Food riots caused by rising food prices have erupted around the
world. Five people died in uprisings in Haiti, perhaps the first of
many casualties to come from the fad of being "green."
Food riots also broke out in Egypt, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Senegal
and Ethiopia. The military is being deployed in Pakistan and Thailand
to protect fields and warehouses. Higher energy costs and policies
promoting the use of biofuels such as ethanol are being blamed.
"When millions of people are going hungry, it’s a crime against
humanity that food should be diverted to biofuels," an Indian
government official told the Wall Street Journal. Turkey’s finance
minister labeled the use of biofuels as "appalling," according to the
Biofuels have turned out to be a lose-lose-lose proposition. Once
touted by the greens and the biofuel industry as being able to reduce
the demand for oil and lower greenhouse gas emissions, biofuels have
accomplished neither goal and have no prospect for accomplishing either
in the foreseeable future.
The latest research shows that biofuels actually increase greenhouse
gas emissions on a total lifecycle basis. Add in that
taxpayer-subsidized diversion of food crops and food crop acreage to
fuel production has contributed to higher food prices and reduced food
supply, and biofuels turn out to be nothing less than a public policy
The situation is not likely to get any better any time soon, as
cutting the farm subsidies and tariffs on sugar cane-based ethanol
imports that have fueled the ethanol craze seems to be yet another
third rail of U.S. politics.
Biofuel proponents hope the reliance on food crops to produce
biofuels is temporary, and they point to a future where non-food
biomass (such as corn stalks and grasses) is used to produce so-called
But in addition to the fact that the technology for producing
cellulosic ethanol on a cost-effective basis is nowhere near ready for
prime time, the greenhouse gas footprint of cellulosic ethanol likely
will be far worse than that of corn-based ethanol.
It’s one thing to transport relatively compact corn kernels to be
processed into ethanol; it’s quite another to transport bulky biomass.
The bulk problem would require a multitude of cellulosic ethanol plants
to be built around the country — a project that could be quite costly
and difficult to locate given the phenomenon of NIMBY-ism and the
problem of plant emissions making it more difficult for states to
comply with federal air quality standards.
States that don’t meet those standards don’t get their much-needed
federal highway funds. Food riots are only the tip of the green
iceberg. We might also expect energy riots to erupt one day.
The world has an ever-growing population that needs more and more
energy, but the greens are doing everything they can to constrict the
world’s energy supply.
As the Sierra Club campaigns to shut down our coal-fired electricity
capabilities, the Natural Resources Defense Council campaigns to
prevent nuclear power from taking its place. The demise of coal-fired
power and the blockage of increased nuclear power will increase the
demand for supply constraints on, and the prices for, natural gas.
But then again, environmental advocacy group Earth First perhaps is
helping to alleviate the looming natural gas crisis by campaigning
against power plants that use the fuel. In a recent campaign against a
South Florida power plant, an Earth First campaigner stated that the
environment ought not be threatened "so that people can fuel their
greedy energy desires." "Just say ‘no’ to electricity," seems to be the
bottom line of eco-think.
Even wind power is becoming more and more politically incorrect.
Environmentalist-friendly Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley this week
announced that wind farms will not be allowed on state lands because
they are eyesores.
Considering eco-activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s long-standing
opposition to a wind farm off the coast of his family’s Hyannis Port,
Mass., compound as well as environmentalist concerns that wind farms
kill wild birds, it seems that the future of wind power is uncertain.
The environmentalist effort to tie our energy policy knots already
is producing results. The availability of electricity in the
Washington, D.C., area is so fragile that Maryland officials already
are planning for summertime rolling blackouts starting in 2011.
In California, officials are so concerned that a recent state
legislative proposal would have provided local utilities the power to
control thermostats in new homes and businesses. Although this effort
failed, it’s not that hard to imagine that, one day, all homes will
have their electrical use controlled by local utilities — no doubt run
by your local green energy czars.
Millions in the developing world have died and continue to do so
from the greens’ campaign against pesticides such as DDT. Nothing less
should be expected from their new campaign that threatens global food
and energy production.