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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/17/08

The starvation weeds of Barack Obama

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Message Christopher Calder

Few science fiction movie fans can forget the 1963 movie, "The Day of the Triffids", which told a grim tale of carnivorous weeds taking over the earth.  Barack Obama wants to plant millions of acres of invasive biofuel weeds on U.S. farmland, thus taking that land out of food production and shrinking the human food supply.  Recent studies suggest Obama's plan will lead to 9% a year or greater food cost inflation through the year 2012, and Obama seems committed to his biofuel scheme despite food riots and pleas from hungry people around the world to stop the insanity.  Senator Barack Obama voted enthusiastically for the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which greatly increased the use of corn, rapeseed, and soybeans for biofuel.  The recent Midwest floods have put much of this years corn and soybean crop underwater, so the suicidal nature of food based biofuels will soon be obvious to all but the most oblivious biofuel zealots, as food prices will soon become a national emergency, not just an economic incovenience. 

A key element in the global biofuel disaster that has been underreported is the difficulty we will face when we inevitably realize that biofuels are a tragic mistake.  We will then try to rid our farmlands of destructive biofuel weeds to return them to normal food production, but this will be no easy task.   Switchgrass, Obama's biofuel weed of choice, has very deep roots and is difficult to get rid of once it has been planted.  Future economic headlines will tell of the great cost to our society of trying to eradicate biofuel weeds, which also include giant reed and jatrophra.  Jatropha is being planted in tropical countries to turn its toxic seeds into biodiesel.  Jatrophra is even more difficult to eradicate than switchgrass, and in the poor countries where it is planted it may destroy the land's value for food production and wildlife habitat for centuries.

Biofuels have been called "a crime against humanity" by United Nations food officials, and planting biofuel weeds is just another way the biofuel cult of false hope will help destroy the food production capacity of our overpopulated, fresh water and food starved little planet.  The fact that biofuel production speeds global warming, causes water shortages and water pollution, drives up the price of fertilizer, and erodes vital topsoil does not sway Barack Obama's belief in the miracle of biofuels.  His attempt to replace the massive stored energy of fossil fuels with the tiny energy of biofuels shows his lack of understanding of basic mathematics and science.  Even if the United States used its entire 300 million acres of cropland for ethanol biofuel production, it would only satisfy 15% of our national highway energy demand. 

Every year the human race burns up the equivalent of 400 years worth of total planetary vegetation in the condensed form of fossil fuels.  There one and only energy source that is big enough to replace all of the stored energy is nuclear power, because the nucleus of the atom is where the real energy lies.  The mass of an atom is in its nucleus, not in its electrons, and as E=MC2 the nucleus is where the BIG energy is stored.  The relatively small energy created by bonding and unbonding electrons through the chemical reactions in vegetation growth must be amplified over centuries by the slow process of fossilization in order to make that inherently weak energy strong enough to run an industrialized, heavily populated planet.  Solar and wind power can help us a little, but those natural energy sources are far too weak and diffuse (spread out) to satisfy the bulk of our energy needs, unless we revert to a horse and buggy economy and intentionally kill off the majority of the earth's human population.   

Human beings can eventually, over a period years, replace fossil fuel energy by creating an infrastructure based on nuclear energy, improved electric car battery technology, and the use of new technology to make superior quality, sulfur free gasoline and jet fuel from atmospheric carbon dioxide. This new energy scheme may be cheaper and more practical than using hydrogen as fuel, because it is completely compatible with current vehicles and our existing energy distribution infrastructure.  Intense heat from lower cost, higher temperature helium cooled prismatic block and/or pebble bed reactors is used to break down carbon dioxide into its component parts, carbon monoxide and oxygen.  The carbon monoxide can then be combined with water in a catalytic process to make either pure hydrogen gas or more easily transportable liquid synthetic fuels that can be burned in ordinary automobile engines.  This plan can be very safe and environmentally friendly, as prismatic block and pebble bed nuclear reactors are inherently meltdown proof due to the basic laws of physics.  If the reactor's cooling system should fail, the core temperature automatically lowers itself to safe levels without mechanical intervention.  Given nuclear fuel reprocessing and the added use of abundant thorium as nuclear fuel, we have enough nuclear materials easily available to last for 10,000 years.
Barack Obama must reverse himself on his disastrous biofuel policies BEFORE the general election.  Otherwise a vote for Barack Obama will be a vote for continued out of control food cost inflation, massive ecological destruction, and global starvation.
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Christopher Calder is an advocate for world food supply security with no financial interest in any energy related business.
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