While the food crisis deepens, world bodies are calling for a summit — in June. We’ve seen food riots across the globe in several countries as rising demand and falling supplies create shortages, and some middle class areas of the world are also feeling the pinch of breadlines. The latest riots have been in Haiti. The demand is created by more countries becoming wealthier, and the shortage is created by several factors, prime among them:
- Conversion of food cropland to Fuel crops
- Cold weather
- Sustained high-energy costs
- rising demand from India and China
Of those things the most easily fixed is the first and third, the other two we can’t do much about. Note that food is really the first source of energy man used, and the one that pollutes the most. The alternatives for energy should not include burning food as it really has dire consequence, as can be seen this year. Nearly 20 percent of US cropland previously devoted to grains and other food products has been converted to fuel crops, and the story is the same in many other nations.
So we need to convert croplands back to food use at least until we find the balance, and consider other means to produce energy. Burning hydrocarbons, no matter what sort produces pollution; even burning hydrogen produces nitrous oxides and hydrogen vehicles take masterful carburation to combat that. In the past few years great strides have been made in that area, but fuel cells currently seem to be the way to go.
We still have to make the hydrogen for those fuel cells some way, and that takes energy to do on the industrial scale needed to fuel the world’s fleet of vehicles. One estimate states that 70 petawatt hours will be needed within 42 years if we convert to Hydrogen powered vehicles.
The only way to get there realistically is to use nuclear reactors in concert with the other clean energy technologies, and we will need them all.
If you look at energy sources they break down from clean to dirty about like this, keep in mind that some purists who think their favorite form of energy is cleaner than another would argue with this, but I’m agnostic, I think we will surely need them all:
Wood and other biomass combustion
When food was our sole source of energy slavery was the norm, so I suspect that food and slavery is the least desirable energy alternative (one of the popular things at ecology fairs in the ’70’s and ’80’s was someone generating electricity by pedaling a bike. Think about that a minute – if that’s our main source of energy, who’s going to be holding the whip and gun, who’s going to be pedaling? E.F. Schumacher’s “Small is Beautiful” philosophy turns quite ugly when applied to masses of people, as was demonstrated by rampant slavery across the world when food was the main source of energy.)
Everything below nuclear above either requires combustion and puts complex pollutants into the air, or it puts waste in to water. In a few short years the population of the world will be 9 Billion. We can’t afford to keep converting croplands to bio-fuels, we need them all. Next time you pump that ethanol into your tank, picture someone chewing on a belt, or bark, or grass — because there’s nothing else to eat that they can afford.
Al Gore and the limousine liberals have never known that sort of desperate hunger, but as you read this hundreds of thousands of real people across the world are feeling the gnaw and discomfort due to croplands converted to fuel.
Also please note that this problem is not confined to one hemisphere: the shortage of grains has triggered more demand for Rice, creating shortages and price hikes there as well.