Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Running fast = GOOD, Ethanol = BAD

First, the good. Last night I had a pretty fun run. The workout was 30min + 24x(30sec fast + 30sec jog) + 10min. Although it took just about the whole 30min to start loosening up, I felt great once I got into the accelerations. The best part was the second half when I turned into a tailwind and was really flying. It was really windy last night and it was awesome to have the wind at my back as I was running the hard 30sec intervals. Its rare that you really get to feel the effect of a tailwind when running because usually the wind isnt blowing that hard and you arent running that fast but last night was an exception. It was a lot of fun... the flats felt like downhills!

Now to change subjects a bit, I heard another story this morning on NPR about how great the ethanol craze has been for the economies of rural Iowa. The problem? While I truly am glad for the people of corn country, ethanol is bad in so many other ways. First of all, the only reason ethanol is economically viable is due to the massive government subsidies which simply encourage more farmers to grow corn rather than other crops, such as wheat. This decreases the supply of corn for other products(food, feed, etc.) as well as other crops such as wheat, driving the price of those commodities up. Of course, the increased prices then get passed onto consumers, not only through increased prices for bread, pasta, fritos, etc. but also things such as beef, pork, milk, and eggs as most of these farmers rely on cheap corn for feed.

More importantly however, the idea behind using ethanol is that it is supposed to be more environmentally freindly than gasoline because it gives off much less CO2. While this may be true when analyzing only the combustion of the final product, overall that is not a correct assessement. In order to make an accurate comparison, you have to look at the entire process. That is you have to compare the amount of CO2 produced from drilling and refining oil, and then burning gasoline compared to the amount produced of CO2 from growing and harvesting corn, converting it to a liquid fuel, then burning that fuel. Recently there have been studies that suggest what has been thought for a long time, that biofuels really arent any more environmentally friendly than oil.

So if ethanol does not have any environmental benefits, why is the government pouring $1.4 billion in subsidies to keep it afloat?

No comments: