Biofuel Madness: Another Disastrous Impact of Global Warming Deception

Guest opinion: Dr. Tim Ball

There are many deadly and disastrous stories associated with the deception that human CO2 is causing global warming. Some are more obscure than others, but no less deadly in the unnecessary damage and destruction they caused. One was the myth of what was called “Arab Spring.” It never occurred, but what happened was a result of ‘green’ policies based on non-existence science. Unintended consequences are the inevitable result of actions and must not be used to inhibit action and progress. However, there is a difference if the objective was based on evidence and provides benefits or was based on concocted evidence and was mostly detrimental.

I was on a radio program recently, when a listener called to ask who was responsible for more deaths than anyone in history. The word responsible is important because probably none of those most people identify, including Hitler, Stalin, and Mao Zedong, ever actually killed anyone themselves. Many people now realize that the list includes people society tend to glorify, such as Alfred Nobel, who was so mortified by the death and destruction of his invention that he created prizes for advancing knowledge, understanding, and peace. Of course, as is the want of some people, that too has been misused and corrupted with increasing frequency. In the week before Al Gore received his inappropriate Peace Prize, a UK court found his documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” guilty of political bias and containing nine significant science errors. It is hard to understand the blindness that leads people to push causes that become tragic, often in their lifetime. Perhaps Alexander Solzhenitsyn explained it best when he wrote,

“To do evil, a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good.”

The radio caller identified the person he considered responsible for a very large number of deaths as Rachel Carson. In the blind belief that DDT caused the cancer that killed her husband, she published a book that became the bible of the environmental movement.

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The myth of the impact of DDT was enhanced and supposedly legitimized by a false story about egg shells thinning. Paul Driessen addressed this and other impositions by the developed world on the developing world in what he called EcoImperialism. Some estimate the number of people who died unnecessarily from Malaria to more than 100 million. Several African leaders made a bold decision to save their people by ignoring the ban. Prime Minister Modi of India made a similar bold decision when he pointed out starvation and one-quarter of his population without electricity overrides the slim possibility of global warming based on very poor science. These are just some of the stories emerging as reason and sensible priorities override the eco-bullying of environmentalists.

Another story that requires exposing is the damage, chaos, and death caused by the push for ethanol as an alternative fuel to replace the evil CO2-producing fossil fuels.

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The idea was to convert crops to ethanol, and in the US the subsidies went mainly to corn conversion. According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center,

In 2000, over 90% of the U.S. corn crop went to feed people and livestock, many in undeveloped countries, with less than 5% used to produce ethanol. In 2013, however, 40% went to produce ethanol, 45% was used to feed livestock, and only 15% was used for food and beverage.

This had a rapid direct effect.

In 2007, the global price of corn doubled as a result of an explosion in ethanol production in the U.S. Because corn is the most common animal feed and has many other uses in the food industry, the price of milk, cheese, eggs, meat, corn-based sweeteners and cereals increased as well.  World grain reserves dwindled to less than two months, the lowest level in over 30 years.

The impact was potentially deadly and noted by several commentators in the food production industry. In 2006, Graham Young noted the threat and the immorality,

The biofuel madness is gathering steam, and it’s not good news for the world’s poor and hungry. Putting one man’s dinner into another man’s car hardly seems like a sensible or ethical way of solving any of the world’s problems.

In March of 2008, The Times also issued a warning,

The rush towards biofuels is threatening world food production and the lives of billions of people, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser said yesterday. Professor John Beddington put himself at odds with ministers who have committed Britain to large increases in the use of biofuels over the coming decades. In his first important public speech since he was appointed, he described the potential impacts of food shortages as the “elephant in the room” and a problem which rivalled that of climate change.

Beddington was correct. By April of 2008, the President of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, wrote,

The World Bank Group estimates that 33 countries around the world face potential social unrest because of the acute hike in food and energy prices. For these countries, where food comprises from half to three quarters of consumption, there is no margin for survival.

Remember, all this occurred under the Bush and Blair regimes. The San Francisco Chronicle reported in April 2008,

In the pantheon of well-intentioned governmental policies gone awry, massive ethanol biofuel production may go down as one of the biggest blunders in history. An unholy alliance of environmentalists, agribusiness, biofuel corporations and politicians has been touting ethanol as the cure to all our environmental ills, when in fact it may be doing more harm than good. An array of unintended consequences is wreaking havoc on the economy, food production and, perhaps most ironically, the environment.

The reaction was what it always is when the food supply fails, riots and an overthrow of a government. It is one of the two major reasons throughout history why people will override the prevailing sentiment expressed in 2000-year-old graffiti in Pompeii: If we get rid of this bunch of scoundrels, we just get another bunch of scoundrels. CNN reported in April 2008,

Riots from Haiti to Bangladesh to Egypt over the soaring costs of basic foods have brought the issue to a boiling point and catapulted it to the forefront of the world’s attention, the head of an agency focused on global development said Monday.

The UK Telegraph was more specific

Egyptian families are having to get up at dawn each day to queue up for bread rations, as the country struggles to cope with grain shortages that threaten a major political crisis.

Egypt is in the grip of a serious bread crisis brought on by a combination of the rising cost of wheat on world markets and sky-rocketing inflation.

Barack Obama was elected President in 2008 so inherited the fallout from the failed ethanol policy. The problem was he was more committed to it and the false global warming agenda than Bush. For example, he promised a reduction in the rate of sea level rise in June of 2008 and made global warming and climate change central to his political platform.

The origin of the term “Arab Spring” is unclear but it very quickly became attached to President Obama and certainly solved his political dilemma. He took a failed green agenda policy issue and turned it into a political progress that justified his Middle East policies. He also benefitted from the riots because the people overthrew Hosni Mubarak, who stood in the way of his plans to install a Muslim Brotherhood government in Cairo. Meanwhile, the people suffered hardships, starvation, and death, as the military struggle and riots continued.

However, as Aldous Huxley said,

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”

To their credit, even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were restrained but clear in identifying the problems with ethanol, in Chapter 8 of the 2014 Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change Report they wrote,

“Biofuels have direct, fuelcycle GHG emissions that are typically 30–90% lower than those for gasoline or diesel fuels. However, since for some biofuels indirect emissions—including from land use change—can lead to greater total emissions than when using petroleum products, policy support needs to be considered on a case by case basis”

In fact, using ethanol produces more CO2 than fossil fuels,

The University of Edinburgh study concludes that ethanol made from corn produces up to 50 percent more greenhouse gases than fossil fuels. And ethanol made from rapeseed produces up to 70 percent more greenhouse gases than fossil fuels. (Rapeseed is also the source from which canola oil is made.) Both corn-based and rapeseed-based ethanol produced high levels of nitrous oxide, twice as much as previously believed, which is 296 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide — a gas naturally “exhaled” by plants and produced in combustion of fossil fuels.

Fortunately, the process and production are collapsing. The real tragedy is none of it mattered because CO2 was not causing global warming or climate change. Unfortunately, no accountability will occur. No punishment or condemnation of those responsible for the damage, destruction, and deaths caused by this deliberate pursuit of a political agenda using falsified science will ensue. Somebody once chastised me for saying that these are tantamount to crimes against humanity. I will continue to repeat that claim as the ethanol, and all the other policies of death and destruction are unmasked.

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279 thoughts on “Biofuel Madness: Another Disastrous Impact of Global Warming Deception

  1. Regarding “CO2 was not causing global warming or climate change”: Anthony Watts has said it does. Skeptical scientists like Dr. Roy Spencer say it does. The question is how much or how little, and how much of the warming since the middle of the 20th century was natural. I don’t think it helps to claim the effect if increasing CO2 is zero.

      • Sun Spot … it’s called science …. it’s not a claim, it’s a fact ….

        …. it’s not zero. BUT, it’s so small we can argue that it’s way smaller than natural variability. But to make your argument hurts the cause, because it’s NOT TRUE

      • Suppose you spit in the ocean. Does that increase the volume of water in the ocean? Theoretically, some might answer yes.

        Now change “spit” to adding some unknown amount of CO2 and change “Ocean” to atmospheric temperature.

      • Leonard Lane. Spiting is not really the right amount by many, many orders of magnitude. To get the same concentration as CO2 in the atmosphere you need to add 500,000 cubic kilometers of something to the oceans.

        Can you imagine 500,000 cubic kilometers changing the properties ocean in any way? I can.

      • Another comparison. Imagine pissing in an Olympic swimming pool. Does that bother you? Well me neither. Now imagine putting 1 tonne of piss in an Olympic swimming pool. That is the same concentration as CO2 in the atmosphere, and it might bother me a bit.

      • seaice1 – “Can you imagine 500,000 cubic kilometers changing the properties ocean in any way? I can.”

        Since the total volume of seawater in the oceans is estimated at anywhere from 1.3 to 1.5 billion cubic kilometers, your 500,000 cubic kilometers of “whatever” amounts to 5 parts per about 14,000 parts of seawater. Can you really imagine that those 5 parts change the properties of the ocean in any way? I can’t.

      • “Still rather more than spitting though.” – I guess it depends on how much saliva you can muster up. What’s the point of your swimming pool example? It’s a poor analogy – come up with something better. Urine in a swimming pool is disgusting. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is necessary to life.

      • Now imagine putting 1 tonne of piss in an Olympic swimming pool. That is the same concentration as CO2 in the atmosphere . . . .

        That implies that an Olympic swimming pool contains 2500 tonnes of water. Is that really the case?

      • Reply to Jake:

        “…it’s not zero. BUT, it’s so small we can argue that it’s way smaller than natural variability. But to make your argument hurts the cause, because it’s NOT TRUE”

        The problem is, practically nothing anyone ever says is precisely and exactly true.

        Bill: “Did you move the computer?”

        Jane: “No.”

        But when Jane entered the room, her footsteps ruffled the carpet which brushed the table the computer was on and the computer moved by several Angstroms. But neither Bill nor Jane meant that, of course.

        My point: Objecting that something isn’t precisely true when it is very well true enough for the discussion being conducted, is foolish. And, of course, the dishonest use it to deliberately derail uncomfortable arguments, because stating the exact and precise truth always makes every discussion too long to actually conduct.

      • Last nite, Tucker Carlson “interviewed” Bill Nye, science guy. Nye also insists global warming is caused by CO2 emissions. The man-made kind. So there.

      • That CO2 is a greenhouse gas is a proven fact. Therefore it has to have a warming affect.
        What we don’t know is how much. At present we can’t say with any certainty because the amount is less than natural variability.

      • MarkW, yes, CO2 is a green house gas, but it is also food for plants and animals. Does the 20% greening of the earth cause warming or cooling? What is the net effect of additional CO2 when all interactions are considering? Bottom line is no one knows. We do know that cloud cover, water vapor, and the sun have much more pronounced effects on weather/climate.

      • MarkW:
        The evidence: Since the satellite era, 1979, there has been an increased CO2 concentration with NO significant or accelerated warming.
        Therefore; in our atmosphere there MUST be something that undoes the effect of CO2.
        A negative feedback. A stabilizing agent.
        Negative feedback.
        Water vapor and clouds are a likely source of negative feedback .
        EVIDENTLY CO2 theoretically causes warming but actually does not.

      • Temperature followed CO2 during most of the past 450,000 years and before that, when the sum of carbon (including in CO2) in the atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere was fairly constant. Temperature lagged CO2 because CO2 was a positive feedback to a temperature change initiated by something else, such as the Milankovitch cycles.

        Now we have a different situation, when carbon is being transferred from the lithosphere to the atmosphere. The hydrosphere and biosphere are actually as a net effect removing CO2 from the atmosphere on a year-round average, year in and year out every year since at least some time in the 1950s, despite the warming.

      • RobRoy, the fact that the influence of CO2 is far enough below natural variability that we can’t discern it’s influence is not the same thing as saying CO2 has no affect.

      • Who’s the other person, then?

        Less jocularly, that was not helpful. CO2 causes some warming. But does it cause RCP 8.5 or does it cause some mild, mostly beneficial warming, that is the line to fight. Be d3nialist, and you be ridiculed. Accept facts, ignore inconsequentials,, and fight where the money is.

      • Donald L. Klipstein February 28, 2017 at 11:02 am
        =============
        huh? you have it backwards. CO2 follows temperature. For the past 600 thousand years Ice Ages occur when CO2 is at its highest, and interglacials occur when CO2 is at its lowest. On that basis CO2 causes cooling.

      • DLK, “because CO2 was a positive feedback to a temperature change” inferred, never demonstrated.

        The inference was made as a face-saving waffle after the very embarrassing (to AGW stalwarts) discovery that changes in CO2 concentration were found to invariably trail changes in air temperature.

      • “Donald L. Klipstein February 28, 2017 at 11:02 am
        Temperature followed CO2 during most of the past 450,000 years and before that, when the sum of carbon (including in CO2) in the atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere was fairly constant. Temperature lagged CO2 because CO2 was a positive feedback to a temperature change initiated by something else, such as the Milankovitch cycles.”

        That is simply bollocks.

        Ice core analysis may be able to differentiate CO2’s lagging temperature. Geological samples can not.

        Over the last decade there have been several attempts to redefine previous extinctions as events caused by CO2. Each paper is generally worse than the one before; with all of them jumping to conclusions from zero evidence and assumptive concurrences.

        CO2 stored as carbonate deposits has existed for so long, that most of the world’s tectonic collisions push immense deposits of carbonate deep, up to 25-30 miles deep. Pressure and high temperature return CO2 and carbon for reuse.

        There is no such thing as “sum of carbon” in the atmosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere. That is undefinable.

        CO2’s inverse logarithmic relationship to CO2’s effects on temperature is proof against high levels of CO2 being substantially different from low levels of CO2.

      • LWIR emissions come from CO2 not because it is a ‘greenhouse gas’ but because it has a temperature. All matter with a temperature above absolute zero emits electromagnetic radiation.

        The electromagnetic radiation from a cold source cannot raise the temperature of a warmer absorbing body above the temperature that it already has. For example, an ice cube does emit LWIR, even though it is ‘cold’. However, placing an ice cube in front of me will not warm me up at all because my body temperature is already above that of the ice. Putting a million ice cubes in front of me will not raise my temperature at all either for the same reason. In this example, the LWIR is not additive with regard to its temperature effect on the absorbing body – me!

        It’s the same with atmospheric CO2. As everyone knows, the temperature of air declines with altitude. The LWIR emissions from a higher, colder layer of CO2 will not raise the temperature of a warmer layer below it AT ALL. This is the biggest mistake most people make explaining the greenhouse effect.

        Emissions from different sources are not additive with regard to their temperature affect on an absorbing body unless the radiating source has a temperature higher than the absorbing body, in which case they are additive and the absorbing body will increase in temperature. If I sit in front of a coal fire, it WILL warm me up because the temperature of the fire is higher than the temperature of my body.

        Ironically, upwardly emitted LWIR emissions from a layer of CO2 WILL raise the temperature of the colder atmospheric layer above it. That is why CO2 is called a ‘radiative gas’ – it actually works to strip heat out of the atmosphere, upwards, to be lost into space – at the speed of light!

        The bottom line – since the atmospheric temperature is lower than the surface temperature, any LWIR emitted downwards will not raise the surface temperature AT ALL! Think of the ice cube example.

      • wrong and right, Bernard Lodge.
        wrong: Putting an ice cube in front of you may heats you. It may cools you. It all depends on what the ice cube replace.
        If there was nothing, just the close to 0K cold deep space, or just some carbonic ice colder than your ice cube, the ice cube will heat you, because it sends you some more radiation than the void or the carbonic ice.
        if there was tepid water, or red-hot charcoal, the ice cube will cools you.

        if there was some matter with exactly the same temperature than the ice cube, the effect is nil. That’s were you are right : replacing some air molecule with some CO2 molecule with the same temperature just doesn’t change anything for you.
        You have to prove that CO2 actually heat the air, which may theoretically happen, but experimentally doesn’t show: no “hot spot”.

      • @ ATheoK – February 28, 2017 at 10:00 pm

        CO2’s inverse logarithmic relationship to CO2’s effects on temperature is proof ……..

        You should have quoted yourself after posting the above silliness by again stating, to wit:

        That is simply bollocks.

        The primary and only reason that some global warminist was forced to concoct up that asinine claim about the inverse logarithmic relationship between atmospheric CO2 and near-surface air temperature was simply because there was no physical scientific evidence or proof that CO2 was a Global Warming Gas. As a matter of scientific fact, there is no experimental evidence or proof that atmospheric CO2 actually affects the near-surface air temperatures.

      • “Samuel C Cogar March 2, 2017 at 9:09 am

        The primary and only reason that some global warminist was forced to concoct up that asinine claim about the inverse logarithmic relationship between atmospheric CO2 and near-surface air temperature was simply because there was no physical scientific evidence or proof that CO2 was a Global Warming Gas. As a matter of scientific fact, there is no experimental evidence or proof that atmospheric CO2 actually affects the near-surface air temperatures.”

        Wrong.

        The CO2 inverse relationship to temperature forcing is one of the few realities regarding CO2 that have been independently derived from observations, not based on models or assumptions.
        http://clivebest.com/blog/?p=4697

    • The fact is the effect of human caused CO2 on atmospheric CO2 is under our ability to determine it accurately(Humllum 2013). No one has shown a correlation of human emissions to global temperature and the same for all CO2 except as a dependent variable. Possibly Dr. Ball should have stated “ACO2 was not causing global warming or climate change” but in the big picture it is difficult to see any evidence that CO2 causes any measurable warming let alone “climate change”

      • CO2 does in theory cause global warming, however if you solve the Arrhenius equation for a doubling of CO2, the resulting radiation produces a warming of slightly less than 1 degree Celsius (based on Stefan-Boltzmann differentiation). This is too low by a factor of three for the GC models when used to calibrate their temperature/CO2 response, so you have to assume some large positive feedback to get that 1 degree up to 3 degrees. Enter water vapour and a little bit of “parameterizing” here and there, and bingo! You’ve got a fit with the 1975-2000 temperature record. What could be easier? Puzzle solved, science settled.

      • Trebla, Arrhenius may well have been wrong:
        Erren29 has shown that Langley’s measurements used by Arrhenius were preliminary
        and had serious errors. They became less accurate as they approached the region
        used by Arrhenius, the measurements were exaggerated, and did not reach far
        enough to include the major absorption frequency of carbon dioxide. He concludes
        from his study that Langley’s observations were of little use in studying the influence
        of carbon dioxide on the climate.
        http://nzclimatescience.net/images/PDFs/the%20greenhousexxx.pdf
        John

    • “The question is how much or how little, and how much of the warming since the middle of the 20th century was natural. I don’t think it helps to claim the effect if increasing CO2 is zero.”

      Study it with your own damn money and leave the rest of the world out of it.

    • Please explain then, how a general cooling of the earth occurred between 1950 and 1975 while carbon dioxide levels rose.

      • DLK, “At least part of the natural variability is visible in a plot of 5-year-smoothed HadCRUT4, or most other global temperature datasets going back to well before 1900.

        So long as you ignore measurement error. Also here (pdf)

      • MarkW

        You state: “That CO2 is a greenhouse gas is a proven fact. Therefore it has to have a warming affect.”.

        Mine is a serious question: what is the scientific proof? I can understand CO2 working like this in an enclosed system (5 gallon water bottle or flower greenhouse in which IR can’t easily escape because glass is opaque to IR), but that is nowhere near an accurate model of the earth’s ecosystem.

        I’m not being argumentative, I’m ignorant on this piece of physics: what is the “scientific proof” CO2 is a greenhouse gas in the earth’s atmosphere?

      • Javert, the GHG idea is based in the radiation physics of CO2. CO2 absorbs 15 micron IR emitted by the warm terrestrial surface.

        Absorption causes the CO2 to become vibrationally excited = CO2*. The CO2* transfers the vibrational energy to O2 or N2 molecules following collision. The usual description, is that CO2* is collisionally relaxed.

        The N2 and O2 gain kinetic energy from the process. Kinetic energy = heat. The overall process is that CO2 turns IR radiant energy into kinetic energy. This kinetic energy contributes part of the terrestrial thermal black body radiation.

        The whole “back radiation” business that gets everyone excited just comes from the fact that the black body radiation — or if you like, the molecular kinetic energy of the air — disperses radially in all directions. Half goes up, half goes down.

        So, the original IR energy from the surface that was all going up, gets caught by CO2, transferred into the O2 and N2, which gain kinetic energy, and about half of that energy goes back down as black-body radiation.

        That process dominates throughout the whole troposphere. Collisional relaxation of CO2* is much faster than radiative decay, until the stratosphere, where the atmosphere becomes thin.

        All of this is very well-established.

        However, no one knows what the climate does in response to the increased kinetic energy provided by CO2*. Climate modelers and their models and all the AGW stalwarts, assume the kinetic energy shows up as heat, warming air temperature.

        However, it could show up as slightly increased precipitation. Or as tiny changes in cloud-cover. Or both, or as increased convection. Or all three. No one knows. Intervention of those processes could remove all the excess kinetic energy. Or reduce it so far as to be undetectable. Or not.

        Science is settled on the fact that, concerning CO2 emissions and climate, no one knows what they’re talking about.

        The factual evidence thus far is that nothing unusual is going on in the climate. The best present inference following from this lack of evident change is that CO2 emissions have little or no effect on air temperature.

      • “Pat Frank February 28, 2017 at 6:34 pm
        Javert, the GHG idea is based in the radiation physics of CO2. CO2 absorbs 15 micron IR emitted by the warm terrestrial surface.

        Absorption causes the CO2 to become vibrationally excited = CO2*. The CO2* transfers the vibrational energy to O2 or N2 molecules following collision. The usual description, is that CO2* is collisionally relaxed.”

        That is a fairy tale.
        Whenever that is quickly passed over in a discussion, it is because there are problems with that fable.

        The CO2* transfers the vibrational energy to O2 or N2 molecules following collision
        • So the CO2 molecule absorbs the IR frequency; how warm is the CO2 molecule before and afterwards?
        • Since CO2 does not have intermediate excitation levels, exactly how much energy is passed to O2 and N2 during each collision?
        • When the IR excited CO2 molecule fails to immediately collide with another less energetic atmospheric molecule, which is the norm; exactly how long before the CO2 molecule re-radiates the IR energy?
        • Now the kicker; how long does it take 400 molecules of CO2 in every million molecules of atmosphere to physically impart energy to the other 999,600 molecules of atmosphere? Especially in gaseous physics where conduction of energy, such as you describe, is rare.

        Look instead to the elephant in the atmosphere, H2O.

      • ATheoK

        So the CO2 molecule absorbs the IR frequency; how warm is the CO2 molecule before and afterwards?

        The CO2 molecule becomes vibrationally excited. Its translational energy has not increased.

        Since CO2 does not have intermediate excitation levels, exactly how much energy is passed to O2 and N2 during each collision?

        The CO2 molecule has many intermediate excitation levels, most of them having to do with rotational energy.

        When the IR excited CO2 molecule fails to immediately collide with another less energetic atmospheric molecule, which is the norm; exactly how long before the CO2 molecule re-radiates the IR energy?

        The CO2 collisional decay rate is orders of magnitude faster than the rate of radiational decay, all throughout the troposphere.

        Now the kicker; how long does it take 400 molecules of CO2 in every million molecules of atmosphere to physically impart energy to the other 999,600 molecules of atmosphere?

        The collisional decay rate of CO2 is about 6 microseconds at one atmosphere pressure. The kinetic energy is dispersed very quickly, because the entire process is local. Every CO2 need only see the local 2,500 N2/O2 molecules.

        With one collision every 6 microseconds at the terrestrial surface, the energy is transferred into all 2500 molecules in about 0.015 second. The energy is transferred collisionally, which is much faster than diffusion of the molecules themselves.

        At 11 km, assuming collision numbers are linear with pressure, the energy is dispersed in about 0.07 second.

        Especially in gaseous physics where conduction of energy, such as you describe, is rare.

        Rather, it’s ubiquitous.

        Look instead to the elephant in the atmosphere, H2O.

        If you look again, my prior post suggests that air temperature appears to be completely dominated by water vapor.

      • yes Pat, but
        This ALSO works the other way: CO2 turns into CO2* through collision with speedy O2 and N2, then radiates back. Both process exist and compete, and I confess a weakness in statistical physics to have an idea of the net effect, and what it depends on, besides temperature which is a factor (at 0K adding radiative gas will increase temp, while at 1000K it will turn temperature into radiation and cools it).
        Moreover
        Were the gas in a closed bottle, adding some absorbing stuff like CO2 would rise its temperature and prevent RADIATIVE heat loss from the hotter side, for sure… but what about total heat loss?
        As you know, insulated glazing has a layer of gas sandwiched between two glasses. The best would be void, but this would be impractical, so it’s some gas. Is it some cheap, safe, IR-absorbing CO2 ? No it isn’t. Non IR-absorbing argon is used, instead. CO2 prevents some radiative loss, but it increases convective loss compared to argon, for a net negative effect.
        Convection dominates radiation, even in a closed bottle.
        And even more so in atmosphere, which isn’t a closed bottle. Should some volume be heated, it will rise in altitude, expand and cool, increase it radiation to deep space and cool, turn some vaporous water in it into water or ice so lower its radiation absorption by H2O and increasing albedo, and be replaced by some colder other volume from above.
        The net effect down on the ground may not be zero, but compared to the closed bottle situation the heating is damped by a huge factor.
        Some even say it turns negative, but I again confess not being able to say if they are right or wrong.

        Bottom line: science not settled.

      • Javert, the property of matter does not change between test tube and atmsophere.
        If CO2 is capable of absorbing IR photons of a certain range, it will do so regardless of where it is located.
        If CO2 is capable of transfering that energy to other atoms through collisions, it will do so, regardless of where it is located.

      • Interesting comment, paqyfelyc. You’re right that CO2 can become CO2* by collision. But it will then decay by collision, too, because radiative decay is orders of magnitude slower than collisional decay throughout the troposphere.

        Agreed that heat transfer by convection dominates radiation in the atmosphere. This may be why CO2 emissions may have no discernible warming effect on the climate.

      • At least part of the natural variability is visible in a plot of 5-year-smoothed HadCRUT4, or most other global temperature datasets going back to well before 1900.

        A “global temperature” is fantasy, a nonsense metric.

      • @ Pat Frank – February 28, 2017 at 6:34 pm

        Pat Frank, that was a fine response to Javert’s question, ……. except for this screw-up, to wit:

        The whole “back radiation” business that gets everyone excited just comes from the fact that the black body radiation — or if you like, the molecular kinetic energy of the air — disperses radially in all directions. Half goes up, half goes down.

        Now Pat F, you were correct when you stated the absorbed thermal energy “disperses (radiates) radially in all directions” ….. but totally wrong when you continued your claim by stating …… “Half goes up, half goes down.” You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

        Must be that most everyone believes that 50% of the IR radiation in earth’ atmosphere is subject to earth’s magnetic or gravitational attraction that “pulls” it downward……. and the other 50% of the IR radiation in earth’ atmosphere is repelled by the earth’s magnetic or gravitational forces that “pushes” it upward toward outer space.

        I guess they gotta be “pushing” all that IR radiation upward ….. or “pulling” all that IR radiation downward in order to get their “fuzzy” math calculations of “watts per square meter” at the earth’s surface to be halfway believable. (NOTE: the average intensity of solar energy reaching the top of the atmosphere directly facing the Sun is about 1,360 watts per square meter

      • Samuel C Cogar radiation is emitted randomly in all directions, up, down, and x,y-sideways. Gravity or repulsion has nothing to do with it.

    • Excellent post. Change the subject away from the crux of the article to avoid facing the realities of failed liberal policies / myths! Are you Griff in disguise?

    • I read this as ‘was not causing global warming’ in 2008 (for at this time, the ‘pause’ was becoming inconvenient.)
      Dr. Ball knows that there is a greenhouse effect. He appears to be stating, that at the time governments mandated corn to ethanol subsidies, and consequent starvation overseas, there was evidence that CO2 was not a control knob for global temperature and there is an inconvenient time series of global temperature anomaly data that supports that belief.

    • I’m going to get me some of that magical CO2 and I’m going to put it in my attic. Then when my furnace warms my home I can take advantage of the radiative affect and those CO2 molecules in my attic can re-warm my home again.

      Silly rabbits, tricks are for kids….

    • Great post Tim – I agree.

      Food-to-fuel is, in general, intellectually and ethically wrong, especially since it has greatly increased food costs and hunger in the world.

      Donald K: The effect if increasing CO2 is VERY CLOSE TO ZERO. IT IS INSIGNIFICANT.

      BTW, CO2 LAGS temperature at all measured time scales.

      Regards, Allan

    • Donald, “CO2 was not causing global warming or climate change.” is accurate… CO2 may be a “greenhouse gas” in greenhouses, but the theory that the minute percentage found in the atmosphere affects the climate in any measurable way depends on positive feedbacks. There is nothing statistically significant in the un-manipulated record that anthropogenic emissions of CO2 has had even the slightest effect on the temperature of the earth or that the positive feedbacks in a complex system outweigh the negative feedbacks.

      Please provide actual quotes and links from Anthony Watts and Dr. Spencer if you believe that they have similar views to you.

    • If you use diesel tractors, then yes.

      My main objection to ethanol as motor fuel has to do with its net energy value. Think of it like this. If you burned ethanol to generate the steam required for the final distillation steps, how much ethanol would you have left over?

      The answer is: Not very much. Maybe you end up with a gallon or so of fuel grade ethanol per bushel.

      In light of that I’m not sure what the real political motivation was for the subsidies for this madness.

      • It is basically a way to buy Midwest/Great Plains states’ votes. That is why no presidential candidate will touch the ethanol topic. Any Senate or House leader also has to be careful, because they cannot afford to lose those votes (regardless of party).

        This is why we need to have a single primary date, though that only solves the executive branch problem. Maybe someone else can come up with a way to circumvent the representatives and senators.

      • The problem with having a single day primary is that only candidates with very deep pockets will be able to win.
        Very deep pockets means those who are independently filthy rich, or the candidate supported by the party insiders.

      • Damn, ristvan! You hit the nail on the head. I grew up in Iowa, and 90% of my relatives still live there. We were farming people, and ethanol made corn a gold mine.
        And fortunately for my Bible-thumping relatives, the inhumanity of taking food from someone’s mouth so we can drive our cars can be easily overlooked. Those poor people are used to living on the edge anyway, so, it’s not like they’re really taking anything away from them, right?
        It’s one of the reasons Iowa is usually a blue state. I still can’t figure out how Trump won the state when he explicitly told them – while in Iowa – that he was against ethanol. Maybe there is hope for them.

    • Most of the energy used to produce ethanol is produced by burning natural gas, not diesel. With the current fleet of vehicles, natural gas has very little utility as a vehicle fuel, so using it to produce ethanol increases its utility. This is expressed in price. If it didn’t increase value,ethanol production would not be profitable and would not happen.

      • The required blending amount on motor fuels is definitely a non-market mandate. When the government steps in, it is often very loosely called a “subsidy” despite not being a direct payment. There is a similar dynamic with wind and solar, of required purchase mandates and preferences.

      • Natural gas may (currently) have little use as vehicle fuel, but gas generates 33% of USA electricity, so there are other (more?) productive uses for gas.

        Major energy sources and percent share of total U.S. electricity generation in 2015 (link: https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=427&t=3)

        Coal = 33%
        Natural gas = 33%
        Nuclear = 20%
        Hydropower = 6%
        Other renewables = 7%

  2. I have to believe there are smart people out there who realize going against commonly held misconceptions is detrimental to their popularity. How else can some one like Bill Gates who tries to do so much good for the underprivileged of the world stand by while popular myths do so much damage.

  3. Just connecting the dots and facts as Aldus Huxley spoke of, one should not forget or ignore the fact that the workers clear cutting the forests to ship out the wood pellets to the UK power plants involves the forced use of ethanol fuel in their gas tanks for the benefit of the Iowa ethanol lobby and the UK green lobby receiving the long distance shipments. It is political power that actually makes the world dance to its tune.

    • Trump should put an immediate BAN on exporting wood pellets. Foreigners can buy all the coal they want!

      • Great idea. And the coal can be sold in units of “wood-pellet equivalents” to make the British greens happy.

  4. If ethanol had made sense as a fuel, it would have been grown for that purpose long ago. And… pardon my anal retentiveness, but it is not “as is the want of some people,” it is “as is the wont….”

    • Is that Houston Texas? You know the place famous for getting rich selling oil!

      I can understand why you would be afraid Indiana corn farmers.

    • GREG, I thought the same thing. I cringe whenever I spot an error of spelling, grammar, punctuation, or usage. Now, if we could just explain the difference between “affect” and “effect,” etc.

      • ‘S’okay Donna. There is a place for a good grammatical cringe these days. My pet cringe I call “the missing ‘of’ “.
        Example: “I lost a couple hundred at the roulette table last night”.

      • I wish you guys wouldn’t do this. I am constantly biting my tongue when friends (and especially my wife) abuse homonyms and grammar. It makes no one happy to correct them. I wouldn’t know the meaning of ‘pedant’ if it weren’t applied to me so often as a result of fruitless corrections. You guys encourage my OCD.
        I tell myself it was just a type. (Get it?) I am frequently the victim of a typo, especially on a smartphone, with its tiny fonts. (I’m old, I know.)
        On the other hand, sometimes one wrong letter makes me spend seconds trying to figure out what the hell the message was, and I frequently lose focus on the subject. (Did I say I was old? I forget….)

    • To my mind, the only virtue ethanol has as a fuel is the humor of trying to run the country on corn likker.

      For instance, this bit of doggerel I remember from MAD way back in the way back:

      “My father, he was a moonshine man,
      a reguler sort of feller.
      He kept Ma plastered forty years
      from the still he ran in the cellar.
      ……
      The government now buys his stuff
      for use at Cape Canaveral.”

    • When motive power was animal,feeding of horses (the motive power of the day) took 20 percent of the land. That displaced food production on that 20 percent of the land. Was that unethical as well?

      • Might be a difficult line to draw. I would say that it is unethical is to use regulations, taxes and subsidies to promote using food for fuel as that would imply that regulations, taxes and subsidies are used in in a manner that reduced availability of food and thereby increase the price of food. I regard that as unethical because I think it would tend to put an extra burden on the poor.

      • Chris. My dad did farm using horses. He said it took about 1/3 of the crop to feed the horses. He didn’t think the country could now use 1/3 of the food supply for horses without a huge effect on people. Back then there was plenty of land available for food for horses and people. Now not so much.

      • A box of corn flakes was about ~ $1 a few years ago and now the same size box is ~ $4. Inflationary, hurts cereal manufacturers, and the poor.

        The poor ate a lot of boxed cereal when it was cheap and so did children.

      • Chris4692 might be having problems with advances in society.

        Answer is at any time, it depends on the options, collateral effects and the then-current ethics.

        Given the question asked, and for the sake of completeness, the answer is obviously NO. In 1880, rather than feeding your horse 100 pounds of corn, there was no effective way to get it to india/China/fill-in-the-blank to reduce famine.

    • The price of corn is below the cost of production now and the market is glutted. Your going to see a lot more beef, pork and poultry sold from producer to consumer or through small local packing companies to cut out middle-men expenses so farms can stay afloat.

  5. This is the Wikipedia definition of the precautionary principle:
    «The precautionary principle or precautionary approach to risk management states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is not harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking an action.» – Wikipedia

    The environmentalists care about the environment.
    We should never confuse environmentalism with humanism.

    • The “precautionary principle” is not particularly valid. But even so, it is simply used as an excuse for activists to get what they want, regardless of whether it really applies.

      But when you say “environmentalists” these days you have to clarify – the environmentalist movement has been invaded by former communists. Their rallying cry is “We have met the enemy and he is us”.

      So the green movement, once famous for wanting to save the whales and the baby seals, is now more appropriately called “anti-humanist”. Once they considered humans to be part of a larger ecology, and wanted humans to take appropriate responsibility for their actions. Now they pretend to just want the humans gone.

      What they really want is for all those pesky intolerant skeptical types to be gone so they can settle in as overlords of an authoritarian workers paradise. For that they need lots of emergencies and disasters that require martial law, re-education camps etc. Environmental crises are perfect for that as the effects are always centuries in the future but require urgent totalitarian action now now now.

      There are still true environmentalists around and there are true and valid environmental concerns. Humanity is part of a larger ecology and has a place. Unfortunately the real concerns get buried in the alarmism.

    • Excuse me? Environmentalists care about the environment? That is why they promote bird choppers and duck fryers? Seriously?

      • I think they have a different definition of “environment” than the rest of us. Possibly “other people’s wallets”.

  6. “Egyptian families are having to get up at dawn each day to queue up for bread rations.”
    ..
    Good thing bread is made out of wheat and not corn.

    • Farmers who can plant both (at least in the USA) have been switching to corn from wheat, because ethanol demand, in part, has made corn more profitable.

      • Very little wheat is grown in corn country, and vice versa. Exception is west Kansas where corn can be grown using center pivot irrigation from the Ogallala. That is 1.7% of US arable land.

      • Yes, we plant grains following early corn harvests, hoping to get them in in time to put soybeans in for a fall harvest the following year. The market rarely causes the group I farm with to change their method of crop rotation. If anything, row crops are sometimes replaced with alfalfa or grass hay fields on the smaller plots when the local price is high. Also, we have had years where some of our corn was not safe for consumption due to aflatoxins. This makes ethanol quite well, so the corn carries some value instead of just being dumped.

      • “God bless capitalism, good for propagating starvation.”

        If the Gov. offering subsidies resulted in corn going into fuel, why in the world would you think the Gov. controlling all the corn would cause less to go into fuel? Logically speaking, that’s not ; )

      • “God bless capitalism, good for propagating starvation.”

        The problem is government subsidies and mandates.
        And you want to believe that the problem is capitalism?

      • Paul Penrose February 28, 2017 at 10:09 am

        “God bless capitalism, good for propagating starvation.”

        Merriam-Webster: capitalism: an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.

        Government mandates, subsidies and other interferences do not constitute capitalism. Perhaps the word ‘capitalism’ does not mean what you think it means.

    • Not in the south.
      Regardless, the issue is poverty caused by food prices increasing. Not the specific grain a particular loaf of bread is made from.

    • Any crop leaving the food supply is going to have an effect. Less corn to buy, buy more wheat. Dwindling wheat reserves, increased populations, and changing diets (e.g. eating “foreign” wheat rather than “native” millet) all add up to decreased supply and increased demand.

      Also, cornbread is delicious. Unless it contains whole corn kernels.

    • Let them eat cakes. In the meanwhile, corn can be used also for baking bread, for grits or, in the Middle-East, semolina to prepare couscous. Similarly alcohol can be produced from wheat.

    • Almost all the postings with my name here are an imposter. Mods, please look at the IP addresses and remove those that don’t match those that I used before today. Email me if necessary. I believe most of you can tell which are real and which are not, but if in doubt, assume they are forgeries.

    • “Egyptian families are having to get up at dawn each day to queue up for bread rations.”
      Where once the Egyptian farmers, working the fertile Nile valley, that was frequently flooded and replenished, fed the mightiest Army on Earth and the greatest civilisation of their time.

  7. Poyry, Jan. 15, 2014

    ‘Is Biocoal a bioenergy game changer?’

    “Biocoal introduces a new class of sustainable, biomass fuel for global power and heat generation.”

    Link: Read the full report.

    Pory’s has offices in Canada as well.

    Biocoal development of the industry depends on being able to obtain financing, long-term supply contracts and government support.

  8. Subsidizing those who grow food crops is a very old issue indeed. Supply, demand, and thus price vary widely in spikes. Good years and bad for the producers. Put a few bad years together and the credit based farm economy quickly breaks down. In the US we put floors on price and ceilings in supply but the distortions eventually made this to expensive to maintain.

    As Congress searched for a path out ethanol offered what seemed like the perfect fix. Domestic farm production would replace imported oil and direct subsidies. Iowa republicans and New York environmentalists both got what they wanted. Win-win-win. That is why it continues. Wind power subsidies cannot be killed off because they fit the same matrix perfectly. In Iowa the wind turbines are built in the middle of cornfields. Both pay to the farmer. Bad policies but very good vote getters. That is political economy.

    • Ted Cruz won the primary in Iowa despite a platform promising to end the subsidies and mandates over 5 (?) years. Honest people know the difference between right and wrong.

    • Crop subsidies for corn and soybeans were ended long ago. Direct payments, the replacement for the subsidies, have also been ended. The only subsidy now is for crop insurance. Doing away with these subsidies was encouraged by the corn and soybean producers, and was made possible by the market for ethanol and biodiesel.

  9. Both corn-based and rapeseed-based ethanol produced high levels of nitrous oxide, twice as much as previously believed, which is 296 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide — a gas naturally “exhaled” by plants and produced in combustion of fossil fuels.

    When is this total bullshit going to be exposed for the cheap statistical trick that it is? Really? 296 times more powerful than CO2? Common sense says it’s not true and a little analysis confirms it. An ant can lift 15 times its own weight, but you can’t, does that mean an ant is stronger than you are? Relatively maybe, but in absolute terms no.

    The question to ask is, “How much N2O is is in the atmosphere, how much is it going up every year, and how much will that elevate the temperature in 100 years?” The answer is “Not very much!”

    This goes on with methane in spades. If you do a Google News search on Methane 86 you get story after story about how methane 86 times more powerful than CO2 – and it’s crap! Double CH4 and the temperature goes up maybe 0.2 or 0.3K. Double CO2 and without feed backs the temperature goes up 1.2K. In absolute terms, CO2 is anywhere from 4 to 6 times stronger than CH4.

    Sorry for the digression,but this one is really beginning to annoy me that no one is calling BS on this crap. After all, California has already passed regulations on methane based on this garbage.

    • This isn’t “crap” — but you can include caveats. NO2 emissions are going down because of changes like catalytic converters, but nobody argues that NO2 is better than CO2. NO2 has been controlled by the Clean Air Act.

    • Tim Ball is alot of things but that ain’t one of them. Thanks for making us feel better about thinking our opponent’s are idiots.

    • It’s great for those who get the subsidies.
      For the rest of us who have to pay the subsidies and have to deal with more expensive food to boot. It’s not so great.

      • Please show me any government subsidies paid to ethanol industry after 2011.
        The industry stands on its own.
        And conflating a global wheat crop failure in 2007 to an ethanol issue is pure fantasy. I like Dr Ball, but he is very wrong in many of his arguments.

      • Winnipeg boy,

        Subsidies need not be direct subsidies. What market would there be for ethanol if not for government forcing it on consumers via EPA and DOT regulations? Ethanol effectively adds ~$0.20 to the the price of a gallon of gasoline, all factors considered. So consumers are indirectly subsidizing the contrived “market” for corn-based ethanol. There, I showed you.

    • I think corn ethanol is great and Dr Tim Ball is a big fat liar.

      Yeah, he probably tipped off them revenuers who shut down your still last month.
      : > )

    • Corn ethanol is great. There I ,said it. Just don’t force me to burn ethanol in my automobiles, and pay more per gallon for the privilege!

      According to GAO, the renewable fuel mandate adds about $0.10 to a gallon of gasoline at the pump. And according to EPA and DOT, burning E10 reduces fuel economy, adding the equivalent of $0.10 per gallon. So to keep corn farmers fat and happy, consumers are taxed $0.20 per gallon. In the US we consume 385 million gallons per day, so that’s a $77M daily tax on gasoline consumers. In addition, my older cars suffer accelerated wear and tear from ethanol, in the form of degradation of fuel system components, which I have not amortized into the real cost per gallon.

      So corn ethanol is great – for corn growers. For the rest of us – “not so much”.

      • This is why I went back to diesel. The difference in fuel economy is much greater now that we are being forced to buy alcohol to put in petrol cars.

  10. The wilful blinding of 20,000 children every year in the Phillipines and Cambodia by the opposition of Greenpeace and other environmentalists to genetically modified golden rice is also a crime against humanity. And there are many more deaths resultant from this outrageous and anti-science policy. But there is zero chance they will ever be held accountable.

    • Every time ethics came up in any class I took in college, I brought up that issue. People had (and have) no idea. Interestingly, I encountered few students who were anti-GMO. Some would complain about Monsanto tactics etc., but very few actually thought there was some sort of physical danger. Of course, most of the classes were science/biology classes, so maybe people were more informed.

      I realize that so many of these policies are purely political, but it still infuriates me that people are willing to let others actually suffer and die when a simple, inexpensive fix is available.

  11. “To do [ultimate] evil, a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is [ultimately] good.” –after Alexander Solzhenitsyn

    Hitler thought he was a messiah of sorts, destined by elder gods or the Earth or evolution or some such nonsense, to save the “aryan race” from communists/zionists/gypsies/whatnot. He believed himself a great and noble figure and that his ends justified his means. In his heart, the means were the end. God save us from such saviors!

  12. Your numbers are flat wrong. It is true that 40 percent of the US corn crop goes to ethanol production for blending with gasoline to improve octane rating and as an oxygenate to reduce smog. Including all the corn grown on my farm. But you overlook that the distillers grain left over from ethanol production is 27%. The net ‘carbohydrate loss’ by weight is only 13%. Distillers grain is a fiber and protein (from yeast) enriched ideal food supplement for ruminants (on my farm, 350 dairy cows). This allows us to grow and feed less alfalfa, which in turn means we can grow more corn. So the situation is not nearly as dire as you make out. Most places where corn itself is a major food staple (like Kenya) it is grown locally and not imported. China imports a lot to feed hogs, and the Chinese are not starving.

    • Large quantities of distillers gran are exported to China. It is more desirable for them than corn as China needs the protein, not the starch.

    • It dows NOT improve octane rating, it reduces it! There are no ‘octanes’ in ethanol. It burns faster, abd therefore causes more engine damage. Hi octane fuel burns slower, reducing engine wear and improving performance. Ethanol does the opposite.

      • No, I just know what an ‘octane’ is, and what effect it has on combustion, from my high school organic chemistry.

      • hat is not octane rating, which is “The higher the octane number, the more compression the fuel can withstand before detonating (igniting).”

      • Your confusing the chemical octane, with the automotive engineering term octane rating; iso-octane (2,2,4-Trimethylpentane) has an octane rating of 100, ethanol has an octane rating of 113 RON (research octane number), methane is 120, E85 is 102-105. Basically, the higher the octane number, the higher the autoignition temperature of the fuel is, which means you can have higher compression.

    • When we dump cheap goods on African countries, we kill Africa’s local producers. There is no way Africa will ever become self sufficient as long as that continues. Right now, the problem is China but we have also done our part by using Africa as a dumping ground for stuff we wanted to get rid of.

      African development experts and academics have blamed foreign aid for the continued and seemingly intractable development crisis confronting the continent. link

  13. I’m sorry, but this is utter nonsense: the effect of DDT on bird eggshells is absolutely proven and resulted in a massive decline in birds of prey in the UK.

    Here’s the pioneering study clearly documenting the scale and range of eggshell thinning and making the first attribution to organochlorines like DTT
    https://www.calvin.edu/~rpruim/courses/m143/articles/Ratcliffe-Eggshells-1970.pdf

    “The organochlorine pesticide residues and PCBs have precisely that maintained per- vasiveness postulated for the environmental change responsible for decrease in eggshell weight in certain British raptor..”

    And DDT was never, ever banned for use against malaria and is still in use on a small scale for that today.

    The biofuel madness in the US has little to do with green ideas or even fighting climate change: its prime driver was a desire by the US govt to improve energy independence.

    • I’m sorry, but the study you reference is utter nonsense and is absolutely disproven.
      Birds of prey were being killed off by hunting, and it was the hunting bans that resulted in their recovery.
      In fact their recovery started years before DDT was banned and decades before DDT could have started to be removed from the environment.

      • And, given exposure levels, If Wind Turbines were as prevalent as cats, they would be the #1 avian killer and would likely be the root cause of Birds of Prey being extinct

      • Cats feed on rodents, baby rabbits and insects. Birds can and do escape cats but weak or injured birds can’t.

        Which do you prefer cats or rats?

        Seems every time wind turbine bird kills are brought up, the cat issue is dragged out.

      • Griffy has returned from his hibernation after attempting to kneecap both Dr Curry and Dr Crockford.

        I say we all pitch in and buy Griffy a polar bear so he has something to do other than pick on women…

      • Steve, that is a good piece. It concludes that raptor egg shells are weakened by DDT, although other birds not so much. It is important to separate the science from he politics. One can accept the science on raptors whilst successfully arguing that use of DDT is still a good thing. What we see here is a trashing of the science by the likes of MarkW and the Edwards piece to promote a point. Any summary that does not properly review the literature and include the fact that raptors are different is not being objective. Edwards does not mention the Lincer study but only papers that agree with his conclusion.

  14. Let start out by saying that I have actually read the 2005 Energy Bill and think it a great piece of legislation. The modest mandate of biofuels had nothing to do with
    AGW.

    No one is starving either. American farmers problem was not feeding the world but lack of market, they could produce more than need. Feed corn was so cheap that people were using in pellet stoves.

    Let me add a little science. Animals need protein and energy. Plant produce protein and energy. Corn has excess energy. Animals eating too much corn get fat by storing the excess energy. When engineered systems process out energy, the food value remains.

    I hope I am being condescending enough for DR Tim Ball.

    Leave off the authoritative titles for subjects that your education do not apply. Village idiot Ball.

    • Let the farmers grow all the corn they want to, and sell all they can to ethanol producers. Just don’t force me to burn ethanol in my automobiles, and pay more per gallon for the privilege!

      According to GAO, the renewable fuel mandate adds about $0.10 to a gallon of gasoline at the pump. And according to EPA and DOT, burning E10 reduces fuel economy, adding the equivalent of $0.10 per gallon. So to keep corn farmers fat and happy, consumers are taxed $0.20 per gallon. In the US we consume 385 million gallons per day, so that’s a $77M daily tax on gasoline consumers. In addition, my older cars suffer accelerated wear and tear from ethanol, in the form of degradation of fuel system components, which I have not amortized into the real cost per gallon.

      • Adds $0.10/gal? Ah, so that’s why the 10% blend is always so much cheaper than the 100% gasoline???

        Wait – wouldn’t common sense tell you that this is BS? The addition of ethanol makes the fuel *cheaper*!

        When exactly was that study by the GAO done??

      • Kermit

        In my humble experience, the ethanol is probably cheaper per gallon because it’s MPG is less.

      • I am not aware of any American who is forced to buy gasoline or electricity. If you do buy it you have to comply with regulations. Oh the hardship of being an American.

        Since I have an old boat I also know that there is no problem finding gasoline without ethanol.

      • Kit, that has got to be the most pathetic expose for subsidy farming I have ever seen.
        Let me try and expand your stupidity.
        Nobody is forced to buy electricity. Therefore if the government triples the cost of electricity, nobody can claim that they have been harmed.

  15. Corn ethanol was more about fuel security than reducing CO2. Bush certainly talked about it in terms of fuel security. Energy for distillation and fertilizers comes from coal so ethanol used domestic rather than imported fuel. It was “greenwashed” by some by alluding to the largely imaginary CO2 reduction.

    That and appeasing the agricultural lobby.

    Life cycle analysis seem to agree that there is a slight reduction in CO2 compared to oil, but not very significant., maybe 15-30%

    A very quick back of the envelope calculation shows that bio-fuel from land-based crops can never be more than a drop in the ocean. It would take the entire arable land in the USA to switch to fuel to keep just the transport sector going.

    Bio-fuels could make a contribution if algae could be commercialized using salt-water ponds.This would not displace arable land. Yields are high from algae, but costs of harvesting and processing are too high at present. Cellulosic ethanol could also be significant if yields can be raised as it can use waste or low value by-products.

    • To improve fuel security, we’re going to use a fuel that takes more energy to produce than is in the fuel.

      That’s smart.
      No wonder the CAGW crowd is all for it.

      • There are two debates. More or less CO2, more or less energy. On the first, depends how you count but doesn’t matter. On the second, depends on which study but about a wash. The EISA07 Act under Bush was supposed to be cellulosic ethanol, not corn ethanol. Remember switch grass? Problem is some technologies simply did not work. Range Fuels and Coskata both went belly up. The enzymatic approach is too expensive even though there are now two operating US facilities (heavily subsidized). Lesson is you cannot legislate technology

      • Even if that were the case it would still improve fuel security because the fuel used to make the ethanol is domestic and the fuel it replaces is imported.

      • Since it takes more energy to produce a gallon of ethanol than is in a gallon of ethanol, you aren’t replacing any foreign imports. In fact you are actually importing more in order to make up for the energy losses in making ethanol.

    • Covered all that with numbers in various essays in Blowing Smoke. Not enough residual NPP for biofuels to replace liquid transportation fuels. Salt water pond (actually they are called races) algae wont work in high insolation US southwest because of evaporation; enclosed reactors are far too expensive.

      • Algae for fuel production will not work for a number of reasons. Acreage is immense to begin with. Algae produces about 0.1% by mass of water used per day. Total water processed is therefore 1000x the algae recovered. Energy costs for processing the water (filtration mainly) exceed energy returned from the recovered algae. But that isn’t all. Open ponds become clogged with dust and sand which requires cleaning putting the system out of operation cutting profitability and increasing filtration costs. Contamination by native species of algae decrease productivity quickly. Water use is unsustainable in both open raceway and photo-bioreactors due to the need to aerate that system causing water vapor loss. This list of obstacles to algae biofuels is long and distinguished. Thus there are no commercial algal biofuels produced despite 20-30 years of DOE funding of this process.
        Essentially the same issues prevent cellulosic ethanol from becoming commercial. The process isn’t economically viable. Growing and harvesting cellulosic feedstocks cost at least $60/ton and produces about 1 bbl/ton of feed (as harvested). Thus feedstock costs exceed product value without even considering process costs, return on investment and debt repayment (and these plants are not cheap to build either).
        With the US consuming nearly 20 Million barrels/day of crude, biofuels can only be a small fraction of that consumption or the amount of land dedicated to production would exceed all food cropland quickly.

      • Sapphire’s original production goal for investors would have required roughly 1/4 of Nevada covered 1 meter deep. It would also require about half of the average flow of the Mississippi river in water because of evaporation. Details covered in the biofuels chapter of ebook Gaia’s Limits.
        Needless to say, Sapphire has turned from biofuels to algal food supplements (spirolina).

    • Energy to produce ethanol comes primarily from natural gas, not coal. Production of nitrogen fertilizers uses natural gas as a feed stock, not coal.

      • Here’s the full GAO report, only 16 pages. It is well worth a read to understand just how unlikely advanced biofuels are to ever make even minimal inroads into the fleet fuel stock. The chap who wrote this holds a PhD in Economics (hint, hint) and is the GAO Director, Natural Resources and Environment.

        http://www.gao.gov/assets/690/681347.pdf

  16. “Both corn-based and rapeseed-based ethanol produced high levels of nitrous oxide, twice as much as previously believed, which is 296 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide — a gas naturally “exhaled” by plants and produced in combustion of fossil fuels.” Can someone explain this? I’m pretty sure plants don’t exhale carbon dioxide or nitrous oxide, but what do I know.

  17. Come on, events as complex as whatever started in the Arab countries in 2011 have dozens of causes, not one. Surely you know that really.

  18. Next I am wondering what kind of doctor Timmy is and what cave he lives in.

    Timmy is posting on the internet yet he seems ignorant of world events that do not fit his agenda. Yes there are some who are obsessed with CAGW. And some of you are obsessed with those that are obsessed.

    There are lots of factors affecting food prices. A population in China the size of the US has reached incomes where they can afford what Americans take for granted. Like A/C and more meat. This increases demand for feed crops.

    Weather also affects crop yields around the world. Since corn prices were cheaper than dirt, going up could reasonably expected.

      • Mostly playing with our grand daughter. I did comment but it did look like other posters were doing a good job of calling Nye an idiot.

        I have a thing about ‘doctors’ not being idiots. I expect more.

        I have great respect for my family doctor. I once asked about a new study. He told be to keep taking the medicine. On my next visit, he told me to stop taking it after he had review the study. Respect does not mean you can question experts.

        Clearly Timmy is a BS artist on energy and the environment. How do I know. Because I am an expert.

  19. Whilst talking about unintended consequences, it should be remembered that exports of cheap grain to the third world under-cut local production and put African farmers into absolute poverty. They became dependent on charity and were then seen as scroungers by many. It is probably not a coincidence that since food prices have risen, local farmers can now make a living and generally African economies are blooming.

  20. Efforts to transform economies away from fossil fuels are underway but even proponents admit they are purely symbolic, i.e. the EPA Chief [in testimony to Congress] admits Obama Regulations Have No Measurable Climate Impact: ‘One one-hundredth of a degree!’ EPA Chief McCarthy defends regulations as ‘enormously beneficial’ i.e. Symbolic impact’ [showing US leadership].

    Why does the reduction of carbon dioxide result in so little change? The US emissions reduction target is literally lost in “the round off” of the huge and growing global wide CO2 emissions increases by the developing nations which EIA forecasts will continue to grow from year 2020 by more than an additional 3 billion metric tons per year by 2030.

    A new peer-reviewed paper by Dr. Bjorn Lomborg published in the Global Policy journal measures the actual impact of all significant climate promises made ahead of the Paris climate summit. Paris climate promises will reduce temperatures by just 0.05°C in 2100 (Press release).

    • And that’s using the ridiculously high climate sensitivity numbers of the alarmists.
      Use a more reasonably sensitivity number and the impact is even less.

  21. It has to be said that a great deal of Egypt’s problem is that it is one of a handful of countries where the persistence of, to a significant extent , unrestrained population growth is causing real problems so that it is very reliant on importing food from other countries. I don’t think anyone is saying any of these issues is reducible to one simple cause, but in the round Dr Ball’s point that using agricultural land to produce fuel not food is a not a great idea. And I still don’t think some of the more abusive comments directed at different contributors adds much, just say you think they are wrong and explain. That is always more interesting.

    • Most of Egypt’s problem, as with most areas of inadequate food supply, is due to their system of governance.

    • Chris4692 is most likely correct. Why do so many people seem to think that Central Planning is such an acceptable system? Let the market decide whether, according to the post above says, ethanol production is or is not economically feasible. A 10% blend of gas & ethanol is considerably cheaper than 100% gasoline, given the same octane. The only subsidy left in corn production is crop insurance, and it is a very small item in the cost of production.

      Ethanol is economically viable.

    • “Dr Ball’s point that using agricultural land to produce fuel not food is a not a great idea.”

      I am saying Ball is making up sh*t and being abusive while doing it. If you look at the tone of the essay I see no reason to be nice.

      If you accuse productive Americans of killing people for profit that is a little different than saying it is ‘not a great idea’.

  22. If you want to see a good example of unintended consequences, take a look a the oil pipeline “protester” camp in North Dakota. If we take them at their word, they were trying to protect the water supply from a potential future oil leak. Yet they left a huge pile of garbage behind, including human waste, cars, generators, and fuel. Now the taxpayers of ND will have to pay to have it cleaned up to prevent a real environmental disaster this spring. The camp is in a dry river bed which often floods in the spring with the melting snow and empties into the Missouri river. This is what happens when good intentions meet the real world and nobody planned ahead.

    • This is what liberals due.

      Not saying conservatives are perfect, but cab’t recall a conservative protest that behaved like this (or burnt down pat of a university, smashed windows,…)

  23. Plants do not exhale CO2. Animals and people do. Plants “inhale”CO2 and “exhale” oxygen. That’s why we get along so well

      • You could say that humans “exhale” oxygen as well, since we don’t consume every bit of it in a breath. However, we are certainly not producers of O2, nor do I think plans produce CO2.

      • Yes they do. Basic biolgy.

        Plants photosynthesise in the daytime when there is sunlight, and use the generated carbohydrates as food by respiration, just as we do. Animals just let the plants do the photosynthesis for us.

  24. I vote for putting all cauiliflower, brussel sprouts, and kale into production of ethanol. Nobody eats them anyway.

  25. According to the USDA, if you account for corn everywhere it appears in their food price index it represents 2 cents on a dollar or 2%. If you do the same for labor it represents 38 cents on a dollar or 38%. If corn prices double, their food price index goes up 2%. If the index goes up more than that, then something else is the reason. In 2008 corn prices peaked at a little over $7.00 per bushel, tracking the rising price of oil as it peaked at around $145 per barrel. Agriculture is very energy intensive. Currently the price of corn is at around $3.70 per bushel. In 2014, so much corn was produced that after satisfying all their food and ethanol requirements, farmers had over 12 million bushels left over that they had to store or find a market for. If people are starving because of a lack of corn it’s not because of the american farmer

  26. This article and comments are a perfect example of ‘alternative facts’ and proves it is a valid concept.

    Reading the many pro and con arguments for ethanol leaves confused as to whether it has a nett good or bad effect.

    Colour (sic – I’m an Aussie) me confused

    • Ethanol is great in its place, in beer, wine, whisky, brandy etc.

      Putting it in my fuel tank is about as good an idea a putting petrol in my wine glass, however!

    • I have boxes full of 1 / 2 year old carburetors that have been turned to junk, pitted junk that keeps plugging the jets. Tillers, chainsaws, weed sprayers, snow blowers, lawn mowers, weed cutters, etc.. 1948 tractor I have to sandblast the cast iron carburetor every spring, 1974 dump truck I replace the gas system with propane since from the tank to the carburetor everything was pitted and producing rust, relining the fuel tank lasted 2 years.
      All that so a corn farmer can live large.

    • The merits of alternate fuels depends on where and when you live.

      I used to follow a Aussie web site on gasification. During WWII, farmers around the world ran tractors on home made gasifiers.

      I also used to be an advocate of biodiesel. I did not think about it much until I got an old motor home with a diesel engine. I am confused too now. I am not using biodiesel until I am not confused.

      In America, many have lost the sense of personal responsibility. Maybe you have to learn about the products you are using.

    • Ethanol in your fuel reduces polluting emissions. There are other oxygenating agents that will do the same thing, but ethanol is simple, economical and essentially non-toxic. Like everything else, it seems to be that some think if enough is good, then too much is better.

  27. The “Arab Spring” was as much political as environmental. Our leaders decided to cleanse the area of brutal dictators who were suppressing brutal religious and ethnic factions. There was no serious understanding of what was to replace the dictators. So we got rid of Gaddafi, Hussein, and Mubarak and we are trying to get rid of Assad. The results after years of effort is not a “Spring” but massive death and emigration flooding Europe and America with refugees.

    There is in military doctrine a thing called the “Principle of the Objective” Objectives should be clear, concise, achievable, and result in a favorable situation. They should be accompanied with the resources to achieve the objective and the authority to use the resources effectively.

    We who were engaged in military planning also used to talk about “Vital U.S. Interests” being a necessary condition for the use of military force. Our leaders sometimes substituted political interests.

    We can hope the new team does better.

  28. Re: Rachel Carson “Silent Spring”

    When I was a child, one of my chores was to go to the hen house and pick
    up the eggs. When I brought in a soft shelled egg, my mother would tell me
    to scatter a few hands full of cracked sea shells on the chicken yard. The
    soft shells would stop.

    Mother also accumulated egg shells when were short of seashells. I would
    then scatter them instead. The chickens would eat them, recycling the calcium.

    It was farm boy’s job to kill any threat to the chickens. At school, they would
    brag about killing raptors, mostly hawks.

    Carson’s book and the Endangered Species Act called attention to these
    beautiful birds and behavior changed. The populations recovered, and
    now I get to watch a Bald Eagle fish for breakfast most mornings.
    I now gather my eggs at the Public’s Supermarket.

    DDT was outlawed. Large bird populations recovered. A fine of $10k per
    protected bird killed and pier pressure was actually responsible.

    An enormous number of people who are not aware of the facts give
    Carson credit for saving the birds but are unaware of the enormous
    health problems she caused.

  29. Scale up biofuels. Based on U.S. crop yield data and Btu content of crops, if 100% (ALL) of the arable land of the U.S. were converted to biofuel production, this would supply no more than 5-10% of the nation’s transportation fuel demand. No matter what the crop(s) – corn, sugar cane, soybeans, and/or switchgrass. This would leave no land for food, feed or fiber.

    If all arable U.S. land were used for biofuels, and those crops could somehow spontaneously seed and sprout, self-fertilize, resist pests, self-harvest, sun dry, and burn in place with no human intervention, with 100% capture of their stored energy as useful energy, plants would at most supply half of our transportation fuel demand.

    Do you still think biofuels are a good idea? (BTW, any reasonably intelligent high school student armed with the right questions and using basic arithmetic, Excel, and Google could figure this out in a day.)

    • Based on U.S. crop yield data and Btu content of crops, if 100% (ALL) of the arable land of the U.S. were converted to biofuel production, this would supply no more than 5-10% of the nation’s transportation fuel demand.

      Based on current production and consumption, ethanol provides approximately 8 percent of the energy content of gasoline motor fuels in the US. This uses approximately 40 percent of the corn, half of which is returned as distillers grain. So about 20 percent of 20 percent of the cropland (= 4 percent of cropland) in the US currently produces 8 percent of half of the nation’s transportation fuel demand (= 4 per cent of transportation fuel).

      Your numbers are off by a wide margin.

      • You conveniently forget that the best lands are already in production. As production increases necessarily lands less well suited for growing corn will have to be switched to corn production.

      • Mark W: Doesn’t matter. If 40 percent of the corn crop produces 8 percent of the energy in gasoline fuel demand, 100 percent of the corn crop could produce 2.5 X 8 = 20 percent of the gasoline fuel demand. since gasoline is more than half of the motor fuel energy demand, the corn crop alone will produce more than your 5-10 percent and your numbers are shown to be false.

      • They are off by 10. From Wikipedia: “If the entire arable land area of the USA (470 million acres, or 1.9 million square kilometers) were devoted to biodiesel production from soy, this would just about provide the 160 million tonnes required (assuming an optimistic 98 US gal/acre of biodiesel).”

        I don’t trust Wikipedia implicitly, but I have checked this figure and I is about right.

        For algae the numbers are:
        ” The US DOE estimates that if algae fuel replaced all the petroleum fuel in the United States, it would require 15,000 square miles (39,000 square kilometers), which is a few thousand square miles larger than Maryland, or 30% greater than the area of Belgium,[96][97] assuming a yield of 140 tonnes/hectare (15,000 US gal/acre). Given a more realistic yield of 36 tonnes/hectare (3834 US gal/acre) the area required is about 152,000 square kilometers, or roughly equal to that of the state of Georgia or of England and Wales.”

        The first figure for production from algae is very optimistic. As pointed out above, currently this is uneconomic.

      • If i were to grow algae, I wouldn’t do it on land, but rather at sea, making area rather irrelevant.
        Doing it for energy still seems nonsensical to me, nature-ready-made fossil energy obviously requiring less capital and work than man-made energy.
        But, who knows, maybe some day “algae mining” may turn cheaper than coal mining?

  30. I had occasion to drive through a portion of the Mississippi valley in the summer
    of 2015. Parcels of land which I would have believed were too small to be served
    by the massive tractors and cultivators I saw were planted with corn.

    Soy beans were growing in the stubble of cereal fields.

    The American farmer is awesome.

    Burning food in our cars is unconscionable.

    • In 2014, so much corn was produced that after satisfying all their food and ethanol requirements, farmers had over 12 million bushels left over that they had to store or find a market for.

  31. “In 2007, the global price of corn doubled as a result of an explosion in ethanol production in the U.S. Because corn is the most common animal feed and has many other uses in the food industry, the price of milk, cheese, eggs, meat, corn-based sweeteners and cereals increased as well. World grain reserves dwindled to less than two months, the lowest level in over 30 years.

    The impact was potentially deadly and noted by several commentators in the food production industry.”

    Great article by Tim Ball. The biofuels are a destructive policy and even if the subsidies are canceled, the mandates which force buyers to put biofuels in their tanks still exist. We had a big huge talk about that here on WUWT. At the time, the subsidies were going to expire but the fines for not using biofuel additives were still in place. We paid either way.

    My latest concern is that supermarkets will be forced to give their distressed bread and expiring food to biofuel programs instead of to food pantries and livestock.

    • According to the USDA, if you account for corn everywhere it appears in their food price index it represents 2 cents on a dollar or 2%. If you do the same for labor it represents 38 cents on a dollar or 38%. If corn prices double, their food price index goes up 2%. If the index goes up more than that, then something else is the reason. In 2014, so much corn was produced that after satisfying all their food and ethanol requirements, farmers had over 12 million bushels left over that they had to store or find a market for.

      • Or, put that another way, filling a tank of an average car with biofuel, amounts to as much maize (Africa’s principal food staple) as an African person consumes in an entire year.

        Perhaps we need a new Sec of Agriculture. One from the south where they grow rice and cotton. Ha!

  32. Drax and the Carolinas, The destruction of the Amazon rain forest for palm oil for the EU, corn for ethanol, sugar cane for ethanol.

    If we used ALL the vegetation cut on the earth for energy, we would meet the energy needs of the USA. No food for anyone on the planet, no energy for anyone not in the US, etc. In other words the math is simple. It will not work.

    • It’s worse than that. Estonian forests are also being used for biofuel, to meet EU mandates. Also, we have seen Academics hawking the advantages of selling our own forests for biofuel. The EU created the demand and the perverse incentive is to meet it.

      That is another reason we need a new USDA structure. Forests have been being destroyed by beetles and burning down. They need to be returned to the states and we need to pressure our state gov’ts not to participate in the wood biofuel false market.

  33. I’m amazed at the total lack of knowledge about this subject. I wish the author had spent just a little time doing some research before writing this article.

    Ethanol is cheap to make, and the by-product has value as a protein source in animal feed. How can we know that it is cheap? Ethanol blended fuel is cheaper, given the same octane, than pure gasoline at the pumps. Why is there a renewable fuels mandate? Because ethanol replaced methanol, which turned out to be a disaster when used to oxygenate fuel.

    Does ethanol raise prices for food? Possibly, but only marginally, as corn is an animal feed mostly. Why was the price of corn so high for a short time? There is a cycle of corn prices that runs about thirty years. It was high in 1917-20, 1946-48, and 1973-74 – and once again into 2012. The current price of corn is less than half of what it was at that time. We always seem to be able to produce more corn than we need, even with ethanol production. In this cycle, we should not even see the low in cash corn prices for another 7-8 years.

    Is there a replacement for oxygenating fuel with ethanol that is not harmful to the air or water? There is obviously no problem producing adequate supplies of corn for both human fool, animal food, and ethanol to oxygenate our fuel.

    • Does ethanol raise prices for food? Possibly, but only marginally, as corn is an animal feed mostly.

      1. If you eat animals or animal products (eg dairy), then this alsi increases food costs!

      2. Tell that to tge billions that can’t afford to eat meat regularly.

      • According to the USDA, if you account for corn everywhere it appears in their food price index it represents 2 cents on a dollar or 2%. If you do the same for labor it represents 38 cents on a dollar or 38%. If corn prices double, their food price index goes up 2%. If the index goes up more than that, then something else is the reason.

      • So, you think that by restricting corn production to exclusively provide food for humans and animals, corn prices would drop enough that meat prices would be significantly reduced so that “billions” can then afford to eat meat.

        By far, most farmers this past year have been producing corn at a loss. How much cheaper do you think it can get?? If we get a high protein by-product after the ethanol is extracted from the corn – a high protein product that is in big demand, what does it really cost us to produce a product that oxygenates our fuel and raises octane so that refining costs are lower?

        Food prices are cheap – by any measure. While Central Planning seems advisable in the case of oxygenating our fuel, why don’t we allow the markets to decide how much corn to produce. After all, we have very recent memories of the former USSR and of China’s efforts to “manage” food production.

  34. The people behind these eco-boondoggles are the same ones waging a war on Trump. They also provided the philosophies of Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot.

      • Oh the irony. Putin under the bed, so 50s ;-)

        Nontheless truth is, West Germany had a law forbidding both communists and nazis, while communists couldn’t make a living in USA and England. So KGB just found another political movement to back, and that had been “die grünen” and all sort of greenpeaces. Who did their best, marching against american imperialism, against nuke, and against mother-earth-goddess-destroying capitalism (well, USSR was even more earth-destroying, but, who cares?). Where communists were strong, like Italy, France, Latin America, greens didn’t prosper, but they began just as communists went down.
        Bottom line: tabnumlock is wrong. These people didn’t provided the philosophies of Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot. They turned green because red was revealed so bloody they couldn’t stand it. But they remained red inside, that’s why they are called “watermelons”. They still dream of some human Eden to be build through dictatorial central planing. It may be a slightly different Eden than that of communists, but the ways and means are still the same.

  35. Since roman times the Arabs were intermediaries between Silk Road and North Africa, and between Silk Road and Europe.
    While green vegetation in North Africa only occurred in the widely dispersed oases, the Arabs knew from the long distance trade of the Green Pastures in Europe. Since then, Arabian longing has been embodied in the green flag of the Prophet, in expressions like Arab Spring and Jasmine Revolution.

    Whatever the economic situation, Europe will be the green yearning of the Arabs.

  36. All of the above is mired into confusion.
    What does an innocent reader learn?
    Kermit says corn ethanol s fine, the GAO says cellulosic will not be viable. Some figures on required agricultural land area conflict with others, badly.
    Will some white knight please ride through here with a credible summation?
    Geoff.

    • Is there a substitute for ethanol as a fuel oxygenator? A substitute that is not toxic and that will compete in the marketplace?

      Consider, when ethanol is blended with regular gasoline, the octane goes up and the cost of the blend with pure regular gasoline goes down. This is not because there is less energy in the blend. It is because the cost of refining is brought down due to the increase in octane when ethanol is blended with the gasoline – along with ethanol being cheap to produce.

      • Petrochemical guys turn oil into ethanol on a regular basis. Well, they did, until corn ethanol was subsided. And ethanol, pure or in blend with things such that oil (but not only oil), has been considered as fuel for engine all along history of engine, with no break.
        If ethanol was a good fuel or fuel additive to gasoline, no subsidies would be necessary. Petrochemical guys would had been doing this of their own.

      • paqyfelyc – Yes, it’s called methanol. And it was discontinued because it has very serious environmental problems.

        And, once again – other than crop insurance, which is a very small part of corn production costs, there are no remaining subsidies.

        S**t, I expected more from this group who are so (rightfully) skeptical of CAGW!

  37. Humanity has progressively moved from lower to higher energy sources over time (e.g. dung -> wood -> whale oil).

    If humans had discovered the use of biofuels and ‘renewable’ energy BEFORE discovering fossil fuels, would society have moved from the biofuels to fossil fuels for its advantage of higher energy content, regardless of the down sides of its use (as all sources have pros and cons)?

    • but that’s exactly what human did: turned from biofuel (oats and grass for horses and ox) to fossil fuel (coal for early threshing machines, gasoline for tractors that were not stronger than horses).
      Same for grinding mills, that turned away from wind to fossil energy.

  38. “The EISA07 Act under Bush ….”

    Under speaker speaker Pelosi. Also read that bill, it was very poorly written. I am not sure why Bush signed it.

    • “Corn ethanol was more about fuel security than reducing CO2.”

      I have an off the wall opinion in the context of 10 years ago that we were sending a message to OPEC. You need out food more than we need your oil.

  39. One thing not mentioned in this article is that burning ethanol in cars reduces the fuel mileage by 12% to 15%. So we now burn more fuel for the same distance driven. This alone should raise red flags. A study was done by a chemist in the states a few years ago on the negative effects of using ethanol as a fuel addative. The emissions given off by a vehicle using 10% ethanol were shown to have a number of undesirable compounds. NOX, NO2, acetylene and formaldehyde were measured in the exhaust of these vehicles. The claim that CO2 is lower was found to be insignificant from a vehicle burning straight gasoline. Ethanol is transported separately from gasoline after it is distilled. It is mixed at the truck loading station before it is delivered to the gas stations. This all adds to the CO2 bill for ethanol and it is not as “Green” as the ethanol lobby wants you to believe.The formation of NOX and NO2 is quite noticeable on a warm day where you are going up a hill in traffic. The burning sensation in my nose from the NOX and NO2 is nothing compared to the acid rain that forms from these compounds. We really need to get this folly stopped and out of our fuel.

  40. Ethanol for fuel is a good way to waste energy. The energy efficiency of ethanol production from corn is 53%. You need a ton of corn feedstock to make 113 gal. of ethanol. At 76,000 BTU/gal of ethanol and 16 million BTU per ton of corn. It needs almost twice as much BTU input per BTU output. You cut energy usage by half using gasoline for fuel and burning corn biomass for electric power.

  41. I object this biofuel scheme because it cannot exist without subsidies, being way more expensive than ordinary fuel, and, as a way to help farmers, it is a very inefficient way turn expenses into income. So it is just plainly stupid. It make sense in a political point of view only, which is an other way to say it is just plainly stupid.
    However, I hate this kind of “food mustn’t be turned into fuel” rant, because it is just the same nonsense. Hint: that’s a watermelon rant, and when did watermelons say something sensible? Never.

    The biofuel were invented because farmers couldn’t make a living selling food (well, so they said, and they were believed, for some good reason). Biofuel do NOT replace food, they replace production that just wouldn’t exist, or wouldn’t be bought as food. No one ever starved because of biofuel, and food price were never risen because of biofuel.

    • While I agree with much of what you wrote, I would like you to give us a rundown of the “subsidies” in ethanol production. I only know about one – federally subsidized crop insurance – and it is a pretty insignificant amount. In fact, that subsidy would not be eliminated, IMHO, even if ethanol production was discontinued, as it is a government program that is designed for the bankers mostly – to make sure that farmers pay back the huge loans the bankers disperse.

      • I cannot give a rundown of subsidies, All I know is that oil is bought at ~50$/barrel (42 gallons) = 1.2 $/gallon, while ethanol sells at ~1.5$/gallon (industrial bulk), and furthermore you need ~1.5 ethanol to get the same energy than 1 oil, meaning you need ~1.5$ of ethanol were 0.8 $ of oil would be enough.
        So subsidies, in some form or another, must be ~0.7$/gallon of ethanol when you want to use ethanol rather than oil.
        Remember that oil is just extracted from underground, while ethanol is extracted from biomass that require land, work etc. that has to be paid for, before you do the extraction work.

      • paqyfelyc – No, you can’t “give a rundown of subsidies”! Of course you can’t. Does it ever occur to you that there is a reason why you can’t?

        Your numbers are pulled out of you know where. There is a reason why blended fuel is cheaper than regular gasoline. Ethanol is used to raise the octane of low grade gasoline, thereby making it cheaper to refine. And, you say that half again as much ethanol is needed to match the energy of gasoline?? Do a little research before you post claims.

  42. You must convert that oil into gasoline so you need to add refining costs to produce gasoline. Ethanol at $1.50/gallon is ready to blend with gasoline. The energy difference is mitigated by the higher heat of vaporization of ethanol. Your 1.5 factor is closer to 1.1. Currently 84 octane gasoline is blended with 10% ethanol to produce 87 octane gasoline. 84 octane is cheaper to make than 87 octane ( about $.10 per octane) and you get more gallons of 84 octane gasoline from a barrel of oil than you do with 87 octane.

    • Fair enough. So that may be ~0.6$/gal subsidies instead of ~0.7. Does it changes the matter ?
      Actually industrial ethanol (as opposed to: ethanol in booze, which we rather have out of plants anyway ;-) ) would be made out of oil, if it wasn’t for subsidies.

      • I wasn’t going to respond to your reply but I kept thinking about your calculations and found them to not make sense (you actually counted your 1.5 factor twice). My search of google tells me that the U.S. Congress did not extend the tariff and the tax credit for ethanol, allowing both to end on December 31, 2011. At the pump by me regular 87 octane is $2.59/gallon, E10 87 octane is $2.26/gallon. If you make 15% less gas mileage on E10, the coast per mile is the same. This does not take into account the greater yield per barrel for 84 octane vs 87 octane which is small but real. The EPA says E10 lowers gas mileage by 3%, GM says it lowers it by 4.8%. Most people on this site who find ethanol so objectionable say it’s over 15%. My personal experience is close to GM’s estimate. Then again I drive a GM vehicle.

  43. “Kit, appeals to authority are lame. Appeals to your own authority are the lamest of all.”

    @Forrest

    Gosh that sounds like a baseless opinion. Wrong too. Often I provide substantive information. I provide information based on being an expert. I am an expert because I was paid to be trained and then paid to perform the work. My work was then accepted by others.

    I am not going to win a debate with lawyers. I am not trained for that. Right is right. When I provide information to the NRC, I do not appeal to being an authority. My company paid me to provide the information because I was an authority. In a follow up the NRC was nitpicking. I had to explain high school chemistry to doctor what’s his name. I was nice about it because he was nice about it. We all agreed to change what I wrote to add the word ‘significant’ to my statement of ‘no effect’.

    See what I did Forest? I told you were wrong, I explained why , I provided an example.

    • An example without enough information for anyone to confirm whether it is real or entirely made up.
      I’m sure you are managing to impress yourself.
      When you talk about nuclear, you give enough information that others can confirm your expertise.
      Outside of that, you give nothing other than the claim that since you are an expert in nuclear we should take everything you say as gospel.

  44. “Prime Minister Modi of India made a similar bold decision when he pointed out starvation and one-quarter of his population without electricity overrides the slim possibility of global warming based on very poor science.”

    I don’t think that’s Modi’s position at all.

    Look what he said at Paris:
    http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/climate-change-is-not-of-our-making-modi-at-paris-summit/story-AYCPgLGSqWD2kS2o4cZ0RO.html

    “India’s progress is our destiny and right of our people. But we must also lead in combating climate change,” he said

    Modi has driven the plan for 175GW of renewable energy in India by 2020

    • “Griff March 1, 2017 at 8:30 am

      Modi has driven the plan for 175GW of renewable energy in India by 2020”

      A plan is still just a plan. Like a pledge. Anyone can say anything, but actually doing something about it, that’s a different ballgame. India and China, within 15 years, will lose their industry to south east Asia because, wages are too high. I was right about China/India in the mid-1990’s and I am right about south east Asia, even Africa. I won’t be around to see it this time though.

  45. “Let me try and expand your stupidity.
    Nobody is forced to buy electricity. Therefore if the government triples the cost of electricity, nobody can claim that they have been harmed.”

    Let me check my bill. MarkW is lying again. I do think it stupid for Mark to think he is smart enough to explain anything to anyone except maybe Griff.

    A few years back my power bill did increase. My utility explained why on the bill. The was major capital expenditures for capital improvements to meet new regulations. However, is an exceeding cheap commodity even with the rate increase.

    Again nobody is forced to buy energy. I observe how people spend money. I am not forced to pay outrageous ticket prices, eat at restaurants, spend $4 for a cup of coffee. Then they complain about the 50 cent they spend on energy getting there.

    And now the 5 cents that might be ethanol.

    There are some places where state goverment policies cause electric rates and gasoline more expensive. It is called taxes.

    Clearly some of you have an agenda that blames everything on what you do not like. First do not buy it, second stop whining without facts to back it up.

  46. To be a pure biofuel the fuel must be produced and delivered without the use of and goods and or services that involve the use of fossil fuels. I doubt that there exists any pure biofuels in use today. If you feel that the burning of fossil fuels is bad for the planet then stop using and paying for goods and or services that involve the use of fossil fuels in any way. It is the consumers money that keeps the fossil fuel companies in business.

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