The Shotgun Blog
Thursday, April 03, 2008
Emaciation Proclamation: Biofuel Politics
Now that the entire agricultural economy has been distorted by the biofuel fad — rice-outs in Asia, tortilla riots in Mexico, rainforests being razed for corn fields — Germany's environment minister is saying his country may have to back off and revert to a reliance on good old fossil fuels.
A press release Thursday from the German Embassy in Ottawa reports that "Amid growing fears that biofuel farming is harming the environment and driving up world food prices, Germany's Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel set out Wednesday (2 April) an exit strategy from Berlin's controversial fuel blend plans."
Read more from Kevin Libin here.
Concerns about rising food prices and environmental devastation caused by biofuel mandates were raised by Fidel Castro last year. In a Western Standard exclusive called “Ethanol diplomacy,” Colby Cosh reported:
How often do Fidel Castro and The Economist agree on something? That strange communion has come to pass recently as the recuperating-or-dying Cuban generalissimo launches a strident campaign against biofuel ethanol, the miracle energy source that, depending on whom you talk to, could save the world from climate change or lead to a disastrous curtailment in food supplies. In late April, ethanol became the subject of Castro's first signed editorial for the Granma newspaper since his 2006 collapse from a gastric illness. In his characteristic droning and pompous style, he accused the U.S. of pursuing ethanol production from corn as part of the continuing effort to unmake his revolution.
"The sinister idea of turning foodstuffs into fuel [is] definitely established as the economic strategy of the U.S. foreign policy. . . ," he wrote, claiming, "More than three billion people in the world are being condemned to a premature death from hunger and thirst" by the diversion of food into the energy market. Meanwhile, he argues, rising prices for energy-appropriate grains will unleash a frenzy of land clearance in the Third World, doing more to harm the climate than replacing traditional gasoline will do to help.
Read more from Colby Cosh here.
So with everyone from Germany's environment minister to the editorial board at The Economist to Fidel Castro challenging the biofuel fad, where are Canadian policy makers on this issue?
In a press release on March 28th, Member of Parliament Joe Preston made this statement on behalf of Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz:
“The Government of Canada is committed to biofuels production. Biofuels not only offer new markets for farmers, but new jobs for our cities and towns, and a new source of cleaner renewable energy.”
Preston then announced that the federal government would increase funding for biofuel production in Ontario by $4 million. The money will come from the federal ecoAgriculture Biofuels Capital (ecoABC) initiative and will go to IGPC Ethanol Inc. The ecoABC Initiative is a federal $200 million four-year program ending in 2011.
The Canadian government has a 5 percent biofuel target for transport fuel by 2010, a modest target compared to 25 percent for Brazil, 20 percent for Japan and 17 percent for Germany by 2020, currently being reconsidered.
Agcapita Farmland Investment Partnership research shows that current global mandates commit approximately 240 million acres of farmland to biofuel feedstock production over the next 15 years. That’s 240 million acres of farmland that won’t be producing food.
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Ridiculous ignorant superstitious "environmentalists" (Totalitarian Leftists) depend upon government schools to indoctrinate children with Atheistic "earth worship" bologna rather than teach all children basic math and science (which no government Teachers Union "teacher" can even understand let alone teach), which previously enabled every citizen to recognize the falacy of ALL modern phony "environmentalism" and phony man-made global warming, etc.
Girls can all become "firewomen" and "policewomen" up until there is an actual fire or an arrest to be made, but they can't be affirmed into correctly adding a column of figures (or ever being "proud" like poor little Michelle Obama).
This stupid Luddite envirnomentalism situation is exacerbated by craven gutless political "leaders" who pander to the "popular" (i.e. main stream media) drivel rather than denounce the lies and explain the catastrophe to our food and water supplies and other huge economic distortions inherent in attempting to "grow" gasoline.
We need a nuclear power plant located on every street corner and clean stack gas coal fired power plant in the middle of each block.
Posted by: Conrad-USA | 2008-04-04 9:51:27 AM
Bill Maher makes a good point about biofuel: http://www.236.com/blog/w/bill_maher/the_biofuel_boom_5671.php
Posted by: eliana | 2008-04-04 6:32:28 PM
We are working on the commercialization of algae oil production in
the U.S. Below are some approximations for your review.
With $100 a barrel of oil, algae can be very attractive. No C02 emissions,
doesn't have any effect on the food chain and uses less land than any energy
If the prevailing market price paid to the farmer is at a rate of $4.00/gal
for standing crop feedstock oil, then the top potential income per acre is as
Soybeans - 300 Gal/acre/year = $1,200 acre/year
Camelina - 400 Gal/acre/year = $1,600 acre/year
Palm Oil - 700 Gal/acre/year = $2,800 acre/year
(This assumes that the Farmer is pressing his seed crop to extract the oil
and is presenting the oil for sale at $4.00 Gal)
Using a selling price for Algae Oil at $2.00 Gal/acre/year here is the
comparison using the lower production figure of 3,000 Gal/acre/year:
Algae Oil – 3,000 Gal/acre/year = $6,000 acre/year
National Algae Association
4747 Research Forest Dr., Suite 180
The Woodlands, Texas 77381
Posted by: b cole | 2008-04-07 8:08:21 AM
In this day of $110 it's incredible that people think that high food costs are due to ethanol. You don't think it could be due to high oil costs?
Corn is presently being grown on about 80 million acres in the US whether you have an ethanol industry or not.
99% of the corn is field corn which is unsuitable for human consumption, it is grown as livestock feed.
Ethanol just uses the sugars in the corn and the proteins remain in the distillers grain which is useful for livestock feed. BTW distillers grain is easier for the livestock to digest vs. raw corn.
Ethanol competes with high fructose corn syrup.
Ethanol does not compete with wheat, as corn is grown in moist areas and wheat is grown in arid areas.
Posted by: South of the Border | 2008-04-07 10:28:08 AM
From Bill Maher:
"What do we do? I don't know. If global warming really is a planetary emergency, we need socialized medicine for our environment. As long as the profit motive is what it is, deforestation will continue to be a problem."
So now it's biofuels vs global warming? Why not let the markets have a go at the biofuel movement? It's so heavily subsidized that we don't have a clear picture of its value.
Posted by: dp | 2008-04-07 10:38:55 AM
"Corn is presently being grown on about 80 million acres in the US whether you have an ethanol industry or not. 99% of the corn is field corn which is unsuitable for human consumption, it is grown as livestock feed."
I think part of the concern—even going back to John Robbins' days—is that we're making such weird use of our land. Feed corn being an example back in the day: 3.6 pounds of corn to make one pound of pork according to the US National Pork Board.
If the US starts redirecting their corn into Ethanol, it's not like consumers will accept any less bacon on the shelves at Costco, so who outside of the US will be coaxed into growing less people food in order to grow our pig and cow food?
We have the luxury of having a say in how our leaders run the show, but I wonder how people in less democratic countries will feel when they have to pay double & triple price for food just so someone else can make sweet sweet coin selling feed corn to a feed lot somewhere far away?
Think of how many people want to blow us up over what we'd call pointless ideological differences. Imagine how many more people would want to blow us up if they (rightly or wrongly) saw us as feeding their kids' food to our pigs so our kids could have bacon and ethanol.
Posted by: Pattern Recognition | 2008-04-07 10:46:59 AM
PR: Another luxury we have is an unbelievable choice of foods. Most of the people on this planet have a very specialized and/or limited diet. It's not something we can truly comprehend.
Posted by: dp | 2008-04-07 10:54:48 AM
"PR: Another luxury we have is an unbelievable choice of foods. Most of the people on this planet have a very specialized and/or limited diet. It's not something we can truly comprehend."
Yep. We can say, "Well boo hoo, then stop relying on this or that!" as if it's that simple. As if it's either their fault for not having our choices, or not having our government or not being advanced enough. On & on.
Posted by: Pattern Recognition | 2008-04-07 11:10:12 AM
The point being is that corn is not competing for your food dollar unless you think that we can't survive without high fructose corn syrup.
Corn farmers aren't going to drop everything and start growing wheat or tomatoes. Corn farmers don't grow wheat except for some exceptions.
People in Third world countries are starving because of the high price of oil. They can't afford anything because all of their wealth as little as it is goes to the importation of oil.
Now if they could produce their own fuel they could start getting getting a handle on their balance of trade. Something Brazil accomplished through ethanol.
Posted by: South of the Border | 2008-04-07 8:34:33 PM
SOTB: Truth is, most people on both sides of the border are more concerned with our own problems. If you can make a buck off bio-fuels, power to you. We've been seeing (proposed) small scale projects in western Canada for years. If you can boost the octane levels I'd appreciate it. My 69 Chevelle would run a lot better with the timing advanced a couple of degrees.
And about all those starving children. Lets be realistic, if they can't afford food now it's only going to get worse. I wish they'd stop feeding on their own young in all those horrible countries. They just keep popping them out, hoping that a few will survive.
By the way, if they're starving because of high oil prices, why didn't they all get fat in 1998? They should have stockpiled all that $10/barrel oil, and made a killing on it later.
Posted by: dp | 2008-04-07 8:58:12 PM
Whether you’re stripping oil out of canola or sugar out of corn, you’re leaving behind a less substantive food source. In the case of corn, the sugar extracted could be used to feed animals who are part of the human food supply. Hence bio-diesel and ethanol compete with the human food supply. Am I missing something, SOTB?
Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-04-07 10:10:43 PM
LOL! Another Harper give away to corporations as part of the Corporate Welfare Agenda of the CONservative party--whatever happened to fiscal conservatism? From bribes to corporate give aways, Harper is spending taxpayers money like a drunken sailor in a brothel!
Posted by: ROGER | 2008-04-07 11:37:15 PM
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