Michael, there or should be is a shared an ethic on this list serve.  It 
is implied in the name Science for the People.  "for the People" means 
that our metaphorical cost-benefit-analysis uses a just and equitable 
benefit to humans as the prime criterion whether something--a policy, a 
drug, a set of values, etc--is to be supported or opposed.  Furthermore 
our focus is primarily on Science.  Since SftP covers substantial 
territory, we can expect many posts; some of which as you have expressed 
more than once can express reasoned and informed viewpoints that require 
our consideration if we are to be creditable. 

This last post of yours, T/he Ethanol Backlash/ by Daniel Gross is 
decidedly inappropriate.  I am taking these few minutes to explain why, 
hoping that you will in response be more discriminating in your posts.   
Gross' article is a cynical summary of the apples and oranges of  
ethanol policy to which he applies a hand-waving cost-benefit analysis 
which grossly values the apples of economic concerns (read capitalist, 
profit maximizing) over the oranges of human values.

The benefit to me was that it cleared my gut and the cost that i puked 
up last nights dinner.  Please consider carefully that a posting should 
contribute to our ability to carry on the struggle that science be a 
contributor to a just and equitable human-oriented society.  Gross's 
article provides us no new information and needs no refutation from us 
because its conclusion is only acceptable to those who already are 
convinced that stock prices are more important that the availability of 
food stocks to hungry people.

Please, Michael, please be more discriminating


Michael Balter wrote:
> *moneybox*
> The environmentalists, economists, and poverty activists who are 
> turning against corn fuel.
> By Daniel Gross
> Posted Friday, July 20, 2007, at 2:22 PM ET
> Ethanol, the substitute for gasoline that in the United States is 
> largely derived from corn, is hot. Statistics 
> <> from the Renewable 
> Fuels Association <> show that production 
> doubled between 2002 and 2006, from 2.1 billion to 4.9 billion 
> gallons, allowing the United States to surpass Brazil as the Saudi 
> Arabia of ethanol. When the 86 plants under construction today are 
> completed, American production capacity will top 13 billion gallons 
> per year. In his most recent State of the Union address 
> <>, President 
> Bush called for the United States to produce 35 billion gallons of 
> renewable fuels in 2017.
> Any rapidly growing, paradigm-shifting industry is bound to engender 
> both enthusiasm and resistance in roughly equal amounts. And the 
> prospect of using grains, which have generally been cheap in this 
> country, as a replacement for fossil fuels, was bound to excite hope 
> and ruffle feathers. After all, while farmers and ethanol-plant 
> investors will profit, companies and industries that rely on cheap 
> grains, or that produce and distribute fossil fuels, face serious 
> disruption. And so, before it has even emerged as anything more than a 
> marginal contributor to supply—ethanol accounted for about 1.25 
> percent of gasoline use last year—a full-fledged ethanol backlash is 
> underway. The squawks of protest arise not just from oil companies. 
> They're coming from economists, environmentalists, poverty fighters, 
> and science nerds. Meet the ethanol-skeptics.
> /Inflation hawks./ Economists and analysts have been quick to note 
> <> 
> (subscription required) that using corn to make gasoline is 
> contributing to the greatest macroeconomic evil: inflation. Indeed, 
> energy and food now constitute a positive feedback loop. The high and 
> rising energy prices—according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 
> energy prices rose in the first half of this year at a 27.8 percent 
> annual rate—contribute to high food prices in two ways. It makes 
> farming, food production, and food distribution more expensive, and it 
> encourages more people to use grains like corn to make ethanol, which 
> also drives up corn prices. (Here's a chart of corn futures 
> <> and a chart of wheat 
> futures <>.) As the 
> consumer price index <> 
> shows, in the first half of 2007, food costs rose at a 6.2 percent 
> annual rate.
> /Poverty activists. /Inflation in food prices can inflict severe 
> damage on the poor, who already spend a larger chunk of their income 
> on food than the well-off. It's possible that America's hunger for 
> gasoline could exacerbate hunger in Africa. Earlier this week, Josette 
> Sheeran, an official of the U.N.World Food Program 
> <>, told 
> <> 
> the /Financial Times/ that rising global grain prices, which can be 
> attributed in part to rising ethanol production, may force it to scale 
> back relief efforts in places like Chad, Niger, and Mali. They are 
> confronting a doubling of corn prices in some countries, Shareen said. 
> "In a world where our contributions are holding fairly steady, this 
> [cost increase] means we are able to reach far less people."
> /Efficiency freaks./* *For economists, engineers, libertarians, and 
> others who believe that inefficiency and market distortions are the 
> greatest evils, ethanol is a fat target. As Robert Bryce noted in 
> */Slate/*/, /ethanol receives a generous and increasingly unnecessary 
> federal subsidy <>. Thus, every gallon 
> of ethanol produced adds to the deficit. And since ethanol doesn't 
> pack as much power per gallon as gasoline distilled from crude oil, 
> you have to burn more ethanol to go the same distance. The 
> Environmental Protection Agency's fuel economy guide 
> <> concludes that cars built 
> to run on E85 (a gasoline made with 85 percent ethanol) get about 25 
> percent fewer miles per gallon as the same models that run on plain 
> old gas. /Business Week/'s/ /Ed Wallace has thus dubbed ethanol a net 
> energy waste 
> <>. 
> The frequent need for ethanol users to stop and refuel wastes time and 
> money, and can be a serious impediment to long-distance car travel. 
> The Department of Energy has a list 
> <> of 
> some 900 stations that offer E85. And as these guys found out 
> <>, they are sometimes few and 
> far between.
> /Environmentalists./ Environmentalists are quick to warn about how the 
> use of petroleum and coal for energy is fouling our air and water. The 
> use of ethanol for the same purpose, it seems, could do the same. 
> Earlier this week, the /Washington Post/ described a new report 
> <>, 
> funded by government and nonprofit enviro groups, that looked at the 
> potential impact of higher corn production in Maryland and Virginia on 
> the Chesapeake Bay. The equation goes something like this: More corn 
> farming requires more fertilizer (bad for the environment), and more 
> tractors (bad for the environment), and produces more chemical runoff 
> into water sources (bad for the environment). The upshot: If we keep 
> blending ethanol into gasoline, there might not be any crabs in the 
> Chesapeake anymore.
> While I'm as susceptible to Malthusian thoughts as the next paranoid 
> guy, I find much of the anti-ethanol case to be unpersuasive. In each 
> instance, the haters would have us look at ethanol, and the ill 
> effects its greater use would assuredly produce, largely in isolation. 
> Might the production of corn ethanol cause pollution? Of course. Is it 
> worse than the sort of pollution created by other types of energy 
> production—i.e., coal and oil? Probably not. Does greater use of corn 
> for ethanol help spur price increases for food? Sure, but so do many 
> other factors, like, say, the transformation of China from a 
> subsistence farming economy into a more modern one. Is ethanol more 
> inefficient, and hence more costly, than gasoline? Yes. But our heavy 
> use of gasoline imposes all sorts of other costs—from pollution to the 
> hundreds of billions of dollars we spend each year in Iraq. Factor 
> those in, and ethanol no longer seems like such an economic loser. 
> Finally, the long-term worries of the ethanol haters are in large 
> measure based on the assumption that ethanol will continue to grow for 
> many years at the same blistering pace it has recently. Such 
> proclamations of boundless growth, which are a recurring feature of 
> bubbles, frequently don't materialize as promised. Remember /Dow 
> 36,000 
> <>/?
> Daniel Gross is the Moneybox columnist for */Slate/* and the business 
> columnist for /Newsweek/. You can e-mail him at [log in to unmask] 
> <mailto:[log in to unmask]>. He is the author of /Pop! Why Bubbles Are 
> Great for the Economy/ 
> <>.
> Article URL:
> -- 
> <>
> ******************************************
> Michael Balter
> Contributing Correspondent, Science
> [log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
> ******************************************