Consequences of Conservation Efforts
Have you read the Rachel Carson story yet (see Story Time)? Rachel Carson worked at a time when DDT was a common insecticide. Everyone thought it was about the safest bug killer available, and it was used with apparent success for many years. But then people noticed that certain bird species populations were declining. Especially alarming was the U.S. national symbol, the bald eagle. Click here to read about the eagle recovery program. Closer study revealed that bald eagle eggs were cracking and preventing chicks from developing and hatching. Without reproduction, no species can survive. The cause was attributed to DDT, which causes thinning of egg shells. This was an unintended consequence of using the insecticide. And so DDT was banned from use in the U.S. and many countries of the world.
populations are increasing, causing an increase in the spread of
malaria. DDT was, and is, our cheapest insecticide, and Third World
countries cannot control mosquito populations without cheap
insecticides. But DDT is banned. While we have probably saved some bird species, we
have allowed human malaria to
kill thousands more people around the world.
Clearly, we must stop using so much fossil fuel, such as oil, which is used to make gasoline for our cars and trucks. Fossil fuels, once burned, cannot be replaced. They are not renewable. In a world that will someday run out of oil (estimates range from 20 to 100 years), we simply must find alternatives.
University researcher, David Pimentel, has found that it takes more
energy to make alcohol than alcohol supplies for gasohol. It takes 70%
more energy (which comes from fossil fuels) to produce alcohol than
alcohol produces. Click
here to see the data and calculations. A gallon of alcohol costs at
the time of this writing $1.74 a gallon to produce. Gasoline costs
$0.95 per gallon to produce. That is why fossil fuels are used to
produce the heat needed to make alcohol. Notice that alcohol costs more than the
air is open to debate. The Environmental Protection Agency suspects that
alcohol production plants are polluting the air with carbon monoxide,
methanol, and other chemicals.