Someone should let Obama and McCarthy know that John Deere doesn’t have the electric or solar-powered tractor on the drawing board. It turns out the battery for such a tractor would be larger than the tractor itself and would have to be recharged on an hourly basis. One might as well try inventing an electric airplane. Let’s face it, some mechanical devices are simply destined by the laws of physics to make use of fossil fuel.
Fossil fuel provides a whopping 20,000 man-hours of energy per barrel of oil, which sells for less than $100. This means that even if tractors and harvesters are only 50-percent efficient in converting fuel into work, they’re still operating at less than one penny per man-hour. (W = Fd, where W is work, F is constant force of magnitude, and d is distance.) And this, in essence, explains why we in America pay roughly half what Europeans pay for food. Not only do American farmers make use of more advanced technologies on their farms, but they pay far less for the fuel it takes to put a crop in and harvest it efficiently.
Do you feel like doubling your grocery bill? No… neither do I. But there are many urban activists out there who actually envision what they refer to as a “sunshine-based” food economy. But with American farmers accounting for a whopping 37 percent of America’s current greenhouse-gas emissions − due primarily to their reliance on fossil fuels − anyone who’s ever actually worked on a farm knows diesel and gasoline are here to stay. As such, any attempt to “transform” the nation’s energy-use by discouraging the use of diesel and gasoline, perhaps through the regulatory introduction of a carbon tax, will only drive up every American farmer’s fuel bill, thereby driving up the cost of food.
The only renewable alternative to fossil fuel which is even worthy of consideration at present is of course biofuel, which is fuel derived from crops. The problem though, is that this dream constitutes a huge logical inconsistency. If farmers are forced to grow more crops for biofuel instead of food, they’ll sooner or later run out of land for food production. And to even believe that at some future date it might become possible for farmers to grow enough crops to feed everyone AND provide all the fuel America needs − much of which, I remind you, farmers themselves use − one must essentially embrace a belief in the concept of perpetual motion. And surely every sound-minded person knows that’s impossible.
Then there’s algae. But while publicly-funded experiments are indeed underway to produce biofuel from algae, why would anyone volunteer to pay through the nose for food and fuel in the meantime while this technology remains in its infancy? At the end of the day, biofuel in any form, along with it the whole concept of a “sunshine-based” food economy, is little more than a joke, at least from any serious scientific perspective. Rising food costs on the other hand, well that’s no joke, especially with so many Americans out of work.
Let’s all hope and pray that Gina McCarthy quietly rides out her term at EPA and that she doesn’t make any serious attempt to achieve politically what science dictates is physically impossible.