I've read a couple of different articles recently on the subject of biofuels, but I was particularly struck by this one in today's San Francisco Chronicle; Arrol Gellner regularly comments on the relationship between humans and their environment. I'm glad to see that some people are beginning to agree with me, and to speak out, on the stupidity of the whole biofuels business. It doesn't help that Congress has just passed a draft farm bill that continues to subsidize the corn farmers of the midwest beyond their wildest dreams of avarice.
We have to quit messing with biofuels. Yes, and the Europeans and everyone else have to quit it too. Our insistence that we can turn corn into fuel for cars is causing a worldwide famine, by driving up the price of food in general. I'm not sure we shouldn't just Give Up On The Whole Idea, even eliminate switchgrass as a source - because land planted for switchgrass is not land planted for edible crops.
Which is more important - driving to work, or eating? Is it more important for you to drive to work than it is for an Indian subsistance farmer's family to eat one meal?
We're killing people here, or we will be shortly. People who live on a dollar a day (or even two dollars a day) will be dying of starvation.
And it's all because we're hooked on automobiles. Nobody wants to hear this - especially nobody who commutes 60 miles a day to work because that was the closest house he could afford to buy - but we are all of us going to have to rethink how we live, and how we get places. We'll have to break our addiction to the automobile, and the ease in traveling that it gives us. It'll be really expensive; it'll be really hard, and we'll have to rebuild stuff; but the alternative will be to continue to drive cars, using increasingly expensive fuel, until we can't afford any more fuel at all; by which time we'll have overloaded the atmosphere with greenhouse gases. Then we'll have to abandon the cars because we can't move them without fuel.
And then we really will have to do the hard stuff: walk. Take transit (if it exists). Move to some place where you CAN walk or take transit. Maybe we'll go back to horses; treat horses reasonably, and they'll produce new little horses for you every year, for free. Of course, you have to feed horses; and we're back to cropland again. Plant it in edibles, or biofuel sources??
And yes, we're driving to Wyoming and Montana on vacation this summer. I'm addicted to cars too. We've built a world where cars are how you get around, and there really aren't alternatives in a lot of places. But we have to start thinking about alternatives.