Ethanol Subsidies: A “Scam” That Causes Starvation

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman debunks the idea that converting from oil to ethanol will cut global warming:

“The subsidized conversion of crops into fuel was supposed to promote energy independence and help limit global warming. But this promise was, as Time magazine bluntly put it, a ‘scam.’

This is especially true of corn ethanol: even on optimistic estimates, producing a gallon of ethanol from corn uses most of the energy the gallon contains. But it turns out that even seemingly ‘good’ biofuel policies, like Brazil’s use of ethanol from sugar cane, accelerate the pace of climate change by promoting deforestation.

And meanwhile, land used to grow biofuel feedstock is land not available to grow food, so subsidies to biofuels are a major factor in the food crisis. You might put it this way: people are starving in Africa so that American politicians can court votes in farm states.”

Krugman, a liberal economist and critic of the Bush Administration, has long advocated government regulations and incentives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  But it is apparent even to him that ethanol subsidies are a destructive waste of money that will not reduce climate change.

Ethanol subsidies are also causing unrest and hunger in Egypt, fueling the rise of Islamic extremism, opposition to Egypt’s relatively pro-American government, and anti-Western sentiment.