E85 Boondoggle of the Day: Define "Sustainable"

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
e85 boondoggle of the day define sustainable

"There have been many articles about forced labor in Brazil and also ecological issues, deforestation of the rain forest, local pollution," says Anders Fredikson, vice-president at Swedish ethanol importer Sekab. "We are in the business and know many are exaggerated, some are false." Of course, that also means that some of the claims about Brazilian ethanol production are true. But you can't blame Fredrikson for playing with weasel words. The guy helped broker a deal to import 115 million liters of anhydrous ethanol from South America that "adheres to certain social and environmental standards." OK, we're listening. "Mills must use at least 30 percent mechanized harvesting today and increase this to 100 percent by 2014. An independent international company will audit all the groups production units twice a year." Wow! Twice a year! That's, what, once more than once a year. And it's not like these companies might attempt to hide any transgressions in an attempt to, say, save tens of millions of dollars in capital expenditure. The UK's Guardian newspaper isn't nearly so cynical. "At least 10 groups around the world are currently discussing sustainability standards for ethanol and a certification criteria that could be adopted worldwide but no decision has been taken yet about this. Brazil's industry expects to meet part of the world's demand for alternative fuels in the coming years and is preparing to address growing concerns about environment and social concerns related to ethanol production." Ready, set… ethics!

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  • Seoultrain Seoultrain on Jun 26, 2008

    Can we get the uncropped version of this picture to add to the T "T&A" C series?

  • 97escort 97escort on Jun 26, 2008

    I find it ironic that alternative fuels like ethanol or biodiesel have to jump hurtles of sustainability when the most unsustainable fuel is oil. Crude oil in a finite resource the use of which at current rates and projected demand rates is unsustainable. Why then insist that alternatives must be sustainable? Makes no sense. Evidently sustainability like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. To my eyes the model pictured is less than attractive, maybe even repulsive.

  • Alex Rodriguez Alex Rodriguez on Jun 26, 2008

    97escort Common Sense and Logic do not prevail in the Ethanol discussion. Don't you know that "you can't Ethanol your way to energy independence?" Just like you can't you cant (Drill, Nuclear, Coal, Wind, Hydro) your way to energy independence either. The only solution is to conserve, because you CAN CONSERVE your way to energy indepedence. I know this because CNN told me so.

  • Psarhjinian Psarhjinian on Jun 26, 2008

    Alex, It's true. Despite that CNN says it, it's true. Energy resources are finite: eventually, you'll use more than what you can produce. If you drill, you're stuck with a finite supply; if you farm--currently--it might be worse as you're looking at a net-negative source. Eventually, you'll have to pay the piper. If you want energy independence, you leave to live within your means in terms of production-vs-consumption. This is true even in oil-rich nations; it's hard in a place like the US, where supply is completely outstripped by demand. I'm not adverse to nuclear energy, but it is true that there's a lot of money thrown at the supply side of the equation that could probably have had more effect when thrown at the demand side. The problem, of course, is that the vested financial interests are all on the supply side; demand-side reduction providers (contractors, consumers) don't have nearly the clout.