Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Driving others to starvation?

An Associated Press story Tuesday quoted senior scientists from a global anti-hunger network who called for a halt to the use of food-based biofuels such as ethanol in an attempt to reduce corn prices amid a world food crisis. At the same time, the story said, President Bush was calling on the country to increase its use of ethanol to fuel vehicles, citing national energy security and high gasoline prices. What he didn't mention is that diverting more corn to fuel production leads to increases in our food costs. So, what we may save in gasoline - Yeah, right - will probably be erased by our rising grocery bills. Where's the benefit? Ohio State University Professor Rattan Lal, who is not affiliated with the aforementioned global network, had this to say: "We need to feed the stomach before we need to feed our cars. We have 1 billion people (around the world) who are food insecure. We can't afford the luxury of not taking care of them and taking care of gasoline." A pending analysis from the International Food Policy Research Institute targets biofuels as the cause of 30 percent of the overall increase in food prices between 2000 and 2007. A study financed by the biofuels industry put the figure at 4 percent. Gee, I wonder which might be more accurate? Bush said the international food crisis "is of concern," but he said it's in the best interests of the United States "that our farmers grow energy, as opposed to us purchasing energy from parts of the world that are unstable or may not like us." That's pretty much all of the world these days. The whole ethanol push is a drop-in-the-bucket approach to the serious energy issues facing our country. There are many other options that could be pursued that don't have the unwanted side-effects of ethanol reliance. One would be to raise - yes, raise - the gasoline tax significantly to force conservation and, as a result, lower demand for foreign oil. A second approach would be to significantly increase the mileage standards for all vehicles sold in this country. The fact that Hummers are produced, and that people buy them, is obscene in and of itself. Why not offer greater incentives for people to buy hybrid vehicles? We also need to further explore clean, efficient, alternative energy sources, not just for our vehicles but for our homes. I don't speak from an unassailable position. I don't live in a solar-powered hut, recycle pop bottles or ride a bike to work, but at the same time, I don't like seeing my country go down a path that could cause someone on the other side of the Earth to shrivel up and die.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. You see more and more people driving Hummers and gas guzzlers (my husband included). Do we really need 4 x 4 in western PA? Come on! When it was time for a new car my husband insisted I get a 4 x 4 because I drive an hour on back roads to get to work. Let me tell you something. My little 4 cylinder car has never once been stuck on the snow and it probably drives better than any SUV. I get close to 30 miles a gallon and I'm quite happy about it's performane. It'll hold 5 people and $200 worth of groceries. Why do I need an SUV?

If more people would switch back to cars maybe they'd complain a little less at the pumps. I'd complain a lot too if I was putting $75 a week into my tank and only get maybe 20 to 25 mpg. People, you can fix that. Trade it in on something more fuel efficient!

I'm not saying that gas is cheap. If people would think a little more they'd see ways to save in this economy.

April 30, 2008 at 12:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, but people don't think. They don't think global warming is real. They don't think that driving cars that hog fuel is all that bad if they have the money to pay for it. They don't think about carpooling. They don' think about mass transit. They don't think about the calamitous mess they create for their kids and grandkids to clean up.

But even if they do think, what power do they have? They are caught in lifestyles that demand mobility, and even if they don't drive as much, the price of gas will never again come down more than a few cents. They're pretty much doomed, and the lucky among them will die before things get really bad. In the Third World, it's already happening.

April 30, 2008 at 5:43 PM  

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