If there is a corollary to the Golden Rule, it should be, "those who live by good intentions, must suffer their unintended consequences."
As the furor grows over the myth of man-made Global Warming, and feeds the groping search for alternative fuels, the lust to cater to unsubstantiated consensus is yielding its own inconvenient truth; that rash judgements and fabled solutions can render an alternative devastation.
On the cover of the Wall Street Journal today (subscription only), Barta and Spencer, show us a few of the devastating consequences of replacing petroleum.
- Indonesia - Investors are pouring billions of dollars into "renewable" energy sources such as ethanol, biodiesel and solar power that promise to reduce the world's reliance on petroleum. But exploiting these alternatives may produce unintended environmental and economic consequences that offset the expected benefits.
Here on the Island of Bornea, a thick haze often encloses this city of 500,000 people. The cause: forest fires that have blazed across the island. many of them set to clear land to produce palm oil - a key ingredient in biodiesel, a clean-burning diesel alternative.
They go on to decribe the ugly atmospheric conditions of the tropical island, where volunteers distribute face-masks on the streets of it villages and cities to protect citizens from the sky-rocketing spread of respiratory illness.
But, Borneo is not alone. the story continues to describe the situation throughout Indonesia, Malaysia, and even Canada, where forests are being eliminated as acreage for new energy-yielding crops or other unconventional fuels products. And the story goes on to A13 with disturbing photos and much much more. I encourage everyone to get it and read it.
In a previous post, Harvesting Dependency, I noted similar UN concerns about the growing and somewhat irresponsible quest to encourage the production and use of biofuels... and their unintended consequences. At the time, I pointed to new standards imposed by West Coast Legislatures that encourage and promote - indeed even compell by law - this dictate.
Recently, both Oregon and Washington implemented California's LEV II Standards for lower emissions. It includes a requirement for the mandatory distribution of ethanols and biodiesel products in place of so-called fossil-fuels... namely petroleum products. In the interests of Oregon, and in accordance with certain Sustainability principals (see Conservation Economics), the intention is for this state to convert much of its agricultural industry to fuel production, according to Oregon Business Magazine.
At the time, believe it or not, I sided with the concerns of the UN in this matter, submitting this query,
Are we to believe that the world, in its entirety is so well fed, that we can surrender millions of acres of fertile land to the production of fuel for commerce and industry? Many would have us believe that to be a wise choice, arguing that farm production is currently suffering an abundance of yield. Supply is high, and produce prices are simply too low for most farmers to maintain a sustainable profit margin in the area of food production. Perhaps it is presently the case. But, is there not an inherent danger in encouraging the conversion of food production to infinitely more lucrative fuel production?
In our quest to come to terms with the mechanisms of Global Warming, we should always remember one convenient set of facts. They happen to be true. We know THAT it happens; the extreme cyclical temperature variations that have occurred throughout the geologic history of the planet. We know HOW it happens. Every 100, 000 years or so, the globe freezes dramatically, then it thaws for a time. Ice caps grow and shrink, glaciers spread and recede and sea levels change by as much as 500 vertical feet. The cycle repeats indefinitely, as far as we know. What we don't exactly know is WHY it happens, however. That is where the theories on Global Warming are important. The theories attempt to explain the facts. And the facts regarding the history of this planet can be vague at best. But, there is one fact that we can deduce. Since the cycle has been occuring for some 4.8 Billion years, and Man has been on this Earth for only 200 Million, we can be fairly certain of one inconvenient truth, Global Warming is not the result of the activities of Mankind.
The convenient myth that is being propagated to throttle Western Civilization, may yet prove to have unintended consequences far more destructive than any the discovery of petroleum and the invention of the internal combustion engine have yet produce.
(edited for clarity, 12.05.06.12.57)