Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Another black and white issue. At last!

Most intellectuals agree that the initial decision to invade Iraq was a huge disaster. But that was five years ago. You would expect it's about time again for American politicians to be goofing up, and indeed, they are. It's not every day that the American government adopts a policy that is so obviously stupid - and significant enough to matter - that basically the entire media reacts negatively.

The US political support for the production of corn ethanol (such as the Energy Policy Act of 2005) is being shot down by every study, news story, and respectable pundit. The problems with substituting corn ethanol for gasoline are many. First, Paul Krugman says that the conversion of corn to ethanol is causing rising food prices, which hurts the poor especially hard. Second, George Will cites one source claiming that even if the entire US corn crop were converted to ethanol, this would be enough to replace only about 3.5% of US gasoline use. Third, recent studies say that growing corn to produce ethanol is contributing to global warming, for reasons associated with the destruction of Brazilian rain forests to grow more corn. Lord have mercy!

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