World Bank weighs in on ethanol

corn_fuel.jpgFinally, some common sense! On Friday in the Guardian World Bank head Robert Zoellick was quoted while speaking at an IMF meeting, saying that “in the US and Europe over the last year we have been focusing on the prices of gasoline at the pumps. While many worry about filling their gas tanks, many others around the world are struggling to fill their stomachs. And it’s getting more and more difficult every day.”

This is the condemnation of Ethanol that many of us have been waiting for — and it frames a problem I have discussed here and here. To wit: in a world of finite natural resources and arable land, policies which encourage us to grow fuel in fields inevitably lead to deforestation and competition with food crops.

The deforestation is a double-whammy: trees clean our atmosphere of carbon, converting CO2 to Oxygen. The fewer trees remain, the less carbon is processed by the earth’s biomass, and the more of it bleeds into our atmosphere. This further accelerates Global Warming.

But now, with rising food prices, it’s become quite clear that humans are competing with gas tanks for food crops. The inevitable result of this is famine, and as we’ve seen through previous famines, the inevitable result of those are wars.

Frankly, without some rational though on sustainability (which we won’t be getting from the U.S. anytime soon) we are only hitting the gas pedal on global warming and strife.

3 thoughts on “World Bank weighs in on ethanol

  1. There’s a sight, a farmer on strike who’s rioting about food. Dumb ass.

    Personally, a tree here and there looks like plenty of energy. Those corn stalks and all the leaves I rake every year, we may as well toss those in too. And there’s methane leaking into the atmosphere in the Artic due to the permafrost thawing, why the hell aren’t we capturing that?

    On another point, I’m actually concerned about the amount of corn I am consuming. Driving around on it might not be good while I sip on flavored corn syrup, eating a corn fed hamburger, and surrounded by nothing but corn.

    We really need to diversify our stock.

  2. Dave,

    I think you’re missing the point: space is not infinite. If you choose to grow fuel in a field instead of growing food, you’re constraining the food supply. Farmers striking and people rioting for food would tend to be seen by most as symptoms, rather than being causal, to the problem of food shortages.

  3. The article says wheat and rice prices are higher. Who is making ethanol out of them? I live in the corn belt and I see no more places to by ethanol than was here ten years ago. Whos producing and using all this ethanol? Nobody I know.

    Ethanol can be made from non food products,like algee, and grass, and wood chips. And theres plenty of available farmland for crops, just as much as there was when we were not starving.

    Argentine farmers are on strike! Peru farmers are on strike! Throw in some drought areas. FOOD SHORTAGE without a drop of ethanol.

    As far as rising food prices ? whats new? how long has it been since Coke was a knickel, or a steak dinner two-bits? Compared to inflation, fuel and food are still cheap.

    Starvation is the result of poor planning, and no accoutability. Look at the people riot to get food- instead of raising it themselves.

Comments are closed.