The Carbon Sense Coalition today claimed that mis-guided government policies on global warming were going to cause a crisis in food.
The Chairman of “Carbon Sense”, Mr Viv Forbes, said that subsidising ethanol, taxing carbon fuels and covering grasslands and farms with trees would cause massive dislocation of rural industries and shortages and runaway prices for food.
“The ethanol swindle has sucked in many people, but the costs will far exceed the benefits. Demand for ethanol feedstock has already caused massive increases in prices for corn in USA and similar things will happen with sorghum and sugar in Australia. If the current foolish policies persist, these problems will also infect the soy industry, palm oils and other grains.
“Australian taxpayers will subsidise a huge ethanol plant being built at Dalby which will gobble 500 tonnes of grains per day – that is a lot of chook feed.
“Rising prices for grains, sugar and soy will feed through into higher prices for all food produced in farms, feedlots and factories. Beef, lamb, dairy products, chicken, eggs, breakfast cereals, bread and confectionery will all become more expensive, to the detriment of every consumer. The biofuels mania has caused price increases for pasta in Italy, cornflakes in Kansas, tortillas in Mexico and croissants in Paris.
“According to a recent EU report: ‘The current push to expand the use of biofuels is creating unsustainable tensions that will disrupt markets without generating significant environmental benefits’.
“Ethanol contains less energy than is used to produce it. Making alcohol from corn is a good way to make whiskey, but a terrible way to make motor spirit.
“Moreover, to produce one litre of ethanol uses 4 litres of water, so ethanol plants will cause increases in the prices of both food and water.
“Naturally there are vocal beneficiaries of the ethanol boom, but the net cost to the whole community will be negative – it will always be cheaper to produce motor fuel from oil or coal than to use fossil fuels to produce organic fuels via ethanol.
“We should plant our seed corn, not turn it into motor fuel. Burning food for fuel is a very fuelish policy. What do we do as an encore? Pay subsidies to oil companies to produce pizzas from petroleum?
“Even more foolish than subsidising ethanol is the process whereby people are encouraged to evade carbon taxes by planting trees.
“These force fed forests will result in a creeping infestation of woody weeds into land currently producing grass, pastures and crops.
“If some extremists had their way, Australia would become a monoculture of unproductive eucalypts, which are rightly regarded as invasive weeds in other countries. And the rules for carbon credits will probably dictate that they stay there forever, becoming a haven for feral pests and weeds and a magnet for bushfires.
“There is a place for trees in any productive landscape, and previous stupid government policies caused excessive clearing of trees on government controlled leasehold land. But banning all land clearing and subsidising tree planting is just as stupid.
“Farm forestry or wildlife refuges should be allowed to flourish on a fair basis alongside all other land businesses – none should receive discriminatory tax breaks. Well managed grasslands can extract just as much carbon from the air as will tree plantations (unless the trees are harvested and turned into timber houses).
“The final stupid food policy will be carbon taxes, which will push up the already high costs for fuel and power for every farming operation. Soaring prices for diesel, petrol and electricity will escalate the cost of operating tractors, harvesters, trucks, dozers, road trains, water pumps, feedlots, food processing plants and supermarkets. The end result will be seen at every checkout.
“The world has always depended for most of its food on great grasslands of Australia, the savannas of South America, the prairies of North America and the farmlands on the European plain. And the key food resource is the native and domesticated cereals and grasses and the grazing animals that live in harmony with them. Turning these ancient grasslands into forests will have far reaching and costly consequences.
“All of this is justified to calm a world hysteria about the modern era of global warming which started long before man started burning fossil fuels and will continue to rise or fall irrespective of what puny vote-seeking politicians do.
“Despite the recent Ignobel awards to Al Gore, more and more independent scientists are concluding that the facts and the evidence do not support the hysterical claims that the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by mankind will cause runaway warming.
“A Judge in Britain got it right recently when he called Gore’s film a biased political document with eleven specific claims not supported by any evidence.
“Politicians are about to inflict huge Greenhouse costs on the whole community, for nothing.”