Research can lower oil prices, reduce dependency on
Research Paper – Biofuels and the World Food Shortage The morning commute of many Americans includes stopping at the local convenience store or gas station to fill up their vehicle’s tank and grab a portable breakfast. In this seemingly normal and routine act these Americans are performing two daily functions that much of the world cannot, either because of shortages, government regulations, or a lack of assets by which to do so.The starving and malnourished children that are pictured in television commercials in an effort to persuade individuals to donate money towards helping the world’s hungry can be seen on network television daily but leaves one to ask, “How can the money I donate be used to help them if the food is not available to be purchased? ” Moving on to the next crisis: the gasoline debacle.
Gasoline prices seem to rise every day as we hear the platform of every politician running for office trying to explain how we can lower oil prices, reduce dependency on foreign oil, and eliminate greenhouse gases.If any one of these topics could be accomplished, the politician would get certainly get elected and rise to fame. Eliminating greenhouse gases may even slow climate changes that resulted in droughts and floods, which have prevented us from growing food in the past (Sachs, 2008). Who wouldn’t want that? The answers seem reasonable and almost simple; we need only grow and create more food to feed the world’s hungry. All we must do now is utilize our farming techniques, land, and agricultural efforts to produce more for harvest.If there is more food, then the price will fall as demand drops and it will become more readily available to all people.
Problem solved, right? Then what of the gasoline woes? We need to reduce our emissions, oil use, and work domestically to fix this problem. Enter cleaner, safer, naturally grown, made in the USA ethanol. Ethanol can be used in place of gasoline, greatly reducing dependency of foreign oil, and together with modern automotive technology, ethanol may even be made to burn cleaner than gasoline (Halperin, 2006).
Ethanol use is so obtainable that it can even be made out of the same corn and sugar grown on our farms (Halperin, 2006). Another problem solved, all we must do is utilize our farming techniques, land, and agricultural efforts to produce more for harvest. That sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Perhaps a closer look is called for.
Let’s begin by closely examining the most consistently life threatening of crisis in the world, food shortage. The world’s hungry and malnourished seem to be multiplying as there are an estimated 925 million undernourished people in the world as of the year 2010 (World Hunger, 2011).The primary cause of hunger is poverty, which is why the vast majority of the world’s malnourished are in underdeveloped countries (World Hunger, 2011). Farmers in these countries cannot overcome the cost of growing food, where the expenses of seeds and fertilizer alone cripple their crops’ growth before even discussing the impossibilities of irrigation and harvesting (Sachs, 2008).
The cost of food itself is increasing as well, with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reporting were the highest its been in the 20 years of its existence (Rosenthal, 2011).As complying with the laws the supply and demand, as the world’s supply of food is lessened, the price of the food increases pushing the world’s hungry even further from nourishment. There is also an increase in need for feed grains, brought on by an increase in population and incomes in places like China that has lead to the consumption of more meat products (World Hunger, 2011). Cattle, chicken, pigs, and other animals must be fed gains in to supply the meat market, lessening the amount of grains grown to feed people. The effects of climate change are increasingly seen as causes of hunger and poverty as well. Increasing drought, flooding, and changing climatic patterns requiring a shift in crops and farming practices that may not be easily accomplished are three key issues.
” (World Hunger, 2011). All of these facts and causes lead to one undisputable position; there is simply not enough food. More food crops must be grown in areas able to do so and distributed accordingly in order to combat the negative effects of world hunger. Governments must pay more attention to farm lands and regulate the distribution of lands and ensure that farmers are using the land in order to grow food so that the shortage can be stopped.Now that we have a greater understanding of the world’s food shortage, let us examine the oil problem.
In the year 2010, the United States consumed 19. 1 million barrels per day of petroleum products (Energy Information Administration, 2011). That’s a lot of oil considering that a barrel consists of 42 US gallons. Although the United States is third in crude oil production worldwide, we as a nation, imported 11.
8 million barrels of oil, which would account for about half of our oil (Energy Information Administration, 2011). The dependency on this foreign oil is seen a matter of national security byPresident Obama, to the point where he has labeled oil as a “terrorist threat” (Gavrilovic, 2008). Hostile nations could use the money gained from oil profits to fund terrorism and such an extensive reliance upon foreign economies could have disastrous effects on our own (Gavrilovic, 2008). Furthermore, the environmental concerns surrounding the drilling, transportation, and use of oil are numerous. There is little to debate about the potentially negative and highly volatile nature of oil after witnessing the recent oils spills of BP in the Gulf of Mexico and the Exxon Valdez in the Prince William Sound.
These oil spills not only cause great environmental damage but also greatly raise the cost of gasoline to negatively impact the economy. Thus, the price of gasoline, an oil based product, is also subject of national discussion on a daily basis. As gasoline prices rise, many Americans are forced to change their lives greatly in order to survive economically. The solution to our oil problems seem quite simple as well, at least in theory; we must reduce our use of oil and increase the efficiency of our consumption while finding new technologies to do so.As a result, President Obama has called for higher fuel efficiency standards for automobile manufacturers with a national standard of 54. 5 mpg by 2025 in an effort to both reduce our consumption of oil and reduce dependency on foreign oil (Vlasic, 2011).
While this new program will hopefully improve our efficiency in oil consumption, additional measures must be taken to lessen use of oil. This leads us to the production, use, and utilization of ethanol. Ethanol is a fairly simple fuel, which is can be derived from corn, wheat, barely or sugar cane (Halperin, 2006).The fuel produced can be mixed with gasoline to fuel automobiles whereas currently much of the nation’s pump gasoline is mixed with up to 10% ethanol by which nearly all modern automobiles can operate normally (Halperin, 2006). At the same time, an increasing number of vehicles are being manufactured as “flex-fuel” with systems designed to run on gasoline or solely on E85 ethanol (Halperin, 2006).
Ethanol, being composed to a naturally grown crop and fairly simple in chemical composition, also has the ability to burn cleaner than gasoline (Halperin, 2006).Ethanol can be produced domestically with home grown crops, most commonly corn, which makes it a big player in the movement to reduce foreign oil and can help to keep American money invested in domestic products. Currently, ethanol is more expensive than gasoline but with government support and programs aimed at increasing its use, incentives and breaks may lead to a decline in its cost (Halperin, 2006). The farmers and growers of corn, wheat, barely and sugar cane have the most to benefit from its promotion and use.As an increase in the need and demand for ethanol is reached, more crops will be needed to fill the demand and the cost of the crops will increase. Farmers who had in the past grown and harvested crops intended to reach dinner tables may now redirect their product to automobile fuel tanks in interest of higher profits and tax benefits.
While the oil problem, both at home and abroad, may be fueled by our lifestyles’ excessive oil and fuel consumption, the food crisis has many contributing factors. The low productivity and inability to grow or care for crops by farmers in poor countries contributes greatly to the food shortage.Another factor is the contributing to droughts in places like Australia, Russia, and China (Rosenthal, 2011).
The increase in feed grains has also had damaging effects on the food crisis, but perhaps the most correctable cause of the world’s food crisis lies in the “misguided policy in the US and Europe of subsidizing the diversion food crops to produce Biofuels like corn-based ethanol” (Sachs, 2008). Both the solution to our oil problem and food shortage lay in the same place, as there is no doubt that our farm lands need to be used and that regulation of their use must be monitored.The monetary profit that may be gained by the agricultural developers of our nation right now may be limitless and if used incorrectly, like all power, may lead to an economic downfall.
With much to lose and all to gain, the United States government must step in to help solve world hunger and reserve more crops for food growth while maintaining the effort to lessen our oil use. While the growth in production of ethanol may be a long term solution to our dependency on foreign oil and may even lower greenhouse emissions gases the negative effects brought on by diverting attention away from food growth may be even most damaging.