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Friday, July 27, 2007\nFriday muse: devalued but edible relationship accessories, recycling, and ethanol lies\n\nAnother two-post day! I am so pleased with myself!\n\nA triad of random thoughts:\n\n * The edible after-effects of a relationship. I hate to waste food, but you end up with certain things in your fridge when a relationship ends that you'd never normally touch. In my case, chicken burgers, Diet Pepsi, and cookie dough ice cream. And when I want to throw it away, I keep thinking of the Band Aid stuff from the 80's and the poor, starving African children. So, it has to go bad so that I won't feel bad about throwing it away. The problem with this process is that this processed crap never goes bad! So, now I have to switch virtues, be environmentally-friendly, and consider it from the electricity point of view: I am wasting electricity keeping this stuff cold.\n * Recycling. I'm all for recycling, as long as it's stuff (and only stuff) that you'd previously have thrown away. If there's MORE stuff consumed simply because you can recycle it now, that's no good. Recycling takes energy, many materials are not infinitely recyclable, and virgin natural resources are consumed to produce the object of recycle. As a fellow at the Literacy AGM reminded me not too long ago, there are THREE R's: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Recycle is at the end, meaning it's the last resort. Somehow, the first two get lost a lot of the time, presumably because the economy depends on us increasing consumption, and buying new things. Recycling is the most agreeable of the three in this context because the recycled object will be turned into a raw material with which to produce more things for sale and does not disrupt the flow of new goods from the store to homes, and cash from wallets to corporate coffers. Also, the burden of recycling is paid by the taxpayers.\n * Ethanol will not save our souls. The dishonesty with this product is overwhelming sometimes. In this week's Economist, I saw a BASF advertisement with a picture of an ear of corn, captioned "48 miles per kernel", implying that a kernel of corn would somehow allow you to travel 48 miles, one way or another. Let me tell you something (two things, in fact): you should instinctively know that a kernel of corn would not even allow a human to travel 48 miles on foot, so you know something is up from that basic fact; second, it takes 450 lbs. of corn -- enough food to feed a person for a year -- to produce enough ethanol to fill the 25-gallon tank of an SUV -- once! Here's how I like to look at it: SUVs are generally responsible for US average fuel consumption being 10-20% higher than it should be, and even if we turned the entire corn crop yield of the USA to ethanol production, we'd only replace 12% of gasoline consumption. So, even if we convince ourselves that we need to drive around in large cars instead of SUVs, we could forego ethanol and start feeding the poor again (rather than making grain unaffordable for them, as the current ethanol push is doing), simply by banning SUVs and telling people to get civilized about it. It's not environmentally-friendly to drive a hybrid or use ethanol: it's environmentally-friendly to stop driving and look at ways to reduce your fuel-based travel!\n\nTechnorati: 48 miles per kernel, BASF, environment, ethanol, relationships, recycling\n\nposted by mattbg @ 1:22 PM 0 comments links to this post \n
How Biofuels Could Starve the Poor
THE ETHANOL BUBBLE\n\nIn 1974, as the United States was reeling from the oil embargo imposed by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Congress took the first of many legislative steps to promote ethanol made from corn as an alternative fuel. On April 18, 1977, amid mounting calls for energy independence, President Jimmy Carter donned his cardigan sweater and appeared on television to tell Americans that balancing energy demands with available domestic resources would be an effort the "moral equivalent of war." The gradual phaseout of lead in the 1970s and 1980s provided an additional boost to the fledgling ethanol industry. (Lead, a toxic substance, is a performance enhancer when added to gasoline, and it was partly replaced by ethanol.) A series of tax breaks and subsidies also helped. In spite of these measures, with each passing year the United States became more dependent on imported petroleum, and ethanol remained marginal at best.
Enter your best 30 ears of corn... but they better beat these or you won't get a ribbon.