Saturday, February 13, 2010

Loaves Or Ethanol

The Earth Policy Institute a commie think tank, suggests that more than a quarter of US grain production was swallowed up in fuel production in 2009. They figure that the 107 million tons of grain turned (at vast energy expense) into fuel for auto mobiles could have fed 330 million people. Which is a horrid statistic.

Which statistic makes for a brilliant headline but I'm not sure what it means exactly. If you don't think too hard about it, a headline of 330 million people goes a long way for effect but does one person eat one third of a ton of corn in a year? Beats me. Beyond the headline which makes it easy for reporters to write the story, the fact remains that the world's largest producer of corn poured way too much of it into producing fuel. I'm not going to suggest that ethanol corn would make great quesadillas but you know that the energy that goes into producing one kind of corn (ethanol) could easily go into another (edible). But it isn't and the US government wants to keep it that way to keep mid Western cultivators happy.

Ethanol is going into our tanks and reducing our gas mileage by ten percent and it costs almost the equivalent amount of energy to produce a gallon of burnable fuel. But there is a Federal subsidy involved to promote this madness, so ethanol is now a political fuel and if a few people in very poor parts of the world well, Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill and Monsanto thank them. In the same way we produce sugar in South Florida with enough of a federal subsidy to put five cents of your tax dollars into each candy bar you eat. And to do that they import Jamaican cane cutters to do the work Americans don't have the stamina to get done. They could just let the Caribbean islands grow the sugar and harvest it but federal subsidies skew the market. And so it goes.

Now I read that Bill Gates, still I believe the Richest Man In The World is calling on scientists to work on producing clean energy. Perhaps he will have the clarity of vision and purity of purpose to do what our political leaders can't possibly do; which is to accomplish the obvious.

Veteran Dawn

I was moved to get up for a dawn walk last week and I knew exactly where I wanted to go.It wasn't a particularly colorful sky by the time I parked the car at Veterans Park but it had been a long time since I'd seen a sunrise on a morning off work, so it looked good enough to be going on with.Veterans Park enjoys quite a lot of visitors of course in winter but also in summer when the shallow coastal waters are warm enough to wade in. There are plenty of waterside tables and barbecue grills making it a fine destination for a picnic.Your dog might like it too. Cheyenne did but she isn't very discriminating at all... she likes rooting around everywhere I take her. I hear from people who don't like the beaches in the Keys which isn't surprising. These are rocky islands and the "sand" you see is in reality finely ground up rock with a completely different consistency. The real sand found on hotel beaches in Key West is imported from the Bahamas by barge.The dark colored stripes on the beach are successive waves of sea grass washed up and left to rot in the sun. It is not an appealing mixture to people who want long sandy beaches, such as those found on the mainland of Florida. However I am not that fond of beach vacations so these modest efforts do well enough for me. Then let us not forget that Highway One is never far from sight:That car headed north was about to enter the famous Seven Mile (11 km) bridge to Marathon. Veterans Park is not much more than a dip at the side of the roadway:However even though the sound of traffic is never very far away the waterfront Tikis offer a pleasant view to the south: And the washed up seaweed is an object of fascination for wading birds like these sandpipers:
It was lovely and peaceful standing at the water's edge with no one in sight, just me and the birds and a big yellow dog worrying the dumpster.I have no idea what got into her head but she started running down the beach, not going in the water as she has never been taught to swim.
I just stood there with Nature doing it's thing all around me.
I don't think I should like snow and ice and all that seasonal stuff. I would hate to be standing around Up North envying birds migrating south in the Fall.Veterans Park is very civilized with splendid clean bathrooms and a special cement Tiki:The straw Tikis aren't entirely accessible seeing as how they built on sand:
Veterans park is small and tucked in the shadow of the Seven Mile Bridge but it is barely 15 minutes north of my house and it is one of my favorite stops. I suppose it is the last stop before one gets on the bridge so it is really the turn around point when I come this way.
And there out on the water south of the bridge one can see the spoil islands in the morning mist:
And the long line of power poles marching north alongside the bridge.
But by then, the sun was coming up...
...and as it broke free of the clouds I decided it was time to go home.