Our original feature documentary on ethanol production in the US, The Ethanol Effect, premiered this past Sunday on the WORLD channel. (We know, you were probably watching the debates. Don’t worry, you can watch it here. And locally in Detroit PBS this coming Monday, Oct. 17th.) If you aren’t familiar with the issues surrounding Ethanol, you might not know what, if anything, it has to do with the Great Lakes. You probably know it’s an alternative fuel made from corn, and that we are producing a lot of here in the US. And you may have heard that it’s friendlier for the environment than regular old gasoline. But, turns out, there is a side of ethanol that we are just now starting to get a fuller picture of, and that it’s not the panacea that we once hoped it would be. Recent studies, like this one from the University of Michigan, show that biofuel use has been associated with a net increase in carbon dioxide emissions. Those emissions lead to global warming. Ethanol production effects our Great Lakes basin, and the people in it, in these two major ways: it creates jobs, and it creates pollution. And the pollution it causes is linked to two things that we are seeing the effects of every day in our ecosystem: global warming and toxic algae.
We’ve put together two video snippets from The Ethanol Effect that touch on both of these connections. Here is a profile of Caro, Michigan, a town where Ethanol production was able to create enough jobs to offset by the loss of the auto industry there.
And here’s a profile of a boat captain and fisherman whose livelihood depends on the health of Lake Erie. Here he explains the problem with agricultural run-off from farms that are producing corn for ethanol production, and how that’s is leading to toxic algal blooms.
The Ethanol Effect will air again on MONDAY, OCTOBER 17 at 10pm ET on 56.1. For more information, click here.
READ MORE about ETHANOL PRODUCTION IN THE US:
Article from Union of Concerned Scientists
Article from The Environmental Working Group