BY MICHAEL R. FOX PHD – Well now he tells us. As reported recently in the Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) (http://tinyurl.com/36tscyk), Al Gore came clean on his fantasies of the benefits of biofuels. Well away from the American people whom he helped skewer, his recent confessional speech in Greece was missed by a lot of American media and millions of Americans. His tie-breaking 1994 vote in the U.S. Senate 16 years ago to support ethanol subsidies was, he says, for political purposes, and not for any actual breakthrough in alternative energy production.
Most students of chemical engineering have been able for years to explain why ethanol is an energy loser. Even Professor David Pimentel of Cornell has been writing about this since the 80s (http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/july05/ethanol.toocostly.ssl.html). Ethanol is and has always been an energy loser simply because of the fact that it takes more energy to produce the ethanol than can be returned from the burning of the ethanol. Further as IBD reports, the production of ethanol also requires an estimated 1700 gallons of water for every gallon of ethanol produced. This can’t be good for limited water supplies and related aquifers already under pressure.
As if this weren’t bad enough a gallon of ethanol contains an estimated 75,700 Btu/gallon while a gallon of gasoline contains 50% more energy at 115,400Btu/gallon. The lower energy content of ethanol mixed in gasoline means that we’ll get poorer mileage with this ethanol in gasoline. The same people, who demand that we drive energy efficient cars, simultaneously promote the use of lower energy and lower mileage ethanol.
On top of all of this the American taxpayers have been involuntarily signed up to subsidize the ethanol industry to the tune of $16 billion, with $7 billion in 2009 alone. That is to say the consumers and taxpayers get to spend their hard earned money subsidizing ethanol production while spending higher prices on lower quality, less energetic fuels.
It doesn’t end here, either. According to IBD 41% of all corn grown in the US goes to the production of ethanol, not into the production of food. Food prices have soared because the diversion of this food crop into the production of ethanol. This has caused our corn exports to decline, which results in food shortages in foreign lands. Food riots have already occurred in Mexico because of the rising costs of corn based foods used there, such as in the manufacture of tortillas.
The extent of global damage created by Gore’s tie-breaking 1994 vote for ethanol subsidies will be huge when final estimates are provided.
Additionally, Gore’s global promotion of global warming hysteria only adds to the misleading and dangerous views of the man. His global use of the famous hockeystick portrayal of the last 1000 years of global temperatures has also been widely discredited. Recently the 1-year anniversary of the Climategate scandal revealed the scandalous junk science involved with the production of the ‘Hockeystick” chart that was part of Gore’s travelling side show of so-called global warming.
This chart was heavily featured in misleading climate reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). While Gore was not the originator of the chart he was easily the most prominent global promoter and pitchman. It is required reading in thousands of textbooks around the world, and presented as something worthy of study and a basis for energy policies around the world. It is not.
Since the Climategate scandal broke a year ago, huge volumes of analyses have been written, such as Christopher Monckton’s “Caught Green-handed” (http://tinyurl.com/29pb5js). More recently, A.W. Montford has written a heavily referenced 450 page treatise entitled “The Hockeystick Illusion”, which is devoted to Climategate and the Corruption of Science (http://tinyurl.com/2ctqqs8).
In both instances Mr. Gore’s ethanol subsidy fiasco and his global support of the Hockeystick fiasco have created incalculable global damage at all levels, from intellectual and educational, to international politics, to failed national energy policies. Policy makers at the federal and state levels are considering trillion dollar fixes to Gore’s fallacious global warming message which, if believed, would have been ruinous to the American economy. Quite a destructive record, don’t you think?