Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Deadly "biofuels"

HE survived decades of Colombia's murderous guerrilla uprisings. He lived through paramilitary purges and steered well clear of the cocaine overlords who swarmed across his rural region. It was something completely different that killed Innocence Dias. He died because the world is turning green.

The global quest for alternative sources of environmentally friendly energy has attracted high-profile support from American politicians, including President George W Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California. Celebrities such as Daryl Hannah, the actress, and Willie Nelson, the country singer, are leading a campaign to promote green fuels. Yet the trend has already had disastrous consequences for tens of thousands of peasants in rural Colombia. A surge in demand for biofuels derived from agricultural products has unleashed a chaotic land grab by a new breed of gangster entrepreneurs hoping to cash in on the world's thirst for palm oil and related bioproducts.

Vast areas of Colombia's tropical forest are being cleared for palm tree plantations. Charities working with local peasants claim that paramilitary forces in league with biofuel conglomerates - some of them financed by US government subsidies - are forcing families off their land with death threats and bogus purchase offers. "The paramilitaries are not subtle when it comes to taking land," said Dominic Nutt, a British specialist with Christian Aid who recently visited Colombia. "They simply visit a community and tell landowners, `If you don't sell to us, we will negotiate with your widow'."

Dias was one of several landowners around the remote settlement of Llano Rico who decided not to abandon his property when the paramilitaries first moved into the area. "My father felt protected because he had a local government position," said his daughter, Milvia Dias, 29. Even when paramilitaries warned the villagers that if they stayed they would be considered left-wing guerrilla sympathisers, Dias refused to be bullied. "He had cattle and land and one day, after all this happened, he went out to fix a hole in one of the farm's fences," his daughter said. He never came back. A search party found him with his throat cut and seven stab wounds in his torso. "We held the funeral at 5pm the same day and we ran away the next morning," said Dias. The land is now covered in palm trees owned by Urapalma, a Colombian enterprise that has repeatedly been accused in court proceedings of improperly invading private property.

Nutt said last week that he had heard stories of paramilitaries cutting off the arms of illiterate peasants and applying their fingerprints to land sale documents. In many cases, Nutt added, the land is collectively owned by indigenous people or Afro-Colombians and protected by federal laws that courts seem unable or unwilling to enforce. There is no reliable estimate of how many thousand acres have been appropriated, or how many of the 3m Colombians who have lost their homes since 1985 were forced out by the palm oil business.

Washington has been struggling for years to persuade Colombian farmers to turn their backs on coca leaf production in favour of other crops. Desperate to find energy alternatives to expensive and politically volatile sources of Middle Eastern and Venezuelan oil, Bush is also advocating a global increase in biofuel production.

Alvaro Uribe, the president of Colombia, has urged local palm oil producers to more than double the land they have under cultivation within four years. Uribe's critics complain that he has effectively given a green light to paramilitaries. At a congressional hearing on Colombia last week, Luis Gilberto Murillo-Urrutia, the former governor of Choco province, told a House foreign affairs subcommittee that US trade policy was likely to "generate an expansion of palm oil cultivation in Afro-Colombian territories . . . there is evidence that palm oil companies, taking advantage of the vulnerability of Afro- Colombian people, have been taking over lands illegally".

For Don Enrique Petro, 67, formerly a wealthy landowner from Curvarado, growing international awareness of the human cost of a green conscience has come several years too late. "I arrived in Curvarado 39 years ago with my wife and five sons," he said last week. He bought a patch of jungle and slowly transformed it into a 30-acre spread with 110 cows, 20 bulls and 10 horses.

He lost two sons and a brother to the guerrilla wars and in the early 1990s fled his land for five years. When he returned, he found a right-wing paramilitary group in control. "They said they wanted my land to fight the guerrillas," Petro said. "They were lying. It was so they could grow palm on it and make money." Petro refused to sell up. He claims he was eventually taken prisoner by the paramilitaries and, when released, found his land had been planted with palm trees belonging to Urapalma. The company has denied that it is cooperating with paramilitaries or acquiring land illegally.

The world's demand for alternative fuels is unlikely to diminish, but Nutt argued that biofuel consumers should put pressure on Colombia to return stolen land. Celebrities such as Hannah are beginning to distinguish between palm oil and less controversial biofuels such as ethanol, which is derived mainly from corn. "I want biofuels that are grown and produced in a sustainable manner," said Hannah, who leads a pressure group which is lobbying for US government standards on green fuel production. "I would not buy biodiesel made from palm oil."


Democrats Support Destructive Limits on America's Energy Sector

At today's EPW Committee hearing today, Senate Democrats expressed support for reducing mercury emissions from every power plant by 90 percent. Proponents of this approach generally claim that each power plant should be able to reduce mercury emissions by at least 90 percent, even though this level of reduction is not currently achievable and control technology vendors refuse to guarantee the performance of mercury removal technologies at these stringent levels.

FACT: According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), setting a 90% reduction mandate on mercury would cost up to $358 billion. A 90 percent reduction would result in fuel switching away from coal, which is our most abundant and least costly energy source, to natural gas. Increased reliance on natural gas for electricity generation will further increase prices, seriously impacting the ability of businesses to compete in the global marketplace and of families to pay their utility bills.

Further, like many other pollutants, mercury levels have also come down dramatically. Numerous industries that used to emit high levels of mercury, such as the municipal waste incinerators, have been controlled. The power sector industry is merely the latest industry to be regulated. And the regulations are significant - President Bush's Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR) will reduce power plant mercury emissions by 70 percent. And because the rule acts in coordination with CAMR- which reduces SO2, NOx, and particulate matter - it can be done for $2 billion. That's right - cutting 70% will cost $2 billion, but incrementally increasing that amount to beyond what the technologies can reliably do would cost up to $358 billion.

Finally, draconian mercury mandates fail to address the mercury emissions from outside of the United States. According to the EPA, Asia is responsible for 53 percent of mercury emissions worldwide, and that U.S. power plants contribute only about 1 percent of the mercury in the oceans. In fact, according to EPA, U.S. emissions of mercury were reduced by nearly half, from 1990 to 1999. While we have made great progress in reducing these emissions, they have been offset by increases in emissions from Asia, particularly China.


Mercury concern overblown

Since 1970, we have had tremendous economic growth, and tripled our energy use and vehicle miles traveled. Despite this, instead of tripling our pollution or doubling or even holding it constant, we have cut our pollution levels by more than half. This is a success story that - hard as it is to believe - few people even realize is true.

This gets to the heart of my greatest concern over the mercury debate. Few understand it, and some have preyed upon that lack of understanding. We are literally scaring ourselves to death over mercury. A few years ago, when EPA and the FDA issued a joint advisory on mercury and environmentalists turned up their alarmist rhetoric, tuna consumption plummeted. People became afraid to eat fish because they believed it was bad for them.

Let's be clear: all seafood has some level of mercury - always has and always will. It is an element, pervasive in the environment and bioaccumulative. The question is not whether mercury causes birth defects and even kills in high doses - it does. The question is whether it's harmful in extremely low quantities. According to the biggest, best designed and longest running study ever done, the answer is a resounding "NO."

What most people do not realize is that is that the dose makes the poison. Fish is brain food. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids reduces colon and lung cancers and numerous other ailments, and aids brain development in the womb. The Seychelles Islands study found that, even though their seafood-rich diet meant they consumed more mercury than Americans, eating the seafood was beneficial. Let me repeat: by discouraging people from eating fish, we are literally scaring them to death.

That isn't to say we shouldn't make progress in bringing down mercury levels. We should and we are. But we need to put the issue in perspective. Like other pollutants, mercury levels have also come down dramatically. Numerous industries that used to emit high levels of mercury, such as the municipal waste incinerators, have been controlled. The power sector industry is merely the latest industry to be regulated. And the regulations are significant - the Clean Air Mercury Rule will reduce power plant mercury emissions by 70 percent. And because the rule acts in coordination with the Clean Air Implementation Rule - which reduces SO2, NOx, and particulate matter - it can be done for $2 billion.


Why is the Vatican Backing Climate Change Theory?

On May 10, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican's representative at the United Nations, addressed the Economic and Social Council of the UN on the hot topic of climate change. His comments were disturbing to many since he seemed to indicate the Vatican was taking sides in the contentious debate around the causes of climate change. Furthermore, by failing to clarify that the Vatican does not support population control as a means to address global warming his use of the terminology employed by groups advocating population control as the primary solution to avert disaster is also raising eyebrows.

Archbishop Migliore stated, "The scientific evidence for global warming and for humanity's role in the increase of greenhouse gasses becomes ever more unimpeachable . . . and such activity has a profound relevance, not just for the environment, but in ethical, economic, social and political terms as well."

While debate among climate scientists rages about the human contribution to climate change and global warming, many are concerned that the Vatican ambassador has chosen to take sides on this controversial issue.

A few months ago the Evangelical leadership of the United States ventured into similar territory when the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) published the Evangelical Climate Initiative. The statement claimed that "climate change" is "human-induced" and would result in the deaths of "millions of people.most of them our poorest global neighbors," through climatological disasters such as hurricane Katrina.

Prominent Evangelical spokesmen, including Focus on the Family founder Dr. James Dobson, and the Southern Baptist Convention's Richard Land called on the NAE to back down from its controversial stand "We believe there should be room for Bible-believing evangelicals to disagree about the cause, severity and solutions to the global warming issue . . . Global warming is not a consensus issue, and our love for the Creator and respect for His creation does not require us to take a position," Dobson, Land and others wrote.

In language that could be equally addressed to the Vatican, Dobson told the NAE that certain individuals "are using the global warming controversy to shift the emphasis away from the great moral issues of our time, notably the sanctity of human life, the integrity of marriage and the teaching of sexual abstinence and morality to our children."

Another concerning comment in the Archbishop's address to the UN was a glowing reference to "sustainable development", UN lingo which has long been associated with population control. "There is still time to use technology and education to promote universally sustainable development before it is too late," he concluded.

Those in the pro-life community who have been following developments at the United Nations for the past decade are well acquainted with the language employed by Archbishop Migliore. It is the same as that which has been spouted by those seeking to force population control on developing nations by inciting fear of climate disaster and false promises of prosperity with from depopulation.

Joan Veon, a veteran UN expert who has reported on about 100 United Nations conferences explained what UN policy-makers mean when they use the term sustainable development. In 1992 during the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development Veon observed: "Sustainable development basically says there are too many people on the planet, that we must reduce the population."

Not only UN experts but also national leaders have admitted publicly that population control lies at the heart of plans to combat global warming. Last month China boasted that its one-child policy, which has been criticized by many nations for including forced abortion and sterilization, had reduced greenhouse gases. Speaking at a meeting in Oslo on the UN's Kyoto Protocol, Hu Tao of China's State Environmental Protection Administration said the one-child population control policy has slowed "global warming" by limiting the population to 1.3 billion. "This has reduced greenhouse gas emissions," he said.

In 2004 Russian presidential economic advisor Andrei Illarionov called the Kyoto Protocol - a UN sponsored treaty to reduce greenhouse gases - an "undeclared war against Russia" since it required depopulation. Quoting a British team of scientists and government officials Illarionov said, "As long as you reduce your population, you can meet the Kyoto Protocol requirements."

Recently population control advocates have become more open about their agenda. A report published May 7 by the Optimum Population Trust declared that the best "carbon-offset strategy" was to reduce the number of human beings and thus defeat the "global warming" phenomenon. "Population limitation should therefore be seen as the most cost-effective carbon offsetting strategy available to individuals and nations," read the report, A Population-Based Climate Strategy. "The most effective personal climate change strategy is limiting the number of children one has," the report says. "The most effective national and global climate change strategy is limiting the size of the population."

The stance of most of the pro-life movement regarding the environment was recently expressed by Czech President Vaclav Klaus in March of this year. "All of us are very much in favour of maximum environmental protection and protection of nature," he said in an interview with the Cato Institute. "But it has nothing in common with environmentalism, which is ideological and practically attacking our freedom." Environmentalism is, he said "a way of introducing new forms of statism, new forms of masterminding human society from above."

Should the Vatican wish to get into the game of prediction of man-made climate disasters perhaps they should revisit Biblical interpretations of natural disasters resulting from the sinfulness of mankind. The Biblical account of Noah's Ark describes the whole known population of the earth being drowned in a flood except for Noah and his family, who were faithful to God. To say nothing of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the flood was caused, teaches the Church, not by global warming, but by global sinning.


A reminder about the limitations of rationality when dealing with Greenies

"Then came Paul Ehrlich’s “The Population Bomb” (1968), in which he opened famously by saying, “The battle to feed humanity is over. In the 1970s and 1980s, hundreds of millions of people will starve to death, in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.” Writing in Ramparts magazine, he went even further, “Hundreds of millions of people will soon perish in smog disasters in New York and Los Angeles…the oceans will die of DDT poisoning by 1979…the U.S. life expectancy will drop to 42 years by 1980, due to cancer epidemics.” Hepatitis and dysentery would sweep America by 1980 and nearly all of us would wear gas masks. Over 65 million Americans would starve in the 1980s, leaving only 22.6 million starved Americans alive in 1990. In 1990, he incredibly justified his claims as being right – a trait common to Doomsday prophets."



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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