Ethanol or Ethan Hawke? A possibly sustainable alternative fuel or a faded star with a history of sexual infidelity?
So in order to debate the issue, we need to know a little bit about them. The type of ethanol that is the current media darling is Corn-Based Ethanol. When I first heard about this I was like, what? Seriously, the government is taking an alternative and renwable fuel source seriously? Awesome! But eeh, these guys are usually on the wrong side of things, what’s the catch? I hope there isn’t one…….
Hmm. Oh wait. Of course there’s a catch. The catch is corn. Corn is something you should know about, and be thinking about, regardless of whether or not you read The Omnivore’s Dilemma (which you might want to consider, as it is fun to read and pretty interesting).
One basic thing to know is that corn is in everything we eat. It is there to hang out and add calories. Now, I know as soon as you mention ‘calories’ you sound like a one-apple-a-day-eating-livejournaling freak (perhaps like Ethan Hawkes’ ex? interesting….) but it’s important. Adding corn syrup is food manufacturers’ way of bulking up a product, making it look and taste more like food, without actually adding any nutritional value. It’s like the Rosie O’Donnell of food (not that The View was so nutritious to begin with).
Check the back of your bread package. Chances are, unless you buy organic or some other kind of ‘specialty’ bread, corn syrup is the second ingredient. Hmmm, right. You don’t need me to tell you, that doesn’t belong. You don’t need me to tell you, it will make you fatter and take away delicious calories you could use elsewhere, like, for this. Mmmm.
So anyway, the point is that corn makes its way into everything, corn farmers get huge subsidies from the government for growing things that make us fatter and more diabetic, and oh right, it’s also totally genetically modified and freaky (like Gattaca maybe? interesting….).
When I said “corn farmers” up there, it’s important to note that I don’t mean happy jolly feel-good farmers, I mean huge huge HUGE businesses like Archer-Daniels Midland and Monsanto. They get the vast majority of the millions of dollars the government spends on farm subsidies, and they use much of it to produce corn, much of which is for corn syrup and animal feed (cows and salmon and other such animals are trained to eat corn-based feed instead of their natural foods and it makes them fatter and, right, us who eat them fatter).
So who stands to gain from a push for corn-based ethanol? Those guys. Those already super rich and just gonna get richer guys.
Alternative fuels are a totally good idea, much like a movie version of Fast Food Nation. However, it’s not such a good movie to watch, and corn-based ethanols are already driving up the price of food around the world. People in Mexico have been protesting in huge numbers the 60% (!!) increase in the price of corn tortillas that has already happened, and some economists are estimating rises in the US as high as 14% for milk and 21% for a dozen eggs.
“The stage is now set for direct competition for grain between the 800 million people who own automobiles, and the world’s 2 billion poorest people.”
So, what’s the answer? Another term you might have heard is cellulosic ethanol – it just means stuff made from plants. Any plants. Different plants take different amounts of pollution to make into fuel, and different plants’ fuels result in different amounts of pollution. Corn is not the best. Different plants do different things to the soil – some are better for it and some are worse. Corn is worse.
Just a few things to think about as we move into our debate: Ethanol vs. Ethan Hawke. Hmmm.
I encourage you to continue the debate with your friends and onlookers.