Ethanol, Shmethanol

Darn it! Ethanol, whether from corn, switchgrass or sugar beets/cane, really isn’t the magic bullet that will slay the dragon of our petroleum addiction. Neither is biomass fuel the magic wand that will poof! away our dependence on fossil and atomic fuels electrical generation. (Check out the wonderful dialogue of the learned in the “Letters” section of the 23 June ’06 Science Magazine. www.sciencemag.org [subscription’])

Of course there are no magic bullets/wands lying around these days anyway, except among Harry Potter and his ilk.

The thing is, we shouldn’t get discouraged when our latest magic gets debunked. Ethanol, biomass, wind power, photovoltaics, geothermal, wave power, etc. have all had their moments in the “magic” circle. The genuine wizards recognize that the potent magic will come from the agglomerated minor miracles of the various “alternative” energy techniques.

We (my learned wife and I) are on the verge of trying one of these minor alternative miracles, a solar water heater. I’ll keep you informed as to whether it: 1) “Pays for itself in only three years;” 2) Becomes a boondoggle here in the boondocks; 3) Cures us of our hot shower addiction.

Of course the real problem here in New Mexico is having enough water, hot or cold. And so far I haven’t heard about “alternative water.”

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