Biofuel or Food

Today almost everyone agrees that climate change is a reality and that carbon emissions from fossil fuels are the problem. A warmer atmosphere is melting the polar ice caps which in turn is cooling the oceans and causing more severe winters. The warmer atmosphere is also causing hotter weather in some areas. Scientists can only predict the results of climate changes, but the predictions are dire. If something is not done quickly future generations will be dealing with monumental problems never before seen by mankind.

One way to reduce the use of fossil fuel is to replace it with bio-fuel. This will result in less carbon being released into the atmosphere which should slow climate change. The problem with this approach is that bio-fuel is grown, it is an agricultural product. Crops used for bio-fuel are not used for food and land used to grow crops for bio-fuel is not used for growing food. As demand for bio-fuel increases and more crops are used in this way food prices will increase dramatically. It is a simple question of supply and demand. Also, food shortages in certain parts of the world will grow more severe as will hunger and famine.

Developed countries such as the U.S. and European countries are the largest consumers of fossil fuels. China and India are coming on strong as their economies grow rapidly. With increasing demand in the world for all types of fuel and an increasing need to replace fossil fuels there is potential for Agra business to increase bio-fuel production and decrease food production. The capacity being used for bio-fuel is not being used for food production. There is a one to one tradeoff between fuel production and food production. It seem logical that producers will satisfy the demands that pay the most, it is simple economics. This will create a huge problem for third world countries. A larger portion of the GDP (gross domestic product) of these countries will go to providing food to the population. Many of these countries have had a hard time feeding their people already. With larger portions of the GDP being used for food there will be fewer resources available for other necessities, such as, health care, housing and sanitation. Any economic growth in these countries will grind to a halt; and the people will be worse off.

Bio-fuel is not a viable solution to the fossil fuel problem. Not only will wide spread growth of bio-fuel production cause severe hardship in certain parts of the world, but there is no-way that enough bio-fuel could ever be produced to satisfy the energy needs of the developed world. That is not to say that bio-fuel does not have a place in the equation. It should be produced for certain purposes where it can have a significant positive impact. For example, bio-fuel made from waste products could help reduce land and water pollution while at the same time produce a fuel that does not release carbon into the atmosphere. Bio-fuel could be produced for certain commercial purposes that would at the same time reduce carbon emissions, free up crude oil for increased gasoline production thus increasing the supply and reducing prices creating an opportunity for federal and state governments to increase gasoline taxes. The money raised from increased gasoline taxes could then be used for research and development and production of alternative sustainable fuels that could replace fossil fuels in the future. Such energy sources could include: solar; wind; hydro electric; nuclear power; and, compressed natural gas to name a few.

There has always been enough food for the world, yet there has always been hunger and famine present somewhere. Until we can develop the economic processes to have an adequate distribution of food to end hunger and famine the wide spread use of bio-fuel as a solution to the fossil fuel problem would be immoral and unjust.

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