No, I don’t celebrate Earth Day, or as my wife puts it – we have different religious beliefs. We certainly believe that mankind has the stewardship to look after the earth, but we don’t worship the creation more than the Creator. And that is what Earth Day and the overall green movement has become over the years.

I will make the prediction that people at Earth Day rallies will talk about the evils of man-made climate change. And you will probably also read news stories about the need of a carbon tax or cap and trade tax to limit the amount of CO2 mankind emits each year. These are easy predictions because Earth Day celebrants and the green movement have been calling for taxes on CO2 for years, when they aren’t too busy selling carbon indulgences. But CO2 isn’t an evil pollution that needs to be controlled, but it is necessary plant food. You could call CO2 the magic gas that makes plants grow.

The supporters of global warming climate change have been riding high on the wave of popularity and prestige for years, especially since their patron saint, former Vice President Al Gore, got an Oscar for his documentary *snicker* “An Inconvenient Truth.” But the last few years have been pretty rocky for them. More and more scientists and concerned people have been questioning the data underlying the “settled science” of global warming climate change, but with the hacking of the emails and data from East Anglia, there has been a sea change. From their own emails and data, we now know that the science is far from settled. Visit Jo Nova’s site to get an idea of what Climategate has opened up. Here are two of my favorite points:

  • The Climategate emails confirmed that the science itself was suspect. That the doomsayers themselves couldn’t make the data work. That they were debating among themselves some of the same points that the sceptics raised, and were privately acknowledging that they didn’t have answers to the issues that the sceptics raised.
  • The Climategate emails confirmed that the doomsayers were so determined to hide their data from inquiring minds that they were prepared to break the law to hide it – and did break the law – by avoiding Freedom of Information requests.

These are not the actions of scientists seeking the truth. These are the actions of fanatic faithful struggling to suppress the attacks on their faith. The science behind global warming climate change is far from settled. And when the science doesn’t back up the believers, they are left to rely on their faith. I am not a global warming climate change believer, so on this Earth Day, I’ll be putting my faith in God, the Creator of earth, rather than worshipping His handiwork.

I’m not Catholic, so I don’t celebrate Lent or the practice of abstaining from meat on Friday. I’m not Jewish, so I don’t observe kosher laws. I’m not Muslim, so I don’t bow to Mecca five times a day to pray. And I’m not Green, so I don’t bother with Earth Hour or Earth Day. I’m not saying that these religious observances are bad, but since I’m not part of any of these faiths, their practices don’t apply to me.

And yes, being Green, in the capitalized sense of the word, is a religious observance with its own practices like Earth Day and Earth Hour. These high holy days of the Greens celebrate their deity, the earth. And in the case of Earth Hour, it is a celebration of self-denial similar to that of Lent as they turn off their lights for the span of one hour. Why bother with the 40 days of self-denial of Lent when you can feel the glow of self-righteousness with just one hour’s effort? So being Green is not only a religion, it’s a smug religion. How can I believe otherwise when the meaningless effort of turning off the lights for one hour is one of the central tenets of the faith? It is a literal plunging from light into darkness and done in a way that shows off one’s participation to others.

But not everyone who participates in Earth Hour does so out of religious fervor. Some people participate because of peer pressure, while others do so out of an attempt to curry favor with the faithful. They fear the backlash that may occur if they don’t participate visibly.

I’m not Green, so I don’t bother with Earth Hour. My friend calls it “Human Achievement Hour,” and he celebrates by turning on all his lights and basking in the glow of human achievement. That’s the kind of observance I can agree with because I believe in the power of human beings to make their lives better and rise above the limitations of a primitive existence.

Watch the following Earth Hour video, and tell me you don’t see the religious fervor in the faces of the faithful. This is clearly a missionary effort to reach out to the unbelieving.

“Do it for global warming.” And ignore that more and more evidence is coming out that human-caused global warming is bunk.

October 24th is the International Day of Climate Action. You may hear people in the news, the ‘Net or around you talking about how we need to drop from our current CO2 level of about 390 parts per million down to 350 ppm, their magic number for a happy-happy earth. But it seems I have heard that number somewhere before. Anyway, 350.org is the site driving this orgy of activism, and the website has some information about their purpose:

What does the number 350 mean?
350 is the most important number in the world–it’s what scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Two years ago, after leading climatologists observed rapid ice melt in the Arctic and other frightening signs of climate change, they issued a series of studies showing that the planet faced both human and natural disaster if atmospheric concentrations of CO2 remained above 350 parts per million.

Everyone from Al Gore to the U.N.’s top climate scientist has now embraced this goal as necessary for stabilizing the planet and preventing complete disaster. Now the trick is getting our leaders to pay attention and craft policies that will put the world on track to get to 350.

Is 350 scientifically possible?
Right now, mostly because we’ve burned so much fossil fuel, the atmospheric concentration of co2 is 390 ppm—that’s way too high, and it’s why ice is melting, drought is spreading, forests are dying. To bring that number down, the first task is to stop putting more carbon into the atmosphere. That means a very fast transition to sun and wind and other renewable forms of power. If we can stop pouring more carbon into the atmosphere, then forests and oceans will slowly suck some of it out of the air and return us to safe levels.

Is 350 politically possible?
It’s very hard. It means switching off fossil fuel much more quickly than governments and corporations have been planning. Our best chance to speed up that process will come in December in Copenhagen, when the world’s nations meet to agree on a new climate treaty. Right now, theyOctober 23, 2009re not planning to do enough. But we can change that–if we mobilize the world to swift and bold climate action, which is what we’re planning to do on October 24th.

Evil CO2 will melt the ice at the poles, spread drought, kill forests, drown polar bears, flood the coasts, and shave your head while you sleep. But the inconvenient truth is that there have been times when the CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have been significantly higher than today. For example, during the Jurassic period CO2 levels were 3.5 to 5 times higher than now. If only Al Gore had presented his PowerPoint slides to the T Rex, they might be still be alive and staring in Jurassic Park IV: The Quest for Global Climate Change Control.

I can’t get all worked up about global warming climate change like the Chicken Littles of 350.org. Earth is doomed, Doomed, DOOMED! they say, unless Al Gore stops flying around the world like a hummingbird on crack. Hah, just kidding. Al Gore can blow out tons of CO2 gallivanting around the globe for he is the Oscar One. The rest of us have to cut back, as explained in one comment on Etsy:

Small changes in your daily domestic routine can have a huge impact, i.e. lower thermostat temp, turning out lights when leaving a room, hanging laundry to dry, hand washing dishes, and not using a microwave. Simple conservation yields a noticeable difference in the electric & heating bills, too!

While it is true that small changes may have an impact on our own bills, it will have a negligible impact on the CO2 of the world. To have a major impact on CO2, the whole world needs to undergo massive changes. 350.org explains their mission: “the solutions to climate change must be equitable, they must be grounded in science, and they must meet the scale of the crisis.”

I can guarantee that the mission statement will fail in all three parts. Any solutions proposed by governments in Copenhagen this year will not be equitable, but will be heavily weighted on the U.S. and Europe. There is science showing that the earth has been cooling, not heating, in the last decade, and the actions proposed will be far more disastrous than allowing global warming climate change to proceed unchecked.

If reducing the CO2 in the atmosphere were truly critical, it could be easily solved with three steps: electricity is turned off, fossil fuels are unused, and everyone lives like the Amish. You better not be living in a large city, because the lack of electricity and fossil fuels will make transporting food from farms much slower than it is now. If the whole earth turned to an Amish lifestyle, we would have a massive die-off. But that’s OK, since a massive reduction in humanity would mean less CO2 being produced.

And that’s the goal for climate change fanatics, right?

We are close to the edge. The ticking time bomb of Global Warming is getting close to zero and exploding in our face. Don’t believe me? You need to visit OneHundredMonths.org and listen to the tick yourself! Hurry! Based on the countdown on the web site, there are only 88 months left!

Or 84 months, if you look at the days or hours countdown timers. Someone should explain to them they lopped four months off from their countdown timer. But hey, what’s four months among friends? So by December (or September) 2016, the environmental ticking time bomb will explode, and at that point, it will be too late. If we don’t fix global warming by then, “we could be beyond the climate’s tipping point, the point of no return.” (cue the ominous music) The report linked from the site calculates that we may hit the equivalent of 400ppm CO2 by December 2016.

But OneHundredMonths.org isn’t the only place telling us that the clock is ticking. The Miami Herald quotes Noel Brown, the director of the New York office of the U.N. Environment Program, that we have only a 10-year window to fix global warming.

A senior U.N. environmental official says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed…. Coastal flooding and crop failures would create an exodus of “eco-refugees,” threatening political chaos, said Noel Brown, director of the New York office of the United Nations U.N. Environment Program, or UNEP.

Ten years. That’s all we have before entire nations are wiped off the face of the Earth. I hope you have good flood insurance. Have you considered moving to higher ground?

Oh, wait. Noel Brown issued that UNEP report in the summer of 1989.

Never mind.

Ready for a little Shakespeare? Good! I knew you would be.

In Act IV at the end of Scene III of Shakespeare’s play, The Taming of the Shrew, Petruchio tells Katharina, his recent bride, that they will soon leave for Padua (hooray!)1 and visit her father there. “Let’s see; I think ’tis now some seven o’clock, And well we may come there by dinner-time.” Katharina replies, “I dare assure you, sir, ’tis almost two; And ’twill be supper-time ere you come there.” In indignation at being corrected, Petruchio refuses to go:

“It shall be seven ere I go to horse:
Look, what I speak, or do, or think to do,
You are still crossing it. Sirs, let’t alone:
I will not go to-day; and ere I do,
It shall be what o’clock I say it is.”

To this Hortensio says to the audience, “Why, so this gallant will command the sun.”

In other news, the BBC posted the following news from the G8 summit:

Developed and developing nations have agreed that global temperatures should not rise more than 2C above 1900 levels, a G8 summit declaration says.

That is the level above which, the UN says, the Earth’s climate system would become dangerously unstable.

In other other news, the G8 summit agreed that there should be only five hurricanes this year, the tides should go out only and not back in, and earthquakes are right out.

OK, so I made up the last bit, but the members are as likely to be listened to by the forces of nature in my “other other” news as they are to command the climate and be obeyed. They are laboring under the mistaken idea that CO2 is the driving force behind global warming when the #1 cause of global warming is, of course, the sun.

Why, so these gallants will command the sun.

 

1 In the 1976 version of The Taming of the Shrew (my favorite production), everyone in the cast cheers each time someone mentions the name of the city of Padua (hooray!).

At 8:30pm today, people panicking over the concept of climate change proposed pulling the plug for an hour. I have a simple response — Screw you, hippies! I’m running my dryer!

Earth Hour, as this is called, is a meaningless bit of feel-goodery with the goal of raising awareness of global warming climate change. In actuality, it will accomplish little. Those who are already in the camp of human-caused climate change will not have their feelings changed. And those of us who don’t buy the propaganda will likewise not have our position changed.

I heard a brief sound bite on the radio that astounded me. Here’s what it was as best I can remember:

“The science is settled. Global warming is real. Humans are causing it, and we can fix it.”

Boy howdy, talk about whoppers! First, the science is far from settled. Science is never settled. Second, the Earth has cooled off after decades of warming up. If you have noticed, the warning cries of evil global warming have morphed into the bête noire of climate change, which is so much more useful. Whether the global temperature goes up or down, they may point to the change and proclaim their prediction of global climate change have come true. Third, if you think that climate change is caused by mankind’s actions, particularly CO2, then check out the following greenhouse gases graphic:

Greenhouse gases

So, 3.4% of 3.62% of 2% of the Earth’s atmosphere is human-caused CO2. Doing the math, that comes up to slightly more than 0.002% of the Earth’s atmosphere is human-caused CO2. Tell me again, how are we responsible for the Earth’s warming up when our CO2 comprises two thousandths of a percent of the atmosphere? That’s a single penny out of fifty dollars. It doesn’t make sense that that 0.002% of greenhouse gases is the cause of global climate change when CO2 levels have been much higher in the past. Humanity isn’t the cause of global warming; the cause is the sun. To believe that mankind is the cause of global warming is to fall prey to a combination of ignorance and hubris.

And fourth, since humanity isn’t the cause of global warming (or global cooling), then there isn’t any need for humanity to fix that which humanity isn’t causing.

But let’s turn off our lights for an hour in a meaningless gesture to ask for a useless fix for a problem we aren’t even causing. Yeah, that’s really important.

If you haven’t panicked yet about global warming, here comes another study to give us yet another reason to re-enact Edvard Munch’s painting, “The Scream”:

More Americans are likely to suffer from kidney stones in the coming years as a result of global warming, according to researchers at the University of Texas.

Kidney stones, which are formed from dissolved minerals in the urine and can be extremely painful, are often caused by caused by dehydration, either by not drinking enough liquid or losing too much due to high heat conditions.

If global warming trends continue as projected by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007, the United States can expect as much as a 30 percent growth in kidney stone disease in some of its driest areas, said the findings published in Monday’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

And how do these brainiacs know that global warming will cause increased kidney stones?

The lead author of the research, Tom Brikowski, compared kidney stone rates with UN forecasts of temperature increases and created two mathematical models to predict the impact on future populations.

One formula showed an increase in the southern half of the country, including the already existing “kidney stone belt” of the southeastern states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

The other showed that the increase would be concentrated in the upper Midwest. [emphasis mine -CM]

Brikowski created two mathematical models to make this claim, and a computer model of future events is just a high-tech guess. As I have pointed out before, just as anything you multiply by zero becomes zero, so anything you multiply by a guess becomes a guess. So Brikowski’s research about future kidney stones is more guesswork than science. Did you notice that his two models return different predictions? The one says the increase will be in the southern half of the U.S., while the other forecasts the increase will be in the upper Midwest. Do you think I would get as much media attention if I were to announce that I had developed two mathematical models for the effect of global warming on the stock market? After much study and analysis, I could announce, my first model predicts that global warming will cause stocks to go down, and the second predicts that global warming will cause stocks to go up. I’d have the utmost confidence that one or both of these models would be right.

My advice is to ignore scientific studies that predict the future based solely on computer models. If you really want to play with computer models, then I suggest you pick up a copy of SimEarth. That game should be about as meaningful as most scientists’ computer models. In the meantime, it’s good to know that kidney stones are part of the list of things caused by global warming.

Here is the panic piece from the The Independent in the UK:

It seems unthinkable, but for the first time in human history, ice is on course to disappear entirely from the North Pole this year.

The disappearance of the Arctic sea ice, making it possible to reach the Pole sailing in a boat through open water, would be one of the most dramatic and worrying examples of the impact of global warming on the planet. Scientists say the ice at 90 degrees north may well have melted away by the summer. [emphasis mine - CM]

So, according to this article, the North Pole will be ice-free for the first time in human history. Here’s my question: how far back does human history go in this article? Do we start human history 10,000 years ago with the shift from hunter-gatherers to agrarians? Do we peg human history back 6,000 years with the growth of the first major states in Egypt, India, and the fertile crescent? How about starting human history with the year that President Taft became the 27th President of the U.S.? I mention the last because 1909 was also the year that Admiral Peary claimed to be the the first person to reach the North Pole. But I think that this article suggests “human history” began thirty years ago, with the advent of satellite coverage of the North Pole. I believe this because we have only had consistent information about the North Pole for the past thirty years, thanks to satellite data.

Here’s another section from the article that supports this point:

The polar regions are experiencing the most dramatic increase in average temperatures due to global warming and scientists fear that as more sea ice is lost, the darker, open ocean will absorb more heat and raise local temperatures even further. Professor Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University, who was one of the first civilian scientists to sail underneath the Arctic sea ice in a Royal Navy submarine, said that the conditions are ripe for an unprecedented melting of the ice at the North Pole.

“Last year we saw huge areas of the ocean open up, which has never been experienced before. People are expecting this to continue this year and it is likely to extend over the North Pole. It is quite likely that the North Pole will be exposed this summer… it’s not happened before,” Professor Wadhams said.

It’s all global warming’s fault! But here’s the kicker — since the hot year of 1998, the global temperature has pretty much flatlined. So where is the horrific warming that is causing this trouble? And why does Professor Wadhams think the North Pole has never melted before? After all, the Medieval Warm Period, Roman Climate Optimum, and the Holocene Climate Optimum were all warmer than now, so how can the good professor state with any certainty that the North Pole has never melted before when we have no consistent records from more than thirty years ago? The obvious answer is that the good professor cannot state this with any certainty, unless he does so in a firm and pompous voice.

Global warming fanatics say that the North Pole has never melted before. But I would like to see the empirical data that proves their claim. Without that proof, all we have is their hot air.

UPDATE (7/14/2008 5:27:26 PM): Yep. It’s hot air. I found an article written by John Daly in 2004 to refute the “Ah! The North Pole is melting for the first time in human history!” meme. And he used a picture that is worth much more than a thousand words to refute the claim.

During an Arctic summer, the sun is in the sky 24 hours per day, giving the Arctic ocean more total sunlight than anywhere else on the planet, excepting the Antarctic during its summer season. The result is that large areas of the Arctic Ocean are ice free in summer at any one time, with large leads of open water and even larger ‘polynyas’, stretches of open water tens of miles long and miles wide. This photo of three submarines visiting the North Pole in May 1987 shows the whole area criss-crossed with open water leads before the summer had even arrived.

Water at the North Pole
HMS Superb, USS Billfish, and USS Sea Devil in a North Pole rendezvous in 1987
(U.S. Navy Photo)

John Daly link found via The Clue Batting Cage.

OK, I’ve tried really hard not to write about global warming, but sometimes I just can’t help myself. I asked my usual question about identifying the primary source of global warming to some 12- and 13-year-olds last week, and I got the standard answers of mankind, pollution, and CO2. Not one of them correctly identified the sun as the primary cause of global warming on Earth. After all, without the sun, the Earth would be a frozen ice ball drifting in space. To be fair, it’s a trick question because I asked them about global warming, and they responded as if I had asked about human-caused global warming. The two are not the same.

Anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is an edifice constructed of five floors. Here is how Warren Meyer of Coyote Blog explained it:

There are a lot of reasons not to be worried about “inaction” on global warming. To justify the enormously expensive cuts in CO2 productions, on the order of 80% as supported by Obama and Clinton, one has to believe every element of a five-step logic chain:

  1. Mankind is increasing CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere
  2. Increased atmospheric CO2 causes the world to warm (by some amount, large or small)
  3. The increases in CO2 from man will cause substantial warming, large enough to be detectable above natural climate variations
  4. The increases in world temperatures due to man’s CO2 will have catastrophic impacts on civilization
  5. These catastrophic impacts and their costs are larger than the enormous costs, in terms of poverty and lost wealth, from reducing CO2 with current technologies.

Climate alarmists have adopted a rhetorical trick that no one in the media seems willing to call them on. They like to wage the debate over global warming policy on points one and two only, skipping over the rest. Why? Because the science behind numbers one and two are pretty strong. Yes, there are a few folks who will battle them on these points, but even very strong skeptics like myself accept points one and two as proved.

I have no problem accepting #1 and #2 as being proven, but I do not accept #3 as proven. I believe that enough science has been presented to show that the fluctuations in global temperatures have more to do with seasonal variations and solar cycles and less to do with any effects by man, and I’ve written about this before.

I found a ZNet article from 2004 that appears to follow along the lines Warren points out: start with an accepted point, then build on unproven guesses from there:

Before proposing answers to these questions, let us summarize the issues explained so far:

— The world climate is getting warmer. [Depending on your definition of what is "normal temperature," I can accept that. -CM]

— Climate models show that the burning of oil, gas and coal in the industrialized countries is responsible for the climate change. [Climate models are intellectual guesswork and can only reflect reality when they are heavily tweaked after the fact. -CM]

— The expectations for the near future are very disturbing and many catastrophes are highly probable. [But these expectations are based on the guesswork of deeply flawed, and therefore useless, computer models. -CM]

— Today’s (in)action’s will have long-term consequences for the entire biosphere and the living conditions of many future generations. [Yet more guesswork. -CM]

But the uncertainties about AGW do not prevent people from reacting as if they were the gospel truth. Consider the Bishop of Stafford.

A senior bishop in the Church of England has compared people who ignore climate change to Josef Fritzl, the Austrian who kept his daughter locked in a cellar for 24 years, repeatedly raping her and fathering seven of her children.

The Bishop of Stafford, the Right Rev. Gordon Mursell, made the comparison in a parish “pastoral” newsletter and said that people who fail to act to prevent global warming are “as guilty as” Fritzl and “destroying the future of our children,” the Times of London reported Monday.

The bishop denied Monday that he was accusing those who ignore climate change of being child abusers, but said Fritzl was “the most extreme form” of a common selfish streak in humankind.

“In fact you could argue that, by our refusal to face the truth about climate change, we are as guilty as he is we are in effect locking our children and grandchildren into a world with no future and throwing away the key,” he wrote in the letter entitled “following our dream,” distributed around the Diocese of Lichfield.

He defended his comments, saying he did not wish “to shock people unnecessarily.” But he said: “I am simply trying to use an analogy to get people to wake up to the consequences of what we are failing to do, because if we don’t there won’t be a future for our children either.”

Nothing like a sermon of hellfire and global warming to scare obedience right into people. Recycle or you’re destroying the future of our children! Bow down before Saint Gore, or the Earth will burn for your ecological sins!

And if a rousing sermon isn’t sufficient to get you stirred up, how about finding out when you, the evil planet-killing human that you are, should die? This gem comes from ABC in Australia, and based on the answers you give, this Flash game tells you at what age you should die based on how fast you use up your “fair share” of the planet.

Die! You pig, DIE!

As you can see from the picture, my little piggy exploded and told me I should have died at age 2.2 since that’s the age at which I “used up [my] share of the planet.” What a nice way to spread the gospel news of Saint Gore! I know I always look to an exploding cartoon pig to tell people — especially kids — that they should just die, already. It just warms the cockles of my heart, and what’s left of the exploded pig’s heart, to spread that cheery news.

Too bad it’s all a load of tripe. The vast majority of my piggy’s CO2 was calculated based on the amount of money I make and spend, and since I don’t choose to spend my money on global warming indulgences, the Flash game made my pig swell up to a horrible size. But here’s the question — how does my spending now suggest that I should have been offed in the name of Gaia at the age of two, when I wasn’t spending a thing?

But none of that means anything to the irrational anthropogenic global warming supporters. The thing that bothers me most about this nonsense is how such people could easily use it to justify sweeping, radical changes in our society. It’s a short journey between discussions of “when you should die” and justification of when you WILL die. Unconvinced? Government-enforced euthanasia in pursuit of a society filled only with “useful people” has a terrifying historical precedent. It’s happened before, and it could happen again.

Ready for some happy-happy joy-joy news from the media? Food prices are on the rise, and it’s thanks to global climate change. And as is typical with these stories, the poor are affected most. Here are three paragraphs from the article outlining the upswing in prices:

The U.S. is wrestling with the worst food inflation in 17 years, and analysts expect new data due on Wednesday to show it’s getting worse. That’s putting the squeeze on poor families and forcing bakeries, bagel shops and delis to explain price increases to their customers.

U.S. food prices rose 4 percent in 2007, compared with an average 2.5 percent annual rise for the last 15 years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And the agency says 2008 could be worse, with a rise of as much as 4.5 percent.

Higher prices for food and energy are again expected to play a leading role in pushing the government’s consumer price index higher for March.

The increase in energy costs is easy to explain. With oil past $100 a barrel, gas and diesel prices also rise, and this translates into increasing food costs. But what’s up with the food price increase?

Still, the higher U.S. prices seem eye-popping after years of low inflation. Eggs cost 25 percent more in February than they did a year ago, according to the USDA. Milk and other dairy products jumped 13 percent, chicken and other poultry nearly 7 percent.

USDA economist Ephraim Leibtag explained the jumps in a recent presentation to the Food Marketing Institute, starting with the factors everyone knows about: sharply higher commodity costs for wheat, corn, soybeans and milk, plus higher energy and transportation costs.

The other reasons are more complex. Rapid economic growth in China and India has increased demand for meat there, and exports of U.S. products, such as corn, have set records as the weak dollar has made them cheaper. That’s lowered the supply of corn available for sale in the U.S., raising prices here. Ethanol production has also diverted corn from dinner tables and into fuel tanks.

Soybean prices have gone up as farmers switched more of their acreage to corn. Drought in Australia has even affected the price of bread, as it led to tighter global wheat supplies.

We have increased demand as the rising population and affluence of nations fuels their desire for better food. After eating too many mystery meat curries or stir-fried rat dishes, I’m not surprised that India and China are clamoring for American meat. But increased demand from overseas isn’t sufficient to push up the prices by itself; we also have diminished grain supplies as arable land for food crops is being diverted to grow fodder for biofuels.

The New York Times recently printed an article about the increase in food costs because of the biofuels push:

The idea of turning farms into fuel plants seemed, for a time, like one of the answers to high global oil prices and supply worries. That strategy seemed to reach a high point last year when Congress mandated a fivefold increase in the use of biofuels.

But now a reaction is building against policies in the United States and Europe to promote ethanol and similar fuels, with political leaders from poor countries contending that these fuels are driving up food prices and starving poor people. Biofuels are fast becoming a new flash point in global diplomacy, putting pressure on Western politicians to reconsider their policies, even as they argue that biofuels are only one factor in the seemingly inexorable rise in food prices.

In some countries, the higher prices are leading to riots, political instability and growing worries about feeding the poorest people. Food riots contributed to the dismissal of Haiti’s prime minister last week, and leaders in some other countries are nervously trying to calm anxious consumers.

Ethanol supporters maintain that any increase caused by biofuels is relatively small and that energy costs and soaring demand for meat in developing countries have had a greater impact. “There’s no question that they are a factor, but they are really a smaller factor than other things that are driving up prices,” said Ron Litterer, an Iowa farmer who is president of the National Corn Growers Association.

He said biofuels were an “easy culprit to blame” because their popularity had grown so rapidly in the last two or three years.

Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, called the recent criticism of ethanol by foreign officials “a big joke.” He questioned why they were not also blaming a drought in Australia that reduced the wheat crop and the growing demand for meat in China and India.

“You make ethanol out of corn,” he said. “I bet if I set a bushel of corn in front of any of those delegates, not one of them would eat it.”

You can also make animal feed, tortillas, polenta, cornbread, and the chips for dipping into a nice fresh salsa I like to make in the summer, so ethanol isn’t the only thing you make out of corn. As for the Senator’s comment about the delegates refusing to eat a bushel of corn placed before them, the majority of corn grown in the U.S. is the field or dent variety, which is not meant to be eaten fresh, but is ground into cornmeal after it is dried. The Senator from Iowa should know that. His comment is both silly and insulting.

We have rising food prices because of increased demand on the existing supply of grains, and a large demand comes from the people clamoring that we turn our corn into ethanol to replace gas. If you have a bushel of corn, you can choose either to turn it into food–tortillas, cornbread, animal feed–or into ethanol. You can’t use the same bushel twice. So increased demand for ethanol translates into less corn available for food consumption, which in turn means more expensive tortillas and corn-fed beef.

And now I get around to the title of my article. Fear of global climate change is prompting the calls for more biofuels, which is increasing the cost of food stocks like corn and anything else that uses corn, so global climate change is the cause of rising food prices.

When I hear the naysayers like former Vice President Al Gore moaning and wringing their hands over the over-hyped crisis of global climate change and how we need to change our lifestyle to save the planet, I didn’t realize that part of their proposed change would adversely punish the poor by jacking up the cost of the very food they need to live.

Frankly, I’d rather eat corn than burn it in my car.