Monday, July 7, 2008

Manipulated By Moralizing Morons

BRUSSELS — European Union legislators on Monday proposed ratcheting back an ambitious goal to raise Europe’s use of biofuels, signaling a significant retrenchment.

At the same time, a new report by the British government cast fresh doubt on using fuels from crops in the fight against climate change.

Until recently, European governments had sought to lead the rest of the world, setting a goal of 10 percent of transportation fuels to be derived from biofuels by 2020. But the allure has dimmed amid growing evidence that the kind of targets proposed by the E.U. are contributing to deforestation and helping force up food prices.

“I think when we will look back we will say this was the beginning of a turning point for Europe on biofuels,” said Juan Delgado, a research fellow specializing in energy and climate change expert at Breugel, a research organization in Brussels. “It will be very difficult now for Europe to stick by its targets.”

In the United States, an energy bill passed last year required that 36 billion gallons of biofuels be produced annually by 2022. But criticism is gaining ground there, too, with calls to end tax breaks for corn ethanol and other measures to stop so much American corn — about one-fourth of the crop — being used for biofuels.

Over the last 18 months, studies have shown that the current generation of biofuels reliant on crops like canola, corn and soybeans helps drive up food prices by using agricultural land, aggravates deforestation and may be worse for the climate than conventional oil once the cost of production and transport are taken into account. The majority of biofuels produced in the world today are extracted from corn in the United States, sugar in Brazil, and both grain and oil-seed crops in Europe.

Those findings now are pushing Europe into an about-face on biofuels that has gained momentum in recent days.

-- James Kanter, reporting on how the idiotic ideas environmentalists insisted on are - as this blog predicted - turning to shit brown, for the New York Times

1 comment:

  1. The only thing wrong with this post (and I do appreciate being able to read someone's rants from the more interesting (read: doesn't wear a tie) right wing of society} is that it tries to bring too many groups into the debate about biofuels.

    Props to anyone who can title what is essentially a sweeping generalisation with such good alliteration.

    I know I'm guilty of caricaturing the right as being manipulating and moralising more times than I can count.

    But shouldn't this be about proponents of biofuels, rather than what you yourself said is a raggle taggle diverse bunch and 'who knows what they really stand for?'

    You're a hundred per cent right about it not being a great idea. And, just to test your commitment to critical thinking (as opposed to GOP apologism), how do biofuel concerns compare in your mind with Monsanto, a company that patents strains of cereal crop and makes the seeds only usable once?

    Subsistence farmers and poor sharecroppers have relied solely on being able to produce enough food for their immediate family, and grain for the following season. If you take that away from them, what will you replace it with?

    I support hobbyists growing old strains of vegetable and keeping them going. I appreciate the production of new strains of fruit that are juicier or have a better taste. But I will never support the steamroller act of ripping the right away from nature, and those who live close to it.

    I know you love oil and all it can do, but it's a mistake to rely on it solely when its cost and supply are in such a parlous state. I don't have to be a leftie or a new ager or a mystical environmentalist, to know that a dollar seventy a litre and climbing is not good news. My first thoughts are along the line of 'is there anything we can use instead'?

    Tell you what, Crack Emcee, I would rather have a guy in an emergency who thought along these lines than someone who held out for the moral majority to ride in and save the day.

    You're equating someone who lives off the land with someone who swims with the dolphins and they're two diametrically opposed creatures. You're railing against anti-nuclear conspiracy theorists (and they're very much a subset) who may have no truck with corn hogs but may suffer at the thought of the further forest clearing they do.

    I'm wondering if the irony has whacked you on the side of the head though, when you talk about the land that gets cleared and the diverting of resources to something that may not work (oh I could string a list a yard long for where this has been a bad idea for your side)

    It's called capitalism. The system you hold so much faith in. If you're an entrepreneur or you build the wealth of your nation by inventing some new device or method of doing things then you'll do two things.

    * You construct a prototype.

    * You perform test results on a control group.

    Some alleopathic medicines have made trial subjects very ill indeed so there's no question that progress is exacted at a cost.

    Some you beaut new ideas turned out to have side effects. Lead paint wasn't so good as a cosmetic. Thalidomide is not the kind of birth control that is right for us.

    Even inventions as useful as the Band-Aid took a while to catch on.

    Coca-Cola changed its recipe more than once.

    I reckon it's downright unreasonable to expect perfection in the first trials of your opponents while at the same time excusing blunders of the magnitude of Three Mile Island.

    Here's another thing I think you're doing. You declaim against biofuel loonies for causing the use of a resource to be taken away from those who need it to survive to something that is a practice of dubious merit.

    So that would be like, in times where there are oil shortages and the price is rumoured to hit eight dollars a litre in a few years, using that oil for something that isn't necessary and for which there are better alternatives?

    A trillion reasons, if you like, why biofuel is not the biggest problem.