Let’s stop obsessing about corn

Just an FYI, my Clean Break column on Monday discussed the debate around ethanol and criticizes skeptics who dwell on the weaknesses of corn-based ethanol without seeing the long-term potential and appreciating the technical progress around cellulosic ethanol. I recognize we still have plenty of work to do to drive down the cost of cellulosic ethanol production, but I do take issue with those pundits who claim we need some kind of technological breakthrough before we can move away from non-grain feedstocks such as corn. Fact is the inventions have been done and an immense amount of work is going on to make cellulosic ethanol production economically feasible and sustainable.

Let’s stop obsessing about corn

Just an FYI, my Clean Break column on Monday discussed the debate around ethanol and criticizes skeptics who dwell on the weaknesses of corn-based ethanol without seeing the long-term potential and appreciating the technical progress around cellulosic ethanol. I recognize we still have plenty of work to do to drive down the cost of cellulosic ethanol production, but I do take issue with those pundits who claim we need some kind of technological breakthrough before we can move away from non-grain feedstocks such as corn. Fact is the inventions have been done and an immense amount of work is going on to make cellulosic ethanol production economically feasible and sustainable.

Business heeds Stern warning

My story in today’s Toronto Star reflects on British economist Sir Nicholas Stern’s visit to Toronto yesterday. The fact that his presence managed to draw hundreds of business and political types — literally packing the room — is yet another sign that we’ve reach a tipping point in the climate-change debate. As the CEO of Shell Canada pointed out, a couple of years ago it would be difficult to attract so many business people to hear an economist talk about the environment. But Stern has become somewhat of a celebrity since he released his Stern Review last October and warned the world that acting decisively on climate change at minimal cost today will prevent certain economic collapse down the road as extreme weather, rising sea levels and droughts play havoc on the world economy.

Australia set to ban incandescent bulb

UDPATE: Here’s my take on the new ban and response from Canadian officials.

When a California lawmaker moved to ban the incandescent bulb, I loudly applauded but didn’t think the bill had a hope in hell. So it was with great surprise that I read stories this morning — click here and here — about Australia’s determination to actually do it. “The Australian federal environment minister, Malcolm Turnbull, said Tuesday that he would work with the states to get rid of incandescent bulbs by 2009 or 2010,” according to the International Herald Tribune. The ban is expected to be fully implemented by 2015.

Obviously, there’s a growing movement here that shows the days of the old-fashioned light bulb are numbered. Let’s hope Canada soon sees the light.