April 03, 2008

Grab An Umbrella, The Sky Is Falling!

Last Saturday morning, an opinion piece appeared in the news written by Gwynne Dyer titled 'The Coming Food Disaster'. With a title like that you can expect the prediction to be bad. Just look at the opening sentence of these four consecutive paragraphs.

"It is the perfect storm: everything is going wrong at once."

"To make matters worse, demand for food is growing faster than population."

"Then there is global warming, which is probably already cutting into food production."

"But the worst damage is being done by the rage for “bio-fuels” that supposedly reduce carbon dioxide emissions and fight climate change. (But they don’t, really -- at least, not in their present form.)"

Ok, so that last one was the first two sentences, but it goes along with the next paragraph in the article.

Worse yet, rainforest is being cleared, especially in Brazil and Indonesia, to grow more bio-fuels. A recent study in the US journal “Science” calculated that destroying natural ecosystems to grow corn (maize, mealies) or sugar cane for ethanol, or oil palms or soybeans for bio-diesel, releases between 17 and 420 times more carbon dioxide than is saved annually by burning the bio-fuel grown on that land instead of fossil fuel. It’s all justified in the name of fighting climate change, but the numbers just don’t add up.

Since this paragraph seems to be the foundation for the second part of the article I posted a comment letting the author know that since he was quoting this study that he should be aware that one of the researchers recently clarified the results of this study, saying this in a recent article.

Tilman, who is currently on sabbatical from the University, said he feels the study is misunderstood by others in the industry.

"The goal of our paper was to point out if we do certain things, that those things would give us fuels that didn't have very much environmental benefit," he said.

Tilman said the paper didn't say the problems were happening now, but instead that they could happen in the future.

The comment that I posted never was approved and further, since then I have seen the very same article posted in other places. It would seem that the truth has no place in doom and gloom predictions.

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