Print 143 comment(s) - last by Frallan.. on Apr 28 at 7:36 AM

Chevrolet's Silverado pickup is available with a FlexFuel Vortec 5.3L V8 engine
A new study authored by a Stanford University professor questions the "greenness" of ethanol-based fuel

A recent study from the Environmental Science and Technology journal raises some new concerns about ethanol-based E85 (85% ethanol, 15% gasoline) which can be used in automobiles. The study finds that if much of the country's fuel supply would switch from gasoline to E85, the number of deaths from respiratory failure (due to ozone) in the United States would rise from 4,700 people a year to nearly 4,900 per year.

"It's not green in terms of air pollution," said study author Mark Jacobson, a Stanford University environmental engineering professor and author of the study. "If you want to use ethanol, fine, but don't do it based on health grounds. It's no better than gasoline, apparently slightly worse."

Jacobson used computer models to determine the effects of an increased use of ethanol in automobiles and how they would impact air pollution. The models determined than an increased reliance on E85 would result in increased smog levels -- especially in Los Angeles and major cities in the Northeast.

Jacobson contends that the increase in smog levels is due to the fact that more hydrocarbons are released into the atmosphere from the combustion of ethanol than from gasoline. Jacobson also notes that ethanol produces less nitrogen oxide which most often is a positive side effect. However, in smog-filled areas like Los Angeles the decreased nitrogen oxide levels can be harmful to the atmosphere.

Matt Hartwig, a spokesman for the Renewable Fuels Association, says that he respect's Jacobson's work but takes issues with some of his findings and methodology. Hartwing notes that when using real-world data instead of computer models "ethanol is a greener fuel than gasoline."

President Bush laid out plans earlier this month for the United States to reduce its dependency on gasoline. "We have laid out a plan that will affect greenhouse gases that come from automobiles by having a mandatory fuel standard that insists on 35 -- using 35 billion gallons of alternative fuels by 2017, which will reduce our gasoline uses by 20 percent and halt the growth in greenhouse gases that emanate from automobiles," said President Bush.

Bush's plan would require that auto manufacturers dedicate more of their resources into producing more E85-capable, hydrogen fuel-cell, gasoline-electric hybrid and all-electric vehicles.

Brazil uses sugar cane as the main component for ethanol used in automotive applications. Brazil is also the largest producer of ethanol as a fuel and nearly half of the vehicles running in the country are powered by ethanol. The United States uses corn instead of sugar cane to produce E85 fuel. Less than 3 percent of new vehicles available for purchase in the United States can run on E85.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Gee! You think . . .
By Quryous on 4/20/2007 12:06:31 PM , Rating: 3
You think all this E85 crap is politically based, rather than science based?

Brazil's eth use is a LOT more complex than most people realize, as are the disadvantages to their economy. But, the pols never bring that up. Getting away from all that nasty foreign oil is a LOT more useful to the pols, politically, that the possibility that they are messing up the economy, as a whole.

I have nothing against alternative energy sources, but certainly wish that the pols would get their hands out of the pie and let REAL science take over, not politically motivated and biased "science," either. REAL Science. That questions EVERYTHING! That TESTS everything with a critical eye to what the pols are spouting.

RE: Gee! You think . . .
By BMFPitt on 4/20/2007 12:10:37 PM , Rating: 4
Don't forget: Iowa is the first primary state. Everybody trying to get into the White House goes there and sucks up to the ethanol lobby to get that edge.

RE: Gee! You think . . .
By Jetster on 4/20/2007 12:23:49 PM , Rating: 4
the study also forget to mention that increasing eth use drives up corn price, and more land for corn, which in turn drives up all the other food price, search the news it's well documented.It also makes american export food more expensive, which means more people in developing countries will go hungry. People in Mexico already went on street to complain about rising corn and tortilla price

RE: Gee! You think . . .
By hands on 4/20/2007 12:53:00 PM , Rating: 1
Have you ever spent a significant amount of time in Mexico? I have, and the economy is significantly agricultural in nature. I knew many people who grew corn for a living. Higher prices for corn definitely wouldn't be a bad thing for them, and less money being spent on imported goods such as corn or other foods generally helps a country's economy in the long run.

RE: Gee! You think . . .
By masher2 on 4/20/2007 1:01:05 PM , Rating: 2
> "Higher prices for corn definitely wouldn't be a bad thing for [Mexico]"

Oops, you forgot the fact that Mexico imports large amounts of corn from the US...well over 8 million metric tons a year now. Corn is also a primary staple diet for a majority of Mexico's population, people who are severely hurt by a near-overnight doubling in the price of corn.

RE: Gee! You think . . .
By IndyJoe on 4/20/2007 1:32:40 PM , Rating: 2
You forgot the fact that the US government pays farmers not to farm. They could stop doing that and then farmland that is not being used can be used to produce more corn. In doing so they will offset the additional usage and keep the price flat.

RE: Gee! You think . . .
By masher2 on 4/20/2007 1:50:40 PM , Rating: 2
> "You forgot the fact that the US government pays farmers not to farm..."

You misunderstand the current nature of federal farm subsidies. The US government sets a minimum price floor for subsidized commodities, If the market price falls below the price floor, the government pays the farmer the difference. This encourages overproduction and drives down the market price.

The days of paying farmers for refusing to grow food are pretty much over. Some farmers do get a per-acre payout anyway...but its paid whether or not they farm. They're still free to grow food, and doing so will pretty much make them a guaranteed profit, so anyone that was planning on farming without the subsidy, still does so with it.

I'm not a big fan of farm subsidies, but claiming they act to raise grain prices is 180 degrees incorrect.

RE: Gee! You think . . .
By PrimarchLion on 4/20/2007 4:52:43 PM , Rating: 2
Wonder how I can become one of those "some farmers". Buy a few hundred acres and just collect the payout. Probably get killed by taxes anyway. Need to look into that.

RE: Gee! You think . . .
By Cogman on 4/20/2007 9:26:08 PM , Rating: 3
lol, it is nowhere near that simple. I currently work on a farm of about 100 acres, most years we barely break even (farm is a "Hobby" farm as my dad puts it, he has a business). There are subsidies out there where you get paid not to farm, but as far as I know there are no or few Paid to farm or not farm subsidies. The most popular paid not to farm subsidies here in Idaho is CRP, basically you get paid to let your land go wild so you can make a natural habitat for wildlife (but they want you to partially manage the growth, very confusing you can't touch the land but at the same time you have to make sure it does not go too wild....). You are also limited to the amount of time you can keep a farm in CRP, I believe you have a 10 year contract and after that they re-evaluate if they want to renew the contract further.

Farming is a bad career choice unless you have well over 1000 acres and a good amount of hired hands. Food prices are just way to low to make a living off of it. (Beef is the best place to start with a smaller farm as it give a bit higher profit right now, but cows are miserable creatures to work with.)

RE: Gee! You think . . .
By Bladen on 4/21/2007 5:34:21 AM , Rating: 5
but cows are miserable creatures to work with.

Tell me about it, I used to work for one name Karen.

RE: Gee! You think . . .
By masher2 on 4/21/2007 1:01:42 PM , Rating: 4
> "as far as I know there are no or few Paid to farm or not farm subsidies."

According to this Washington Post story, such subsidies not only exist, but now encompass over half of all total payments. There are few if any restrictions on the can grow the crop being subsidied anyway, you can grow something else entirely, or do nothing whatsoever.

RE: Gee! You think . . .
By Dfere on 4/20/2007 1:40:22 PM , Rating: 2
In the short run. In the long run, countries that can make land available for corn would benefit. Certainly the US. But I thought ethanol can be made from many crops. If so, this is a win for farmers and agriculture in any country, I would think.

RE: Gee! You think . . .
By Christopher1 on 4/20/2007 8:52:04 PM , Rating: 2
It can be made from many crops, ranging from soy, to wheat, etc.

Basically, any plant can be used to make ethanol, it's just how much trouble and expense it would have to make that ethanol, and the difference in the AMOUNT each could make.

RE: Gee! You think . . .
By FITCamaro on 4/25/2007 11:08:27 PM , Rating: 2
Life's a bitch. Consider it payback for millions of them coming to the US, driving down wages, and sucking billions of dollars out of our federal welfare programs despite not paying any taxes (99.9% of them at least) and then holding protests about how they don't like how they're being treated.

Feel free to rate me down. I really don't care. I also really don't care about the problems Mexico is having considering all the problems Mexico's citizens are causing the US.

RE: Gee! You think . . .
By ogreslayer on 4/20/2007 2:04:41 PM , Rating: 4
Its moot as you wouldn't want them growing corn to make ethanol anyway its one of the least efficient per acre, ton, and amount of energy used to make ethanol. The best stuff to use is sugar beets and sugarcane which yield roughly 2x the fuel per acre.

If the US is serious about moving over to an E85 structure; corn is not the answer. Moving all viable areas over to sugar beets would probably be the way to go. To top it off sugar beets work decently in a rotation system with corn. So it would be easy to appease those who have the fields to do it.

RE: Gee! You think . . .
By mendocinosummit on 4/20/2007 8:01:26 PM , Rating: 2
I have read and heard many times that Switchgrass ( will actually be the most efficient in the near future. I think that it produced more than two times more ethanol. It can also grow almost anywhere and faster.

RE: Gee! You think . . .
By Ringold on 4/20/2007 4:39:17 PM , Rating: 2
You haven't been there lately, or you'd know some parts are furious about the rise is corn prices as they can't afford to make their traditional foods the same way they're used to. If prices continue higher, riots are not at all out of the question.

RE: Gee! You think . . .
By jskirwin on 4/20/2007 2:07:53 PM , Rating: 2
the study also forget to mention that increasing eth use drives up corn price

And you forget to mention that higher prices led farmers to plant more corn over the winter, which resulted in a supply overshooting demand - thereby pushing down prices.

Corn prices are way off their peaks now (see

The supply of corn is much more elastic than oil. A farmer can plant more and bring more corn to market in three months; it takes 10 years for an oil company to bring a new oil field on line.

RE: Gee! You think . . .
By grenableu on 4/20/2007 2:12:06 PM , Rating: 3
> "Corn prices are way off their peaks now..."

Err, your link has them at $3.70/bushel. less than two years ago they were $2/bushel.

Corn prices are still historically very high, and its due to ethanol demand.

RE: Gee! You think . . .
By jskirwin on 4/20/2007 2:40:32 PM , Rating: 1
Corn prices are still historically very high, and its due to ethanol demand.

Umm... Check out:

In April '96 corn was over $5/bushel. You can't blame that on ethanol.

While ethanol is coming off a price spike - no doubt in part due to ethanol - the price of corn is going down at the same time demand from ethanol is increasing. See for graph showing price declining last month.

Basic supply and demand is being ignored in this thread - just as it is ignored by the studies predicting starvation if we move towards ethanol substitution for oil. Supply of agricultural products like corn is very elastic while demand is relatively inelastic - the near opposite of the petroleum situation.

Look at the facts today: Oil is in greater demand because people are driving more. Because the supply of oil is much more inelastic (controlled in part by industry factors, refining capacity and of course, OPEC) the price of gasoline at the pump should be high - which it is.

However even as the demand for ethanol grows, it's price does not - see:

Ethanol is NOT gasoline. Corn is NOT oil and the economics of the former differ from the latter.

RE: Gee! You think . . .
By masher2 on 4/20/2007 3:12:21 PM , Rating: 4
> "In April '96 corn was over $5/bushel. You can't blame that on ethanol..."

No, it was due to bad weather causing an extremely small harvest. This year, we had a good harvest and still prices rose dramatically. THAT you blame on ethanol:

There have been five previous periods when corn futures exceeded $3.50 per bushel. Those were in 1974, 1980, 1983, 1988, and 1996. In contrast to this year, each of those was associated with a weather related short crop ...

RE: Gee! You think . . .
By jskirwin on 4/20/2007 5:08:31 PM , Rating: 2
This year, we had a good harvest and still prices rose dramatically.

So why have the prices fallen? Ethanol demand remains high and if anything, is growing everyday.

RE: Gee! You think . . .
By masher2 on 4/20/2007 7:33:53 PM , Rating: 4
> "So why have the prices fallen? "

Claiming that corn prices have "fallen" is misleading. Upon strong ethanol demand, they shot up dramatically...the futures market operates partially upon guesswork about what supply will be, and has to build a certain degree of uncertainty into the price.

The harvest forecasts appear very strong, and so prices-- while still historically very high-- climbed down a bit from their peaks. Thats all their is to it. But to conclude from this that ethanol isn't responsible for the high prices, you're very mistaken.

RE: Gee! You think . . .
By montgom on 4/23/2007 3:52:27 PM , Rating: 1
"climbed down "

Does this mean they "fell"??? :-)

Pay and Pay again!
By bldckstark on 4/20/2007 12:26:31 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, E85 will initially cost more at the pump. Yes, you get less miles per gallon.
But... You get a lot more miles per gallon of gasoline. That means we buy less oil. That means we send less money to the middle east. That means the middle east has less money to spend on RPG's to kill our soldiers with. That means we don't need as many soldiers in the middle east, we don't have to raise taxes to wage war, and you save lives in the long run. What is more important, paying $0.05 more per mile to drive your car, or having you or your brother killed by insane jihadists that were subsidized by your own money, spent on gas. WE ARE PAYING FOR BOTH SIDES OF THIS WAR. We are paying those retards to kill our soldiers!

We will run out of economically feasible oil someday. Why not make a little downpayment on ourselves now, instead of being held ransom by a bunch of religious fanatics who hate us? In the medium run our economy will be much better off.

If we get out of the oil buying business, and into the alternative fuel making business the middle east becomes a sand lot again and they can go pound sand. That is the best revenge of all. Take away their one advantage over the rest of the world, and watch them all kill themselves over their political beliefs.

RE: Pay and Pay again!
By dajeepster on 4/20/2007 12:43:58 PM , Rating: 1
I'm in total agreement here....
except the part that says "Yes, you get less miles per gallon.But... You get a lot more miles per gallon of gasoline."... that part makes no sense :D

RE: Pay and Pay again!
By Kuroyama on 4/20/2007 1:02:31 PM , Rating: 2
It makes sense if you follow the language carefully. E85 is only 15% gasoline and is 85% ethanol, so perhaps 20% of the energy in it is from gasoline and 80% from ethanol, i.e. more miles per gallon of gasoline. Of course, that doesn't factor in the gas and diesel used to produce the ethanol in the first place.

RE: Pay and Pay again!
By dajeepster on 4/20/2007 3:09:09 PM , Rating: 2
you missed what he said.

You get less miles per gallon but you more miles per gallon.

the statement contradicts itself. I did read the language carefully, i'm an engineer... i can read, I just can't write very well ;)

RE: Pay and Pay again!
By Kuroyama on 4/20/2007 4:04:38 PM , Rating: 2
E85 ... you get less miles per gallon.

So less miles per gallon of E85 than per gallon of gas.

But... You get a lot more miles per gallon of gasoline.

You get 6.7 gallons of E85 per gallon of gasoline.

His phrasing was not so good, but it's not incorrect either.

RE: Pay and Pay again!
By RyanVM on 4/20/2007 4:11:40 PM , Rating: 2
I had to read it a few times before I could make sense of it too. His point is that an engine's fuel efficiency may decrease with E85, but the net amount of gasoline consumed by that engine will still decrease due to ethanol making up the difference. Therefore, demand for gasoline will fall with the reduced net gasoline consumption.

RE: Pay and Pay again!
By goatfajitas on 4/21/2007 10:28:53 AM , Rating: 2
LOL. nice... You get less miles per gallon but you more miles per gallon

RE: Pay and Pay again!
By livelouddiefast on 4/20/2007 12:44:03 PM , Rating: 4
I'm not usually one for being P.C., but calling extremists retards is just plain ignorant. They have a cause they are willing to die for. They did it before we knew what oil did, and will continue to for a long long time.

While it's sad to think about in these terms- our soldiers die by their own choice. They sign a piece of paper that says the army pays me x money and i may die, making this money worthless. Extremists die because of their faith. So you can either be paid to die, or you can believe that your death will fulfill all that you believe in (make you surrounded by virgins... etc). One could probably make a case for US soldiers being retarded/insane based on that logic.

This will probably start a mild flame war, for which i am sorry.

RE: Pay and Pay again!
By Polynikes on 4/20/2007 1:39:21 PM , Rating: 5
I think I speak for the majority of my fellow servicemen and women when I tell you that we didn't join "to get paid to die." We joined to better ourselves, fight for our country, protect freedom, or some combination thereof. How much we get paid if we die doesn't mean anything to us. It's merely a means to ensure our debts are covered if we die. Our surviving relatives won't see the money as worthless when I have a lot of debt THEY have to cover for. The prospect of dying was a risk we were willing to take in order to better ourselves and/or our country.

Like the Islamic extremists, we too have a cause were are willing to die for. We're not retarded. If you're a pacifist and don't understand our motives and don't think military service is worth it for you personally, fine, but don't insinuate that we're stupid. I must remind you that benefit from our choice.

RE: Pay and Pay again!
By geddarkstorm on 4/20/2007 2:01:36 PM , Rating: 3
*applauds* All the best to you for your service (if you're in Iraq or not. Military service is not the easiest road to take in this world, but important wherever you are).

RE: Pay and Pay again!
By livelouddiefast on 4/20/2007 5:16:44 PM , Rating: 3
my apologies, i didn't mean to say you were stupid or only get paid to die, and i appreciate what you do, because i'm far too lazy and apathetic to do it myself, i will admit that. I was just clarifying the islamic extremists are no more 'retarded' than US soldiers. Both have their causes and reasons, and calling one of them unjustified is ignorant, as people rarely fight for something they don't believe in.

this whole thread is real tech oriented, no?

RE: Pay and Pay again!
By rbuszka on 4/21/2007 11:55:43 AM , Rating: 2
The problem with these Middle-Eastern countries is education, or a lack of it. The people in those countries aren't taught to think for themselves when it comes to deciding what they will believe, or what they will believe in. They're so desperate that they will go along with anything. They see the Western world as the cause of all their problems, because that's what they've been taught. We as human beings would like to think of ourselves as civilized, but we each have an animal nature inside us that comes out when we're up against the wall, and that's why it's so easy for those Muslim teachers to manipulate those people.

Now, I'm not against believing in or being ideologically loyal to a person, thing, or ideal, but we have to be able to think for ourselves and examine the claims and statements of the people we depend upon for our education. I'm a Christian personally, but only after examining the archaeological evidence, and evaluating the case for intelligent design, and deciding that it seems right to me. What we each decide to believe is a personal choice, and no one else can make that choice for us. It's my education that has provided me with the mental tools needed to evaluate claims, ideas, theories, and philosophies, and education is what these Middle-Eastern people need as well, in order to be able to make intellectually-responsible personal decisions about who they will follow and what they will believe.

The thing so many people miss about the Iraq war is that it's an ideological war, not a war against an enemy that can be rooted out and destroyed, but against errant teachings from wacked-out teachers, teachings that don't even truly convey a sound interpretation of Islam. The only way to fight lies is with demonstrable truth that will line up with these people's own personal experiences, not with bullets. The bullets are a necessity for other reasons, but they will not be the most effective way to really win this war. We need to go to them on their terms (and that means using the Qur'an as the authority), and find some way to teach these people that spreading their religion through violence isn't consistent with teachings of the Qur'an (unless of course it actually _is_, in which case we'll have a clearer picture of what the real enemy is, but we'll still need to fight against it using ideas and not bullets).

(Some atheist will likely come along and flame me for professing Christian belief, but my personal belief isn't something I take lightly, and spreading Christianity is not the purpose of my post; I merely provided myself as an example, so lay off.)

RE: Pay and Pay again!
By Kuroyama on 4/20/2007 12:59:58 PM , Rating: 1
While I agree with parts of your political comments, your logic regarding ethanol is not very good.

Consider the following. Let's exaggerate and suppose that ethanol produced only 85% as much energy as was put into its production. This would mean that for every barrel of oil you put into making ethanol you would get out only 0.85 barrel equivalents of energy, for a net energy loss! So, sure, you'd get more miles per gallon of gasoline, except that at the end of the day you'd actually have to import more oil than if you cut out ethanol completely!

Now, ethanol production does result in a slight (about 35%) net energy increase, but with such a small energy increase the issue becomes a lot less clear cut. And with such a small energy increase, even if we devoted 100% of farmlands to ethanol production then we'd still displace only a very small portion of oil imports, but at a huge environmental cost (less land for trees and birdies and the like) and fiscal cost (due to higher agricultural prices).

RE: Pay and Pay again!
By fic2 on 4/20/2007 1:44:54 PM , Rating: 3
ethanol production does result in a slight (about 35%) net energy increase

I think there is still debate on whether ethanol production has a net energy increase or not. Certainly it is not as high as 35%.

RE: Pay and Pay again!
By Kuroyama on 4/20/2007 4:08:12 PM , Rating: 2
Older studies with older plants showed no net increase, whereas with the better technology and economies of scale in newer plants coming on line in recent years there is now a net energy increase. But let's not argue about such details, whether we break even or gain 35%, it results in little to no change in oil imports and so neither is enough to justify the environmental and economic consequences of putting so much farmland into fuel production.

RE: Pay and Pay again!
By Hoser McMoose on 4/20/2007 4:28:30 PM , Rating: 2
It is DEFINITELY not that high of an energy increase, at least if we're talking about ethanol from corn (ethanol from other feed stock could easily result in 35% or better increases in energy).

The 35% number that sometimes gets floated around is the decrease in fossil fuel use. This is based on the fact that a good chunk of the energy used in ethanol production can come in the form of electricity, and some of that comes from hydroelectric and nuclear sources. Actually the figure might even be discounting energy from coal power plants as well and only counting oil and natural gas.

The actual end-to-end energy equation for ethanol from corn probably is slightly positive, at least in good corn growing locations, however it's not by very much, almost certainly single digit percentages. Of course, a bad growing season for corn could completely wipe this positive and turn it into a negative.

Even at a small net energy increase, it's horribly inefficient in every measure of the word. Economically it's terrible and only remotely sustainable due to government subsidies. Environmentally it's extremely poor since you're polluting twice (once for the energy to make the ethanol than again when you burn the ethanol), probably worse than gasoline from oil. In terms of net energy we would get MUCH better use from the land by putting up solar panels or wind turbines in place of those corn fields. And in terms of reducing dependence on oil we would be HUGELY better off by simply working on conservation methods.

All that being said, ethanol as a fuel DOES have some potential (though IMO biodiesel has more potential), just NOT with corn as a feed crop.

RE: Pay and Pay again!
By InsaneScientist on 4/21/2007 3:32:20 AM , Rating: 2
Environmentally it's extremely poor since you're polluting twice (once for the energy to make the ethanol than again when you burn the ethanol), probably worse than gasoline from oil.

No kidding...

Ethanol takes enough energy to produce that, as of a couple years ago, if you are counting how much pollution is put out by a car going a set distance (since ultimately, we'd be going the same distance, whether it's more efficient or not) using E85 versus the same car going the same distance using gasoline, the E85 put out roughly 3.87 times as much pollution as the gasoline (when you factor in the processes involved in making gasoline and making ethanol).

I'm sure that it's gotten better over the last couple years, but I seriously doubt that it's enough to make up that sort of a gap. :-S

RE: Pay and Pay again!
By PrimarchLion on 4/20/2007 4:49:07 PM , Rating: 2
Hopefully hybrid and electric car sells increase rapidly in the near future, because I need my cheap birdie nuggets.

RE: Pay and Pay again!
By Hoser McMoose on 4/20/2007 1:29:31 PM , Rating: 1
One problem with this argument is that it ignores the extra natural gas that you need to import to make the ethanol in the first place, and a lot of natural guess comes from, guess where? Yup, the Middle East. They don't have quite the stranglehold on the market like they do with oil, but several Middle Eastern countries (particularly Iran) are major exporters of natural gas.

When you consider that ethanol from corn is only just barely energy-positive, and most of the energy used comes from natural gas, really you're just substituting buying oil with buying natural gas.

Here's are two MUCH better solutions: DRIVE LESS and use a more fuel efficient vehicle when you must drive!

RE: Pay and Pay again!
By Dfere on 4/20/2007 1:43:58 PM , Rating: 3
We save lives in the long run how? We go home and what? The militant extremists convert their RPG's into plowshares? Create corn for Ethanol production? Stop abusing women and denying them equal rights and sit on the farm smoking a pipe? This analysis is simplistic and absurd and absolutely not based on any economic principle, let alone common sense.

RE: Pay and Pay again!
By Ringold on 4/20/2007 4:32:35 PM , Rating: 1
Just to pick up on those economic principles you mentioned..

In case nobody noticed (I assume the anti-war hippy crowd wouldn't care), but there's this thing called the 'Nymex', or New York Mercantile Exchange, and people and electronic orders from around the country buy/sell commodity contracts in a completely free, unfettered open market amongst each other. Oil from Iraq is sold on the global market just like any other barrel of oil and we, the US, have no control of where it technically goes. Even if we restricted it's final destination, the global market is so liquid it wouldn't at all matter. It's possible we could revert to some form of imperial resource-hoarding, but that'd cause such a trade war it'd be a global economic catastrophe.

So people that think we're in Iraq because we're getting a boat load of dedicated oil, piped straight in to the US on the cheap, or even that OPEC even has the capacity to directly set the cost of oil, is just horribly misinformed. Oil was most absolutely not the reason we went in to Iraq. Was the true reason WMDs? Perhaps, perhaps not. The fact of the matter is we'll probably never know any better than we know how many people shot Kennedy and why, but we're there now, and it and Afghanistan are both in critical condition. We know what happens when we abandon a nation to radicals (North Korea and Taliban Afghanistan), so the decision has little to do with anything other than security.

RE: Pay and Pay again!
By InsaneScientist on 4/21/2007 3:37:11 AM , Rating: 2
I agree 100%

The other thing to consider, for those who think that the reason that we're in Iraq for oil is this:
Quite simply, the United States is operating at it's peak refining capacity. Even if we could get more oil coming in (which we could, but there's no need...), our current bottleneck, and the reason that gas prices are so high, is that we can't refine any more oil than we already are.

RE: Pay and Pay again!
By Slaimus on 4/20/2007 2:38:29 PM , Rating: 1
Your point is valid, but the problem is that we get our ethanol from corn production, which uses up almost as much oil to fertilize, ferment, and transport.

The report is valid based on current ethanol production. If we can make ethanol some other way, then you point would be a valid arguement against the study.

RE: Pay and Pay again!
By StevoLincolnite on 4/21/2007 11:22:37 AM , Rating: 2
I want cars to run on methane. -.- Gives me an excuse to eat allot of baked beans. >.>

What I don't like....
By Souka on 4/20/2007 12:07:07 PM , Rating: 3
What I don't like about E85 is the lower fuel economy it provides....which means less miles per tank.

Yes, you get more miles per gallon of GASOLINE, but less miles per gallon of FUEL.

Here's a chart from Wiki...

And a quote to demonstrate my point...
"New US light vehicles designated as flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) running on E85 (85% ethanol, 15% gasoline) will typically achieve from 5% to 15% less fuel economy in mpg on pure E85 than when operated on pure gasoline. Older non-turbo-charged fuel-injected FFVs running on E85 will typically achieve about [b]25% to 30% less [/b]fuel economy on E85"

This totally blows for anyone driving non-FFV cars....25mpg drops to under 20mpg, and E85 will cost more at the pump....

Way to go BUSH... you're really really helping the economy now....

RE: What I don't like....
By Mazzer on 4/20/2007 12:15:39 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is that ethanol combusted differently then gasoline, and no engine out has been designed specifically for ethanol only. Thus, you get a less efficient use of fuel.

RE: What I don't like....
By RyanM on 4/20/2007 12:37:06 PM , Rating: 2
No, it's because the energy density of ethanol is lower than gasoline. This is the precise reason why diesel is inherently more efficient.

Regular Gasoline: 34.8 MJ/L
Ethanol: 23.5 MJ/L
Diesel: 38.60 MJ/L

The hope for deceasing our dependence on foreign oil and reducing our carbon footprint is ramming DIESEL down the throats of the public, not ethanol.

RE: What I don't like....
By masher2 on 4/20/2007 12:44:10 PM , Rating: 3
> "it's because the energy density of ethanol is lower than gasoline. This is the precise reason why diesel is inherently more efficient."

This isn't why diesel is more efficient. It has a higher Carnot efficiency because it operates on a different thermodynamic cycle, compressing the fuel much more, and thus allowing for more expansion. This is true whatever fuel it uses...and in fact, the first diesel engines didn't burn "diesel" at all, but rather ammonia vapour.

You could use gasoline in a diesel engine and gain more efficiency...if it wasn't for the fact that the pesky stuff ignites too early under such high compression ratios.

RE: What I don't like....
By Keeir on 4/20/2007 1:57:06 PM , Rating: 2
I believe the "inherently more efficient" refers to that per gallon Diesel has the potential to produce more energy. Per Mass, I believe gasoline and Diesel are very close. It is also true that an Diesel type engine has higher efficiency.

RE: What I don't like....
By ksherman on 4/20/2007 2:02:04 PM , Rating: 2
I believe actually that Honda and another company (GM?) where working on prototype engines what were able to use a similar design to engines used in Deisel cars but with gasoline. The issue was that they were having trouble maintaining the combustion at extreme ends of the engine speed spectrum, and as such were also looking into a hybrid system that would have spark plugs, but only need them at very low speeds and high speeds.

I am actually hopeing that Desiel cathes on more in the US. The only issue I see is that near me (Chicago suburbs) deisel is almost as much as premium fuel at most pumps.

RE: What I don't like....
By Hoser McMoose on 4/20/2007 4:42:16 PM , Rating: 4
I believe the technology you're looking for is Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI):

Very interesting concept, but as you mentioned it does have some big hurdles that need to be overcome.

Probably the best way to use an HCCI engine would be in a serial gasoline-electric hybrid design. Have a small HCCI engine running at constant (or near constant) RPMs to generate electricity for an electrical motor. Extra electricity can get saved to batteries, then use some regenerative breaking for a bit of extra juice. Add in a plug so you can charge the batteries overnight for short commutes and you've got yourself a BIG improvement over current vehicles in terms of fuel consumption and environmental impact.

Of course, such a vehicle isn't going to appear overnight, lots of R&D money would be required. If this sort of design had the same kind of funding that ethanol from corn gets we would probably be WAY further ahead.

RE: What I don't like....
By geddarkstorm on 4/20/2007 2:11:35 PM , Rating: 2
Carnot efficiencies and cycles have to do with mechanical engines. Ethanol, based on its molecular structure, cannot have as high an energy molecularly as gasoline. Infact, the longer the gasoline molecule, the more potential energy it contains (but the harder it is to refine. It is also more efficient at the engine level also. We see this daily as our Octane counts, since gas is mostly made of Hexane). So, ethanol being a 2 carbon unit molecule with a hydroxyl group, is no where near as energetic as a six or eight carbon molecule when you oxidize it through combustion. Ethanol also will have less energy than ethane because ethane can be oxidized further than ethanol (ethanol is one oxidation state higher than ethane. The more reduced (lower oxidation state) a molecule is, the more energy you get from it when you oxidize it. These priciples are how your cellular metabolisms work and why fats have far more energy than sugars).

So, his post was completely right, diesel full has alot more energy in it than ethanol per mass/volume.

RE: What I don't like....
By masher2 on 4/20/2007 3:22:42 PM , Rating: 2
> "So, his post was completely right, diesel full has alot more energy "

You still misunderstand. Energy content has nothing to do with efficiency. Efficiency is the ratio of usable energy extracted compared to the total energy. You can burn a high-energy fuel inefficiently, and a low-energy fuel efficiently.

Yes diesel fuel has more energy per unit volume. That has nothing to do with efficiency, however. The diesel cycle , though, is a more efficient one period. Even if it burns a fuel with less energy in it than gasoline.

RE: What I don't like....
By Hoser McMoose on 4/20/2007 5:00:29 PM , Rating: 2
Yup. A diesel engine will, all else being equal, get you about 30% further per liter of fuel than a gasoline engine will. Roughly half of this is from the higher energy content of the fuel while the other half is from the higher efficiency of the diesel cycle.

While the resulting fuel economy is about 30% better, the CO2 emissions are only about 15% better and air pollution emissions are actually usually worse. Newer diesel engines have made BIG gains on reducing particulate emissions from diesel engines though, so they're probably pretty close to gasoline engines now on a kilometer to kilometer basis.

Ethanol engines can benefit from higher efficiencies in some similar ways. While ethanol itself has about 30% less energy per liter than gasoline does, it can run at higher efficiencies. I don't know if they can quite reach the efficiencies of a diesel engine, but a good turbo or supercharged ethanol engine might get you only 15% less than similar a gasoline engine.

Another alternative would be just to raise the performance of the engine, as is done on the Koenigsegg CCXR flex fuel engine. They use the higher octane rating of E85 ethanol to bump up the boost pressure on their supercharge and the compression ratio of the engine to get up to 1000hp vs. "only" 800hp on plain old premium gasoline. While this is a slightly ridiculous extreme example, the basic principle could be applied to allow eg. a turbo 1.6L E85 engine to be used in place turbo 2.0L or naturally aspirated 3.0L gasoline engines.

RE: What I don't like....
By Christopher1 on 4/20/2007 8:57:08 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, on this point you are 100% right. No engine has been designed for ethanol use and to take advantage of ethanol to it's fullest.

We are going to have to realize that we are either going to have to make MUCH more efficient engines to burn gasoline or much more efficient engines to burn ethanol.

That is the truth of the matter. It might also help to lower speed limits to 50, because anything ABOVE that there is a marked drop in the efficiency of the engines of today.

RE: What I don't like....
By Ringold on 4/20/2007 4:43:51 PM , Rating: 2
That last line cracks me up.

Damned if he helps the green tree-huggers and damned if it doesn't!

No way I'd be president and have a hundred million critics at any one given time. Dictator, that I could do, President-elect, no.

E85 Good - Gasoline Bad
By Zeatrix on 4/21/2007 5:00:15 AM , Rating: 2
Many of the comments seem to miss the most important reason why ethanol based fuel is better than gasoline is that it does not add CO2 to the atmosphere.

It has nothing to do with the middle east, nothing to do with the cost. Yes, going to E85 will probably cost society more as a whole than staying with gasoline, but is HAS to be done. Global Warming is a serious threat, not to be taken lightly. We won't see catastrophic effects anytime soon because of it, and me might never see them, but we have to stop adding fossil CO2 into the atmosphere.

RE: E85 Good - Gasoline Bad
By masher2 on 4/21/2007 1:16:24 PM , Rating: 2
I think you've missed the fact that ethanol *does* add CO2 to the atmosphere. It takes a tremendous amount of oil to grow corn and produce ethanol from it, as well as electricity to run the production plant, which is itself partially produced from coal.

Using pessimistic assumptions such as growing in marginal areas, it actual takes more oil than you save (net energy loss). Under more optimistic assumptions, you have a net energy gain, but you're still producing CO2...just a little less than you otherwise would.

As for the larger issue of CO2, we certainly won't see 'catastrophic' effects ever. We may or may not see some changes...but we will see the health effects of pollutoin and smog from ethanol.

RE: E85 Good - Gasoline Bad
By Zeatrix on 4/22/2007 2:28:28 PM , Rating: 1
Of course anthropogenic CO2 is added if you use fossil fuel to produce it. But you assume that you have to use that. And it is a side effect. Maybe corn is the only way to produce it in the USA but in Sweden we use byproducts from our timber and paper industry to produce ethanol. If you run the machinery that produce ethanol on ethanol you won't have the same problem.

And regarding your second point, a small decrease in CO2 is better than nothing, and no one is saying ethanol is the final answer to global warming, far from it, but it's a step in the right direction.

How can you say "we certainly won't see 'catastrophic' effects ever". Can you look into the future? Many of the worlds climate experts seem to think that it is possible. Just read on of this years IPCC reports, no pleasant reading in those, and on top of that, those reports a conservative since they don't want to publish things that have the lowest common denominator among scientists.

By the way, did you take chemistry class? When you burn ethanol you get three things: Energy (heat), water, and CO2.

Which of those three byproducts are pollutants? The only pollution produced when burning E85 is from the 15% gasoline that is added.

RE: E85 Good - Gasoline Bad
By masher2 on 4/22/2007 7:04:28 PM , Rating: 2
> "Of course anthropogenic CO2 is added if you use fossil fuel to produce it"

That's the only way we can do so at present.

> "in Sweden we use byproducts from our timber and paper industry to produce ethanol"

As far as I know, Sweden has one pilot plant attempting to use cellulose as a feedstock for ethanol...but no commercial production yet exists. I don't know of any country in the world currently doing so either.

> "did you take chemistry class? When you burn ethanol you get three things: Energy (heat), water, and CO2"

Perhaps in 9th grade science that's true. The reality is considerably more complex. The oxidation of ethanol produces formaldehydes and acetaldehydes. In a hydrocarbon mix, its higher volatility increases unburned HCs, which then react with nitrogen oxides to form ground level ozone.

All of these are primary components of urban air pollution, and contain serious health effects.

> "Just read on of this years IPCC reports"

I've read it, and I stand by my assertion. No catastrophic effects. A few millimeters/year sea level rise (about the same rate its been increasing for the past 7000 years, in fact). A chance of slightly stronger hurricanes...but a slight chance of slightly weaker ones as well. The coldest areas of the earth slightly warmer...the warmest areas no warmer at all. Some areas will receive a little more rainfall, some a little less. Nothing catastrophic in the least.

RE: E85 Good - Gasoline Bad
By Kuroyama on 4/23/2007 12:44:37 AM , Rating: 3
A few millimeters/year sea level rise (about the same rate its been increasing for the past 7000 years, in fact

If a "few" is say 2mm/year then over 7000 years that's 14 meters or 46 feet. While I admit to complete ignorance on the subject, I can't help but doubt that sea levels have gone up this much in the last 7000 years.

in Sweden we use byproducts from our timber and paper industry to produce ethanol

While masher2 already refuted this, seems it would be more efficient to burn the wood products for energy, without going through the trouble and energy loss of putting it in an intermediate form such as ethanol. At very high temperatures and with proper filtration systems it probably wouldn't pollute all that much either.

RE: E85 Good - Gasoline Bad
By masher2 on 4/23/2007 9:24:07 AM , Rating: 3
> "If a "few" is say 2mm/year then over 7000 years that's 14 meters or 46 feet. While I admit to complete ignorance on the subject, I can't help but doubt that sea levels have gone up this much in the last 7000 years"

Its a fact. Sea levels have risen about 400 feet in the last 16,000 years actually. Here's a reference:

RE: E85 Good - Gasoline Bad
By Kuroyama on 4/23/2007 11:20:26 AM , Rating: 3
That is fascinating and at least from my perspective is the most convincing argument I have seen to date against the hypothesis that global warming is primarily man-made. Why? The fact that this is a 1968 article and a quick Google search can find recent articles totally unrelated to global warming issues that reference this makes it appear that the basic premise is not that strongly questioned. For instance, here's an NOAA article on formation of barrier islands

It says that there is a competing theory that the sea level rise stopped 3000-4000 years ago, but in any case there seems to be no questioning that glacial melting and sea level increase was definitely a major phenomenon from say 15,000 years ago to 4000 years ago.

Sure there's the Mars is warming, CO2 isn't a major greenhouse gas, etc. sorts of arguments, but I find those much easier to argue with than this. Would still prefer to get energy from somewhere other than the Mid East (terrorism, corruption, etc) or coal (pollution), but those are separate problems from global warming. I think you've almost converted me, yikes!

Not entirely accurate
By Suomynona on 4/20/2007 12:23:04 PM , Rating: 2
A recent study from the Environmental Science and Technology journal raises some new concerns about ethanol-based E85 (85% ethanol, 15% gasoline) which can be used in automobiles.

It can't just be used in any automobile. Engines have to be made without certain materials in order to withstand that high of a concentration of ethanol. IIRC, there are ~4 million flex-fuel vehicles in the US that can actually use E85.

RE: Not entirely accurate
By Brandon Hill on 4/20/2007 12:25:08 PM , Rating: 2
Last paragraph.

"Less than 3 percent of new vehicles available for purchase in the United States can run on E85."

RE: Not entirely accurate
By OrSin on 4/20/07, Rating: 0
RE: Not entirely accurate
By masher2 on 4/20/2007 12:49:53 PM , Rating: 2
> "That Sam club, BJ, Walmarts and even citco and ever last one of them sell 10% gas."

Let me get this straight. You think that, because someone sells E90, that proves nearly all new cars can use it?

> "And as for the price of corn will go up, that complete lie too..."

Corn prices topped $4.00 per bushel earlier this year, the highest in 10 years....compared with about $2 in early 2005

RE: Not entirely accurate
By Rockjock51 on 4/20/2007 1:36:50 PM , Rating: 2
It is true the government pays farmers not to grow corn. If they stop that, his theory is, the price of corn will go down. I don't agree with it necessarily, but you kind of cherrypicked and took that quote out of context to fit your need.

RE: Not entirely accurate
By Oregonian2 on 4/20/2007 1:57:47 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't know if it was true for corn, but if it is I suspect that will drop soon. AFAIK those programs are made to stabilize prices for farmers, so if prices are high the payments for non-planting would go down or away. And prices are up.

RE: Not entirely accurate
By TimTheEnchanter25 on 4/20/2007 1:56:57 PM , Rating: 3
I'm in the retail gas business and there is not a single station selling E90 nor is there any production vehicle that can run on it. There are a lot of stations selling E10 (10% ethanol) if that's what you mean.

And you are also wrong about it being at non-branded locations. Here in Michigan, everyone wants it because of the small price advantage. But, only the big oil companies have been able to lock in enough supply for their branded customers. Wal-Mart etc has not been able to get it.

But, it is not even close to half the stations selling it. It isn't possible, there isn't enough ethanol. There was only 4.6 billion gallons of Ethanol in 2006 compared to 140 billion gallons of gas. If every gallon had ethanol in it, it would only be 2-3%.

Normal cars can't handle over 10-15%, and flex fuel vehicles can't handle over 85% (according to the manuals). If you try to run a couple tankfulls of E85 in a normal vehicle, it will do a lot of damage.

You are correct that the the government needs to stop paying people not to grow corn if there is a shortage. But, they also need to stop paying $.51 per gallon of Ethanol to make it as cheap as gas. At 4.7 billion gallons thats $2.3 billion tax dollars that largely goes to the people that own ethanol plants. It costs around $1.20 to make a gallon of ethanol and the average rack price in MI today is $2.61 compared to $2.14 for gas (pre tax). After the ethanol company gets there 51 cents from the goverment, ethanol is slightly cheaper than gas. It's amazing that the price of ethanol always stays around 50 cents higher than gas. Either it can compete with gas or it can't, the tax break doesn't help the consumers at all.

Bottom line, putting Ethanol in gas makes it more exspensive to drive and to eat.

RE: Not entirely accurate
By fic2 on 4/20/2007 2:12:42 PM , Rating: 2
Did you know right now all car and I mean all can use E90. If you don't think so just stop at any Non-big oil gas station. That Sam club, BJ, Walmarts and even citco and ever last one of them sell 10% gas.

What gas stations sell now is E10, not E90. E10 is 10% ethanol (E-10, get it) and 90% gasoline. Not the 10% gasoline, 90% ethanol that you seem to think.

By geddarkstorm on 4/20/2007 3:04:27 PM , Rating: 5
Urg, I don't understand why ethanol is becoming all the rage other than the fact it's an alternative and cleaner fuel. But why is it a cleaner fuel? Has anyone asked that? It's actually simple, but it's also why it has less energy than gas. Looking at these comments I keep seeing horrible, horrible science being used to try to support views. This is simply because there's alot of misconceptions out there, terminology and jargon thrown around, and the media is notorius for never reporting (or understanding?) the science behind anything, even their own "science" articles. Sooo, this post is going to be dense and long, but hopefully useful and educational.

Ok, let me send us all through a crash course in Organic Chemistry. Yes, ethanol, gasoline, all of that is organic, meaning it contains carbon. Now, one interesting thing about hydrocarbons, such as fats and "gas", is that they are highly saturated. Saturation refers to the ammount of hydrogen covalently bonded (from now on, when I say bonded, I mean covalent) to a carbon verses the ammount of binding sites available. Carbon has four valence shell electrons and will make four bonds; this can be to four different atoms or three bonds to a single atom and another to something else (like in ethyne, where there's a tripple bond between the two carbons and then one hydrogen bonded to each). Hydrogen has one valence shell electron (one electron period) and can thus make only one bond.

Ok, now, ethan ol is named such because it contains two carbons with a hydroxal (-OH) group attached to one of the crabons in place of a hydrogen. This means, ethanol has the molecular forumula of C2H5O (the hydrogen attached to the oxygen isn't counted as it is chemically different, just the main chain attachments. Also bear with me, as I can't do subscripts here apparently).
Now, hexane is the main hydrocarbon used in gasoline, with some octane to augment it and keep it from igniting too early during compression before the spark plug goes (if it does ignite too early, this is called Knocking, and is dangerous to a vehical--sounds like a loud POP!). Hexane is six carbons and 14 hydrogens, for C6H14. Octane is eight carbons and 20 hydrogens (C8H20).

Ok, now, during combustion, or metabolism in your own cells, hydrocarbons are oxidized. This oxidation reaction is, in cells, coupled with reduction of cofactors which later on are used to drive electrochemical gradiates which give enough free energy to power the cell. In motors, this oxidation reaction results in the release of gas and large amounts of heat which rapidly expand and push the piston down. Therefore, the expansion of gas is used to drive the motion of a piston and give the kinetic energy for vehicular movement (once transfered to the wheels of course and modified by the transmission).

Now, the more saturated a carbon molecule, the more oxidation it can undergo and thus the more gas it can release. Also, the more energy and heat it will release; thus allowing explosive expansion. Octane, for instance, burns far hotter and better than hexane for these very reasons and since it is a larger molecule with more carbon to oxidize; and thus octane is also used in high performance vehicals to give them more power. CO2 is produced during combustion as this is the more oxidized form of carbon (the most saturated, or reduced, form being CH4, methane). So, during a combustion reaction in a vehical, oxygen and fuel is thrown into a chamber, compressed, and then ignited to cause a massive release of CO2, water, and CO. CO and water (H2O) are produced by incomplete burning (oxidation) of the hydrocarbon fuel (though water will always arise if there is more oxygen administered than carbon by more than 2:1, along with elemental hydrogen: H2); sludge and tar are also produced since these are molecular remants of hydrocarbons that have not been fully burned.

The important thing to note, is that the longer and more saturated the carbon chain the more energy (force via gas and heat) it can output upon oxidation. Therefore, by volume or weight, it will contain more potential oxidative energy than a hydrocarbon of lesser length or a carbon chain of higher oxidation status.

What about ethanol then? Ethanol, as noted earlier, is two carbons with a hydroxyl group on one of them. This means, ethanol is already one oxidative state above full saturation. Ethanol is used instead of ethane though because the latter is in the gassious phase at room temperature, while ethanol retains its liquid phase although it's still highly volitile and evaporates quickly (this has to do with the ability of the hydroxyl group to form hydrogen bonds and thus stabilize the liquid from and rise the temperature of vaporization). So, ethanol per molecule, per volume, and per weight contains far less energy than gasoline. This is standard physics, chemistry, and thermal dynamics. You can't burn what you don't have, and ethanol has less of it than hexane or octane by a considerable ammount.

Of course ethanol puts out less CO2 per volume than hexane. It has less carbon per volume than hexane by a factor of three! Also, the only reason I can think of that ethanol may produce more ozone is because it doesn't burn as hot, therefore allowing elemental oxygen (O2) the chance to form ozone (O3, therefore oxygen oxidizes itself) instead of oxidizing the carbon to CO or CO2 and otherwise becoming reduced to water. Ethanol probably gives off more hydrogen gas (H2) as well. Ethanol is a highly inefficient fuel compared to gasoline, all other factors like motors being equal. I suspect, however, that ethanol cannot be compressed nearly as much as gasoline for the same reasons hexane cannot be compressed as much as octane, which is why ethanol cannot be used in current gasoline rated vehicals. If you tried to put ethanol in a standard vehical, you'd get horrible Knocking and probably the destruction of the engine.

So.. why all this fuss over ethanol? Only because it's an alternative to gasoline that's easy to make (propanol is harder, otherwise we'd be talking about that instead of ethanol, as it is a more energy efficient molecule. Same for hexanol and octanol) and happens to have lower CO2 emissions per volume than gasoline (because it has less carbon per volume to start with!).

What we really need is hydrogen fuel cells. That, and only that, is a true new energy source. Ethanol is just the same as gasoline: combustion. But hydrogen fuel cells are a completely different process using oxidation AND reduction much like our cells do, while keeping everything completely electronic, no mechanical or kinetic energy is released by hydrogen fuel cells (hence why it has to be transfered to an electrical motor that changes the resulting electrical current into kinetic motion).

Hydrogen IS an energy source . Hydrogen IS NOT an energy carrier (where the heck did that term come from anyways? No atom "carries" energy beyond atomic energy. The only "energy carrying" that can ever be done is through chemical bonds in molecules). Hydrogen's only purpose in combustion is being a good leaving group to allow oxygen little difficulty in binding to and oxidizing carbon. It's the oxidation by oxygen that creates the energy; hydrogen is just a good bystander and easy for oxygen to kick out.

I hope this helps people cut through all the rhetoric and terms to actually understand the processes going on and how things actually are working. Unfortunately, as awesome as Bush is being to push our nation away from gasoline (which it must do!), he doesn't fully understande the science or he wouldn't be so hung up over ethanol. Ethanol is a "looks good on paper" solution, but not a real one. Still, props to Bush for actually doing something other than twittle his thumbs like alot of people in "power".

By masher2 on 4/20/2007 3:30:41 PM , Rating: 2
> "Hydrogen IS an energy source . Hydrogen IS NOT an energy carrier "

No, you misunderstand. When we pump oil up from below the earth's surface, we gain energy. When we mine coal, we gain energy. When we harness the power of falling water or nuclear energy-- we gain energy.

Hydrogen doesn't do that for us. There is no source of elemental hydrogen on Earth. We have to produce it...and therefore, even counting the energy we get back when we eventually oxidize it, the process is still net endothermic. A net loss for us.

That's why hydrogen is considered an energy carrier, not a direct source. We put energy in, by reformulating fossil fuels or by splitting water, and get hydrogen out. We then use that hydrogen to "carry" that energy from the plant that produced it, to the fuel cell, where it is consumed.

By geddarkstorm on 4/20/2007 3:41:49 PM , Rating: 2
No way. "Energy Carrier" means it carries energy. Only energy besides atomic can be carried in bonds. Albiet, hydrogen forms a bond with itself in its elemental form (hydrogen gas, H2), but this is not a "high energy" bond. Likewise, all molecules are energy carriers in that way. So in the most broad and technical sense, it is an energy carrier.. but so is everything else.

Hydrogen is an energy sourse. It doesn't matter if we are getting it from elemental hydrogen or some other place, and no not all hydrogen use is endothermic. Energy sources means we are using hydrogen to produce energy, however the hydrogen was derived. I know what you are getting at, which is that you're trying to say that the use of hydrogen doesn't give back as much energy as it takes to get hydrogen into a useable form, but that's the same for ALL energy production we do. Why?

How about this example, it takes alot of energy and work to get fossil fuels out of the ground, alot more than they give back (both for running the machines, and for making the machines that do the drilling. Refining the metal for the drills, etc.). Therefore, since we carrier oil from the well to the refinery, then spend a ton of energy turning it into gasoline, then carrier it to the car where you use it, it too is an energy carrier! No my friend, I'm afraid your reasoning fails upon examination, because fossil fuels take up more energy than they give out. Infact, all processes do this (in the most aboslute sense) that are not spontaneous processes. This is because of the second law of thermal dynamics. And gasoline does not spontaneously pull itself form the ground, refine itself, and stick itself into your gas tank; that is energetically unfavorable I'm afraid.

By masher2 on 4/20/2007 7:44:17 PM , Rating: 1
> "Hydrogen is an energy sourse..."

I can't really explain it any clearer than I've already done. In chemical terms, feel free to consider hydrogen an energy source, but terms of the hydrogen economy, its an energy carrier only. It does nothing whatsoever to solve our energy needs; its just a convenient (and clean) bucket to hold energy obtained from other sources.

> "How about this example, it takes alot of energy and work to get fossil fuels out of the ground, alot more than they give back "

This isn't even remotely close to correct. Lifting and refining costs are a small fraction of the energy contained in the average barrel of oil. Common sense should tell you we cannot possibly operate at a net energy loss on fossil fuels. Where do you think all our energy comes from? Perpetual motion?

By cougar1 on 4/25/2007 7:23:01 PM , Rating: 2
Think about it! Hydrogen is indeed an energy carrier. Energy isn't carried in bonds. It is released when bonds are formed. When hydrogen reacts with oxygen (either in a fuel cell or by conventional combustion) the net effect is that the relatively weak H-H bond (and O=O bond) is broken (which costs a little energy) and the much stronger H-O-H bonds are formed. It is the formation of these strong bonds, which is responsible for the release of energy.

However, in the context of this discussion the term "Energy Carrier" refers to the fact that we do not have an abundant cheap supply of hydrogen. In order to make hydrogen gas we have to use energy from somewhere else (eg. Solar, Nuclear, wind, geothermal, fossil fuels, etc...) to convert some feed stock (usually water or hydrocarbons) into hydrogen.

By contrast we do have a relatively abundant, cheap supply of hydrocarbons (fossil fuels). In a sense fossil fuels are just an "Energy Carrier" as well. But, the difference is that the energy in them has already been put there (through millions of years of photosynthesis, which captured solar energy and subsequent geological processes, which converted them into a form suitable for convenient use in vehicles).

About time
By masher2 on 4/20/2007 12:07:57 PM , Rating: 4
Two years ago, I was telling people the same thing. Ethanol is more volatile than gasoline; it raises emissions. Want cleaner air? Don't buy ethanol.

But with corn-producer Archer Daniels Midland financing advertising and environmental groups to push it, getting people to listen was pretty much impossible.

RE: About time
By smitty3268 on 4/20/2007 12:22:02 PM , Rating: 3
You were hardly the only one. Ethanol is just a giant subsidy to the agricultural business. I think most environmentalists were just happy that people were looking at alternatives to oil, and decided to cover their ears when told the downsides of ethanol.

RE: About time
By Kuroyama on 4/20/2007 12:40:06 PM , Rating: 4
Study after study shows that very little is gained by using corn based ethanol, for instance even the most recent study shows only a 35% energy gain in producing ethanol, which is fairly small. Now we see it even makes pollution worse. High ethanol production is also driving up corn prices and hurting the 3rd world countries that liberals like me are supposed to want to help.

So, why do you suppose environmental groups like E85? I would think environmental groups would oppose corn based ethanol because the higher the ethanol demand leads to increased demand for agricultural products, and hence much farmland that had been taken out of service to help the environment is now being put back into work. Perhaps cellulosic ethanol will eventually be efficient enough to have a positive environmental effect, born the corn based stuff is ridiculous.

Note: Although the most efficient factories in the most efficient corn growing states have a 100% energy increase, those places would grow corn anyways so it's more appropriate to consider the benefit from the marginal land being put back into corn growing due to ethanol demand.

Questionable conclusion...
By ksuWildcat on 4/20/2007 12:23:35 PM , Rating: 1
While I am in favor of doing more to protect the environment and funding research into cleaner fuels, I would say that this study isn't really conclusive. E-85 and biofuels in general are not the perfect solution to our growing energy needs, but I do believe that they have their place in today's economy.

The most important benefit from using biofuels and blended gasoline is the reduction in our dependence on foreign oil, with the eventual goal of zero dependence on oil (foreign and domestic).

From a safety and health standpoint, reducing or eliminating our use of foreign oil (especially from the Middle East) will save far more lives than those that will be lost to the additional smog/air pollution caused by biofuels, assuming this study is correct.

I am not a huge fan of the biofuels industry in general, but something has to be done to reduce our oil consumption.

The good news is that we're probably only a decade or two from hydrogen becoming a viable alternative fuel.

RE: Questionable conclusion...
By Hare on 4/20/2007 1:06:14 PM , Rating: 2
Correct me if I'm wrong but shouldn't hydrogen be considered a transport (energy carrier). Not an alternative fuel itself.

RE: Questionable conclusion...
By ksuWildcat on 4/20/2007 1:36:34 PM , Rating: 2
Correct me if I'm wrong but shouldn't hydrogen be considered a transport (energy carrier). Not an alternative fuel itself.

Short answer: yes and no.

I believe that this depends on whether or not you're talking about fuel cells or internal combustion engines which do in fact burn hydrogen as a fuel (as opposed to a gasoline/oxygen mixture.)

There are actually quite a few vehicles out there that use hydrogen fuel cells today, but I believe that burning hydrogen itself as a fuel for internal combustion engines might be the solution. Ford made an F-150 with an engine designed to burn hydrogen/natural gas which is about 25% more efficient than today's gas engines. And a Daimler/Chrysler Mercedes engine was made to burn pure hydrogen, and the only byproduct was water.

RE: Questionable conclusion...
By masher2 on 4/20/2007 1:39:24 PM , Rating: 2
> "I believe that this depends on whether or not you're talking about fuel cells or internal combustion engines which do in fact burn hydrogen as a fuel..."

Hydrogen isn't a source of energy, no matter how you oxidize it. Its an energy carrier, the energy in it comes from the process which produces it.

Today, hydrogen is made primarily from fossil fuels...but a few new nuclear plants could change that.

RE: Questionable conclusion...
By ksuWildcat on 4/20/2007 2:19:00 PM , Rating: 2
Hydrogen isn't a source of energy, no matter how you oxidize it. Its an energy carrier, the energy in it comes from the process which produces it.

Strictly speaking, yes hydrogen is an energy carrier. But it is also a fuel, just like gasoline. And gasoline is an energy transport mechanism just like hydrogen.

Ask yourself this: where did oil come from? Oil is the result of millions of years of dead, decaying animals (which ate plants) & plant life which (inefficiently) captured solar energy.

So really, hydrogen is both a fuel and an energy transport mechanism, just like gasoline.

Critics of hydrogen point to the energy required to separate sources of hydrogen (such as water via electrolysis) into their basic elements, but this is where solar energy becomes feasible...for providing us with the energy necessary to extract hydrogen from the sea. It isn't a matter of if we'll use this technology, but rather when. 20 years, 50 years, I don't know. But it still is the best long-term solution and successor to oil for internal combustion engines.

I do agree with you though on using "waste" hydrogen from nuclear plants, which is probably how we should be generating electricity anyway, rather than burning coal.

RE: Questionable conclusion...
By Oregonian2 on 4/20/2007 1:53:27 PM , Rating: 2
In your examples, hydrogen still is just the transport. It's only a energy source if one can "mine" it from the ground or the like taking less energy to produce it than given off when used. Which AFAIK isn't going to happen. It'll have to be generated from something else (most likely splitting water) or something else where the energy to "make" the hydrogen will exceed what the hydrogen will release (hydrogen fusion would be an exception where it's a energy source). Currently it's from petroleum processing, but I think I read it's a byproduct of some process that would have just vented or burned the stuff off anyway. Sort-of mined, but not really. Not the mass-quantity process that would be used for widespread use.

Keeping carbon off of our streets
By CryptoQuick on 4/20/2007 12:15:37 PM , Rating: 2
Ethanol is still a fuel, it still burns, so of course there's still going to be smog.

Let's not forget the reason we're going to use ethanol-- To keep oil in the ground, where it belongs. We don't need to put any more carbon in the air than we need, and ethanol helps with that.

I'm just interested to see how his study would have turned out if he had used butanol, which is an ethanol alternative that can apparently be produced in the same way cellulosic ethanol is created, just using a different enzyme.

RE: Keeping carbon off of our streets
By michal1980 on 4/20/2007 12:26:12 PM , Rating: 3
oil belongs in our cars provided good cheap power.

corn belongs in our stomachs as good cheap food for people.

Unless we want to start eating oil becasue we will use all our corn for cars.

By sprockkets on 4/20/2007 2:30:28 PM , Rating: 1
well, thanks again to corn subsides we make high fructose corn syrup instead of normal cane sugar contributing to a form of diabetes.

By masher2 on 4/20/2007 12:39:07 PM , Rating: 2
> "I'm just interested to see how his study would have turned out if he had used butanol"

Well since nearly all butanol is today produced from fossil fuels, switching to it may be a bit premature. It has promise certainly...but its not something we can move to tomorrow.

Also, engines are going to require a bit of modification to use butanol, regardless of what its proponents claim. Its RVP is much lower than gasoline...if you want your car to start on a cold morning, you're going to have trouble.

middle east oil
By inthell on 4/20/2007 1:37:51 PM , Rating: 2
it may not be better for the environment but it does Reduce U.S. Dependence on Middle Eastern Oil

RE: middle east oil
By liquidaim on 4/20/2007 1:43:41 PM , Rating: 2
not flaming, but using less oil would have the same effect.

We cant let the construct created by politicians of "it's us against them" cloud our judgement.

RE: middle east oil
By m104 on 4/20/2007 2:01:49 PM , Rating: 2
it IS better for the ozone layer...

RE: middle east oil
By geddarkstorm on 4/20/2007 3:45:46 PM , Rating: 2
Lol! I had the same thought.

Becoming Independent
By Kurz on 4/20/2007 1:17:51 PM , Rating: 2
Wars of the past have been fought mostly for Energy and rare minerals. However now Minerals in demand are plentiful.

Energy not so much. Energy is harder to get to and politically its a mess to get that energy. Putting crazy people in power, giving weapons and money to support these crazy people. Our government and our companies need to kneel to these foreign countries for their oil.

Think about it if every country in the world were to have their own backyard sources of energy we wouldn't have war.
All of war in the past has been fought for a couple of reasons, but there almost always the issue of energy.

And hopefully we move away from corn and on to switch grass. Switch Grass is A LOT more efficient to grow and harvest.
Also potentially more ethanol pure Acre. Doesn't require as much water or as much pesticides as corn. PLUS you don't use an crop that you need to eat.

Once ethanol is more common place it'll be as cheap or cheaper than Gas, since there are no buying under the table or huge transportation costs for oil tankers. And the only people that you can blame for high prices is thats it your own home grown company. However we might see a few more of ethanol driven Semi's hauling Ethanol in their tanks.

Ethanol is pretty patriotic support it!

RE: Becoming Independent
By Kurz on 4/20/2007 1:21:34 PM , Rating: 2

Here is a politician that might help us use Switch Grass instead of Corn!

RE: Becoming Independent
By Ringold on 4/21/2007 4:30:09 PM , Rating: 2
Here is a politician that would do the same!

And another!

And another!

Thanks, but I'm waiting for somebody to dig up & resurrect this guy.

Masher, Just curious
By i4mt3hwin on 4/20/2007 2:50:00 PM , Rating: 2
I'm just curious masher, what do you do in real life? You seem pretty damn well educated in energy related stuff.

RE: Masher, Just curious
By Dactyl on 4/20/2007 3:07:40 PM , Rating: 2
He's a professional forum reader/responder.

RE: Masher, Just curious
By masher2 on 4/20/2007 7:46:26 PM , Rating: 2
R&D for a Fortune 100 firm....and too much forum posting :)

wonder how long it will take this to spread
By livelouddiefast on 4/20/2007 12:36:32 PM , Rating: 1
I'm going to school in Urbana, IL and i'm surrounded by cornfields, and moreso farmers that think ethanol is the best thing ever, since it creates a demand for corn. Not that i have something huge against these people, but i think it's ridiculous that even the little guys- private farm owners- will hop the bandwagon for ethanol without considering it scientifically and it's possible effect on humanity.

Besides, even if ethanol did work, i wouldn't want people using it... too many people drive and drive terribly in the states, so i think gas needs to be priced higher so they won't want to drive and will spend their time complaining about high gas prices instead.

RE: wonder how long it will take this to spread
By Dfere on 4/20/2007 1:52:56 PM , Rating: 2
What surprises you when someone has a positive upturn in their local economy and wants more? You would too, if it was putting food on your table.

By masher2 on 4/20/2007 1:55:16 PM , Rating: 2
I think he's surprised that corn farmers are putting their own personal prosperity against the good of the nation. Perhaps he shouldn't be, but he is.

helping the poor and the environment
By liquidaim on 4/20/2007 1:26:26 PM , Rating: 2
For those posting about the effects of higher corn prices and poor people going hungry:
If the rich nations really wanted to help the poor, they would get rid of agricultural subsidies altogether and allow those poor farmers to compete with the rich farmers on an even footing.

Teach a man to fish or in this case, let a man pull himself out of the hole.

Subsidies aritificially lower the price of food produced and exported to other countries while at the same time the tax payers have to burden themselves with the cost.

about the environment:
During my senior year (as a chemical engineer) I worked for a research pilot plant in Illinois and learned how corn is used to make ethanol. What I found is that using anything more than 10% to 15% ethanol(based on corn) is not viable in this country. Neither economically, nor environmentally. It is a good substitute for MTBE and that's it.

Subsidy per bushel of corn? ~$0.50
approximate number of gallons of ethanol per bushel of corn? ~2.7
Guess what is used to run the huge tractors to grow the corn? (diesel) Guess how the corn is shipped from the fields to the ethanol plant? (diesel) Guess what is used to run the ethanol plant? (coal fired power plants)

We just use too much liquid fuel for transportation.

The simple way to save the environment is to just use less energy. be considerate of the fact that even if global warming isn't caused by burning fossil fuels, there is only so much of it available.

Oh and I now work as a process engineer in the petroleum refining industry. So feel free to take what I said with a grain of corn.

By sprockkets on 4/20/2007 1:41:42 PM , Rating: 2
yep, and all those people who buy V8 SUVs to transport one person to work.

American's love to waste, it is our way of life. Go to Europe and see how many people can afford to drive SUVs with what, gas there is $5-8 dollars.

has anyone seen this?
By kevinkreiser on 4/22/2007 11:26:41 AM , Rating: 2

check out this article i found on aol.

now i'm for the environment just as much as anyone else, i'm a self proclaimed enviro-nazi, but i think this article is just alarmist crap. thoughts?

RE: has anyone seen this?
By Kuroyama on 4/22/2007 1:38:16 PM , Rating: 2
The key phrase in much of the article is "could". Often they seem to slip into "will" after a "could" statement, but I think the "could" is supposed to encompass the whole paragraph.

This is the problem with most media writings about global warming in that they always take the worst case projections and emphasize that, since dramatic always sells the best. I'm sure the median projections are drastically lower, but there are very few media outlets that emphasize median projections, whether regarding global warming or any other issue for that matter.

Anyways, I'm in the same boat as you. Got a Prius, walk to work, recycle, and all that stuff, but this article and many (if not most) on global warming are just nonsense.

P.S. Masher2, if you see this, I hate to say it but you were right about the $100k Lexus hybrid being a ridiculous attempt for Toyota to keep their green image. Just look at their advertisement here for Earth Day:

You Can't Eat Ethanol!
By EndPCNoise on 4/20/2007 3:24:44 PM , Rating: 2
Check out this recent article from the Associated Press about how food markets are now rising quickly because farmers are growing crops for ethanol production rather than for food.

You'll have your ethanol, but could you afford your groceries?
Especially the those with lower incomes.

By Jeff7181 on 4/20/2007 4:45:24 PM , Rating: 2
Supplementing gasoline with ethanol will reduce the United States' dependancy on foreign oil. I shouldn't even need to explain why that's a good thing...

By wingless on 4/20/2007 7:55:03 PM , Rating: 2
We need to transition back to leaded gasoline and no less than 12:1 compression ratios and 300hp on EVERY car manufactured in the world...thatll fix the problems we have with weak ass cars and crappy acceleration.

Oh this is a debate about clean air? Cars are the LEAST OF OUR PROBLEMS when it comes to pollution. How about we concentrate on manufacturing processes, cutting down the planet's A/C(the rainforest), and the bottom trawling fishing practices that destroy the oxygen making ecosystems in our ocean. We need to concentrate on bigger problems that have conveniently been made the least visible by the media and corporations. Cars are just the most visible and easily relateable source of pollution but theyre a smaller fraction of a much bigger problem.

Ethanol more harmful than gasoline
By pertsa on 4/21/2007 5:32:41 AM , Rating: 2
Better start drinking gasoline then...

By StormyKnight on 4/21/2007 8:24:29 AM , Rating: 2
We need a lot more E85 capable stations to make an impact on the reduction of foreign oil. Most E85 stations are located in the Midwest. Until there is a viable infrastructure to support flexfuel vehicles, there really isn't much point in buying one.

By montgom on 4/23/2007 3:51:02 PM , Rating: 2
Did I miss something, "rise from 4,700 people a year to nearly 4,900 per year"???!!

An increase of 200?

By Frallan on 4/28/2007 7:36:59 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe the gas is better in short term - but not using Carbonhydrates (sorry not a enlish native speaker) that has bound the Carbon under ground has its advantages. When using Ethanol we are usin Carbon that has been thaken out of the air and out of the soil effectivly creating a fast circle of life for the carbon. When using oil we pump up carbon that has been bound for thousands of year and add it to our atmosphere.
I am not certain in any way that humanity is the sole responsible for tempraturerise and the rise of CO2 levels in the atmosphere but I still believe that we are shifting the balance that the atmosphere has held for eons.

By m104 on 4/20/2007 2:00:46 PM , Rating: 1
that using eth is a good start on saving the world from global warming. ok - a small percentage of ppl might die from this change to eth - but i think the plus-side makes up for that plenty... eth is the best we can do atm (for cars) - when it becomes financially solid to switch to hydrogen at some point im sure we'll do that, so eth is just a phase i think

come on this is some bs
By vze4z7nx on 4/20/2007 3:49:56 PM , Rating: 1
Wow, 200 more death per year and humans are beginning to rethink moving from gasoline to ethanol? Come on...

Ethanol is better than gasoline for the ENVIRONMENT, but not for HUMANS. It's us, humans, who want the luxury of driving from point A to point B. Ever heard of the rule: give up something to get something?

Missing the MAIN point
By GlassHouse69 on 4/20/07, Rating: -1
RE: Missing the MAIN point
By masher2 on 4/20/2007 12:57:11 PM , Rating: 5
> "Slightly more ozone compared to global warming/co2 level increase..."

Or more accurately, "a known, measurable increase in air pollution and health risks, vs. the possibility of a risk, decades in the future".

> "There is no rise in CO2 as the plants of the corn fields are recycling it"

Oops, you forgot the fact the corn requires vast amounts of oil and to grow. Oil to convert to fertilizer, to power farm machinery and transport trucks, and a dozen other uses.

Ethanol as a fuel results in somewhat lowered CO2 production. Its not carbon neutral by any stretch of the imagination.

> "Petroleum is a strange reserve that does not come from the current level of co2 in the air..."

It came from CO2 that was in the air in the Earth's past...primarily from the Devonian on. A period in which CO2 levels were ten times or more higher than they are today...and yet life developed, and even thrived.

RE: Missing the MAIN point
By milomnderbnder21 on 4/20/2007 1:12:01 PM , Rating: 5
Well, I rarely agree with you on topics in this field, but I was waiting for you to make a rebuttal to the OP here, as it was pretty obviously wrong on many accounts. And your response is appropriate.

I feel compelled to respond to this part though:

It came from CO2 that was in the air in the Earth's past...primarily from the Devonian on. A period in which CO2 levels were ten times or more higher than they are today...and yet life developed, and even thrived.

The issue is not that life on earth is going to end by global warming, or that the human species will be eradicated, as that is absurd. It's not that the earth will be irreparably damaged. Global warming scenarios mean potentially dramatic alterations to what we are familiar with.

People generally dislike change on a large scale (I would point to the stagnation of our auto industry for that...reluctance to embrace better tech), so what's really at issue is preserving ecosystems and species that at least many of us would be sorry to see die off, when theoretically we could prevent it by being smarter about our consumption.

Even in the worst case scenarios, with massive drought and food shortages and all that, humans will survive, millions of species won't die off, and someday the earth will be capable of undoing all that we've done. But we don't want anything less than the status quo.

As it is, ecosystems seem to be changing at an unusually fast rate (glaciers for example), and there are signs that we may be looking at a new (third?...Don't remember) mass extinction. Why push it?

RE: Missing the MAIN point
By masher2 on 4/20/2007 1:31:46 PM , Rating: 2
> " It's not that the earth will be irreparably damaged. Global warming scenarios mean potentially dramatic alterations to what we are familiar with."

Right on two of three points. It doesn't mean life will end, or that the earth wil be damaged. But it doesn't mean dramatic alterations either. Sea level rise of a few millimeters a year (the same speed its been rising for the past 7000 years). A possibility of slightly stronger hurricanes (but an equal possibility of slightly weaker hurricanes as well-- check the latest research on wind shear). The warmest areas of the earth won't see a temperature rise...but the coldest areas and large, a good thing for them.

Global warming means slight changes, spread out over a century or more. Changes that are as likely to be helpful as harmful. When you consider the dicey evidence tying that change to human emissions at all, trading a known increase in air pollution for it is poor logic. But when that "trade" means we'll keep using almost as much oil anyway (due to the amount required to produce corn, as well as other uses) it becomes a farce.

> "there are signs that we may be looking at a new...mass extinction."

Utter rubbish. During the Medieval Warm Period a scant 600 years ago, the earth as warmer than it is today, and it was entirely beneficial to humanity. The only 'signs' are from the same sky-is-falling crowd as usual.

RE: Missing the MAIN point
By saratoga on 4/20/2007 2:28:41 PM , Rating: 4
> Utter rubbish.

Not at all. Large warming events tend to create mass extinctions, simply because the environment changes enough that many niches vanish while others appear. Change of just a few degrees per millennium are enough to trigger one, provided they're sustained.

Check this out for a semi-recent example:

During the Medieval Warm Period a scant 600 years ago, the earth as warmer than it is today, and it was entirely beneficial to humanity.

Actually, no one really knows if that is true. The Medieval Warm period may have been localized in Europe and the North Atlantic. Theres less evidence that the rest of the world actually got warmer. Its very possible that changes in the Atlantic simply resulted in more heat being dumping into Europe.

And anyway, I'd like to point out the ridiculousness of saying "humanity" when you really mean "Europeans". There were other people on the Earth at the time.

RE: Missing the MAIN point
By masher2 on 4/20/2007 3:02:48 PM , Rating: 2
> "Actually, no one really knows if that is true. "

There's more evidence to the benefits of the Medieval Warm Period than there are for anthrogenic global warming. If you're willing to accept one, you can certainly accept the other.

> "Large warming events tend to create mass extinctions"

There have been dozens of large warming events in the geological record, and a total of five large mass extinction events, none of which are connected with warming per se-- the End Ordovician, the Devonian, the End Permian, the End Triassic, and the K/T. The PETM pulse was a very minor event, and the evidence connecting it is scanty at best. You're quick to deny the far more compelling evidence for the MWP, but so easily accept this?

In any case, calling PETM a "mass extinction" sounds scary enough...the real effect of the PETM was a dieoff in certain phytoplankton that were already near their ecnological limits. There were no mass extinctions of animals.

> "I'd like to point out the ridiculousness of saying "humanity" when you really mean "Europeans"

I mean humanity. While there is less evidence that the rest of the world benefitted from medieval warming as much as Europe, that evidence still exists.

RE: Missing the MAIN point
By Hoser McMoose on 4/20/2007 3:54:23 PM , Rating: 2
> "there are signs that we may be looking at a new...mass extinction."

Utter rubbish.

I don't want to be putting words into milomnderbnder21's mouth, but it's quite possible and in fact even likely that a warming earth (man made or otherwise) WILL lead to mass extinction of SOME SPECIES. Note that the species in question will NOT be us Homo sapiens, we've proven to be rather sturdy when it comes to adapting to change.

It's almost certain that some types of bacteria and algae will die off, as will a few more complex organisms like plankton, insects and the like. Given that these organisms form the base of the food chain this will have some ripple-effects throughout the ecosystems.

Will this affect us humans? Well probably not much. As with the other effects of climate change they're likely to be fairly small and spread out over a period of decades such that we can adapt. As I mentioned above, we've proven to be rather good at adapting to our environments.

RE: Missing the MAIN point
By Hoser McMoose on 4/20/2007 4:00:13 PM , Rating: 2
I should point out that what I'm talking about above would generally NOT be called a 'Mass Extinction' in any sort of scientific terms!

However some less scientific types might refer to it as such.

RE: Missing the MAIN point
By Oregonian2 on 4/20/2007 1:46:34 PM , Rating: 1
The issue is not that life on earth is going to end by global warming, or that the human species will be eradicated, as that is absurd. It's not that the earth will be irreparably damaged. Global warming scenarios mean potentially dramatic alterations to what we are familiar with.

Yes indeed, that's one of the interesting things. "Save the Earth" is based upon FUD principles. What is feared is change. Things like one's garden or just agriculture in general is that things would be growing much better/faster/longer. We wouldn't starve, we'd have a lot MORE food, etc. Yes there are downsides (like politician ocean front property becoming less valuable). Ski resorts might not be happy either. North Dakota turning into Hawaii. Horrible! I don't really mean to make fun of it (but couldn't resist as you see), but really it's pure FUD. Earth and humans don't die, it's just that things would change. And not necessarily in a bad direction.

RE: Missing the MAIN point
By Oregonian2 on 4/20/2007 5:38:38 PM , Rating: 1
Go ahead and mark down my FUD comments, but when you next watch the news and politicians, see if it isn't true. The reasons they say raising the earth's temp by half a degree (etc) is along the lines of "it will change the ecosystem in ways we can't really know, and if something bad happens, it will be too late to do anything about it". See if that isn't what they say -- and then analyze that statement and see that it's almost the definition of "FUD". Also read the publications (of which there are some) that talk about agriculture and how plants would/will grow up to 20% faster (I vaguely recall reading something like that.. but go check yourself if you want the numbers) and the like. Funny thing is, that when Microsoft FUD's it's bad and evil, but when politicians FUD it's total agreement and good policy.

P.S. - Mind you, I agree with the FUD, I'm chicken too. Cluck Cluck. But that doesn't make it not FUD.

RE: Missing the MAIN point
By cochy on 4/20/2007 2:19:09 PM , Rating: 2
Global warming scenarios mean potentially dramatic alterations to what we are familiar with.

The world is a very dynamic place. It is constantly changing in very drastic ways, with or without humans. So change is something humans better get used it.

I for one believe that a little global warming is a good thing, as it may prevent another ice age from occurring in the future. Such a thing would be a much greater negative impact on human civilization than a small sea level rise.

mass extinction

An interesting tid bit. What do 99% of species that have ever lived on Earth have in common? Yup, they are all extinct. 99%. Basically seems extinction is the rule around these parts. Let's hope we can be a very rare exception.

RE: Missing the MAIN point
By saratoga on 4/20/2007 2:31:24 PM , Rating: 2
I for one believe that a little global warming is a good thing, as it may prevent another ice age from occurring in the future. Such a thing would be a much greater negative impact on human civilization than a small sea level rise.

Well, in masher's example, the Warming Period seems to have been followed by a cooling period, at least in Europe, so its hard to say what impact change will have in the long term. Though if you were concerned about an ice age occuring in the next couple years, I agree, CO2 is a good way to prevent that.

RE: Missing the MAIN point
By cochy on 4/20/2007 4:05:27 PM , Rating: 2
lol I am not concerned with one happening in the next couple of years. I guess I was thinking long term.

RE: Missing the MAIN point
By derwin on 4/20/2007 1:30:50 PM , Rating: 2
You forgot to mention the fact that to plant new corn fields, its not like they just sprinkle the seeds on to dirt, and pow, we've got new CO2. The problem is you gotta cut down trees, or atleast burn out the brush in the field, which when replaced with corn, doesn't really use any more CO2 than before. I suppose the persons post was properly debunked already, but I figured I would add that.

RE: Missing the MAIN point
By Hawkido on 4/20/2007 3:14:04 PM , Rating: 2
The ocean chemically consumes more CO2 than all the trees in the world... I think the green peace study showed it at a 2 to 1 ratio. The micro plankton in the top 20 feet of ocean water photosynthesises 66% of the world's oxygen. Old trees actually produce more CO2 than they consume (they stop growing and slowly start rotting) Cutting down the forests and planting new forests would result in a dramatic drop in CO2. An unpopular theory(doesn't mean untrue, this is science not politics) even points to historic global warming causing wide spread forest fires, the sudden regrowth (as happened after Yellowstone burnt) in an 18 month period decimated the CO2 supply sending temperatures plummeting, causing record snows, reflecting more sunlight, with already low green house gasses, eventually ending in a white out. No SUVs involved. It is a planetary cycle. There are next to none examples of anchient forests... they all burnt, save the petrified forest and it turned to stone. The giant redwoods are a enviromental wonder, as they can only grow at a certain latitude, their leaves require sunlight to strike it at a certain angle, least they die, oddly they have found frozen redwods in alaska. Figure that out... The world changes and things die... I really doubt the world will stop existing if the DoDo bird dies out... Oh, Wait, it already did!

RE: Missing the MAIN point
By rikulus on 4/20/2007 1:33:13 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, life developed and thrived when there was vastly more CO2 in the air than today. In fact, there was no free oxygen at all. Thats what we call anoxic and anaerobic life. As more and more of the CO2 was built into organic compounds (the lifeforms themselves and their dead bodies - todays oil and coal), the resulting O2 first rusted the iron on the earths surface, and eventually built up to the point where aerobic organisms could grow. I tend to think maybe its not such a great idea to unearth all that trapped carbon... the earth had enough carbon in the atmosphere to be all CO2 and no O2 in the past, do we want to go back there? Maybe thats a bit extreme... but we know there is enough carbon around to do it if we come up with enough good ways to extract it.

RE: Missing the MAIN point
By masher2 on 4/20/2007 1:53:53 PM , Rating: 2
> "In fact, there was no free oxygen at we want to go back there?"

Are you serious with this? You think that global warming will somehow remove the oxygen from the air, and we'll all asphyxiate to death?

RE: Missing the MAIN point
By Kuroyama on 4/20/2007 3:58:10 PM , Rating: 2
Any idea what percent of atmospheric oxygen is converted to CO2 by gas combustion and other forms of burning each year? In the improbable event it were 1% then I might be worried, but if it's say 0.001% of atmospheric oxygen per year then it's obviously not much to fear.

RE: Missing the MAIN point
By masher2 on 4/20/2007 7:35:50 PM , Rating: 4
I'm curious about the reasoning of people who rate up a remark about global warming "sucking the oxygen" out of our air, while a remark debunking it gets a -1.

Anyone brave enough to explain their reasoning here?

RE: Missing the MAIN point
By TimTheEnchanter25 on 4/20/2007 2:55:29 PM , Rating: 4
It takes around 300 gallons of gas / diesel to grow enough corn to make 120 gallons of ethanol. Plus, most ethanol plants are powered by coal or natural gas. So, there is a lot of CO2 produced to make a gallon of ethanol.

Corn is not an efficeient source for making ethanol, it is just the easiest thing that we have a lot of. There are potentially better sources once they get the processes perfected.

I also think the idea of using different types of garbage to make it. Like the recentally announced deal that ConnacoPhillips is going to turn all of the left over parts from Tyson Chicken into Ethanol. It isn't going to be a ton of fuel, but it is a better use than whatever Tyson was doing with it before.

RE: Missing the MAIN point
By rushfan2006 on 4/20/2007 4:55:00 PM , Rating: 2
All this and Ethanol produces about 30% *LESS* energy per gallon as gasoline....and while there are no Ethanol gas stations near me yet...I've heard that Ethanol is priced about the same if not a few pennies more per gallon as regular gas.

So then....WTF do I want to use Ethanol again? :)

(Note: My new car is equipped with the flex fuel system).

RE: Missing the MAIN point
By Zeatrix on 4/22/2007 4:11:15 PM , Rating: 2
Simple, ethanol is a much cleaner fuel. As some has brought to attention ethanol isn't so much cleaner if you pollute when producing it, but, if you had gasoline that had no pollution when produced and ethanol with no pollution when produced ethanol is superior in every way. Price is irrelevant.

In Sweden we have ethanol that is produced more environmentally friendly.

RE: Missing the MAIN point
By Hoser McMoose on 4/20/2007 3:28:44 PM , Rating: 3
Ethanol is made from plants that take out the co2 from the air using it as their source of carbon.

The production of ethanol also involves releasing CO2 through the use of fertilizers as well as in the distillation and refining process. When you take a 'well to wheel' comparison of ethanol from corn vs. gasoline from petroleum, the CO2 output is not nearly as rosy as it's proponents would like you to believe. At best it's a slight improvement over oil for an equivalent number of kilometers driven, at worst it's even of actually worse than oil. Of course, this is also dependent on the source of oil. The 'easy' oil from Saudi Arabia releases much less CO2 than, eg. oil from the Alberta Oil Sands, which requires a lot of processing to be usable.

Such a simple concept.

A simple concept that you totally failed to grasp: ethanol does not just spring out of the ground all on it's own.

RE: Missing the MAIN point
By Ringold on 4/20/2007 4:20:26 PM , Rating: 2
Not to even mention the process requires vast amounts of water, at a time when water is clearly about to be the next oil in terms of scarcity in different parts of the world.

(Random nuclear power plug: nuclear plants can double as salt was distillation plants)

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki