Using Energy Like Pigs: Another Biodiesel Rant
Yes, time for another rant. The new movie “Fuel” has all the green folk in a tizzy about how Jay Inslee and Barack Obama are going to make us independent from oil. We just need American can-do attitude and our old friend science to help us out.
The blog for the film’s website today has a photo of the guy who made the film with a cardboard “Biodiesel, No War Required” sign. I guess he isn’t reading our blog, eh?
The blog is also sporting a story snippet with link from the Seattle Times titled:
“Fuel”: A persuasive argument for kicking our addiction to oil
The title should be:
“Fuel”: A thoughtless argument for continuing to use energy like pigs!
Somehow the article’s author, Tom Keough, is actually so blind to what is happening that he has this to say:
Opening in Seattle after a week of national furor over any thought of channeling billions to an antiquated American auto industry, “Fuel” also couldn’t look more topical. Indeed, director Josh Tickell spends a fair amount of time in this dynamic, stirring film tracing the mutually beneficial relationship between a tax-subsidized car industry high on gas guzzlers and a tax-subsidized oil industry happy to supply product.
Did he just say people are outraged over “channeling billions to an antiquated American auto industry”? I think he did! What does he think the biodiesel boondoggle is all about? The biodiesel movement is inherently about channeling billions to an antiquated American auto LIFESTYLE! That’s the purpose of the project.
He also complains about the tax subsidies the oil companies get. Lovely. What is it that the biodiesel geeks in front (and the big ag industry players right behind them) want from Inslee and Obama in the first place?
Great guess! Subsidies! You just can’t compete against 5-15 EROEI when your product only offers 1-4 EROEI.
The main problems with this enterprise are rooted in the fact that nature gives us nothing for free. Biodiesel is a form of strip mining our soil for fuel, and generally the scale most Americans unwittingly endorse for this project would also endanger our food supply by:
- damaging critical ecosystems (the bees are already dying on us)
- using food land for fuel land (even if they say we won’t do it)
- pretending that water supply is not an issue
I could go watch the film and then debunk the claims about how they get around the food-fuel question, but why bother? I already know the answer because we’ve done the math 10 different ways, years ago. A look at their website should put the question to rest.
Let’s hunt for their “easy out”, shall we? . . . Ah, here it is:
A: Marginal land is land that is difficult to cultivate and is not being used for food crops. This land could be used to grow biomass crops to be used for biofuels. California has 1 million acres of marginal land that could generate 5 billion gallons of biofuels per year.
Take out the euphemisms and it looks more like this:
A’: As a new industrial strip-mining site. We’ve monocropped all the good agricultural land and destroyed those ecosystems such that nothing can grow there anymore without massive fossil inputs. Why not do the same for our marginal lands so that we can keep on using energy like pigs?
Think about what the million California acres must look like. Why aren’t they used for ag land right now? Is there ANY water there? Is that why it is “difficult to cultivate”? Will we monocrop half-barren hillsides? What happens in the rainy seasons when those hillsides erode onto the towns below in massive mudslides because we’ve turned scrub brush into, well, nothing after each harvest?
This is not going to be permaculture plots where we grow potatoes and soybeans next to one another, and harvest some for food and some for fuel. This is going to be an industrial monocrop intended to continue our industrial lifestyle!
Isn’t this what the film’s audience have been fighting against for decades? It amazes me to no end that people who consider themselves ENVIRONMENTALISTS don’t get how this is going to work!
We’re not going to have a bunch of hippies sustainably shepherding small to medium sized biodiesel commune farms on this acreage: it is going to be run by Con-Agra and Monsanto, and run the same way they run everything else. Sustainable shepherding doesn’t maximize this quarter’s profit margin.
This is the “green” solution? And the problem we’re addressing is what? That the industrial way of life is starting to look exactly as unsustainable as it really is? Why are greens trying to SOLVE this “problem”?
I thought the problem for greens was the fantastic success of the growth economy model made it look sustainable for awhile. Now the veil is finally getting ripped away from our industrial wet-dreams of an ever growing future, and what is the response of the green community?
“SAVE THE CARS!”
Is the quality of the thinking out there truly this bad? The people who take classes to learn about what words like “sustainability” and “ecology” mean don’t even get it. I understand the majority who can go months without hearing those words, but if this is the “green” leadership, then I’m afraid we may be headed for a serious and deep collapse.