Pages

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Why Do We Burn Our Food?


Interesting piece in Principia-Scientific - the figures are astounding.

Out of curiosity I ran some numbers related to ethanol production, which turns food into fuel. 

To produce one gallon of ethanol about 22 pounds of corn (1) needs to be sacrificed. 22 lbs of corn contains about 10,560 calories, (2) which are enough calories to feed one person for about four days. (3) Therefore the calories sacrificed to make 90 gallons of ethanol could sustain one person for an entire year. Since the US currently produces 10.6 billion gallons (4) of ethanol yearly, enough corn is being sacrificed each year for ethanol production in the United States to feed 117 million people. This is occurring at the same time that the United States Department of Agriculture is reporting that over 50,000,000 people living in the United States are in "food-insecure households" (5) because their families do not have sufficient funds to purchase adequate amounts of food.

11 comments:

Angus Dei said...

As always AK money comes before people.

A K Haart said...

Angus - and climate politics.

Sam Vega said...

What a naive question from a supposed scientist. How can the American poor discover there is a food shortage if they are unable to drive to the shops and find them empty?

Mark Wadsworth said...

Good work there. I think it is now widely known that this grow-your-own-fuel is a load of nonsense.

That said, corn is not a very good foodstuff, not enough vitamins and roughage. Wheat or potatoes are far better. Rice is OK.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Or if you want the short answer to the question - "Because we got distracted with something else and forgot to check the oven".

A K Haart said...

Sam - I don't think they drive to the shops, but they do notice their Domino pizzas have no base because that's now an extra.

Mark - I did wonder how much corn is processed into junk food.

Scrobs... said...

Why not grow more Jatropha?

That works fine!

banned said...

On a similar topic of the unintended (?) consequences of Greenery I recently taunted a student who had just bought some 'cardboard' boxes to move her stuff.
The boxes proudly boasted their "biodegradable" status, very right-on.
They are made from a plant called sizal, the recently increased production of which has all but destroyed the rainforests of Madagascar and eleswhere. Just to soothe the conciences of a few students.

Oh, and to keep the business booming it is now illegal for shops to supply you with empty Heinz cartons since they have to account for the disposal of all packaging waste as per EU directives.

A K Haart said...

Scrobs - maybe they will in time. I thing the corn/ethanol binge came about because it's such well-established technology. And the money of course.

banned - imported sisal of course. It would be simpler to use standard cardboard boxes and burn them afterwards.

James Higham said...

Truly a tragedy by the pitiless who saw and opportunity.

A K Haart said...

James - it should be a bigger issue. Some people take the view that climate propaganda has already caused a large number of deaths through using food crops for fuel.