Yet Another Unintended Consequence Of Ethanol Mandates/Subsidiesby Brad Warbiany
I’ve not been kind to the forces for ethanol. I’ve pointed out that demand for ethanol raises the price of food for poor people, how I’ve felt the pinch personally in increased prices for homebrew supplies, how the use of ethanol is wasting scarce water resources. Finally, I pointed out that ethanol actually increases pollution, not decreases it!
You’d think that’d be enough… But the hits just keep on a’comin… Researchers at my alma mater, Purdue, suggest that the increased land usage necessary to meet the demand for ethanol might disrupt migration patterns for dozens of species of migratory bird:
A new Purdue study suggests the demand for ethanol could fuel the decline of migratory birds by driving the elimination of small woodlots on farms, which many birds use for protection during migration.
Over two years, researchers found 76 species of migratory birds using those small wooded landing zones during their flights between Canada and South or Central America.
Dunning and Packett’s study suggests that the woodlots are as important to protect as larger forests.
Those trees are among the limited stopover areas birds have as they migrate over land. Open fields or cities could leave the birds susceptible to predators. The wooded areas also provide food, not just shelter.
But Dunning said there is concern that with the increased demand for ethanol, farmers and others may not see the value of the wooded areas and may cut down the trees to make more room to plant corn there.
“There are strategies for conserving forest for migratory birds, but those strategies emphasize the largest patches of forest,” Dunning said in a news release. “We found that even very small woodlots were filled with migratory birds at times. It makes us believe we also need to conserve the little patches of forest, not just the big ones.”
Sometimes I think it’d be hard to come up with a worse policy than ethanol.
But rest assured, as long as we have a Congress, I’m sure we’ll have plenty of contenders.