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The Clean Energy Scam
04-07-2008, 11:20 PM,
#1
The Clean Energy Scam
From his Cessna a mile above the southern Amazon, John Carter looks down on the destruction of the world's greatest ecological jewel. He watches men converting rain forest into cattle pastures and soybean fields with bulldozers and chains. He sees fires wiping out such gigantic swaths of jungle that scientists now debate the "savannization" of the Amazon. Brazil just announced that deforestation is on track to double this year; Carter, a Texas cowboy with all the subtlety of a chainsaw, says it's going to get worse fast. "It gives me goose bumps," says Carter, who founded a nonprofit to promote sustainable ranching on the Amazon frontier. "It's like witnessing a rape."

The Amazon was the chic eco-cause of the 1990s, revered as an incomparable storehouse of biodiversity. It's been overshadowed lately by global warming, but the Amazon rain forest happens also to be an incomparable storehouse of carbon, the very carbon that heats up the planet when it's released into the atmosphere. Brazil now ranks fourth in the world in carbon emissions, and most of its emissions come from deforestation. Carter is not a man who gets easily spooked--he led a reconnaissance unit in Desert Storm, and I watched him grab a small anaconda with his bare hands in Brazil--but he can sound downright panicky about the future of the forest. "You can't protect it. There's too much money to be made tearing it down," he says. "Out here on the frontier, you really see the market at work."

This land rush is being accelerated by an unlikely source: biofuels. An explosion in demand for farm-grown fuels has raised global crop prices to record highs, which is spurring a dramatic expansion of Brazilian agriculture, which is invading the Amazon at an increasingly alarming rate.

Propelled by mounting anxieties over soaring oil costs and climate change, biofuels have become the vanguard of the green-tech revolution, the trendy way for politicians and corporations to show they're serious about finding alternative sources of energy and in the process slowing global warming. The U.S. quintupled its production of ethanol--ethyl alcohol, a fuel distilled from plant matter--in the past decade, and Washington has just mandated another fivefold increase in renewable fuels over the next decade. Europe has similarly aggressive biofuel mandates and subsidies, and Brazil's filling stations no longer even offer plain gasoline. Worldwide investment in biofuels rose from $5 billion in 1995 to $38 billion in 2005 and is expected to top $100 billion by 2010, thanks to investors like Richard Branson and George Soros, GE and BP, Ford and Shell, Cargill and the Carlyle Group. Renewable fuels has become one of those motherhood-and-apple-pie catchphrases, as unobjectionable as the troops or the middle class.

But several new studies show the biofuel boom is doing exactly the opposite of what its proponents intended: it's dramatically accelerating global warming, imperiling the planet in the name of saving it. Corn ethanol, always environmentally suspect, turns out to be environmentally disastrous. Even cellulosic ethanol made from switchgrass, which has been promoted by eco-activists and eco-investors as well as by President Bush as the fuel of the future, looks less green than oil-derived gasoline.

Meanwhile, by diverting grain and oilseed crops from dinner plates to fuel tanks, biofuels are jacking up world food prices and endangering the hungry. The grain it takes to fill an SUV tank with ethanol could feed a person for a year. Harvests are being plucked to fuel our cars instead of ourselves. The U.N.'s World Food Program says it needs $500 million in additional funding and supplies, calling the rising costs for food nothing less than a global emergency. Soaring corn prices have sparked tortilla riots in Mexico City, and skyrocketing flour prices have destabilized Pakistan, which wasn't exactly tranquil when flour was affordable.

Biofuels do slightly reduce dependence on imported oil, and the ethanol boom has created rural jobs while enriching some farmers and agribusinesses. But the basic problem with most biofuels is amazingly simple, given that researchers have ignored it until now: using land to grow fuel leads to the destruction of forests, wetlands and grasslands that store enormous amounts of carbon.

Backed by billions in investment capital, this alarming phenomenon is replicating itself around the world. Indonesia has bulldozed and burned so much wilderness to grow palm oil trees for biodiesel that its ranking among the world's top carbon emitters has surged from 21st to third according to a report by Wetlands International. Malaysia is converting forests into palm oil farms so rapidly that it's running out of uncultivated land. But most of the damage created by biofuels will be less direct and less obvious. In Brazil, for instance, only a tiny portion of the Amazon is being torn down to grow the sugarcane that fuels most Brazilian cars. More deforestation results from a chain reaction so vast it's subtle: U.S. farmers are selling one-fifth of their corn to ethanol production, so U.S. soybean farmers are switching to corn, so Brazilian soybean farmers are expanding into cattle pastures, so Brazilian cattlemen are displaced to the Amazon. It's the remorseless economics of commodities markets. "The price of soybeans goes up," laments Sandro Menezes, a biologist with Conservation International in Brazil, "and the forest comes down."

Deforestation accounts for 20% of all current carbon emissions. So unless the world can eliminate emissions from all other sources--cars, power plants, factories, even flatulent cows--it needs to reduce deforestation or risk an environmental catastrophe. That means limiting the expansion of agriculture, a daunting task as the world's population keeps expanding. And saving forests is probably an impossibility so long as vast expanses of cropland are used to grow modest amounts of fuel. The biofuels boom, in short, is one that could haunt the planet for generations--and it's only getting started.

Why the Amazon Is on Fire

This destructive biofuel dynamic is on vivid display in Brazil, where a Rhode Island--size chunk of the Amazon was deforested in the second half of 2007 and even more was degraded by fire. Some scientists believe fires are now altering the local microclimate and could eventually reduce the Amazon to a savanna or even a desert. "It's approaching a tipping point," says ecologist Daniel Nepstad of the Woods Hole Research Center.





(article continues)





http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/...1725975,00.html
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04-08-2008, 05:55 AM,
#2
The Clean Energy Scam
This article smells of bullshit propaganda...
reality is a manufactured illusion

Self delusion is all well and good until it catches up with you . . .
Reply
04-08-2008, 09:19 AM,
#3
The Clean Energy Scam
The article belongs to to Time Magazine;)I'm not offended :o

I post a lot of articles that I don't necess. agree with the analysis therein - but as always said, it's what useful info can be gleaned from the pieces..reading from a conspiratorial outlook as we are..

@Faust - I also think there's definitely a spin put on this story put "fossil" fuels in a good light

but..

"This land rush is being accelerated by an unlikely source: biofuels. An explosion in demand for farm-grown fuels has raised global crop prices to record highs, which is spurring a dramatic expansion of Brazilian agriculture, which is invading the Amazon at an increasingly alarming rate...It's the remorseless economics of commodities markets. "The price of soybeans goes up," laments Sandro Menezes, a biologist with Conservation International in Brazil, "and the forest comes down."

I think that part's just the straight up truth..and if it wasn't the soybean then there'd be another reason found to tear them down - to 'maximise' the 'potentiality' of the land and generate $
Reply
04-08-2008, 08:49 PM,
#4
The Clean Energy Scam
Quote:Smells like a typical faust reply, reads two words in a sentence then judges everything lol!

Smells like Cheesy Warming *Arrrgh we're all gonna die if we dont stop breathing* C02 MAN IZ KILLINK DER UNIKVERSCH ... baAAAAAh!!!!!!!!!!!

btw my comments were not directed to your article nik;)
hope you know that man, cheers.

VietNamaste !
Good old part timer MaDamZS, LOL!!!:rolleyes:

@ nik. Unsustainable and myopic practices are bound to happen/continue when trying to use/rely on the capitalist system. It's quite easy to write up counter propaganda against it to keep the plebs in line and confused.

Fuck anarchism baby, yeah...!!!...!!!!
reality is a manufactured illusion

Self delusion is all well and good until it catches up with you . . .
Reply
04-08-2008, 09:24 PM, (This post was last modified: 04-09-2008, 12:45 AM by ---.)
#5
The Clean Energy Scam
Quote:
Quote:Smells like a typical faust reply, reads two words in a sentence then judges everything lol!

Smells like Cheesy Warming *Arrrgh we're all gonna die if we dont stop breathing* C02 MAN IZ KILLINK DER UNIKVERSCH ... baAAAAAh!!!!!!!!!!!

btw my comments were not directed to your article nik;)
hope you know that man, cheers.

VietNamaste !
Good old part timer MaDamZS, LOL!!!:rolleyes:

@ nik. Unsustainable and myopic practices are bound to happen/continue when trying to use/rely on the capitalist system. It's quite easy to write up counter propaganda against it to keep the plebs in line and confused.

Fuck anarchism baby, yeah...!!!...!!!!

huh? so with an alternative economic system less land would be required to harvest the same amount of bio fuel? It would be interesting to know a little more about John Carter.

edit) I guess the soya could be used in deserts hydroponically converting bio fuel to electricity as the power source for pumps if not completely solar driven..:)but then there's the co2 claim and we at that point have to consider where co2 rests on a scale between being completely innocuous to that of a 'potentially' catastrophic climate driver
Reply
04-09-2008, 06:59 AM,
#6
The Clean Energy Scam
Quote:huh? so with an alternative economic system less land would be required to harvest the same amount of bio fuel? It would be interesting to know a little more about John Carter.
Farming practices are shockingly out of date and yet a change of system might open their eyes to their myopic practices in the desire to get a nice profit. The capitalist desire to yield quantity and not quality has literally blinded them. Although farming practices aren't correlated to economic systems, but one can see that the capitalist has been conditioned not to have green fingers..


Quote:edit) I guess the soya could be used in deserts hydroponically converting bio fuel to electricity as the power source for pumps if not completely solar driven..:)but then there's the co2 claim and we at that point have to consider where co2 rests on a scale between being completely innocuous to that of a 'potentially' catastrophic climate driver

Not really worried about CO2, as long as we have enough plant life/trees to photosynthesize... besides co2 is clean, am more concerned with pollutants in the ecosystem
reality is a manufactured illusion

Self delusion is all well and good until it catches up with you . . .
Reply
04-09-2008, 07:09 AM,
#7
The Clean Energy Scam
Quote:
Quote:huh? so with an alternative economic system less land would be required to harvest the same amount of bio fuel? It would be interesting to know a little more about John Carter.
Farming practices are shockingly out of date and yet a change of system might open their eyes to their myopic practices in the desire to get a nice profit. The capitalist desire to yield quantity and not quality has literally blinded them. Although farming practices aren't correlated to economic systems, but one can see that the capitalist has been conditioned not to have green fingers..


Quote:edit) I guess the soya could be used in deserts hydroponically converting bio fuel to electricity as the power source for pumps if not completely solar driven..:)but then there's the co2 claim and we at that point have to consider where co2 rests on a scale between being completely innocuous to that of a 'potentially' catastrophic climate driver


Not really worried about CO2, as long as we have enough plant life/trees to photosynthesize... besides co2 is clean, am more concerned with pollutants in the ecosystem


I'm not sold on co2 as a singular climate driver either. heavy metals are rarely if ever spoke about in the msm..and well,DU...although it may be "clean" iyo, it is not inert.

Agricultural method and farming practice are entirely correlated to economic systems..why would you suggest otherwise? And in the case of bio fuel even quality is not going to diminish the absolute need for quanitity in terms of land space required..
Reply
07-04-2010, 05:03 AM,
#8
RE: The Clean Energy Scam
Quote:14 Studies Have Exposed the High Cost of Ethanol and Biofuels
The Unraveling of the Ethanol Scam
By ROBERT BRYCE
February 5, 2009

On its website, Wisconsin-based Renew Energy says it is the “biofuels industry leader for innovation and efficiency.” It goes on, saying that its new 130 million gallon per year ethanol plant in Jefferson, Wisconsin is “the largest dry mill corn fractionation facility in the world” which uses 35 percent less energy and 33 percent less water than similar ethanol plants.

That would be impressive but for one fact: Renew Energy just filed for bankruptcy.

The failure of Renew is the latest bankruptcy in the corn ethanol industry, a sector that despite billions of dollars in federal subsidies, hasn’t been able to prove its long-term economic viability. About 9 percent of all the ethanol plants in the US have now filed for bankruptcy and some analysts believe the numbers could go as high as 20 percent.

Even if the 20 percent figure is never reached, it’s readily apparent that billions of investment dollars will be lost on the corn ethanol scam, a darling of farm state legislators. Today, about four years after Congress increased the mandates on the use of corn ethanol in gasoline, the US is nowhere close to the much-promised goal of “energy independence.” Instead, the increasing use of corn to make motor fuel has caused a myriad of problems. Chief among them: increased food prices.

While it’s true that other factors have helped inflate food prices, including rising energy prices and increased grain demand in other countries, it’s also abundantly obvious that the corn ethanol industry has had a major effect on food prices. The reason is obvious: in 2008, some 4.1 billion bushels of corn – fully one-third of the US crop – was used to make motor fuel. And the results are being seen in the supermarket.

In mid-January, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2008, food prices jumped by nearly 6 percent. That comes on the heels of food price increases of 4.8 percent in 2007. Some agricultural economists are now predicting that food prices could increase by as much as 10 percent in 2009. Worse still, those increases are coming at the same time that the global economy is foundering and U.S. unemployment rates are soaring.

Some of that unemployment is happening within the ethanol sector itself. Renew, which had $184.2 million in revenue in 2008, filed Chapter 11 papers on January 30, just nine days after it posted an article on its website from Ethanol Producer Magazine which touted their new ethanol production process as one that “adds up to higher profitability and sustainability.”

The failure of Renew occurred just two days after Oregon-based Cascade Grain Products filed for Chapter 11. Cascade began operating its 108 million gallon per year distillery in Clatskanie, Oregon last June. Another distiller, New York-based Northeast Biofuels, filed for bankruptcy on January 14. That company’s plant, a $200 million facility with 100 million gallons per year of capacity, began operating last August. In October, VeraSun Energy, the second-largest ethanol producer in the country, declared bankruptcy. Other recent failures in the sector include Greater Ohio Ethanol and Gateway Ethanol.

It may be unkind to kick the ethanol industry while it is circling the drain, but little of this financial news is overly surprising. The corn ethanol industry has always depended on federal handouts for its existence. And given this string of bankruptcies, it’s worth reviewing the many studies produced over the past two years that have shown the high costs of ethanol and biofuels. Thus far, I’ve found 14 of them. If readers find more, please send them along.

1. In May 2007, the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University released a report saying the ethanol mandates have increased the food bill for every American by about $47 per year due to grain price increases for corn, soybeans, wheat, and others. The Iowa State researchers concluded that American consumers face a “total cost of ethanol of about $14 billion.” And that figure does not include the cost of federal subsidies to corn growers or the $0.51 per gallon tax credit to ethanol producers.

2. In September 2007, Corinne Alexander and Chris Hurt, agricultural economists at Purdue University, found that “about two-thirds of the increase” in food price increases from 2005 to 2007 was “related to biofuels.” The report also says, “Based on expected 2007 farm level crop prices, that additional food cost is estimated to be $22 billion for U.S. consumers compared to farm prices for the crops produced in 2005. A rough estimate is that about $15 billion of this increase is related to the recent surge in demand to use crops for fuel.”

3. October 2007, the International Monetary Fund said, “Higher biofuel demand in the United States and the European Union (EU) has not only led to higher corn and soybean prices, it has also resulted in price increases on substitution crops and increased the cost of livestock feed by providing incentives to switch away from other crops.”

3. In March 2008, a report commissioned by the Coalition for Balanced Food and Fuel Policy (a coalition based in Washington, D.C. of eight meat, dairy, and egg producers’ associations), estimated that the biofuels mandates passed by Congress will cost the U.S. economy more than $100 billion from 2006 to 2009. The report declared that “The policy favoring ethanol and other biofuels over food uses of grains and other crops acts as a regressive tax on the poor.” It went on to estimate that the total cost of the U.S. biofuels mandates will total some $32.8 billion this year, or about $108 for every American citizen.

4. An April 8 internal report by the World Bank found that grain prices increased by 140 percent between January 2002 and February 2008.
“This increase was caused by a confluence of factors but the most important was the large increase in biofuels production in the U.S. and E.U. Without the increase in biofuels, global wheat and maize [corn] stocks would not have declined appreciably and price increases due to other factors would have been moderate.” Robert Zoellick, president of the Bank, acknowledged those facts, saying that biofuels are “no doubt a significant contributor" to high food costs. And he said that "it is clearly the case that programs in Europe and the United States that have increased biofuel production have contributed to the added demand for food."

5. In May, the Congressional Research Service blamed recent increases in global food prices on two factors: increased grain demand for meat production, and the biofuels mandates. The agency said that the recent “rapid, ‘permanent’ increase in corn demand has directly sparked substantially higher corn prices to bid available supplies away from other uses – primarily livestock feed. Higher corn prices, in turn, have
forced soybean, wheat, and other grain prices higher in a bidding war for available crop land.”

6. Also in May, Mark W. Rosegrant of the International Food Policy Research Institute, testified before the U.S. Senate on biofuels and grain prices. Rosegrant said that the ethanol scam has caused the price of corn to increase by 29 percent, rice to increase by 21 percent and wheat by 22 percent. Rosegrant estimated that if the global biofuels mandates were eliminated altogether, corn prices would drop by 20 percent, while sugar and wheat prices would drop by 11 percent and 8 percent, respectively, by 2010. Rosegrant said that “If the current biofuel expansion continues, calorie availability in developing countries is expected to grow more slowly; and the number of malnourished children is projected to increase.” He continued, saying “It is therefore important to find ways to keep biofuels from worsening the food-price crisis. In the short run, removal of ethanol blending mandates and subsidies and ethanol import tariffs, and in the United States—together with removal of policies in Europe promoting biofuels—would contribute to lower food prices.”

7. In mid-June, Kraft Foods Global sponsored a report by Keith Collins, the former chief economist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture economist. In his 34-page analysis of grain prices, Collins concluded the ethanol scam “may account for up to 60 percent of the increase in corn prices between 2006/07 and 2008/09.

8. In late June, Oxfam, the non-profit group that fights global hunger, released a report declaring that biofuels are responsible for about 30 percent of the recent increases in global food prices, and are pushing 30 million people into poverty. Rob Bailey, Oxfam’s biofuel policy adviser, summarized the report: “Rich countries' demands for more biofuels in their transport fuels are causing spiraling production and food inflation.”

9. In early July, Britain’s Renewable Fuels Agency concluded, “Biofuels contribute to rising food prices that adversely affect the poorest.” The report, known as the Gallagher Review, also said that demand for “[biofuels] production must avoid agricultural land that would otherwise be used for food production. This is because the displacement of existing agricultural production, due to biofuel demand, is accelerating land-use change and, if left unchecked, will reduce biodiversity and may even cause greenhouse gas emissions rather than savings. The introduction of biofuels should be significantly slowed.”

10. On July 16, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (O.E.C.D.) issued its report on biofuels that concluded: “Further development and expansion of the biofuels sector will contribute to higher food prices over the medium term and to food insecurity for the most vulnerable population groups in developing countries.”

11. Also in July, the U.S.D.A., the federal agency that has long been one of the corn ethanol sector’s biggest boosters, admitted that corn ethanol is driving up food prices. That’s somewhat remarkable given that the agency’s leaders have consistently downplayed the link. Nevertheless, in July 2008, the department released a report called “Food Security Assessment, 2007,” which states very clearly that the biofuels mandates are pushing up food prices. The first page of the report says:

…the persistence of higher oil prices deepens global energy security concerns and heightens the incentives to expand production of other sources of energy including biofuels. The use of food crops for producing biofuels, growing demand for food in emerging Asian and Latin American countries, and unfavorable weather in some of the largest food-exporting countries in 2006-07 all contributed to growth in food prices in recent years.”

While that admission is noteworthy, the July 2008 report’s importance lies with its projections about the growing numbers of people around the world who are facing food insecurity. And while the U.S.D.A. report does not correlate this increasing food insecurity with soaring ethanol production, the connections are abundantly clear: As the U.S. uses more corn to make motor fuel, there is less grain available on the market. That means higher prices. And that’s a key factor for residents of poor countries who generally spend a higher percentage of their income on food than their counterparts in the developed world.

For instance, in the U.S. only about 6.5 percent of disposable income is spent on food. By contrast, in India, about 40 percent of personal disposable income is spent on food. In the Philippines, it’s about 47.5 percent. In some sub-Saharan Africa, consumers spend about 50 percent of the household budget on food. And according to the U.S.D.A., “In some
of the poorest countries in the region such as Madagascar, Tanzania, Sierra
Leone, and Zambia, this ratio is more than 60 percent.”

The July 2008 U.S.D.A. report goes on saying that the number of people facing food insecurity jumped from 849 million in 2006 to 982 million in 2007. And those numbers are expected to continue rising. By 2017, the number of food-insecure people is expected to hit 1.2 billion. And, says the U.S.D.A., “short-term shocks, natural as well as economic” could make the problem even worse.

12. In September 2008, the International Monetary Fund estimated that 70 percent of the recent increase in corn prices was due to the ethanol scam. In a report to the United Nations, Olivier de Schutter, a Belgian academic, said “Policies aimed at promoting the use of agrofuels from feedstock, having an inflationary impact on staple foods, could only be justified under international law if very strong arguments are offered.”

13. On October 7, 2008 the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization weighed into the debate with a 138-page report called “Biofuels: prospects, risks and opportunities.” In the section on food, the report concludes that “Rapidly growing demand for biofuel feedstocks has contributed to higher food prices, which pose an immediate threat to the food security of poor net food buyers (in value terms) in both urban and rural areas.”

14. On January 30, the University of Minnesota announced the results of a new study which compared the overall cost of corn ethanol with that of gasoline. “Total environmental and health costs of gasoline are about 71 cents per gallon, while an equivalent amount of corn-ethanol fuel costs from 72 cents to about $1.45, depending on the technology used to produce it,” said the university. Stephen Polasky, a professor in the university's applied economics department, said that "These costs are not paid for by those who produce, sell and buy gasoline or ethanol. The public pays these costs.”

Robert Bryce is the author of Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of "Energy Independence."
http://www.counterpunch.org/bryce02052009.html
There are no others, there is only us.
http://FastTadpole.com/
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