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More bio-fuels fun
Posted by: McQ on Monday, February 05, 2007

I pointed out last week that the higher demand for corn for increased production of ethanol has helped raise the price of tortillas in Mexico.

The latest example of the law of unintended consequences (although for anyone with any background in economics, certainly not unexpected consequences) has to do with palm oil, another "bio-fuel" which has begun to catch on:
Just a few years ago, politicians and environmental groups in the Netherlands were thrilled by the early and rapid adoption of “sustainable energy,” achieved in part by coaxing electrical plants to use biofuel — in particular, palm oil from Southeast Asia.

Spurred by government subsidies, energy companies became so enthusiastic that they designed generators that ran exclusively on the oil, which in theory would be cleaner than fossil fuels like coal because it is derived from plants.

But last year, when scientists studied practices at palm plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia, this green fairy tale began to look more like an environmental nightmare.

Rising demand for palm oil in Europe brought about the clearing of huge tracts of Southeast Asian rainforest and the overuse of chemical fertilizer there.

Worse still, the scientists said, space for the expanding palm plantations was often created by draining and burning peatland, which sent huge amounts of carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

Considering these emissions, Indonesia had quickly become the world’s third-leading producer of carbon emissions that scientists believe are responsible for global warming, ranked after the United States and China, according to a study released in December by researchers from Wetlands International and Delft Hydraulics, both in the Netherlands.

It was shocking and totally smashed all the good reasons we initially went into palm oil,” said Alex Kaat, a spokesman for Wetlands, a conservation group.
Two words.

Nuclear power.

(HT: Dispatches from TJICistan)
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Prediction: Pretty soon we will hear about corruption in the carbon markets...perhaps like this:

Companies in China deliberately investing in dirty factories to have European companies come in and "clean them up" in order to sell the carbon rights.

Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Another post ignored because it exposes reality, and violates the talking points.
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Good Point on this. I was on a business trip in August 2005 to Singapore, and almost had to cancel my extension to Kuala Lumpur because the clearing of land by burning had made the air in KL nearly unbreathable. Luckily the breezes pushed the smoke away in time. But now we find that the stroking of 1st world egos for their brave steps in environmentalism are having unintended 3rd world consequences.
Written By: Mike
URL: http://
Not quite: you might want to check out my post of today. Mexico doesn’t import much white corn (the kind used for tortillas) from the U. S. and the amount has been dwindling over the last five years, not because more of it’s being used for ethanol (it isn’t) but because Mexico subsidizes its own farmers. The evils that George Will mentions in his column today, e.g. cutting down Mexican forests to clear land for corn production, are happening but not because of U. S. ethanol production. They’re happening because of Mexican agricultural policy.
Written By: Dave Schuler
Two words:

Oil and natural gas are still the best energy options the world has at this time.
Written By: Will Franklin
Written By: unaha-closp

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