The Pros and Cons of Ethanol as a Renewable Source of Energy

5374 Words 22 Pages
I. Introduction

One of the most hotly contested debates in today’s realm of environmental concern is how to secure energy for the maintenance and improvement of quality of life in the future. To date, humanity has been blessed with plentiful reserves of cheap crude oil, which can be refined into a multitude of items that make the lives of many so convenient—gasoline, heating oil, natural gas, plastics, and fertilizers. In some parts of the world, these technologies merely facilitate survival. But concern over what happens when these supplies dwindle is universal. Science has revealed that oil will not last forever at the rate it is being consumed. Therefore, alternatives must be developed that can provide sustainable
…show more content…
Fossil fuel consumption in the United States is colossal. In Colorado, the average household uses 70 million Btu of energy from natural gas and 150 million Btu from gasoline in 2000. (Energy Information Administration) That’s around 1,320 gallons of gas per household, per year. (US EPA) In that same year, multiply that by Colorado’s 1,658,238 households (US Census Bureau) and find that the state’s residential sector consumed around 2,188,874,160 gallons of gas at the turn of the century. Per capita, Colorado ranks just 36th amongst the states in energy consumption. (Energy Information Administration)

This does not begin to tell the whole story. On the whole, keeping with Colorado as an example, we in this state used 1.35 quadrillion Btu of energy in 2003, about 1.4% of the U.S. 98.6 quadrillion Btu, with just over 2% coming from renewable sources. Also in 2003, the world was calculated as using about 421 quadrillion Btu of energy (around 6% coming from renewables). (EIA Energy Outlook) The U.S. produces less than a fifth of this. (USGS) Ever hear someone throw out that statistic that America, with just under 5% of the world’s population, uses around one fourth of the world’s energy? It’s true. Translation: the U.S. is horrifyingly vulnerable to a shut-off of foreign oil supplies.

As petroleum supplies inevitably dwindle, renewable energy sources like wind, solar, hydrothermal, and biofuel…