A blog maintained by Tevita Kete, PGR Officer
Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji Islands
This weblog documents the activities of Pacific Agricultural Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN), along with other information on plant genetic resources (PGR) in the Pacific.
The myriad varieties found within cultivated plants are fundamental to the present and future productivity of agriculture. PAPGREN, which is coordinated by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), helps Pacific countries and territories to conserve their crop genetic diversity sustainably, with technical assistance from the Bioversity International (BI) and support from NZAID and ACIAR.
SPC also hosts the Centre of Pacific Crops and Trees (CEPaCT). The CEPaCT maintains regional in vitro collections of crops important to the Pacific and carries out research on tissue culture technology. The CEPaCT Adviser is Dr Mary Taylor (MaryT@spc.int), the CEPaCT Curator is Ms Valerie Tuia (ValerieT@spc.int).
PAPGREN coordination and support
Mr William Wigmore
Mr Adelino S. Lorens
Dr Lois Englberger
Mr Apisai Ucuboi
Dr Maurice Wong
Mr Tianeti Beenna Ioane
Mr Frederick Muller
Mr Herman Francisco
Ms Rosa Kambuou
Ms Laisene Samuelu
Mr Jimi Saelea
Mr Tony Jansen
Mr Finao Pole
Mr Frazer Bule Lehi
Interested in GIS?
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Posted 6:31 PM by Tevita
The False Promise of Biofuels
From : The International Forum on Globalization
and the Institute for Policy Studies
Preface of the document
THE BURGEONING REALITY OF GLOBAL CLIMATE
CHANGE, rooted in a century of over-consumption of fossil fuels, is merging with another crisis with the same basic root cause—the looming depletion of inexpensive oil and gas supplies (“peak oil”). Combined, they bring the world to an unprecedented and profoundly dangerous moment that threatens global environmental and social crises on an epic scale. These crises potentially include a breakdown of the most basic operating structures of our society, even industrialism itself, at least at its present scale. Long distance transportation, industrial food systems, complex urban and suburban systems, and many commodities basic to our present way of
life—autos, plastics, chemicals, pesticides, refrigeration, et al.—are all rooted in the basic assumption of ever-increasing inexpensive energy supplies. (See Manifesto on Global Economic Transitions, published by IFG). One would think that such threatening circumstances would bring clear and effective movement from the leaders of national governments, acting on behalf of present and future generations. So far, however, with a few exceptions, the response of most governments has been inadequate to address the scale of the problem. This is particularly the case in the U.S., where government, politicians, and most corporations are still hoping to somehow convert the climate and peak oil crises into a new business opportunity. We are seeing a lot of scurrying and signifying, as each sector, government, business, and that odd new third sector—presidential candidates—are engaged in a mad rush to identify magic bullets to “solve” the “energy problem” while pushing corporate growth and unabetted consumerism. By avoiding reality, they make the problems worse, and real solutions more difficult to achieve. Solutions so far include, for example, desperate grabs for the last remnants of oil and gas supplies, thus the war in Iraq. And now all eyes are focused on the Canadian tar sands, which can be mined only at stupendous cost and environmental harms. Next may be the Arctic. At least those are the goals of what we might call the fossil fuel “dead-enders,” many of whom still doubt climate problems exist at all. The more rational and increasingly popular opinion is that the ultimate answer will not come by extending the existence of the destructive fossil fuel economy, but purposely ending it before it does further harms, and then switching as quickly as possible to renewable alternative energies. But the question is which renewables? They are not all equal either in potential performance or potential harms, though none are likely to have the grim downsides of fossil fuels, or nuclear energy. But, there is a strong case that no combination of renewables will be sufficient to sustain the industrial system at its present bloated, wasteful scale. Ultimately, the answer must involve renewables plus significant efforts toward all-out conservation, efficiency, reduced consumption and “powering down” of energy use. It is crucial that these latter elements always be included in discussions of sustainable futures. All of this comes at a quadrennial moment in the U.S. political context, when presidential sweepstakes take center stage. All proposals are processed and evaluated more in terms of their political saleability, and their potential for fund raising, rather than whether or not they will actually contribute to a lasting solution. So we now have the spectacle of governments, businesses, and presidential candidates vying to be the bravest leader in bringing forth renewable energy solutions, breaking with foreign oil dependency, and somehow also keeping our economy growing at an exponential rate. They are desperate to seem as if they have the best answer to the crisis of global warming, and for the environment. Regrettably, that desperation has seriously muddied the waters. Proposals and decisions are heading at us at very high speed, but without much serious evaluation, analysis and thought. In fact, wrong decisions are being made very rapidly because of the pressures and opportunities involved for all parties. And we are left in grave danger of
replacing one set of harms with another set.
There is some good news. A new process and set of evaluative tools is now gaining favor among scientists, which they are calling “Life Cycle Analysis.” This basically means that new technologies, and specifically energy technologies, are evaluated in a far more comprehensive way, including all inputs and materials used at every stage of their extraction through mining, assembly, transport and performance from “dust to dust.” Their full ecological footprints from the ground-up, from birth to death. This process has the potential to dissuade us from making glib assumptions about which energy alternative actually contributes more, and harms less, than the others. So far, Life Cycle Analysis is not sufficiently in use, and so we may not yet be making much progress in our overall quest for the right technologies and energy systems that will lead to ecological sustainability in a world where what is really needed is a new paradigm, a new set of standards to be achieved, and the appropriate technological and lifestyle choices. The basic goal must be to move toward creating an economy that operates first of all in the interests of ecological sustainability, within the ecological limits of the planet, and which includes social and economic equity, without which no long term solution is possible. The lives of our children and the planet literally depend on our doing the right thing, not the most propitious thing.
It is in that spirit that the report which follows was conceived and created among the key players in the International Forum on Globalization’s Alternative Energy Working Group. It is the first of a series of reports we will be producing over the next year, that will present fuller details and analysis on some of the hidden problems that may come with certain choices, compare renewables among each other, and compare them to the current fossil-fuel economy.
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