Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Arm chair policy

"Oops. It turns out now that we've had a few years to study things, and worldwide investment in biofuels has risen from $5 billion in 1995 to $38 billion in 2005, everybody's wrong, and we're all fucked. The biofuel boom is actually accelerating global warming. Time has an excellent cover story this week, The Clean Energy Scam, with all the details, but the basic problem is simple: "using land to grow fuel leads to the destruction of forests, wetlands, and grasslands that store huge amounts of carbon."

I'm only posting this as a lead to my comment: I did a tv interview yesterday on ANB, an Arab satellite network. The topic was the global increase in food prices. I was on a small panel with a person from the FAO office in Lebanon. I mentionned that biofuels, among others are one of the causes of the price increase. I was asked to give more details, so I spoke about what everyone now knows and what Time magazine called the clean energy scam (above). I also mentionned the US subsidies to ethanol growers, and the destruction of the Amazonian forest, and the terrible, slave-like conditions of the Brazilian workers in mega plantations. I think I also said something about the insanity of growing non-food products in countries where there is not enough food for people, in a situation where world food supply is limiting. The FAO woman disagreed with me, and said that biofuels may be good crops sometimes, and for some countries. She did not say which ones. But she impressed everybody by declaring that FAO has developed a model in which you input your country's characteristics and it tells you whether biofuels are good for you or not.

1 comment:

wooD said...

I've been satirizing this topic on my webcomic. I'm not sure that any environmentalists ever thought this food to fuel idea was a good one, just some policy makers who gave it a green spin.