Last night a small group of us watched most of a DVD called Alcohol Can Be a Gas. I say we watched most of it because the film is 2 ½ hours long and, despite the gripping nature of the story, most of us were nodding off after two hours. The documentary chronicles the truth behind the petroleum industry and the reasons why we could become self-sufficient on plant-based ethanol fuels.
Today, Brazil, the world’s fifth largest country, is already self-sufficient in fuel because they’ve had their cars converted to run on alcohol derived from sugar cane using only 2% of their arable land.
David Blume is an ecologist, permaculturist and former organic farmer who was part of a project that fed (believe it or not) 450 people on 2 acres of land. Blume has been on a crusade of sorts for something like three decades to wake up the public and farmers to the possibilities of ethanol-fueled vehicles and to debunk the myths perpetuated by the multinational companies that thrive on the sale of petroleum-based products. I will give a brief synopsis of only some of Blume’s conclusions below. Be sure to watch it yourself or purchase Blume’s book of the same title:
v Internal combustion engines predated gasoline by forty years. The first cars ran on ethanol.
v Henry Ford saw the value of ethanol as a sustainable resource and fuel. His Model A was a dual-fuel vehicle that could run on gasoline (available in the cities) and ethanol (the country fuel). Alexander Graham Bell too supported alcohol as a fuel and predicted that gasoline would only last a few generations.
v Rockefeller, who controlled much of the oil at the time, had another agenda and used $4 million (a huge sum in the 20s) to lobby Congress to prohibit the production of alcohol. Thus began Prohibition as a means to eliminate Rockefeller’s fuel competitors, the farmers who distilled alcohol from their crops.
v Gasoline is a dumping ground for the incredible array of toxic wastes produced by the refining of oil into an equally incredible array of plastics, pesticides and the countless articles based on oil we consume today. Gasoline accounts for a miniscule proportion of oil company profits. After all, pesticides sell for $80/lb as opposed to gasoline at 15 cents/lb. In other words gasoline is legalized pollution and every shipment contains a different blend of toxic materials, depending on what was refined the day it was produced.
I’m going to stop now. The film contained too much myth-busting material to mention at this time. Suffice to say that Blume’s basic premise is that not only could we fuel the world’s cars on ethanol, but in doing so we would eliminate the need for products like Roundup, which accounts for 70% of Monsanto’s profits, and we would simultaneously improve the soil, reduce pollution (alcohol burns cleaner that gasoline), lessen global warming (alcohol produces far less heat than gas as a fuel) and return more profits to farmers instead of the handful of huge multinationals which benefit from the oil business.
In Search of Simplicity is a startlingly poignant real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life. John Haines hosts a popular weekly interview program, Voices from the North, from his place in paradise in New Zealand’s subtropical far north, and leads what he calls ‘playshops’ in voice, sound and communication.