The Ghost of Snapped Shot

Or, welcome to my low-maintenance heck.

The Push For Biofuels May Be Ending

You have to know, that when a MSM like CBS begins to see the light, that maybe, just maybe, there is a chance.

CBS has a blurb about a newly released report on biofuels. And, the picture is not as rosy as they tried to make us believe. Though, we as smart thinking people, and people who can reason and comprehend, knew this answer a decade or so ago when they started pushing the idea.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Use corn and other crops, instead of oil, to make fuel. It's renewable and causes less climate change because a lot of the carbon produced in burning it is reabsorbed as the new crop grows.

Governments and industry loved the idea so much that the European Union decided fully 10 percent of fuel should be made this way in the future, reports CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips.

More after the fold...
"[The] overall conclusion was that we really needed to slow down on biofuel production and use because all the new evidence shows there are some potentially harmful effects," said Professor Ed Gallagher, author of the Report on Biofuels.

A new European study shows that producing biofuels is helping drive up already skyrocketing food prices, some of which have effectively doubled in the past few years.

"We shouldn't be taking agricultural land and growing biofuels on it," said Nick Goodhall of the UK Renewable Fuels Agency. "In that sense, of course, if we are displacing food then that means it has got to come from somewhere else. So one can easily see why there might be an effect."

How many years, decades, have we heard stories of "starving people in Africa"? How many stories have we heard of the people in our own towns not having enough to eat? What is the whole point of Food Stamp program if not to help poorer people buy their food that they would not ordinarily been unable to purchase due to either lack of funds or price of goods.

Another problem is that refining some crops, like corn, into fuel can produce more greenhouse gases than simply using gasoline in cars in the first place. As can cutting down rainforests to grow sugar cane, for example. It's what scientists call bad biofuel practice.

"Bad biofuels, as they are known, are exactly that," said Goodhall. "They don't help anything and, in fact, can make problems worse."

But, that did not stop the greenies from pushing governments to use this limited resource as a fuel in place of petroleum. They DEMANDED that nations use food as fuel instead of food to feed the hungry. But then, food has always been used as a tool and a weapon against the poor.

Maybe now that reports like these are becoming more and more prominent, all this idiocy of using corn and sugar to fuel our expansive lifestyles will start to come to an end. From the Guardian on July 4, 2008 comes this:
Biofuels have forced global food prices up by 75% - far more than previously estimated - according to a confidential World Bank report obtained by the Guardian.

The damning unpublished assessment is based on the most detailed analysis of the crisis so far, carried out by an internationally-respected economist at global financial body. The figure emphatically contradicts the US government's claims that plant-derived fuels contribute less than 3% to food-price rises.

There are answers out there. But people have to be willing to listen and do what is logical. Right now, people who should know better are telling the poor to just die while they themselves live in comfort and with fewer feelings of guilt.

Problem is, greenies SAY that they care about the environment. But by their actions and demands alone, they have shown that they couldn't care a wit about the human race.

It (the report) argues that production of biofuels has distorted food markets in three main ways. First, it has diverted grain away from food for fuel, with over a third of US corn now used to produce ethanol and about half of vegetable oils in the EU going towards the production of biodiesel. Second, farmers have been encouraged to set land aside for biofuel production. Third, it has sparked financial speculation in grains, driving prices up higher.



#1 Phil 14-Jul-2008
Actually, these articles and "reports" fail to take into account the damage done to market forces by government subsidies a year and a half ago, the spread of armed conflicts worldwide, and the use or misuse of water even as it becomes less and less available in crucial areas...The three reasons the report allegedly gives for "distorting" the food market are largely overrated if not mythological.You cannot simultaneously have a shortage and a surplus unless it has been deliberately manufactured by some sort manipulation. One of the great errors of modern economics is a century after the fact, economists still use 19th-century theories based upon constant shortage and lack of technology even after 100 years of almost constant surplus and technological advance. In a nutshell, either grain production has increased in response to biofuel demand or the demand has increased and the production has not...but it has to be one or the other...otherwise the shortage is due to artificial factors. Secondly, who are these "farmers"? Globally, small family farmers and small independent farmers have already reduced the amount they were producing because of the havoc Western nations wrought on prices several growing seasons ago, now only producing enough for their own consumption and that of the immediate area. Congratulations, and welcome back to the Middle Ages! We apply outdated theories and orthodoxies, and we get an outdated, even superstitious world. Look, rather, to corporate Agribusiness for "cutting down rain forests to grow sugarcane". For example, Unilever, who made a entire public relations campaign over publicly vowing to "go green" has already reversed it's decision as is back to slashing and burning land at a breakneck pace.
No one, least of all the "greenies" as you call them, are "demanding" that food be used for fuel. I have studied the conversion and use of vegetable oil and other cellulosic material, both here and abroad, for biodiesel conversion for two years now - I run both biodiesel from waste vegetable oil and just plain old waste vegetable oil (run through a filter) in my 1982 diesel vehicle - and I don't know (even with the WVO supply running thin due to it's growing popularity) anyone in this country or anywhere on the internet that's taking from the food supply to provide an energy source. In fact, the majority of research (in Asia, where they've had a considerable head start) deals with waste by-products of agriculture, algae (grown artificially or where the water will not produce anything else) or species like Jatropha weed, which grow in waste ground and arid Equatorial locations (at least until it's soon domesticated). The only entities insisting corn and other foodstuffs must be committed for use are those who have the corn and food to sell - the Agricorporate interests, who with the futures speculators, are also responsible for the "financial speculation in grains". It is they who, by their practices, have shown they "couldn't care a wit about the human race".
Besides, you ask, "How many years, decades, have we heard stories of "starving people in Africa"?" If that's true (and it is) then how is it this latest "crisis" is the creation of the "greenies" and bad environmental practice, who have come only lately to some credibility? How are the "greenies" responsible for the starvation among the Sudanese, who don't have an environmental movement, much less a biofuels movement? How did all those people starve to death over several winters in North Korea - another country that lacks a "green" movement, with witnesses testifying to corpses stacked like cord wood? Are the Myanmar bureaucrats withholding food aid from cyclone victims for later use in biofuel on the advice of "greenies"?
The short answer is, "no"...the less short answer is, people are starving because of control of resources by other people who do it for no other than the same reason a dog licks it's privates - because it can.

"Right now, people who should know better are telling the poor to just die while they themselves live in comfort and with fewer feelings of guilt."

Well, at least we agree upon something.
#2 captainfish 14-Jul-2008
[i]either grain production has increased in response to biofuel demand or the demand has increased and the production has not...but it has to be one or the other...[/i]

Yes, the demand has increased dramatically over these past few years. The demand for cellulose-based or sugar-based organic material for use in ethanol conversion has increased hugely. That supply has to come from somewhere.

Farmers all over the place are converting over from less profitable crops into those in demand for ethanol production. Production of grain and sugar-based products has not increased due to the restriction placed upon farmers to not grow in certain areas or to expand their farms. They are mandated and sometimes paid to not farm portions of their farms. Therefore, they stop growing one food product in order to grow a product that is in demand by ethanol producers.

But, food based products are being used for ethanol production. Why? Because the conversion of non-food basic cellulosic material is still being ramped up and years away. Algalacterial production has not been shown to be capable of mass production. Results have only come from lab studies.

You are correct when you state that pricing is due to speculators on the global market. Now, this could either be a problem of limited supply or, in the case of petroleum, someone wanting more money out of ethanol production. But then we all know, ethanol production is a purely humanitarian endeavor. The governments do not mandate it and subsidize its production and politicians are not in bed with ethanol producers.

I believe it is a combination of the two. AS farmers grow more stocks for ethanol production, they grow less food or feed based products. That increases the cost. And, speculators see a gold mine in all this as well. All this drives the prices of feed, food, and ethanol based products.

I have a question, you state that corn prices are a global issue, but then claim the use of food stocks is a local one. The control of food supply has been a global issue for the last 50 years. From when we used wheat and corn to demand Russia change its policies to now, like you suggest, Myanmar uses food to keep its poor as poor.

My tie in with the greenies is that it WAS they who pushed us to use feed and food-based products as the source of ethanol early on. That was the easiest product to produce into ethanol, and still is.

It is the greenies that demand farmers, landowners, and construction companies to stop any production in order to save flies, plants, and venomous snakes. While the destruction of the "rain forests" is sad, what else can they do? The farmers are doing what they think is best for their families. If the greenies had their way, no land in those areas would have been touched, and the people would be stuck in early tribal living and starving.

My use of examples like Africa, and yours of N. Korea and Myanmar, point to the use of food as a means to control its population. As greenies have gained control over global food production, they are using food to control people and limit their freedoms.

I praise you for your utilization of USED oil and grease products to power your vehicles. I am all for that. That uses waste products and products that are no longer needed for consumption as fuel. If and when we can begin to FULLY utilize sawgrass and the likes for ethanol, then I will be behind it. But, as food and feed based products that were intended for human and animal consumption is being used instead for ethanol.... i have a huge problem with that.

Thanks Phil.
#3 Phil 15-Jul-2008
I'm glad we both share a common concern over people not having enough to eat around the world.
Although I honestly believe you give the "greenies" waaaay too much credit for influence on global agriculture. They get a lot of press, make the talk show circuit, but I really believe the true market-driven influence is a relatively new phenom of the multi-national agribusinesses.

"The governments do not mandate it and subsidize its production and politicians are not in bed with ethanol producers." On the whole, I think a lot of your information is not so much incorrect as dated, as a lot has happened, even in the last six to twelve months, especially here in corn-producing states like Illinois. The subsidies and government funding for research are coming so hard and fast I hope someone is at least changing the bedsheets once in a while. It's making even me a little suspicious. I still believe corn is being touted as an ethanol or biofuel source mostly by the producers rather than anyone objectively researching the matter.

"I have a question, you state that corn prices are a global issue, but then claim the use of food stocks is a local one." Yes, I've found that just as "all politics is local", so are the use of food stocks. At the end of the day, all that should really matter is, does everybody's plate have food on it or not? As if in illustration of the old adage,"The shoemaker's children go barefoot" even in some of the most fertile, productive land in the world, children are going to bed hungry. There are areas of Asia, Africa and South America where the locals are perfectly capable, without slash and burn to the rain forests or anything else, of growing enough to feed themselves with enough left over for local markets,but they no longer even control the land some have lived and farmed on for perhaps a millennium.
Take a look at what's been happening in the Philippines, for example. Some of the largest and most productive land is currently being held by force (I wish I were making this up!) by multinational agribusinesses who came into possession (or, more correctly, control) of the land under the former regime. Local populations were moved out by armed force, and entire square miles were converted into sugar cane fields, etc. Despite both the Philippine government's rulings, the Philippine court rulings, and International consensus that the corporations have no legal standing, they continue to mass-farm the land, and have literally *shot dead* indigenous Filipinos attempting to return to the land, much less farm it. So, you have a case of people stuck "in early tribal living" with nary a "greenie" in sight. The last time I heard someone obsess about a group as you do the "greenies", it was some nonsense about a "vast Zionist conspiracy" or something like that. I didn't believe them, either. ;-)

Thanks for your feedback, and the opportunity to post.
#4 captainfish 15-Jul-2008
well, its the voices that tell me about these conspiracies, you know.

I have don't have the knowledge or experience to really debate the issue of large land holdings by businesses. I will have to take your word on that. And if true, I will side with you on how onerous that is.

But, you have to admit that our nation and culture has been changed because of the "green" movement? right? They have enormous influence and sway over governmental bodies and corporations right now. They are the ones that have pushes for the CFL bulbs leading congress to OUTLAW regular bulbs in just a few years time. But we all know that these bulbs are more harmful to the environment and your health than the ordinary bulbs are. How much hysteria has been made over the influence man has over global temperatures? Who has been pushing that and forcing nations to change their policies to fit their demands?

I only want choice. I want to have my own choice to use CFL or not. To use solar or not. To use biofuels or not. I am genetically disposed to being forced to do something because someone else feels guilty about how they are living.

Thrust, Parry, Slice, Parry..... :)
Thanks Phil. I always like good discourse. I used to do weekly debates with a friend of mine over IM. That is, until we both got jobs. hehe
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