Another prestigious international figure spoke out against biofuels Tuesday actually calling their use and production a "crime against humanity."
Unfortunately, since this goes counter to solutions for manmade global warming espoused by folks like Al Gore, you likely didn't hear or read about it.
Though George Monbiot isn't a household name in the States, he is considered one of Britain's leading environmentalists, and is regularly quoted by warm-mongers to advance climate hysteria.
Yet, despite his irrational disdain for carbon dioxide, Monbiot has long campaigned against the use of biofuels, a position quite diametric to Gore and other noted American climate alarmists.
With that in mind, Tuesday's article in the British Guardian contained Monbiot's harshest criticisms to date for this supposedly eco-friendly source of energy that global warming obsessed media in America dare not share with the citizenry (emphasis added throughout):
It doesn't get madder than this. Swaziland is in the grip of a famine and receiving emergency food aid. Forty per cent of its people are facing acute food shortages. So what has the government decided to export? Biofuel made from one of its staple crops, cassava. The government has allocated several thousand hectares of farmland to ethanol production in the district of Lavumisa, which happens to be the place worst hit by drought. It would surely be quicker and more humane to refine the Swazi people and put them in our tanks.
Those familiar with Monbiot know that he has quite a flare for the dramatic:
The cost of rice has risen by 20% over the past year, maize by 50%, wheat by 100%. Biofuels aren't entirely to blame - by taking land out of food production they exacerbate the effects of bad harvests and rising demand - but almost all the major agencies are now warning against expansion. And almost all the major governments are ignoring them.
In reality, Monbiot's explanation for this ignorance - governments yielding to pressure from the automobile lobby and big business for example - has little relevance in America, and is really just your garden variety environmentalist delusion.
After all, our unfortunate love affair with ethanol is almost exclusively a legislative overreaction to rising oil and gas prices, and the errant belief that biofuel was the panacea. Now that global warming alarmism has taken center stage thanks to Hurricane Katrina and Nobel Laureate Al Gore, nobody in Congress would dare step onto the floor of the Senate or the House of Representatives admitting that this was all a huge mistake.
Similarly, in other parts of the developed world foolishly beholden to the Kyoto Protocol, governments that have sold their souls to biofuels as part of the carbon dioxide solution can't go back on this now for fear of looking incompetent to their constituents.
As such, media are typically uncomfortable bringing this charade from outside the curtain, as it is far better to keep this cat in the bag if one wants to continue to use global warming as a political issue.
Yet, such conventions don't seem to govern Monbiot as he actually cited information about this biofuel canard that few who don't read NewsBusters are aware of:
If you count only the immediate carbon costs of planting and processing biofuels, they appear to reduce greenhouse gases. When you look at the total impacts, you find they cause more warming than petroleum.
A recent study by the Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen shows that the official estimates have ignored the contribution of nitrogen fertilisers. They generate a greenhouse gas - nitrous oxide - that is 296 times as powerful as CO2. These emissions alone ensure that ethanol from maize causes between 0.9 and 1.5 times as much warming as petrol, while rapeseed oil (the source of more than 80% of the world's biodiesel) generates 1-1.7 times the impact of diesel. This is before you account for the changes in land use.
A paper published in the journal Science three months ago suggests that protecting uncultivated land saves, over 30 years, between two and nine times the carbon emissions you might avoid by ploughing it and planting biofuels. Last year the research group LMC International estimated that if the British and European target of a 5% contribution from biofuels were to be adopted by the rest of the world, the global acreage of cultivated land would expand by 15%. That means the end of most tropical forests. It might also cause runaway climate change.
Imagine that: an environmentalist suggesting that the use of biofuels might cause runaway climate change. Not something you expect NBC to report during its "Green is Universal" campaign, is it?
Of course, NBC also wouldn't want its viewers to read Monbiot's startling conclusion:
If the governments promoting biofuels do not reverse their policies, the humanitarian impact will be greater than that of the Iraq war. Millions will be displaced, hundreds of millions more could go hungry. This crime against humanity is a complex one, but that neither lessens nor excuses it. If people starve because of biofuels, Ruth Kelly and her peers will have killed them. Like all such crimes, it is perpetrated by cowards, attacking the weak to avoid confronting the strong.
As amazing as it might seem, I largely agree with Monbiot's assessment; where we part company is in who are the cowards, who are the weak, and who are the strong.