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Ethanol Utopia?

January 10th, 2007 by Viv

Many people think that ethanol production will provide wins for the whole community – farmers, the community and the environment.

There is no free lunch.

As usual with government promotions, the benefits are obvious but the costs are hidden.

The benefits will fall on those growing cereals and sugar cane or building ethanol factories – they will get higher prices for their products than they would otherwise.

The majority of farmers will be losers – all those using grains or molasses for supplementary feeding of cattle, horses, chooks, sheep and pigs will see their feed prices increase.

Higher prices for grains and sugar will then pass thru feedlots and factories to show up as rising costs for cereals, bacon, eggs, milk, meat and all sweets – a hidden ethanol levy on every breakfast table.

In addition, the inevitable government subsidies or tax breaks for ethanol will consume tax dollars, giving higher taxes for tax payers or lower services for tax consumers.

Then there are environmental costs. We will use heaps of diesel fuel to bring marginal land, either grassland or bush, into a dead mono-culture of cereals or cane. And the excessive cultivation and chemical fertilisers used will reduce the soil organic matter and produce – – – – – more greenhouse gases.

Then when we burn ethanol in cars, we get water and . . . . . the same old dreaded greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide – releasing exactly the same amount of carbon dioxide that was removed from the atmosphere by the growing plant a few months before.

Moreover, the cultivation, harvesting, transport and processing of the ethanol inputs adds more pollutants to the atmosphere – in fact, careful energy audits show that there is less energy in a gallon or ethanol than is required to produce it from plant material. (

And what do we do in drought – burn our cereals and sugar in ethanol cars and import food to eat?

Finally, who pays for the damage or modifications required to many engines to allow them to use ethanol?

If people think ethanol can be produced profitably in a competitive market with no tax breaks or subsidies, they should be free to try with their own dollars.

Taxpayers and consumers should not be forced to subsidise the ethanol industry – I believe the costs outweigh the benefits.

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Greenhouse Chattering

January 10th, 2007 by Viv

We seem to be suffering a pandemic of Greenhouse Chattering.

People posing as experts should study the geological record.

Climate change, sometimes very dramatic, has been a regular pattern on earth since time began – floods of Biblical dimensions, storms more violent than Katrina, volcanism to dwarf Krakatoa, Saharan droughts, seas that evaporated and then flooded back, flourishing forests during greenhouse eras followed by Mammoth ice ages, high levels of carbon dioxide, warming seas, pole reversals and rapid extinction of many species have all been periodic visitors to earth well before man became a dominant species. We are now living in a benign but short warm period.

Many of these changes are cyclic, and the best evidence suggests that we are on the brink of slipping into a new ice age. The immediate danger to life on earth is a desolate icebox, not a fertile greenhouse. The ice age may be preceded by temporary warming and violent storms.

The reversal could happen next year, next decade, or next century, but probably will not be deferred much beyond that.

Man did not cause it and nothing he can do will change it – we just hope it does not occur in our lifetimes.

If it does occur on our watch, the best option is to move towards the equator or settle near a nuclear power station.

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