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Biofuels are Bad for Poor Countries – they Cause Starvation on Long Term

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The aid agency Oxfam said Wednesday that the all-beloved biofuels are to be blamed for 30% of the increase in food prices worldwide, pushing 30 million people around the globe into poverty.

Large communities of developing countries have gladly adopted biofuels lately and lethally, because this is the main cause that is lowering their grains stocks. They did that to escape the dependence of foreign oil, something that the US is also trying to do.

“Rich countries’ demands for more biofuels in their transport fuels are causing spiraling production and food inflation,” said Oxfam biofuel policy adviser Rob Bailey. “Grain reserves are now at an all-time low.”

Oxfam called on rich countries to dismantle subsidies for biofuels and reduce the import tariffs they apply to the poor ones.

“Rich countries spent up to $15 billion last year supporting biofuels while blocking cheaper Brazilian ethanol, which is far less damaging for global food security,” Bailey’s report said.

The aid agency also urged the more-developed developed countries to cut off biofuels targets, including European Union’s plans to get 10% of its transport fuel from biofuels by 2020.

The EU has put up strict criterias to make sure that biofuels do not do any more harm than they help. Member states of the EU want those targets to be conditioned by the availability of second-generation biofuels from farm waste, timber waste and domestic waste on the market.

Oxfam estimates that by 2020, the carbon dioxide emissions from the palm oil sector in the EU will pass over 3.1 billion tons, largely as a result of their target. It would take over 46 years of biofuel use at 2020 levels to repay this “carbon debt”.

“Biofuels are taking over agricultural land and forcing farming to expand into lands that are important carbon sinks, like forests and wetlands,” the report said. “This triggers the release of carbon from soil and vegetation that will take decades to repay.”

Biofuels are not the solution to any of our energy problems today. Instead, they are mostly a temporary “patch” to the actual fossil fuel crisis. It’s also obvious that while those biofuels were appropriate for small use and made a few people happy, putting them on a larger scale destroys the most fragile economies, takes peoples’ food from their mouth and puts it into the richer people’s cars. It’s not fair this way, either. Humanity must accept energy forms and engine designs other than this inefficient and polluting ones.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. William, I have no problem with any bio-fuel so long as it can be grown WITHOUT competing for resources that could have otherwise been used to grow food but you will be hard pressed to find one that does not. Wood was the original bio-fuel! From the 1700’s to the early 1800’s in the US, our forests were STRIPPED bare and little of that acreage was for farmland – it was largely for fuel, (some for building material). Thanks to coal, (and steel), our forest coverage grew back and today it is exactly where it was hundred years ago.

    So where is this land suitable for bio-fuel that “isn’t suitable” for growing some sort of crop? You stated that algae oil is edible so you just shot yourself in the foot because it would amount to exactly to what said in my prior post – burning food.

    So, going back to the foundation of my prior post, if there is no PROOF that TINY amount of extra CO2 from fossil fuel has any significant affect on climate then the MAIN argument for biofuel is gone, (which doesn’t even work yet in the case of corn ethanol because it requires more energy to distill than the energy you get back out of it).

    I am completely with OXFAM on this issue; the mandates must END or more people will starve! How proud will people be driving around in their 100% biofueled cars when they find out the hard way that millions of people in the third world cannot EAT because of this LUNACY?

  2. “Oxfam estimates that by 2020, the carbon dioxide emissions from the palm oil sector in the EU will pass over 3.1 billion tons, largely as a result of their target. It would take over 46 years of biofuel use at 2020 levels to repay this “carbon debt”.”

    First, this quote is just nutty, to coin a phrase.

    Palm oil is a biofuel. All the carbon CAME from the atmosphere in the first place. So there’s no worry about repaying a “carbon debt”.

    You only have to be concerned with CO2 emissions when burning fossil fuels, that dump NEW CO2 into the atmosphere.

    I have to wonder about the credentials of anyone who doesn’t get that simple fact.

    For example, if you hear anyone screaming about CO2 emissions from wood burning stoves, whack them up the side of the head. All that CO2 was taken from the atmosphere when the tree was growing.

    Second: the whole anti-biofuel slant is just sad. Biofuels don’t exclusively mean grain crops.

    Wood is a biofuel. Oil from Algae is a biofuel.

    Biofuels can often be produced on land that isn’t suitable for growing food crops, being either too hilly, too wet, too dry, or too infertile.

    Personally, I think that the Oil from Algae project will be the biggest biofuel success story. By putting underground algae farms around every coal power plant, we can recapture the CO2 from the coal stacks AND turn it into salable side-products.

    a): the bio-oil from algae. It’s supposed to be quite edible and even healthy, on a par with olive oil.

    b): the algae that die of old age settle out, and can be squeezed into bricks. There’s enough oil still in the algae that you could make charcoal briquettes out of them.

    c): burn the algae cake briquettes in a low-oxygen environment, so you end up with charcoal. Crush the charcoal into powder, and sell it for fertilizer.

    Works great for a slow-release fertilizer, and the carbon is trapped in a stable form good for centuries if not longer.

    Now, at every step we can MAKE money on this process. What’s not to like?

  3. FACTS:

    1. There remains ZERO scientific evidence that human CO2 has ANY significant impact on climate to cause ‘global warming’. If there is an impact it is so small that it has yet to be detected.

    2. Sea level has been rising for over 8000 years. The rate of rise has changed slightly over the last few decades. Al Gore told you that sea level rise would accelerate dramatically and all the low lying coastal areas would be under water by something like 2030. Well guess what? – IT HAS SLOWED DOWN AGAIN over the last 6 years! That’s right, the rate of sea level rise did NOT increase as Al Gore scared you into believing.

    3. Satellite measurements of global temperature are regarded at the most accurate data available today. Those measurements indicate a COOLING trend since 1998. We are cooler today than then by about .25C Al Gore told you we were headed for some ‘tipping point’ and there would be run-away global warming if CO2 kept rising any further. Well, CO2 DID keep on rising but nature refused to obey Al Gore and temperatures have come down slightly. That simple fact DISPROVES him and it disproves the IPCC! If CO2 was somehow major controlling factor of our climate should have keot getting warmer – IT DID NOT. Their models are therefore WRONG.

    So, on to bio-fuels… From the above it is clear that there is ZERO justification to use bio-fuels to ‘save the planet’ in the first place. Bio-fuel is the most ARROGANT, most ELITIST, most EVIL idea that has ever been foisted on the world. People in rich countries are buying up food to feed their MACHINES. Did you know that meeting the IDIOTIC 10% ethanol mandate has already required ONE THIRD OF THE US CORN CROP!!! And that’s also one third of a suddenly much larger crop because farmers, seeing dollar signs, switched to growing corn to get rich. That DECREASED the farm land used for other crops that they would have grown without the mandate. The result is that US food surpluses are now almost GONE!!! So what happens when the stupid law increases the requirement to 20 percent as ALREADY SCEHDULED?

    That’s right, US food supplies available to send to poorer countries is at a record LOW thanks to the liberal bio-fuel mandate. So now, if you don’t think bio-fuel isn’t ARROGANT and EVIL then you are either a blathering lunatic or making money from it. The whole concept SHOULD BE BANNED FOREVER!

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