It’s an interesting question, and the obvious answer is yes, it is an ethical fuel. But sometimes ethics can be a cloudy area to deal with. What’s right in one country or society may be a big taboo in another. Here in the US we subsidize corn growers and distillers to turn corn crops into fuel. The farmers make a decent return, and so don’t the companies dealing with the process of growing and distillation of that corn crop into ethanol. Take a look at Archer Daniels Midland sometime and see what their income statement looks like.
But that is not necessarily the case all over. Take brazil, for instance. Brazil likes to brag that they are independent from the rest of the world as far as the need for sources of energy goes, but what does it really cost the Brazilians for that ethanol. Most of the fuel in brazil is E85, or 85% ethanol blended with 15% gasoline, and then a large portion is simply biodiesel. It’s cheap down there, as far as dollar costs goes even with taking into account any subsidies paid out in the market.
But let’s look at the true cost this way:
One of the reasons we want to convert to a renewable fuel such as ethanol is so that we can lessen our dependence on foreign oil. That’s fine, but we also need to reduce our need for fuels as well shouldn’t we? After all. Most of the hype over the alternative fuel argument is the bogus claims from the global warming alarmists, right? Well, in Brazil, they are certainly independent, to a point, from foreign energy needs, but what does it cost to produce the ethanol there?
Let’s look at a couple of videos from the BBC and see what the process is as far as producing the sugar cane crop, which is where their ethanol is distilled from.
The cost of anything involves more than just the cash we pay out for what we buy. There are social and environmental costs that go beyond the simple act of pulling a plastic card out of our wallets and swiping it through a machine. The sugar cane industry in Brazil, while regulated to some extent, still has problems with corruption and exploitation of the workers. Additionally, the crop is burned before harvest which negates the offsetting of the CO2 reduction goals, as well as contributing other problems to Brazil’s population.
Ethanol is not a good fuel in conjunction with gasoline. If we are going to push for usage of ethanol to fuel our transportation that is one thing, but we are not anywhere near serious enough about it to have a significant conversion to this fuel. Already with the dropping gas prices the sales of SUV’s are climbing. We seem to only care about ethanol if it will help us reduce the cost of the gas we pump into our cars.
Personally, I’d just as soon see E10 disappear in Maine. My mileage has gone down ,and my motor doesn’t run as smooth as it did before using the E10. But until we smarten up and get rid of the Al Gore syndrome of stupidity, it’ll be around. Getting worse by the week. This drive to cut CO2 emissions was born out of a need to avoid the UN’s Carbon Tax, plain and simple. We need to stop supporting the UN, and start working together to make America strong and undefeatable again.