Saturday, May 24, 2008

Where is Jonathan Swift when we need him?

(detail) Bruegel, "The Triumph of Death" - Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz, Austria

"Human brutes, like other beasts, find snares and poison in the provision of life, and are allured by their appetites to their destruction." Jonathan Swift
Australian grain growers are expected to benefit from greater export opportunities as rival US farmers focus on crops that can be used as biofuels. Rabobank commodities analyst Luke Chandler said crops such as corn, sugar and soybeans were increasingly linked to oil prices."Record crude oil prices will fuel further investment in ethanol and increase pressure on corn farmers to produce enough grain to meet supply," he said. ". . . (so) corn is expected to displace other crops such as wheat." Melbourne Herald Sun, Australia

Ailing leader Fidel Castro returned to the public debate — if not view — for the second time in less than a week with a column in the Communist Party newspaper denouncing U.S. promotion of using food crops for biofuels. Castro chided the Bush administration for its support of ethanol production for automobiles, a move that the 80-year-old leader said would leave the world's poor hungry. - IHT

Biofuels such as ethanol are the only alternative to crude oil, Sun Microsystems Inc. co-founder Vinod Khosla said in an interview on Bloomberg Radio yesterday. ``The only realistic option that we have, and there is none other, is to use biofuels,'' said Khosla, an investor in ethanol makers. ``There is only one choice.''
David Seaton's News Links
The Spanish language of Castille is a sonorous tongue. Charles the Fifth, the Holy Roman Emperor and Spain's first Hapsburg king, was said to speak French, Italian, Castillian and German. He was reported to speak French to gentlemen, Italian to Ladies, Castillian to God and German to his horse.

In the Castillian language, when something simultaneously outrages common sense and garden variety morality, then simple people call it a "contradíos", (literally, "against-God) which the The Royal Academy of the Spanish language defines as an action "absurd or vituperable."

Which brings us to ethanol, a "contradíos" if ever there was one.

I'm a wordy sort, but words fail me when trying to describe the bestial immorality, the besotted idiocy and sheer unkindness of using food to power automobiles when the world's poor are barely able to feed themselves.

It is said that nothing can be compared to the pure evil of the Holocaust, to do so is considered most offensive and outside polite discourse, but read the following and then do the math:

The World Bank has estimated that in 2001, 2.7 billion people in the world were living on the equivalent of less than $2 a day; to them, even marginal increases in the cost of staple grains could be devastating. filling the 25-gallon tank of an SUV with pure ethanol requires over 450 pounds of corn -- which contains enough calories to feed one person for a year. - Foreign Affairs Magazine
I'm sure that there are kind, decent people who tie themselves into knots over baby seals being clubbed to death, but don't ever connect their driving habits to the unspeakable suffering those habits inflict on 2.7 billion people... high minded people who censure the brutality of the filthy junta of Myanmar, but wouldn't dream of taking a bus to work in order to help feed 2.7 billion people; surely there are rapturous Obamaites that haven't ever given it the slightest thought.

This is a subject that requires satire on the level of Jonathan Swift's, "A Modest Proposal", certainly it is beyond my more than modest talents, although I'm bound to keep hammering at it. DS

1 comment:

johnny phenothiazine said...

I think the biggest problem with corn-derived ethanol as automobile fuel is that it is not extravagant enough. If one desires to burn money, one should certainly burn only hundred dollar bills, yes?

Ethanol contains somewhat less energy per gallon than gasoline; a gallon of gasoline will take you as far as 1.3 gallons of ethanol. Red Bordeaux wine is about 13% ethanol. Right now you can get a 750 milliliter bottle of Chateau Lafitte-Rothschild that's old enough to drink for about $650. A liter is 0.264 gallons. So to get the premier grande cru equivalent of a gallon of gasoline, assuming zero loss due to distillation, you'd need 1.3 gallons of ethanol, or 1.3 / 0.264 = 4.92 liters of ethanol, or 4.92 liters / 13% = 37.9 liters of red wine, or 37.9 / 0.75 = 50.5 750 ml bottles of red wine - a tad more than four cases - at $650 a bottle, costing a total of $33,000. This will take your Escalade about twelve miles, at a cost of roughly one dollar per two linear feet.