Monday, December 24, 2007

Ethanol's Role in The Growing "Dead Zone"

JEFFERSON, Iowa - Because of rising demand for ethanol, American farmers are growing more corn than at any time since World War II. And sea life in the Gulf of Mexico is paying the price.

The nation's corn crop is fertilized with millions of pounds of nitrogen-based fertilizer. And when that nitrogen runs off fields in Corn Belt states, it makes its way to the Mississippi River and eventually pours into the Gulf, where it contributes to a growing "dead zone" — a 7,900-square-mile patch so depleted of oxygen that fish, crabs and shrimp suffocate.


Note: 7,900 square miles is larger than the states of Rhode Island, Delaware and Connecticut combined!

HT: Chris Douglas

6 Comments:

At 12/24/2007 1:14 PM, Blogger vulcanhammer said...

It takes about 4 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of ethanol; Ethanol production will only exacerbate current water shortages. We are slowly subsidizing ourselves into an environmental problem.

 
At 12/24/2007 1:45 PM, Blogger Libertas said...

This is one more example of the left creating a problem, and offering themselves as the solution to that problem at the same time. Subsidize ethanol……..elect environmental whackos……

 
At 12/24/2007 5:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dislike the idea of using food to produce fuel, so I am firmly against ethanol subsidies. However, this "dead zone" is more alarmism from the ecowhacko fringe. I've had this article bookmarked for years, to respond to such BS:
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/29064_whales27.shtml

Sperm whales are flourishing in the so-called dead zone, and oceanographers are trying to figure out what they are eating. The piece is 6-years old, and they might've found the answer by now. What is readily apparent is that the enviroweenies are wrong about this issue, as they are wrong about every other one that they take up as their very own windmill.

skh.pcola

 
At 12/24/2007 6:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vulcanhammer,

The water used to produce ethanol also includes water used to irrigate corn.

http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB119258870811261613.html

According to the above article, a recent study estimated total water consumption at about 1700 gallons to produce 1 gallon of ethanol when crop irrigation is factored into the equation. Must concur with you that ethanol seems to make very little sense with regard to water usage, rising vegetable & meat prices, nitrogen run-off, soil fertility management and lower fuel efficiency offered by the ethanol as compared to gasoline.

Ethanol illustrates the complexity of many of these issues where often the solutions create new problems, some predictable and many unforeseen.

It is very tempting for politicians to jump on the latest bandwagon or champion populist causes such as oil independence because the electorate reward this behavior. Politicians feel very pressured to be seen to be doing something and as a result, ethanol became the poster child for Republicans and Democrats.

Ultimately, the solutions will not come from politicians or government subsidies, taxes or carbon credits. Every day, we use objects that have transformed the way we live that have been created by people that we have never heard of.

While economists often tell us that we have to "make the market work" by meddling with it, we know that the overwhelming majority of innovations in human history were not produced by government carrots & sticks.

 
At 12/24/2007 7:24 PM, Blogger Machiavelli said...

Is it too much to ask for some MSM coverage of the detrimental effects ethanol subsidies have produced?

 
At 12/24/2007 10:50 PM, Blogger vulcanhammer said...

Anonymous(second poster): Thank you for posting the WSJ link...the article was very informative and well written.

 

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