UN Attacks Alternative Fuel Industry

UN Attacks Alternative Fuel Industry

The United Nations’ first major report on biofuels is a classic UN work product: biased and out of date.

Reflecting the views of extreme conservationists–who fanatically oppose technology-based solutions to the energy crisis–multinational oil companies, and major oil producing nations such as Venezuela and Iran–the so-called study suggests that the benefits of biofuels are likely to be offset by serious environmental problems and increased food prices for the hungry. The report also asserts that many biofuel crops require the best land and a lot of water and environment-damaging chemical fertilizers.

Suffice it to say the world body is wrong, as usual. In addition to painting with a brush that is way too broad–little distinction is made between ethanol and biodiesel, for instance–the report ignores technologies that promise to put waste lands in developing nations and idle farm lands in industrialized nations to productive use in sustainable fashion. For example, the cultivation of jatropha–a hearty, perennial oil-seed plant that grows well in arid conditions, requires no irrigation, and can prevent and perhaps even reverse desertification–is ignored by the UN. Its ideologues are appalled by the mere thought of a wonder crop–watch for a UN report calling for its eradication.

This reporter is only half-joking. Experts estimate that more than half of Africa could grow jatropha; if half of this area were to actually grow it, the output could meet America’s oil needs, permanently end the cycle of poverty in Africa … and put an army of UN aid workers and NGO scammers out of work.

In the United States, where subsidized (and inefficient), corn-based ethanol production has indeed caused the price of animal feed to rise for already hard-pressed dairy farmers, commercial and cooperative-style production of non-toxic biodiesel–a renewable replacement for petroleum diesel that extends engine life for tractors and farm equipment–offers real hope for people trying to preserve a way of life and remain on the land. America’s family farmers are keenly interested in growing canola, sunflower, and camelina, as well as soy, for use as biodiesel feedstock.

Much more promising than the above-mentioned crops, in terms of oil yields per acre, is algae. Yes, algae; for farmers and biodiesel producers, slime can be beautiful. An acre of canola produces 70 gallons of biodiesel feedstock, compared with just 40 gallons for an acre of soy. But algae–which could be grown in greenhouses–hydroponically and vertically–could yield thousands of gallons per acre. And there is no reason to rule out algae-oil production for deveoping nations.

None of which interests the UN. Like 1960s American welfare workers and leftwing urban activists, zealously anti-business UN bureaucrats prefer to keep people poor and dependent on state aid and private-sector handouts. The only agriculture of real interest to the UN is collectivist; the survival of family farms–anywhere–offends UN sensibilities.

As for the problem of imported oil, for all its expressed concern for the problem of global warming, the anti-American UN is clearly commited to increasing, rather than reducing, the petro-power of Middle Eastern and Third World potentates and despots.

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