Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ethanol: a failure on so many levels

In the United States, almost all ethanol is made from corn. This means that the sugars in the corn must be fermented, distilled, and dehydrated in order to produce ethanol fuel (ethyl alcohol).

A major downside of producing corn ethanol is the amount of energy required: Ethanol made from corn returns only 25% more energy than is consumed to make it. This means that each gallon of ethanol fuel is only 25% “renewable” energy (a 4:1 ratio). In contrast, Brazilian cane ethanol yields 800% more energy than is consumed in its production (a 1:8 ratio), and is a much better alternative as a sustainable fuel.

Basic chemistry dictates that gallon for gallon, burning ethanol produces only 2/3 as much energy as burning gasoline.

Ethanol production increases the price of corn used for food. The price of corn is skyrocketing, which raises the price of all corn-based products. 24% of the U.S. corn crop is now mandated to go to ethanol, which is causing shocks to global markets as third-world nations must pay more for this food staple. Ethanol production competes with land space for other food products, using an estimated 11 acres worth of land per vehicle fueled by ethanol per year.

Ethanol appears to be “environmentally friendly,” but it is not.

Ethanol releases 19% more carbon dioxide than gasoline. For those who believe that human-produced carbon dioxide plays a role in global climate change, this is not a good statistic.

Ethanol production requires enormous water resources. According to the Water Education Foundation, a pound of corn requires 118 gallons of water to grow. Given the 21 pounds of corn required to produce one gallon of ethanol, that’s almost 2500 gallons of water used, not including water in the distillation stage. So when filling their gas tanks, most Americans now indirectly consume over 2500 gallons of water.

Given the global water crisis, is this good for the environment? Can we say that ethanol is a clean, renewable fuel that paves the way to the future if its negative environmental effects are even worse than those of regular fossil fuels?

Perhaps the most devastating effect of the ethanol industry is the destruction of the small engine. An in depth analysis shows that when a gasohol mixture contains more than 0.5% water (which can easily accumulate due to humidity on a hot day), the ethanol starts to decompose, forming a single phase separation layer of ethanol and water at the bottom of a fuel tank. Because this small layer of ethanol and water does not support combustion, it gets sucked into the engine, clogging up and permanently destroying the carburetor.

Grand slam!

Kidnapped MLB Player Found Alive

Wilson Ramos Found

Roundup of things 'occupado'

Dead man in Salt Lake City...

Tuberculosis in Atlanta...

'Zuccotti Lung' on Wall Street...

Suicide in Vermont...

Murder in Oakland...

Jay-Z sells 'Occupy' T-shirts; won't share profits with protesters...

Michael Moore's Massive Mansion Beyond 99 Percent's Wildest Dreams...


Fans pay respects to boxer giant Joe Frazier

joe frazier

Fans paid their respects as they walked by the casket of late boxing great Joe Frazier at a public viewing today. Mementos such as Frazier's boxing gloves and trademark cowboy hat were placed next to the casket at a Philadelphia arena, along with a poster from his 1971 bout with Muhammad Ali. Frazier died on Monday aged 67 after a brief fight with liver cancer.

Christmas tree for Rockefeller Center arrives

Xmas Tree

What's the fuss?

Beauty is in the eye of the bidder: Bleak river view becomes most expensive photograph ever sold at $4.3MILLION

Andreas Gursky's image, title Rhein II, was digitally altered to achieve the level of bleakness desired by the artist

It is photo in which German artist Andreas Gursky wanted to capture a desolate but 'accurate image of a modern river'. And now the digitally-altered - and some might say visually uninteresting - Rhein II has become the most expensive photograph ever sold at auction, fetching £4.3million at Chrisiie's in New York.

Health System Reflects Greece's Ills

...preview of Obamacare?

From the WSJ:

Greece's constitution obliges the state to provide health care to citizens. By and large, it does. But the system is a mess. It is stuffed with debt, plagued with corruption such as the bribes Mr. Gianakouras said he paid, and hobbled by inefficiency and inequity.

In many ways, the health-care system is a microcosm of Greece itself. Big debts in the public hospital system helped usher in Greece's financial crisis in 2009, and health care is now a key battleground as the country struggles to escape it.

Greece on Friday swore in Prime Minister Lucas Papademos's caretaker government, which is expected to continue the path toward austerity that includes health-spending cuts that have been demanded by the international monitors of its bailout deal. GRHEALTH

Abbey Road Studios turns 80

Abbey Road Studios were opened by Sir Edward Elgar in November 1931. They are currently owned by EMI, who were absorbed into Universal Music Group yesterday. Universal has promised to save the studios from closure.

1066 MF Global employees fired

MF Global filed for the eighth-largest bankruptcy in U.S. history on October 31 after suffering a run on the bank caused by massive bets totaling $6.4 billion on risky euro-zone sovereign bonds. Led by former Goldman Sachs (GS: 101.66, +2.16, +2.17%) CEO Jon Corzine, MF Global has been criticized for being overleveraged and making undiversified bets that helped bring down the company.

A last-minute sale that would presumably have saved many of MF Global’s jobs was scuttled by the emergence of more than $600 million in missing client funds. Federal regulators have since opened an investigation into the missing funds and Corzine, the former governor of New Jersey, resigned and retained legal counsel.

Don't try to count them all, it will just make you dizzy

the 99 percent
The Occupy DC parade near MacPherson Square on 11-11-11.

I've seen more people in a Starbucks.