Lost in the back pages of newspapers last week was the tiny story of ethanol raising the cost of food.
A report by the Congressional Budget Office says the increased use of ethanol caused a 10 percent to 15 percent rise in food prices in 2007 and 2008. In the coming budget year, the increased cost of food caused by ethanol could raise the government's cost for food stamps and child nutrition programs by $900 million.
In the simplest terms, ethanol raises food prices because it turns food, specifically corn, into fuel for cars. Anyone familiar with the law of supply and demand knows that demand for food will only increase if cars begin consuming it. And any increase in demand results in an increase in cost if supplies don't rise at the same pace.
Of course, we're not really supposed to care all that much because it's for a greater cause.
The food made from fuel will somehow benefit the planet, which is theoretically challenged by human-caused global warming. How ethanol will resolve this is anyone's guess. Any emissions advantages are quickly offset by the fuel's inefficient performance and the fact it's inefficient to produce. Few could even afford to buy it if the government wasn't subsidizing its production, which involves paying for all kinds of fossil-fueled tractors and trucks.
But what the heck, it makes us feel good. And besides, it's just corn. Right? Well, not exactly. Because the government subsidizes this lose-lose fiasco, farmers have taken other crops out of production in order to make room for corn.
A 10 percent to 15 percent increase in food prices can mean no vacation for middle class families, or no new tires on the car. It means everyone scrimps a little more on food. It means more of the poor eat less. When the government's cost of providing food stamps and child nutrition increases by $900 million, it ultimately means fewer food stamps and subsidized meals. If not, it means the $900 million came out of something else the government provides, and it's probably not some bailed-out fat cat's bonus.
If it's not enough that we're wasting food and money on an unworkable plan to save Mother Earth, President Barack Obama's administration may use geoengineering to cool the planet's temperature by executive order. The president's new science adviser, John Holdren, explained in an interview last month his hope for shooting pollution particles into the upper atmosphere to reflect the sun's rays away from Earth.
This, despite the fact that 17,200 scientists have signed a petition that says scientific data don't support the theory of global warming as something other than a natural and cyclic climate phenomenon. The global warming scare has mostly emanated from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), comprised mostly of non-scientific political appointees. The panel would like to see developed nations spend huge chunks of their wealth trying to control the climate.
"The basic methodology used by the IPCC cannot be supported by the actual data so the panel relies on the news media to filter the news that reaches the public," wrote Michael J. Wagner, in an article for Digital Journal about the 17,200 scientists on record disputing the IPCC theory.
Among the skeptics is Harvard astrophysicist Sallie Baliunas, interviewed by ABC's John Stossel after he learned that American children believe global warming will kill them before they grow up. Baliunas contends that additional CO2 in the atmosphere will help humans grow more food and end Sahara Desert droughts. Stossel asked why so little is reported about the thousands of scientists who dispute the IPCC's theory. Baliunas told him to follow the money.
"Twenty-five billion dollars in government funding has been spent since 1990 to research global warming," Baliunas said, explaining that governments raise money by generating fear.
Human activity might be contributing to a rise in global temperatures, and that warming may cause harm. That's a theory. But here's a fact: Human activity, to address the cause of global warming, is taking food from the mouths of children.