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Biofuel not as Great as it Seems?
It appears that in the rush to find the best answer to our oil addiction, we may have foolishly rushed into using a product that (a) doesn’t reduce emissions or halt climate change and (b) has created a food crisis.
The cover story of Time magazine last week argued that the increase in demand for biofuel—in an effort to save the planet—has caused more pollution, a food crisis and has destroyed natural habitats around the world. The reason being that the rush for things like corn and soybeans, the basis for biofuels, has created a trickle-down effect that has caused more damage that good to the planet.
The increased demand has led to incredibly high prices on these commodities, making them unaffordable and unavailable for regular people, leading to riots and creating a world-wide food crisis, as today’s Canadian Financial Post explains. This has also led farmers in the United States to withdraw their properties from a government program that paid them to maintain their lands as natural habitats, as The New York Times printed today. Also, it has led entrepreneurs to cut down rain forests throughout Latin America to make way for pastures and farms to grow these commodities, Reuters reports.
Oh yeah, and burning biofuels also accelerates global warming. How could we have gotten this so wrong?
Though this news looks bad, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep looking for alternatives to oil and continue to go green in our every day lives. It does, however, put the onus on us to challenge our lawmakers and scientists to find the right answers, not the “right now” answers.