>In typical fashion Big Environment is yet again ignoring the utter failure of Earth Hour by heralding the puny participation rate as a huge success.
I was privileged enough to receive an email from Earth Hour Australia with all of the details (I think one of my asshat lefty mates signed me up to wwf.org.au as a bit of a lark coz I never did).
Here’s the first paragraph, along with some analysis:
Wow, what a night!
It sure was! I invited a few mates around, had all of the lights on, turned on the BBQ (well, we did have an assortment of bits from farmyard animals to cook), all of the hot plates, the oven (admittedly, it was also used for cooking roast veggies) and the microwave (also admittedly, one of my mates suggested we heat up cups of water for no good reason other than we could; the man’s a veritable genius).
We hope that you enjoyed being part of the biggest Earth Hour ever.
It was that good I’m still recovering.
Earth Hour continues to be embraced by the global community, transcending race, culture and age.
Breathing and eating are also embraced by the global community and, funnily enough, also transcend race, culture and age.
A record 134 countries and territories on all 7 continents registered, with a whole host of countries officially joining for the first time (including Lebanon, Jamaica, Iran, Uganda, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Chad, Azerbaijan, Gibraltar, Palestine, Suriname, Uzbekistan, Trinidad & Tobago and Lesotho).
OK, I’ll play your silly game. Which country in Antarctica registered for Earth Hour? And what are the 62 countries that didn’t participate? That’s actually quite a few when you think about how easy it is to be involved in this pointless piece of environmental onanism.
Across Australia, over 300 schools, 152 councils, almost 2000 businesses, and 220 government departments across Australia officially signed up to take part, as well as thousands of individual Australians.
Wow! That’s amazing! What terrific penetration into society! Let’s run a few numbers, shall we?
There are, according to the ABS, 9468 schools in Australia so Earth Hour organisers did a sterling job to sign up a whopping 300. That’s 3% or, in IPCC terms, a consensus.
There are around 700 councils so 152 represents a mind blowing 22%. Given that councils are mostly run be leftist nitwits and are a haven for Green activists and the Climate Taliban I’m going to suggest that getting only 22% is actually a crap effort.
How many businesses are there in Australia? A heap. Over 2 million. To get a piddling 2000 of them to come on board, a microscopic 0.1%, doesn’t seem too spectacular to me. But hang on, you say, aren’t most of those small businesses and sole contractors? By jingo, you’re right, 80% of them are in that category so it’s really 2000 (assuming none are small businesses) out of 400,000 or 0.5%. Thanks for pointing that out!
I’ve got no idea how many government departments there are in Australia. Thousands, probably. But that’s a bit irrelevant because organisers could pick up 100 simply by having the federal government on board, which in these days of Carbon Tax wars is a dead certainty so no points for the Earth Hour people from that, either.
What a fantastic display of care and commitment to this planet we call home. Thank you for being part of it.
Hey, pal, let me tell you something. I care more for the environment than your entire cohort of envirofascists combined.
The command and control policies you support led to the greatest environmental destruction the world has ever seen. And, embarrassingly for your side, it took free market capitalism to clean it up. Not that you’d ever even admit to that even if you could understand how it did (and continues to do so to this very day).
>Ok. Ok. I know I said I’m busy and I am but this one just has to be commented on.
CHECKOUT-style plastic bags will disappear from South Australian shops from the close of business today as the state becomes the first in the nation to ban them.
All retailers – from large supermarkets to small takeaway food shops – are subject to the ban and will offer compostable as well as reusable bags at a cost to consumers instead.
“By banning checkout-style plastic bags we’ll be cutting waste to landfill, we’ll reduce the amount of litter on our streets, in our parks and our waterways,” said state environment and conservation minister Jay Weatherill in a statement.
“Producing four billion of these bags across the country each year is an enormous waste of energy and resources and the ban will slash South Australia’s share of that waste.”
The ban is expected to remove about 400 million plastic bags from SA’s waste each year.
When stores open tomorrow shoppers will either have to carry the reusable so-called “green bags”, or pay up to 25 cents at major retailers for biodegradable bags.
How, exactly will this save even one marine animal’s life, which is part the justification for banning them?
This is the lifecycle of a plastic shopping bag:
- manufacturer makes bag
- bag goes to supermarket
- consumer buys goods, which are put in bag
- bag happily transports goods home
- groceries unpacked, bag stuck in a bag holder/other bags
- when its time comes, bag removed from holder and used for rubbish
- when full, bag tied up and thrown in garbage bin
- garbage bin goes out on bin night
- dirty, great garbage truck turns up and empties bin
- truck wanders off to local tip, deposits contents
- bag buried
- R.I.P bag
Here are some plastic bag facts from Canada and I’m sure Australia would be similar:
- They are one of the greenest and most energy-efficient bag materials produced today.
- Compared to plastic shopping bags, paper bags use 3.4 times more energy, produce 2 times the green house gas emissions and use 17 times more water in their manufacture.
- The amount of resin used in each bag has been decreased or “lightweighted” over time.
- Today’s plastic shopping bags use 75 % less resin than they did 20 years ago and 63 % less energy in their manufacture, while maintaining the same strength and durability.
- Yearly, the manufacture of all the plastic shopping bags used in Canada account for less than one-tenth of 1% of the annual oil and natural gas use in Canada.
- It takes 7 trucks to haul 2 million paper bags, and only 1 truck to haul 2 million plastic bags.
Health and Safety
- Plastic shopping bags protect our food from external contaminants, and other serious food borne risks such as Salmonella and e Coli.
Reuse and Recycling
- Plastic shopping bags enjoy high re-use among Canadians. Independent waste audits show that at least 50% of all plastic bags are reused eg. as kitchen catchers, picking up after pets, carrying lunches and books etc.
- Conventional plastic shopping bags are 100% recyclable.
- If all of the plastic bags used in Canada were to end up in landfill, they would make up less than 1% of residential solid waste by weight.
- Percentage breakdown of municipal landfill is: Organics 45%, Paper 22%, Plastics 9%, Glass 5% and Metals 3%.
- Plastic shopping bags are not a major component of litter. Studies of Greater Toronto area communities show plastic shopping bags consistently account for less than 1% of urban litter.
The banning of plastic shopping bags is simply an act of bastardy by a government enthralled to environmental interests.
It’s the poor who will be hit hardest, of course, which is why the SA government is an immoral piece of crap.
>Is there an environmental policy implemented in the last 20 years in the Western world that has not had negative unintended consequences?
In Australia the Big E environmental movement has ensured that no new dams have been built leading to water shortages in all of the country’s major cities. They’ve ensured that forests in fire zones are not cleared of fuel, the fuel that led to the massive destruction and death recently, not to mention the millions of animals that perished, in the Victorian bushfire tragedy. The list is almost endless. Of course, they take no responsibility on the grounds that they simply don’t care about the impact on people.
Here’s a classic example from Essex County in England:
The contortionist’s skill required to squeeze a car into a tiny modern garage and climb out of a barely opened door will become redundant under plans to allow more generous parking provision on new housing estates.
A decade after the Government ordered developers to discourage car ownership by making it difficult to park, a local authority has produced new guidance that acknowledges that the policy has failed.
Far from reducing car usage, the policy has turned modern housing developments into obstacle courses for pedestrians and cyclists, who routinely find pavements and cycle paths occupied by cars with nowhere else to park.
A study by Essex County Council found that 78 per cent of garages were not being used to store vehicles, largely because a trend towards larger cars and 4x4s meant that many did not fit comfortably inside the space.
Essex has become the first authority to challenge the Government’s anti-car planning guidelines. It has issued draft guidelines that require larger garages and driveways, more parking spaces per dwelling, bigger on-street bays and at least 25 extra spaces for visitors for every 100 homes. The council has discussed its approach with several other authorities interested in relaxing limits on parking.
The new parking standards will be treated as a minimum rather than, as at present, a maximum. Developers will be free, for the first time in a decade, to offer as many spaces as they believe their customers will want.
Garages will have to be at least 7 metres by 3 metres (23ft by 10ft), as opposed to the existing guidance of 5 metres by 2.5 metres. Any garage smaller than the new dimensions will be treated as a storeroom and not counted towards the minimum number of parking spaces. Any home with two or more bedrooms will require at least two spaces.
The council found that planning guidance issued between 1998 and 2001 had created a severe shortage of spaces in many developments. Families had responded not by giving up their second car but by parking on narrow residential roads, blocking access for emergency services and refuse collection lorries.
There are more than 1.5 cars per home in 35 per cent of council wards in Essex. Nationally, there are more homes with two or more cars than there are homes without a car.
The proportion of car-less households fell from 45 per cent in 1976 to 24 per cent in 2006. Over the same period, the proportion of homes with two or more cars rose from 11 per cent to 32 per cent.
Norman Hume, the Conservative-controlled council’s Cabinet member for transport, said: “This new parking guidance is a radical break from the past failed approach which has seen local communities blighted by parked cars. We are effectively asking people whether we should continue living in neighbourhoods that often have the appearance of disorganised car parks or if instead we should look much more closely at how we accommodate the car to allow a better quality of life for our residents.”
The Campaign for Better Transport, which promotes alternatives to cars, said that Essex was undermining a decade of work to help people to become less car-dependent. Stephen Joseph, the campaign’s director, said: “Essex will create a new generation of car-dominated estates, causing congestion and pollution. In the guise of offering freedom, people will be locked into car dependency. Homes will be too spread out to make good public transport feasible.”
Mr Joseph said that Essex should have adopted the approach in Cambridge and Kent Thameside, where clusters of new homes are being built close to dedicated bus lanes offering fast, regular services.
John Jowers, Cabinet member for planning in Essex, said: “Whether you like it or not, you have to live with the car. Rationing parking spaces doesn’t stop people owning cars, it just means they park where it is most inconvenient for everyone else.”
He said that Essex was considering reducing the number of people commuting by car by imposing a charge on workplace parking spaces.
These people would have known up front that this would be the effect of their policy, as the Council would typically allow public comment before legislation is introduced.
How long will it take before environmentalism is considered in the same negative category as fascism?
>Lubos Motl has a timely reminder of the roots of the modern Environmental movement.
I should note that there are two types of environmentalist.
The first is the one associated with Big Green (Sierra Club, Greenpeace etc) who use those organisations’ political clout to achieve socialist policies.
The second are those who are genuinely interested in protecting the environment.
This article relates more to the former than the latter.
Many environmentalists seem to think that their movement is cool, new, original, and thought-provoking. They think that their “modern” ideas were invented by their widely promoted icons. It is hard to believe that they think so but some of them probably do. Well, the reality is very different. Similar ideas have been around for centuries and their incorporation within the modern industrial society began roughly seven decades ago.
Let me begin with the following quote:
“We recognize that separating humanity from nature, from the whole of life, leads to humankind’s own destruction and to the death of nations. Only through a re-integration of humanity into the whole of nature can our people be made stronger. That is the fundamental point of the biological tasks of our age. Humankind alone is no longer the focus of thought, but rather life as a whole… This striving toward connectedness with the totality of life, with nature itself, a nature into which we are born, this is the deepest meaning and the true essence of ******** ********* thought.”
Beautiful, isn’t it? You may ask who wrote these sentences. Was it Jared Diamond in 2005? Or was it Al Gore in 1992? Or Rachel Carson in 1962? Or Alexander Ač in 2007? No, someone else was the author. It was Prof Ernst Lehmann, a leading German biologist.
You may also want to know that he was the leading biologist of the Nazi regime and the asterisks above replaced the words “National Socialist”. The words were written as early as in 1934 and I borrowed them from Peter Staudenmaier’s insightful essay, Fascist Ecology: The “Green Wing” of the Nazi Party and its Historical Antecedents. In Staudenmaier’s text, you will see that the Nazis were centuries ahead of the contemporary environmentalists in their own discipline.
Of course, we’re not talking about one biologist here. Like Rajendra Pachauri, Adolf Hitler was an avid vegetarian. His beloved German shepherd dogs had to become vegetarians, too. 😉 Organic farming in the Nazi Germany flourished and the country was the world’s leader in this activity. SS leader Heinrich Himmler had his own organic farm and used the herbs to treat his favorite troops (Hitler preferred homeopathy to achieve the same goal). The national parks in Germany were expanding, especially in the “sacred forests”.
Medical experiments on animals were banned by Hitler himself. Unfortunately, the Jewish children were exempt. Incidentally, the previous two sentences are not unrelated. One of the most important Nazis’ problems with the Jews was that the Jews were promoting the alienation of man from nature: they were “anti-natural”. What a sin! We know quite many ideologues who criticize the “alienation” (and its proponents) even today: these ideologues usually no longer use the word “Jews” for the “anti-natural” people.
You should also notice, as someone has quipped, that people who want to treat animals like humans also want to treat humans like animals – because these two assertions are logically equivalent.
Himmler, the regime’s chief mass murderer, was actually a strict animal rights advocate, too. He considered shooting birds or animals as “pure murder” and waxed lyrical about the ancient Germanic “respect for animals” that they may have borrowed from Buddhism. Himmler was impressed by the ancient Germans who put rats on trial and gave them a chance to improve their behavior. 🙂
The main person who prevented Hitler from imposing much more radical environmentalist regulations may have been Goering who liked fishing and shooting. Nevertheless, even Goering had to be politically “correct” in the 1930s so he assured Prussia that the years of maltreatment of animals under the democracy were over and anyone who flouted the Nazis’ concern for animal rights would be imprisoned. Oh, he was so nice – almost as politically “correct” as Heidi Cullen.
At this moment, many green hearts among the readers must feel very jealous but let me assure you that you first have to take over the military, police, and courts, and only later, you will be able to do the “great” things that your predecessors did in the 1930s.
Hitler needed to abolish trade unions at the very beginning of his reign but there was one ban that was even more urgent and occurred earlier: in 1933, he passed the Enabling Act that regulated cooking of lobsters (this great friend of Nature hated their screams when tossed into boiling water). A few years later, hunting with dogs (and on horseback) was banned, too.
Another activity that kills many people – and that some of the “deniers” tried to justify – is second-hand smoking, right? Well, Adolf Hitler cared about it, too. In 1943, smoking was prohibited in the NSDAP offices. It was banned in streetcars in 1944. However, the great regulator realized that the ban in the Wehrmacht could weaken his military power so it was always allowed to smoke in their military offices.
Now, let me emphasize that the contemporary environmentalists haven’t done the same set of bad things as Adolf Hitler and his comrades. On the other hand, it is equally important to notice that the contemporary greens also haven’t invented any ideas or views that would be really new. Everything has been around for quite some time.
What many of these people share with Adolf Hitler – and all fundamentalists in the world – is the identification of their own views with the “perfect morality”. This “perfect morality” must be imposed upon other people, too. This attitude to ethics is always dangerous. And it may become extremely dangerous if the proponents of the ideology are given the right opportunities.
In his book, The Green and the Brown: a History of Conservation in Nazi Germany, Frank Uekoetter analyzes many aspects of the tight symbiosis between the Nazi and the green movements. He also considers the ordinary greens in Nazi Germany to be opportunists.
Well, many of them have surely been opportunists and there are thousands of opportunists in the contemporary green movement, too. But you shouldn’t forget that for the opportunists to exist and benefit, there must also be an opportunity. The desire of a regime, the Nazi regime in this case, to regulate human life and to prescribe everyone his or her values and behavior is an excellent opportunity for everyone whose basic goal can be described in the same words.
So it was not really a coincidence that the most environmentalist major regime in the world’s history so far was the Nazi regime. If Adolf Hitler had avoided the war and the mass murder, if he had died in peace, and if the green movement began to contaminate the society in the late 20th century anyway, Adolf Hitler would surely be viewed as one of the classics of the environmentalist movement.
Unfortunately, he has also done other things which is why most contemporary greens are going to pretend that they have almost nothing to do with him, even though 90+ percent of their ideology has really been plagiarized.
And that’s the memo.
I sometimes wonder whether the Useful Idiots of the Climate Movement understand exactly who they are involved with.
>The poor old average citizen in Britain must be wondering what happened when people with such muddled thinking are in charge of councils that have changed their garbage collection policies with an entirely predictable increase in flies and vermin around garbage.
The scourge of fly-tipping has spread to the suburbs, official figures showed yesterday.
Illegal rubbish dumping – almost all of it household refuse – is now found as much in genteel and leafy areas as in sink estates and inner cities.
The shift of fly-tipping to the suburbs has gone alongside the imposition of fortnightly rubbish collections and strict wheelie bin regulations.
Figures released by the Environment Department showed that half of all fly-tips are found around towns and cities but outside deprived areas.
In the past a big majority of recorded fly-tips have been in the poorest and most lawless areas.
They also showed that six out of ten fly-tipping incidents involved household refuse rather than business or industrial waste and that most were dumps of one car boot-load of rubbish. More than one in ten fly-tips were of a single black bag.
Evidence of middle-class fly-tipping produced a new broadside against Labour’s compulsory recycling policies from Tories who have made it an election pledge to bring back weekly collections.
Local government spokesman Eric Pickles said: ‘These figures illustrate that fly-tipping is rife across the country, hitting Middle England hard. Clearly it is becoming the norm and not the exception.
‘Sixty per cent of all fly-tipping is household waste under Labour. Britain’s green and pleasant land is now littered by the blot of black bin bags, directly due to Whitehall’s policy of bullying town halls into axing weekly collections and adopting over-zealous ‘no side waste’ policies.’
He added: ‘Gordon Brown’s new bin taxes look set to make it even worse, by giving perverse financial incentives to irresponsibly fly-tip.’
In the 12 months up to March 2007, the DEFRA breakdown showed that the number of enforcement actions against those dumping rubbish went up by 26 per cent.
Overall, there were 1.24million fly-tip incidents, down 7.5 per cent on last year.
However the figures do not include Liverpool incidents because of problems over recording in the city.
Minister for waste Jane Kennedy said: ‘We still need to work on the serious environmental and social problem of fly-tipping. Local authorities are doing well in the fight against it.’
Fly-tipping has risen in recent years as around half the councils that collect rubbish in England have abandoned weekly pick-ups for fortnightly collections and compulsory recycling schemes.
These have been accompanied by attempts to force families to put out less rubbish, usually involving strict rules.
Householders are not allowed to fill bins so their lids are open, rubbish must not be put out at the wrong hours and no ‘side waste’ left in bags alongside bins is allowed.
>That tonight’s Earth Hour will make its holier than thou, onanistic environmental participants feel good about themselves is beyond doubt.
Also beyond doubt is that it is already an embarrassment. Huge amounts of energy have already gone into promoting the event, surely offsetting what little will be ‘saved’ during the event’s one hour duration. Andrew Bolt has been reporting on some of the insanity that includes light bulb shaped hot air balloons floating over Sydney to promote the event. A fleet of Hummers running for a day and a half put out less CO2 than that little exercise. Tim Blair recommends an Hour Of Power in order to offset the damage being done by the Earth Hourians.
It is claimed that last year Sydney’s electricity supply dropped 10% during Earth Hour. In fact it was around 2% – statistically indistinguishable from normal. What you aren’t being told is that in the two hours before Earth Hour got under way, electricity use rose considerably because everyone was getting things done in order to prepare for having no power. The net effect? More electricity was used on that day than normal.
Way to go, guys.
It has been quite cold here in globally warmed Canberra over the last few days. I have asked my Big Green supporting mates whether they’re going to turn everything off during Earth Hour including the heater. It will be very cold at 8PM here. None have given me a straight answer. Are those people hosting Earth Hour parties requiring everyone to bring a blanket, hat and gloves so that they can avoid getting some illness?
Earth Hour? More like Mirth Hour. It’s all so silly.
Still. It’s the symbolism that counts. Symbolism is a primary value to the Left.
Unfortunately, the whole thing is an Australian idea. Long ago are the days of famous Aussie inventions like the black box flight data recorder, Hills hoist, combine harvester, box kite, latex gloves, the pacemaker, the infamous winged keel, penicillin, Vegemite and, of course, the boomerang. If we weren’t so good in the field of medicine – spray on skin, Relenza etc – we’d have nothing to show for the last 20 years. These days we’re reduced to exporting pathetic, meaningless gestures.
Wikipedia’s Earth Hour entry includes:
Earth Hour, under the working title ‘the big flick’, was conceived by members of WWF-Australia’s communication team in December 2005 as a possible campaign to engage all parts of the Australian community on the need to address climate change.
A partnership was formed in August 2006 between WWF-Australia’s Andy Ridley, Leo Burnett’s Nigel Marsh and Fairfax Media’s Phil McLean with a planned campaign date of early 2007. Earth Hour was launched publicly as a Sydney-only event on December 16, 2006 by Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore and took place at 7:30pm on March 31 2007.
Following significant interest from both inside Australia and around the world, Earth Hour was formed into a non-profit entity owned by WWF-Australia, Leo Burnett and Fairfax Media. The decision was taken to make Earth Hour an open source model, allowing any genuinely interested individual, company, media or government anywhere in the world to adopt the campaign for 2008.
The 2007 Earth Hour was part of a wider awareness campaign that aimed to reduce Sydney’s carbon emissions by 5%. 68,506 individuals and 2,270 businesses registered their intention to participate on the Earth Hour website. EnergyAustralia, a utility, attributed a 10.2% decrease in consumption during the hour to the campaign. A poll of about 1000 people conducted afterwards suggested that 57% of Sydneysiders participated – some 2.2 million people.
2.2 million people out of a population of 3.8 million participated and could only reduce power use by 2%. Even using the WWF’s 10.2% it’s still a miserable effort. It really should give people cause to contemplate the extent of reductions necessary in order to hit proposed CO2 reduction targets if that’s all of the impact that can be achieved. Mind you, the 2.2 million figure was obviously achieved by using The Lancet’s methodology for counting things, which means it’s probably out by a factor of 10.
Strong backing from the City of Sydney and its Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, helped to make Earth Hour 2008 an international event. As of 27 March, over 11,900 businesses and over 200,000 individuals had indicated their intention to participate at earthhour.org.
People may also recall that some media outlets Photoshopped images of Sydney in order to make them look dimmer than what they actually were. The fact was that the city of Sydney was just as bright for Earth Hour as both before and after. No doubt there’ll be more of the same this year in the post-event propaganda.
Earth Hour. Putting the mental back in environmental.
>The most destructive ideology in the 20th century was that of the Red Menace of socialism. The application of socialism in China, Russia, Cambodia and elsewhere in the world resulted in over 100 million people suffering early, egregious deaths – and that excludes those who died in wars. While the failure of socialism was entirely predictable, as the great Ludwig von Mises described in his 1922 masterpiece Socialism, the human catastrophe it caused was beyond people’s comprehension to forecast.
I have previously stated that it is entirely likely that more people will die due to environmentalist political ideology in the 21st century than in the last. Like socialism, its proponents will honestly believe that they are working towards a better world and, like socialism, its proponents will be unable to recognise, or admit to, the harm they cause.
The 20th century saw the rise and fall of the Red Menace. The 21st is already seeing the rise of the Green Menace. Let’s hope it also sees its fall and before too much damage is done.
From the UK’s TimesOnline comes this article quoting the British government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor John Beddington, on the impact of ethanol replacing oil:
The rush towards biofuels is theatening world food production and the lives of billions of people, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser said yesterday.
Professor John Beddington put himself at odds with ministers who have committed Britain to large increases in the use of biofuels over the coming decades. In his first important public speech since he was appointed, he described the potential impacts of food shortages as the “elephant in the room” and a problem which rivalled that of climate change.
“It’s very hard to imagine how we can see the world growing enough crops to produce renewable energy and at the same time meet the enormous demand for food,” he told a conference on sustainability in London yesterday.
“The supply of food really isn’t keeping up.”
By 2030, he said, the world population would have increased to such an extent that a 50 per cent increase in food production would be needed. By 2080 it would need to double. But the rush to biofuels – allegedly environmentally friendly – meant that increasing amount of arable land had been given over to fuel rather than food.
The world’s population is forecast to increase from the six billion at the start of the millennium to nine billion by 2050. Already biofuels have contributed to the rapid rise in international wheat prices and Professor Beddington cautioned that it was likely to be only a matter of time before shoppers in the United Kingdom faced big price rises because of the soaring cost of feeding livestock.
His comments come just a month after the Government welcomed a European Commission target requiring 10 per cent of all fuel sold in British service stations to be derived from plants within 12 years. Already biofuels attract a 20p per litre reduction in duty to encourage their uptake. Hilary Benn, the Environment Secretary, recently announced additional funding for biofuel research and farmers can claim subsidies to grow crops for energy.
Last year President Bush called for a massive increase in the use of ethanol in America over the next decade. The US now devotes more acreage to growing corn than at any time since 1944. Farmers planted 90.5 million acres in 2007, 15 per cent more than a year before. If White House efforts to double ethanol production this year are achieved, and in due course 40 per cent of that corn ends up in petrol tanks, the world will face a harder and costlier time feeding itself.
A spokesman for Ruth Kelly, the Transport Secretary, insisted that the Government was well aware of the possible negative effects of biofuels. “We take this issue very seriously and we are not prepared to go beyond current target levels for biofuels until we are satisfied it can be done sustainably.”
Professor Beddington said that the prospect of food shortages over the next 20 years was so acute that politicians, scientists and farmers must begin to tackle it immediately.
“Climate change is a real issue and is rightly being dealt with by major global investment,” he said afterwards. “However, I am concerned there is another major issue along a similar time-scale, an elephant in the room – that of food and energy security. This is giving me and many of my scientific colleagues much concern.”
Population levels are growing so fast already that an extra six million people are born every month. Growing enough food for everyone was further challenged, he said, because of climate change, which was likely to lead to a shortage of water.
Scientists say that intense dry spells will become more frequent over the next century. The supply of water will be put under further pressure because of the increased number of people who need it, not only to drink but to keep their crops alive. The production of a tonne of wheat, for example, requires 50 tonnes of water.
Because it was almost impossible to control the population increase in the short term, Professor Beddington told the conference, other measures would need to be taken. “Agriculture has been doing pretty well against the population size but things are changing now and they are changing quite dramatically,” he said.
“Don’t we need to do something about food? Demand has grown enormously, particularly in China and India, where much of the driving force is increased demand. By 2030 energy demand is going to be up by 50 per cent and demand for food is going to be up by 50 per cent.”
The increase in demand has been reflected by the rapid rise in the prices of basic commodities, including wheat, over the past two years.
Biofuels have been put forward as a means of reducing the greenhouse gas emissions pumped out by fossil fuels but recent studies have questioned their impact when all factors, such as the use of fertilisers on the crops, are taken into account. Critics have been angered by the loss of tropical rainforests, which have been cleared to allow farmers to grow biofuel crops.
Deforestation has been calculated to account for about 18 per cent of world greenhouse gas emissions and Professor Beddington said that to destroy rainforests in order to grow biofuel crops was “insane”. He added: “Some of the biofuels are hopeless, in the sense that the idea that you cut down rainforest to actually grow biofuels seems profoundly stupid.” He said that human ingenuity was extraordinary and he was confident that food production could be boosted, including by growing genetically modified crops.
Josette Sheeran, executive director of the World Food Programme, told the European Parliament in Brussels yesterday: “The shift to biofuels production has diverted lands out of the food chain. Food prices such as palm oil in Africa are now set at fuel prices. It may be a bonanza for farmers – I hope it is true – but in the short term, the world’s poorest are hit hard.”
The poor are always hit hardest. Ironically, these are the people that environmentalists claim to be most concerned about. It’s also somewhat perplexing that environmentalists are comfortable with the destruction of rainforests in order to produce ethanol, which will have minimal impact anyway.
In the 20th century there was the old line “Reds under the bed”, which came about due to fact that socialists needed to mask their true intention in order to infiltrate society.
In the 21st century there is no need for similar secrecy. Environmentalism has established itself as being the ‘morally superior’ philosophy of our time. Thus, the Green Menace sits right in front of us and veritably shouts its message for all to hear.
Will humanity wake up to the threat before or after another hundred million people, or more, are driven into early graves?