So it turns out the reason that everyone was getting all angry about ethanol last year was the wrong reason. The alternative bio-fuel, which is mostly made from corn, was widely blamed last year for skyrocketing food costs. But, this year, a Congressional Budget Office report has concluded that only a small percentage of the increase in food prices was due to ethanol.
But that doesn't mean we should all jump back on the ethanol bandwagon. According to a new University of Minnesota study, producing ethanol from corn requires about three times more water than previously thought. The study says that ethanol production required about 861 billion gallons of water. This is water that, in recent years, has been in significant decline in America's food-growing states.
A gallon of ethanol, depending on irrigation practices, might require up to 2,100 gallons of water to produce. While, in areas more suited to corn production, it can take as little as 100 gallons of water to produce a gallon of ethanol. The worst news of all of this, is that from 2005 to 2008 water use for ethanol production increased 246%, whereas U.S. bioethanol production has increased only 133%. This means that corn ethanol production has pushed into land that is not well-suited for growing corn, thus increasing water use far more than it increased yield.
So while you can stop worrying that you're burning the poor's food in your gas tank, you should be worried that you're burning your children's water. Let's hope that cellulosic ethanol can take over for the limitations of corn.
written by Bobby Fontaine, April 12, 2009
written by T1 Rex, April 14, 2009
written by Fred, July 07, 2009
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