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Cellulosic Ethanol: Great potential or wrong mentality?

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Understanding the pros and cons of any energy source.
  3. The process of breaking down plant matter into a biofuel like cellulosic ethanol.
  4. The efficiency of biorefineries.
  5. The USDA and DOE.
  6. Flaws in gaining the plant matter from agricultural sources.
  7. Conclusion.
  8. Works cited.

On December 9, 2008, the BBC reported that, ?countries will need to make big cuts in greenhouse gas emissions if ?dangerous' climate change is to be avoided? (Black, Poor Countries Need Carbon Cuts). Unfortunately, the fact that our actions as inhabitants on this earth have caused major climate changes has become common knowledge, and in some cases has become political rhetoric. While an awareness of the state and condition of our global climate is vital, this awareness has been met with political opposition, industrial setbacks, and a general, public apathy. There is a hope on the horizon, however, as more people, businesses, and government sectors are pledging to go green. Furthermore, there is a daily discourse and push for legislation demanding that the governments of the world do something about global climate change.

[...] The USDA and DOE have also provided extensive research in compiling the potential risks associated with a dependence or investment in cellulosic ethanol, particularly the plant matter originating from forestry. One major factor will be terrain. As 25% of the cellulosic ethanol is supposed to come from forests, there will be high costs in order to remove the plant matter. In order to offset these expenditures, the USDA recommends, ?Separating and marketing larger-diameter trees for conventional (higher- valued) forest products,? as it, ?would be necessary to help defray the costs of dealing with large numbers of small-diameter material? (Biomass As Feedstock For A Bioenergy and Biproducts Industry, pg. [...]

[...] We are aware that while cellulosic ethanol would offer potential energy relief in this country, underdeveloped nations would not be able to follow in our footsteps. Competitive industries and a self important perspective have led to countries competing with each other and forcing major climate change upon the planet. Our foreign policy in this country is usually one of great pride, which can sometimes lead to ignorance and lack of sensitivity for global issues. Unlike scientific achievements of the past such as arms races or space races, the race to achieving alternative energy sources and cutting carbon emissions is one we must run together as a global community. [...]

[...] Perhaps the quick fix that cellulosic ethanol offers is just what this country needs, though, especially when one considers the words of Senator Richard Lugar when he stated, ?With the absence of a major reorientation in the way we get our energy, life in America is going to be much more difficult in the coming decades? (Romm, pg. 63). In understanding the pros and cons of any energy source, it is important to first understand how it works and how it is produced. [...]

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