02 November 2007


I have a lot of sympathy for Oxfam as reported by the BBC, in their concern about proposals to extract transport fuel from plants. There are all sorts of problems: most obviously the unclear net fossil fuel cost of such fuel. As well, the alacrity with which western politicians are keen to jump on this bandwagon should itself be grounds for suspicion. Here in the west we sacrifice our cities, our air quality, hundreds of thousands of our citizens annually, our communities, and significant proportions of our animal and plant life to road transport, so I suppose in that accounting that the fate of several million poor people in other parts of the world, who will now have to compete with biofuel corporates, is of minor concern. It's another example of government as if outcomes are irrelevant. Transport is a means to various ends; not an end in itself. Government should be concerned about ends, not means. The risk that our fossil fuels will run out should be borne by fossil fuel users, not taxpayers or third world farmers.

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