The mad push to convert a large segment of the North American grain market into biofuels is encountering the law of unintended consequences: Poor people elsewhere are starving.
Convinced that global warming due to the burning of fossil fuels is the Number One problem of our age, governments have adopted policies that reward growing crops for ethanol production, rather than for food. The markets have responded accordingly, and now the poorer nations of the world are struggling to find food for their people.
Whatever the arguments, politics is intruding. Food export controls have been imposed by Russia, China, India, Vietnam, Argentina, and Serbia. We are disturbingly close to a chain reaction that could shatter our assumptions about food security. . . .
The world intelligentsia has been asleep at the wheel. While we rage over global warming, global hunger has swept in under the radar screen.
Bjorn Lomborg is right: Whatever the science surrounding climate change, this planet has a lot bigger problems to worry about than global warming. The politicization of the climate debate is now costing lives.
UPDATE: Simon Jenkins in The Guardian notes, “Until recently, most greenery has seemed no more than a feelgood parlour game. Now it is getting serious.”
The marketplace is never perfect, but in this matter it could not be worse than government action. Playing these games has so far made a few people very rich at the cost of the taxpayer. Now the cost is in famine and starvation. This is no longer a game.