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Global Warming / Biofuel Tragedy

Time, not always my favorite publication, hit on a couple of points I have made recently in an article called the Clean Energy Scam.  This article has been around for a few weeks but I am only just now getting to it.

First, I made the point just the other day that inordinate focus on global warming is crowding out other more important environmental issues, sucking the oxygen out of causes like private land trusts that are attempting to preserve unique areas.  As Time says:

The Amazon was the chic eco-cause of the 1990s, revered as an incomparable storehouse of biodiversity. It's been overshadowed lately by global warming

Much has been made of Brazil's efforts to reduce imported oil.  Too much credit has been given to ethanol -- most of Brazil's independence came from a number of domestic oil developments.  However, Brazil has been a leading promoter of ethanol through government policy, and this focus on ethanol has had a lot to do with deforestation in the Amazon, as rising crop prices due to biofuel mandates have spurred a rush to clear new land.  Now, US and European ethanol policies are just accelerating this trend:

This land rush is being accelerated by an unlikely source: biofuels. An explosion in demand for farm-grown fuels has raised global crop prices to record highs, which is spurring a dramatic expansion of Brazilian agriculture, which is invading the Amazon at an increasingly alarming rate.

it never made any sense that a fuel that requires more energy to produce than it provides could ever be "green," but only now are the politically correct forces accepting what I and others have been saying for years:

But several new studies show the biofuel boom is doing exactly the opposite of what its proponents intended: it's dramatically accelerating global warming, imperiling the planet in the name of saving it. Corn ethanol, always environmentally suspect, turns out to be environmentally disastrous. Even cellulosic ethanol made from switchgrass, which has been promoted by eco-activists and eco-investors as well as by President Bush as the fuel of the future, looks less green than oil-derived gasoline.

The rest of the article is quite good.  I don't like to criticize where other people choose to spend their charitable dollars, but it is just amazing to me that environmentally-concerned people could give $300 million to Al Gore just to squander on advertising.  (By the way, Al Gore claims to have not only invented the Internet, but to have "saved" corn ethanol from government defunding).  I think about how much $300 million could have achieve in private land trusts trying to buy up and preserve the Amazon, and I could cry.  But all I can do is plug along and give what I can.  I donate to both the Nature Conservancy and World Land Trust.

Posted on April 8, 2008 at 12:02 PM | Permalink


Here in northern Utah, TNC is trying to get the county to issue a $20 million bond for "open space," which means making taxpayers pay for land conservation. I'm usually a fan of TNC, but not in this case.

Posted by: Craig | Apr 8, 2008 2:11:51 PM

Re Al? $300 mil?

Some of us are still fighting the good fight.

Posted by: Tim Worstall | Apr 8, 2008 2:23:48 PM

"This land rush is being accelerated by an unlikely source: biofuels."

The fact that the word "unlikely" is used indicates rapant economic ignorance among our population. I can't fathom why in increase in grain prices surprises anyone.

Posted by: dave smith | Apr 9, 2008 7:02:49 AM

Lies Al Gore Told You #6,369: About That $300 Million @ AMERICAN DIGEST

Posted by: vanderleun | Apr 9, 2008 7:48:20 AM

$300 mil, through the World Land Trust will get you 3,000,000 acres. Almost 4700 square miles. By comparison, Connecticut is 5544 square miles. I honestly thought it would be more, but it is still money better spent than the Al Gore hype machine, for certain. Then when you consider the country and entire planet is about to throw trillions of dollars down the drain you realize that those acres would really add up.

Posted by: SRC | Apr 9, 2008 8:30:48 AM

We found an interesting article about the problems with Ethanol on ConsumerReports.org:


"But there are some problems with increasing ethanol blends. Ethanol contains less energy than gasoline, so increasing the amount of ethanol in gasoline will likely result in lower fuel economy. Increasing standard fuel blends from zero to 10 percent ethanol, as is happening today, has little or no impact on fuel economy. In tests, the differences occur within the margin of error, about 0.5 percent. Further increasing ethanol levels to 20 percent reduces fuel economy between 1 and 3 percent, according to testing by the DOE and General Motors. Evaluations are underway to determine if E20 will burn effectively in today's engines without impacting reliability and longevity, and also assessing potential impact on fuel economy."

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Posted by: TheSUBWAY.com | Apr 21, 2008 7:28:53 AM

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