At Detroit’s premier auto show this January,
unveiled plans for an unlikely “green”
–a 6.75-foot-wide model that will run on ethanol. Eager to appeal to an increasingly petrol-wary public, GM also recently struck a deal with energy company
to investigate cheaper methods of producing ethanol. Overall, ethanol production is on track to reach an estimated 11.4 billion gallons this year and as much as 35 billion gallons by 2017.
Putting aside the hype, ethanol’s environmental credentials leave much to be desired. Converting corn into fuel is a resource-intensive process that actually uses more energy than it produces. Corn also requires more insecticides, herbicides and nitrogen fertilizer than any other crop, to say nothing of the 1,700 gallons of water needed to produce one gallon of ethanol. If scaled similarly to the smaller Hummer H3, the HX will require almost 450 pounds of corn to fill its twenty-three-gallon tank with pure ethanol. That’s enough corn calories to feed one person for an entire year. At a fuel efficiency of barely fifteen miles per gallon, a full tank will get the “outdoor adventure” vehicle approximately 345 miles closer to nature. BRETT STORY
A PREMATURE ANTIFASCIST:
during the Spanish Civil War, he wrote to his girlfriend in Brooklyn, “Ernest is quite childish in many respects. He wants very much to be a martyr….” One year later, Wolff was commanding the
Abraham Lincoln Battalion
, the US volunteers who fought against
‘s fascist rebellion.
After Madrid fell in 1939, Hemingway, who once described Wolff as “tall as Lincoln, gaunt as Lincoln,” foresaw his comrade’s future: “He is a retired major now at twenty-three,” wrote Hemingway, and “pretty soon he will come home as other men…came home after the peace at Appomattox Courthouse long ago. Except…[now] no good men will be home for long.” Before Pearl Harbor,
William “Wild Bill” Donovan
‘s Office of Strategic Services asked Wolff to recruit Lincoln Battalion veterans for Allied intelligence, welcoming their left-wing contacts in occupied Europe. Their work contributed to victories in Italy and Normandy, but a military blacklist named Wolff a “premature anti-fascist”–the first of his many fights with anticommunist witch hunters. “When you stop struggling,” he avowed, “you are dead.” Wolff died at 92 of heart failure in Berkeley, California, on January 14, an inveterate antifascist. PETER N. CARROLL
SUPER BOWL SLAVERY:
is the sponsor of the 2008 and 2009 Super Bowl halftime shows. It also runs one of the world’s largest rubber plantations, in Liberia. There, in a structure akin to modern-day slavery, workers are shackled by a quota system that withholds pay unless a set number of trees are tapped each day. Firestone says this number is 650, but rubber tappers place the number at 1,125. According to a CNN report, it would take a tapper twenty-one hours each day to reach even the lower rate. This unattainable quota forces workers to bring their children to work or risk losing the meager daily wage of $3.19; children as young as 7 are working on the plantation.