IPCC Admits The Scientific Consensus Was Wrong in a Stunning Reversal on Biofuels

It just goes to show you that sometimes, consensus in science amounts to a “whole lot of nothing” as this story from Robert Mendick in The Sunday Telegraph tells us.

Growing crops to make “green” biofuel harms the environment and drives up food prices, IPCC admits in dramatic U-turn

The United Nations will officially warn that growing crops to make “green” biofuel harms the environment and drives up food prices, The Telegraph can disclose.

A leaked draft of a UN report condemns the widespread use of biofuels made from crops as a replacement for petrol and diesel. It says that biofuels, rather than combating the effects of global warming, could make them worse.

The draft report represents a dramatic about-turn for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Its previous assessment on climate change, in 2007, was widely condemned by environmentalists for giving the green light to large-scale biofuel production. The latest report instead puts pressure on world leaders to scrap policies promoting the use of biofuel for transport.

The summary for policymakers states: “Increasing bioenergy crop cultivation poses risks to ecosystems and biodiversity.”

Full story (subscription required)

Al Gore and Palm Oil is a prime example of one such mess that once looked like a good idea: Al Gore’s palm oil train wreck gets worse

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136 thoughts on “IPCC Admits The Scientific Consensus Was Wrong in a Stunning Reversal on Biofuels

  1. Finally. So can the DRAX plant go back to using coal and stop the Southeastern forests from being further denuded?

    To give Gore his due (IIRC), he did admit that his tiebreaking vote to allow Archer Daniels Midland to ramp up tortilla prices throughout Mexico by turning corn into gasoline was a mistake.

  2. “To give Gore his due (IIRC), he did admit that his tiebreaking vote to allow Archer Daniels Midland to ramp up tortilla prices throughout Mexico by turning corn into gasoline was a mistake.”

    Such admissions are always snuck in, a holiday weekend, back of page 9 middle of the page, not reported on by MSM, wait for a big tragedy for cover of darkness, so many tricks to use… all cowardly.

  3. This may be in time. I read the other day some UN Secretary is pushing for some 119. Countries to sign on to the Man-Made Global Warming Hoax in 2015. A couple more years of Global Cooling could turn them on their heels.

    TX Anthony. Major break through. Their biggest Argument is 26,000 Scientists in agreement on Man Made Global Warming. How Dangerous.

    Paul

  4. If these people would just listen to sceptics once in a while, they could avoid these mistakes and actually help preserve, rather than, destroy, the environment and people’s lives & livelihoods..

    I guess to them, making claims unsupported by evidence and trying to deny a platform to those who point out their many errors is more fun than doing useful work though..

  5. If you control the media you control the information investors base their decisions upon. You are one step ahead of cycles of boom and bust. You buy-in before the palm-oil-boom and sell-out before the palm-oil-bust. In glee you clap your hands and smack your lips over all the loot you heap, until one day you look up from your bank statements, and out the window you see a devastated landscape.

    Greed can make people who know better do the most stupid things.

  6. “to allow Archer Daniels Midland to ramp up tortilla prices throughout Mexico by turning corn into gasoline was a mistake.”

    Please explain exactly how ADM managed to increase tortilla prices in Mexico by growing feed corn in the US.

  7. Boy!! the Brazilians (and Greenies) will be ######## angry. They practically cut down 20% of the Amazon rainforest to plant biofuels according to IPCC directives in the 90′s LOL

  8. Lance Wallace says:
    March 24, 2014 at 12:10 am
    “Finally. So can the DRAX plant go back to using coal and stop the Southeastern forests from being further denuded? ”

    Please don’t! I’d like to see how the Brits stack all those shredded trees and prevent the entire heap from exploding.

  9. Subscription to The Telegraph isn’t required, just block their cookies in your browser.

  10. You don’t actually think this will influence the hard core green crusaders? Expect to hear soon about how the oil industry is buying off the council, while big Agra-business continues to lobby for more government money to subsidize ethanol and more mandates insisting it is used.

  11. A. Scott says: March 24, 2014 at 12:49 am
    Please explain exactly how ADM managed to increase tortilla prices in Mexico by growing feed corn in the US.

    40% of US corn is going for not for feed, but for ethanol production, which is mandated to be added to gasoline. Demand for corn goes up, prices go up. Mexico gets much of its corn from the US, so tortillas cost more.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/31/opinion/corn-for-food-not-fuel.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corn_ethanol

  12. @Caleb

    In glee you clap your hands and smack your lips over all the loot you heap, until one day you look up from your bank statements, and out the window you see a devastated landscape.

    No, most certainly you can see a lovely landscape looking out of your window. But beyond that there is double barbed wire fence with guard towers and devastation starts only on the other side. However, you can never know when your own armed guards decide to come for you and confiscate all your riches at gunpoint. And there will be no wide &. proud middle class out there whatsoever to stand up for your property rights, your right to pursuit of happiness, liberty or life itself. Happened multiple times in history.

  13. on tour, in Australia, Ben Caldicott & his Stranded Down Under Tour – are fossil fuels bankrupting Australia financially and ecologically?

    350.org: Stranded Down Under – are fossil fuels bankrupting Australia financially and ecologically?
    CANBERRA
    ANU evening forum: 18:00-19:30, Tuesday 25th of March, full details here and flyer here.
    Crawford School lunchtime panel: 12:30-14:00, Tuesday 25th March, Acton Theatre, full details here.
    SYDNEY 19:00-20:30, Thursday 27th of March, full details here and flyer here.
    MELBOURNE 18:00-19:30, Tuesday 1st of April, full details here and flyer here.
    BRISBANE 18:00-19:30, Thursday 3rd of April, full details here.

    http://act.350.org/signup/strandeddownunder_aus/?ak_proof=1&akid=.1243095.XQe29O&rd=1&t=2

    350 Queensland Facebook:
    You’re invited to Stranded Down Under – Are fossil fuels bankrupting us financially and ecologically? with Oxford University and Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Ben Caldecott on April 3rd at Southbank Tafe.
    Hosted by the UQ International Energy Centre.
    (Bookings can be made through the links below)

  14. ABC & Fairfax Media in Australia are promoting Caldecott’s ANU Canberra appearance, but not asking who is funding the tour, nor are they reporting his Bloomberg connection:

    16 July 2013: Bloomberg: Caldecott joins Bloomberg New Energy Finance
    Ben Caldecott, one of the UK’s thought-leaders on energy and climate change issues, is joining research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
    Caldecott, who spent the last four years as head of policy for investment bank Climate Change Capital, will take on a new role at Bloomberg New Energy Finance as head of government advisory. His focus will be on helping to build the company’s engagement with governments and international institutions, working closely with chief executive Michael Liebreich, as well as Chief Editor Angus McCrone and global head of policy Ethan Zindler.
    Caldecott’s experience includes periods on secondment to the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change, and to the Conservative Party’s Implementation Unit before the 2010 General Election. He is also programme director and research fellow at the University of Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, a role he will continue to hold.
    ABOUT BLOOMBERG NEW ENERGY FINANCE
    Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) is the definitive source of insight, data and news on the transformation of the energy sector. BNEF has staff of more than 200, based in London, New York, Beijing, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Munich, New Delhi, San Francisco, São Paulo, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Washington D.C., and Zurich.
    BNEF Insight Services provide financial, economic and policy analysis in the following industries and markets: wind, solar, bioenergy, geothermal, hydro & marine, gas, nuclear, carbon capture and storage, energy efficiency, digital energy, energy storage, advanced transportation, carbon markets, REC markets, power markets and water.

    http://about.bnef.com/press-releases/caldecott-joins-bloomberg-new-energy-finance/

    Wikipedia: Climate Change Capital
    Climate Change Capital (CCC) is a private asset management and advisory group authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK. CCC was founded in 2003 with a mission to channel capital into the solutions to climate change and resource depletion…
    The asset management business, which was established in 2005, includes: a carbon finance fund that invests in emission reduction projects, predominantly in developing countries; a Private Equity fund that invests in late stage technology and services companies headquartered in Europe and a property fund that buys commercial green buildings or retrofits existing commercial properties in the United Kingdom.
    The company’s think tank was established in 2009 to promote discussion of how capital can be deployed to mitigate and adapt to climate change…
    In April 2012, Bunge Ltd acquired 100% of Climate Change Capital Group Limited. The parent company of Climate Change Capital, Bunge Ltd is a global agribusiness and food company founded in 1818 with over 35,000 employees in more than 40 countries.
    Climate Change Capital’s Chairman is James Cameron, a member of General Electric ‘s ecomagination board, Vice-Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Measuring Sustainability and its Advisory Board of the Global Competitiveness Index, a trustee member of the UK Green Building Council and the Carbon Disclosure Project . He was also a member of the UK Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Group (2010-2012) and the Green Investment Bank Commission (2010).
    Climate Change Capital’s Chief Executive Officer is Alfred Evans. He is also responsible for the Bunge Environmental Markets team. Prior to joining Bunge, Alfred was employed by GE Energy Services, Cargill’s Financial Markets Group and Clifford Chance and the US Environmental Protection Agency .

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_Change_Capital

  15. ABC summarised the following thus:

    AUDIO: 24 March: ABC Breakfast: Australian coal investments at risk of becoming ‘stranded assets’
    But is proposed investment in new Australian coal projects at risk of becoming a series of ‘stranded assets’?
    Chief Executive of the Minerals Council of Australia Brendan Pearson offered this response:
    ‘Coal is a critical export resource for Australia generating hundreds of thousands of jobs, billions of dollars in export revenue and billions of dollars in taxation for State and Federal Governments. It will remain a critical component of the Australian economy for the foreseeable future and help lift the developing world out of poverty.’

    http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/breakfast/australian-coal-investments-at-risk-of-becoming-stranded-assets/5340188

    however, the entire item is an interview with Ben Caldecott by ABC’s Fran Kelly, leading Ben to repeat & repeat the mantra “coal is a stranded asset”. Minerals Council/Brendan Pearson’s response is not broadcast at all.

    to Fairfax, Ben is just an “oxford academic”:

    24 March: SMH: Angela Macdonald-Smith: Coalminers starting to count the cost of activist pressure on funding
    Campaigns to get banks and big funds to drop their support for fossil fuel enterprises are gathering momentum and are likely to increasingly lead to reputational damage for coal miners, says an Oxford academic.
    The campaigns are also likely to lead to increased financing costs for fossil fuel projects, according to Ben Caldecott, director of the Stranded Assets Program at Oxford University…

    http://www.smh.com.au/business/mining-and-resources/coalminers-starting-to-count-the-cost-of-activist-pressure-on-funding-20140324-35dbe.html

  16. Once again skeptics are right: Bio-fuels are a waste of resources, solves nothing in the climate, hurts the environment, and enriches a few insiders.

  17. They still have that ‘could’ in the text. I won’t hold my breath for this leaked document to become official. — John M Reynolds

  18. “The latest report instead puts pressure on world leaders to scrap policies promoting the use of biofuel for transport.”

    Pressure? How?

    peter says:
    March 24, 2014 at 1:57 am

    I agree. This changes nothing. For now, at least.

  19. In reply to:
    “Referring in part to deforestation, it says any benefit of biofuel production on carbon emissions “may be offset partly or entirely for decades or centuries by emissions from the resulting indirect land-use changes”. On biofuel production from corn, it adds: “Resulting increases in demand for corn contribute to higher corn prices and may indirectly increase incidence of malnutrition in vulnerable populations.”

    An IPCC spokesman said she could not comment until the final report is published on March 31.”
    William: It is criminal neglect that it has taken the IPCC and EU this long to do the necessary back of the envelope calculations which indicates biofuel is a scam that does not significantly reduce CO2 emissions and will result in higher and higher food prices, massive loss of rainforest habitat, and worldwide environmental damage.

    Vast amounts of agricultural land are being diverted from food crops for human consumption to biofuel The immediate consequence of this is a dramatic increase in the cost of basic food such as a 140% increase in the price of corn. Due to limited amounts of agricultural land vast regions of virgin forest are being cut down for biofuel production. The problems associate with this practice will become acute as all major Western governments have mandated a percentage of biofuel.

    Analysis of the total energy input to produce ethanol from corn show that 29% more fossil fuel input energy is require to produce one energy unit of ethanol, if the fuel input to harvest the corn, to produce the fertilizer, and to boil the water off to distill ethanol/water from 8% ethanol to 99.5% ethanol (three distillation processes, energy required can be reduced by using vacuum distillation however the cost of the equipment is too high and it is hence not used, calculations used to justify the scam ignore or under estimate energy inputs) to produce 99.5% ethanol for use in an automobile, produces more green house gas than is produced than the production consumption of conventional gasoline. The cost of corn based ethanol is more than five times the production cost of gasoline, excluding taxes and subsides. Rather than subsiding the production of corn based ethanol the same money can be used to preserve and increase rainforest or to install nuclear power plants that due reduce CO2 emission. The loss of rainforest is the largest cause of the increase in CO2.

    http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/313699/news/world/singapore-demands-action-from-indonesia-on-haze

    The illegal burning of forest on Indonesia’s Sumatra island, to the west of Singapore, to clear land for palm oil plantations is a chronic problem, particularly during the June to September dry season.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22998592

    http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/forests/palm-oil

  20. At 2:32 AM on 24 March, Mike McMillan had written:

    40% of US corn is going for not for feed, but for ethanol production, which is mandated to be added to gasoline. Demand for corn goes up, prices go up. Mexico gets much of its corn from the US, so tortillas cost more.

    Beyond their direct purchases of American corn (“maize” in Britspeak), there’s also the fact that the world markets in most forms of feed grain (“corn” in Perfidious Albion) are all affected by U.S. prices for corn.

    When the prices of U.S. corn are bid up by the fuel ethanol producers, that raises the prices of corn sought in the international as well as the domestic (American) commodities markets, as well as the prices of foodstuffs and other commodities throughout the world economy.

    Er, has anybody reading here been looking at beef prices in the supermarkets lately? How about the prices of milk and eggs and cheese and even semolina-flour pasta?

    This last because if the prices of corn are bid up, then more arable land, more labor, more petrochemical fuels are devoted to growing corn, displacing the growth of wheat and rye and sorghum (another variety of cattle feed) and soybeans and…..

    Aw, hell. Gotta be a buncha other “flyover country” guys like me visiting this site, right? Not everybody in these United States spends his whole goddam life in the cities and suburbs, and wouldn’t know whether a field was planted in clover or canola.

    Kill the fuel ethanol boondoggle, and prices for friggin’ everything produced by the agricultural sector of the U.S. economy will to down. Not just here in God’s Country but all over the planet.

    The big agribusinesses – not just Archer Daniels Midland but also Monsanto and megatons of other very generous campaign contributors who’ve been renting professional politicians in Mordor-on-the-Potomac – are going to receive this report like a load of buckshot discharged in their figurative collective crotch.

    Big changes in the commodities futures markets.

    Austrian school economic theory isn’t popular with either the politicians or the megacorp clowns, but then neither are all the other aspects of reality.

    Shopkeeper: What’s goin’ on, sheriff?

    Sheriff Cobb: Hide and watch.

    – screenplay, Silverado (1985)

  21. “Oops. Our bad. Sorry we can’t refund your money. We spent it. Send us more money so we can fix our mistake.”

    >:-(((O)))
    (Thanks to D.J. Hawkins for the primal scream emoticon.)

  22. “It says that biofuels, rather than combating the effects of global warming, could make them worse.” Still wrong on that one. They were never going to make an iota of difference either way to begin with, any more than burning fossil fuels does.
    There is nothing green about “green energy”.

  23. DirkH says:
    March 24, 2014 at 1:57 am
    Der Spiegel …
    “The secret draft report of the IPCC, the second part will be published in late March, the IPCC expects indeed continue with the risk that many animal and plant species of global warming could fall victim.
    On the other hand, the scientists distance themselves from their forecasts, “There is very little confidence that the models currently predict accurately the risk of extinction,”

  24. So, once again the sceptics are right. Of course, we don’t need the IPCC to know the truth (far from it, as long as they continue to cherry pick the data and ignore all the inconvenient science).
    But, hopefully, politicians will take note if it comes from the IPCC and start to do something about it.

    America has turned nearly half of its corn production over to ethanol. This is not just wrong as it is based on junk science driven by fantasy computer models, it is obscene. It is almost literally taking food from empty stomachs in order to feed empty gas tanks.

    I’m a bit concerned that this is a leaked version. What are the chances that these inconvenient findings will have been disappeared in the final version? That’s what happened in the last major IPCC report just a few months ago.

    Still, these are steps in the right direction. There have been dramatic changes in the EU on renewables. Now, with Russia flexing its muscles, the EU will hopefully abandon its insane opposition to fracking. I’m actually quite optimistic that finally science will regain its integrity and this madness will pass. Trouble is, I probably won’t live to see it.
    Chris

  25. A temporary strike of common sense??????
    Why don’t they take the consequence of their scare mongering, bad advice and reports and simply pull the plug on this organization.

  26. But we out here in Realityland knew this from Day One – so how stupid do you have to be to put these policies in place..?

  27. They are giving up the obvious common sense stuff now like bank robbers pushing the wounded out of the getaway car to lighten the load and distract the chase.

  28. Lisa M Curran says: why don’t you actually read the paper?

    Can you say “paywall“? By the way, my tax money helped pay for your project….

  29. I have accessed the article without a prescription and emailed it to both of my U S Senators. I didn’t bother to sent it to my Congressman because he is a complete idiot .

  30. Yes, Tom in Florida, I can get to the article too.

    Last sentence:

    An IPCC spokesman said she could not comment until the final report is published on March 31.

    If this leaked report matches the final report, will the Main Stream Media, and, more importantly for you and I, the US Congress, react accordingly? Does Congress only agree with the UN/IPCC when it says what they want to hear, or do they react to the UN/IPCC as an authoritative body?

    A bit of a quandary there, since the IPCC is held in such low regard by many of us, isn’t it?

  31. Eugene S. Conlin says:
    March 24, 2014 at 5:24 am
    “Der Spiegel …
    “The secret draft report of the IPCC, the second part will be published in late March, the IPCC expects indeed continue with the risk that many animal and plant species of global warming could fall victim.
    On the other hand, the scientists distance themselves from their forecasts, “There is very little confidence that the models currently predict accurately the risk of extinction,””

    More in English here

    http://notrickszone.com/2014/03/24/spiegel-ipcc-backpedal-on-species-extinction-astonishingly-great-doubt-over-earlier-predictions-acute-lack-of-data/

  32. DirkH says:
    March 24, 2014 at 1:57 am
    “Spin, spin like the Wind, IPCC!”
    I think I’d prefer “Spin, spin in the wind, IPCC”.

  33. The killer calculation is to show how the money spent for all these BS “solutions” from solar to wind to biofuels to whatever, could have been used to construct nuclear plants. Just one of those trillion dollar giveaways could produce at least 200 1300MW nuclear plants, which could have generated at least 50% of our current demand, resulting in 70% nuclear power in total. And those new plants would have a guaranteed lifespan of 60 years, and a likely lifespan of close to 80 years. If our brainless President had spent his time convincing the public about the safety of nuclear power instead of mouthing junk science and hiring a junk science advisor, he might have actually accomplished something of benefit to our country. But , Oh Noooo……. Name a more clueless, dumber, or more corrupt Chief Executive. I dare you.

  34. Dismantling wind turbines will be equally expensive and CO2 spewing. Not that I care. It will give recyclers jobs and I don’t think the addition of that CO2 will make a dot of difference in our climate or weather.

  35. DirkH says:
    March 24, 2014 at 1:57 am

    “… acute lack of data” and worthless species loss models.

    Par for the course.

  36. The subsidies! Think of the subsidies! They wont just disappear on their own you know.

    Lots of inertia in play. I don’t expect much change anytime soon. If this was a mistake these people and the things they do would make me feel ill. As it is no mistake they just make me angry.

  37. The problem is that it take a huge amount of water and energy to turn this corn into ethanol, (think of a huge still). If only we could harvest bio fuels that occured naturally. Bio-mass that matures using the earth’s own internal heat. Naturally occuring bio-fuels, (otherwise known as oil and natural gas).

  38. This last because if the prices of corn are bid up, then more arable land, more labor, more petrochemical fuels are devoted to growing corn, displacing the growth of wheat and rye and sorghum (another variety of cattle feed) and soybeans and…..

    For the love of Beer, man, don’t forget the humble barleycorn. Basis of human civilization, foundation of the English system of weights and measures, and all that…

    Ethanol in gasoline actually has numerous negative effects. It drops the “octane” rating of the gasoline. It dissolves certain kinds of plastic parts used in non-automotive fuel systems (notably in my boat engine, but also elsewhere in the world of gasoline engines). It costs more than gasoline, and actually costs a lot of carbon-dioxide-generating energy to manufacture and distill (gasoline or diesel to plow and plant and reap, electricity to make both fertilizer and insecticide used while it grows, sometimes additional electricity to pump water to it if it is being grown in anything but perfect weather, then the grain has to be sprouted, malted, mashed, fermented (releasing a substantial amount of carbon dioxide as the yeast eat some of the sugars and produce the enzymes that turn the rest into alcohol) and distilled. Distillation is basically boiling off the alcohol differentially, and requires adding enough energy to raise the temperature of the fermented byproduct by order of 60-70 C and then chill and condense the alcohol-rich fumes that rise off of the fermented mash before the water starts to boil. Since water is being evaporated as well during this process, one usually has to distill in several stages and then use lime to absorb the last bits of water to achieve the 200 proof anhydrous ethanol required for gasahol. Lime, of course, is made by reducing limestone with coal, producing prodigious quantities of CO_2 — rough 40% of the weight of the original limestone plus all of coal-based CO_2 required for the calcining. I suspect that it is possible to prove that one can never win the CO_2 production game with anhydrous alcohol unless one uses e.g. solar energy exclusively in its production, and even then the cost-inefficiency of using solar energy to make alcohol instead of just using the energy directly for other things makes it a silly game.

    Biodiesel actually makes a lot more sense to me — that is much closer to break even out of the box, and one can easily imagine bioengineering things like algae or yeast to eat things like raw sewage or generic cellulose and turn it into recoverable fats at low overall cost (and probably making other useful things, such as sterile compost, in the process). I don’t think we are particularly close to success here yet, but this is at least a moderately promising area of research. It’s also possible that existing oil-seed plant bases might make biodiesel competitive with actual diesel in at least some venues without subsidy or legislated stimulus.

    What the politicians need to get through their comparatively thick heads is that the day something becomes cost effective, nobody needs to subsidize it or mandate it. Adam Smith’s good old invisible hand takes over, and people will make biofuels not because they want to save the world, but because they want to make money and can undersell diesel fuel refined from mined fuel oil and make a good profit. In the meantime it is FINE to invest taxpayer dollars in research that might lead to such a profitable pathway as research is chickenfeed compared to the long run payoff and even if it never pays off no doubt we’ll learn useful things and probably break even on the cost.

    The same is true of rare earth mining and Thorium, and ever so many other things. Western North Carolina (and many other states in the US) have an abundance of Monazite Sand, which is basically rare earth ore mixed in with thorium ore. We need rare earth metals to make super-powerful magnets for the efficient production and utilization of electrical power, but the “waste” from the mining is basically enriched radioactive thorium. Since we have almost no use for thorium commercially outside of making lantern mantles, nobody wants to mine the monazite (except China, who has bought up all of the rare earth mines in the world and is stockpiling the thorium produced as a side effect of mining it).

    If the US would invest in researching and proving thorium based nuclear power production at anything like the rate that they invest in other alternative energy technologies, they could conceivably break a Gordian knot — enable e.g. melt-down-proof LFTR nuclear power production, provide an instant market for the Thorium we have in sufficient quantity to provide our electrical power for tens of thousands of years, enable new domestically owned rare earth/thorium mines to reduce our dependence on Chinese rare earths, enable efficient electrical cars and generators and motors and solid state electronics via the cheaper rare earths and sure, reduce our “carbon footprint” and allow our valuable coal and oil reserves to be stretched out for decades to centuries.

    Of course this is just one of many technologies that really could — and in the long run probably will — substantially reduce the production of CO_2 while burning mined prehistoric carbon sources to make energy. Solar power is precisely marginal at the moment — better than break even in much of the US, but only when amortized over far too long a time to make it attractive (without an inappropriate subsidy). Time and economy of scale and technological advances will probably reduce the cost of solar at a fairly steady rate over the next decade or two, though, so that in ten to twenty years it is a no-brainer — Adam Smith’s invisible hand will cause solar to be widely implemented precisely to the extent that it is demonstrably profitable to do so. Thorium-based nuclear energy could easily form the intermediate step in this process, as well, providing power at night and other times that solar is not productive while still eking out fuel (nuclear or otherwise) consumption and keeping costs optimally low. And one day, perhaps the fusion ship will come in and the energy crisis and the carbon “crisis” will be solved overnight as human civilization converts as rapidly as humanly possible to a truly inexhaustible fuel resource. Humans will evolve before we measurably deplete the fusion fuel available cheaply in the oceans, let alone what we can mine in the solar system (the gas giants and their moons are basically enormous reservoirs of deuterium, from one point of view).

    It would be so very lovely if the IPCC would reverse a number of its positions. I’ve long said that I’d be much more inclined to believe CAGW enthusiasts if they aggressively promoted nuclear power, as that is really the only viable alternative to carbon produced power that won’t cause civilization to collapse long before it produces enough power to sustain it. It would also be encouraging to see the US and other governments in the developed world stop funding “climate research” that is failing at everything but the production of alarming predictions that are not borne out by the data and put a lot of that money into funding energy production research that might lead us to produce or utilize energy more cheaply and more efficiently and hence more profitably for all concerned. Positive ROI needs no public policy, no massive sales campaign, no “save the planet” advertising. It just requires humans acting in their own self-interest, trying to make money or save money and live better as a consequence.

    In the meantime, I’ll batten down the hatches here, as we are expecting our tenth or twelfth snow of the winter tomorrow — oops, I mean the first of the spring. In the 41 years I’ve lived in NC, I’ve never seen snow, sleet, frozen precipitation more than maybe five days in a single winter, and there have been plenty of winters with only a single brief snow or none at all. My mother-in-law in Michigan tells me that they’re up to some truly phenomenal total for winter snowfall there — 70 or 80 inches or the like — with more on the way, if the great lakes melt enough from their near-record ice coverage to enable lake effect snow to start happening again — so far they’ve been getting along without it as only 10% or so of the great lakes are free water. The global surface temperature anomaly last month was roughly 0.1 C colder than it was in the comparable month of 1983. And the sun is just beginning its long, slow trip down from one of the weakest solar cycles in a century towards the next cycle, widely expected to be the weakest in several centuries. Perhaps ENSO will (finally) turn positive and release heat into the atmosphere again — recently it has been predicted that it will — but previous predictions have often proven to be false, because we simply don’t understand ENSO well enough to do a good job of predicting it yet and don’t know how or if it is tied to things like solar cycle. If the anticipated El Nino turns into yet another stretch of doldrums or worse, a strong La Nina returns, we could actually see a stretch of global cooling for a few years.

    I wonder what the IPCC will do about that? At the moment, their only hope is a super-ENSO that pops global temperatures another few tenths of a degree C all at once like it did back in 1998. And the straight-up odds of that are probably comparable to the odds of a La Nina and/or volcanic event that might have the exact opposite effect. The heterodyning of La Nina and a volcano might knock several tenths off the average temperature all at once, and sustain it lower for years as the planet settles in around a new attractor. It is useless to pretend that we know that will not or can not happen, as the GCMs are pretty useless and the Earth has done more than this on its own in the past. Or, of course, it could ENSO-up. Data talks, bullshit walks. Eventually.

    rgb

  39. The IPCC seems to be wrong – once again. Mankind in first-world countries throws away an estimated 30% of foodstoff that is grown, transported, processed, transported again several times and is, alas, finally ending up in the dustbin. It is much more economical to harvest and process the biomass right from the field. Thus, all unnecessary energy-consuming transport, processing and the final destruction of food for no good use would be eliminated.
    No, gentlemen, it’s the squanderbug that causes problems.
    If we eliminate that vermin we may talk about reducing biofuels. Everything else is hypocrisy at ist best.

  40. The main problem with biofuels is that they don’t make a dime’s worth of difference in energy supply. I did an analysis of biofuel potential way back in 2005 and got it published in Oil and Gas Journal. Last year the EIA says the US produced 13.3 billion gallons of ethanol. Reduced to barrels and adjusted for net yield and energy content, this is equivalent to 77,332,850 barrels of petroleum, about four days at current rates of consumption. Here is the letter:

    Oil and Gas Journal August 1, 2005 Letters Biofuel Potential

    As the price of crude oil continues to rise, political leaders and public officials have called for increased reliance on biomass-based fuels, such as ethanol made from corn and biodiesel made from soybeans, as substitutes for petroleum-based fuels. What is the potential contribution of biomass-based fuels to relieving America’s dependence on petroleum (of which 60 percent is now imported from foreign sources)?

    To answer this question I calculated the amount of ethanol and biodiesel that could be produced from the 2004 US corn and soybean crops and compared it to our nation’s annual consumption of petroleum. Crop totals are from the USDA, the biofuel potentials of corn and soybeans are from industry sources.

    The 2004 US corn crop totaled about 11.7 billion bushels, the largest ever. One bushel of corn yields 2.66 gallons of ethanol, so hypothetically the 2004 crop could be converted into 31.122 billion gallons of ethanol. However, a portion of the energy in the ethanol represents energy invested in growing, harvesting, transporting, fermenting and distilling the corn. According to the corn ethanol industry, the energy yield is 1.67 btus for each btu consumed in production, or a net yield of about 40.1 percent of total ethanol produced. Multiplying the hypothetical 2004 production of corn ethanol by this factor leaves a net yield of 12.48 billion gallons. But ethanol has less energy content than petroleum. One gallon of crude oil contains about 138,100 btus, while a gallon of ethanol contains about 84,100 btus, or about 60.9 percent of petroleum. So on an energy-equivalent basis, 12.48 billion gallons of ethanol would equal about 7.6 billion gallons of petroleum.

    Using the same methodology one can calculate the potential contribution of soy-based biodiesel (soybeans constitute about 90% of the total US oilseed crop). The 2004 US soybean crop was 3.15 billion bushels, also an all-time record. One bushel of soybeans yields about 1.4 gallons of biodiesel. The energy yield of biodiesel is about 3.2 btus for each btu consumed in production, or a net of 68.75 percent, a much better rate than ethanol from corn. The energy content of a gallon of biodiesel is much higher, 128,000 btus, about 92.7 percent of petroleum. The 2004 US soybean crop converted to biodiesel would equal about 2.81 billion gallons of petroleum (3.15 billion bushels times 1.4 gallons of biodiesel per bushel is 4.41 billion gallons; adjusted for net yield, 4.41 billion gallons times 68.75 percent is 3.032 billion gallons; in terms of energy equivalency, 3.032 billion gallons of biodiesel would equal 2.81 billion gallons of petroleum).

    The entire 2004 US corn and soybean crop, converted to biomass fuels, could replace about 10.41 billion gallons of petroleum (7.6 billion as ethanol and 2.81 billion as biodiesel). Petroleum is measured in 42-gallon barrels; the 10.41 billion gallon biofuel total would be equivalent to 248 million barrels of petroleum. The US consumed about 7.49 billion barrels of petroleum last year, or about 20.5 million barrels a day. This means that the total biofuel potential of the record 2004 US corn and soybean harvests would offset about 12 days of US petroleum consumption, or about 3.3 percent of our total yearly petroleum consumption. Given that most of the US corn and soybean crop is already committed to other uses, this analysis indicates that biomass-based fuels will have a negligible role in reducing US petroleum consumption, which in turn underscores that replacing petroleum in the US economy will be a monumental challenge.

    Ted Lofstrom
    Ellis & Associates, Inc.
    Minneapolis, Minn

  41. I understand the righteous anger here directed at those who distorted the market with tax payers money to convert arable land use from food production to fuel production but don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Not all biofuel is equal!

    Joule Unlimited’s biotech that grows ethanol and/or diesel from waste water, waste CO2 and sunshine using non arable land IS the answer for sustainable fossil fuel replacement without disruption to existing infrastructure.

    How disappointing then that their major investment has come from Russian & Arab energy companies rather than their western equivalents. When the story of the ‘Climate Crazy’ years is finally told historical perspective will condemn those that chose personal/political agendas over the chance to free the west from eastern energy supply hegemony!

  42. Eliminate the fuel ethanol boondoggle and prices might – just might – not rise as quickly as they do now. But I don’t believe they will go down. The suppliers will just cream off greater profits.
    I’ve heard “if they do this, that, the other, prices will go down” over and over again. But I haven’t seen the prices go down.

    • At 10:15 AM on 24 March, RoHa had demonstrated the effects of comprachico government maleducation by asserting:

      Eliminate the fuel ethanol boondoggle and prices might – just might – not rise as quickly as they do now. But I don’t believe they will go down. The suppliers will just cream off greater profits.
      I’ve heard “if they do this, that, the other, prices will go down” over and over again. But I haven’t seen the prices go down

      Chiefest among the many reasons why currency-denominated prices aren’t perceived to correlate responsively with genuine cost reductions due to improvements in resource extraction, productivity, and other market efficiencies is that governments debauch the currency by way of counterfeiting (the currently popular euphemism is “quantitative easing”) through the practices of fractional reserve banking and the issue of fiat “money.”

      When your “prices” yardstick is made out of Silly Putty, just what the hell are you really measuring?

      Attributed to an anonymous UN bureaucrat more than half a century ago was the observation that: “Inflation is the one form of taxation that even the weakest government can impose upon its citizens.”

      Thus real-world cost savings at every level of production and use are largely thieved away by the politicians and their “campaign contributors,” the latter bunch being the real “constituents” on whose behalf the average citizen is screwed, blue’d and tattooed by the institutionalized pillage which is the true purpose of government-privileged central banking.

      Getting some idea of how that works?

      To assert that “The suppliers will just cream off greater profits” as if there were anything of a market function in such a practice betrays a failure to appreciate the fact that there are a helluva lot of “suppliers” (both operating and potential) ready to move their resources enthusiastically into any market segment – particularly fungible commodities – in which profits are so gaudily gained by pricing at margins far in excess of production and delivery costs.

      Monopolies and oligopolies are not market functions, but occur only when governments impair the voluntary exchange of goods and services to favor politically “connected” vendors or purchasers by sending in armed thugs to threaten the other participants in such activities with deadly force.

      Politicians and their goons have tried this kind of crap from time out of memory, and inevitably they fail. Their failures are particularly rapid in the modern era – where the communication of price and cost information is effectively instantaneous and simply cannot be blocked by the government thugs – because their success requires something like the democidal economic paralysis of a Konzentrationlager police state to prevent or even sustainedly pervert the operations of market forces.

      That’s obviously where the national and international economies of the world are headed – courtesy of our arrogant, stupid, cunning, imbecilic governing class – but we’re not quite there yet.

  43. I’ve always referred to bio fuels as the lie about the lie when it comes to global warming/greenhouse gas.

    They rank at the top historically for ruinous policies in the US, especially considering the environment/massive pollution(corn is the biggest polluting crop-ok for food) and wasted natural resources(helping to such the Ogallala Aquifer dry is just one element).

    But to sell them based on less greenhouse gas/CO2 emissions is:
    1. A lie
    2. Increasing CO2 is beneficial

    http://www.au.af.mil/au/ssq/digital/pdf/spring_13/Kiefer_Long_Version.pdf

  44. Derrrr……

    Did it take a dozen PhDs and ten years of research to discover this?

    You really could not make it up!

  45. And regards the Drax fiasco we are paying for this debacle. Some £200 million spent already.

    This is not some hospital backup power facility, this is a 4gw monster, running on the felling and flattening of every forest in the USA. I hope Barak Obarmy call-me-Dave CaMoron are proud of their contribution to saving the environment….. !

    Ralph

  46. Tom in Florida says: March 24, 2014 at 6:21 am
    I have accessed the article without a prescription and emailed it to both of my U S Senators. I didn’t bother to sent it to my Congressman because he is a complete idiot .
    ____________________________

    Wow, you need a doctors certificate to read science papers in the US? I had heard that the US education system was falling apart, but I did not know it was that bad!

    ralph

  47. To: R B Brown et al,

    “The fusion ship” is nearing port and will be available long BEFORE the Thorium ship can arrive.

    No one is developing Thorium reactors, except possibly some third world countries dabbling with it.

    Sure, there is a lot of paper studies and propaganda for it, but it will take a minimum of thirty years to license a commercial fission Thorium design, after someone starts in earnest to spend the multi-Billions needed to do so.

    Fusion is already at the doorstep and has generated a lot more MW, than all the paper thorium designs ever suggested. ITER is more an Engineering exercise to build a pre-protype commercial Fusion power plant, than it is a Scientific experiment.

  48. Corn is the crop that pollutes the most. It is mostly responsible for the “Dead Zone” in the Gulf of Mexico every growing season.

    http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2013-06-14/gulf-of-mexico-s-extinction-by-ethanol

    It receives more irrigation/water than any other crop. We have an inevitable crisis developing in the Plains because the main water source, the Ogallala Auquifer is being sucked dry. There is total lack of proper planning to conserve this vital source of water…………..in fact, we have 50% of the corn crop in Nebraska being irrigated out of the Ogallala and much of that water is being wasted to make corn for fuel/ethanol.

    If you want a catastrophic disaster, no need to look very far. It’s already well on its way for the Plains states. Our government focuses on a theoretic catastrophic global warming crisis, while there is no global warming the past 15 years…………and completely ignores the one that is well on its way and going to create tremendous hardship for millions in the Plains, starting within a decade and will be a major crisis that is being completely overlooked, in just a few decades………with almost absolute certainty.

    http://thisisthemodernworld.com/2013/03/07/30-facts-about-the-coming-water-crisis-that-will-change-the-lives-of-every-person-on-the-planet/

    And to think, increasing CO2 increases crop yields, which means less need to expand farmland, and less use of natural resources, less pollution. In fact, at higher CO2 levels, especially since agricultural crops root mass responds strongly to increased CO2 levels, growing crops requires LESS water/irrigation.

    Yet out government has policies that are exactly the opposite of what the proven science shows would be best.

  49. Mike McMillan says:
    March 24, 2014 at 2:32 am
    A. Scott says: March 24, 2014 at 12:49 am
    Please explain exactly how ADM managed to increase tortilla prices in Mexico by growing feed corn in the US.

    40% of US corn is going for not for feed, but for ethanol production, which is mandated to be added to gasoline. Demand for corn goes up, prices go up. Mexico gets much of its corn from the US, so tortillas cost more.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/31/opinion/corn-for-food-not-fuel.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corn_ethanol

    With all due respect Mike – this is a prefect example of the mass cluelessness about corn ethanol. And many of the comments above are even worse – people writing long posts asserting “facts” that are so wrong it simply isn’t worth responding.

    The corn used for ethanol in the US is – for about the 50th time – NOT food corn. The corn used for ethanol in the US is FEED corn. The corn used to make tortillas in Mexico is neither feed or the typical food corn – sweet corn – we see in the US.

    Tortillas in Mexico are made from WHITE corn. The US is Mexico’s largest supplier of white corn. From a story on tortilla price increases:

    Mexico also said it will import 650,000 tons of white corn, mainly from the United States, to help lower tortilla prices.

    The US has always, and continues to, supply ALL of the white corn Mexico asks for. White corn sells at a $.70-$1.00/ bushel premium to feed corn. Farmers would most certainly grow more white corn if there was unmet demand.

    Total white corn production in the US:
    2006-2007 – 86 million bushels
    2007-2008 – 130 million bushels
    2008-2009 – 109 million bushels
    2009-2010 – 134 million bushels
    2010-2011 – 116 million bushels
    2011-2012 – 101 million bushels

    Export Demand
    2006-2007 – 26 million bushels
    2007-2008 – 36 million bushels
    2008-2009 – 38 million bushels
    2009-2010 – 31 million bushels
    2010-2011 – 39 million bushels
    2011-2012 – 33 million bushels

    Planted Acres
    2006-2007 – 596 thousand acres
    2007-2008 – 822 thousand acres
    2008-2009 – 693 thousand acres
    2009-2010 – 743 thousand acres
    2010-2011 – 729 thousand acres
    2011-2012 – 703 thousand acres

    There were 97.2 million acres of corn acres planted – of all types – in 2012. The 703 thousand acres planted in white corn represents just 0.72% of the total US corn crop planted. White corn acres planted directly reflect US and export demand.

    Even with the drought, and low corn production, in 2012 the US still produced 10.8 billion bushels of corn. White corn produced for food, was just 101 million bushels of that. White corn is just 0.93% of the total US corn production.

    There was a surplus at the end of the year for each of those years between 4.4 and 16 million bushels, which directly confirms the US met ALL export demand.

    Clearly feed corn grown for ethanol has no impact on white corn grown for food – particularly corn grown for Mexican tortillas. If more white corn was necessary the US would grow it, and how much feed corn we use for ethanol has zero effect on white corn grown for food, and thus no effect on tortilla prices in Mexico.

    I’m sure these facts will not make any difference to the ethanol hating torch bearers though …

    https://brokers.intlfcstone.com/Research/Document/DocumentViewPublic/b0c5627c-d091-434e-a936-f79fceb0b9df

    • @A. Scott – there are only so many acres to grow corn. White, sweet, or feed. More for one means less for another. Seems the one using obfuscation and lies is you.

  50. Foodprices now rated more important than the climate maybe sometimes in the future!
    World starting to get the priorities right I say. I’m waiting for more of this in the next IPCC reports but I’m not expecting any excuses to the ones who had to bed hungry (or worse) thanks to this charade.

  51. Corn is the crop that pollutes the most. It is mostly responsible for the “Dead Zone” in the Gulf of Mexico every growing season.

    http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2013-06-14/gulf-of-mexico-s-extinction-by-ethanol

    It receives more irrigation/water than any other crop. We have an inevitable crisis developing in the Plains because the main water source, the Ogallala Auquifer is being sucked dry. There is total lack of proper planning to conserve this vital source of water…………..in fact, we have 50% of the corn crop in Nebraska being irrigated out of the Ogallala and much of that water is being wasted to make corn for fuel/ethanol.

    Another example of the nonsensical thinking when it comes to ethanol. The mantra is stop growing corn for fuel, that we should be growing it for food. Which means the corn would STILL be grown. With all the related issues.

    Corn is corn – it doesn’t know what its going to be used for. Growing it is the same regardless of its intended end use. And even considering ethanol’s use of appx 40% of the corn crop, that still leaves 60% of the corn crop used for NON-ethanol purposes. Yet it is ethanol that is killing the gulf and creating all these other problems.

    Sorry – but that claim is just plain ignorant … no other polite way to say it.

    And growing corn for ethanol uses no more or less water than growing corn for any other purpose. Corn is corn. And again, the demand we stop growing corn for ethanol when we should be growing corn for food, because its using up all the water, is simply ignorant. If you grown corn – regardless of if for food or fuel – you use the same exact amounts of water for irrigation.

  52. @A. Scott

    “The mantra is stop growing corn for fuel, that we should be growing it for food.”

    No, the mantra is to stop growing corn for fuel and using that land to grow crops for food.

    Could be for corn or could be for something else.

  53. Col Mosby says:
    March 24, 2014 at 7:58 am

    The killer calculation is to show how the money spent for all these BS “solutions” from solar to wind to biofuels to whatever, could have been used to construct nuclear plants.

    ====================

    Jeeeze, man, didn’t Saul Alinski teach you anything? DO NOT mention nuclear plants!

    How many Head Start programs could have been paid for ?!?!

  54. I’m sure we’ll hear the inevitable, but corn for ethanol is taking away production land that could be used for growing food. And the other specious claim that we’re farming all these extra acres – that we’re taking all this poor and unproductive land out of conservation and pounding more corn into it.
    Which invariably they cannot support or prove with actual data or facts. For the simply reason these claims are not supported by facts.

    Total acres planted in the US – all field crops – millions of acres:

    1996 333.68
    1997 332.07
    1998 329.97
    1999 329.26
    2000 328.69
    2001 324.58
    2002 327.28
    2003 325.69
    2004 322.32
    2005 317.64
    2006 315.65
    2007 320.37
    2008 325.00
    2009 319.25
    2010 316.70
    2011* 315.14
    2012* 326.32
    2013* 325.60

    Ooops … massive fail …. 333 million total acres planted 1996 vs. 325.6 million acres planted in 2013.

    And when we look at the conservation land data, which I’ve shown in detail here in the past, while we DO see large areas removed from CRP year to year, a closer look shows an almost equal number enrolled, with little net change year to year.

    The USDA Crop Production Annual Reports show the crop production data. And acres planted data is illustrative. Linked below are the 2011 report (covering 2008-2010) and the 2014 report (covering 2011-2013). This gives data on total acres planted, harvested, yields etc for all field crop types.

    A review shows almost every crop saw similar planted acres from 2008 thru 2013, with a few variations from year to year. For example Sorghum acres dropped from 8.2 to 5.5 million acres from 2008 to 2010, but rebounded to 8 million acres planted in 2013 – almost zero net change.

    There is no indication in the hard acres planted data that any significant food crop is adversely impacted by growing corn, regardless of the use.

    All the data is in those reports – I challenge anyone to show what food crops are suffering any significant adverse effect due to corn used for ethanol production.

    TOTAL PLANTED ACRES Data:

    http://quickstats.nass.usda.gov/results/E6CAD14B-6756-3824-ACCC-703FCC1344AF?pivot=short_desc

    USDA Annual Crop Production Reports:

    http://usda01.library.cornell.edu/usda/nass/CropProdSu/2010s/2011/CropProdSu-01-12-2011_new_format.pdf

    http://usda01.library.cornell.edu/usda/current/CropProdSu/CropProdSu-01-10-2014.pdf

  55. The fermentation process to turn ANY kind of “corn” into ethanol using yeast does create vast amounts of CO2, when the ethanol is made, and so burning ethanol although it may create only H2O when burnt, is not a “Carbon Free Fuel” as they say. It is a type of shell game, a confidence trick. Much energy is lost in the overall process, and so it isn’t even economic. It would make more sense to just burn the “corn”, yet that doesn’t seem to make any kind of sense at all.

    The overall chemical formula for alcoholic fermentation is:
    C6H12O6 + Zymase → 2 C2H5OH + 2 CO2
    That’s 2 molecules of CO2 for every 2 molecules of ethanol.
    AT THE PRODUCTION STAGE !!!

    Zymase is the yeast enzyme.

  56. Oh yes and there is still CO2 produced from the “Ethane” part of the Ethanol when burnt, so these people are just kidding themselves, or else this is just a sinister scam to con the Public.

  57. milodonharlani says:
    March 24, 2014 at 2:45 pm
    A. Scott says:
    March 24, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    But using feed corn for ethanol has led to higher white corn prices as well:

    http://farmdocdaily.illinois.edu/2013/10/ethanol-prices-drive-corn-prices.html

    I see nothing in that link that in any way ties feed corn to white corn prices. And their claim that they can link ethanol to increases in corn prices is not proven. Correlation is not causation.

    If as they allege ethanol demand drove the increase in corn prices, then how do you explain the fact that other commodities have almost exactly matched corn price changes.

    Wheat vs Corn:

    Or perhaps you can explain why all these other commodities marched in lockstep with corn … were they all affected by ethanol as well?

  58. Jim Crack Corn says:
    March 24, 2014 at 3:00 pm
    ======================
    Not quite right Jim. The glycolytic pathway is 10, 11 or more steps (depending on how you count some enzyme reactions) to get to ethanol from glucose:

    (Pyruvate then goes to ethanol via ADH1 and other pathways). The amylase enzyme(s) just makes the corn starch fermentable.

    The CO2 from the the ethane part of the molecule came out of the sky and is going back into the sky. Quite funny actually that we utilize the industrial excreta of China and India to make money.

    Since blending credits were removed, gas prices obviously went up, so instead of rich people paying more via taxation, poor people pay more at the pump. I suppose it depends on your politics as to whether or not you like that.

    There are now tax credits for using non-food crops such as sweet sorghum. Someone please let me know when any of the corn crop saved by this actually gets into a starving African’s mouth.

  59. @A. Scott

    “The mantra is stop growing corn for fuel, that we should be growing it for food.”

    No, the mantra is to stop growing corn for fuel and using that land to grow crops for food.

    Could be for corn or could be for something else.

    Please provide legitimate, fact based evidence that the acreage planted for corn used for ethanol is needed for “food.” I provided links to the USDA Crop Production Reports for last 6 years… you can go thru them and see the acres planted for every field crop. They are available back to 1964.

    You, or anyone else, can go to them and find the exact data on planted acres. IF as you claim the acres used for ethanol are displacing food crops you will find that data in the Crop Production reports.

    Of you can find the data in “live” Excel format in the Field Grain Yearbook, I posted table 26 from it above.

    America has been the worlds corn supplier for most of the last century, We have supplied as much as 60% of the worlds corn exports. Despite increased exports in recent years by other corn producing countries, we still export more corn than all of them combined. We provide 100% of the export demand and still have surplus every year to add to the corn reserves.

    In 2012 with the drought and reduced corn production America still met all domestic and export demands and needs. The shortfall was made up by the ethanol industry, who reduced use of US corn to offset almost the entire reduced production due to the drought. In effect ethanol amounts to a nearly 5 billion bushel strategic reserve – protecting us in case of a real problem.

    Everyone wants to make claims – an attack – but few will back that up with data.

  60. Think advisor Holdren will have the courage to tell his boss that green energy sucks and he is wasting our money?
    Of course we already knew it.

  61. stas peterson says:
    March 24, 2014 at 11:48 am

    To: R B Brown et al,

    “The fusion ship” is nearing port and will be available long BEFORE the Thorium ship can arrive.

    Well… you may be right but that “fusion ship” has been about 10-15 years from port for the last 40 years or so.

    The public pronouncements not withstanding, I’ll believe it when it happens. It being an actual, commercial grade, working, fusion powerplant – not a lab experimental machine that has greater than unity gain.

  62. @A. Scott
    By your arguments, we could end the ethanol subsidies, end the ethanol fuel requirements, and nothing will change in the acreage of corn of all types (in fact it should continue to increase as it has), and agriculture prices will also hold firm or increase.

    If this is so, then we should eliminate the subsidies immediately. They have done their job. All changes in land use are permanent. If you grow it, people will buy it.

    Of course, I don’t believe any of that for a minute. The subsidies exist for a reason. Follow the money.

    It is the international system of currency that determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. – Arthur Jensen (Network, 1976)

  63. The fermentation process to turn ANY kind of “corn” into ethanol using yeast does create vast amounts of CO2, when the ethanol is made, and so burning ethanol although it may create only H2O when burnt, is not a “Carbon Free Fuel” as they say. It is a type of shell game, a confidence trick. Much energy is lost in the overall process, and so it isn’t even economic.

    I don’t know anyone that claims ethanol is “carbon free” …. that said overall emissions are lower, and the fuel is cleaner burning. But even it was’t – it is RENEWABLE … that fact alone is a huge positive benefit. We SHOULD use our fossil fuel resources, but using ethanol extends that supply.

    “Much of the energy” is not lost. The net energy yield is in the 1.6 to 1 range for corn ethanol … 1.6 units of energy are produced for every one unit of energy expended in that production.

    Every bushel of corn makes appx 2.7 gallons of ethanol. In addition there are several pounds of corn oil, corn meal and other co-products. AND every bushel of corn used for producing ethanol also creates Distillers Dried Grain Solids – a high quality animal feed. One bushel of corn used for ethanol, in addition to the other co-products, also produces enough DDGS feed to effectively replace appx 50% of the corn used to produce the ethanol.

    Sorry again, but stating that ethanol “isn’t even economic” is uninformed and outright false.

  64. Ethanol costs less than gasoline. E85 costs less than E10. In my market I currently pay $2.49 for E85. E10 is $3.59 … a 31% spread. E10 has appx 111,400 BTU, while E85 has appx 81,600 BTU – or an appx 26% spread.

    Even after accounting for the lower btu (and MPG) of E85 – I save 5% using ethanol.

    But that isn’t the real story – since my ACTUAL MPG only drops about 18% using E85.

  65. A. Scott, March 24, 2014 at 7:01 pm
    do you have a link to the dollar value breakdown of the various products that come from a bushel of fermented corn?
    i don’t care about starving babies or co2 – just interested in the real numbers. thanks.

    • Current prices E85 in Germany per liter:
      E85: 1.10 Euro(~4.15 Euro/US Gal.or 5,72 USD)
      E10: 1.50 Euro(~5.67 Euro/US Gal.or 7,81 USD)
      HighOctane 1.55 Euro(~5.86 Euro/US Gal.or 8,07 USD)
      The reason is, of coure, that the pricing is spoilt by enormous taxation. And it shows where others are going to end up if they don’t stop govermental overregulation. So, E85 is one mean to make a saving.

  66. “The fusion ship” is nearing port and will be available long BEFORE the Thorium ship can arrive.

    No one is developing Thorium reactors, except possibly some third world countries dabbling with it.

    Sure, there is a lot of paper studies and propaganda for it, but it will take a minimum of thirty years to license a commercial fission Thorium design, after someone starts in earnest to spend the multi-Billions needed to do so.

    Fusion is already at the doorstep and has generated a lot more MW, than all the paper thorium designs ever suggested. ITER is more an Engineering exercise to build a pre-protype commercial Fusion power plant, than it is a Scientific experiment.

    Much as I would love to believe you, I’m afraid you’ll have to give some basis for these claims. First fusion — we are now a few weeks in from the first claim of positive net energy production from non-weapons fusion projects, and this “break even” really was “got within a factor of 100 from break even” when one actually accounts for the full energy budget of the event (they left out the energy needed to run all of those lasers, duh…). It isn’t even a light at the end of the fusion tunnel, it is more like a will of the wisp, retreating every time you advance to pull you deeper into the swamp.

    Don’t get me wrong — I’ve been waiting on fusion for most of my life, think that we’ll eventually solve the problem, and that at some point it will alter human civilization permanently. It’s just always been ten years in the future, sustained, for most of my lifetime, making me doubt any claims that fusion is around the corner until we turn the damn corner and fusion is here now for some empirically realized value of now, not for now in five years, or ten years, or ninety years. I could die of old age, literally, before fusion’s “now” arrives. Pretty easily, actually.

    Second, Thorium:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium-based_nuclear_power#Current_projects

    I personally do not consider China, the US, Israel, Canda to be “third world countries” at this point, and while India might be so considered, India has a massive educational and scientific infrastructure, is a long-standing global nuclear power, and has (like China and the US) cone-head quantities of thorium ore that is easily mined and mixed in with rare earths that are as valuable as the thorium.

    Note that there are first world players in this list — including the US and Canada — even though the US’s “official” effort can best be described as anemic, especially compared to next-year-in-Jerusalem fusion, or climate science, or all sorts of other things that haven’t got anything like as high a potential ROI. Hence my suggestion that we divert (say) 1/2 the current climate science budget directly into LFTR development. If it succeeded, it would do more to solve the “CO_2 problem” than all of the measures taken to date, and it would do so without any further need to subsidize it or encourage it. If LFTR can be brought to the table as a mature, cost effective technology capable of producing energy (as projected) for 2.5 cents/kw-hour, the US would convert its power production base to LFTR in as little as a decade, as this would absolutely crush competitive energy sources.

    Note also that the US built functioning, exothermic (that is, more than break even) thorium reactors that produced net energy decades ago (in the 60s), way back at the beginning of the nuclear age, when the NRC was still the AEC and the DOE wasn’t anything at all. If it hadn’t been for the urgent need to produce plutonium for cold war MAD policy bombs and warheads, we might never have developed pressurized water reactor technology at all. Even not having been actively developed for fifty years at this point, it is decades ahead of fusion out of the box in terms of the little work that WAS done back in the 60s.

    At the moment, I think it is basically certain that both India, China, and the corporate interests in the US will build at least small prototype LFTR or other MSR projects — 10 MW scale, for example — before 2020. That is decades earlier than anybody even fantasizes being able to build a 10 MW sustained fusion plant. The US has lots of Thorium. India has lots of Thorium. China has lots of Thorium. The world has 4x more Thorium than it has Uranium. While there are technical problems to be solved, there are enormous advantages (on paper in some cases, sure, but many of them have been proven in the various prototypes built dating all the way back to the 60′s) to e.g. LFTR over pressured water reactors — higher efficiency, zero risk of meltdown, lower risk of nuclear proliferation, substantially less nuclear waste production, cheaper more abundant fuel…

    Personally I think LFTR will beat fusion by decades or more unless there is a real conceptual breakthrough in fusion.

    rgb

  67. Not to worry about tortilla prices in Mexico because of corn cost. they eat mostly flour tortillas.

  68. Stephen Rasey says:
    March 24, 2014 at 8:28 pm
    Subsidies, tariffs, reformulation limits still exist
    http://www.taxpayer.net/library/article/corn-ethanol-subsidies-are-alive-and-well (Oct. 16, 2013)

    Ethanol costs less than gasoline. E85 costs less than E10. In my market I currently pay $2.49 for E85. E10 is $3.59 … a 31% spread.

    Yea, E85 is priced lower than E10 and E15 because demand for it is low and must be priced low to move it. Supply and Demand.

    Ethanol costs less – which is why it’s priced less. The fact ethanol costs less also helps keep the price of gasoline lower.

    As to your claim ethanol still receives significant subsidies … FAIL.

    Your alleged REAP subsidies – the only thing ethanol gets is $2.9 million – just 2.8% of the total REAP $103 million in subsides – for some agricultural ethanol blender pumps. FAIL..

    As to your claimed Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels Fact Sheet – corn starch ethanol is specifically excluded. FAIL.

    Your “Alternative fuel vehicle refueling property credit” is a TAX CREDIT, not a subsidy, is available for “ANY fuel at least 85 percent of the volume of which consists of one or more of the following: ethanol, natural gas, compressed natural gas, liquified natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, or hydrogen” … along with bio-diesel blends and electricity. It is not an ethanol subsidy – period. FAIL.

  69. gnomish … the primary co-product from ethanol production is Distillers Dried Grain Solids. There are many places you can check DDGS prices – but generally they sell for slightly more than the raw feed corn itself. Although DDGS co-product produces does not amount to physically 50% of the original corn, because of its higher feed quality and value it replaces appx 50% of the corn used to make ethanol.

    From a USDA report:

    One bushel (56lbs) of corn wet milled provides:

    32 lb of Starch or ….

    33 lb of Sweetener or ….

    2.5 gal of Fuel Ethanol plus; 12.4 lb of 20% Gluten Feed, and; 3 lb of 60% Gluten Meal, and; 1.5 lb of Corn Oil

    One bushel (56 lbs) of dry milled corn provides 2.8 gals ethanol, plus 17.5 lbs of Distillers Dried Grain Solids high quality animal feed. But DDGS, because of their higher nutritional values, is equal to between 125% and 150% of a comparable straight corn feed. In other words 1lb of DDGS is equal to between 22 and 26lbs of feed corn when used as cattle feed.

    DDGS prices:

    http://www.grains.org/index.php/buying-selling/ddgs

  70. RGB Says:
    Biodiesel actually makes a lot more sense to me — that is much closer to break even out of the box, and one can easily imagine bioengineering things like algae or yeast to eat things like raw sewage or generic cellulose and turn it into recoverable fats at low overall cost (and probably making other useful things, such as sterile compost, in the process). I don’t think we are particularly close to success here yet, but this is at least a moderately promising area of research

    Solazyme, Inc. (SZYM) has done ground-breaking research on the topic, as described in a 35-page research report to the California Energy Commission, dated July 2011. It is titled “Production of Soladiesel from Cellulosic Feedstocks” [biomass]. Its penultimate paragraph–second in importance to the abstract–claims “tremendous progress in strain engineering and xylose metabolism.”

    The link is http://energy.ca.gov/2013publications/CEC-500-2013-019/CEC-500-2013-019.pdf
    Here’s the report’s abstract:

    “Solazyme, Inc., is a renewable energy company focused on producing renewable fuels, chemicals, and foods using proprietary algae grown in high‐cell density fermentors on a variety of sugar feedstocks. The research described in this report sought to determine if Solazyme’s technology is transferable to sugars derived from cellulosic biomass. Cellulosic feedstocks contain a mixture of sugars made up primarily of glucose (60‐75 percent) and xylose (25‐40 percent), a sugar first isolated from wood. Most microorganisms, including algae, can metabolize glucose but not xylose. In addition, cellulosic feedstocks are generally enriched for compounds that can hinder the growth of most microorganisms, including algae. To address these issues, Solazyme adopted a parallel processing approach for algal strains focused on three principal areas: discovering new strains capable of metabolizing xylose, genetically engineering existing strains to metabolize xylose, and evolving strains to become more tolerant of inhibitors present in cellulosic feedstocks. From the standpoint of cellulosic sugars themselves, efforts were focused on the removal of inhibitory compounds, or substances that can slow or stop the necessary chemical reactions. This report demonstrates that algal strains have been discovered that are capable of using xylose as a carbon source. Researchers showed strains can be successfully engineered to metabolize xylose and produce oil from this sugar alone. Researchers successfully evolved strains to tolerate some of the most abundant inhibitors present in cellulosic feedstocks and developed methodologies to remove those same compounds from cellulosic sugars. The initial results were applied to larger‐scale fermentations using these new strains grown on a variety of cellulosic feedstocks, producing oil‐rich biomass. Finally, researchers produced and purified algal oil derived from cellulosic feedstocks. This project benefits California through the development of advanced alternative fuels which reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce dependence upon imported energy and increase California’s energy security, and potentially provide California with new jobs in the rapidly expanding field of alternative fuels production.”

  71. stas peterson says:
    March 24, 2014 at 11:48 am
    To: R B Brown et al,

    “The fusion ship” is nearing port and will be available long BEFORE the Thorium ship can arrive.

    No one is developing Thorium reactors, except possibly some third world countries dabbling with it.

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/ambroseevans-pritchard/100026863/china-going-for-broke-on-thorium-nuclear-power-and-good-luck-to-them/

    Chinese going for broke on thorium nuclear power, and good luck to them
    By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard Energy Last updated: March 19th, 2014

    The nuclear race is on. China is upping the ante dramatically on thorium nuclear energy. Scientists in Shanghai have been told to accelerate plans (sorry for the pun) to build the first fully-functioning thorium reactor within ten years, instead of 25 years as originally planned.

    “This is definitely a race. China faces fierce competition from overseas and to get there first will not be an easy task”,” says Professor Li Zhong, a leader of the programme. He said researchers are working under “warlike” pressure to deliver.

    Good for them. They may do the world a big favour. They may even help to close the era of fossil fuel hegemony, and with it close the rentier petro-gas regimes that have such trouble adapting to rational modern behaviour. The West risks being left behind, still relying on the old uranium reactor technology that was originally designed for US submarines in the 1950s.
    The excellent South China Morning Post trumpeted the story this morning on the front page of its website.
    ………………
    The project began with a start-up budget of $350m and the recruitment of 140 PhD scientists at the Shanghai Institute of Nuclear and Applied Physics. It then had plans to reach 750 staff by 2015, but this already looks far too conservative.

    The Chinese appear to be opting for a molten salt reactor – or a liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR) — a notion first proposed by the US nuclear doyen Alvin Weinberg and arguably best adapted for thorium.

    This in entirely different from thorium efforts in the West that rely on light water technology used in uranium reactors. The LFTR has its own problems, not least corrosion caused by the fluoride.
    …………….
    The Chinese are currently building 28 standard reactors – by far the biggest nuclear push in the world – and working on several research and development fronts at once. This is to break what it calls a “scary” dependence on imported fuel, but also to fight pollution.

    The Hefei Institute of Physical Science in Anhui has just finished building the world’s largest experimental platform for an accelerator reactor that burns nuclear fuel with a powerful “particle gun”.

    Professor Gu Zhongmao from the China Institute of Atomic Energy cautioned against too much exuberance on so-called fourth-generation reactors. “These projects are beautiful to scientists, but nightmarish to engineers,” he told the SCMP.

  72. Robert Brown says:
    Biodiesel actually makes a lot more sense to me — that is much closer to break even out of the box, and one can easily imagine bioengineering things like algae or yeast to eat things like raw sewage or generic cellulose and turn it into recoverable fats at low overall cost (and probably making other useful things, such as sterile compost, in the process). I don’t think we are particularly close to success here yet, but this is at least a moderately promising area of research.

    http://finance.yahoo.com/mbview/threadview/;_ylt=AnXKLHwV5zYDgxatwtF.Xi_eAohG;_ylu=X3oDMTB2dWRlcHBhBHBvcwMyOARzZWMDTWVkaWFNc2dCb2FyZHNYSFJVbHQ-;_ylg=X3oDMTBhYWM1a2sxBGxhbmcDZW4tVVM-;_ylv=3?&bn=c10002c2-6bb7-382c-aa81-0634d94f9dbf&tid=1395725967593-287cf15b-897b-4e19-8767-b6e602fbb583&tls=la%2Cd%2C3%2C3

    Solazyme Assigned Another Patent: Nucleic Acids Useful In The Manufacture Of Oil

    Abstract
    Novel gene sequences from microalgae are disclosed, as well as novel gene sequences useful in the manufacture of triglyceride oils. Also disclosed are sequences and vectors that allow microalgae to be cultivated on sugar cane and sugar beets as a feedstock. In some embodiments, the vectors are useful for the purpose of performing targeted modifications to the nuclear genome of heterotrophic microalgae.

    Fossil fuel is a general term for buried combustible geologic deposits of organic materials, formed from decayed plants and animals that have been converted to crude oil, coal, natural gas, or heavy oils by exposure to heat and pressure in the earth’s crust over hundreds of millions of years. Fossil fuels are a finite, non-renewable resource.

    Increased demand for energy by the global economy has also placed increasing pressure on the cost of hydrocarbons. Aside from energy, many industries, including plastics and chemical manufacturers, rely heavily on the availability of hydrocarbons as a feedstock for their manufacturing processes. Cost-effective alternatives to current sources of supply could help mitigate the upward pressure on energy and these raw material costs.

    PCT Pub. No. 2008/151149 describes methods and materials for cultivating microalgae for the production of oil and particularly exemplifies the production of diesel fuel from oil produced by the microalgae Chlorella protothecoides. There remains a need for improved methods for producing oil in microalgae, particularly for methods that produce oils with shorter chain length and a higher degree of saturation and without pigments, with greater yield and efficiency. The present invention meets this need.

  73. Post-Mortem for the Ethanol Tax Credit
    May 5, 2012.

    Contains a chart of Ethanol Price crash at the start of 2012.

    “We’ve seen a break in margins lately, but overall I think the ethanol industry will survive just fine in 2012,” Penner says. “What we’ll see is pure economics come into the equation.”

    Pure economics? That’s hardly the case, with a government-mandated ethanol blend in gasoline.

  74. Archer-Daniels Midland was caught by the Justice dept. In a price-fixing scheme some decades ago. They conspired with a Japanese firm to fix the price of an amino-acid hog-feed supplement, lysine, I believe. One of their employees reported their crimes. This is a criminal company that has evidently bribed their way through Congress, as I understand how our system works.

  75. philjourdan says:
    March 25, 2014 at 6:13 am
    @A. Scott – there are only so many acres to grow corn. White, sweet, or feed. More for one means less for another. Seems the one using obfuscation and lies is you.
    =======================================
    No, he’s using facts.

    Why would anyone grow food corn for a non-market? The starving African and Mexican tortilla memes are as crap as the polar bear memes. Bioethanol is an industry. Iowans and Nebraskan farmers aren’t a f-kin charity for world poverty, nor do they have much, if anything, to do with the global warming fr*ud any more.

    Why don’t you “food vs. fuel” guys get this ?

    Disclaimer: I’m not in the industry, but I follow it because I’m in a related field for which price of feedstock is important.

    • Sorry Phil, you are wrong. No one is growing them to give away. But when you pay more for feed corn, that means there is less white corn. The price goes up to balance the supply and demand. As it has. That is a fact. It is not speculation.

      So yes, less of one is sold, but not because of lack of capacity, but due to ethanol makers being willing to pay more than the poor can afford.

      Econ 101. You may not like the law of supply and demand. But then I know of no law, natural or man made, that cares whether we like them or not.

  76. concerning power generation by nuclear reactors: the evidence is in and there is no such thing as a safe nuclear reactor.

  77. PCT Pub. No. 2008/151149 describes methods and materials for cultivating microalgae for the production of oil and particularly exemplifies the production of diesel fuel from oil produced by the microalgae Chlorella protothecoides. There remains a need for improved methods for producing oil in microalgae, particularly for methods that produce oils with shorter chain length and a higher degree of saturation and without pigments, with greater yield and efficiency. The present invention meets this need.

    This sort of thing is indeed what I was thinking of — I’ve seen a couple of videos covering some of the technologies under development, although obviously a lot of it is hidden as it is worth a vast fortune if/when fully successful. I don’t think that people appreciate the power of PCR and gene splicing — it isn’t just about “breeding” as in selectively evolving things such as chlorella (which IIRC has long been known as and used as a (possible) food source, a (current) over the counter diet supplement, and possible way of using biology to sidestep what is otherwise a costly and difficult organic chemistry synthesis problem. Chlorella can be grown in a slurry in e.g. tubes or ponds with high surface area, uses sunlight as efficiently as high sugar crops such as sugar cane, and some strains produce high fractions of lipids instead of sugars or starches. Some strains just run on water, sunlight, CO_2, and trace nutrients/fertilizers. Others can “digest” available starches, or can be twinned with other species as part of a processing chain that could for example utilize the raw cellulose that is often “waste” as far as energy production capacity is concerned when growing oil crops such as hemp or rapeseed.

    Fermentation followed by distillation, frankly, sucks, and I say this as a home brewer who is quite fond of the fermentation part. But if one were to (as the stuff above says) wet-mash a slurry of not only corn kernels but the entire corn plant, or an entire crop of fast-growing bamboo or hemp, and use sunlight and bioengineered chlorella strains to convert (say) 50% or more of the complex carbohydrates present into pure biodiesel that requires nothing more than centrifuging and filtration before being poured into a tank and used, well, that’s pretty nifty. It’s the distillation of alcohol to the anhydrous level required for use as fuel that sucks, you see — alcohol is hydrophilic and will actually pull water in out of the air (and it does this, right in your gas tank, hoorah hoorah, over time in a humid environment). Distillations require heating that is a pure loss against the energy you hope to recover, followed by extracting the last little bits of water with quicklime pellets created by calcinating limestone at enormous temperatures (and releasing almost half the weight of the limestone as CO_2 even if you do the calcinating with a giant magnifying class instead of by burning coal in a kiln).

    Separating oil from lipids, on the other hand, is largely a matter of doing nothing, as lipids are hydrophobic, have a different density, and typically rise to the top and float there. If one bioengineered an algae such as chlorella to produce a directly utilizable mix of unsaturated fats (so one doesn’t have to refine the oil at additional expense) mechanical separation and filtration are cheap and easy and don’t require much energy at all compared to the fuel produced.

    There are lots of places that could grow fuel stock for such a process without impacting national or international food production. North Carolina, for example, could really use a high-value crop that can grow on its relatively poor red-clay soil in place of tobacco in a hot, usually humid summer climate. Hemp would be a good choice — basically a weed but with lots of industrial uses. I’m guessing that a wide range of possible fuel stock crops for a chlorella-based process might work as well, in addition to the solar farming of chlorella itself. Lots of the otherwise poor US Southeast would be similarly blessed with the sunlight and water to make this process run, leaving the breadbasket midwest and California alone. Internationally this could be a blessing for Africa and tropical wet-zone climates.

    This isn’t enough to show that this is economically feasible or profitable — early days for that. But it has a lot of promise, where IMO ethanol was a non-starter from the beginning and only works as well as it does because of massive investment to achieve economy of scale plus prohibitive fuel taxes and arm-twisting that regulate gasoline prices so that they end up competitive. Take away the visible hand of government, and see how many fuel ethanol companies survive. I’m happy to be proven wrong, but I suspect that the answer would be “none”, not without some sort of “help”.

    I agree, Roger, that it is high time that we break the “hegemony” of carbon-based fossil fuel producers not because I think it is immoral to produce energy and make money at it, not because I think CO_2 is an enormous risk, but because it is dirty, expensive, a waste of precious pre-synthesized organic molecules of enormous value UNburned, and not a suitable basis for a steady-state world civilization with a high global standard of living, the only kind of world that might one day transcend war, poverty, and widespread preventable human misery. It is also good to prevent any single corporate interest group from amassing enough wealth and structural dominance that they become a political factor at the expense of the people they serve, a tail wagging the dog, and this has long since been passed with e.g. oil companies (I would still love to see the minutes of Bush’s meeting with the oil companies in the weeks leading up to the Gulf war, the ones he concealed citing presidential privilege — I’m certain that they were completely innocent. Aren’t you?)

    So I’m all for solar (sustainable forever, basically), thorium (sustainable for at least 1000 years, long enough maybe to solve the fusion problem sigh), fusion (sigh), biodiesel IF it is sustainably profitable without subsidy and ecologically no worse that oil wells, conservation measures based on clever technology that are themselves life improvements (faucets that go on only while you use them, toilets that flush themselves, lights that only go on when there is somebody there to see the light, heat that goes on only when somebody is there that needs to keep warm). A lot of this stuff has positive ROI just because the resources saved cost more money than the device with any reasonable amortization.

    To be perfectly clear, I think that a lot of the “green” agenda is just peachy keen and good practice and part of ethical stewardship of the planet. I just don’t like selling it on the back of bad, or uncertain, science. It brings out the rats and the con artists and causes economically insane decisioning, and frankly it enriches the very interests (fossil fuel producers) it is intended to “combat” in some unsubtle way.

    rgb

  78. philjourdan says:
    March 25, 2014 at 6:13 am
    @A. Scott – there are only so many acres to grow corn. White, sweet, or feed. More for one means less for another. Seems the one using obfuscation and lies is you.

    Bullpoop. Typical uninformed attack. Making accusations completely absent ANY semblance of fact.

    Corn growers grow to demand. US corn growers have been and continue to be the worlds primary corn supplier. The US has supplied as much as 60% of all world corn exports for many years, and while several countries have increased their corn production the US still supplies more corn than all of the rest combined. That includes WHITE corn exports, where Mexico and Guatemala, along with many others, import US corn to reduce their local white corn prices.

    I posted the ACTUAL acres planted above. Including showing the total acres planted in ALL field crops – which have been largely unchanged for years. I also showed planting for white corn, which was the topic (regarding tortillas in Mexico), showing white corn acres planted are also unchanged.

    AND I posted links to the USDA Crop Production Reports, and the Field Grains Yearbook, which contains ALL of the data – so anyone can look up the data for themselves.

    I will repeat what I said above – you or anyone else are free to post any actual facts showing that corn grown for ethanol has had any significant negative effect on any food crop production.

    • @A. Scott – so you were attacking the others? That can be your only explanation since I merely turned your words back onto yourself.

      I made a statement. The facts are called limited resources, and the laws of supply and demand. And the facts are the corn prices in the past few years. You deny they have not gone up? be my guest. That will only prove your words apply to yourself.

      The facts are:

      #1 – Increased demand for Corn
      #2 – Limited acreage to grow corn.
      #3 – More of one type means less of another.
      #4 – The law of Supply and Demand says when you have a shortage, prices increase to balance demand with supply.

      Now take your bull poop and stick it where you want to. And if you do not want to be attacked, do not attack. It seems you like to whine like Mikey Mann – dish the poop and whine when someone tosses it back at you.

  79. mpainter says: March 25, 2014 at 8:20 am
    concerning power generation by nuclear reactors: the evidence is in and there is no such thing as a safe nuclear reactor.
    __________________________________

    Concerning power generation: the evidence is in and there is no such thing as a safe powergeneration.

    The most deadly form is coal power, followed swiftly by oil, gas, wind and solar. And way at the bottom of the list, with the least fatalities, is nuclear power.

    ralph

  80. rgbatduke says:
    March 25, 2014 at 8:31 am
    =================
    rgb, with respect (a lot), you do have to learn a lot more to be on the cutting edge of this field.

    You are correct that ethanol’s characteristics do not lend themselves to being a good fuel. Everyone knows this. There was a time when when 40% of the cost of ethanol was related to separating it from water. Now (in the profitable bioethanol facilities I know well), it’s distilled as the azeotrope and then run over molecular sieves to make it anhydrous. Separation costs have gone way down. Profits are way up (mostly based on the price of corn – as linked somewhere up there, as well as the high demand for DDGs which is cattle food – better than corn itself, as the sugars are not good for the animal’s digestive system). DDGs indirectly, therefore, then give rise to milk and steaks that humans drink and eat respectively, making the food vs. fuel argument even sillier.

    The big players in advanced biofuels (Solazyme, Amyris, etc.) are indeed going into diesel as the characteristics of molecules that can be made lend themselves more to this type of fuel. There are though other technologies coming down the pike for gasoline additives (starting with butanol(s)), which will please the auto manufacturers, as they do not want to to budge much in this area.

  81. “Full story (subscription required)”

    The way to beat those paywalls, legally, is to use Google. Copy the link location (select, right click and select copy link location in the context menu) and paste it into Google. Google will link the story without a subscription. This technique also works for the NYTimes, WaPo, and FT websites.

  82. rgb, with respect (a lot), you do have to learn a lot more to be on the cutting edge of this field.

    Well, perhaps as a bit of an anomaly, I have absolutely no problem learning from others. My experiences with the problems with ethanol directly come mostly from the other side — it is basically boat-poison for several reasons. If they have some better (that is cheaper) way of extracting alcohol from water than distillation followed by chemistry that’s great.

    Upstream there was a comment on the economics of ethanol relating the amount that could be made if 100% of the production of three key grains was diverted to making it. It suggested that even if that were done, ethanol would never produce more than a paltry fraction of our liquid fuel needs, and had some numbers to go with it. Do you have any comment on that? Again, from my own limited experiences producing beer, even if I bought the barley in bulk and could pass the resulting fermented mash through a magic sieve to extract the alcohol with no additional heat at all, I don’t think I’d break even on the cost of gasoline, but I’m happy to admit that economies of scale or less expensive requirements for food grade production and the concentration of the converted sugars could make a difference for corn or other grains.

    So, please, feel free to educate me. Ideally with references — the wikipedia article, for example, is chock full of information but it is still remarkably pessimistic about the fundamental utility of ethanol relative to gasoline. There is a rather long list of problems with ethanol production, including unsolved problems (enabling the use of cellulose feedstock instead of far more expensive and less available sugars) and — if one cares about CO_2 as the fundamental motivation (which I don’t, much) — the fact that if one DOES expand cultivated areas to grow new feedstock for ethanol, enough CO_2 is released in the first tilling that it takes a century of production and CO_2 savings to offset it.

    OTOH, the idea of producing alcohol directly from algae or other bacteria without an intermediate fermentation step, and the vastly higher yields possible according to at least the hype/claims of the companies trying to develop it is quite attractive, and increases efficiencies and yields by orders of magnitude, so they could — if realized — change everything.

    rgb

  83. A. Scott says:
    March 24, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    Corn prices naturally affect wheat prices. When corn is too costly, ranchers feed wheat, & different grains can be substituted for in other applications. This isn’t theoretical for me. I was a wheat & barley rancher.

  84. Dale Muncie says:
    March 24, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    Human corn consumption in Mexico dwarfs wheat, even with growing use of bread & crackers factored in. As corn has gotten more expensive, however some poor people are eating more wheat & sorghum products.

  85. A. Scott says:
    March 25, 2014 at 10:56 am

    A good friend of mine from a well known Oregon political family, now deceased, was a major producer of corn, potatoes & other center-pivot irrigated crops in the Columbia Basin & dryland wheat, peas, garbanzos, etc on the Plateau. He took advantage of subsidies to grow corn for ethanol, but it bothered him to do so, since the process required more energy than it netted. He could however feed the leftover cake to his cattle.

  86. rgbatduke says:
    March 25, 2014 at 6:40 pm
    +++++++++++++++++++++
    Yeah, I’ll give it a go but just not this evening as I’m kinda busy (with a science project, no less).

    I certainly owe you for all the wonderful stuff you’ve written on this board.

    In the interim, read A Scott’s stuff. Despite his detractors, he knows this industry well.

    Critical issues right now are:

    a) The blend wall (it’s difficult to imagine that we’re going to see E20 after the immense hurdle of getting to E15).

    b) EPA reducing mandates potentially – big fight going on here.

    c) The price of feedstock. I’ve never been able to get my head around bushels and American gallons. Typical corn sugar and Brazilian cane sugar prices are in the 25 – 30 – 50 cents/Kg range (I think today without checking). The promise of cellulosic is to get down to 10 cents/Kg. If this were to happen (and it probably will), it would be remarkable, because in addition to ethanol, many other chemicals currently derived from petroleum could be made less expensively and be way more valuable than stuff to burn in an automobile engine.

    Such chemicals would include the vast market-size commodity chemicals used to make polymers. For example, para-xylene, which is then converted to terephthalic acid to make clear plastic bottles – a mere $100 Billion market, and there are other, similar size polymer building block markets.

    So you may see that this isn’t all about people whining about starving Africans !!!!

    Here’s a link to a technology for potentially making sucrose (a good yeast food) at 5 cents/pound:

    http://www.proterro.com/

  87. Producing bio ethanol consumes more energy than what you can get out of it. It’s a waste of energy. Using ethanol in your car will decrease your mileage because its energy content is 33% lower than gasoline. It’s more expensive.

    • Please take into consideration that burning ehanol means also a cleaner burning process and a drastically reduced oil change with cleaner outlet valves. It increases the life expectancy of the engine. And you have a slightly more powerful engine. The mpg goes down by 20% approx./average. To find the individual break-even-point is just some ‘excelwork’.

  88. Dr. Strangelove says:
    March 25, 2014 at 8:01 pm
    ======================
    Change your screen name to Rip Van Winkle.

    Science moves on

  89. Here’s a link to a technology for potentially making sucrose (a good yeast food) at 5 cents/pound:

    http://www.proterro.com/

    It’s also a good algae food. That’s probably why the co-founder of Solazyme has gone to work for Proterro–to help them technically over the hurdles to scaling this up.

    Hlaford says:
    March 26, 2014 at 3:11 am
    I can’t find the biofuel conclusions at ipcc web yet. What am I to look for?

    The report won’t be officially released until March 31–this thread is based on a leak to the Telegraph.

  90. milodonharlani says:
    March 25, 2014 at 6:47 pm
    A. Scott says:
    March 24, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    Corn prices naturally affect wheat prices. When corn is too costly, ranchers feed wheat, & different grains can be substituted for in other applications. This isn’t theoretical for me. I was a wheat & barley rancher.

    Then perhaps you’d comment on this chart ….

    http://1drv.ms/OVl6OS

    Corn, wheat, soybeans, barley, crude oil and gasoline … that using corn for ethanol must be really powerful to cause ALL those to move together.

    • Reduced supply increases, no reduction in demand increases. Corn and Soybeans do not grow together.

      In case you have not noticed, the population of the world is STILL increasing.

  91. philjourdan says:
    March 26, 2014 at 8:26 am
    Sorry Phil, you are wrong. No one is growing them to give away. But when you pay more for feed corn, that means there is less white corn. The price goes up to balance the supply and demand. As it has. That is a fact. It is not speculation.

    You make lots of claims about alleged “facts” yet never once offer support for your claims. Sorry, but you show you simply have no understanding of the markets with silly comments like these.

    White corn is a tiny fraction of the us Corn market. It has its own supply and demand characteristics. If the demand was greater the farmers would grow more. Period.

    The US supplies 100% of the export demand plus 100% of the domestic demand for white corn. It is such a small part of the overall corn crop that even doubling production if there was demand would be all but meaningless in the big picture.

    One more time – since you seem to ignore facts you find inconvenient … In 2012:

    - 326.32 million TOTAL acres of field crops were planted in the US.
    - 97.23 million acres were planted in corn
    - 706,234 acres – a tiny fraction – were planted in white corn.
    - White corn historically see’s a premium of $.70-$1.00/ bu over yellow corn.
    - In 2012 the white corn premium was $.90-$1.90/ bu over yellow corn

    Farmers received substantially more money for white corn than for corn used for ethanol or other purposes. If there was additional demand- domestic or export – for more white corn, the farmers would grow it.

    White corn acreage is 0.21% of total planted acres. Two-tenths of 1% of ALL planted acres are white corn. Even if demand for white corn was doubled it would not amount to even half or 1% – farmers could EASILY find additional acreage to plant in white corn if there was demand … and most certainly WOULD plant those extra acres due to the significant price premium.

    Your simplistic claim that an acre growing corn for ethanol means a reduction in white corn availability is simply uneducated and not supported by real facts.

    Perhaps now is a time for you to employ the first rule of holes. When in over your head, stop digging…

    https://brokers.intlfcstone.com/Research/Document/DocumentViewPublic/b0c5627c-d091-434e-a936-f79fceb0b9df

    • Sorry A. Scott, I am not going to pollute this blog with Econ 101. I stated the facts. Which one of my facts (or all) do you disagree on? We can concentrate on that aspect.

      And please note I am NOT quibbling about relative prices. Gold is more expensive than Silver. Does that mean that it cannot go up because it is higher? What kind of logic is that?

      Until Man starts farming the moon, the acreage for farming on THIS planet is limited. It is hard to farm the Mohave desert (although parts are with the help of the Colorado River), or Pike’s Peak.

      So please, keep the editorial to a minimum, address the issue that troubles you the most, and we can discuss it. Better yet, sign up for an Econ 101 class. I am happy to answer any questions you have from said course.

  92. Dr. Strangelove says:
    March 25, 2014 at 8:01 pm
    Producing bio ethanol consumes more energy than what you can get out of it. It’s a waste of energy. Using ethanol in your car will decrease your mileage because its energy content is 33% lower than gasoline. It’s more expensive.

    Repeating these completely false claims will not make them so. Perhaps some furious clicking of ruby red slippers might help, but I doubt that as well – they only return you to reality.

    For corn ethanol processes the net energy balance of ethanol is at minimum appx 1.6. For every 1 unit of energy expended appx 1.6 units of energy are produced. In a 2008 USDA report the authors – who took into account the entire growing process – found:

    A dry grind ethanol plant that produces and sells dry distiller’s grains and uses conventional fossil fuel power for thermal energy and electricity produces nearly two times more energy in the form of ethanol delivered to customers than it uses for corn, processing, and transportation. The ratio is about 2.3 BTU of ethanol for 1 BTU of energy in inputs, when a more generous means of removing byproduct energy is employed.

    Some dry mills are already using up to 50 percent biomass power. The energy output for these
    plants is near 2.8 times energy inputs, even using the conservative byproduct allowance.

    http://www.usda.gov/oce/reports/energy/2008Ethanol_June_final.pdf

    Yes, you will get lower MPG using ethanol. Straight gas has appx 114,000 btu/gal. Straight ethanol (E100) has appx 76,400 btu/gal. Gasoline today is E10, which has 110,200 btu/gal. And E85 has 82,200 btu/gal. E85 has appx 25.5% less energy per gal than E10 gasoline.

    E85 however has a higher octane rating, which helps slightly. My 2003 Tahoe 5.3 liter flex fuel gets avg appx 14.5 mpg on E10, and appx 12.3 mpg on E85 – or appx 16% lower mpg in real world driving.

    In my area – Minnesota – the avg spread between E85 and gas (E10) is 21.8%. Many areas however have a 25% to 31% spread, and I have a 31% station nearby. Even if we use the statistical 25.5% number i come out AHEAD – using ethanol would be more than 5% cheaper, even considering the lowered MPG.

    In my actual case however, with real world appx 16% lower MPG, buying for 31% less means ethanol is considerably cheaper for me.

    So if we apply actual facts to Dr Stangeloves claim we get:

    ‘Producing bio ethanol from corn provides at least 1.6 times, and up to 2.8 times, MORE energy than what you can get out of it. It generates considerable more energy than is consumed producing it. Using E85 ethanol in your car will decrease your mileage because its energy content is appx 25.5% lower than E10 gasoline. In the area’s where E85 is readily available the price differential is from appx 15% to 31% making ethanol on a net basis from slightly more expensive to significantly less expensive than E10 gasoline. Ethanol is also cleaner burning, has lower emissions and is a completely renewable fuel.’

  93. But philincalifornia … how could that be? We keep being told by the armchair “experts” it was ethanol that has caused the increases in corn prices. Were there some secret ethanol stills, and huge areas of hidden corn production to feed them, operating in the past we don’t know about?

    :-)

  94. Ha ha. I don’t doubt that there were some secret ethanol stills though during prohibition. Didn’t realize the scale was so vast.

    You probably remember a similar thread, probably over a year ago where Gail Combs linked to some interesting machinations by futures traders. Unfortunately (well fortunately actually), I’m too busy to go dig them up.

  95. If this were to happen (and it probably will), it would be remarkable, because in addition to ethanol, many other chemicals currently derived from petroleum could be made less expensively and be way more valuable than stuff to burn in an automobile engine.

    Such chemicals would include the vast market-size commodity chemicals used to make polymers. For example, para-xylene, which is then converted to terephthalic acid to make clear plastic bottles – a mere $100 Billion market, and there are other, similar size polymer building block markets.

    I’m well aware of this. One of many reasons that I often agree with at least parts of the “green” agenda is that IMO lots of it makes sense. We have way better things to do with petroleum than burn it. Indeed, one day we will probably bitterly regret burning so much of it, not because of CAGW but because it is the font from which so many useful polymers flow and it is way cheaper to make them from petrochemical stock than to directly synthesize them. Drugs too. Also, many conservation measures are just common sense — there is little point in being wasteful (with a hat tip towards overall economic efficiency still being key). Others are protection of the commons, necessary to avoid the Tragedy of the Commons (see Hardin, G.). Species extinction is also something we need to devoutly avoid wherever possible as we are just entering the age where we are going to be able to realize the true wealth of the world’s genetic inheritance, the product of four billion years of evolution. We haven’t yet scratched the surface of this tabulation of the genomes of the world’s species — we aren’t even sure how many of the latter there ARE yet — and the species that goes extinct next could be the basis of the next great antibiotic, or provide a gene that if moved into a different species altogether transforms it into a fabulous resource, or provide us with a pathway to the biosynthesis of some valuate protein or other molecule. It is also generally unwise to bang too hard, too fast, on local ecologies as evolution needs time to work and we have direct examples of ecological collapse (historically) caused by human activity. Again, protection of the commons from the tragedy of its unregulated exploitation.

    So I’d absolutely love to see human civilization move towards a steady state that doesn’t rely on burning scarce, valuable, “mined” carbon compounds to make energy when they are likely to be much MORE valuable in the future for other purposes and when there are obvious substitutes that in even the medium run are going to be much cheaper and cleaner and sustainable for more than a few hundred years. I’m happy to be patient (unlike many greens) and wait for the technologies to become mature and cost effective, but I absolutely support the ongoing research into those technologies and applaud the attempts to make them cost-effective (without subsidy).

    The main thing is, I absolutely do not support twisting a weak scientific argument into a shrill cry of inevitable catastrophe to armtwist the human species into racing along this pathway with immature technologies and utterly ineffective measures. I also recognize that the unbridled green agenda can easily be twisted into an anti-human agenda — many “greens” would cheerfully unleash a plague that wiped out 2/3 of the world’s population, I think, as that is the only thing that they think will save the Earth from humanity.

    I’ve lived in India where I could see unbelievable poverty out of the window of my house. All poverty is at some level energy poverty — enough, cheap enough energy and one can desalinate, sterilize and transport water, make the deserts bloom, feed a hungry world, and raise the standard of living of the people of the world to first world standards. Without cheap energy, 2/3 of the planet is doomed to remain in poverty for decades or more no matter how well-intentioned or well-directed efforts are to end global poverty.

    When standards of living rise, reproduction rates fall. The incentive for war diminishes. The petty arguments over mythological belief (a.k.a. “religion”) and ethics fade into a reasonable perspective as the “punishment” of poverty, disease, misery, hunger, and war fuel conflict. It is a criminal tragedy to take measures that raise the cost of energy globally without even the reasonable expectation that those measures will substantively affect CO_2 levels in the future, let alone without that expectation and with only the weakest of actual evidence that CO_2, left unchecked, will lead to any sort of global catastrophe one half as great as the ongoing human catastrophe tied to energy poverty.

    So coming up with biodiesel or E100 solutions with yields of 6000 gallons/acre/year (possibly egregious, but that’s the expectation for one of the ethanol solutions, supposedly), searching for ever cheaper and more efficient PV Solar solutions, searching for the holy grail of high density reusable electrical energy storage, working to engineer our existing knowledge of Thorium-based fission pathways into a meltdown-proof 1000 year energy resource, working to solve the manifold problems of fusion based energy — all of these are just great. Even without subsidy, solar is marginally worth considering in NC as we tend to have hot, sunny summers where a south facing collector could do nothing but run air conditioning for a household during the hottest hours of the day and be considered a definite win as far as annual electrical budget is concerned. I have friends that use homemade biodiesel already, as it too can be cost effective if you have a farm or some source of e.g. used cooking oil. But most of these technologies really need one more good kick in the pants — another factor of 2 to 4 in cost-efficiency — to really make the unsubsidized no-brainer list.

    The good thing is, over the next 20-30 years they almost all will, not to save the world but because the companies that profitably bring these things to the consumer table will make piles of money. Big piles. Long term big piles. Fossil fuels are very unlikely to get any cheaper until supply outstrips demand, and the producers are carefully regulating the supply to maintain high prices. Come up with a technology that allows rural NC farmers to produce 6000 gallons of pure ethanol or comparable quantities of biodiesel per acre at a retail price of $2/gallon and that’s $12,000/acre — maybe not tobacco-growing levels of profit but enough that 10 acre or better small farmers can make a decent living, provided only that the amortized cost of the hardware needed isn’t too high.

    Sadly, I won’t be around to see most of this resolve. 20-30 years is sort of upper-reasonable bound on my expected lifetime at this point. Perhaps I’ll live to see the CAGW question resolve beyond all doubt one way or the other and to see solar power become commonplace and to see LFTR reactors start to replace coal generating plants, but I have almost given up on seeing commercial fusion in my lifetime. Sigh. Oh well.

    rgb

    • @rgb – I think most people here would agree with some of the Green “stated” concerns. The problem is the dishonesty in which they try to achieve their agenda. Declaring CO2 a pollutant is blatantly dishonest. Reducing pollution is a noble and good goal (just look at China now).

      The dishonesty is the reason why so many distance themselves from the Green agenda. Plus their careless disregard for human life versus animal life.

  96. Please take into consideration that burning ehanol means also a cleaner burning process and a drastically reduced oil change with cleaner outlet valves. It increases the life expectancy of the engine. And you have a slightly more powerful engine. The mpg goes down by 20% approx./average. To find the individual break-even-point is just some ‘excelwork’.

    …with some re-engineering of the engines. See the wikipedia article on ethanol used as a fuel. It is not without problems, some of them pretty serious. For example, engines with aluminum components in the fuel system are “sad” if used with E10. E10 fuel itself gets to be “sad” if exposed to humid air — it can actually suck enough moisture out of the air to cause phase separation in the gas tank, and (undissolved) water in your gas is a bad thing even as small quantities in solution can help with knocking. There are technical problems (solvable, but they are there and associated with the cost of the fuel) in producing sufficiently “dry” alcohol that it can be added to gasoline without causing phase separation.

    I get to live many of these problems with my boat. It has a fuel-water separator in the fuel system, and I just spent several hundred dollars because not only did the separator fill to the max with water, but water got into the internal fuel filter of the engine. No, I’m not pouring water into my gas tank — this is all from condensation, and because I’ve tried once or twice to fill the tank with E10 and add the enzymatic protection that supposedly blocks the hydrophilic action and phase separation — only AFAICT it doesn’t not really. Now I use only real gasoline, no ethanol at all.

    Is this “necessary”? Probably not. One could certainly engineer boat motors so that they didn’t contain the aluminum or polyethylene parts that don’t like alcohol. I suppose one could engineer boat gas tanks so that they’d stay internally dry in over-the-ocean warm moist air, although that is apparently not terribly easy as you have to make it POSSIBLE for air to get in to displace the fuel as it operates and the summertime air you draw in is going to be humid and hot and precipitate out its moisture content as winter comes. But these problems are all much less critical for gasoline than for any ethanol mix.

    Biodiesel is much simpler. From what my biodiesel using friends tell me, you could go to Harris Teeter and buy a gallon of corn oil and just pour it into the tank and it would work fine. There is apparently a wide range of oils that will “just work” in a standard diesel engine. Sure, they have to be clean, they have to be biologically stable (so they won’t go rancid), they cannot be too saturated — but a car is happy burning olive oil, or canola oil, or corn oil, or recycled, filtered peanut oil from a Chinese restaurant or the oil used to cook french fries at McDonalds. Back when they were still busting people for driving non-tax-paid homemade biodiesel, cops would drive behind trucks and buses and sniff — if the exhaust smelled like french fries, they’d pull you over and test for the dyes added to tax-paid diesel. Sigh.

    rgb

    • I do agree completely with what you said about biodiesel. It can be obtained so easily, just by filtering oil from the chip pan, that it is already becoming rare stuff, occasionally. You can use all kinds of vegetable oil right from the can, if your engine is technically adapted. Financially, just check the break-even-point.
      I do agree on ethanol being somewhat peculiar. But I was somehow stunned when the guys from Volkswagen told me that almost all of their cars do accept E10, even those vintage Beetles. If your car accepts E10, it will take even higher ethanol mixtures. I have no problems with a mixture of 4 parts regular and 8 parts E85 under normal conditions. Going long distance at high speed(85 miles per hour and more) requires a tank full of E10 or “better”. I might overcome that restriction using some extra control unit to the injection system that enriches the mixture, but as I normally travel at moderate speed and rpm, this doesn’t pay. So if you have to run the engine under heavy load with E85 you definitely must be careful indeed.
      As I’ve learned here, the production of corn for purposes of producing ethanol is no menace to the human race. Those who want to stop making ethanol out of corn etc. should take better care of how much foodstuff they themselves really need and reduce their sqandering. What I consider really awkward is the fact that so much of food for human consumption ends up in the dustbin. The markets will decide if ethanol really pays off.

  97. philincalifornia … its clear to anyone with a shred of intelligence that it is commodities traders and speculators that drive these price spikes and not the corn used for ethanol

    • At 6:37 PM on 26 March, A. Scott pantsed himself as an abject cement-head with regard to economics in this non-reply spouting of friggin’ idiocy:

      philincalifornia … its clear to anyone with a shred of intelligence that it is commodities traders and speculators that drive these price spikes and not the corn used for ethanol

      A concentratedly contrafactual regurgitation of propaganda mouthed only to handwave dirigiste (i.e., aggressively coercive government thuggish) ordination of outcomes in a market function so as to favor politically-”connected” participants at the expense of everybody – and I do mean “everybody” – else in the economy.

      Let’s take a first sniff at A. Scott‘s latest shovelful of reeking filth by observing that the participation of producers and consumers in commodities futures trading (a structured form of contractual forward trading) is voluntary, not compulsory. People are induced to become involved in these processes – directly or indirectly – only because they perceive that such involvement is to their advantage.

      Absent government goons interfering to “pick winners” according to ostensible political priorities, those whom A. Scott fatuously condemns as “speculators” (his intent to damn them as thieves in one way or another) can only function in any market as their actions prove to serve the benefit of those who deal with them.

      As opposed to the normative interferences of government “regulating” commodities trading, these market participants cannot “drive these price spikes” seen in the various segments of the market afflicted by the undeniably contra-economic fuel ethanol boondoggle. Such futures traders – to the extent that they’re good at their job – simply anticipate “those price spikes” and act to facilitate market compensation to mitigate the damages done by extraneous factors, emphasis on the massive government “renewables” malfeasance A. Scott has been shoving around in this forum.

      To quote from a very brief article (“The Social Function of Futures Markets,” 19 November 2006) on the subject:

      Forward and futures markets are yet another refinement in the growing complexity of a modern financial economy. By distilling the purely speculative aspect out of intertemporal transactions and placing this risk on those who want to bear it, forward and futures contracts foster a greater specialization in the division of labor. Even though the vast majority will never own such contracts, all consumers benefit from the more efficient allocation of resources and production decisions over time.

      A slightly longer article (“In Defense of Oil Futures Markets ,” 12 Septemer 2009) also set at the layman’s level is freely available to any honest disputant. There it had been correctly observed that:

      …speculators en masse cannot make money by manipulating the prices of commodities by aggressive buying and selling; they can only profit by exploiting spatial and temporal discrepancies in prices caused by exogenous phenomena – events external to the actions of the speculators – that affect the demand for and supply of goods. Speculators who attempt “pump and dump” gimmicks run the risk of being undercut by speculators who have made previous purchases and seek to exploit price differentials themselves by pre-selling other speculators.

      Institutional speculators are extremely vigilant economic agents; they are supremely sensitive to changes within the market and since they’re well-equipped with high-frequency trading technology they’re very responsive to market movements and stand ready to react to price signals. This speculative competition makes “pump and dump” contrivances far too risky to prosecute. Thus, (temporal) speculators must yield profits by going through the trouble of forecasting future prices, juxtaposing those expected prices with current prices, and acting accordingly in order to ensure that profits are created and/or losses are avoided.

      This author concluded:

      We are all too accustomed to the half-witted ridicule that derivatives instruments, in particular oil-derivatives, receive from blitheringly ignorant pundits, academics, and politicians who have not as of yet pulled their heads out of their asses. Let us understand the nature of the battle our comrades in the speculative-derivative trenches wage against mal-adjustments and simultaneously develop the intestinal fortitude to publicly praise their efforts in the face of a most unsophisticated intimidation from Washington.

      So much for A. Scott, and therefore to hell with him.

    • @A. Scott – Commodity traders? LOL! There goes that old boogey man again. Sorry if I laugh at your paranoia.

      “Commodity” traders have to have a supply, and a demand. They merely skim a vigorish off the top. They are no more responsible for the price of oil than sea water is. Short term, they can spike it, but only if there are mitigating factors driving buyers to fear (like a gulf war or a hurricane).

      Commodity trading is a zero sum game. For every winner, there is a loser. It is not like stocks where there is nothing real that is traded, just faith. Commodities are real. And so there is a set amount going into the game.

      Sorry, that duck don’t fly.

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