The cost of rice has risen by 20% over the past year, maize by 50%, wheat by 100%. Biofuels aren’t entirely to blame - by taking land out of food production they exacerbate the effects of bad harvests and rising demand - but almost all the major agencies are now warning against expansion. And almost all the major governments are ignoring them.
They turn away because biofuels offer a means of avoiding hard political choices. They create the impression that governments can cut carbon emissions and - as Ruth Kelly, the British transport secretary, announced last week - keep expanding the transport networks. New figures show that British drivers puttered past the 500 billion kilometre mark for the first time last year. But it doesn’t matter: we just have to change the fuel we use. No one has to be confronted. The demands of the motoring lobby and the business groups clamouring for new infrastructure can be met. The people being pushed off their land remain unheard. (2)
Climate change is not something that will be met by changing the sort of fuel we use. It will require huge compromises from both sides. People wil have to accet changes to the way we live - though they'll adapt, quickly, because people always do. Greens and environmentalists will probably have to accept a role for nuclear power, because China and India must find a way to reach a western level of development, without western levels of emmissions.
1 - Castro was the first voice I heard suggesting bio fuels were not a good thing, and burning poor peaoples food so rich people could carry on using cars was evil and wrong. See 'Castro hits out at US biofuel use ,' unattributed BBC atricle, 29th of March, 2007. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6505881.stm)
2 - 'An agricultural crime against humanity,' by George Monbiot, published in The Guardian, 6th of November, 2007. (http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2007/11/06/an-agricultural-crime-against-humanity/)