Ethanol is not the answer to offsetting carbon emissions and it may not even be an answer. If it turns out to be a balanced trade off of environmental damage from increased monoculture land use for a few million tons of CO2 emission eliminated then it will effectively be environmentally neutral much as the current non-carbon fiber hybrid vehicles with Li Ion batteries. Farmers will follow their bottom line to the grave regardless of their liberal/conservative political leanings and if consumer demand does not shift towards organic Produce and Protein then the increase in the world's middle class will result in clearcutting even in the industrialized nations. Agriculture is truly a double edged scythe and it is necessary to look long and hard at how sustainably it can be practiced in a world where global climate change, habitat fragmentation, and human housing encroachment, all continue to threaten wildlife and biodiversity. I am happy that we are at least talking about ways to lessen our ecological footprint as a nation of gluttons (for seemingly everything, including punishment), but we are far from reaching a sustainable status quo. Ethanol is two steps forward and three steps back.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008