The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Bonanza for Biofuel Companies, Disaster for the Planet

Sep 19, 2011

Biofuels, an energy source presented as “green,” are produced from corn, wheat, sugar beets, rapeseed, sugar cane, sunflowers, peanuts, or even palm oil. These crops are made into ethanol, which is added to gasoline or diesel fuel. These fuels supposedly then have the virtue of a positive carbon balance, that is, they are supposed to pollute less than regular fossil fuels.

Studies have already shown that biofuels have as bad an impact on the environment as petroleum-based products do. The production of biofuels requires energy for fertilizer, transportation, tools and crop irrigation. Those factors wind up releasing between 27 million and 56 million tons of additional CO2 into the atmosphere annually, or from 81% to 167% more green house gases than do fossil fuels.

Big corporations have obtained subsidies and tax credits since 2000 to expand the production of biofuels. These gifts add up to eleven billion dollars a year in the U.S. alone.

In this modern-day gold rush, big agribusiness cleared away hundreds of millions of acres of forests in Indonesia, Malaysia and Brazil, worsening climate problems. And it took over fertile lands that used to be devoted to food crops, converting to crops for use as biofuels.

With the production of foodstuffs turned to making biofuel, the world has gone through a food crisis since 2002, with prices soaring and ever more people facing starvation.

The global balance sheet is disastrous, no matter what claims are made. And the human balance sheet has claimed far too many victims.