[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

Re: E-M:/ RE: / green plants, fossil fuels, biofuels

 Now, we are asking "the land" to provide biomass for fuel, biomaterials (research and development in biobased plastics is rapidly expanding), and food. 
So, what would be a good deal for Michigan and the Great Lakes?  How and when do we begin to address the whole system--the biophysical basis of a nutritious and secure food supply AND fuel AND other material flow and throughput--from the standpoint of appropriateness, scale, proportionality, etc?  How do we assure the integrity of that biophysical system for Michigan's future generations while making today's decisions about corn and ethanol and biobased materials and food, etc.
In "The Logic of Sufficiency", Thomas Princen (Univ of Michigan) addresses some of these questions.  What if modern society put a priority on the material security of its citizens and the ecological integrity of its resource base?  What if it took ecological constraint as a given, not a hindrance but a source of long-term economic security?  How would it organize itself, structure its industry, shape its consumption?  Princen offers a fascinating critique of "efficiency" (and its exalted status), enough work, enough consumption. It's well worth a look.
Ted Schettler
Science and Environmental Health Network
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, November 24, 2006 6:22 AM
Subject: Re: E-M:/ RE: / green plants, fossil fuels, biofuels

Rane and the list,

The problem is CORN BASED ETHANOL is not a small step in anything except its small net energy return.
Right now, Iowa is on the way to planting 21,000,000 acres of corn after corn with huge and growing environmental and pest problems.
And even at that level of production, the state will probably have to import 150 million bushels of corn to feed all its ethanol plants.

In Michigan, we grow a little over 2,000,000 acres of corn -- about 20 percent of our farmed land.
The problem is Michigan Corn Growers and others are pushing to build more corn based ethanol plants.
How much additional damage to water quality from this massive monoculture do we what for the Great Lakes.
And its waste stream includes Millers Grains -- a cheap but nutritional inadequate feed that will encourage the spread of CAFOs in our state.
Small biofuel plants based on methane from small manure production does make some sense on a farm basis.
But biofuels are really high subsidized, low net energy return (if at all), carbon fuel replacements from carbon fuels oil and coal. And thus they do little to address Global Warming.

This is not a good deal for anyone in Michigan except for a hand full of large corn farmers and ethanol investors.

Chris Bedford