[Beowulf] Re: "hobbyists"

Kilian CAVALOTTI kilian at stanford.edu
Wed Jun 25 10:36:09 PDT 2008

[Wow, this thread is really out of control. Nukes, geopolitics, stunts, 
and now biofuels. And all this because of CUDA! :)]

> -----Original Message-----
> From: beowulf-bounces at beowulf.org
> [mailto:beowulf-bounces at beowulf.org] On Behalf Of Vincent Diepeveen

> This causes as we speak people dying as they can no longer for a cent
> or so buy food made out of it; the prices have doubled if not more for 
> such types of cheap food because of subsidy in the 1st world countries
> for this. 

Yup. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_vs_fuel

In that sense, we're lucky we've escaped the water-powered car (yet). It 
always scared me to death to imagine that such a vital element for life 
could be used as a fuel to propel cars, and be subject to all kinds of 
blind speculation.

> I assume EU will take measures to turn back those subsidies on bio
> fuels that get produced out of food that feeds billions, who now
> hardly can afford to buy food anymore as
> it gets burned for energy in first world countries, whereas
> commercially spoken it cannot get burned,
> it is just because of subsidy it can exist.

Well, yeah, even without mentioning biofuels' efficiency and their 
energy balance. There are numerous articles stating that it requires 
more energy to produce biofuels than it produces.

> When i just walked previous week into a shop and my sister was
> interested in a new washing machine,
> i pointed her to the fact that the thing she was interested in, was
> eating 3.8 kW, versus the 100 euro more expensive
> thing next to it was eating 1.14 kW. It is something that only very
> few will notice.

Don't you get those? 
They are mandatorily displayed under appliances on shelves, in France, 
and people are paying more and more attention.

On Wednesday 25 June 2008 07:50:42 am Geoff Galitz wrote:
> I've never really bought the argument that biofuels are causing a
> food shortage considering that there is still so much unused farmland
> in the US and farming practices here in the EU.  

Worldwide production of vegetable oil and animal fat is not yet 
sufficient to replace liquid fossil fuel use. Furthermore, some object 
to the vast amount of farming and the resulting fertilization, 
pesticide use, and land use conversion that would be needed to produce 
the additional vegetable oil. The estimated transportation diesel fuel 
and home heating oil used in the United States is about 160 million 
tonnes (350 billion pounds) according to the Energy Information 
Administration, US Department of Energy - [38]. [...]
If the entire arable land area of the USA (470 million acres, or 1.9 
million square kilometers) were devoted to biodiesel production from 
soy, this would just about provide the 160 million tonnes required 
(assuming an optimistic 98 gpa of biodiesel).

> I must admit this 
> out of my field so I have no real evidence to support my suspicion,
> but there have been a trickle of articles from publications like Der
> Spiegel and the NY Times which indicate there is some suspicion these
> shortages have just as much to do with commodity speculation and
> manipulation.

I do also believe that those prices rises are mainly due to speculation, 
as oil price increases are, and that supply and demand regulations have 
been long forgotten. But would anybody bother speculating to that scale 
on the food markets if it wasn't for the biofuels, and the potential 
benefits one can foresee in this fossil oil shortage context?


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