Changing or improving global warming is going to have to be a change in the way we think and act. It must be a social change first. But Ethanol is seen as a possible replacement for some fossil fuels. Fossil fuels being a lead cause of global warming, it would very likely improve our fight for changing global warming.
Ethanol COULD help with global warming. But not in its current state. Currently, ethanol can only be made from simple sugars, such as those in corn and sugar cane. Because this represents such a small part of a plant, LOTS of land must be used to grow crops such as corn. This requires the use of LOTS of fossil fuels. Also, since most of the plant material simply decomposes after the plants die, simply growing the plants doesn’t really do anything to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere in the long term. What would help is if an economical way could be found to make ethanol from cellulose. Since ALL plants are composed primarly of cellulose, this means that all of the plant could be used to make ethanol (rather than just a small part of it). FAR less land would need to be cultivated. So you could get MUCH more ethanol from a given amount of fuel used to cultivate the land, pump irrigation water, etc.
In addition, cellulosic ethanol would not compete with food uses of farmland. For instance, corn could be used to feed people, while the inedible parts of the plant (ie stalks, cobs, husks, etc) could be used to make ethanol. Furthermore, ethanol could even be made from crops which are able to grow on marginal land (useless for other crops) using little water OR water that is unsuitable for other uses (like maybe seawater). But all of this requres an economical process to make ethanol from cellulose. Until that happens, ethanol will do little to nothing to help with global warming.
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