Well, I don’t want to get boring about this, but it really seems like the makings of a perfect storm. Lester Brown writes, on the Earth Policy Institute site, a must-read article about the growing diversion of staple crops to biofuel production worldwide. An excerpt:
Cars, not people, will claim most of the increase in world grain consumption this year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that world grain use will grow by 20 million tons in 2006. Of this, 14 million tons will be used to produce fuel for cars in the United States . . . In agricultural terms, the world appetite for automotive fuel is insatiable. The grain required to fill a 25-gallon SUV gas tank with ethanol will feed one person for a year. The grain to fill the tank every two weeks over a year will feed 26 people.
He goes on to point out that this is setting up a competition between the affluent car-owners of the world, and the larger number of poor, um, eaters.
My gripe with the article will probably surprise no one reading here. Brown mentions public transportation in passing, but overall soft pedals the hard truth. We need to reduce our energy consumption (personal automobile use, mostly) dramatically. The material consequences for not doing so will first be felt by those in poorer countries. But the ethical and psychic consequences will be felt in the American soul.