Wednesday, June 25, 2008


The price of food keeps going up. Part of the reason for that is that a lot of corn is being used for ethanol rather than food. In 2006 14 percent of the corn crop was made into ethanol. By 2010 that is expected to rise to 30 percent.

And yet corn ethanol is very inefficient. It takes one unit of energy just to produce two units of energy from corn. Ethanol from sugar cane produces eight units of energy for every unit consumed. Sugar cane requires a tropical climate, but the importation of sugar ethanol is discouraged by a 54-cents-a-gallon tariff.

The state of Florida has just bought the United States Sugar Company for $1.75 billion dollars. The purchase includes 187,000 acres of land just north of the Everglades National Park. So is the state going into the business of creating ethanol from sugar cane? No, that would make too much sense. They are going to return it to the swampland it was in the 1890s.

Somehow this is supposed to be good for the environment, but I’m not sure just how.

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