Killing the biofuel subsidies may be a good start in taking on the debt problem, but I hope the notion doesn't kill the enthusiasm around trying to engineer and innovate new sources of energy. Innovation, around alternative fuel or otherwise, is always a series of iterations and tradeoffs that in hindsight, don't always turn out to cost competitive or effective. We need to walk that line between recognizing when an idea is a bust and be fiscally responsible, yet still keep the engineering spirit moving forward to find the right solution to the problem. It's a tricky balancing act, no doubt.
It's one thing if the government promotes the development of new technologies (for example, developments out of the JPL that were then licensed / shared with industry). It's quite another for government dollars going to artificially create a market by basically paying people to use those technologies. Cutting the ethanol subsidies is a good place to start and there is a long way to go.
Why would subsidy elimination kill engineering enthusiasm? I would posit that subsidies are what kill innovation because they concentrate attention and effort on one thing - in this case, corn based ethanol. The solution to many, if not most, of our problems is economic liberty. Government's record of picking winners isn't stellar and they're using our money to do it.
Ethanol's value is questionable. There's debate among experts as to how much fossil fuel is needed to create a gallon of ethanol. One expert -- David Pimentel of Cornell University -- argues that at least one gallon of fossil fuel is burned in order to make each gallon of ethanol. Some say it's less than that. Either way, the value is debatable. See excerpt from 2008 Design News article below:
"Most experts estimate it takes 1 gallon of fossil fuel to create 1.3 gallons of corn-based ethanol, but a few have claimed the process burns more energy than it creates. 'Most estimates leave out the energy from farm labor, the energy to make and manufacture the tractor and the energy required for irrigation,' says David Pimentel, a Cornell University entomology professor and a former consulting ecologist to the White House staff (http://rbi.ims.ca/5719-562)."
It's an encouraging sign that we can finally get back to some common sense to how we use our land - food like corn should be grown to feed people and animals - not to feed cars. Also, the poorer countries and their people should be better off without our politicians artificially raising the price of corn which is such an important food to so many people. The decades of wasteful government interfence may finally come to an end - now that's enthusiastic!
I totally agree with the premise - it is time to start getting rid of the corn/ethonol subsidy. It was a bad idea to start with with - the only valid reason for this otherwise bad idea was to promote research, with a limited time window, into ways to economically produce gasoline suppliments from althernative sources (e.g. switch grass). The ethanol industry failed in that regard - time to start to phase out external financial (e.g. government grants and mandates) support and let the market determine success or failure. I would suggest that the phase out period should be 2 to 3 years. I will also predict that, for now, this idea just won't make it.
Absolutely this whole program is a joke. The "Flexfuel" thing is an absurd waste which I am inclined to believe was diversion tactic that somehow aided corporate farmers to make a bundle of the public's back.
While I do live in a state that produces a lot of corn and have several friends and neighbors who raise corn and I do know different individuals who have been very close to the forefront of ethanol production I do have to agree with doing away with the subsidies.However, I would rather see the focus on reducing the subsidies for corn.I do not have the numbers, however, I would venture our government spends way more dollars artificially raising the price of corn than it does lowering the price of ethanol.
It really just goes to show the effectiveness of our government officials who artificially raise the price of corn which goes into a product which they have to artificially lower the price of.
As for the future of ethanol, my belief is that is lies in development of the ethanol coming from switchgrass or possibly corn stalks.This technology is just really starting to gain some ground on the research side.But imagine being able to use the corn stalk and the corn in order to produce ethanol.Further, understand how much more input product there would be available if the stalks can be used.
I think this technology is just a few years away and the logistics of it could be even further.But I think we are foolish to not continue to pursue these opportunities.
The numbers here seem a bit misleading. From what I can find, only 10% of the corn crop is used for human food, and an even smaller percentage is sweet corn for direct consumption. The rest is field corn, for livestock feed and ethanol production.
The root cause of our biofuel (or any) program is that our representatives are bought and paid for by lobbiests. We all do what we get paid to do. As long as politicians are allowed to have their carears financed by lobbiests, we'll continue to have this useless expensive stuff dumped on us.
Absolutely correct: Subsidizing a particular technology rather than research to come up with something better gives us this mess we have today. The subsidy for ethanol was 100% driven by the Big Agribiz lobby. But because the average farmer, the so-called "little guy" benefits too, he pushes to keep the subsidy in place, thus further empowering ADM and Big Agra who really want to squash that small farmer. Meanwhile, we all pay higher prices at the market checkout and many countries that depend on that food stock as a staple face shortages and even higher prices. Are we ever going to learn and take control of ourselves and our destiny?
End all subsidies in the US. Let the market handle it's own problems instead of seeing the well connected always getting the upper hand at feeding at the public trough. Outisde of real public safety, defense, and a few other things mention in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, government should really be curtailed to a massive extent in being involved in the subsidies game. It's a game and the tax paying public is generally the loser in it.
You gotta buy bait before you fish. They bought the bait (biofuels) and found out the process wasn't cost effective with corn, etc. Stop it! Maybe it is affordable with bio-waste; good thing to try on a pilot-plant basis, but to keep a subsidy just because it is already there - insane. I live in the Rockies; lotsa BLM/Federal grazing land with all the overgrazing, stream erosion, etc. problems. Every time I hear about the grazing rights auctions I want to toss my name in the hat, win, and sell the (discounted) grazing rights to some rancher. Why should anyone support an unfair assistance in a competitive markerplace? Some are chosen winners and we, the taxpayers, pick up the tab. Not fair, wasteful, political.
The comments are certainly correct, but the fact that adding 10% alcohol to gasoline reduces the mileage and allows the addition of water are two more reasons why the bad choice should be ended. Of course, those profiting from it, and their lobby people, will scream. But we really must not care.
The 100% solar-powered airplane Solar Impulse 2 is prepping for its upcoming flight, becoming the first plane to fly around the world without using fuel. It's able to do so because of above-average performance by all of the technologies that go into it, especially materials.
With major product releases coming from big names like Sony, Microsoft, and Samsung, and big investments by companies like Facebook, 2015 could be the year that virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) finally pop. Here's take a look back at some of the technologies that got us here (for better and worse).
Good engineering designs are those that work in the real world; bad designs are those that don’t. If we agree to set our egos aside and let the real world be our guide, we can resolve nearly any disagreement.
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