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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Bio-fuel, climate change due to global warming – fueling hunger to grow:


Bio-fuel, climate change due to global warming – fueling hunger to grow:

Throughout the world everybody is concerned about the present International food prices soaring at unprecedented rates. Below-normal harvests, growing cereal imports by almost every developing country in Asia and Africa is a threat to the humanity. Should we call it as food scarcity? For this kind of food scarcity, should we blame climate change due to global warming?

At the same time International crude oil price is also increasing and touching record highs have become almost everyday affair. The consumption of crude oil, gas and other fossil fuels are also soaring by some of the highly industrialized nations.

Bio-fuels are fuels derived from crop plants, and include biomass directly burnt, and especially bio-diesel from plant seed-oil, and bio-ethanol from fermenting grain, sap, grass, straw or wood. The increasing use of crop land for generation of bio-fuels, in order to meet increased need of fuels by many developed nations, have arisen many questions – whether ‘the present food shortages are due to production of bio-fuel using crop land and climate change due to global warming’. To some extent the answer of the question is ‘yes’. According to many, bio-fuels are exacerbating food shortages in many parts of the world. There have already been riots in over 30 countries, including Haiti. Moreover, this food crisis could worsen in the short term.

The fact remains, more than 10% of land in Sub-Saharan Africa is at risk of being lost for maize, the most important staple food crop, production due to environmental constraints induced by climate change. In Asia countries are losing crops due to occurrence of erratic flood and cyclone, which is again due severe global climatic change, experts say, due to global warming. Many of the affected countries are already food insecure and poor, with low capacity to finance food imports, and their situation has been worsened substantially by current inadequate and uncoordinated policies toward tackling climate change, namely using crop land to grow bio-fuels with environmental risks and only modest greenhouse gas benefits. The absurd bio-fuel policy by most of the Governments, has contributed to the doubling of staple food prices in the last few years. Food price rise has severely affected the population in developing countries, where about more than 70% of their household earnings spend for food.

There is no ‘shortage’ of food in the world, even though global food stocks are officially at their lowest in nearly 25 years. Instead, it is the spectacular rise in food prices that explains why so many poor populations are being deprived of food. In some cases, the price of basic commodities has almost doubled overnight. Since the world’s poorest populations devote a large proportion of their meager income to food, price hikes lead to hunger and push desperate populations to riot.

Another important point is, developed nations’ thirst for bio-fuels is fuelling deforestation, thereby changing adversely global climatic condition resulting food price hikes. Bio-energy crops do take up valuable land that could be used for growing food, and food security is becoming a burning issue. World grain yield has fallen drastically, bringing reserves to the lowest. Chronic depletion of aquifers in the major bread baskets of the world, drought and soaring temperatures are taking their toll and set to do even more damage to food production. The pressure on land from food and bio-energy crops will certainly speed up deforestation and species extinction and at the same time result in food price increases worldwide, hitting the poorest, hungriest countries the hardest.

Therefore, to protect the earth’s most sensitive forest ecosystems, to stabilize climate and to safeguard food security throughout the world, the efficacy of the present bio-fuel policy implemented by many of the Governments required to be reviewed. New policy is to be formulated to safeguard our forest ecosystems, stabilize climate and to make our earth green without affecting food security of the developing countries.

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