It is believed that the huge corn subsidies in the US are helping drive Amazonian deforestation;
U.S. corn subsidies drive Amazon destruction
" Laurance says that while it is too early to conclusively show the impact of U.S. corn subsidies, "we're seeing that these predictions—first made last summer by the Woods Hole Research Center's Daniel Nepstad and colleagues—are being borne out. The evidence of a corn connection to the Amazon is circumstantial, but it's about as close as you ever get to a smoking gun."
"Biofuel from corn doesn't seem very beneficial when you consider its full environmental costs," said Laurance. "Corn-based ethanol is supposed to reduce greenhouse gases, but it's unlikely to do so if it promotes tropical deforestation—one the main drivers of harmful climate change."
The U.S. corn harvest will be 335 million tons this year, up 25 percent since last year. About 85 million tons of this will be converted into ethanol, up from 15 million tons in 2000. The World bank estimates that the amount of corn needed to fill the gas tank of an SUV is enough to feed a person for a year.
Amazon deforestation surging due to oil, soy prices
"If oil prices keep increasing there will be an explosion of biofuel production in the Amazon," he [Carlos Nobre, a scientist with Brazil's National Institute for Space Research] said.
Indonesia is a land in turmoil, home to massive volcanoes, tsunamis, and earthquakes. On Monday, January 14, it experienced a brand new type of disturbance, the world's first food riot caused by another nation pandering to the global warming mob. Indonesians took to the streets, demanding that their government to do something about the price of soybeans, a dietary staple.
All over the world, food prices are on the rise. For most of the late 1990s and up until 2005, the price of beans on the Chicago Board of Trade had remained stable at about $5 a bushel. Since then, they have shot up over 150 percent, to around $13. Corn has doubled, to $5. Wheat prices have tripled.
It all started with the 2005 Energy Policy Act, passed by a Republican congress and signed by a Republican president, mandating that an increasing amount of ethanol be admixed with gasoline. The bill was sold as a road to "energy independence" and as lowering the amount of carbon dioxide we emit, reducing dreaded global warming.
By now, 15 percent of our corn crop is being distilled, diverted from the proper purpose for such distillates (i.e. drinking), combusted, and sent out your car's tailpipe.
The Act required production of four billion gallons of ethanol in 2006, increasing by approximately 700 million gallons each succeeding year. Enter those familiar characters supply, demand, and price. Supply tightens, prices escalate, and more and more farmers divert cropland from other crops (mainly soybeans and wheat) to corn. In the U.S., most crops are turned into animal feed, but in poorer countries, such as Indonesia (soybeans) or Mexico (corn for tortillas) they are consumed directly.
The ethanol malaise has also hit here at home, as a trip to the grocery store will reveal that the price of just about everything containing corn, wheat, or soybean products, or parts of animals fed on those crops, is skyrocketing. It's hard to find a decent steak for under $12 a pound these days.
Patrick J. Michaels - More.
Palm oil plantations
Palm oil is forecast to be the world’s most produced and internationally traded edible oil by 2012. Malaysia and Indonesia account for 83 percent of production and 89 percent of global exports. Oil palm is grown as an industrial plantation crop, often (especially in Indonesia) on newly cleared rainforest or peat-swamp forests rather than on already degraded land or disused agricultural land. Since the 1970s, the area planted with oil palm in Indonesia has grown over 30-fold to almost 12,000 square miles. In Malaysia, the area devoted to oil palm has increased 12-fold to 13,500 square miles.
Ecological impacts of oil palm
Indonesia and Malaysia have, concomitant with the destruction of enormous tracts of tropical rainforest, some of the world’s longest lists of threatened wildlife. Of the more than 400 land mammal species of Indonesia, 15 are critically endangered and another 125 threatened. Of Malaysia’s nearly 300 land mammal species, 6 are critically endangered and 41 threatened. The numbers of threatened species climb higher when terrestrial reptiles, amphibians, and birds are included. Moreover, certain animals, such as the orangutan, are only found in these countries; when their rainforest habitat vanishes, so will they.
Five mammals exemplify the impending disaster: the Sumatran tiger, Sumatran and Bornean orangutans, Asian elephant, and Sumatran rhinoceros. Each of those species is endangered, with the three eponymous Sumatran species critically endangered. They once flourished in precisely those areas where rainforests have since been cleared for oil palm.
Oil palm plantations, along with logging, fires, and other factors, destroy rainforest habitat, hinder migration patterns, and block travel corridors. Roads and plantations fragment the rainforest, facilitate encroaching settlements, and make animals accessible to illegal hunting and poaching. If they enter plantations while searching for food outside the rainforest, animals may be killed by workers. They are also at risk when plantation companies set forest fires to clear land for oil palm; some fires burn out of control, demolishing much larger areas than anticipated.
Plantations also pollute the soil and water with pesticides and untreated palm oil-mill effluent, cause soil erosion and increased sedimentation in rivers, and cause air pollution due to forest fires.
The demand for palm oil is forecast to double by 2020. To achieve that production increase, 1,160 new square miles will have to be planted every year for 20 years.
Indonesia has 26,300 square miles more forest land officially allocated for new oil palm plantations; Malaysia has almost 3,000 square miles more. The expected thousands of square miles of new plantings on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo could kill off the remaining orangutans, rhinos, and tigers.
More as PDF or parsed HTML from the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
In Britain, Brown is picking pockets to the tune of GBP 29 billion pa under the green banner, i.e. fair weather tax. If it was ever justifiable it certainly isn't now.
As for the US, regardless of whether Obama or Clinton wins, a green levy of around USD 4,500 pa per family will be approved.
Even some dens of enviro-iniquity get the harm they have done/are doing in their pursuit of the destruction of western society. Greenpeace and FoE condemn the rush to biofuels. FoE has gone a step further in mitigating the damage: Agrofuels: Fuelling or Fooling Europe? (pdf).
Friends of the Earth is calling for:
• A moratorium on imports of agrofuels into the EU and on subsidies that encourage the development and large scale production of agrofuels.
• This moratorium should remain until mandatory carbon and sustainability standards are in place which empower communities to use their natural resources sustainably, guarantee carbon savings of at least 60%, and do not lead to adverse environmental or social impacts either directly or indirectly through shifting problems elsewhere.
• The European Union to drop its agrofuel quantity targets.
• The 5% volume target in the RTFO should be scraped and implementation of the RTFO should be put on hold until mandatory carbon and sustainability standards are in place which empower communities to use their natural resources sustainably, guarantee carbon savings of at least 60%, and do not lead to adverse environmental or social impacts either directly or indirectly through shifting problems elsewhere.
• Measures to reduce the impact of transport on the climate, notably by reducing demand, promoting a modal shift from road and air transport towards rail and sea transport, and tough EU legislation to reduce CO2 emissions from vehicles.
• Significantly increased investment in the development of energy-efficient technologies and renewable energy generation technologies including the sustainable use of local biomass and local biogas (from waste products).
• Initiatives to reduce the EU’s disproportionately large global environmental footprint.
They're still focusing on harmless co2. What a futile waste of resource.
Manhattan Declaration on Climate Change
"Global warming" is not a global crisis
We, the scientists and researchers in climate and related fields, economists, policymakers, and business leaders, assembled at Times Square, New York City, participating in the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change,
Resolving that scientific questions should be evaluated solely by the scientific method;
Affirming that global climate has always changed and always will, independent of the actions of humans, and that carbon dioxide (CO2) is not a pollutant but rather a necessity for all life;
Recognising that the causes and extent of recently observed climatic change are the subject of intense debates in the climate science community and that oft-repeated assertions of a supposed 'consensus' among climate experts are false;
Affirming that attempts by governments to legislate costly regulations on industry and individual citizens to encourage CO2 emission reduction will slow development while having no appreciable impact on the future trajectory of global climate change. Such policies will markedly diminish future prosperity and so reduce the ability of societies to adapt to inevitable climate change, thereby increasing, not decreasing, human suffering;
Noting that warmer weather is generally less harmful to life on Earth than colder:
That current plans to restrict anthropogenic CO2 emissions are a dangerous misallocation of intellectual capital and resources that should be dedicated to solving humanity's real and serious problems.
That there is no convincing evidence that CO2 emissions from modern industrial activity has in the past, is now, or will in the future cause catastrophic climate change.
That attempts by governments to inflict taxes and costly regulations on industry and individual citizens with the aim of reducing emissions of CO2 will pointlessly curtail the prosperity of the West and progress of developing nations without affecting climate.
That adaptation as needed is massively more cost-effective than any attempted mitigation and that a focus on such mitigation will divert the attention and resources of governments away from addressing the real problems of their peoples.
That human-caused climate change is not a global crisis.
Now, therefore, we recommend --
That world leaders reject the views expressed by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as well as popular, but misguided works such as "An Inconvenient Truth."
That all taxes, regulations, and other interventions intended to reduce emissions of CO2 be abandoned forthwith.
Agreed at New York, 4 March 2008
(pdf with a form for the endorsement of the Manhattan Declaration on Climate Change and an International Climate Science Coalition enrollment form.)
The UK is in for a rough time this coming week according to forecasters;
Flood warning over 'strongest' winter storm
Householders are being warned to sandbag their properties and “batten down the hatches” as Britain braces itself for a freak combination of huge spring tides and the strongest storm of the winter.
More than a week of rainfall will lash down in just six hours on Monday as enormous waves batter the homes and shops of coastal towns, whipped up by gale force winds of 80mph.
Forecasters have predicted “dramatic scenes” as the ferocity of the weather is likely to cause flooding, damage buildings, uproot trees and disrupt the transport and power supply networks.
Latest (March). La Nina conditions seem to be deepening, that is, getting colder.