Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I found this article while looking at this site - too funny and their tag
line is : "removing cars from people" Gotta love that! I cut and paste this so the links
need to be cut and pasted - sorry!

Biofuels Are Starving Us

Written by Joshua Liberles
Saturday, 23 August 2008

The impact of the rising biofuels market on global food prices is much worse
than predicted. According to an as yet unpublished study commissioned by
the World Bank, biofuels have caused food prices to rise 75%. The World Bank
completed the study, which has been leaked by the Guardian, at the end of April
but has yet to publish it, presumably in deference to Bush's gung-ho corn ethanol
campaign. Another damning study by the British government, due out soon, states
that biofuels have “played a significant part in pushing up food prices.” From
the Guardian: "Political leaders seem intent on suppressing and ignoring the
strong evidence that biofuels are a major factor in recent food price rises,"
said Robert Bailey, policy adviser at Oxfam. "It is imperative that we have
the full picture. While politicians concentrate on keeping industry lobbies
happy, people in poor countries cannot afford enough to eat."

Rising food prices have pushed 100m people worldwide below the poverty line,
estimates the World Bank, and have sparked riots from Bangladesh to Egypt.
Government ministers here have described higher food and fuel prices
as "the first real economic crisis of globalisation".

President Bush has linked higher food prices to higher demand from India and
China, but the leaked World Bank study disputes that: "Rapid income growth
in developing countries has not led to large increases in global grain consumption
and was not a major factor responsible for the large price increases."

Even successive droughts in Australia, calculates the report, have had a
marginal impact. Instead, it argues that the EU and US drive for biofuels has had
by far the biggest impact on food supply and prices. Food prices have risen 140%
since 2002. Higher prices for energy and petroleum-based fertilizier accounts
for 15% while researchers linked biofuels to a whopping 75% increase.
While no biofuel has yet proven efficacious, the government-pushed corn-based
ethanol program is particularly disastrous. The massive amounts of petroleum
fertilizer dumped on the fields, eventually running into the ocean, has caused an
increase in the Dead Zone; we're increasing the smog and ozone levels and causing
more deaths from asthma and respiratory illnesses; and the energy yield from corn
is laughable. From Say you were able to cultivate every acre of
Illinois for corn-based ethanol. This is purely hypothetical as it would involve
bulldozing Chicago and other cities and towns in the Prairie State. As an Illinois
resident surrounded by cornfields, fleeing demolition is not my relocation fantasy.

One of the potentially most productive corn-growing states on the planet would
yield about 5.7 billion bushels of corn and 16 billion gallons of ethanol, according
to Charles Washburn, professor emeritus at California State University. He has
researched the subject over the past 45 years.

The Illinois mega-crop would provide only 0.8 percent of annual U.S. gasoline
and diesel-fuel use, Washburn estimates, subtracting the energy it takes to
create ethanol.

Of course, U.S. energy consumption isn't a static beast. Washburn further projects
that “a new corn field the size of Illinois would be required to meet our transportation
energy growth every seven months.”

(my comment - why eat when you can drive?)


c james. said...

Another great post. Although I knew biofuels had a somewhat negative impact on availability of food sources and the rise in food prices, I didn't realize to what extent.

Even if the use of biofuels is currently nominal, but still making a negative impact on food sources, I still think it's a step in the right direction. It's better than doing nothing at all. We evolve slowly, but we will get there soon enough - we don't have a choice now.

Also, you mentioned in a previous post "Vegans and Vegitarians" that even if you are the most strict of vegans, you help kill animals.

So, even if we try to be responsible and use biofuels (in any form, plant-based, algae, etc.), we are still making a negative impact somewhere else.

There can be to action without reaction - be it good, bad or indifferent.

But I do agree with you, that anything to excess must be reigned in.

Keep writing - I'm enjoying your content.

Urban Food Guy said...
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