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  • kyle3054
    Oct 28, 2007
      Jym Dyer <jym@...> wrote:

      > =v= The "shouldn't count" argument is routinely advanced to
      > support the use of biofuels to run cars. The notion is that all
      > we need to do is swap a fuel source and society can continue to
      > run the same fleet of cars the same distances they're run now.
      > Nobody bothers to tally up all the "shouldn't count" variables,
      > so they delude themselves that they're doing something that's
      > better for the environment.

      Regarding biofuels, some may find this blog post of mine relevant:

      Setting aside environmental and health and social concerns, I look
      just at how much biofuel we could reasonably produce given current
      technology, and ignoring all energy inputs; ie I take the most wildly
      optimistic view of it.

      I assume that we put the entire world on minimum rations of grain, and
      consume no grainfed meat, or fruit or vegetables, and maintain current
      high levels of food production, putting it all into biofuels: we ought
      to be able to produce 118lt of ethanol per person; putting half our
      vegetable and plant oils to biofuel gives us another 30lt, so that we
      get almost a barrel of biofuel each.

      Current average fuel consumption for transport, world: 3.2 barrels of
      oil annually
      US/UK/Australia: 10-15bbl
      Efficient "green" countries (eg Denmark): 4-10bbl
      Developing countries (eg China): 2-4bbl
      Impoverished countries (eg Ghana): 0-2bbl
      Available biofuels: 1bbl

      The country most famous for producing ethanol, Brazil, in 2004 made
      3,989 million gallons, or 94Mbbl of ethanol, for a population of 188
      million - or 0.5bbl per person - and _still_ used another 4bbl of oil
      per person - or 3bbl for transoprt. This tells us something about how
      easy it is for a country to rely only on ethanol - even when it's the
      world's single largest producer of the stuff, in a tropical country
      where they can grow the efficient feedstock sugar cane, and have low
      labour costs.

      If the biofuels were used only for mass transit and freight, then I
      think that single barrel of biofuel per person annually, in
      combination with electric-powered stuff, might be enough. But it'll
      never be enough for us all to be zooming around in our own cars.
      Alternately, the masses could have no transport at all aside from
      their feet, while the elites could still have biofuel-powered cars.

      Obviously I prefer the mass transit option... :)

      The biofuel picture looks less rosy when you consider energy inputs
      (eg, the farm tractor requires fuel, as do the distillery plants and
      fuel trucks) and the fact that the world is _not_ going to go onto a
      minimum-grain vegetarian diet just so that people can keep zooming
      around in convertibles, or that soil degradation and climate change is
      likely to make our crop yields drop significantly, etc. But the point
      is that even with the most unrealistically optimistic assessment, the
      biofuels _won't be enough_ for us to all be driving cars.

      I mean, it's 21,000 million barrels of oil annually just to have 1,000
      million people driving or being passengers in cars. And biofuels are
      supposed to let all 6,600 million people drive? I don't think so.

      Biofuels today are the process by which poor people go hungry so that
      rich people can keep driving.

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