In commentary this morning in the Washington Post, both the president of the Earth Policy Institute and a climate specialist with the Clean Air Task Force take Al Gore’s proffered solution to “man-made global warming” to task:
It is now abundantly clear that food-to-fuel mandates are leading to increased environmental damage. First, producing ethanol requires huge amounts of energy — most of which comes from coal. Second, the production process creates a number of hazardous byproducts, and some production facilities are reportedly dumping these in local water sources.
Third, food-to-fuel mandates are helping drive up the price of agricultural staples, leading to significant changes in land use with major environmental harm. Here in the United States, farmers are pulling land out of the federal conservation program, threatening fragile habitats. Increased agricultural production also means increased fertilizer use. The National Academy of Sciences reported last month that meeting the congressional food-to-fuel mandate by 2022 would lead to a 10 to 19 percent increase in the size of the Gulf of Mexico’s “dead zone” — an area so polluted by fertilizer runoff that no aquatic life can survive there.
Most troubling, though, is that the higher food prices caused in large part by food-to-fuel mandates create incentives for global deforestation, including in the Amazon basin. As Time magazine reported this month, huge swaths of forest are being cleared for agricultural development. The result is devastating: We lose an ecological treasure and critical habitat for endangered species, as well as the world’s largest “carbon sink.” And when the forests are cleared and the land plowed for farming, the carbon that had been sequestered in the plants and soil is released. Princeton scholar Tim Searchinger has modeled this impact and reports in Science magazine that the net impact of the food-to-fuel push will be an increase in global carbon emissions — and thus a catalyst for climate change.
Meanwhile, Al Gore pays himself to live large, ups profits while upping pollution:
Al Gore defends his extraordinary personal energy usage by telling critics he maintains a “carbon neutral” lifestyle by buying “carbon offsets,” but the company that receives his payments turns out to be partly owned and chaired by the former vice president himself. … Gore has described the lifestyle he and his wife Tipper live as “carbon neutral,” meaning he tries to offset any energy usage, including plane flights and car trips, by “purchasing verifiable reductions in CO2 elsewhere.”
But it turns out he pays for his extra-large carbon footprint through Generation Investment Management, a London-based company with offices in Washington, D.C., for which he serves as chairman. The company was established to take financial advantage of new technologies and solutions related to combating “global warming,” reports blogger Bill Hobbs. Hobbs points out Gore stands to make a lot of money from his promotion of the alleged “global warming” threat, which is disputed by many mainstream scientists. “In other words, he ‘buys’ his ‘carbon offsets’ from himself, through a transaction designed to boost his own investments and return a profit to himself,” Hobbs writes. “To be blunt, Gore doesn’t buy ‘carbon offsets’ through Generation Investment Management -– he buys stocks.”
Food shortages are even being seen here in America:
Many parts of America, long considered the breadbasket of the world, are now confronting a once unthinkable phenomenon: food rationing. Major retailers in New York, in areas of New England, and on the West Coast are limiting purchases of flour, rice, and cooking oil as demand outstrips supply. There are also anecdotal reports that some consumers are hoarding grain stocks. At a Costco Warehouse in Mountain View, Calif., yesterday, shoppers grew frustrated and occasionally uttered expletives as they searched in vain for the large sacks of rice they usually buy. “Where’s the rice?” an engineer from Palo Alto, Calif., Yajun Liu, said. “You should be able to buy something like rice. This is ridiculous.”
In Europe, one of the international leaders who helped create food shortages is alarmed:
Biofuels, once seen as a key factor in curbing greenhouse gas emissions, are behind the current global food crisis, major oil producers and consumers charged at an energy forum here on Monday. “A conflict (is) emerging between foodstuffs and fuel … with disastrous social conflicts and dubious environmental results,” outgoing Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi told the International Energy Forum here as rising food prices worldwide raise the spectre of famine in some countries.
“We have to examine very closely subsidy policies so as to avoid distortions in the allocation of resources,” Prodi insisted. Agricultural prices were not only being driven by rising demand but also by increased cultivation of biofuels, “creating strong tensions in a number of countries,” he said.
That’s okay; just hug a tree today (it will reduce the empty feeling in your stomach).