Is ethanol the answer?

From Green, yes, but risky too by Darryl D’Monte.

The danger with all evangelists, even of the green variety, is that they become so mesmerised by their message that they ignore any dissent or conflicting points of view. Vinod Khosla, the high-profile California-based venture capitalist and a partner in the well-known firm, Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, is on a mission to propagate ethanol as the automobile fuel of the future, and nothing, it would seem, will deflect him from overstating his case.

But Khosla ought to heed the warnings by Lester Brown, the founder of the Worldwatch Institute in Washington, who now heads the Earth Policy Institute. He recently wrote about how US service stations may now compete with supermarkets for grain: “Cars, not people, will claim most of the increase in world grain consumption this year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that world grain use will grow by 20 million tonnes in 2006. Of this, 14 million tons will be used to produce fuel for cars in the United States, leaving only 6 million tons to satisfy the world’s growing food needs.

“In agricultural terms, the world appetite for automotive fuel is insatiable. The grain required to fill a 25-gallon SUV gas tank with ethanol just once will feed one person for a whole year. Investors are jumping on the highly profitable biofuel-bandwagon so fast that hardly a day goes by without another ethanol distillery or biodiesel refinery being announced somewhere in the world.”

PS: Sorry I cut and pasted three paragraphs but the article was so well argued that I felt that adding anything would diminish the article, not augment it. There, I’ve done it haven’t I?


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