Mr. Oelschlaeger's letter in the May 23, Page 9 issue seems to me to be a good example of a short-sighted view for the future. His complaint regarding the renewability of corn misses the point of what can be done if we put our collective minds to solving a problem.
First, stating that tractors must use gas to move ignores the fact that diesel engines using biodiesel can now reduce the energy consumption by 20 percent — without considering the greater efficiency of the diesel engine.
As a good example, the University of Colorado operates its campus bus fleet with fuel produced from fryer fats. Additionally, technology is available to operate vehicles with ethanol. The state of Nebraska uses ethanol-powered vehicles in some of its fleet. Brazil for years has used ethanol as a fuel, produced from its abundance of sugar. With the increasing cost of crude oil, certainly these renewable fuel sources should become of more interest.
As to the loss of topsoil, there seems to be a remedy for this if we work at in a reasonable manner. Again it is something that has been done for many years in Europe. One need drive through the countryside in the springtime to notice the unmistakable odor of “farmer's perfume” from the spreading of cow manure well-mixed with straw that farmers accumulate over the winter. Drive by the cattle feed lots in the West and you will see mounds of manure that could be composted to provide large quantities of material to rejuvenate the land. Add to that composting of yard waste, which can provide enriched soil. Use of such materials not only will help build the soil, but will reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers, which now require the use of crude oil.
Certainly we can come up with better solutions than “using up every last barrel of someone else's nonrenewable crude oil.” Let's save that oil for making the plastics many of us depend upon for our livelihoods and develop alternate sources for energy.
Robert L. McBrayer
Lincoln Park, Mich.