Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Biofuel: the new Holocaust

"The price of agricultural land will be influenced by its potential use for bio-energy. As farmers choose what crop would suit them best, they will change what they produce and hence the whole system of relative prices of agricultural produce. This will imply a very large increase in the demand for agricultural land. Its price and that of the products that use it intensively – such as food and cotton – will go up. By how much? This will depend not only on the cost of bio-energy but also on how much additional land is put to use and the degree to which food crops will be complements or substitutes of bio-energy: they would be substitutes if switch grass were planted instead of soybeans; they will be complements if biofuels are made out of wheat stalk. My bet is that they will tend to be more substitutes than complements and the relative price of food will go up." Ricardo Hausmann (director of Harvard University’s Center for International Development)

David Seaton's News Links

People will have to starve to death so that we can ride in style.

Regular News Links readers know that biofuel is one of my hobby horses. My intuition tells me that this process is part and parcel of the same growing technical perfection that created the possibilty of the Holocaust and the atom bombs that devoured Hiroshima and Nagasaki: a perfection organization and logistics that not only allows us, but invites us to express our darkest natures on a monstrous scale.

The following article by George Monbiot is a masterpiece. DS

Monbiot:The western appetite for biofuels is causing starvation in the poor world - Guardian
Abstract: It doesn't get madder than this. Swaziland is in the grip of a famine and receiving emergency food aid. Forty per cent of its people are facing acute food shortages. So what has the government decided to export? Biofuel made from one of its staple crops, cassava. The government has allocated several thousand hectares of farmland to ethanol production in the district of Lavumisa, which happens to be the place worst hit by drought. It would surely be quicker and more humane to refine the Swazi people and put them in our tanks. Doubtless a team of development consultants is already doing the sums.(...) the superior purchasing power of drivers in the rich world means that they will snatch food from people's mouths. Run your car on virgin biofuel, and other people will starve. Even the International Monetary Fund, always ready to immolate the poor on the altar of business, now warns that using food to produce biofuels "might further strain already tight supplies of arable land and water all over the world, thereby pushing food prices up even further". This week, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation will announce the lowest global food reserves in 25 years, threatening what it calls "a very serious crisis".(...) A recent study by the Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen shows that the official estimates have ignored the contribution of nitrogen fertilisers. They generate a greenhouse gas - nitrous oxide - that is 296 times as powerful as CO2. These emissions alone ensure that ethanol from maize causes between 0.9 and 1.5 times as much warming as petrol, while rapeseed oil (the source of more than 80% of the world's biodiesel) generates 1-1.7 times the impact of diesel. This is before you account for the changes in land use. A paper published in the journal Science three months ago suggests that protecting uncultivated land saves, over 30 years, between two and nine times the carbon emissions you might avoid by ploughing it and planting biofuels.(...) If the governments promoting biofuels do not reverse their policies, the humanitarian impact will be greater than that of the Iraq war. Millions will be displaced, hundreds of millions more could go hungry. This crime against humanity is a complex one, but that neither lessens nor excuses it. READ IT ALL

No comments: