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Food Crisis Starts Eclipsing Climate Change Worries

Original post made by jr, Professorville, on Apr 25, 2008

Gore Ducks, as a Backlash Builds Against Biofuels

The campaign against climate change could be set back by the global food crisis, as foreign populations turn against measures to use foodstuffs as substitutes for fossil fuels.

With prices for rice, wheat, and corn soaring, food-related unrest has broken out in places such as Haiti, Indonesia, and Afghanistan. Several countries have blocked the export of grain. There is even talk that governments could fall if they cannot bring food costs down.

Mr. Gore was not available for an interview yesterday on the food crisis, according to his spokeswoman. A spokesman for Mr. Gore’s public campaign to address climate change, the Alliance for Climate Protection, declined to comment for this article.Web Link

Comments (18)

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 25, 2008 at 2:48 pm

It isn't just third world countries that have a crisis, bread in this country is getting more and more expensive as more wheat growers are changing to corn (maize) to make ethanol. Is it realistic to think that the US can grow enough corn to provide fuel for all the cars in this country and not to have to import wheat?

Think again.

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Posted by Gary
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 25, 2008 at 3:28 pm

Kernel corn, as a base for ethanol production, is short-sighted. However, corn farmers, like many farmers, are taken for granted, and they often face overproduction and low prices for their product. I am happy for them, when they get a good price for their crops. Remember, the Great Depression was partially a result of overproduction and low farm commodity prices. If only ethanol production for fuel, from corn, was available in the 30s....

Today, if biofuels are to have any real reach, they will need to come from cellulose, not starch or sugar. However, biofuels will only be a very limited solution, if at all. We have all heard many promises about solar and wind and efficiencies, etc. from the Gore crowd. There are real possibilities in this arena, but it is over-hyped. The missing elements are nuclear power and drilling for oil within this country's boundries. Those who oppose nuclear and oil drilling will be held accountable, politically, in a very big way.

Interesting times....

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Posted by a
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 25, 2008 at 3:29 pm

The food crisis and global climate change go hand in hand and are not separate issues. Part of the food crisis issue has to do with flooding in some parts of the world, and desert-like climate in other parts of the world where there once was abundant rain. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has found that because the Earth's equatorial belt is expanding it will dry out areas in the world. Here's the link to NOAA: Web Link. To add onto the stress the Earth already has from the expanding equator, humans continue to cut down forests to plant corn for ethanol. This also harms the environment and reduces the amount of natural regulatory systems the earth has, namely trees, to regulate the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

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Posted by steve
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 25, 2008 at 4:14 pm

Gore has ethanol on his hands:

Vice-President Al Gore

Third Annual Farm Journal Conference, December 1, 1998

"I was also proud to stand up for the ethanol tax exemption when it was under attack in the Congress — at one point, supplying a tie-breaking vote in the Senate to save it. The more we can make this home-grown fuel a successful, widely-used product, the better-off our farmers and our environment will be."

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Posted by pam
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 25, 2008 at 4:19 pm

so does Obama

In 2005, Obama passed amendments to the 2005 Energy Policy Act which would double the amount of ethanol used in our gasoline supply by 2012 (from 2 billion to 8 billion gallons); provide a tax credit for the retail purchase of E-85 fuel.

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Posted by the more the merrier
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 25, 2008 at 4:45 pm

Over population should be eclipsing both climate change & food crisis worries. Oh well, forget the cause, just deal with the symptoms.

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Posted by Jane
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 25, 2008 at 5:33 pm

Maybe we should hold on to those plastic bags after all

From the GuardianWeb Link

The worldwide effort by supermarkets and industry to replace conventional oil-based plastic with eco-friendly "bioplastics" made from plants is causing environmental problems and consumer confusion, according to a Guardian study.

The substitutes can increase emissions of greenhouse gases on landfill sites, some need high temperatures to decompose and others cannot be recycled in Britain.

Many of the bioplastics are also contributing to the global food crisis by taking over large areas of land previously used to grow crops for human consumption.

The market for bioplastics, which are made from maize, sugarcane, wheat and other crops, is growing by 20-30% a year.

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Posted by a
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 25, 2008 at 6:50 pm

If you really want to reduce your carbon footprint, just buy local made products and eat locally grown food. Check out this New York Times article about the high pollution costs of eating imported food. Web Link. And this is just with food. Think about how many more times the amount of pollution we create with using imported products.

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Posted by ol' lady
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 26, 2008 at 6:24 am

Oops, here we go again..we are all going to die from overpopulation ( what could the solution be?? Oh, maybe a China like solution where nobody is allowed more than one child and any more than that are aborted).

Oh, on second thought, we will die before them because of the real problem of Climate Change. This has changed from the real problem of Global Warming, since we now know that so many parts of the earth are cooling now. Since the Climate has never changed before, ( quick, re-write the history of Greenland and how it was farmed), it must be our fault..quick, everyone back to the era before engines, to save our earth!

Wait, can't do that, too many people have asthma aggravated by wood fires, and wood fires put particulates in the air and contribute to Climate change ( google the cloud over Asia) so we have to outlaw wood fires as too dangerous. So, even pre-engines would kill us off.

Oh well, everyone eat raw food and move someplace where it is always warm so you don't need fires..

Finally, a solution.

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Posted by Walter E. Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 26, 2008 at 2:14 pm

If we were to reject abundant energy and go local in food production there would be no population crisis - we would starve to death. Google potato famine.

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Posted by jr
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 26, 2008 at 4:16 pm

If you're determined to both decarbonize and stop sending money to the Middle East then there is but one plausible answer and it isn't a flex fuel mandate (although allowing sugar ethanol imports could be a smal factor). It's improved hybrid/electric technology for automobiles combined with nuclear-generated electricity.
The auto manfacturers are moving very quickly on their end, and it would not surprise me if all the storage problems were solved and long-range mostly electric vehicles were the norm by 2020.
The technology isn't there yet, though, so mandates are useless. As for nuclear, there's a chance that lawmakers will see its value and override environmentalists like they're doing in Europe. The enviros will, however, put up one heck of a fight on that

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Posted by Greg
a resident of Southgate
on Apr 26, 2008 at 4:27 pm


One more pro-nuke person! A movement starts one person at a time. Who will be next, in Palo Alto, to help carry the flame? All it takes is intelligence.

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 27, 2008 at 6:20 am

I would love open competition between energy sources. The day solar, wind, bio and hamster advocates, plus the abstemious oxen-power localists demonstrate the viability of their lifestyle without legal barriers to the alternatives will be a great day for the people.

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Posted by Deficite Spending
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 27, 2008 at 8:09 am

Corn is being grown for Ethanol because the Government is giving the farmers huge subsidies to compensate for low corn prices. This is all about the big Government giveaway "farm subsidies". And, because of "farm subsidies", farmers make more money not less growing corn.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 27, 2008 at 10:09 am

And there we have it. Not enough American farmers have the right incentives to grow food, instead they grow fuel, and we have to import animal feedstuffs and luxury food items out of season from elsewhere.

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Posted by OpenCompetitionLover
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Apr 27, 2008 at 10:52 pm

"I would love open competition between energy sources."

Great, Walt, let's take away all those "breaks" and "incentives" give to fossil fuels and especially nuclear (including its unlimited liability protection against an "oops" moment like TMI) and see who comes out ahead (and here's a hint, Greg, it ain't going to be your "nuke option")!

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Posted by Walter E. Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 28, 2008 at 4:31 am

Hey, Open Competition Lover, ALL businesses have a limitation of liability, A.K.A. bankruptcy. All businesses write off operating expenses. You want an economy where business does not write off expense? Welcome the National Sales Tax, Bucky.

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Posted by ol' lady
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 28, 2008 at 6:58 am

Yes, mucking around with economic incentives such as the farm subsidies, where something like 90% of the tax money goes to the wealthiest 10% of the farmers, to subsidize growing unmarketable foods, ..well, mucking around usually ends badly.

In the extreme it is called Communism, and look where that gets people?


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