boatman view

dust   view   thought















a cry of dim light


I put my elbows on the walnut table and rest my head in my hands, wondering why some of the staples of my daily diet like bread and cereal have become so expensive today, in reality.  You might say it is because the farmers are planting more corn for ethanol fuel production, because that is a more profitable use of their land than planting wheat, or even planting corn for livestock feed or human consumption.  Farmers are trying to make a living and pay the bills just like the rest of us.


You can understand the farmerís decision to make the best and most profitable use of their land.  The point in farming is plant and harvest, sell to the highest bidder.  It is not so easy to understand the point of ethanol production.  Reality today is clear to most that we need to look at all sources of energy.  Alternative fuels like solar, wind and nuclear can help with a less painful withdrawal from the crippling dependence on a finite supply of foreign oil.  It is difficult to support the perception that ethanol fits into the energy solution.


Energy is what lights up your town and my town, and our houses.  Energy heats and cools things, and propels things, like making our cars go down the road.  Reality is a gallon of gasoline contains around 115,000 BTUs of energy, and a gallon of ethanol contains around 75,000 BTUs of energy.  It takes about 50,000 +/- BTUs of energy, energy produced mainly by coal, another finite resource, to convert one bushel of corn into about 2.5 gallons of ethanol.  Someone might wonder how mathematically it makes sense to use such an amount of energy, finite or not, to convert corn to ethanol that has thirty some percent less BTUs of energy than the very gas it is supposedly enriching. 


Nobody has stood up to explain how this benefits you and me, or benefits our environment, our economy or our energy security.  I am not the mathematician I used to be, and maybe I put some decimals in the wrong place.  It is my perception that, in reality, ethanol production does not make any sense.  It is encouraged and subsidized by government with our misspent tax dollars.  It results in costing you and me more money for food products in the marketplace, needlessly squanders precious domestic energy resources, and does nothing to reduce our price for gas at the pump.  If I am wrong, show me the math.


It is too hot, or too cold, to make a sign and go outside to march in protest.  We donít want to be uncomfortable sliding into our demise.  Maybe we could give this some collective thought.  Consider for the moment that maybe facts are more important than perception.  We could look each other in the eye and say in reality what makes sense and what does not. 


I think I am getting a better understanding of why you may want to be standing on the railroad track as the freight train races towards you.  I am realizing that track space could get crowded, and this could be an emerging commodity for investors.  Maybe before you get your official spot on the track, at a discount of course, you might help me calculate how much a person should pay for a spot on the track, as the noises get louder.