Wednesday, April 30, 2008

AGROFUEL MADNESS - by Larry Powell

WINNIPEG. Apr.29th - '08 - The awful consequences of the biofuel craze now sweeping the planet, were starkly brought to light at a public forum at the University of Winnipeg this evening.

(Car/Combine rendering courtesy of 
the Government of Manitoba।)

 Called "Crops, Cars and Climate Crisis," the forum featured four notable experts on the topic.

They all referred to the dramatic and disastrous food price increases that are devastating the world's poor and which are being aggravated by the diversion of so much food into vehicles.

One of the guest speakers was Javiera Rulli, of "Base Investigaciones" in Paraguay.
She told of an assault taking place on the environment, human health and human rights of citizens of that South American country।

It is all due to the transformation of the small nation to monoculture crops for the production of "biofuels" or "agrofuels" to power vehicles, rather than to feed people, she said.
Big landowners and farmers are clearing forests, displacing people, sometimes by force and treating the large, genetically-engineered fields with sprays that often inflict serious skin ailments on children living nearby, Rulli said।

(Rulli showed her large audience a slide of a young boy suffering from a serious rash covering his entire body।)

She added, this ruthless push to transform the country was being aided and encouraged by large chemical companies such as Syngenta.

People once used the disappearing forests to hunt, trap and log, she went on. Now, those opportunities are disappearing, too, along with natural places and the biodiversity of wildlife which lived there.

Another speaker, Pat Mooney of "ETC Group," Ottawa, said he has spoken directly with many of the "movers and shakers" in the biofuels industry.

Oddly enough, he says, many are, themselves renouncing this rush to divert food into fuel. Instead, he says, they are hinting at some, mysterious "second phase" of biofuels which will correct all the problems of the past. But, he adds, they won't come clean on the details. He notes that the players putting big money into researching this "second phase" are the same ones who've created the problems in the first place!

"Depending on biofuels to solve our problems," quipped Mooney, "is about as useful as a screen door on a submarine!"

The other speakers at the forum were Darrin Qualman of the National Farmers Union and Diddit Pelegrina of SEARICE, the Phillipines.


(Also please read "Bursting the Ethanol Bubble.")

Friday, April 11, 2008


A new report released by Greenpeace on the 10th of April 2008 finds that logging in Canada’s Boreal Forest is making global warming worse by releasing greenhouse gases and reducing carbon storage. It also finds that logging makes the forest more susceptible to global warming impacts like wildfires and insect outbreaks, which in turn release more greenhouse gases.

Executive summary

Canada’s Boreal Forest is dense with life. Richly populated with plants, birds, animals, and trees; home to hundreds of communities; and a wellspring of fresh water and oxygen, the Boreal has long been recognized as a critically important ecosystem. But as rising temperatures threaten to destabilize the planet, the potential of the Boreal’s carbon-rich expanses to mitigate global warming continues to be underestimated.

Based in part on a comprehensive review of scientific literature by researchers at the University of Toronto1, this report examines the complex relationship between global warming and Canada’s Boreal Forest. It finds that the intact areas of the Boreal are not only actively helping to slow global warming, but are also helping the forest itself to resist and recover from global warming impacts. These unfragmented areas are also helping trees, plants, and animals to migrate and adapt in response to changing climate conditions.

At the same time, however, it finds that logging is destabilizing the Boreal Forest in ways that may exacerbate both global warming and its impacts. The forest products industry and government regulators adamantly deny that logging in Canada’s Boreal affects the climate. But research shows that when the forest is degraded through logging and industrial development, massive amounts of greenhouse gasses are released into the atmosphere, and the forest becomes more vulnerable to global warming impacts like fires and insect outbreaks. In many cases, these impacts cause even more greenhouse gasses to be released, driving a vicious circle in which global warming degrades the Boreal Forest, and Boreal Forest degradation advances global warming. If left unchecked, this could culminate in a catastrophic release of greenhouse gasses known as “the carbon bomb”.

For these reasons, the report concludes that greenhouse gas emissions must be drastically reduced and that intact areas of Canada’s Boreal Forest must be protected—for the sake of the forest, and for the sake of the climate.
(For the complete report, click on the link to the right.)

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