1. Amusing statistic:

    When studying ethanol a few years back I looked up Cuban sugar production numbers. At the peak, they generated 186 million tonnes (I hope I have my units correct) using all-manual production. If converted to ethanol, that would be 10% of Canada’s car fuel use.

  2. An anecdotal commentary.

    I have travelled quite a bit in the interior of the state of Sao Paulo in Brasil and talked to people that live there. They tell me that before the large scale development of ethanol as a fuel source for automobiles, Sao Paulo State was an agricultural paradise producing a wide variety of food crops.

    When I stand on a roadside in Sao Paulo state now, all that can be seen, as far as the eye can see, is sugar cane. In some locations there is not a tree in site. I am reminded of the film “There Will be Blood” when Daniel Day Lewis’s character, Daniel Plainview, states “There’s a whole ocean of oil under our feet!”. Here there is an ocean of sugar cane.

    The efficiency of Brasilian ethanol production may be a technological achievement of some note. Another thing I notice when I drive through the agricultural regions of Sao Paulo state is that my windshield never kills a bug. There are no bugs left to splatter on my windshield. Needless to say birds are a rare sight as well.

    But hey, a litre of ethanol is half the price of a litre of gas, so who needs butterflies and birds. Drive on world!

    • Mike, thanks for this interesting note. Can you suggest any links to sources in Brazil mounting serious critiques of using agricultural resources for road fuel purposes?

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