Biofuels And Global Hunger

Published on countercurrents on April 1, 2007 (first on CounterPunch, March 30, 2007):

Three Excerpts: … Bush met with General Motors Corp. chairman and chief executive Rick Wagoner, Ford Motor Co. chief executive Alan Mulally and DaimlerChrysler AG’s Chrysler Group chief executive Tom LaSorda. They discussed support for flex-fuel vehicles, attempts to develop ethanol from alternative sources like switchgrass and wood chips and the administration’s proposal to reduce gas consumption by 20 percent in 10 years.

The discussions came amid rising gasoline prices. The latest Lundberg Survey found the nationwide average for gasoline has risen 6 cents per gallon in the past two weeks to $2.61.

I think that reducing and recycling all fuel and electricity operated engines is an urgent and elemental necessity of all humanity. The dilemma is not in the reduction of energy costs, but in the idea of turning foodstuffs into fuel.

Today we know with accurate precision that one ton of corn can only render as an average 413 liters of ethanol (109 gallons), a figure that may vary according to the latter’s density …

… I understand that Venezuela would not export alcohol; it will use it to improve the environmental safety of its own fuel. Therefore, despite the excellent technology designed by Brazil to produce alcohol, its use in Cuba to produce alcohol from sugarcane juice is nothing but a dream, the ravings of those who entertain such ideas. In our country, the land which would otherwise be devoted solely to the production of alcohol could be better used to produce foodstuffs for the people and protect the environment.

All countries of the world without exception, whether rich or poor, could save trillions of dollars in investments and fuel if they only replace all incandescent bulbs with fluorescent bulbs, which is what Cuba has done in all the residential areas of the country. This would be a palliative that will enable us to cope with climate change without killing the poor people in this planet with hunger.

As can be seen, I am not using adjectives to describe either the system or those who have become the owners of this world. That task will be brilliantly accomplished by the information experts, the many honest socio-economic and political scientists in this world who continuously delve into the present and the future of our species. A computer and the increasing number of Internet networks will just be enough to do that.

For the first time a truly globalized economy exists and a dominant power in the economic, political, and military spheres that is in no way similar to the ancient Rome ruled by emperors …

… “Many regions in this planet suffer from severe water shortage, where the annual rate of cubic meters per person is less than 500. Every time there are more and more regions suffering from a chronic shortage of this vital resource.

“An insufficient amount of the precious fluid necessary to produce foodstuffs, the impaired development of industry, urban areas and tourism, and the emergence of health problems are some of the consequences that derive from water shortage.”

So much for the TELAM wire service.

I have not mentioned other important facts, such as the ice that is melting down in Greenland and the Antartic, the damages caused to the ozone layer and the ever higher titers of mercury found in many fish species which are part of the regular people’s diet.

Other topics could be addressed, but in these few lines I simply intend to make some comments about the meeting held by President Bush with the chief executives of US automakers. (full text).
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