The Law Of Unintended Consequences At Work

Hot Air posted an article today about the environmental impact of ethanol. Remember that using ethanol (and even increasing the percentage of ethanol in gasoline) was supposed to have a positive impact on the environment. Well, not so fast.

The article reports:

One of the chief claims of the corn lobby is that ethanol is a more “green” type of energy because it’s renewable. From there, the argument is extended to claim that it’s better for the environment all the way around. But the conclusions of a study underlying the latest EPA report on the environmental impact of ethanol (seven years in the making, dating back well into the Obama administration) concludes that the opposite is true. Ethanol produces significant negative impacts on the environment, in some cases worse than the gasoline it’s supposed to be replacing. (Public News Service)

The article explains:

A long-delayed report from the Environmental Protection Agency finds that requiring ethanol made from corn and soybeans to be part of the nation’s gas supply is causing serious environmental harm.

Federal law requires the EPA to assess the environmental impact of the fuel standard every three years, but the new report, issued in July, was four years overdue. According to David DeGennaro with the National Wildlife Federation, the report documents millions of acres of wildlife habitat lost to ethanol crop production, increased nutrient pollution in waterways and air emissions and side effects worse than the gasoline the ethanol is replacing.

“In finding that the Renewable Fuel Standard is having negative consequences to a whole suite of environmental indicators,” DeGennaro said, “the report is a red flag warning us that we need to reconsider the mandate’s scope and its focus on first-generation fuels made from food crops.”

…The bigger surprise is the fact that ethanol production and combustion significantly increases the production of nitrous oxides (Nox). This combines with oxygen in the atmosphere when exposed to sunlight, producing ozone.

The article concludes:

The Renewable Fuel Standard needs to be scaled back (preferably eliminated), not expanded. And if basic considerations of the damage it does to marine equipment and small engines, on top of burning too hot and producing less energy by volume than gas isn’t a good enough reason, perhaps the damage to the environment will convince you.

The corn lobby is not going to like this report. This is what happens when you jump on the environmental bandwagon before you completely understand the consequences of what you are doing.


Time To Rethink The Ethanol Thing

On Friday WattsUpWithThat posted an article about biofuels. It seems that the use of biofuels instead of carbon fuels is not as kind to the environment as originally thought.

The article reports:

Statements about biofuels being carbon neutral should be taken with a grain of salt. This is according to researchers at the University of Michigan Energy Institute after completing a retrospective, national-scale evaluation of the environmental effect of substituting petroleum fuels with biofuels in the US. America’s biofuel use to date has in fact led to a net increase in carbon dioxide emissions, says lead author John DeCicco in Springer’s journal Climatic Change.

The use of liquid biofuels in the transport sector has expanded over the past decade in response to policies such as the US Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and California’s Low-Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). These policies are based on the belief that biofuels are inherently carbon neutral, meaning that only production-related greenhouse gas emissions need to be tallied when comparing them to fossil fuels.

This assumption is embedded in the lifecycle analysis modelling approach used to justify and administer such policies. Simply put, because plants absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, crops grown for biofuels should absorb the carbon dioxide that comes from burning the fuels they produce. Using this approach, it is often found that crop-based biofuels such as corn ethanol and biodiesel offer at least modest net greenhouse gas reductions relative to petroleum fuels.

There is also research showing that ethanol damages engines. As the government attempts to increase the amount of ethanol in gasoline, the potential damage to car, boat, motorcycle and other engines should be considered. It would also be wise to consider the fact that biofuels are not carbon neutral.

Meanwhile, Power Line reported today that the reports of the ‘warmest month ever’ that periodically show up in the media are not based on sound science.

Power Line reports:

We are living in a relatively cool era. Temperatures today are lower than they have been something like 90% of the time since the last Ice Age ended 12,000 or so years ago. In fact, “ever” means since approximately the 1880s, when thermometer records became widespread. As it happens, that was also around the time when the Little Ice Age ended, so–happily!–the Earth is a bit warmer now than it was then.

One of the many problems with global warming hysteria is that it is based on the surface temperature record since the 1880s, which is deeply flawed when it is not outright falsified by alarmists who control the historical records. This happens often, as we and others have documented.

The article at Power Line explains why the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) is using faulty data in its reports:

Actually, the explanation is political. The IPCC was explicitly established by the U.N. for one purpose only, to “study” the impact of human-emitted CO2 on global temperatures. This was for the purpose of justifying government control over industry worldwide. Anyone who is interested in science rather than left-wing politics relies on the satellite data, which are transparent and have not been “adjusted” by political activists.

The United Nations has forgotten that its original mission was to encourage democracy and world peace. It has morphed into an organization run by a cadre of dictators who would like to extort money from countries who have prospered because of their freedom. The climate change information that is coming from the United Nations is part of that effort.