@ 2005-07-17 - 17:31:59
I'm rather concerned to read that "President - elect" Obama, as part of his promise to head a geener administration than George W. Bush has backed the development of bioethanol technologies to provide fuel for cars. It isn't just that bioethanol is a bad technology from an environmental point of view but that in his State Of The Union address at the beginning of 2007 Bush declared his support for bioethanol as a green fuel. So Obama follows Bush yet again; is this an example of the "change you can believe in" The Obamessiah promised the American electorate?
When Dr. David Banner starts to turn green its the bad guys who need to be afraid because the arrival of the Incredible Hulk is imminent. But when an American President announces he is turning green we should all be very afraid... Because it means the corporate conspiracy are up to something.
If you missed the news item the President - elect announced that as part of his plan to reduce America's carbon emissions by 20% he would be sponsoring an initiative to encourage the agricultural sector of the economy to get into the petroleum business by growing Corn (Maize) and Soya crops from which ethanol can be produced. The biofuel is then added to oil based petroleum thus reducing the amount of carbon put into the atmosphere.
On the face of it the idea sounds rather crackpot, so what is it really about?
The first thing to spring to mind is that it is nothing but a cynical ploy by the Democrats to buy popularity for the incoming administration. The mid-west, the corn belt, is the Republican heartland, the area that will be crucial in future elections. Support for the Grand O;ld Pasrty as it used to be affectionately know has been eroded more in the agricultural west than anywhere by rising oil prices, the credit crunch that has seen banks calling in ovrdrafts and refusing the loans farmers need for seed, new equipment and other business essentials.The mid west did not swing behind Obama in the election though, they merely stayed at home and did not vote on election day. It would only need the Republicans to get the vote out in four years time and Obama would be a one - term President. Giving a big boost to the farming communities by inventing a new market for cash crops that the USA currently have far too much capacity to produce would be a sound political move.
The second possibility is that the move is purely political and aimed at reducing America's dependency on politically unstable or possibly hostile nations such as Russia, Venezuela or Iran for the means to supply the greedy economy's oil habit.
In either case the proposal does not make economic or scientific sense.
Growing the biofuel crops is hardly a job for small, environmentally aware farming operations. The production units would have to be vast, highly mechanised farms capable of growing maize or soya by the square mile rather than by the acre. Farming would have to be intense, with only two crops to rotate and margins so tight as to remove the opportunities for leaving areas fallow, the policy would create perfect conditions for a repeat of the 1930s dustbowl social disaster.
The farms would have no option but to dump huge quantities of chemical fertilizers on the land thus polluting the water table and affecting wildlife and human population.
Then we get to the bottom line. The President says he plans to set in train a process that will eventually reduce emissions by 20%. Ethanol only reduces carbon emissions by 13% against oil; based fuels. And that is without counting the carbon released during the manufacture of fertilizer, the agricultural tasks from ploughing to transporting the harvested crop and the huge, energy hungry processing plants needed to convert the crops first to sugar and then to alcohol. Without doing the maths in fine detail it becomes clear that the great green initiative could actually result in pumping more greenhouse gases and chemical pollutants into the atmosphere per gallon of fuel in your tank.
As I said the economics do not make any sort of sense.
So really the only logic behind this bizarre announcement would appear to be that Obama for all his talk of hopes dreams and visions still has no realistic policies to tackle America's problems and no coherent plan to make America independent of the wider world in oil. It also indicates that far from having policies, Obama and the gang of sychophants and placemen he has recruited to his administration have little understanding of the true nature of the problems facing their country.
Assuming Obama manages to slither out unsoiled from the mess currently enveloping Blagojevich and the other Chicago bottom feeders who have in the past counted among the closest political associates of the "President Elect" has a very steep learning curve ahead of him, his first task being to understand he has been elected President of The United States and not President of The World.
When The White house turns green be afraid, be very afraid.
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