By David L. Brown
The carefully crafted coverup of the problems revolving around the ethanol craze is starting to come unraveled. People have noticed that they are spending more for food; learning how rain forests are being cut down at a rapidly increasing rate; and that — gasp! — turning corn into alcohol to burn in SUVs might even be LESS green than using plain old-fashioned gasoline.
The cover story on this week’s edition of Time magazine is good news for those of us who have spoken out against this bad idea for years — in my case since the whole idea came along back in the 1970s. I was an agricultural communicator at that time, and I knew a bit about how agriculture works. I wrote a technical farm management handbook. I well remember how a man who operated a small printing business that we used was passing out bumper stickers heralding ethanol as the answer to oil scarcity after the first oil shock of 1973. Even in those days of crop surpluses I knew there were many reasons why this was a bad idea that would mine our precious topsoil.
We didn’t hear much about ethanol for a long time, although it was always there lurking in the wings. Then a few years ago it began to pick up steam as Congress and the administration found a new way to subsidize farmers in return for their votes. Yes, the corn used to make ethanol is heavily subsidized by your tax dollars and mine, enriching farmers as it erodes our grocery budgets and spreads the threat of widespread famine in the Third World.
Now the real story is starting to get out about this con game that is driving our planet on a downward spiral toward social and environmental disaster. Here’s part of the Time cover that is on newsstands now:
The six-page article focuses on how rising grain prices and other factors are causing entrepreneurs around the world to mow down forests like fields of daisies, convert grazing land to crops, put fragile soil to the plow, and generally despoil the landscape all in the name of … well, not to put too fine an edge to it: Money. Yes they’re doing it all for money, cash, moolah, the Almighty Dollar, the Root of All Evil. Take note of the “leaves” in the cover illustration above. The whole biofuel scam is really all about nothing more than letting a few get filthy rich while doing nothing whatsoever to help rein in global warming and almost certainly making the situation even worse.
Although it is interesting and well worth reading I will not go into details about the content of the Time article because for nearly two years we have been trumpeting the word about fake fuels here on Star Phoenix Base. If you are interested in reading some of the things we have reported, use the search field at upper right to hunt for our numerous articles on the subject.
I will however quote the last paragraph of the Time article by Michael Grunwald:
Advocates are always careful to point out that biofuels are only part of the solution to global warming, that the world also needs more energy-efficient lightbulbs and homes and factories and lifestyles. And the world does need all those things. But the world is still going to be fighting an uphill battle until it realizes that right now, biofuels aren’t part of the solution at all. They’re part of the problem.
That pretty much says it all, and I will add the words of a United Nations food expert quoted in the article, who said that “agrofuels are ‘a crime against humanity’.”
We have said much the same thing here on more than a few occasions, and it is depressing to see this tragic boondoggle continue to gain momentum even as the facts about ethanol are emerging into the light of day. Even Iowa, sometimes called The Corn State, is on the verge of becoming a net importer of the golden grain, thanks to dozens of ethanol distilleries popping up all over the region. There seems to be no end to the enthusiasm for ravaging the environment to make a fast buck, whether there in the American Heartland, in the rainforests of Brazil or Indonesia, or in Europe where rapid expansion of ethanol production has recently been mandated.
As reported in the Time article, Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute has said of the ethanol craze that it “pit[s] the 800 million people with cars against the 800 million with hunger problems.” When the profit motive meets the best interests of humanity, it seems that greed always wins and the poor end up with the short end of the deal.
So who shall feed the hungry when food is turned to fuel? The simple answer is: no one, not while there is money to be made. The rich are abandoning the hungry poor and leaving them to join the legions of the doomed. May their spirits haunt those who engage for profit in turning food into fuel when there are hungry bellies in the world.
The mythic teacher Jesus is said to have turned water into wine, but only a living Satan would turn wine into water or food into fuel.