The road to environmental hell is paved with good intentions

Such is the conclusion of this piece in the Grey Lady that examines the real effects of Europe’s craze for bio-fuels, in particular palm oil grown in Indonesia and Malaysia. The conclusion is that while there may be some modest reduction in greenhouse gases in Europe, these modest reductions come at the expense of humongous carbon releases (third largest in the world) in Indonesia and Malaysia as carbon-trapping peat bogs are drained, and burned, to make way for palm oil plantations!
Remember… burning wood, or corn oil, or sugar cane, is arguably “renewable”, but if the problem is the overall total net release of CO2 into the atmosphere… these things, like the palm oil, may prove counter-productive… for this one, gimmicks won’t work: the total math has to be correct, or we’re all screwed.
The good news is that there are existing technologies that don’t emit so much CO2… number one, alas, is improved efficiency, followed by nuclear energy and wind (as Homer Simpson once remarked, “nuclear power– the best power there is… except for solar, but that’s just a pipe dream”… irony is how close he is to correct). As unpopular as it is, the reality is that the climate change conditions (massive extinctions of species, reduction in temperate and colder zones permitting tropical disease carrying insects to have greater range, drought and its friend famine (see “Darfur”), increasingly violent hurricanes) even without the more “controversial” issue of “just how much” the oceans are going to rise… won’t be as bad if our use of nuclear energy is increased and emissions thereby reduced. And wind, of course, has got to be a major power source. I’m still perplexed that purported “environmentalists” can be opposed to wind energy… yes, this means you, Teddy and Bobby Kennedy… your wonderful short-sightedness conveniently overlooks the fact that your lovely waterfront estate whose view you hold so sacred will likely soon be underwater if we don’t have projects like Cape Wind, and a lot of them, and fast…
Anyway… all of this is simply what we are up against… We have a huge, global problem, requiring a huge global solution… and we are up against entrenched powerful interests of all kinds that, generally, want their own responsibility taken up by someone else. Overcoming this mindset, probably more than technical challenges, will be necessary if we expect to maintain our way of life… or civilization of any kind.