¿How many fields the size of Texas would we have to plant and harvest to get enough alcohol to keep the gasoline guzzling cars happy for a year?

8.617 million barrels per day times 42 gallons per barrel equals 361.9 million gallons of gasoline per day. 361.9 million times 365 days in a year equals 132,100,000,000 gallons per year,

A ratio of 275 gallons alcohol to 174 gallons gasoline means 275 divided by 174 then times 132.1 billion per year equals 208.8 billion gallons of alcohol required per year.

208.8 billion gallons per year divided by 300 gallons per acre equals 695.9 million acres

695,900,000 divided by 167,689,600 = 4.15 fields the size of Texas.

¿Have you ever traveled across Texas in a car?


¿How much potential to do work does that equal?

Each gallon of gasoline, at 20% efficiency of conversion through the internal combustion engine, can do 8.8 kWh of work. A man can physically work at the rate of 0.075 kWh. 8.8 divided by 0.075 = 117 hours of human work potential per gallon. 117 times 132,100,000,000 = 15,400,000,000,000 hours. 15.4 trillion hours divided by the estimated US population of 285,075,672 (Sept 6, 2001) equals 54,216 hours of potential human work for every man woman and child in the US.`

—Food, Energy, and Society, by David Pimentel and Marcia Pimentel; pg. 13.

In gasoline alone, we burn up enough potential work to equal in one year

26 years of hard, sweaty, 40 hour weeks without vacation, for each person.


From here we might ask ourselves ¿what is gasoline really worth?

Let us be conservative and purposefully underestimate the value so that we can be confident in our conclusion. So, we will take into account the energy cost of constructing and delivering the machinery that we use to replace our own labor as being equal to the amount of fuel we might use in the machinery, or half and half. Thus, we have a final use value of one-half the 117 hours, or 58.5 hours of labor replacement per gallon of gasoline.

In as much as it would not make sense to use gasoline just to replace our own strength on a one hour to one hour basis, let us assume that we would use a gasoline powered device when it would be at least twice as efficient as our own strength. In this light then, we will count only those hours which give a return to the usage of gasoline at least double the time invested, which would be 29.25 hours per gallon. In a society that pays a worker a minimum wage of at least $5.00 an hour, this would make gasoline worth as much as 29.25 x $5.00, or $146.25 per gallon.

This is the breakeven value; it is theoretically worthwhile to pay this much for gasoline in terms of substituting for human labor, and any price below this amount represents the potential conversion of energy into capital. Thus, has capital been accumulated.

 

 

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