Then one lucky day a sunbeam bounced off Sol just so and hit Corinne right in the ear. “Oh! Sorry Miss,” Sol R. Pannell apologized. “Didn’t mean to startle you.” “Not at all,” Corinne blushed a darker shade of green. “I’ve been hoping to meet you.” And that was the first of many chats Corinne and Sol had over those long summer days.
As September approached, frightening rumors began to circulate through Corinne’s field. “It’s something about a lady named Ethel Knoll and fuel for the farmers,” Corinne explained breathlessly to Sol. “I’m afraid it means I might have to leave!” she exclaimed through drooping leaves. Sol knew it was time to tell Corinne the “facts of life” as he understood them to be.
He explained that she and all the Cobbs were destined to become ethanol fuel. Never intended to become animal feed, Corinne would eventually end up in someone’s gas tank. Sol too was creating energy; however, he knew that some folks weren’t too keen about him using land that could be growing crops. “But humans are already using thousands of acres for energy production; they might as well be efficient about it,” Sol reasoned.
“A recent study* makes a compelling case for reducing the acreage planted for corn ethanol,” he continued. “It found that, when accounting for all inputs, the net energy production of solar is over 100 times that of corn ethanol. In other words, if you consider all the energy it takes to make, transport and install a solar farm as compared to the energy it takes to plant, harvest and convert corn into ethanol, solar creates 100 times the energy that corn does! Wisconsin’s 3,500 acres of solar is just 0.35% (1/3 of 1%) of the land currently used to grow corn for ethanol. Maybe humans should use land for growing food crops instead of corn for fuel,” Sol suggested.
As the harvester headed down Corinne’s row she cried out to Sol, “Keep shining my friend! Help build a clean and healthy tomorrow because this is the only home any of us will ever know. It’s where we’re all forever…Earthbound.”