On the BBC, a report on what to do about the bad side of biofuels. Delay use until we can do it right. It’s such a novel concept, it makes headlines.
The UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, said …growth in the production of biofuels has helped to push the price of some crops to record levels. … [A]n ill-conceived dash to convert foodstuffs such as maize and sugar into fuel … created a recipe for disaster.
It was, he said, a crime against humanity to divert arable land to the production of crops which are then burned for fuel.
He called for a five-year ban on the practice. Within that time, according to Mr Ziegler, technological advances would enable the use of agricultural waste, such as corn cobs and banana leaves, rather than crops themselves to produce fuel.
He’s right on all counts.
It is a crime against humanity. That’s not even hyperbole. What else can you call it when food is burned in front of starving people, and whole countries are dropped into famine, forced migration, and war?
And he’s also right that microbial, non-polluting!, methods to use plant waste rather than food have already been demonstrated in labs. We need some more genetic engineering to improve the microbes and tailor them to work under industrial conditions before they’ll be practical. Given the relatively small scope of the remaining issues, five years will likely be plenty … IF the scientific resources needed are devoted to the problem. (A summary of biofuels in an earlier post of mine.)
I’d be the last person to say that global warming isn’t an emergency. But creating a disaster .. which is profitable for some … by going into a mad panic over another disaster is like the moronic rush to nukes. We could, for once try the breakthrough concept of thinking this thing through. It is not essential to try every bad choice before giving up and trying the actual solution.
Cross-posted to Shakesville