Regular readers of Sparrow Chat will be aware of my objections to ethanol as a substitute for oil-based gasoline. I’ve expressed concern on numerous occasions that ethanol is not a suitably “green” alternative, merely a convenient way for high profits to be made and a means of by-passing the importation of crude oil.
George W Bush recently described plant-ethanol production to replace gasoline as a “win-win” situation; a ‘green” fuel for vehicles with little engine modification required (just what the motor manufacturers ordered), huge profits for the producers and processors (the farmers who grow it, and the multi-national companies that process it) and the carbon-based gases emitted from the engines that use it are only what the plants who made it absorbed in the first place.
So what, you may ask, is the problem?
Sustainability is the problem. As a species we use so much of the stuff there’s insufficient room to grow food for ourselves and our vehicles. Even if, as politicians have promised (ha!) ethanol can be produced from grasses rather than corn or palm oil, the demand for these high profit crops will ensure vast areas of rainforest are stripped to grow the stuff.
It’s happening already. In Indonesia, huge swathes of rainforest are being cleared to produce palm oil. In Tanzania, the UK-based Sun Biofuel Plc are having over 11,000 villagers evicted for jatropha biodiesel.
Today, the European Union has finally admitted they were wrong to push ethanol as a viable alternative to gasoline.
A BBC report states:
“Europe’s environment chief has admitted that the EU did not foresee the problems raised by its policy to get 10% of Europe’s road fuels from plants.
Recent reports have warned of rising food prices and rainforest destruction from increased biofuel production.
The EU has promised new guidelines to ensure that its target is not damaging.
EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said it would be better to miss the target than achieve it by harming the poor or damaging the environment.” [my bold]
EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas told the BBC:
“We have seen that the environmental problems caused by biofuels and also the social problems are bigger than we thought they were. So we have to move very carefully…….we have to have criteria for sustainability, including social and environmental issues, because there are some benefits from biofuels.” [my bold]
Quite how the whole of the European Commission failed to notice that the environmental and social problems associated with biofuel production were “…..bigger than we thought they were…..” is difficult to fathom, given the amount of scientific evidence available to confirm them.
If Sparrow Chat was able to make such an assessment nearly a year ago, it seems inconceivable ‘expert’ politicians weren’t aware of it.
Of course, the truth is they were well aware, but pressure from the corporate masters and a greed for profit caused political blindness, until the situation became so desperate they could no longer justify ignoring it.
In the United States, no such admission has been forthcoming.
Here, corporate pressure on government, and a president ignorant of all but his own ego, will likely prevent any action to stop this systematic rape of the planet and its inhabitants (a crime likely to prove equal to, if not eventually dwarf, that perpetrated in Sudan over the last five years) making it unlikely the disastrous expansion of agro-fuel production will be curtailed during the office of George W Bush.
While the EU is to be cautiously applauded for finally submitting to humanity and common sense over this issue, so long as governments are bought and paid for by our Corporate Monarchs, the slogan, “Profit Before Planet” will continue to resound throughout the corridors or power.
Filed under: Planet Before Profit