We were treated to a surprise visit from one of Senator Obama’s science advisors, Sharon Long of Stanford University. She spoke for a while about bama’s science policies — nothing that hasn’t been written about ad-nauseum on the blogosphere already. But there was one question, asked by David Ehrenstein of Physical Review Focus, that I found interesting.
He asked about Obama’s support of corn ethanol. Scientists say that corn ethanol is a bad way to deal with energy issues — you create more carbon dioxide harvesting the corn than you save by using the ethanol. Yet it tends to be supported because it helps farmers in corn states. What is Obama’s vision, why is he supporting ethanol? Dr. Long responded that, of course, Senator Obama currently represents the state of Illinois, so his platforms are influenced by the interests of that state. She can’t speak to his campaign plans, but as a scientist she does agree that corn ethanol is not a sustainable solution. There is too much energy input for amount of energy output. No scientist thinks that massive monoculture is a good idea. As science advisor, she would give advice that supports the overall stability of croplands in the U.S.
I just thought that was interesting.