A ‘Nobel’ Folly

Published April 23, 2008

Take away Al Gore’s Nobel peace prize. Give him another one — literature maybe, or art — but the peace prize has got to go.

This is not a question of his environmental policies. Agree or disagree, they are not the issue here. Their consequences, however, are. We have seen a reaction to the global warming scare that has people scrambling to produce alternate fuels. This seems like an excellent idea, regardless of climate issues; more energy sources are always better than less.

Unfortunately, the law of unintended consequences was either forgotten, or ignored, in the process. Every positive development will have some negative repercussions as well. What are the negative repercussions of this alternate fuels bonanza? Food riots in some developing countries.

With staple crops being used to make ethanol, their prices have skyrocketed. Corn is an excellent example. With subsidies in place, it is more profitable to grow corn than anything else. Rather than a glut in the market lowering the price, the massive demand for corn has raised it. This has resulted in higher prices for feed, which is often mainly composed of corn. Many farmers have abandoned other crops to grow corn, raising their prices as well.

As the price of basic staples has gone up, so too has the price of all complex foods that require multiple ingredients, almost all of which start at the farm level. This chain reaction has unleashed a wave of rising food prices, causing panic, even war, in several countries.

The prices of soy, rice, and wheat have all risen in response to the “food for fuel” initiatives, hurting most those in the poorest countries. We see the effects in mass panic in places like Haiti, Indonesia, the Philippines, and several African countries.

Former Vice President Gore’s rabid propagandizing of global warming seems to have contributed to anything but peace. In the effort to stem the tide of global warming, massive amounts of unrest have been created.

Regardless of whether you agree with Gore’s views on global warming, it cannot be ignored that his policies have had an incredibly damaging effect throughout the world.

Gregory Cooke ([email protected]) is a policy intern at The Heartland Institute. He attends St. Johns University and majors in political science.