Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard


God Save Us From Regulators

I’ve always questioned the overall wisdom of adding ethanol to fuel, for several reasons, but Engineering Explained really dives into numbers and studies and other details. It’s not a pretty picture.

“Regulators” promised it would cut CO2 emissions, but it’s not at all clear that is the case, and use of ethanol might even generate more CO2.

He takes the idea of regulators seriously in order to dissect the particulars of how it’s working out, and I’m glad he does, because those questions definitely need answers. Somebody needs to nail their foot to the floor on these prognostications and prescriptions. God knows nobody else will do it.

But I often like to back up even further and wonder about the very idea of “regulators”, because over many decades we have been conditioned to bestow unearned respect on regulators, the same respect we give Science. 

You know, serious, smart, sober guys with white lab coats who are only interested in uncovering Truth. 

This image is incorrect. It’s a narrative that has been built for you, and your opinions on it have been assigned to you, generally speaking. Even bright people succumb to propaganda over a long time period.

Regulators, best case scenario, act as a boat anchor on innovation and increase costs substantially. And in a worst-case scenario, they put their boot on your neck and threaten your livelihood and property. Either way, they do it from 9 to 5 every day and then go home to have dinner with the family. That’s just the gig.

In any case, as far as CO2 goes, has anyone ever asked, “hey, what if we plant more green growing things to take excess CO2 out of the air via photosynthesis?”

Has anyone ever asked whether we are even capable of defining “excess CO2”, much less managing it in our impossibly complex climate system that we still cannot model accurately? Is that even the goal, to model it accurately? Or is the goal mostly to stir up and exploit fear?

The climate system is too complex for mankind to understand 100%. We would have to understand every single interaction between the energy from the Sun, the atmosphere, the oceans, the water and air currents, land mass and urban heat island effects, and the impact of mankind. Without interference from, you know, Big Oil and Greens and tax collectors and everyone else with their thumb on the scale. 

And then, the cherry on the sundae, we are to believe that we, with all the aforementioned complexity, can and will design perfect tweaks that have precise and controllable impacts on just the part we want to impact and nothing else? 

Does that even sound like a thing? Maybe to you, but not to me. It’s not like we have a giant greenhouse lying around that simulates the Earth, the Sun, the solar system, the atmosphere, the oceans, the land masses, the air and water currents, etc, and we can experiment on it to see how things work, over and over and over again, to build a knowledge base and form theories that withstand scrutiny over time.

“Renewable” energy is a fine theory, I suppose, but if it is more expensive and less reliable than our current energy sources — and it surely is — then why do we want that in our future? The answer to that question is vital, and most are ignoring it.

And in any case, do we entrust government with important decisions on CO2 levels, how much is too much, and whether to do anything about it, and if so, what?

Mankind is often guilty of disastrous levels of hubris. This has all the markers of exactly that.