Thursday, March 29, 2007

Environmentalists: shilling for Krispy Kreme?

Some typical environmental leader- possibly from the WWF- was on the radio the other day, warning that biofuels are problematic, and suggesting that we might actually all be better off freezing in the dark.

His chief complaint was that biofuels might increase the price of foodstuffs, thereby making life hard for the poor. This is an interesting proposition, one that invites closer analysis. For example, what foodstuffs would most likely be affected?

The obvious answer is that agricultural commodities used for fuel production would be subject to an increase in demand, resulting in an increase in price. If those commodities are commonly consumed by those with limited disposable income, then such people would be forced to switch their dietary habits, or go without.

So, what are the foods most likely to be used for fuel production? At present, the two main biofuels are ethanol and bio-diesel. Biodiesel is made from vegetable oils, while ethanol is mostly made from sugar, with some production coming from feed corn.

Thus, in a biofuel dependent economy, we would expect sugar and vegetable oil (nd to a lesser extent, red meat) to be more expensive, and poor people would have to cut back on these items.

Such an event would be a cultural disaster. The liberal worldview requires a repressed underclass which is forced to poison itself with junkfood by an uncaring economy. Imagine a beleaguered working class breadwinner eschewing his donuts for oatmeal. Imagine the hardship caused by drinking unsweetened tea instead of soda. People might actually start improving their lives instead of wallowing in victimization.

In the developed world today, obesity and diabetes are especially rampant among low income people. Increasing the price of the food items which cause these diseases would disrupt this demographic. It is even theoretically possible that it could reduce the incidence of these debilitating diseases, freeing the victims from a lifetime of suffering and dependence. And nothing threatens liberals more than the possibility of poor folks being less dependent.

So it is no wonder that the greenies are supporting the donut industry. Biofuels could make junk food too expensive for poor people to poison themselves with it. That would be a market triumph. Something that liberals must avoid at all costs.


Bo b said...

The environmental leader you mention was probably referring to the current situation in Mexico where the price of corn has gone up more than 50% in the last year at least partially due to US biofuel regulations. Corn, in the form of corn flour tortillas, has been a major part of the Mexican diet since long before Columbus.

Lab Cat said...

What actually would be more expensive is high fructose corn syrup, the cheap alternative to sucrose. The price of HFCS has already increased.

So sad that the food industry will have to stop using HFCS due to cost issues. However, don't weep for too long as they can then market the new product as HFCS free.

C W Magee said...

Last time my brother was out here, he said that the coke here tasted better since the Americans had already switched from sugar to HFCS. Here in Australia, they just increased the cost of a can of soda (we don't grow much corn).

As for Bob's corn problem, I'll just blame that on subsities.