The ethanol craze in my opinion came from everybody (finally) becoming aware of global warming and other dangers to the environment and then getting into a sort of panic about it. It is difficult to think of something as catastrophic as climate change being inevitable and closing fast. So people wanted a solution quickly and ethanol seemed like the best choice at the time. The problem is the answer to climate change and protecting the environment is not a one-part answer, there are many things that have to be done in tandem.
Everyone seems to be thinking only about ethanol, and the government is passing recommendations and subsidies to help the ethanol industry. I have a question however; don't you think that maybe these laws, while helping ethanol, will stifle further innovation and discovery? Maybe better ideas that are slowly becoming realized (that may be better than ethanol) will have trouble because everyone will use ethanol if it is artificially cheaper?
We as a nation really need to face the facts: Ethanol is a crappy fuel. It requires an entire infrastructure reworking, it is hygroscopic, but it makes a great fuel additive. Lab research needs to continue to find a long-term scalable (preferably 100% octane) fuel that we can use. Ethanol can always be used as an additive and other things.
Of course in my opinion for the long-term perfect answer is plug in hybrids or full out electric cars. The only problem with this is it is terribly inefficient to burn coal to make electricity to charge your car. So the source of our electric power needs to be different: solar, wind and geothermal, would be the long-term perfect energy sources. However, since we can't totally replace our power supply with those overnight, we need to continue with our current methods. The problem is we need to get off coal power fast, maybe we could use nuclear energy as a sort of transition source while we slowly phase in solar, wind and geothermal. Electricity can be used to power almost anything. Of course we will still be using fuel to do various things, and that is fine as long as it comes from a renewable and carbon-neutral source.
Another thing we need to collectively do that we can do right now is save as much energy as possible. But while we do that we need to find new renewable, environmentally friendly sources of energy because our need for energy will only keep growing and growing. We don't want to be inconvenienced by saving too much energy and therefore hampering growth.
As for governments that need to be involved in this we can't waste time arguing who is going to cut back first and which countries are at fault most, it doesn't matter. China and India can't just keep building coal plants like crazy, but we can't blame them for it. It is ludicrous that the US is complaining how much pollution China is creating when we are the #1 carbon emitter. The US government needs to take steps to cut back on environmentally unfriendly practices before blaming others of doing the same thing. And then we need to make those technologies and methods available to other countries to encourage them to do the same. And if all else fails, place tariffs, sometimes money talk the best. Of course we can't do any of this if we are at fault (not to mention more at fault) of the same thing.
Note that this is just a very brief view of what needs to be done. There are many other ways to get energy that I didn't mention such as biomass and others. This is only my two cents and a rant and merely scrapes the surface of the problem. Thank you for reading.