Monday, April 14, 2008

Will that be dishonest or stupid?

Lorrie Goldstein has a question: “How hard could it have been to predict that if you grow food to make fuel instead of feed people, eventually two things will happen? (1) You won’t have enough land to grow food. (2) There will be food shortages, rising prices, riots and starvation” he asks this morning.

The correct answer of course is that it wasn’t hard to predict such an outcome at all. Just check the Toronto Star from several months ago, or the feature above from ABC’s 20/20 program shown over a year ago. Actually, one could find any number of environmentalists and critics of food-based ethanol that predicted just such dire scenarios many years ago when corn ethanol first started taking off in the U.S. Midwest.

Perhaps this question would be better directed to the Harper government that last July announced an investment of $1.5 billion to boost Canada’s production of biofuels. “With leading-edge technology and abundant supplies of grains, oilseeds and other feedstocks, Canada is uniquely positioned to become a global leader in the production of biofuel,” said Harper at a photo-op in front of a grain terminal.

But never mind those pesky FACTS, because after all, Goldstein is a “Conservative” hack with an axe to grind against “global warming” and anything that smacks of lefty environmentalism. “Welcome to another unintended consequence of fighting global warming, or, more accurately, of panicking over global warming in a climate of political hysteria, thus rushing into decisions that may only make things worse,” he smugly crows.

Of course the only people even half-seriously touting the environmental benefits of ethanol were the politicians backing these programs and the agri-business conglomerates that stood to benefit from them. Remember the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association advertisements that ran continuously for months last year featuring Harper’s generous funding promise? One person who certainly wasn’t keen on the CO2 reducing properties of ethanol was Frederic Forge of the Library of Parliament’s science and technology division who concluded that regulations to promote biofuels would have “relatively minor impact” on reducing greenhouse emissions across Canada. Naturally, his pessimistic assessment was promptly ignored completely by the Harper government, what with it being all scientific and stuff. No surprise — we all know how this “walking with dinosaurs” crowd feels about that sort of thing!