Letters to the Editor

Peter Aitken: Ethanol no fix

Regarding the Nov. 27 Point of View about biofuels by James Croonenberghs: In fact, biofuels – specifically ethanol as a component of fuel for cars – have increased greenhouse gas emissions.

Essentially all ethanol comes from corn grown specifically for that purpose, and in the U.S. alone there are about 20 million acres devoted to corn for ethanol – that’s more than half the size of the entire state of Iowa! All of this cropland must be plowed, planted, harvested, fertilized and treated with pesticides – all activities that release CO2 and use fossil fuels.

Devoting all this land to corn for ethanol means less production of food corn and an increase in corn prices. As a result, more land around the world is put into corn cultivation with attendant deforestation. The end result is that using U.S. cropland to grow crops for ethanol production actually results in twice as much CO2 being released than if the ethanol were not produced and cars burned pure gasoline.

A number of years ago generating ethanol for fuel seemed like a good idea. Now we know a lot more and can see that it is a bad idea. But those who profit from the ethanol business will always seek to mislead us.

Peter Aitken

Chapel Hill