Thinking global, living local: Voices in a globalized world

Peak Water – when are we actually drinking Ethanol?

Written by on . Published in Democracy's green challenge

Perhaps only a ban on the use of ethanol as a bio-fuel will prove to be a decisive weapon against climate change

Are we finally destroying our environment for the purpose of mobility?
Are we finally allowing 1.5 billion people, who are already pretty much starving, to die?
Are we sacrificing humanity and global responsibility in favour of mobility in rich countries?
At what point will only rich people have drinking water?
Is this the kind of world we want to live in? – Definitely not, but who will stop our politicians in their delusive idea that ethanol is harmless to our environment?

We need the immediate introduction of electrically-powered vehicles in order to eliminate the environmental killer of ethanol as “bio-fuel”. Latest studies on behalf of the British Government indicate that crude oil exploration will start to show a sharply declining trend within just 10 years. The end of free-market use of crude oil products is already on the horizon. This process is in part being accelerated by huge consumption levels in emerging countries.

The figures speak for themselves in China alone:

number of passenger cars in 2008: approx. 35 million; estimated for 2013: approx. 86 million; Petrol consumption: 2008: approx. 64 billion litres – estimated for 2013: approx. 157 billion litres.

This might be the reason why the EU required an increase in threshold value for the bio-fuel content of petrol to 10% vol. by the end of 2010.

The USA wants to increase admixture to 20%!!!

US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack sees a 20% ethanol to petrol mixture as a realistic goal “within just a few years” ( Petrol in the USA currently consists of 10% of ethanol. In the view of the Secretary, however, it will not be possible to implement this increase all at once, but small steps are necessary towards this goal. The control and supervision of ethanol additives falls under the scope of the US Environmental Protection Agency rather than the Agriculture Department. But Vilsack pointed out that he was in contact with the Agency, to try to ensure an increase in the ethanol additives. An increase is required by corn farmers in the USA, allowing them to sell their harvest to a sufficient extent.
Mineral oil companies are already forecasting a 30% share in the medium term. And yet we have to realize that even en route to the end petrol prices for private customers are heading in a really unpleasant and barely affordable direction.

We are finally destroying our environment at the behest of governments. This means we need holistic alternatives right now. The answer is emobility – moving away from the internal combustion engine towards an electric motor. Bio-fuel is already playing an important role as a substitute for petrol in the USA and Europe. The product – also known as fuel ethanol – is primarily made from corn, which is grown in large quantities in the USA and Mexico. Ethanol production has therefore been optimised for corn. Cereals, such as wheat, barley and rye, are used in Europe for this purpose. Perversely, however, Mexico now has to import corn for their food industry. Food prices have increased three-fold in the recent past.

The global water balance is getting completely out of control due to recent developments in bio-fuels. Around 3,000 litres of water are required to produce one litre of bio-ethanol in the form of fuel made from corn! Given that an increasing amount of corn is being grown for these purposes, its price on the world market has increased almost four-fold.

Studies show that over 1 billion cars and trucks worldwide are travelling on our roads. The market research institute R. L. Polk Marketing Systems predicts an increase of vehicle population of almost 20%. The global population would hence amount to approx. 1.12 billion vehicles. An addition of around 30% ethanol to petrol signifies demand of approximately 450 billion litres. In order to generate this demand, we hence need around 1.35 quadrillion litres of water.

Global water consumption amounts to an estimated 4.5 quadrillion litres per year.  This is approximately a third of the accessible renewable sweet water reserves of 13 quadrillion litres.

If we continue on this course we will not only have to deal with “peak oil” but also “peak water”.

Further in 2025, the PAI study, it is missing on the earth for 2.8 to 3.3 billion people to water. In 1990 there were “only” 335 million. Thus, the number of thirsty nine-fold in 35 years. At the same time the lack of extended zone on Somalia, Kenya, Syria, Iran and Nigeria, Haiti and Peru join.

According to the latest reports, the last water supplies in the U.S. are being used up in 2025

‘”Bio-fuels” ultimately lead to a dramatic increase in prices for staple foods. Car drivers in rich industrial nations are subsidised at the expense of the poorest people in the world.’ (Quote from Peter Brabeck Letmathe, Chairman of the Nestle Group in an interview with Zeit on 4 April 2007).

The US Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 makes provision for an increase in production of bio-ethanol, from 34 billion litres last year to 57 billion litres in 2015. But this will only succeed if the drier states in the West of the country are included.

“In order to achieve the target for 2015, ethanol manufacturers have to increase their production capacities in all states now”, says Jerry Schnoor from the University of Iowa. “The situation with regard to water consumption is no longer sustainable; we are already tapping aquifers, such as the Ogallala.” The Ogallala is a kind of underground lake, east of the Rocky Mountains, which, with a surface area of 450,000 square kilometres, is 25% larger than the Federal Republic of Germany and represents one of the largest aquifers in the world.

However, given that these food sources are no longer used within the food cycle, fertilisers can be used at full force. Such over-fertilisation ends up in our groundwater, rivers and seas. Let’s not even mention the other areas where our valuable natural environment is continually being destroyed for this nonsense. We are talking about the cultivation and destruction of resources, to the power of millions. This is being sold as an environmentally-friendly alternative to petrol.

I believe that our safest bet is the conceptual approach of moving away from the internal combustion engines towards electric motors. Even the latest developments from China seem to prove my point:
BYD, the Shenzhen carmaker, hopes to become the largest producer in the world by 2025. An ambitious goal, but growth rates are impressive: in the first half-year BYD sold 176,795 cars, 176% more than one year earlier. BYD is primarily known in the West for its ambitions in the electrical sector. Founded in 1995, BYD is actually a battery manufacturer, but purchased a car producer in 2003. In the meantime the company has been listed on the stock exchange and cooperated with VW in battery technology. US investor Warren Buffett has held a 10% stake since 2008. He has always shown vision. Starting from 2011 BYD intends to sell electric cars to Europe!!

We can enjoy the following benefits from emobility:

1. With regard to fossil fuels, we set ourselves free from the influence of industry, politics and production countries – we produce power ourselves and even export it.

2. We prolong the countdown to “peak water”.

3. We alleviate hunger and starvation in emerging and developing countries, and avoid irreversible damage to the environment (growth of cereals, corn, soy, etc.).
However, this is for fuel production rather than food production.

4. No particulate and CO2 emissions, no stench, no noise.

5. Hardly any maintenance costs.

6. Running and maintenance of cars will become cheaper.

7. Anyone who neglects to prepare for emobility today, i.e. to implement power column loads when building car parks, or who fails to upgrade existing buildings must realise that he is planning or operating a building which will hardly have any value in around 10 years’ time.

8. Last but not least – an infinite amount of driving enjoyment!!!!

I have managed to drive almost all types of electric cars. I can therefore say that they are far superior to the internal-combustion engine in terms of agility. Not just the Tesla, but also all others and eRockit, within the comparative category. And they are also much more relaxing to drive.


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