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Lamberty Report: "If a Tree Falls in the Rainforest"
by Ron Lamberty

So I says to the Llama, I says “Hey, Llama, how about a little something – you know – for the effort?” And he says “There won’t be any money involved here, but on your deathbed, you will receive… total… consciousness.” (Actually this was not the Dalai Lama, it was a llama at the petting zoo – and he just kind of snorted and spit, but I knew what he meant.)

The Llama continued on, saying “Perhaps, oh wise ethanol man, you might be able to help me with something that, even being the wise philosophical beast that I am, I cannot understand. I know that there is considerable debate over whether a tree falling in the forest – with no one around to hear it – makes any sound. But I cannot wrap my walnut-sized llama brain around how that same falling tree in a country bordering my homeland in South America is caused by some farmer deciding to plant corn two years in a row or some guy putting fifteen percent ethanol in his Buick?”

I shrugged and said “I know, right?”

The Llama said that he had been so troubled by the concept of Indirect Land Use Change that he journeyed from his native Andes Mountains to the Himalayas in Tibet to speak to the Dalai Lama himself (surprisingly, no relation – who knew?) The Llama said to the Lama, “Dalai Lama, if a tree falls in the rainforest…”

The Dalai Lama interrupted, “YES, it makes a sound! It ALWAYS makes a sound. Please tell me you didn’t come all the way up here with that lame question! But, hey, if you did, here’s a couple more that probably have you in knots: The sound of one hand clapping is silence, and the meaning of life was most accurately summed up by Yogi Berra when he said ‘Wherever you go, there you are.’ Now get out of my sight – you are wasting my time!”

“You didn’t let me finish, Lama,” said the Llama. “The principles of Indirect Land Use Change say that when a person fills his car with corn-based ethanol, that somehow leads to a tree falling in the rainforest. What do corn farming and ethanol use in North America have to do with trees being cut down on other continents? Is there some connection I am not understanding?”

The Dalai Lama paused for a long time, then looked deep into the large, dark eyes of the Llama and replied: “Heck if I know. That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”

© American Coalition for Ethanol, all rights reserved.
The American Coalition for Ethanol publishes Ethanol Today magazine each month to cover the biofuels industryís hot topics, including cellulosic ethanol, E85, corn ethanol, food versus fuel, ethanolís carbon footprint, E10, E15, and mid-range ethanol blends.
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