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May 28th, 2017 Total archive posts: 984
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Dear Ethanol: Please GO AWAY

The recognition of climate change as a real problem, and the realization that dependence on fossil fuels is problematic have conspired to give birth to an evil spawn of unintended consequences: Ethanol. Presently derived from several sources--but primarily corn here in the US--ethanol is being marketed as a way for us to both reduce our dependence on foreign oil while simultaneously helping limit or reverse climate change.

Unfortunately, neither are true. And I'm not an oil lobbyist.

In almost every way you can imagine--cost, environmental impact, collateral market inflation--ethanol is very, very bad idea. There are a number of reasons why ethanol has gained popularity here in the US, but they are almost totally:

  1. Recklessly nearsighted
  2. Narrowly focused
  3. Political in nature

There are so many bad things that are starting to happen. Clear cutting of rain forest to plant corn or switchgrass. Increased use of fertilizers. Skyrocketing prices for multi-use crops. It's a disaster.

Fortunately, a recent paper on the subject in the journal Science makes this crystal clear. Some states like California have courageously mandated that the entire impact of energy production be taken into account when evaluating how to invest in new production means. Let's hope the ethanol fad dies quickly, or as Jon Markman at MSN puts it:

Corn-based ethanol production is sure to go down as one of the greatest mistakes ever in U.S. energy policy...replacing fossil fuels with corn-based ethanol would double greenhouse gas emissions over the next three decades. The studies show that switchgrass, an alternative to ethanol that's more weed than plant, would boost emissions by 50%.

Yeah. Ethanol, please die quickly.

by Christopher Heiser on February 22 22:18

The Buick Limited of the Sky

The Air Force is currently lobbying Congress for a large increase in budget to begin modernizing the bulk of the aircraft in the current inventory. The average age of Air Force planes is a high as it's ever been. By way of showing this graphically, the USAF made this handy comparison chart showing aircraft next to automobiles that came to production at roughly the same time.

by Christopher Heiser on February 22 22:05

Car Logos

The evolution of automotive logos is something that I find fascinating. The article also has some neat historical tidbits about VW and other venerable car brands.

by Christopher Heiser on February 22 22:02

Pollution is Positive for Dolphins

I've written about the barbaric practice in Japan of slaughtering thousands of Dolphins in the town of Taiji. The good news is that rising levels of mercury in dolphin (and whale) flesh have started to reduce demand. Similar issues are also affecting worldwide tuna populations.

What's interesting is the cause: human pollution. As mercury enters the ocean it is absorbed by smaller fish. The larger predatory animals like tuna and dolphin consume these fish, thus accumulating larger and larger amounts of mercury in their bodies.

by Christopher Heiser on February 22 22:01
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