Today is Earth Day, and while I know the media will be a-buzz with stories on CFLs and hybrid jets and solar panels and water conservation and mass transit and canvas shopping bags...today, I want to look at the intersection between environmentalism and that pesky world hunger thing, through the lens of our current world food crisis and the greenwashed bane of the ecological movement, biofuels.
At first glance, biofuels seem like a brilliant alternative to petroleum products - they're renewable, they burn cleaner and emit less greenhouse gas, and since America is already growing craploads of corn and soy, there's a ready supply of raw materials just waiting to be processed and refined! And certainly, all of these points are true and worth noting. But. When you weigh saving the planet against the starvation of millions of people around the world who could literally AVOID DEATH if they had access to those corn and soy surpluses? No contest. Fuck biofuels, and feed the people.
I love the idea of biodiesel. I, myself, have dreams of someday swanning about the countryside in a veggie oil-powered RV. But this veggie oil is recycled - having already been used for food purposes - and is not taken out of the food supply expressly for the purpose of carrying my ass to the grocery store. Using food crops to make fuel when people are going hungry is just...not fucking okay. It's tacit agreement that starvation is okay, and while I imagine some people will pull out the "survival of the fittest" card or something (regardless of whether they believe in evolution), the reality is that our world does not make food equally accessible to all people. It doesn't make opportunities equally accessible to all people. To claim that starving people wouldn't have to starve if they'd just "work harder" or "do something" is ignorant and reprehensible. Not only that, but rich countries, like the U.S., have an obligation as members of the global community to step up and share the abundance we have been fortunate enough to receive.
Today, while you're swapping out your incandescent bulbs for compact flourescents (and educating yourself about the mercury risk, rather than panicking at the behest of some fear-mongering network news story)....while you're carrying your locally produced organic groceries out of your indie market in a canvas bag....while you're hopping in your hybrid or onto public transportation or a bike....while you're turning off the lights and taking a shorter shower...maybe write your representatives and ask them to stop putting government money behind biofuels, and to find ways to get those funds and surplus foodstuffs to the starving people who need them. Maybe speak up the next time someone you know raves about the joys of ethanol and how eco-friendly their E-85 SUV is. Maybe even join add your voice to the ONE campaign's call to end world hunger.
More about hunger: here and here.
Loud-mouthed liberal feminist. Anarchist knitter. Tequila-drinking artsy-smartsy fat chick. Bluesy folk-rock singer-songwriter. Rebel with too many causes. Quirky eclectic pagan poet. Paradoxical intuitive smartass. Sarcastic brainiac insomniac. You know, for starters.