Gore Lied; People Will Die

It’s an inconvenient truth that across the world valuable cropland is being converted from growing food to growing biofuel. The croplands are being converted with government subsidies, and we are about to learn a very harsh lesson.

In Egypt we have breadlines, in Pakistan and India soaring flour prices, and in the rest of the subcontinent we have rice shortages.

Lester Brown, director of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington, said yesterday that land turned to biofuels in the US alone in the last two years would have fed nearly 250 million people with average grain needs. “This year 18% of all US grain production will go to biofuels. In the last two years the US has diverted 60m tonnes of food to fuel. On the heels of seven years of consumption of world grains exceeding supply, this has put a great strain on the world’s grain supplies,” he said.

The rising price of energy has decreased supplies of food in two ways: it’s made fuel crops more attractive and it’s made export and transport of food staples such as wheat, corn, and rice both more expensive and less appealing.

The outcome? We have breadlines in Egypt, we have spiraling food staples cost, and not enough food, which means people will be starving to death later this year. Yes, we passed a tipping point Al, and it was much closer and more easily seen than the one you spoke of in your movie.

Food production and commodities combined with free markets have kept famine at bay across most of the world since the early 80’s. The fact is that modern famines are created by government policies, or strife which interdicts transport. The Somalian famine was due to civil war against Islamists, and the Bangladesh famine was due to failed governance.

Any country can feed its people no matter how dense the population if they can farm at the level that 16th century Japanese peasants were capable of, this demonstrated in “A Step Further Out” by Jerry Pournelle. In the modern world with cheap transport and modern agriculture there’s simply no excuse for Famine, but I fear we’ve passed that point and that we will see some people starving to death this year.

Some future Chomsky will no doubt be writing screeds about Euro-centric Environmental Imperialism and Energy Hegemony, but in the end it’s exactly that sort of person who’s at fault here. Social liberals and computer models are a terrible combination, as the Club of Rome model tells us. (See here.)

In the end oil, coal, and food are foolish to burn, all create carcinogenic compounds that pollute the air — and if you have a ecological concern that should be it, not global warming. However our current eco-movements are headed down this exact path, with politicians hostage to the coal, oil, and bio-fuel lobbies worldwide.

We have the means to create plentiful, worldwide, cheap energy with Nuclear, Solar, Hydroelectric, Wind, Geothermal, Ocean thermal, and in the future Solar Power Satellites. The chest of options for really clean energy is full, but we fail to open it.

Our goal needs to be more than energy independence, if we are truly a great nation then we should set the bar higher – we must create abundant clean energy for the world.

All of the clean technologies are capable of generating electricity at a reasonable cost point which would surely come down if they were put into large-scale use, and all of them are feasible. With the exception of Solar power satellites, they have all been used for large scale electric generation. Also if you don’t think solar power satellites are feasible I will point you to the saga of Spirit and Opportunity, both live on past all expectations of gloom.

The future of the world is bright, but not if we follow charlatans and fear-monger lobbies who are really just after world socialism and wealth redistribution. We don’t need carbon credits, we need nuclear power. We don’t need carbon sequestration, we need hydrogen fuel research. We don’t need Kyoto, we need energy.

In the end Al Gore lied, and people will likely die. Don’t worry however: If famine does come, as appears likely, Al can sponsor a “Concert for X” (insert country name with hundreds of thousands dieing of starvation at X,) to make himself feel better about it.

[editor: Much more on energy potentials can be found online, and in the sidebar here under “Energetic Futures”. If you can find a copy of Jerry Pournelle’s book , I recommend you grab it. It’s a seminal work on the subject. Photo Credit Don McCullin, Contact Press]

16 Replies to “Gore Lied; People Will Die”

  1. In many cases where people are on the brink or already starving,
    the people in charge are spending money to buy MIG fighters,
    tanks, RPGs and Ak-47s to preserve their power. They should be spending money on fertilizer, seed and farm implements. The U.N. says that food cannot be used as a weapon, but it seems some nations are doing just that to their own people. We
    and others tried to help North Korea only to find they were giving it to their armed forces and allowing the general population to fend for itself. In most of these countries also the
    land is owned by the government and they dictate who, what and where to plant not letting the people decide for themselves
    what their food needs are.

  2. Thanos, I had no idea –the last I heard [I must not have been paying enough attention! ): ] was that corn was too expensive to convert to fuel……..what are the crops which are being turned into fuel, and by whom, where? –not the farmers themselves, but what companies, and where are the conversion facilities, and how much fuel do they actually turn out, and is it in the market and where……. ): –I feel lost in an ocean of questions….. ):

  3. My 2000 Dodge Grand Caravan is equipped to burn E-85 (85%
    ethanol and 15% gasoline.) Although they state that it will not get the same milage as gas alone, I haven’t noticed. Also the E-85 is less polluting than gas. The cost was 10 cents cheaper
    than gasoline when I was able to find it. I think that with all the
    acreage in the soil bank, that we could produce the amount of
    fuel needed to meet our needs in the future. We have to quit
    depending on foreign sources for our energy needs and look to
    wind, solar and yes even nuclear power. On the food issue, there
    is a disease that is ruining wheat crops in some parts of the
    world and that needs to be addressed. We cannot do it all by
    ourselves and it seems the U.N. is spineless when it comes to
    helping third world countries. The nations in need usually turn
    to the U.S. rather than the U.N. I sometimes wonder if we splinter
    off from the U.N. if it wouldn’t be better than trying to get them
    to do anything.

  4. As the article mentions, food reserves have been decreasing for seven years. That’s due to a lot of factors, (cooling climate, disease, etc.) but it’s the lower dollar and energy that took us past tipping point.

  5. I hate to bring this up, but until Congress gets off of it’s green
    duffs and allows more drilling for oil or more energy sources to
    be used, the situation is going to get worse. The use of hydroelectric power can still be exploited as it was years ago.
    Congress needs to look at the big picture instead of investigating MLB and drug use.

  6. Yep, I agree. While I castigate oil above it’s still better than coal, where too large a percent of our energy comes from. If you wanted to rank things by cleanliness it would go something like this:
    Hydro
    Ocean Thermal
    Geo Thermal
    Wind
    Solar
    Nuclear
    Natural Gas
    Bio-fuel
    Oil
    Coal

  7. Do not forget to place blame upon OPEC. Rising fuel costs increase the price of transporting food as well as farming costs (such as tractors). We’d see a drop in oil prices were Saudi Arabia and Kuwait more open about their true oil reserves instead of obfuscating the true numbers.

  8. It’s not just the transport and tractors either Abdullah — it’s also the fertilizer. Modern agriculture requires high-nitrate fertilizer, which takes a remarkable amount of energy to produce and transport. Couple that with the fuel cost to run irrigation pumps in arid regions like the gulf, Africa, and the high plains of Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan to see the rest of the problem.

  9. I always found that the best position on global warming was to support it. Doesn’t matter whether you believe that the world is or is not getting warmer, and I personally don’t care whether you believe that man is causing it or not. I always thought we might be exacerbating the problem, but our actions were irrelevant in the long run. What people need to realize is the technological potential that humanity, (and the US) has to gain from exploiting green research. I hope that we discover a feasible way to get us off oil. Hopefully we can use it to put China back in its economic place, instead of having a 2.5 or so trillion dollar collar on our collective throats. That or a bunch of their nuclear reactors go Chernobyl and they go away. Either or. Back to the article. Personally, I am a devout realist. There are famines, and they aren’t any of our business unless they threaten us. And Thanos, no offense, but why put hydro as first. They are destructive to the lake environments, and creating artificial water bodies still destroys land, which I assume was the reason for not putting solar or wind first. Of course, wind does kill birds.

  10. There are famines, and they aren’t any of our business unless they threaten us. — Thoth

    Thoth, you are an ass. People are dying now for something imagined. Fat Cats are getting rich on carbon credit scams while people are eating their shoes. Famine does not have to happen, and those people dieing affects us and our grandchildren. Famines drive war and instability both of which have direct and observable effects on our economy, well being, and ability to take care of the environment(the Government of Haiti fell over the weekend to food riots.) I guess to a shit like you people dieing doesn’t matter, I mean like Gaia comes first and all…

    WASHINGTON, April 13: The world is moving towards a food crisis that may lead to wars and riots, warn financial experts meeting at the World Bank headquarters in Washington.

    “People are dying because of their reaction to the situation,” said Jacques Diouf, director-general of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation.

    The UN agency also warned that this food crisis was not going to end quickly. The World Bank agreed and predicted that prices would remain above 2004 levels through to 2015.

    World Bank President Robert Zoellick noted that people living in the developed world struggled with the high cost of fuel to run their cars, while poor people in developing nations struggled to feed themselves.

    “In many developing countries, the poor spend up to 75 per cent of their income on food. When prices of basic foods rise, it hits hard,” he said.

    The price of wheat had risen 120 per cent over the past year, Mr Zoellick added. Over the past three years, food prices overall have risen 83 per cent, the World Bank estimates.

    The crisis of surging food prices could mean “seven lost years” in the fight against worldwide poverty, he said.

    IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn also issued a dire warning about the food crisis and its economic and political impact.

    “Food prices, if they go on like they are doing today … the consequences will be terrible,” he said, adding that if they continued, “hundreds of thousands of people will be starving”.

    “As we know, learning from the past, those kind of questions sometimes end in war,” he said.

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