Ethanol Effects on the Environment

Topics: Oxygen, Greenhouse gas, Carbon dioxide Pages: 3 (1265 words) Published: March 8, 2012
Mankind has relied on non-renewable resources for thousands of years, and only recently has it started to take its toll on the environment. Chemists have been experimenting with different types of fuels and adding to gasoline to make it more efficient. This is when ethanol made its debut into the fuel industry, as an additive to gasoline. Ethanol is put into gas as a combatant against water, which can find its way into fuel tanks of vehicles. It reduces the effect that this water has on the health of the vehicle, and as a result increases gas mileage, and also increases the amount of complete combustion. Ethanol consumption has severe drawbacks pertaining to its effect on the environment. Production of ethanol increases the formation of greenhouse gases. It also causes a problem for air pollution in cities and rural areas. Lastly, water pollution due to ethanol is escalating. As a result of the topics listed above, ethanol use has overall negative effects on the environment.

One would think that ethanol (which is made from corn), would reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the air since it is a plant. A common misconception could be that we burn it and release carbon dioxide, then the gas it taken back in by the crop and replaced with oxygen. People seem to forget there is more than one greenhouse gas; ethanol actually in turn creates more emissions. Larger demand of ethanol will increase the need for more crops, and as a result more land will have to be used. Whole forests have to be cut down to make room for the ethanol crops, and when trees are cut down they let out carbon dioxide. Each hector of forest that is cut down emits 351 tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. It would take 167 years to balance the effects of cutting down the forest, if ethanol reduces emissions by twenty percent. This shows that ethanol production is doing more harm to the environment, because one hector of forest will absorb more CO2 than a hector of corn. Corn...
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