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Biofuel problems waste no time...

by afew Tue Mar 27th, 2007 at 08:57:19 AM EST

It seems that not a week goes by without a warning being sounded, from one quarter or another, against the massive adoption of first-generation biofuels for vehicles - that has already been decided on by the US government and by the European Commission

George Monbiot, always an opponent of biofuels, has another crack at them today in The Guardian:

Guardian Unlimited | Comment is free | George Monbiot: If we want to save the planet, we need a five-year freeze on biofuels

In 2004 I warned, on these pages, that biofuels would set up a competition for food between cars and people. The people would necessarily lose: those who can afford to drive are richer than those who are in danger of starvation. It would also lead to the destruction of rainforests and other important habitats. <...> Well in one respect I was wrong. I thought these effects wouldn't materialise for many years. They are happening already.


Since the beginning of last year, the price of maize has doubled. The price of wheat has also reached a 10-year high, while global stockpiles of both grains have reached 25-year lows. Already there have been food riots in Mexico and reports that the poor are feeling the strain all over the world. The US department of agriculture warns that "if we have a drought or a very poor harvest, we could see the sort of volatility we saw in the 1970s, and if it does not happen this year, we are also forecasting lower stockpiles next year". According to the UN food and agriculture organisation, the main reason is the demand for ethanol: the alcohol used for motor fuel, which can be made from maize and wheat.

Well, we could add that hot summers probably due to global warming have been responsible, over the last few years, for a fall in wheat yields, but otherwise it's essentially correct that demand for ethanol is tightening the market. (See what's happening to China on this score).

More from Monbiot:

Already we know that biofuel is worse for the planet than petroleum. The UN has just published a report suggesting that 98% of the natural rainforest in Indonesia will be degraded or gone by 2022. Just five years ago, the same agencies predicted that this wouldn't happen until 2032. But they reckoned without the planting of palm oil to turn into biodiesel for the European market. This is now the main cause of deforestation there and it is likely soon to become responsible for the extinction of the orang-utan in the wild.

But it gets worse. As the forests are burned, both the trees and the peat they sit on are turned into carbon dioxide. A report by the Dutch consultancy Delft Hydraulics shows that every tonne of palm oil results in 33 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, or 10 times as much as petroleum produces. I feel I need to say that again. Biodiesel from palm oil causes 10 times as much climate change as ordinary diesel.

There are similar impacts all over the world. Sugarcane producers are moving into rare scrubland habitats (the cerrado) in Brazil, and soya farmers are ripping up the Amazon rainforests. As President Bush has just signed a biofuel agreement with President Lula, it's likely to become a lot worse.

If you think Monbiot doth protest too much, there's food for thought in the Washington Post:

Economist: Biofuel May Raise Food Prices - washingtonpost.com

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Increased production of biofuels such as ethanol might help farmers' bottom lines and address climate-change concerns, but it could inflate food prices worldwide, warns a former White House economist.

"Worldwide, especially in developing countries ... food price increases are definitely something we're going to have to come to grips with," said David Sunding, who served on former President Bill Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers.

And this too:

Corn Can't Solve Our Problem - washingtonpost.com

Some biofuels, if properly produced, do have the potential to provide climate-friendly energy, but where and how can we grow them? Our most fertile lands are already dedicated to food production. As demand for both food and energy increases, competition for fertile lands could raise food prices enough to drive the poorer third of the globe into malnourishment. The destruction of rainforests and other ecosystems to make new farmland would threaten the continued existence of countless animal and plant species and would increase the amount of climate-changing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

David Tilman, one of the authors of the latter piece, was online for a discussion here: Outlook: The Negligible Benefits of Food-Based Biofuels
Focusing on Current Ethanol Sources Could Raise Food Prices, Hurt the Environment -- and Make Almost No Impact on Fossil Fuel Use
.

I've been seeing some of the other aspect of unsustainability - the effect of biofuel production on agricultural practice in the developed world - here in maize-producing South-West France. With the prices they see dangling in front of their noses, farmers are planning to increase maize production. They can do that by increasing surface (getting permission to plough fallow, for example), but they're also hoping to count on GM corn. At a recent town-hall meeting I attended, they were talking of 10-20% yield increases thanks to Monsanto's BT corn. They didn't mention that those 10-20% will have to be fed by increased inputs of petro-chemicals, increased energy use in work and haulage, and (perhaps most important here) increased abuse of water resources. And, of course, that they meant to go right on with a monoculture which is degrading the soil...

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I've been seeing some of the other aspect of unsustainability - the effect of biofuel production on agricultural practice in the developed world - here in maize-producing South-West France. With the prices they see dangling in front of their noses, farmers are planning to increase maize production. They can do that by increasing surface (getting permission to plough fallow, for example), but they're also hoping to count on GM corn. At a recent town-hall meeting I attended, they were talking of 10-20% yield increases thanks to Monsanto's BT corn. They didn't mention that those 10-20% will have to be fed by increased inputs of petro-chemicals, increased energy use in work and haulage, and (perhaps most important here) increased abuse of water resources. And, of course, that they meant to go right on with a monoculture which is degrading the soil...

Precisely.  Ethanol is particularly problematic because it only has maybe an efficiency ration of about 30% (compared to as much as 300% for biodiesel--for the fuel alone and not counting a more efficient engine).  And, as you mentioned, when one says "corn," one must also say "Monsanto" and petro-fertilizers.  Yikes.

It's a friggin' mess.

I say that as someone who drives a SVO (straight vegetable oil) car.  The trick is--and this is the hard part for most people--not driving.  Currently I drive less than 1000 miles per year and consumer less than 40 gallons of oil per year.  Of course, I mostly walk to work and live in a mild climate, so I consider myself priviledged on many levels.

Ethanol=85% corporate money cow.
Palm oil=tropical repression (but, man, can that stuff produce oil)
Solution=public transportation

I'll quit preaching to the choir now.

by andrethegiant on Tue Mar 27th, 2007 at 10:03:33 AM EST
You can preach to the quire instead.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 27th, 2007 at 10:07:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or sing from the same hymn book.

Btw, Mig, re yoga etc I did reply to your one liner re rate of return: dunno if you read it

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Tue Mar 27th, 2007 at 10:17:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I have other one-liners I'm ruminating about.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 27th, 2007 at 10:18:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Monsato Co must love ethanol politics

American farmers, spurred by ethanol frenzy, are planting the largest corn crop in more than 50 years. The demand is so high, reports Farm News, that seed companies are running out of the most popular varieties of corn seed.

At the top of the list are "triple stack hybrids" sold mostly by Monsanto-owned subsidiaries. A triple stack hybrid combines genetic modifications that result in three different "traits." In this case, the corn comes with built-in resistance to Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, and built-in insecticides that target two of the corn plant's most fearsome foes, the dreaded corn borer and the equally devastating corn rootworm. (The corn borer and corn rootworm toxins are derived from two different subspecies of the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis -- triple stack hybrids thus include two different "Bt" genetic modification "events.")

For Monsanto, the apparent popularity of triple stack hybrid corn seed is an opportunity to tout the market's embrace of its latest products. For critics of GM corn, the rush to such varieties presages a future filled with weeds that evolve to resist Roundup and new generations of corn borers and rootworms that shrug off Bt toxins.

No doubt Monsanto plans to come up with new, "improved" corn seed products that will target new, improved pests, and will be able to resist new, improved herbicides. That is the treadmill that the human race has put itself on, and whether we'll ever be able to get off of it seems a highly doubtful proposition, unless food prices rise so high that biofuels become politically impossible.

[The] rush to biofuels will significantly boost the ongoing rollout of genetically modified organisms. There's just too much money at stake in the energy business for it to be otherwise. The popularity of the latest biotech crops is a perfect illustration of this. These seeds aren't cheap -- they are top-of-the-line products. But for well-financed farmers and industrial-scale agribusinesses aiming to cash in on ethanol demand, seed costs are not a significant barrier. It seems reasonable to expect, in the not-too-distant future, quadruple- and quintuple- and sextuple-stacked hybrids that do all kinds of fancy things such as incorporate herbicide resistance, targeted pesticides, and modifications that make the corn cheaper and easier to industrially transform into ethanol.

by das monde on Wed Mar 28th, 2007 at 03:59:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I hesitate to start screaming "this guy's a shill!", but...

No doubt Monsanto plans to come up with new, "improved" corn seed products that will target new, improved pests, and will be able to resist new, improved herbicides. That is the treadmill that the human race has put itself on, and whether we'll ever be able to get off of it seems a highly doubtful proposition,

Hardly have we mooted biofuels, than "the human race" has elected to put itself into an irreversible process! How handy for Monsanto et al! That is exactly the fait accompli policy they have been and still are pursuing.

As for Monsanto's (or other seeds/chem companies) capacity and/or will to go on tweaking GMs, I think we should look at the twenty-odd years they've been at it to see thay are practically offering one thing: a permutation on the basic BT (bacillus thurengiensis) insecticide along with RR, Roundup Ready, that ties in their house weedkiller. After so many years of bad agricultural practice, pests like the corn borer or the boll weevil pose a significant economic problem. Since there is no question in the productivists' minds of dealing with the problem by ending industrial monocropping, (that created the problem in the first place), BT GM plants offer a way out. Monsanto will quickly offer a "double-stacked" product with RR added - since part of the game is to chain farmers into using their products, (see Micro$oft). If there are two pests around, the product will be "triple-stacked" (BT can run to scores of slightly-differing strains producing proteins that kill the larvae of different species of insect).

Meanwhile, most of the talk about wonderful future varieties of GM plant is just that. Will they really be able, for example, to find a killer for corn borer that has developed resistance to BT? Will it ever be profitable for them to R&D narrowly "customised" plants? Who can believe that, if "high-ethanol" maize is developed, Brazil will not start planting GM sugarcane to stay ahead (currently twice as much ethanol per hectare from sugarcane as from maize)?

The treadmill looks set to be laborious and to get nowhere - which is what treadmills do.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Mar 28th, 2007 at 08:41:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Via the same Salon's blog HTWW... on to the subject of bees that are "miraculously" dissapearing in America, theatening fields agricultural crops to be left unpollinated. HTWW links to an article in Der Spiegel that reports a study linking the dissapearing bees (in Germany as well) to pesticides built in GM crops. I posted a diary.
by das monde on Wed Mar 28th, 2007 at 10:53:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
is that biofuels are running into unsustainability limits before they have even been pushed on a large scale. That suggests that we are hitting hard physical limits on many fronts, and that it's going to be really hard to find substitutes to consume more of anything.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 27th, 2007 at 10:24:54 AM EST
It took us a back-of-the-envelope calculation to figure out the EU's 6% target for biofuels in transportation was not sustainable from domestic production. The European Commission has all the data from Eurostat and do this for a living and had had years to do the calculation, and hadn't figured it out?

It boggles the mind.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 27th, 2007 at 10:51:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's unboggle a bit by introducing the Full-of-Shit Factor™.

They know the score, but this way the Commission can wave mandatory targets around to prove they're Doing Something to relieve oil dependency and fight Global Warming; and what across the Atlantic they call pork can be shipped down to rural areas and local pols can wave that around and prove they're Doing Something to Create Jobs. The good people (that was beginning to hear disquieting rumours about the end of oil) can now sleep calmly and dream of a future in which they'll still drive around as much as before thanks to some Green Free Lunch. And no one has to be the messenger who will get shot.

(The farmers here are supported by the MinAg technostructure, by the industry (Monsanto et al), and by pols who'll have ethanol distilleries built by Rural Development subsidies in their area. Or, like close to here, the slightly less criticable biodiesel factory that will (if it ever works from a commercial and financial standpoint) use sunflower and rapeseed oil.)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Mar 27th, 2007 at 11:30:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are we going to introduce
afew's Full-of-Shit Factor™ technology
tags?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 27th, 2007 at 04:47:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One of the few things we can do now that doesn't require much infrastructure change (as opposed to putting everyone in smaller cars for example) is reducing meat consumption. Of course the same dynamic exists in which we eat steak and hamburgers while the world's poor starve.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Tue Mar 27th, 2007 at 01:15:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How bad do things have to get before people take notice?

Today's NY Times has an article (at last) on the over development of the US Southwest. The focus was on the rise in forest fires and the impact on recent housing developments that have been built in close proximity.

It also mentions the eight year old drought:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/27/us/27warming.html

Yesterday Bush met with US automakers (pointedly leaving out foreign makers with US factories) to discuss biofuels. The automakers are pushing for E85 subsidies which will allow them to bypass even the modest requirements of the present CAFE standards.

The lesson that when you have fallen in a pit the first thing to do is to stop digging is apparently lost on US planners.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Tue Mar 27th, 2007 at 10:57:45 AM EST
They can't take notice because they don't have the frame to take notice.

Believing "the Market will provide" means that your approach to any problem is to look for "market failure" and possible "incentives" to get the market to "provide".

They could have read "The Limits to Growth" but since that book is incompatible with "the Market will provide" it would have been nonsense to them.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 27th, 2007 at 11:12:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The only thing that the markets will provide is that the price will be such that supply will match demand (or vice versa). If supply is constrained, the "market" will "organize" rationing by putting the price high enough to price out enough people, however vital (in the literal meaning of that word) that good may be for them. Thus my usual sentence: famine is an efficient market solution/allocation. The alternative "market solution" is, of course, that demand is reduced because people fight it out before actually gaining "access" to the "market".

Thus market solutions are not always politically palatable solutions, but, at their "purest", will simply be the reflection that nature does not break its laws and that you cannot allocate (however that word is defined) something that does not exist.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 27th, 2007 at 11:21:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...is a religion and you're a heretic.

It's just like if you believe "God will provide" your approach to various problems will be to wonder whether you've lost God's favour and to engage in prayer, penance or sacrifice.

Someone can come and present a non-supernatural cause-and-effect analysis of the situation and because God is not a necessary hypothesis, you'll dismiss it as nonsense.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 27th, 2007 at 12:01:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perspectives are kind of dark. People bought into the religion that you just have to consume and obey your own fun, and everything will be fine, no worry about anything else. Many big companies (especially in IT) do not know a better buisiness model than force a short life span of their products, so to generate a tight cycle of obsolence, maximum conspicuous concumption. Naturally, a stream of waste is generated, which is shipped "most conveniently" to developing countries with all the toxity. For example, Japan aggressively seeks to "liberalize" hazardous waste trade in South East Asia:

Most free-trade agreements don't exactly lack for critics. But the recently negotiated bilateral pact between Thailand and Japan this year has taken particular abuse for a handful of toxic-waste provisions buried deep in the document. NGOs and environmental activists have pointed out that the deal would make it much easier for Japan to transfer its hazardous waste - including both incinerated municipal waste and refuse from hospitals and chemical plants - over to Thailand. Already, the Southeast Asian country has begun accepting more and more toxic waste shipments from Japan, its largest foreign investor. And, although Thailand has decent environmental laws on the books, they aren't always enforced: Industry analysts have estimated that, in 2001, less than 10 percent of the country's one million tons of hazardous waste was processed and disposed of properly. The rest was just dumped into rivers, open fields, and the sea.

Collectively, we won't be noticing anything, as long as the public discourse is dominated by the "happy" libertarian talk. We are digging deaper into a catastrophic situation. We may as well embrace ourselves for an episode of real "natural selection". People who notice something already may have an edge. Sorry for all the others... but we may deserve nothing better.

by das monde on Tue Mar 27th, 2007 at 11:09:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... trick to get pork delivered down on the farm was to dump subsidized US grain in food markets in low income countries, devastating local producers and setting food self-sufficiency back, sometimes by decades.

At least this way we primarily screw up ourselves instead of landing on the agricultural systems of low income countries like a plague of locusts.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Mar 27th, 2007 at 10:23:04 PM EST
Yes and no. Yes, subsidized exports were and still are a plague on the agriculture of poor countries. No, because higher-priced grains will mean more difficulty for the poorest in buying food.

Not to worry. Egged on by the seed & chemicals conglomerates, first-world farmers are dreaming of colossal yields that will allow them to both "feed the world" and "put fuel in cars". I'm quoting a farmer (and union leader) at the town-hall meeting I mentioned in another comment.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Mar 28th, 2007 at 03:37:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You mean the farmers don't even have a realistic picture their own farms' output?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 28th, 2007 at 04:22:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They are being encouraged to believe in a leap forward thanks to GM plants.

Realism: the corn borer is now so prolific (as a result of decades of monoculture, of course) that it is responsible for the loss of the 10-20% mentioned. BT maize will restore that loss (the protein expressed in every part of the plant is rapidly lethal to lepidoptera larvae). Until, monoculture continuing, a resistant strain of corn borer shows up.

The leap forward: tomorrow the seed merchants will offer miracle GM products that will hugely increase yield along with customised specialisation eg towards ethanol production. Yeah, dream on. This will be without consequence on the environment, because the customisation will include Green Glitz™ that will make the culture harmless, like, for example, it will only need one month's watering to produce a bumper crop. Dream on, Part Two.

Here's a bit of propaganda from the AGPM (Maize Growers' Association) handed out to farmers last September. It narrates the dream story of Jean, farmer in the French South-West, about to buy in seed for the 2016 season:

Pour son contrat amidon destiné à l'alimentation humaine, le AM-AL 200 est un maïs très précoce, à démarrage rapide, une variété récente spécialement sélectionnée par l'obtenteur selon les désirs de l'amidonnier <...> Jean espère pouvoir semer dès le 28 février.

En revanche, pour son maïs éthanol, il cherche le rendement maxi <...> Si tout va bien, vers la mi-novembre, Jean récoltera, comme l'an passé, 198 quintaux à l'hectare. Peut-être même dépassera-t-il enfin les 200 quintaux!

For his cornstarch contract meant for human consumption, AM-AL 200 is a very early maize, quick-starting, a recent variety specially selected by the seedsman according to the starchmaker's wishes <...> Jean hopes to be able to sow by 28 February.

On the other hand, for his ethanol maize, he's looking for maximum yield. <...> If all goes well, towards mid-November, Jean will harvest, like last year, 198 quintals (19.8 tonnes) per hectare. Perhaps he'll even get past the 200 quintals mark at last!

Note that these miracle varieties are GM, and one is on offer for "direct" (ie after industrial processing) human consumption. That a 28 February sowing, late June harvest would make any maize-grower's eyes pop. That yields currently reach around 100-120 quintals/ha, so we're talking about doubling yields in 7 or 8 years.

The rest of the flyer (handed out in a fact-pack at a special day partly sponsored by Monsanto) offers further elements of a fabulous techno-vision: robots do all the work, built of bio-plastics made from maize and running on maize ethanol... Though, at the end, the robot is said to be an unlikely development. Wonderful GM varieties of maize are said, however, to be possible.

There's another angle in the Salon piece das monde quotes above.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Mar 28th, 2007 at 07:38:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sheesh, this stuff needs to be debunked.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 28th, 2007 at 07:40:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The poorest where? The poorest in the cities with difficulty buying grain where generally driven to the cities by the lack of economic opportunity in the countryside.

And the poorest in the countryside lose their ability to buy food when the medium sized farmers are driven out of business that previously provided the largest group of employers for the poorest in the countryside. So they are forced into dependence on the large landholders or driven into the cities.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Mar 28th, 2007 at 07:08:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Agreed. But, without local development programmes, how will the poor who fled to the cities get back to the countryside to work on the land again - even if rising prices make farming a reasonable prospect again? It's indeed of the poorest in the cities that I'm thinking.

We seem to offering two macro-possibilities: Doha Round free trade (an end to subsidized food exports, at least), and/or an increasing biofuel pull on the market at the same time as world population is rising. Both would see food prices rise. But without investment in local development, the result is likely to be a new colonial cash-crop culture - new (sustainable, unsustainable?) plantations, where yesterday's uprooted peasants will be lucky to find low-paid hard labour, producing food and fuel crops for the richer part of the world.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Mar 28th, 2007 at 08:00:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I have a program for local agrarian development below the radar of the Washington Consensus Institutions presently being translated into French in the DRC.

It is rather important that any positive development program is pursued by a low income nation that it is able to disguise the development activity from the IMF/IBRD/USAID.

Lack of pressure to dump surplus grains on low income nations is a blessing for any decentralised agrarian development program, and a successful agrarian development program is the only sustainable way to feed the urban poor, no matter what job guarantee program they are offered.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Mar 28th, 2007 at 09:06:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... fan of the Job Guarantee.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Mar 28th, 2007 at 09:19:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To stop this madness, libertarians may offer an allience. They have the same good arguments (via NRO):
There are significant trade-offs, however, involved in the massive expansion of the production of corn and other crops for fuel. Chief among these would be a shift of major amounts of the world's food supply to fuel use when significant elements of the human population remains ill-fed.

Even without ethanol, the world is facing a clash between food and forests. Food and feed demands on farmlands will more than double by 2050. Unfortunately, the American public does not yet understand the massive land requirements of U.S. corn ethanol nor the unique conditions that have allowed sugar cane ethanol to make a modest energy contribution in Brazil.

The United States might well have to clear an additional 50 million acres of forest -- or more -- to produce economically significant amounts of liquid transport fuels. Despite the legend of past U.S farm surpluses, the only large reservoir of underused cropland in America is about 30 million acres of land -- too dry for corn -- enrolled in the Conservation Reserve. Ethanol mandates may force the local loss of many wildlife species, and perhaps trigger some species extinctions. Soil erosion will increase radically as large quantities of low-quality land are put into fuel crops on steep slopes and in drought-prone regions.

This nihilist may have a point as well:

Ethanol from corn in the US: well, of course! hasn't anyone remembered that the first part of the Presidential elections take place in Iowa? A place inhabited mainly by corn farmers? The EU has been held hostage by it's farmers since its creation: what does anyone bloody well think will happen when the political types start to mandate a specific technology? Yup, right spot on, the recommendations, the regulations, will benefit the farmers.
by das monde on Tue Mar 27th, 2007 at 11:18:07 PM EST
the only large reservoir of underused cropland in America is about 30 million acres of land -- too dry for corn -- enrolled in the Conservation Reserve

Good of the NRO to point that out, because we hear all too easy talk (on both sides of the Atlantic) about all the unused land there is just begging to be farmed.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Mar 28th, 2007 at 03:47:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The citation is actually from a report of Competative Enterprise Institute. But it is always good to expose folks to facts. We may even start to talk.
by das monde on Wed Mar 28th, 2007 at 03:51:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just upthread you blamed out predicament on "the public discourse" being "dominated by the 'happy' libertarian talk" and now you say the libertarians may be allies in fighting biofuels? Maybe its because they want coal and nuclear plants or a hydrogen economy?

I think biofuels will crash on takeoff.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 28th, 2007 at 04:24:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah. Libertarian non-happy talk is more interesting ;-)

Biofuels do not crash, nor cash. People do...

by das monde on Wed Mar 28th, 2007 at 04:42:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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