A Hungry World Population? Oh Well, Let Them Eat Ethanol!
…Here come the corn riots.
Climate change policies—much more than the vagaries of climate–are now beginning to create the instabilities that cooler heads have been warning about for years.
Corn prices on the Chicago Board of Trade are now at or near record levels, around $8.30 per bushel for spot delivery. The rise in recent weeks has been dramatic, driven by the perception of declining yields caused by hot and dry conditions mainly in the upper Midwest.
Much of this corn is beyond redemption as grain. High temperatures render corn’s pollen sterile, and the narrow pollination season—usually around ten days in a given field—dictates that once this time has passed, there’s likely to be very few kernels set on each ear. While rain may allow the plant to recover, its value as feed is dramatically reduced.
Which brings us to ethanol. It comes from corn. The amount to be produced is a mandate, not a choice. It’s 13.2 billion gallons this year. Last year we burnt up 40% of our crop. This year, given the expected yield reductions, we could easily destroy over half of our corn.
The U.S. is by far the world’s largest producer, and our abundant supply is a major factor in keeping the price of the world’s most abundant feed and food grain low—generally around $3.00/bushel. That was before George W. Bush decided that the answer to global warming was to produce ethanol from corn. Hence the rise in corn price that commences with the 2007 passage of the ethanol mandates, followed soon by global food riots. $8.00 corn today will likely bring much more of the same.
Of course, there is little chance that the disproportionately influential farm lobby is going to swallow changing the ethanol mandate when its constituents are making money hand-over-fist because of an artificially induced shortage. It’s also an election year. But, isn’t it just too bad about those poor people in Mexico and around the world who actually will suffer for the insanity and depravity of our agricultural/environmental policy?
Every single problem in the world today is man made. If governments got out of the job of mandating minutiae, we, the world at large, could build and feed ourselves just fine.