January 8, 2007Lester Brown, founder and President of the Earth Policy Institute, estimates that in 2008, U.S. ethanol distilleries will require 139 million tons of corn -- twice as much as the U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts. He predicts that "the emerging competition between cars and people for grain will likely drive grain prices to levels never seen before."
Most ethanol is made from corn, but "as corn prices rise, so too do those of wheat and rice, both because of consumer substitution among grains and because the crops compete for land." A surge in U.S. corn prices will have dramatic effects on global grain prices. Brown explains: "The U.S. corn crop, accounting for 40 percent of the global harvest and supplying 70 precent of global corn exports, looms large in the world food economy. Annual U.S. corn exports of some...
December 7, 2006The Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts continuing strong demand for fossil energy. EIA's just-released Annual Energy Outlook 2007 states: “Despite the projected rapid growth of biofuels and other non-hydroelectric renewable energies and the expectation of the first new orders for nuclear power plants in over 25 years, oil, coal, and natural gas are nonetheless projected to provide roughly the same 86 percent share of the total U.S. primary energy supply in 2030 as they did in 2005 absent changes in existing laws and regulations.”
This is all the more surprising given that EIA also projects ethanol use to grow "from 4 billion gallons in 2005 to 11.2 billion gallons in 2012 and 14.6 billion gallons (about 8 percent of total gasoline consumption by volume) in 2030," and projects real world crude oil prices in 2030 "to reach over $59 per barrel in 2005 dollars, or...
November 15, 2006Today's Washington Post carries a full-page ad by BP boasting that the company, which calls itself “beyond petroleum,” is “investing up to $8 billion over the next ten years in solar, wind, natural gas and hydrogen to provide low carbon electricity.”
“By 2015,” the ad continues, “we estimate that our business will eliminate CO2 emissions by 24 million metric tons a year. It's a start.”
Let's put this in perspective. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), world CO2 emissions in 2004 totaled 27,043 million metric tons. EIA projects that world CO2 emissions will increase to 33,663 million metric tons by 2015. So BP is investing $8 billion to eliminate 7/100ths of 1% of annual CO2 emissions in 2015. Instead of...