My 1992 Subaru wagon gets about 20 miles per gallon. For one or two long trips and trips for heavy items, I drive it about 3000 miles per year, using 150 gallons of fuel (I mostly walk, bicycle, take buses, and work at home). The State of Oregon requires 10% ethanol in my fuel, so my car consumes 15 gallons of ethanol a year.

3200 kilograms of corn makes about 330 gallons of ethanol, so my car consumes about 145 kilograms of corn a year. 166 grams of corn contains 606 food calories, so that is 127,000 food calories a year, 350 calories a day.

Although 2000 food calories is recommended for health (and too many Americans eat way more than that), sustaining base metabolism for an adult on the edge of starvation requires only 500 food calories (according to my doctor wife). A child needs less - perhaps (WAG) 350 calories (though they certainly won't thrive on it).

So thanks to my legislators, my driving habits may starve one child to death. Not to mention the conversion of woodland to corn cropland (responsible for much anthropological CO₂ generation) and the eutrophication of the Mississippi and the Gulf (from fertilizer runoff) and the alcohol embrittlement of gaskets and seals in my 20yo car's fuel system (eventually requiring its replacement, requiring even more energy to produce). Perhaps instead of letting legislators do bad engineering, engineers ought to design machines to replace legislators. A hand calculator can out-think one.

BioFuel (last edited 2013-07-16 14:56:40 by KeithLofstrom)