Saturday, February 9, 2008

BioDiesel Bioshmeasel!


Ah ha! That's all I have to say! The first reports are coming out about how the much touted biodiesel (or BD as I like to call it) is turning out to be a bigger problem than cars running on gasoline. It's something I have strongly believed since the whole BD craze began. It's always been known that using biodiesel over gasoline reduces miles per gallon in an automobile already so in my opinion people should have been up in arms asking for more proof that it was truly a good innovation before the farming industry put all (or most) of their eggs into this basket. In the last few years, plans for more and more biodeisel refineries have been planned and more and more farms have converted to corn and soybean growing because of the run up in price these commodities have gotten with all the talk of biodiesel saving the United States from the grip of foreign oil. That'll be the day.

Recently, new studies have shown that not only does BD give less miles to the gallon but also that it is causing double the damage to produce it over the traditional gasoline product! More land all over the world is being resown and stripped bare to plant corn, soybean, sugarcane, and other BD crops in hopes of helping us “live greener” and lessen the dependency on foreign oil. From the very beginning, with the equipment that needs to be used, with the production factories few and far between where the people really need them, the trucking that needs to be used to get the biodiesel out to the customers that are not close to the factories or the farmland, we are actually, not surprisingly, doubling our CO2 output on this world. Stripping land to grow these crops doesn't help either removing the native vegetation that was originally there to sap up the world's CO2 (plants take that in and expel Oxygen). This started a chain of events that made all our food more expensive as well. A good example is that with so much more of our country's corn crop going into BD production, we have less for feed that livestock and ranchers need to keep meat and milk at a stable price. That feed now costs more because corn costs more. The ranchers that handle livestock are going to have to make up for that deficit in their pockets somehow. That's where we come in, we are already paying higher prices for the foods we eat connected to livestock because of this. To add to that, prices of farmed vegetables and fruits are more expensive because we just don't grow enough of it any longer with the switch farmers have made to corn. We don't want to be slaves to foreign oil but we become slaves to South American fruit and vegetable farmers!

During all this time as well, we're not lowering our dependence on foreign oil. No, we're still using trucks to get our foods to us from coast to coast and that's costing more because gasoline is costing more. Cars and trucks need to be fitted with a few new engine components to get BD to work well with them. People don't take into account BD can cause damage to engine parts if a vehicle was never intended to run on it. That's why all the mainly Chevy BD capable vehicles come with a yellow gas cap. You've got to make sure you know you can use it before you try it.

It's a valiant effort to help the world out, I'll give the scientists and the backers of this technology that. The intentions were good. And to offer up a great use of BD, I believe those few folks out there who are converting, or better to say truly recycling, restaurant cooking oil into a BD product for use in their diesel cars is an awesome idea. I have to repeat, that is true recycling! There's no extra land being destroyed for it, it's been used (to put things like fries on our dinner plates) and it's only going to be thrown away. What a great idea and perfect solution to use that oil and cooking byproduct everyone has as fuel for automobiles. It's ideas like that that change the world for the better.

Someone should have really run the numbers, done the tests, and examined the production of BD fuels from beginning to end before our farmers and some of our citizens jumped headfirst into the world of biodiesel. I personally think we should abandon this idea. If we're going to create a biodiesel, let's get it from recycling oils we use already. Lets keep the corn for our bellies as well as our livestock's feed. Perhaps we'll be able to get the prices of our foods down a little bit and in the process, refocus our country's intelligent minds onto finding another solution to our energy problems. Time is running out, we have to find a solution soon. It's not a good idea to ever take one solution and take that as the answer-all to our own or our country's problems. Let's get wise and let's get back to work!

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