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Nov 23, 2010

Cars, Cattle and the Ethanol Con

By: Viv Forbes

Why are emissions from cattle eating grain classed as bad whereas emissions from cars burning grain ethanol are good?

Consider a paddock of corn. Most of the carbon in the growing plant comes from carbon dioxide in the air and is converted to plant material using solar energy via the magic of photosynthesis. Some comes from the atmosphere via microbes in the soil.

This plant material, either biomass or grain, can be fed to cattle or made into ethanol for motor fuel.

Both cattle and cars then use an internal digestion/combustion process to extract the energy stored in the plant material.

Both processes produce gaseous emissions. In cars, virtually every atom of ethanol carbon burnt produces one molecule of carbon dioxide. In cattle, some of the plant’s carbon is stored for a while in flesh and bones, and the rest is emitted as the natural gases carbon dioxide and methane. This methane is soon oxidised in the atmosphere to produce carbon dioxide.

Over the life of a car or a cow, they both produce the same carbon emissions. Every atom of carbon extracted from the air by the green plant eventually returns to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, the plant food. This is the cycle of life.

It is therefore scientific incompetence or deliberate fraud by government climate alarmists to claim that consuming ethanol in cars is good and should be subsidised but consuming the same plant material in cows must be rationed and taxed.

An ethanol industry propped up by subsidies and mandates is not sustainable. This industry damages taxpayers and pushes up the cost of grains, beef, pork, eggs, milk and cereals.

Subsidising ethanol brings no environmental benefits and is the enemy of the poor and hungry of the world.

It is time to end the ethanol con.

No more forcing motorists to buy it. No more tax breaks for construction of ethanol plants. No more subsidies or special protection for ethanol speculators.

And no more slander of the livestock industry which, when all is considered, is greener than the ethanol industry.

The Unlikely Coalition:

Can you imagine an issue on which Greens, Rational Economists, Feedlot Operators, Global Warming Sceptics, Consumer Advocates and Tax Reformers agree? No? See this article on Ethanol Subsidies.

More Good News:

Canadian Senators have voted down “The Climate Change Accountability Act” a stupid bill that called for Canadian greenhouse gases to be cut 25 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.

(I think these target figures are generated by a huge random number generator run on a supercomputer).

1 comment:

  1. Hi Viv
    Your wisdom is profound.
    Every plant eventually approaches carbon neutral unless its carbon is locked up in furniture or buildings or books or ivory or (maybe best of all) pit props. It makes no difference whether the plant is processed through a herbivore, a fire or an ethanol distillery.

    There is a danger that those plants which decay into the soil may actually reduce atmospheric carbon.

    If my sensors are correct, Brisbane is experiencing the coldest November since records were first kept in BC40000. This is a serious worry as it could be the harbinger of dangerous global cooling.

    In order to maintain and preferably increase atmospheric carbon dioxide, perhaps we should mandate a requirement for coal and oil burning especially on Earth Day.

    Kindest regards

    Michael Darby