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Earth Science

Is Alcohol Killing Our Planet? 468

Andy_Spoo writes "Something that I've been trying to get an answer to: Is alcohol killing our planet? Alcohol is a byproduct of yeast, but another is CO2. As we all know (unless you've been asleep for years), CO2 is helping to warm our planet, sending us into destruction. So how much is the manufacture and consumption of alcohol contributing to the total world CO2 level? And don't forget that bars and pubs force beer through to their pumps using large compressed cylinders of CO2. Does anyone know?"
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Is Alcohol Killing Our Planet?

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  • by MrNaz ( 730548 ) * on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @06:41PM (#27424657) Homepage

    "There" ?

    Over THERE wherever the poster is from, THEIR education system is so bad that THEY'RE making repeated mistakes over and over. THERE needs to be an improvement in THEIR attitude towards THEIR literacy. As long as THERE exists a culture of flippancy towards being properly literate, THEIR children will always respond to people correcting THEIR use of language with indignant responses scoffing at the need to be accurate in the use of language. THEY'RE constantly talking about things like "evolution of language" and that THERE have been many changes in the use of words over history, but THEIR mistake stems from the fact that THEY'RE completely disregarding the difference between language evolving to meet different circumstances, and language devolving due to the apathy and ignorance of those who speak it.

  • As we all know (unless you've been asleep for years)...

    Or you're good at selectively quoting the evidence.

    • Can you even classify the quoted material as evidence?

      At best, there is a correlation between CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere and the average temperature. Correlation does not imply causation.

  • It's never been funny. Just stop.

  • Without beer... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by alexandre_ganso ( 1227152 ) <surak@surak.eti.br> on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @06:44PM (#27424687)

    I wouldn't fart that much.

    Yea, we gotta stop.

    Stop worrying, I mean.

  • by Bezultek ( 1109675 ) on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @06:45PM (#27424693)
    Alcohol - The cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems.
  • Carbon from biomass is just cycling in and out of the atmosphere, no big deal.

    The problem is digging up carbon that has been buried for millions of years and releasing it (either directly into the atnosphere or into a place where it is likely to get released).

  • NO! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dmomo ( 256005 ) on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @06:45PM (#27424699)

    Slow News day? Correlation is not Causation? This thread is useless without pics? Whatever it takes; NO!

    For the love of all that's sacred... the answer is NO NO NO! Please dear God.. NO! Because without Alcohol .. does a world even exist?

  • is aliens probing us rectally?

    is beer causing global warming farts?

    how is babby formed?

    issues are the complicated. i try to thinks hard abouts them when i'm on the toilets. and i push reals hard and out come deep thoughts like: pubs cause global warming

    i am the smarts type person with the deeply thinking type stuff

  • CO2 is Balanced (Score:3, Informative)

    by kramer2718 ( 598033 ) on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @06:46PM (#27424705) Homepage

    Actually shouldn't have TOO much effect. I can't comment on the cylinders of CO2 used in pumping or carbonation, but the CO2 that the yeast releases is balanced by the CO2 which the plant absorb in order to produce the sugar that is fermented.

    As to how many petrochemicals/fossil fuels are used in the production/creation of those plants and that sugar, that's a different story, but that is less related to alcohol specifically and more to how our agricultural/transportation system function generally.

  • I'm pretty sure it's the apocolypse on December 21, 2012 that will kill our planet.
  • threatening my beer and whiskey. Just for that I'm gonna crack open a cold one and go fire up the grill, for no reason other than making mass quantities of CO2!
  • No net change (Score:5, Informative)

    by l79327 ( 174203 ) on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @06:47PM (#27424717)

    Ethenol is fermented from plant products, no net change in CO2. The CO2 in the keg system is taken from the air, no net change.

    First they came for my beer, and I said nothing.

  • Grains (Score:5, Informative)

    by cocodrylo ( 1521801 ) on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @06:47PM (#27424725)

    Alcohol is made from breaking down grains or other starches. Those plants gather CO2 from the air. So the consumption of alcohol doesn't really add to the problem. That is, at least only to the extent that agriculture does. If you're really worried about CO2 related to your food/beverage intake, you should cut back on meat, which has 8x-10x as much of a carbon footprint per calorie than grains. I guess alcohol would be somewhere in between.

  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) * <bruce@perens.com> on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @06:48PM (#27424727) Homepage Journal
    We all know that the posting of really silly, unscientific stories on Slashdot increases the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere due to the tremendous amount of electricity exhausted in the transfer, dowmloading, and display of those stories, not to mention the CO2 output of the readers, who, at least most of them, exhale carbon dioxide! Something must be done!
  • I'd doubt it. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MrCrassic ( 994046 ) <<deprecated> <at> <ema.il>> on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @06:48PM (#27424733) Journal
    I haven't done any research on this, but if I had to make an educated guess, I highly doubt it does, especially when placed in comparison to emissions from environmentally-unfriendly automobiles, CFCs from spray products and other ozone-depleting contributors. Additionally, correct me if I'm wrong, but I highly doubt that manufacturing beer emits tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

    If it does, then pop beverage would probably be just as big, if not a bigger, contributor to the greenhouse effect, which I highly doubt to be true.

    Good question.
  • The planet? No.

    Me? Yes.

  • by david.given ( 6740 ) <dg@cowlarkWELTY.com minus author> on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @06:50PM (#27424757) Homepage Journal

    ...because the carbon produced by yeast comes from sugar, which comes from plants, which comes from the atmosphere. Remember, it's only new carbon that causes a problem. Recycling atmospheric carbon is fine.

    Bottled carbon dioxide is likely to be new carbon, as one of the major production techniques involves decomposition of limestone with acid.

    And, of course, any energy used in the beer production is likely to come from fossil fuels, which will release fossil carbon into the atmosphere.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      And. or course, it's a very small percentage of the release of previously housed carbon.

      We gat all the cars to be electric, charged from Nuclear or industrial solar thermal then we might want to take a look at this. Maybe.

  • Only massive metabolizing can save us now. Pass it on.
  • COWS! (Score:2, Funny)

    Wouldn't you be more worried about the methane produced by cows and those who drink beer and eat buffalo wings?
    • Who's mom is like a slinky?

      Ooops, that just slipped in there.  But, I'm not worried about buffalo farts.  As others have pointed out, buffalo are just processing the carbon that was extracted from the atmoshpere a few weeks or months ago.  Not to be compared with releasing millions (trillions?) of tons of carbon that was bottled up in another age.
  • C02 gets pulled out of the air to make the plants you ferment to make booze, and the fermenting process lets some of this go, when you digest it the carbon becomes part of you or respirated out. Eventually all of the carbon goes back, its a cycle.
  • Brain cells? Yes.
  • This is the lamest April Fools' I've seen all day.

  • ... one liver at a time. (Pun intended)

  • Especially before you were born.

    Seriously, did you do any research at all before posting this? It's not even worth posting a link to "Let me google that for you".com

  • "And don't forget that bars and pubs force beer through to there pumps using large compressed cylinders of CO2. Does anyone know?"

    Where do you suppose bottled CO2 comes from? The same place to which it returns. The air. This looks like an April Fool's post (but you never know). It's really stupid but it's not that funny or clever.

  • by fermion ( 181285 )
    One issue to consider is the time frame. When we burn fossil fuels, we are releasing carbon and other particulates that have been sequestered for millions of years(this may be one reason why the young earthers do not believe in climate change). When one is burning fuel derived from new plant growth, the CO2 that has been processed through the plant last season is released the next season. The gap is not millions of years, but a sometimes a matter of months, not nearly enough time for the atmosphere and p
  • by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @07:15PM (#27424965) Homepage Journal
    "As we all know (unless you've been asleep for years), CO2 is helping to warm our planet"

    Instead, most of us have been "conditioned to know that CO2 is destroying the planet".  Big difference.
  • Assumning this isn't just an April Fools joke, might I suggest for the submitter membership in the No Cussing Club [nocussing.com]?

  • Just grow barley next to the beer plant:

    1. Plants absorb CO2
    2. Less transportation

  • I'm helping to kill the planet, one fine single-malt Scotch at a time.

  • by tjstork ( 137384 ) <todd,bandrowsky&gmail,com> on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @07:49PM (#27425287) Homepage Journal

    If climate change were all about a few extra breaths of CO2 and beer, we would hardly have a problem with CO2. It's difficult to really believe that man could actually have an impact on the planet. It is. The atmosphere is enormous, but then, so too are all the industries that provide us energy.

    The United States mines and burns, each year, about the same mass of coal as roughly 200 Great Pyramids. That which took nearly the entire ancient Egyptian economy, with all of their wealth, decades to produce, the USA does 200 times over, every year, and then burns it. You could almost say that the USA burns a great pyramid sized mountain of coal just shy of every two days the year. Nearly all the weight of that goes straight up into the atmosphere in the form of CO2. The carbon from the coal combines with oxygen, and there you go, you got 200 great pyramids floating around.

    If you doubt this, go take a drive to your local power plant. Chances are, its a coal fired unit. You should see rail lines coming to it, and, what looks like one or more big black hills sitting next to it. Those hills are piles of coal and they will be burnt in about 30 days. The trains that ship the coal are easily a mile long. Sure, you could drive past it in a minute, but take the time actually to imagine that the whole thing probably weighs about 3000 tons.

    By mass, that's enough coal to double the atmospheric concentration of CO2 over a fairly significant. Do the math. Take 3000 tons of carbon, and knowing that earth's atmospheric pressure is 15psi, of which a 300ppm is carbon dioxide, and see just how many square inches that trainload of carbon touches. It's a big number, and thousands of these trains cross America every year, each carrying mile long trains of coal from places like Wyoming all across the country.

    I did a back of the envelop calculation that shows that replacing all of this coal fired generation with windmills. If you use the windmills site being installed off of Delaware as a benchmark, you can calculate that it would take about 300,000 windmills to replace all of our coal.

    It is for this reason that energy businesspeople scoff at the green lobby. For the most part, environmentalists really do not understand the scale of what they propose. America's energy industry is just physically enormous. Conversely, you can't seriously take an energy man's claim that fossil burning can't effect the planet. Unlike other industries, energy executives usually have degrees in engineering and they can do or should do the calculations needed to see that the scale of their activities is in fact planet altering.

    Of course, I have not even touched on the natural gas and petroleum we consume. But, I can tell you this much. If you use 15 gallons of gas per week, you are putting about 300 pounds of carbon dioxide, straight into the air. How many square inches does it take to spread that out, just so that it doubles the amount of CO2 in the air?

    I'm not a greenie by any stretch of the imagination, as I've written plenty about enviro's being commies out to crush the USA... but it is pretty indisputable that our activities are planet consuming and that, as goofy and perhaps as evil as enviro's are, they are right on one fundamental point. We do have to manage the atmosphere. We do have to manage our ecosystem. We do have to view the earth as a closed system and we do have to understand the effects of our actions upon its chemistry and consequently our environment. There are just too many people with too many powerful tools consuming too much energy to do otherwise.

  • The Solution (Score:3, Insightful)

    by alfredo ( 18243 ) on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @11:18PM (#27426593)

    I drink Rye or a good Kentucky Bourbon.

    Jim Beam Rye is good and Cheap. Old Overholt and Wild Turkey Rye are good too.

    Eagle Rare, or Knob Creek as as good as it gets.

  • by NeuroManson ( 214835 ) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @07:09AM (#27428161) Homepage

    Considering there's almost 200% as many people drinking soda pop, one would think there's more of a threat from drinking a Coke than someone drinking a beer.

  • by zmooc ( 33175 ) <zmooc&zmooc,net> on Thursday April 02, 2009 @07:45AM (#27428317) Homepage

    Alcoholic beverages are a CO2-storage. All the beer that's stored somewhere in pubs or your fridge or basement contains CO2, which, therefore, is temporarily out of the atmospheric CO2-cycle. It sort of takes the place of that other CO2-storage, which we're slowly emptying, namely oilfields and the likes. The more alcohol we drink, the more has to be in storage, the more CO2 is temporarily out of the loop. Just like with wooden houses, carbon bikeframes and the likes.

    And, even better, since CO2 is used to pressurize taps for alcohol beverages, even more CO2 is out of the loop. The latter is even actually taken directly from the atmosphere!

    Also, alcohol consumption lowers the average lifespan of humans, thereby making the problem - humanity - smaller;-)

    But that's theory. Reality is a bit more painful; the amount of CO2 in alcohol is miniscule compared to the amount of CO2 that comes into the biosphere through the use of pesticides and fertilizer, which are mostly produced from natural gas. What you should understand, is that for everything you eat and drink, about TEN TIMES AS MUCH energy is needed to produce it than is contained within the food. Therefore, some people say, "we actually eat fossil fuels".

    http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/100303_eating_oil.html [fromthewilderness.com]

    So the bottomline is: yes, alcoholic is killing our planet. But that's not due to the fermentation process, which does not bring NEW carbon into the cycle. Instead, it is due to the energy that's added when growing and transporting it, which basically comes from fossil fuels. The same goes for most other foods and drinks; for each calory you eat, ten calories of fossil fuel were used to produce it.

    Possibly more interesting is that the fact that you ask this question shows your lack of understanding of the amount of CO2 that a simple car produces. There's about 50-60 gram of CO2 in a liter of beer. Using a liter of fuel in your car produces about 2500 grams of CO2. That's about 50 times as much. So, if you want to compensate for your beer consumption, just try to use 1 tank of fuel less a year; that'll give you enough CO2-credits to drink well over 20 beers each day, which should be more than enough:-)

  • by daem0n1x ( 748565 ) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @09:52AM (#27429431)

    Yeast do not create carbon from thin air. They convert the sugars in the plants (grapes or barley) into alcohol and CO2.

    The plants have absorbed that carbon from the atmosphere using photosynthesis.

    So the total sum of carbon added to the atmosphere is zero. And this is a dumb article.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982