Strategic Futurists; Value Systems Specialists

Events

Biofuels and Global Starvation

Friday 13 June 2008

One of the challenges for one aspect of the world is fuel and the price of fuel used for private transportation. I use the word 'aspect' quite deliberately because the 'aspect of the world' that seems to be making the most noise about rising fuel prices is by and large the 'westernised' world - that's the people like you and me who drive cars. And here is where things are fascinating - while many in the westernised world complain about the costs of filling their cars, others look for 'solutions' to the problem, and one proposed solution is 'biofuel'. What is fascinating is not so much that people are wanting to find solutions to their 'problem' of costs of private transportation but the fact that people who see biofuel as the answer to their problem seem to be ignoring the simple fact that the solution to their 'lifestyle' problem is causing a greater challenge in dealing with other people's 'life' problem. Put simply, one person's "right to drive" is being placed ahead of another person's "right to live". We are literally killing people because we think driving our cars is more important (a greater 'right') than feeding people.

So the choice now is - 'feed our cars' or 'feed each other'. 

And here's how the solution of biofuels accentuates the challenge to feeding the MILLIONS.  Biofuels looks to create 'ethanol' as either an additive to fuels that power combustion engines, or as a replacement for fuels that run them.  Ethanol (which by the way is the alcohol found in most drinks) can be created more effectively using the same sorts of products used to create different kinds of everyday meals - corn, grains, rice, grapes and so on.

Just in case the connection isn't clear, try and answer the following question: What sort of food products are made out of corn?  And grains?  And rice?  For the MAJORITY of the planet those three 'staples' are in either their pure form the sole means of sustenance or make up the major part of an overall meal.

And biofuels take those staples out of the food supply and put them into the fuel supply.  Biofuels made from staples KILL people.  So whilst biofuels might be able to have a part to play, biofuels made from food stocks are just plain STUPID.

The challenge is NOT in addressing the cost of oil.  The challenge that exists is addressing our fundamental belief that we have a right to personal transport, (more valued than the right for someone to eat?) that we even need personal transport (heard about obesity issues anyone?) and that the design of our personal transport is 'okay'.  I do see a hint in some research of a new idea which for now I'm calling 'enoughness' that maybe parts of our planet do get it. But not much of it.

It's not okay - the bloated suburban SUV tractors we drive, the v8 powercars are examples of low intelligence combined with self centered egos.  At some point we might mature enough to stop making a statement to the world about who we are, using the SUV super fast cars we drive - the statement is loud and clear - you think its okay for people to starve to death so you can drive fast or drive big.

Until we accept the obvious and painful realisation that we put our lifestyle ahead of some other person's life, we'll continue to think that our rights are more deserving.  Biofuels derived from food stocks will lead to starvation and death - well done to us.
 


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