabilize due to individual decisions by families at about 10 billion by around 2100.

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Fracking notes

“The take-home message of our study is that if you do an integration of 20 years following the development of the gas, shale gas is worse than conventional gas and is, in fact, worse than coal

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and worse than oil,” Robert Howarth Cornell University Ecologist

 

paper: http://www.sustainablefuture.cornell.edu/news/attachments/Howarth-EtAl-2011.pdf

 

 

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Momentum builds for energy efficiency…but is the wolf at the door?

It says something that Ernest Moniz chose to deliver his first public talk as US energy secretary to an energy efficiency crowd.

His appearance last week at EE Global in Washington, D.C. was a surprise of sorts. And the timing was significant. Moniz had only been confirmed as energy secretary three hours before taking the podium at the Alliance to Save Energy’s annual conference.

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Behind Ford’s sustainable design vision

FordCmaxSolarFullv2 150x150 Behind Fords sustainable design visionAt first glance, Ford’s heavy-duty F-150 pickup truck and its compact C-Max Solar Energi concept car couldn’t appear more different.

Parked outside an automotive and industrial design event held last week in San Francisco, a flaming red 2015 F-150 — which is set to hit the market later this year — looks somewhat out of place in The City, as if it is just stopping through on its way to a big construction job in the Central Valley.

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Sprint is selling iPhone cases made of waste CO2

pinkhoneycombSprintAirCarbon 150x150 Sprint is selling iPhone cases made of waste CO2Sprint is the first telecom company to offer “carbon-negative” iPhone accessories. Later this month, it will sell plastic handset cases made using waste greenhouse gases instead of petroleum. The $30 black and pink cases for the iPhone 5 and 5s will become available for purchase at Sprint’s website.

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Cree sees bright future in LED lighting controls

040714cree main Cree sees bright future in LED lighting controls

LED technology company Cree has been a big beneficiary of the energy-efficient lighting retrofit movement across cities, campus, offices and industrial spaces. Now it is

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reaching for a piece of the wireless controls market, which could grow to $2.7 billion annually by 2020, according to projections by Navigant Research.

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Net Metering and Rooftop Solar for the Utility of the Future.

net metering Net Metering and Rooftop Solar for the Utility of the Future.Like the tide washing upon the shore, new technologies are gradually eroding electric utility revenues. These new products enable consumers to use cleaner energy and use it more efficiently. Electric utilities worry this trend will ravage their industry just as wireless technology convulsed the telecommunications industry. The utility industry urges its members to stem the tide by, among other things, increasing consumers’ net metering costs.

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How universities can plant the seeds for a sustainable society

110613seedling How universities can plant the seeds for a sustainable societyColleges and universities historically have not viewed their operations and impacts through the lens of sustainability. That’s surprising considering the volume of energy consumed and waste produced on a daily basis by students and faculty.

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Staples, Samsung support tighter e-waste standards

Ewaste 2 Staples, Samsung support tighter e waste standardsApple introduced eight iPhones in the last six years. Smartphone makers such as Samsung, Nokia and LG flaunt their new devices as well. Have you fallen for the near-annual come-ons? Answer by going to that drawer where you have laid to rest all your fond hardware memories — your once beloved Blackberry and first iPhone. They no longer look as gorgeous as they once did, do they?

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