Thingish Things

Collateral Damage

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Apr• 07•11

Conservatives get pinged by the Left for their definitional resistance to progressivism. They are portrayed as grumpy, mean, and calcified.

But conservatives are not inherently opposed to change.  They are wary of it.  There is a difference. Bright packages wrapped in bows are not always gifts.  They need to be opened slowly and examined over time. Dispensing of thousands of years of practical wisdom  for today’s “new and better” idea sometimes ends up biting you on the you know what.  The law of unintended consequences is funny like that.

The New York Times today tells the story of yet another example of that law.  The bright idea of biofuels is wreaking havoc on the globe, in the world’s poorest nations especially.  Food crops that used to go to filling stomachs are now filling gas tanks. Food staples are being siphoned off to countries with governments that jumped head-long into biofuel mandates, with every good intention, during the last spike in oil prices.  Now, the world’s poorest people are facing skyrocketing prices for basic food necessities, rioting, and possibly starvation.  Oops.

Liberals tend to see the world for how it ought to be, and conservatives see the world for how it is.  I think that’s a fair assessment.  This story is a perfect example. Biofuels are great in theory.  They are a hugely promising discovery.  They ought to be our future.  But turning the world’s time-tested food delivery systems on their head with hastily-passed government mandates may end up creating a worldwide disaster.  That’s the way it is. And people are paying for it.


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  1. Your Friend says:

    Oops indeed. You’ve nailed the problem, but you’ve got the source wrong. As a card-carrying progressive, I’ve always opposed biofules (see my prior post about the amazing new artifical leaf), but Bush was a big fan. Oops.

  2. Bill says:

    You are right. He blew that.

  3. The answer may be in algae. While the ethanol mandate is having a disastrous effect on food prices and the commodities markets. Using algae to replace corn in ethanol production, avoids creating shortages in food supplies or markets. There is a growth company called OriginOil that is trying to commercialize technology to do just that.

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