It is a conundrum this ethanol. On the one hand, we know that gasoline made from oil, a finite resource, has a limited life. Once the oil runs out, no more gasoline. And as well, it pollutes the air with greenhouse gases, particulates, and cough-inducing pollution. Although ethanol-laced gasoline is supposed to produce the same emissions as regular gasoline -- not surprising since the ethanol content is so low, what else did the researchers expect? -- ethanol fuel is supposed to emit way less pollution, and it comes from a renewable resource: sugar cane for Brazilian cars, corn for North American.
On the other hand, it's been reported that the increased demand for ethanol has meant that there's less corn to feed the cows and people, as it's being diverted to feed our cars. This increased demand is a drop in the tank compared to what will happen if cars here convert to 100% ethanol. Then one wonders if we'll see houses razed to develop corn fields. And, as well, some researchers claim that ethanol raises the ozone levels (at ground level one presumes where one does not want it).
So what is an asthmatic environmentalist to do? Well, not much right now, as despite Prime Minister Stephen Harper's recent announcement, ethanol isn't going to be a major car fuel source anytime soon. But in the long run, which technology should one back? Ethanol, hybrid, hydrogen fuel cells, electricity? It's a toughie.