I’m rather concerned about something in President Bush’s State Of The Union speech. Dubya is turning green.
When Dr. David Banner starts to turn green its the bad guys who need to be afraid because the arrival of the Incredible Hulk is imminent. But when America’s neo-con President announces he is turning green we should all be very afraid… Because it means the religious right are up to something.
If you missed the news item the President announced that as part of his plan to reduce America’s carbon emissions by 20% he would be sponsoring an initiative to encourage the agricultural sector of the economy to get into the petroleum business by growing Corn (Maize) and Soya crops from which ethanol can be produced. The biofuel is then added to oil based petroleum thus reducing the amount of carbon put into the atmosphere.
On the face of it the idea sounds rather crackpot, so what is it really about?
The first thing to spring to mind is that it is nothing but a cynical ploy by the Republicans to secure votes for Dubya’s would be successor in the 2008 Presidential Election. Certainly the mid – west is Republican heartland where support has been eroded most by the military failures in Iraq and Afghanistan. A big boost to the farming communities by inventing a new market for cash crops that the USA currently have far too much capacity to produce would be a sound political move.
The second possibility is that the move is purely political and aimed at reducing America’s dependency on politically unstable or possibly hostile nations such as Russia, Venezuela or Iran for the means to supply the greedy economy’s oil habit.
In either case the proposal does not make economic or scientific sense.
Growing the biofuel crops is hardly a job for small, environmentally aware farming operations. The production units would have to be vast, highly mechanised farms capable of growing maize or soya by the square mile rather than by the acre. Farming would have to be intense, with only two crops to rotate and margins so tight as to remove the opportunities for leaving areas fallow, the policy would create perfect conditions for a repeat of the 1930s dustbowl social disaster.
The farms would have no option but to dump huge quantities of chemical fertilizers on the land thus polluting the water table and affecting wildlife and human population.
Then we get to the bottom line. The President says he plans to set in train a process that will eventually reduce emissions by 20%. Ethanol only reduces carbon emissions by 13% against oil; based fuels. And that is without counting the carbon released during the manufacture of fertilizer, the agricultural tasks from ploughing to transporting the harvested crop and the huge, energy hungry processing plants needed to convert the crops first to sugar and then to alcohol. Without doing the maths in fine detail it becomes clear that the great green initiative could actually result in pumping more greenhouse gases and chemical pollutants into the atmosphere per gallon of fuel in your tank.
As I said the economics do not make any sort of sense
So really the only logic behind this bizarre announcement would appear to be that the neo – cons plan to make America independent of the wider world in oil because that would free up a future right wing government to run around nuking without compunction any nation that does not comply with orders from the White House.
When Dubya turns green be afraid, be very afraid.
Update 20 December 2009:
And to show us all what he really meant by “change you can believe in,” Obama follows ?Bush down the Biofuel dead end
Obama buys the biofuel hype