Why Brazil is energy self-sufficent
A lot of Americans are currently amazed at the fact that Brazil is apparently energy self-sufficent. I'm not quite so amazed for the following three reasons:
1. Brazillians don't use as much energy as people in the first world.
2. Compared to first world countries Brazil is poor. It's harder for them to import large amounts of energy.
3. It rains a lot in Brazil. Unless there is a drought they get about 88% of their electricity from hydroelectric power.
Of course, Brazil actually imports about 2% of its electrical power from neighboring countries, but that's pretty close to being self sufficent.
Unfortunately some Americans think that it might be a good idea to copy some of Brazil's ideas, no matter how difficult they may actually be to apply. Producing ethanol to burn in cars is one of these. I wouldn't be surprised if producing ethanol has cost Brazil more money than just buying oil would have. Only now that oil prices are so high does it have a chance to be profitable. But Brazil has advantages in producing ethanol that most other countries don't have and one of these advantages is huge amounts of land where magnesium ions dominate calcium ions in the soil. About the only crop that can grow in this type of soil is sugar cane which means that a lot of farmers are stuck producing sugar cane, and sugar cane is the easiest crop to turn into ethanol. America thinks it can turn corn husks into ethanol. Good luck America. While this is certainly possible, I don't think it would be as cheap and as environmentally friendly as actually say increasing the fuel efficency of American cars.
P.S. In Australia you can often spot magnesium rich soils by the presence of wattle trees. Or, possibly in Queensland, sugar cane.