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Cars Are Eating More Than Miles

March 29, 2007

(If you are too tired to read through my rumblings please jump right to the end of post and read the linked articles. This is way too important to miss.)

I’m not much of an ecologist, which is I don’t believe that ecology alone is a theory that may be used to successfully change society. I find ecology as part of a broader political theory much more viable. To say it simply, I’m not the first to yell “close that fucking stinking factory” because I’m well aware that this factory gives food to it’s workers and their families and if it closes down there will be a huge humanitarian problem (unless you care more about wildlife than humans which is a totally respected view but it’s not my view (yet)).

What I’m trying to point out is that our world is a far cry from being simple or even linear. You think that you have a solution for a problem but you may be inches from creating a worse problem. Simple to predict but totally obscured under your rush to solve the problem at hand.

So. You may have heard of biofuels. Simple and ecologic idea. We can make diesel out of plants. And this process won’t add up to the global warming problem because we won’t be freeing extra carbon – just the carbon that the plants used to develop. So, in a simple move we get clean gas which we can feed our cars without having to reside to fancy technologies.

In fact this idea seems to be so good that USA and Europe are rushing to make it happen. It’s not placed somewhere in the distant future. It’s actually being deployed right now.

I too, thought of it as a nice idea. Funny how short an engineer’s view may be sometimes.

Let’s follow this scenario. Biofuel gets momentum. Larger and larger still areas are being used to grow plants solely used to get fuel out of them. Yet, demand for fuel still rises and now we have tied food with the energy economy which means that food starts to cost more. To meet growing demand enterprises buy more land mainly from underdeveloped countries. They, in turn, start to sell land that happen to host say the Amazon forests. Meanwhile poor people start having problem in buying food… More forests gone, more people starve, etc.

Looks more like hell now than a solution, doesn’t it?

If you want to get a much better analysis on the subject please read the next two articles:
Feeding Cars, Not People by George Monbiot
and brand new update
A Lethal Solution by the same journalist.

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