Letter to the Editor from my new friend Viv Forbes at carbon-sense.com
23rd November 2010
Why are emissions from cattle eating grain classed as bad whereas emissions from cars burning grain ethanol are good?
Consider a paddock of corn. Most of the carbon in the growing plant comes from carbon dioxide in the air and is converted to plant material using solar energy via the magic of photosynthesis. Some comes from the atmosphere via microbes in the soil.
This plant material, either biomass or grain, can be fed to cattle or made into ethanol for motor fuel.
Both cattle and cars then use an internal digestion/combustion process to extract the energy stored in the plant material.
Both processes produce gaseous emissions. In cars, virtually every atom of ethanol carbon burnt produces one molecule of carbon dioxide. In cattle, some of the plant’s carbon is stored for a while in flesh and bones, and the rest is emitted as the natural gases carbon dioxide and methane. This methane is soon oxidised in the atmosphere to produce carbon dioxide.
Over the life of a car or a cow, they both produce the same carbon emissions. Every atom of carbon extracted from the air by the green plant eventually returns to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, the plant food. This is the cycle of life.
It is therefore scientific incompetence or deliberate fraud by government climate alarmists to claim that consuming ethanol in cars is good and should be subsidised but consuming the same plant material in cows must be rationed and taxed.
An ethanol industry propped up by subsidies and mandates is not sustainable. This industry damages taxpayers and pushes up the cost of grains, beef, pork, eggs, milk and cereals.
Subsidising ethanol brings no environmental benefits and is the enemy of the poor and hungry of the world. Its special privileges should be immediately removed.