biofuels - George Monbiot's prediction + rice shortages articles

wow it sounds like George Monbiot got it right - unfortunately :(

from 2007 :,,329758811-121568,00.html
If we want to save the planet, we need a five-year freeze on biofuels
- Oil produced from plants sets up competition for food between cars and people. People - and the environment - will lose
George Monbiot
Tuesday March 27, 2007

It used to be a matter of good intentions gone awry. Now it is plain fraud. The governments using biofuel to tackle global warming know that it causes more harm than good. But they plough on regardless. In theory, fuels made from plants can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by cars and trucks. Plants absorb carbon as they grow - it is released again when the fuel is burned. By encouraging oil companies to switch from fossil plants to living ones, governments on both sides of the Atlantic claim to be "decarbonising" our transport networks.

In the budget last week, Gordon Brown announced that he would extend the tax rebate for biofuels until 2010. From next year all suppliers in the UK will have to ensure that 2.5% of the fuel they sell is made from plants - if not, they must pay a penalty of 15p a litre. The obligation rises to 5% in 2010. By 2050, the government hopes that 33% of our fuel will come from crops. Last month George Bush announced that he would quintuple the US target for biofuels: by 2017 they should be supplying 24% of the nation's transport fuel.

So what's wrong with these programmes? Only that they are a formula for environmental and humanitarian disaster. In 2004 I warned, on these pages, that biofuels would set up a competition for food between cars and people. The people would necessarily lose: those who can afford to drive are richer than those who are in danger of starvation. It would also lead to the destruction of rainforests and other important habitats. I received more abuse than I've had for any other column - except for when I attacked the 9/11 conspiracists. I was told my claims were ridiculous, laughable, impossible. Well in one respect I was wrong. I thought these effects wouldn't materialise for many years. They are happening already.

Since the beginning of last year, the price of maize has doubled. The price of wheat has also reached a 10-year high, while global stockpiles of both grains have reached 25-year lows. Already there have been food riots in Mexico and reports that the poor are feeling the strain all over the world. The US department of agriculture warns that "if we have a drought or a very poor harvest, we could see the sort of volatility we saw in the 1970s, and if it does not happen this year, we are also forecasting lower stockpiles next year". According to the UN food and agriculture organisation, the main reason is the demand for ethanol: the alcohol used for motor fuel, which can be made from maize and wheat.

Farmers will respond to better prices by planting more, but it is not clear that they can overtake the booming demand for biofuel. Even if they do, they will catch up only by ploughing virgin habitat.


other related articles :

Biofuels and the Rise of Nationalistic Environmentalism


what the headlines around the world say .. a sample of online newspapers

The Australian - search for "rice shortage"

Food riots not our fault - farmers
US shops ration food for first time
Drought a factor in food aid shortage: UN
Farmers fail to deliver on rice
Food inflation, riots stir concern
US stores forced to ration rice
Bill Shorten: National effort can solve water shortage
High prices everywhere but no water, no crop
Thai rice hits new record

Jerusalem Post articles - search for "rice shortage"

Scientists, activists debate if genetically modified foods are panacea or plague
The price of rice
Food crisis hits local supermarkets. Stores put limit on rice sales
Israeli scientists fight food crisis with gene research
As bread prices rise, Saudis flounder in flour crisis

Times of India - search for "rice shortage"

British MP hits out at EU over basmati rice shortage
No quick fix to soothe Asian rice shortage fears
Thailand won't cut rice exports: PM
'Rice bowl' faces paddy seed shortage
Grain pain: Rationing in US as rice gets pricey
China blames global warming for growing water shortage

US eats 5 times more than India per capita
Central bankers sound alarm over food prices
Scientists dispute virtues of 'black gold'
ADB announces fund to fight climate change
Now, Bush blames India for rising food prices
Bush proposes $770 million for world food crisis
Asia tourism, airlines 'complacent' on climate
'Biofuels frenzy fuels global food crisis'
Few top corp suppliers have emissions targets
UN sees world climate change deal in 2009

Tehelka (India Independent paper) - search for "rice shortage"
The Last Stand Of Niyam Raja
Hammered By The Sickle

so whilst there's a shortage of rice in Thailand, some is going to waste in India for different reasons. some of the farmers want to use machines to harvest their crops. but the unions say no - workers must use the sickle. this gives the people jobs - they can work at their own times. farmers pay a nokkukooli - payment for watching work being done. as the harvesting can take longer, sometimes the harvests are lost in the flooding rains prior to being harvested.


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