Fuels vs Food

Thursday, April 17th, 2008 4:01 pm by Neal

“FUELS VS. FOOD — US Energy Policy Hurting World’s Poor” is a New York Post editorial on the disaster that is biofuels. Among the revelations,

The fact is, food riots resulting partly from the United States’ alternative energy policies have arrived at our front door. Crowds of hungry demonstrators swarmed the presidential palace in Haiti last week to protest skyrocketing food prices.

In recent years, we’ve heard that climate change could be catastrophic for nature and humanity. But it’s becoming increasingly evident that over the next few decades, climate-change policies could prove even more catastrophic.

Food riots have erupted in Mexico, Morocco, Egypt, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mauritania, Cameroon, Senegal, Uzbekistan and Yemen. Vietnam, Cambodia, India and Egypt have all placed restrictions on their rice exports to drive down domestic prices. Pakistan has reinstated food rationing, which is also under discussion in Bangladesh and rumored in Sri Lanka.

Not only are biofuels causing massive food shortages and worldwide hunger, but they’re also destroying the environment:

The conversion of natural habitat land for produce-cultivation purposes had been the single-largest threat to biodiversity worldwide, but over the last half century, the global agricultural footprint has nearly stabilized. Now, this achievement is also in jeopardy.

What the US ethanol subsidies do for corn, the European Union’s biodiesel subsidies do for palm oil. EU policies stoke an artificial demand for biodiesel, leading to the clearance of high-biodiversity forests in Malaysia and Indonesia. In both the European Union and the United States, lands previously set aside for nature conservation are once again coming under the plow to meet subsidized biofuel demand.

Agricultural expansion, in turn, increases pressures on certain animal species and leads to higher releases of carbon, from biomass and soil above and below ground. Fertilizers used to increase agricultural yields also increase nitrogen discharged into waters and emissions of nitrous oxide – a greenhouse gas that heats the atmosphere 300 times more effectively than carbon dioxide.

Thus, even if biofuels produce an energy surplus, they would not necessarily be environmentally sound. Worse, they harm the US economy. Higher energy and food prices reduce consumers’ disposable income more or less equally, meaning they disproportionately affect poorer people. Higher food prices, alternative energy subsidies and greenhouse-gas-emissions controls only make it harder for these people to earn a living or afford better education and health care.

Climate-change remedies can lead to greater poverty, starvation and disease, as well as widespread ecological destruction – some of the very misfortunes that they’re supposed to prevent. In our haste to address global warming, we have yet to think seriously about our policies’ unintended effects.

The results have been disastrous, and they’re only getting more so.

Here you have, in one editorial, a summary of what’s wrong with the global warmer’s last-ditch argument, “Even if humans aren’t causing global warming, what could it hurt to implement eco-friendly policies?”

How about starvation, sky-high food and energy prices, environmental devastation, and destroyed economies.

Are you all starting to wake-up to the reality that these “harmless” environmental policies will have devastating results? Even if the global warming doom-and-gloom prognosticators were correct, their solutions are a classic case of the cure being worse than the disease. Fortunately, their eco-anxiety is misplaced because their conclusions are rubbish.

Consider the harm that has been caused by something as minor as US and European ethanol quotas and subsidies. This is what happens when governments muck around in food and energy markets. Think what would happen if the major carbon-reduction policies were to be implemented on a wide scale. Let’s not go there.

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