[asa] Carbon catastrophe - Kyoto causes rainforest cutting and food-price hikes

From: Janice Matchett <janmatch@earthlink.net>
Date: Tue Oct 30 2007 - 01:32:27 EDT

Stupidity SQUARED. What would cynical
opportunists do without their naive useful idiots? ~ Janice

Carbon catastrophe - Kyoto causes rainforest cutting and food-price hikes
Financial Post ^ | Friday, October 19, 2007 | Lawrence Solomon
Posted on 10/29/2007 9:10:12 PM EDT by Reform Canada

Four environmental catastrophes loom large, all
due to sweeping changes to the world economy in the wake of the Kyoto Treaty.

The first is the threat to the world's forests,
especially old-growth forests which do not soak
up carbon from the atmosphere. By seizing these
forests, cutting them down, and converting them
to carbon-intensive plantations, Third World
governments and their cronies can cash in on
carbon credits, to the dismay of the old-growth forests' inhabitants.

As expressed in a Declaration by the Forest
Peoples Programme, a gathering of tribal peoples
in India's North Eastern Region of Guwahati in
2003, "The climate change debate has turned
forests into a carbon commodity, which will have
to provide carbon credits for a lucrative carbon
market that will allow industrialized countries
to continue emitting greenhouse gases."

The declaration, designed to protest an upcoming
Kyoto meeting in Milan, objected to the
technocratic mind-set that valued their
communities on their potential to capture carbon.
"The Kyoto Protocol's focus on carbon
sequestration means that more credits can be
gained the faster a tree can grow, which in turn
leads to an incentive for large-scale tree
plantations and ignores the role of forests, particularly old growth forests."

The indigenous peoples feared Kyoto-caused
devastation that they were seeing around the
world, such as the Plantar carbon sequestration
project in Brazil's Minas Gerais, opposed by more
than 50 Brazilian NGOs, citizens' movements,
churches and trade unions, as well as the World
Rainforest Movement. The Plantar project -
financed by OECD governments and run by the World
Bank's Carbon Finance Unit - is converting 23,100
hectares of natural forest to eucalyptus tree
plantations to produce wood for charcoal, for use
in pig iron production instead of coal. The
Plantar project, like numerous others in the
Third World, are at the other end of the carbon
credit schemes that have become so popular with Westerners.

Every time we buy carbon offsets to salve our
consciences at flying in a jet, we are helping to
dispossess someone, somewhere, by boosting the
carbon-credit value of their land.

The second looming catastrophe, also caused by
Kyoto carbon credits, again affects the poorest
of the poor -- a widespread food shortage,
accompanied by rising prices, as agricultural
lands are turned to ethanol and other bio-fuels
rather than nourishment. In Mexico City in
February, some 75,000 marched in protest at the
dramatic rise in the price of tortillas, a
corn-based staple of their diet that typically
consumes one-third of a poor family's income.
Indonesia, Egypt, Algeria, and Nigeria have also
seen protests, leading to growing alarm at
Kyoto's implications for the Third World, as seen
by opinion pieces in the Third World press
predicting "worldwide famine affecting billions
of people" and "political instability, social unrest and general chaos."

While worldwide famine is unlikely to
materialize, an increase in hunger is entirely
plausible: Goldman Sachs describes the food price
increases as part of a structural change in world
agricultural markets, with high-cost marginal
lands brought into production to produce fuel.

The social and environmental costs will be
prohibitive, and not only because wilderness and
all manner of ecosystems will be converted to monoculture farming.

Ethanol production is water-intensive, requiring
1700 litres of water per litre of ethanol
produced, according to David Pimental of Cornell
University. To meet this demand, aquifers are
being drained and disputes over watercourses increasing.

The perversity of this wholesale re-engineering
of the world's natural resources becomes complete
with two additional revelations. Earlier this
year, Stanford's Mark Jacobson discovered that,
if all cars in the United States converted to
E85, a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline,
smog deaths would increase significantly. Los
Angeles would disproportionately suffer because
of its airshed, with 120 additional deaths per
year, a 9% increase, along with 650 more
hospitalizations and 1,200 additional asthma-related emergency visits.

Nobel Prize winner Paul Crutzen, meanwhile,
discovered that ethanol production actually
increases the amount of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere.

The third and fourth environmental catastrophes
involve the resurrection of large hydro-electric
dams and nuclear reactors. Before the Kyoto
mind-set took hold, these grandiose
government-backed relics of yesteryear were
struggling to get off the drawing boards of
energy planners. With Kyoto's low-carbon chic
restoring their respectability, and carbon
credits making them less ruinous financially, both are back with a vengeance.

The vengeance could be harsh. The recently
completed Three Gorges Dam in China, the world's
largest, is proving so dangerous that Chinese
officials themselves acknowledge trouble.
Fifty-metre high waves in its reservoir and
shoreline collapses of Biblical proportions are
leading to the relocation of one to two million
Chinese from its banks, in addition to the 1.3
million already moved. The worst-case scenario of
a dam failure -- no longer laughed at -- could
lead to a tsunami that would take out downstream
Wuhan, a city of 10 million people.

Neither would a nuclear Armageddon be remote if
reactors proliferated around the world, as many
energy planners consider inevitable if
Kyoto-scale cuts in carbon emissions are to be
achieved. Safety systems have failed dramatically
in Ontario, Pennsylvania, and other western
jurisdictions that have high engineering
standards, little corruption, and meaningful
regulation. Should reactors in large numbers be
built in countries where corruption permits
shoddy construction materials, and where
regulation is non-existent, the chance of
avoiding future Chernobyls or worse are poor.
Even if reactors don't fail due to a design
fault, they are subject to catastrophe from
terrorism. The worst-case scenario of a nuclear
accident is unthinkable -- the accident at
Chernobyl, which was far from a major city, cost
an estimated $350-billion. A worst-case accident
in North America near a pricey financial centre
like New York or Toronto would wipe out much more
than that in property alone, and very much more
with human suffering factored in.

One, two, three, four. Which disaster do you fear more?


-Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Energy
Probe and Urban Renaissance Institute, and a
founder of the World Rainforest Movement. National Post 2007

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Received on Tue Oct 30 01:33:32 2007

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