The National Post has applauded Barack Obama for embracing the deforestation of the Amazon. Of course, they don’t say it quite that way. But that is the consequence of Obama’s endorsement of government mandating “flex-fuel engines in automobiles in order to break the oil monopoly, as Brazil has done.”
Protecting the Amazon, of course, was uber-chic among the political Left before alternative fuels came around. But with Iraq and global warming in the headlines, the Amazon, ironically, is literally being sacrificed to the new green fuel fad.
The problems of Brazil’s ethanol mandate has been well-documented by myself here, in the Detroit News, and by others on the Right. But now the Left is also awakening to the horrors they themselves have unleashed in the name of “green.”
“Brazil just announced that deforestation is on track to double this year,” writes Time magazine, one of the loudest, greenest, pro-alternative-fuel publications. “This land rush is being accelerated by an unlikely source: biofuels.”
To meet Brazil-American-Euro government mandates for biofuel, notes Time correspondent Michael Grunwald in the “Clean Energy Scam,” vast tracts of forest are being mowed down across the globe: “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.”
Given the essential role forests play as carbon sinks, greens are realizing that the costs of fighting alleged global warming are worse than the disease (Gosh, where might they have heard that before? On Planet Gore?).
Writes Grunwald: “Even cellulosic ethanol made from switchgrass 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 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.”
Of course, all those pointy heads who thought they were smarter than markets (is Zubrin and the national security crowd paying attention?) missed all this when they were designing their grand schemes. ”We’re all looking at the numbers in an entirely new way,” admits the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Nathanael Greene, whose pie-in-the-sky “Growing Energy” report in 2004 helped rally greens around biofuels. “The situation is a lot more challenging than a lot of us thought,” says University of California, Berkeley, professor Alexander Farrell.
Oops. Honey, I broke the ecosystem! My bad!
As Time’s cover piece concludes: “It was as if the science world assumed biofuels would be grown in parking lots. The deforestation of Indonesia has shown that’s not the case. It turns out that the carbon lost when wilderness is razed overwhelms the gains from cleaner-burning fuels [emphasis mine].”
But faddish pols blithely plow ahead. Obama declares Brazil a model, and Hillary — not to be outdone — has unveiled her own Zubrin-esque diktat requiring all stations to offer ethanol by 2017 while mandating 60 billion gallons of the stuff by 2030.