Wednesday, February 13, 2008

response to Monbiot's article by Avery Cohn

Monbiot gives a good summary of the new lit., but kind of a scattered column otherwise.

For example, I wonder about his assertion, "There is no way out of this: on a finite planet with tight food supplies you either compete with the hungry or clear new land."

Is this true? Do any of you know of a study that tests this hypothesis? It seems to be the linchpin for Monbiot's argument that biofuels are (and will be) destructive. I'll allow that they presently are competing for land/food, but I think it's important to ask if they always will be doing so or if there is a way to encourage biofuels that are not competing for land and food. Of course these would probably still be competing for water and will likely have other impacts. Monbiot could probably be making a more supportable argument against biofuels.

Also, I think Monbiot is wrong that the goal of biofuels and the regulation of biofuels is to "reduce consumption of transportation fuel". There are many goals, but I sincerely doubt that reduced transportation fuel use ranks at all and certainly not above:
-subsidizing ag.
-improving foreign exchange
-reducing petroleum based transportation fuel use
-and perhaps reducing GHG intensity/quantity of transportation fuels

take care,

very Cohn | Ph.D. Student
Environmental Science, Policy, and Management
University of California, Berkeley
phone: (510) 410-3731

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