Biofuels hurt the poor

I love new technology.  I love the Internet.  I love the ways we can connect people who might never have met before. But (you knew that was coming, right?) I try to keep a cautious attitude and remaind mindful of how it affects me, the people around me, and my relationships with them. Neil Postman calls this the Faustian bargain:

The first idea is that all technological change is a trade-off. I like to call it a Faustian bargain. Technology giveth and technology taketh away. … Think of the automobile, which for all of its obvious advantages, has poisoned our air, choked our cities, and degraded the beauty of our natural landscape.

Lately, there has been a rush to biofuels.  This is because, instead of examining our relentless appetite for energy when the price of oil becomes uncomfortable, we adopt new ways of satisfying old desires. Since many people are promoting corn as one of the primary sources of biofuel, this means the price of corn rises, and puts it out of reach of the poorest people.  Poor Haitians (who, admittedly, have to deal with systemic problems on top of poverty) are reduced to eating dirt. (Side note.  To demonstrate just how wrong-headed biofuels are, I’ll just point out that solar panels are better at converting the Sun’s energy into useful energy than plants.)

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