“Green energy” and Amazon rain forests

People need to to read things like this before they ignorantly ramble about how great biofuels are.

At the bottom of page one it talks about the possibility of the Amazon rain forest turning into something like a savannah or even a desert. It wouldn’t be the first time human deforestation has caused a vital and robust forest into a desert-like area. You know all those references in the Bible to the cedars of Lebanon? Lebanon used to be absolutely COVERED in the things – massive, ancient trees. They grow in Lebanon, Cyprus, Turkey, and surrounding areas. Today on Cyprus, only small trees up to 25 m tall survive, though Pliny the Elder recorded cedars 40 m tall there. Because of massive deforestation, only small remnants of the once-extensive forests survive. Not only that, but due to hundreds of years of erosion much of the terrain in once-forested areas is now desertized. It took the ancients several millenia to deforest Lebanon… it may only take modern people a few decades to do the same in the Amazon.

It also just happens that deforestation currently accounts for 20% of the world’s carbon emissions – and deforesting the Amazon destroys one of the most important carbon sinks on the planet.

Even the junipers and the cedars of Lebanon
exult over you (the king of Babylon) and say,
“Now that you have been laid low,
no one comes to cut us down.” (Isaiah 14:8, TNIV)

This is not even to go into the potential effects on agriculture being diverted from food to fuel on the ability of the world’s poor to be able to feed themselves. As the article says, A UN food expert has recently called biofuels “a crime against humanity”. Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute says that biofuels “pit the 800 million people with cars against the 800 million people with hunger problems” – and that figure of 800 million has been predicted to increase to 1.2 billion in the wake of the growing use of agricultural products as fuel instead of food.

No type of “green consumption” is the answer. As one blogger from Portland, Oregon put it, we need to commit our allegiance to the story that will express God to the world around us.


comments from Friedman and Abizaid at Stanford Forum

Stanford’s annual roundtable this year was on “Courting Disaster: The Fight for Oil, Water and a Healthy Planet.” Here are some comments from neoliberal economic architect Thomas Friedman and Gen. John Abizaid, US Army (Ret.) from the Stanford News Service.

Concerning the Middle East, Friedman blamed the United States for treating the region as a collection of cheap “gas stations” for the last 50 years. In exchange for low oil prices and a hands-off policy toward Israel, he said, the United States turned a blind eye to the entrenchment of ideological, authoritarian regimes. “It is my opinion that Osama bin Laden and 9/11 represented the distilled essence of everything that was going on out ‘back there,'” he said, referring to Western acquiescence to policies that preached intolerance and rejected equal opportunity for all citizens.

Abizaid said the dynamics in the Middle East, particularly the war in Iraq, are closely tied to oil. “We can’t really deny that,” he said. Furthermore, the rise of Sunni and Shiite extremists, the continuing Arab-Israeli conflict and global dependence on Middle Eastern oil have created problems with global implications.

“It is this dependency that can’t just be dealt with by military means,” Abizaid said. “We must adapt, as a matter of national security, a way to reduce our dependency on Middle Eastern oil.” Following enthusiastic applause from the audience, he said these problems are further complicated by the question of whether Pakistan can maintain control of its nuclear weapons and by the expansion of the terrorist group al-Qaida into a global phenomenon. “The problem for us is that we can’t deal with just military” solutions, he said. “We need to have economic, diplomatic and political components in a solution. The military is only 20 percent of the solution in the Middle East.”

The forum also covered issues related to climate change and renewable fuels.