The law of unintended consequences

Most ethanol is currently made from corn. Scientists in Europe are worried that increasing production for ethanol will increase the demand for the crop, thus leading cut down forests to plant more corn. This would have a greater negative impact on the global climate than any positive impact from using ethanol instead of gasoline.

Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Minnesota and some place called "Princeton" have learned that converting forests and prairies into farmlands to grow corn actually releases carbon into the atmosphere, far more than is saved by replacing gas with ethanol.

OTOH, this author claims there is no evidence that forests and prairies are being converted to farm land. Rather, the demand for corn is being met by more efficient farming. He also argues that ethanol is cost-efficient and does not lead to higher food prices.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Bob Moffitt's picture

You have a bad link to the Rochester Post-Bulletin, but the author you mention is correct. There is no firm evidience that forests and prairies are being plowed under for biofuels. That CERTAINLY isn't happening in the Minnesota or the U.S. -- in fact, the Renewable Energy Standard in the new Energy Bill requires that corn or soybeans corn for biofuels be raised on land already in cultivation in 2007.

I responded to yet another ethanol-hater, this time from some place called "Stanford," in the Minnesota Daily on March 31, 2008.


Bob Moffitt
Communications Director
Clean Fuel & Vehicle Technologies program
American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest

posted on Tue, 04/01/2008 - 10:50am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Well, I wouldn't say the link is bad so much as expired. (It was working over the weekend when I wrote this up, I swear!) ;-) This page -- which was working today -- from the University of Minnesota links to several articles on the study. Glancing at the abstracts, it appears the concern is more about expanding cropland in southeast Asia and the Amazon.

posted on Tue, 04/01/2008 - 11:40am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

well i think this story is really amazing awesome!

posted on Thu, 04/03/2008 - 11:03am

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