New 'Green' Body Count Begins
By Steven Milloy
April 17, 2008
Food riots caused by rising food prices have erupted around the world. Five people died in riots in Haiti
-- perhaps the first of many casualties yet to come from the current 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 Vietnam to protect fields and warehouses. Higher energy costs and policies
promoting the use of biofuels like 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 paper.
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 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, biofuels have
accomplished neither goal and have no prospect of accomplishing either in the foreseeable future. The latest
research shows, in fact, 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 disaster.
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 (like corn stalks and grasses) is used to produce so-called cellulosic ethanol.
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 is likely to be
far worse than corn-based ethanol. It's one thing to transport relatively compact corn kernels to be processed
into ethanol; it's quite another thing to transport bulky biomass.
The biomass bulk problem would require that a multitude of cellulosic ethanol plants 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.
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