The fears regarding increasing amounts of food crops being turned into fuel, or farmlands once used for the production of food switching their focus to fuel stock production are turning out to be well founded.
According to a report on the Earth Policy Institute, over a quarter of the total U.S grain crop in 2009 was turned into ethanol fuel last year. Over 100 million tons of grain was utilized in this fashion, enough to feed 330 million people for an entire year at current average global consumption numbers.
The Earth Policy Institute also states the amount of grain needed to fill the tank of an SUV with ethanol just once can feed one person for an entire year.
Given all the starvation in the world and the rate of deforestation in order to create new farmland, this news is something to bear in mind next time we’re filling up our cars with an ethanol blend gas.
We continually look for magic solutions that will allow us to maintain our current consumption levels. There aren’t any yet and won’t be for some time. Even using algae for biofuel has its challenges with a recent study finding it has a greater environmental impact than fuel stock sources such as corn or switch grass.
Where there is some real hope is renewable energy such as solar power and wind energy in conjunction with electric cars. A car plastered with solar panels will never match a family sedan running on gas due to weight and available roof space for solar modules, but grid connect solar power generated by rooftops of houses and commercial buildings around the world can go a long way towards ensuring electric car recharging is “greener”.
Earth is a finite planet with finite resources, but one form of energy being “added” to our planet every second comes from the sun. Even wind energy is the result of the sun’s forces acting upon the Earth. Wind is solar power :).
While we wait for an electricity grid infrastructure and the vehicles that will allow us to harness wind and solar power more effectively, we all simply need to use our cars less – reduce our gas consumption, cut down non-essential trips, car pool more, use more public transport, switch to bicycles and utilize those two odd appendages sprouting from our hips called legs.