Monday, August 20, 2007
Corn makes a bad crop for ethanol production because it needs lots of fertilizer which is made using an energy intensive process requiring natural gas, but ADM stands to make a killing. Sugar cane is a better crop for producing ethanol, but there's no incentive for sugar producers to lobby Congress because they already have artificial price supports.
Freeman Dyson has some heretical views about global warming. He's correct that computer simulations about global warming are flawed. They are not the only evidence for global warming. There is much empirical evidence available, but our ignorance is great about the effects of human alteration of the planetary environment, and he could very well be right that there are better uses for the money such as conservation. I doubt that you could find any one who says that we have had more positive effects on the environment than negative, but the purpose of his essay is to stir up debate and make people think instead of blindly accept what they are told.
Our agriculture is not sustainable as it is currently practiced. It is energy and water intensive and causes much soil erosion. We will have to discard the plow and use no-till farming just for the soil erosion problem alone. The water shortage problem will still exist if rainfall does not increase in rural and urban areas. These issues and others are why we need heretics to stir up debate and help formulate sound policies on pressing problems or potential problems. How can an individual make an informed judgment or action if he or she doesn't have access to reliable information? This is why the control of information is antithetical to the goals of a free society.
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