Sunday, February 11, 2007

Dystopian Speculation in an Ethanol Future

LET'S SEE WHAT ONE possible future might hold if we began to derive a substantial percentage of our automotive fuel from agricultural biomass.
  1. Issues relating to mass production, storage, and transportation of ethanol are resolved.
  2. Automotive and marine engine designers produce models better able to exploit ethanol blends.
  3. As with hybrid vehicles, the Federal Government and some states with poor air quality offer tax incentives to buyers of vehicles optimized for ethanol.
  4. Ethanol is adopted in all 48 contiguous states, slowly at first, then more swiftly as stations adapt (again, perhaps with Federal tax incentives) to handle the fuel.
  5. Over the next few years, petroleum drops in value by 50%. Smaller OPEC powers collapse, devouring themselves in riots.
  6. The larger OPEC countries take note and conspire to engineer a biological weapon — a fungus, a gene-ripping virus, something — capable of destroying ethanol-biomass crops.
  7. Overly focused on security theater, the U.S. government continues to fight the most recent threat and fails to authorize protection for future ones. As with 9/11, foreign operatives take flight lessons, this time for light, crop-dusting aircraft.
  8. Land is purchased around the now-massive grain- and switchgrass-producing regions of America, hangars are discreetly built, and planes are purchased with OPEC money.
  9. Those in the know buy oil futures.
  10. One clear day, scores of Cessnas take wing and crisscross a complacent nation. . . .
Why yes, both The Road Warrior and Car Wars were both part of my teen diet. If anyone needs me, I'll be somewhere in the Republic of Texas. Just look for the pimplicious purple station wagon with the axially mounted blast cannon.

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