Biofuel schemes sound “green,” but actually drag millions into poverty
By Rick Brinegar
Pope Francis has joined climate change “deniers” on one aspect of the man-made climate change controversy: Converting food crops to biofuels causes food shortages and endangers the poor. In his recently-released eco-encyclical, Pope Francis called for “a reflection on the non-food use of agricultural products, which are used in large quantities to feed animals or to produce biofuels.”
In fact, the European Parliament has admitted that biofuels have been an energy fiasco. Analysts have shown that some crop-based fuels may release more CO2 emissions than fossil fuels such as coal. An Oxfam biofuels analyst concluded, “…In a starving world, phasing out the use of food for fuel is the only sensible thing to do.” After more than seven years of quarreling and negotiations, the European Parliament stopped supporting land-hungry biofuels. In other words, land-based biofuels will not have much a future in Europe.
As early as 2008, the Oxfam aid agency reported this astounding assessment of the impact of these environmentalist biofuel policies: “The replacement of traditional fuels with biofuels has dragged more than 30 million people worldwide into poverty.” A 2012 report by Friends of Science declared that “Biofuel policies caused 192,000 excess death from malnutrition and poverty in the developing world in 2010.”
It all sounded like a great idea, making fuel from plants which store solar energy through the process of photosynthesis. Over $126 billion has been invested in biofuels development since 2003. One thing, however, was not very well thought through: biofuels made from food crops hurt food supplies. When the supply of corn and other grains falls, food prices skyrocket, and shortages lead to riots in undeveloped countries. Large-scale commercial implementation of more “advanced” biofuels, those which do not pose such a threat to the food supply, is a long way off.
This seems to be a case of researchers devising a hurried “solution” which turns out to be worse than the problem they were trying to address.