Re: Differing views of oil reserves

From: Spike Jones (
Date: Tue Aug 08 2000 - 14:33:20 MDT

> Another matter is the continued development of non-petroleum
> based transportation fuels...

>Bonnie wrote: Being a plant-person I'd really like to see more
research on growing
>appropriately GM plants for fuel.

I did a back of the envelope calculation on this question:
Assuming no GM, what if we used all the land now under
cultivation to grow corn, which is then distilled into
alcohol to burn in our guzzlers? How much would our
oil consumption drop?

Corn yield/acre about 150 bushels / acre:

Ethanol yield about 2.5 gal / bushel:

Energy consumed in corn production & ethanol production:
Agriculture: 25%
Production: 33%
Total: 58%

So net yield is 42% of gross yield, so

Net yield 150 * 2.5 * .42 = 157 gal / acre

Total US Farm land in 1990 from Almanac: 988,000,000 acres

Ethanol 7.6E4 BTU / gal

Imagine all US farmland in corn, 1.6E2 * 9.9E8 * 7.6E4 = 1.2E16 BTU

Total US petroleum products consumption in 1989: 3.4E16 BTU.

So if all the proles now growing anything grew corn instead, and we
it and burned it in our detroits, we would displace about a third of
the oil currently being used.

We use a loooootta energy. Note, however that in 1960 there was
more land under cultivation than today. Furthermore, if one ever
takes a flight across the U.S. one sees vast tracts of land, vaaaast
tracts, simply lying fallow, going to waste! Not being used to make
fuel for my guzzler at all, but rather simply being infested by wild
beasts and filthy vermin! Utterly deplorable.

Nowthen, if we all went with the new highly efficient hybrid fuel autos,

our demand would drop dramatically. Furthermore, with appropriate
GM, {both Genetic Modification and General Motors} totally renewable
energy transportation is within our grasp. spike

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