Could Increased Reliance On Biofuels Be More Detrimental To Our Health Than Global Warming?

Industrialized nations such as the U.S., Japan and China, as well as countries in Europe, are increasingly enacting new biofuel policies and setting future goals for increased reliance on biofuels.  However, recent projections suggest that while the intention of such moves are to improve health by decreasing global warming, the changes could be detrimental for citizens in developing countries, adding to the burden of death and disease.

Biofuels may have more detrimental effects than global warming itself.Biofuels may have more detrimental effects than global warming itself.

When biofuel production increases the price of food also increases throughout the world because crops and land that were once dedicated to use in food production are now redirected to biofuel production.  Thus, increased food prices are likely to result in increased instances of "absolute poverty" (income less than $1.25 a day) and hunger, the leading cause of premature death and excess disease throughout the world.

Dr. Indur Golkany presents some interesting statistics about the impact of biofuels.Dr. Indur Golkany presents some interesting statistics about the impact of biofuels.According to a press release, "Research by the World Bank indicates that increase in biofuels production over 2004 levels would push more than 35 million people into absolute poverty in 2010 in developing countries."  Futhermore, Dr. Indur Goklany, who has been associated with the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for over 20 years, used statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) to estimate that this increase in absolute poverty would lead to at least 192,000 excess deaths per year and disease that would cause the loss of 6.7 million disability-adjusted life-free years (DALYs) per year.  WHO estimates that global warming is already attributed to 141,000 deaths per year and 5.4 million lost DALYs per year.  If these numbers are actually correct, then some of the efforts industrialized countries are putting in place to reduce global warming could potentially kill more people than global warming itself.  Of course, the numbers regarding deaths and diseases that result from global warming are hypothetical.  Nonetheless, it's certainly some food for thought.

To that end, the press release effectively states, "Thus, the biofuel remedy for global warming may be worse than the disease it purports to alleviate."

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Source: PR Newswire