Smithsonian Mag Rips "Bio-Fools" A New One
The tide may be turning against bio-fuels– at least amongst the chattering classes. The semi-prestigious Smithsonian magazine has just published a piece by Richard Conniff that rips the bio-fuels industry to bits, piece by bloody piece. After laying out the case for growing go-juice– renewabilty, carbon neutrality, recycling waste– Conniff takes bio-fuels to task for all the right reasons. We're talking food price inflation ("Cargill's chief predicted that reallocation of farmland due to biofuel incentives could combine with bad weather to cause food shortages around the world"); CO2 pollution ("when ethanol refineries burn coal to provide heat for fermentation, emissions are up to 20 percent worse for the environment than gasoline"); supply unreliability ("Switching to corn ethanol also risks making us dependent on a crop that's vulnerable to drought and disease"); soil erosion ("…growing corn requires large amounts of nitrogen fertilizer, pesticides and fuel. It contributes to massive soil erosion, and it is the main source, via runoff in the Mississippi River, of a vast "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico"); and wildlife destruction ("The United Nations recently predicted that 98 percent of Indonesia's forests will be destroyed within the next 15 years, partly to grow palm oil"). Other than that, he loves it! The article concludes with the usual conservation mantra and a plug for solar energy (so to speak). But I gotta tip my hat to Conniff for this gem: "…the switch to corn ethanol sound[s] about as smart as switching from heroin to crystal meth."