Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Biofuels May Be Even Worse than First Thought

More and more corn is ending up in fuel tanks rather than on plates.With soaring food prices high on the agenda for next week's G-8 Summit in Japan, World Bank President Robert Zoellick has been clear that action needs to be taken. "What we are witnessing is not a natural disaster -- a silent tsunami or a perfect storm," he wrote in a Tuesday letter to major Western leaders. "It is a man-made catastrophe, and as such must be fixed by people."

According to a confidential World Bank report leaked to the Guardian on Thursday, Zoellick's organization may have a pretty good idea what that fix might look like: stop producing biofuels.

The report claims that biofuels have driven up global food prices by 75 percent, according to the Guardian report, accounting for more than half of the 140 percent jump in price since 2002 of the food examined by the study. The paper claims that the report, completed in April, was not made public in order to avoid embarrassing US President George W. Bush. (link)


While World Bank officials tried to downplay the report and said it is just one of several reports on the impact of biofuels and was not intended for publication, they agree that biofuel is a factor in pushing up world fuel prices.

Oxfam, the environmental group, has said that biofuels have contributed to a 30 percent increase in food prices. While it is undeniable that biofuels have increased world food prices, it is doubtful that it has reduced greenhouse emissions. Growing food for fuel has led to the cutting down of rain forest which act as carbon sinks. Also some fertilizers used in food production release nitrous oxide which is another greenhouse gas. In addition, the net energy gain from biofuels is minimal. It takes almost a BTU of energy to create a BTU of ethanol energy.

It is time to admit that ethanol was a mistake. Congress should immediately end the subsidising of biofuels and repeal the mandate requiring ethanol blended gasoline.

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  1. "Congress should immediately end the subsidising of biofuels and repeal the mandate requiring ethanol blended gasoline."

    Yes, it should. Now that the world and many in the U.S. have acknowledged that Biofuels are a problem, let's see how long it takes government to correct the mistake. This is a working experiment on how quick bureaucracy can create change. I don't have high hopes.

  2. Ditto what vh said.

    If only the Pres and Congress would work as fast on everything as they did with the "Patriot" Act!

  3. It's amazing how quickly we can create our own difficulties and how excruciatingly slow we are to turn the ol' juggernaut around once it leaves port.

  4. Remember CATO, this is a DimOcrit Congress suffering from extreme BDS AND highly enamored of the Green jackassery that fails to THINK before they mandate what we all should do. I don't see them changing any biofuel mandates anytime soon.

    Seems like all any nut case has to say is "it's necessary to do X to stop Glow-Bull Warming" and all thought processes stop dead and the lemmings let themselves be led over the cliff like the sheep they are.