Are biofuel policies to help Mother Earth killing her most vulnerable children instead?

Biofuel life cycle Image:

Guest post by Indur M. Goklany

I have a new paper — Could Biofuel Policies Increase Death and Disease in Developing Countries?  — which suggests that global warming policies may be helping kill more people than it saves. It was published last month in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.  Access to the paper is free.

Part of the PR notice put out by the journal is reproduced below:


Biofuels Policy May Kill 200,000 Per Year in the Third World

TUCSON, Ariz., March 28, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — U.S. and European policy to increase production of ethanol and other biofuels to displace fossil fuels is supposed to help human health by reducing “global warming.” Instead it has added to the global burden of death and disease. 

Increased production of biofuels increases the price of food worldwide by diverting crops and cropland from feeding people to feeding motor vehicles. Higher food prices, in turn, condemn more people to chronic hunger and “absolute poverty” (defined as income less than $1.25 per day). But hunger and poverty are leading causes of premature death and excess disease worldwide. Therefore, higher biofuel production would increase death and disease.

Research by the World Bank indicates that the increase in biofuels production over 2004 levels would push more than 35 million additional people into absolute poverty in 2010 in developing countries. Using statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Indur Goklany estimates that this would lead to at least 192,000 excess deaths per year, plus disease resulting in the loss of 6.7 million disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) per year. These exceed the estimated annual toll of 141,000 deaths and 5.4 million lost DALYs that the World Health Organization attributes to global warming. Thus, developed world policies intended to mitigate global warming probably have increased death and disease in developing countries rather than reducing them. Goklany also notes that death and disease from poverty are a fact, whereas death and disease from global warming are hypothetical.

Thus, the biofuel remedy for global warming may be worse than the disease it purports to alleviate.


The paper also shows that based on the World Health Organization’s latest estimates of death and disease from global warming and 23 other global health risk factors (for the year 2004), global warming should be ranked last or second last, depending on whether the criterion used is the burden of disease or death.

Policies that subsidize or mandate biofuels benefit neither Mother Earth nor humanity.


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Martin Brumby

Anothe brilliant post from Indur M. Goklany.
Yet more evidence that the “War on Global Warming” is actually a war on the poor.

Absolutely true! Biofuels are one of the “green products” that has produced bad results for our Society. In Europe, it will be mandatory to have 10% of biofuel in diesel, by 2020. In Portugal, besides the increase due to oil price, biofuel incorporation has represented an increase of about 0.02€ per liter each month.
Green projects have definitely killed our economy. As you know, Portugal has asked for a bailout. And a lot of it is explainable by our “green economy”:

Perhaps I’m being excessively cynical but, since many greenies are also enthusiastic malthusians, maybe the “unforeseen” consequence of increased numbers of dead and dying people from starvation isn’t accidental at all. I hope to God I’m wrong.

Joe Lalonde

Whoever has the highest bid, wins. Unfortunately this mentality will kill people.

Fabulous. Now I will hold my breath waiting for all those concerned citizens to drop the “evil CO2” mantra and show some real concern by agitating for real solutions for real people with real problems.
(expires quitely and unnoticed in corner of room)

John Marshall

It is self evident that biofuel production, which has doubled the cost of some foods, and denying the developing world the vital cheap energy the need will kill the most vulnerable.


I see no mention of land clearance, plowing, planting and harvesting of the biofuel crop. All part of the life cycle surely?
As a pensioner in the UK I already have problems with food prices and if we lose power next winter for any extended period, my life, and my wife’s, will be at risk. The death rate here in the UK will rocket. Never mind the death rate in the undeveloped countries.
The greenies target is the developed countries. So far they are holding all the aces.

Brian H

“the estimated annual toll of 141,000 deaths ” from Global Warming. That’s high, of course, by about 200,000.


It would be good to see more cost-benefit analyses related to climate change abatement. Many of us have commented for years on the likelihood that reducing energy use world wide would have catastrophic consequences to the poor.
Too many studies have focused on the negative consequences of climate change. Few focus on the possible benefits of such change, the costs of abatement, and the cost-benefit of adaptation rather than abatement.
Perhaps Indur M. Goklany has started us along a better path.


Should I cancel the delivery of my big-block Chevvy?.
I need moral guidance.


I promise to only use it to pick up my mail from the bottom of the drive.


This ‘food for fuel’ policy is probably the most stupid policy put in place thanks to the CAGW craze. It is worse than even billions spent on creating wind farms because ethanol kills people and it kills them right now. At best, ethanol production creates social instability around the world by contributing to high food prices.
That arable land is used to grow fuel instead of food is criminally insane. It should be banned outright.


This is nothing new
Biofuels scandal + food prices. Biofuel crisis, biofuel oil, biofuel production, cars, algae, systems and basic

| Fecha de creación: 24/04/2008

the Rossshire Mannie

….As I have always said… there is so much overproduction of food in the EU / UK that we can afford setaside policies despite so many people in the world starving. We split up large (locally / relatively ) fields to provide modern day mansion houses for the well-to-do, with theirexpansive “lawns ” therefrom, and horse paddocks. Horses = ruminants – remember the nonsense about CH4 from ruminants !! ?? .. and what little land remains , we are encourage to spare some for Bio-fuels too. In my time in the 60’s to 80’s in Farming, we were encouraged to engage in sustainable methods – maintain / increase soil OM content thro’ use of straw being returned directly or via FYM to help earthworms = better soil structure……… – and we didn’t call it Bio or Organic farming – just plain farming. What a waste of my Education, now – what happens when a PC element allows socalled “Green Agenda” politics to take over….
I am ranting & it’s my coffee break – now over ! but as a beginner to responses – please excuse me. in the N of Scotland

Alan the Brit

Sorry, let me get this right. The PDREU/UESR & the UN are actually out to relieve the effects of disease & poverty, right? Like they did with Malaria (65 million deaths & God knows how many otherwise affected since arbitrarily banning DDT), AIDS (25+ million deaths & God knows how many infected), Rawanda (3 million + deaths (they’re improving) & goodness knows how many maimed, raped, destroyed lives etc). Now they propose making basic foodstuffs much more expensive so the poor get poorer & hungry get hungrier. reminds me of a few Nazi like comments passed around n the UN some years back about population control. Purrleese tell me they aren’t doing this! Sarc off.

John Brookes

Everything is bad for the poor. Here in Australia, employers regularly have to explain how the poor will be worse off if they have to pay them more. Crocodile tears.

Like many here I’ve long waited to see some hard-nosed analysis of the effects of biofuels. Many thanks, Indur – true humanitarian.

Keith Battye

It’s funny, don’t you think, that in the world of the Very Green bio-fuels are a cool and groovy thing but cows, pigs, goats , chickens, fish etc. are bad things if we eat their flesh. Meat surely doesn’t add any more CO2 than the biomass it uses to grow with, not that CO2 is a bad thing anyway.
To me it looks just the same in that they are all part of the above ground carbon cycle. Meat is in fact a very efficient storage and delivery system for protein by which I mean it is energy dense and so costs less to transport than grains and veggies etc.
Or have I missed something?


SustainAgility, climate change and crazy biofuels policy

Fecha de creación: 24/04/2009


I was just reading the usual propaganda about electric cars and having a laugh at the comments from the sheeple, when one of them mentioned (As the middle classes with money do), its simple to park it on your drive way even night and re-charge it, well hang on a minute I live in, per square mile, one of the most populated parts of Europe and I can tell you drive ways just don’t exist so where do I park my car to recharge it then? Or am I just stupid and haven’t realised that in modern times if you can’t afford a drive way you can’t have a car?
(I haven’t bothered leaving a comment as most people around here will know anything negative about AGW and it gets Censored).


Of course. The EU, for example, fawning over “evil” India and China, and other developing countries over their CO2 output is just the same.
It’s modern colonialism. Why do you think are tomatos from the EU cheaper in some African areas than local products?


The law of unintended consequences at work? I’ll let the Warmists have the last word.
Green Peace 2007
Biofuels: green dream or climate change nightmare?
“As you may have already seen, along with WWF, the RSPB, Friends of the Earth and, we’ve placed an advert in several of today’s papers warning the government about the environmental risks of biofuels as an alternative to petrol and diesel. ”
Friends of the Earth – 2007
Biofuels – a big green con?
“The UK’s largest environmental groups have launched an advertising campaign attacking environmentally destructive ‘biofuels’.”
Guardian – 2008
Biofuel farms make CO2 emissions worse
“Transforming ecosystems into farms for biofuel crops will increase global warming and result in net increases in carbon emissions, according to a study. ”
Guardian – 2011
Bristol’s biofuels plant must be refused planning permission
“Burning biofuels in cars is mad enough, as it causes more environmental destruction – in terms of both carbon emissions and the loss of habitats – than petroleum. I’ve been campaigning against it since 2004. ”
Spiegel – 2011
Is Environmentalism Really Working?
“And Germans have been unusually stubborn about the biofuel E10 — the name refers to the 10 percent ethanol admixture……Many haven’t yet fully realized that E10 is an ecological swindle. People who want to help the environment shouldn’t use it. Nine large European environmental associations recently conducted a joint study which concluded that the bottom line impact of the fuel on the environment is negative…….A single full tank of bio-ethanol uses up as much grain as an adult can eat in a whole year.”
The author of the above post (Indur M. Goklany) has been associated with the IPCC since its inception in 1988 as an author, expert reviewer. Today, it appears, he is a little more skeptical. ;O)

Ken Harvey

There are three essential industrial processes omitted from that circular diagram. Item 1 is the coal mine needed to supply the electricity generator.The second item is the electricity power plant needed to supply the very heavy power demand of, no. 3, the ammonium nitrate manufacturer. For the sake of brevity we can ignore the fleets of heavy vehicles that are needed to distribute the n.a. to the farmers and those needed to deliver the crop to the bio facility. Like wind farms, the most essential ingredient of biofuel is subsidy.


Never fall for the LIE that CO2 is causing food riots. Food riots are partly being caused by biofuels. CO2 is essential for plants! The biosphere has been greening!
The following study found that over a period of almost two decades, the Earth as a whole saw an increased greening of 6.2%. About 25% of the Earth’s vegetated landmass — almost 110 million square kilometres — enjoyed significant increases
The Sahel has been greening.

Alexander K

Another excelent post from the author.
Like others who have posted in similar vein, I too have become quite cynical about the Greens and their errant Malthusian views. I am no longer willing to grant them possible good motives in promoting their multiple silliness and I no longer see them as merely misguided but as evil – there is too much evidence now for me to believe that starvation of the poor in developing countries due to ‘Green’ governments mandatingting the use of ‘green’ fuels and the scandal of the Green encouragement of the spread of Malaria can be atributed to the Law of Unintended Consequences. I know ‘wicked’ seems a terribly old-fashioned word, but I see it as an entirely appropriate apellation for the Greens of the world.


The disastrous biofuels policy is just one among many that have been calamitous. It seems the bigger and more remote the government then the greater the bureaucracy and the worse the policies. An excellent article in Der Spiegel highlighted just some of the so-called ‘unintended consequences’,1518,751469,00.html
Here in the UK our fishing industry has been devastated by an unworkable quota system resulting in many tons of saleable fishing being thrown overboard
Apple orchards have been uprooted, the foot and mouth epidemic made far worse (fewer abattoirs meant greater transport leading to faster spread of the disease) and smaller farms elbowed out by larger farms taking the bulk of the subsidies all as a result of EU policies.
Now our beautiful countryside is being devastated by the installation of grossly inefficient and heavily subsidised wind turbines.
Willis is quite right when he says of political parties ‘a pox on both their houses’ .
We could do with many more published papers like Indur Goklany’s pointing out their stupidity.


In the US, it is the Corporate Farmers and Ethanol Distillers that are pushing use of ethanol from corn, not the environmentalists, who recognize first of all, that it uses almost as much fossil fuel as it saves, in addition to the problem of increasing the cost of food. I don’t know about what drives it in other countries where land is being used for biofuels instead of food.
Brazil seems to be a success story.
It seems that ethanol from sugar cane in Brazil will reduce GHG emissions and is so cost effective that a tariff is needed to keep it out of the US. It does not seem to have a deleterious effect on food prices or create problems for other productive types of land use.
It seems that it is possible to make wise use of agriculture for biofuels, but it is not going to be a big factor in reduction of GHG emissions from fossil fuels.

Grey lensman

I think that it is not bio-fuels but policy that kills. All land is not equal and certainly not all is farm-able.
I did a study on New Zealand. Just taking the low quality land set aside since 1998 due to economic factors and re-utilising just 20% of that would make NZ fuel independent in that it could grow all its own fuel. Add in jobs, negation of fuel imports etc and you have a positive plus.
On the down side you have the political situation in USA where corn is used to provide feedstock for bio-fuel rather than import Bio-fuels from more efficient sources.
Hemp is another fine example, it grows on very poor soils, can provide up to three crops per year and provides food, fuel and basic raw materials.
Plus more ways are becoming available to cheaply and simply convert waste biomass (cellulose) into ethanol directly.
It seems all that is needed is some common sense rather than policy.

Keith G

Dr. Goklany,
Thank you for the excellent post. This message needs to be spread–many people in the world are living on the edge. Those of us fortunate enough to live somewhere far from danger should know about the very real, though unintended, consequences of our policies and actions. We have to live our lives too, but as we find out what happens as we pick one path or another, we should be made to decide.
People literally dying just so we can have alternate fuels and feel good about ourselves is just not something most would want to cause. Good for you for letting us know about it.

“Future historians, especially black African ones, will categorise the effects of the environmental movement as genocidal and they will be correct.”

walt man

Who Supports Biofuels (bio-ethanol etc)?
is it the Greenies?
Environmentalists fear it is – and their latest manoeuvre to stem the biofuel tide is a legal action to force the European Commission to publish thousands of pages of evidence of the impacts of plant fuels on the environment.

Green campaigners want to see all the background research immediately because they believe that some of the papers already confirm that biofuels may do more harm than good.

The environmentalists say they suspect that the Commission’s analysis contains explosive evidence that could blow the EU’s biofuels strategy apart

Green groups have also been angered by a separate EU policy statement leaked to BBC News. They say it could grant plantations of palm oil the same status as natural rainforests.

Kenneth Richter from Friends of the Earth said: “This is absolutely appalling – they are bending over backwards to support the palm oil industry. To equate a palm oil plantation in the same category as a rainforest is dishonest and outrageous.” When I queried the Commission about this policy, they declined to comment.

But environmentalists point out that the E4tech study doesn’t even attempt to factor in the other potentially malign side-effects of fuel crops displacing food crops.
Vivergo Fuels
Who are the backers? Greenies again?
BP is one of the world’s largest energy companies, offering expertise in fuels technology and access to major fuel markets.
British Sugar offers experience across the agricultural value chain, links to feedstock supply, and co-product expertise.
DuPont holds expertise in biotechnology and bio-manufacturing capabilities.
Looks like misguided government policies and Oil industries to me
A little positive stuff however:
1.1Mtonnes produce 420M litres bioethanol leaving a residue of 500k tonnes of high protein animal feed. Only the starch gets used in the processing


I read Dr Goklany’s paper. And no where in it did I see a single direct correlation between biofuel use and increased deaths. He references several other studies – which I will read when I have time – which he uses as the basis for his claims, which purport to show that poverty increases due to biofuel production. And then makes the giant leap that that correlates to an increase in deaths.
However, a closer read of his paper reveals a number of telltale signs – the art of obfuscation, and his credentials – which should make that obfuscation make great sense.
The overall claim is that biofuels increase deaths due to increased poverty. The alleged “proof” of that claim is not the Dr’s work – but supposedly these other studies.
In the papers first page the problems become apparent:
… it has been argued, and several analyses confirm, that higher food prices, induced in part by greater demand for biofuels, could increase hunger and poverty in developing countries. Since hunger and poverty are major contributors to death and disease around the world, it is, therefore, conceivable that the higher demand for biofuels could add to the global burden of death and disease.
Sound familiar? A clasic “if-then” statement based on incomplete data.
Let me paraphrase another claim we well know’s “proof”:
… it has been argued, and several analyses confirm, that …. higher CO2 levels could be related to increasing global temperatures …. since increases in temperature are often accompanied by increases in CO2, and since we can find no other evidence to prove the source of the CO2 increase, it is, therefore, conceivable that the higher global temperatures are a direct result of anthropogenic contribution to increases in CO2 ….
Completely unproven in both cases – statements shrouded in “woulda, coulda’s” and based on broad statements and not on scientific data or evidence … at least with the AGW claims there is at least SOME research and evidence involved – here there seems nothing but a huge leap of blind faith.
Where have we heard that before?
Perhaps the good Dr’s credentials might help provide a clue:
Acknowledgment: Indur M. Goklany, Ph.D., is an author and researcher who has been associated with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since its inception in 1988 as an author, expert reviewer, and U.S. delegate to that organization. Contact: 8726 Old Courthouse Rd., Vienna, VA 22182,
Imagine that.
Lets look further at the Dr’s comments in this paper. The clear allegation is that increased biofuel production and the – unproven in this paper – alleged increase in food prices as a result – are causing nearly 200,000 additional deaths.
Yet here is what the paper actually says:
If that were the case, [that higher demand for biofuels increases death and disease] it would, ironically, militate against one of the reasons offered to encourage biofuel production, namely, to reduce the health effects of global warming, particularly in developing countries. It would also reduce the perceived net benefits of policies designed to encourage biofuel production, whether they are instituted to reduce global warming or enhance energy security.
“If that were the case …” etc… an admission that his papers claims are not supportable by fact or data … but it DOES well illustrate the agenda.
This is further confirmed with the next comments in the paper:
“To date, however, no estimates are available of the potential magnitude, if any, of the global health impacts of biofuel production, precluding a more comprehensive analysis of policies designed to stimulate biofuel production.”
We can’t prove it with facts or data but it must be true. Just believe us ….
Sorry – seems we’ve heard that claim before … and even the note in his paper that confirms AGW as a non-important factor is going to change the fact that he provides no proof to support his claims – and directly admits it for those who would read the paper for themselves.


Lets re-brand coal.
Lets call it ecoal?


UK Sceptic says: April 19, 2011 at 12:48 am
‘I hope to God I’m wrong.’
Somehow I doubt it.
Joe Lalonde says: April 19, 2011 at 1:02 am
‘Whoever has the highest bid, wins. Unfortunately this mentality will kill people.’
What are your odds?
Ken Harvey says: April 19, 2011 at 3:41 am and Alan the Brit says: April 19, 2011 at 2:16 am
Very interesting and thank you
Pointman says: April 19, 2011 at 4:28 am
“Future historians, especially black African ones, will categorise the effects of the environmental movement as genocidal and they will be correct.”
Yes, and prior to this it was the argument of colonisation. So, when will these peoples determine their own paths? And that of the common good for their own peoples?


More from the paper:
“Based on current technologies, higher biofuel production necessarily means greater diversion of crops and/or cropland to
the production of fuel rather than food.”
Another broad assertion unsupported by any fact or proof. Both demonstrably false AND shows the ‘cooked books’ aspect – twisting specifics to match an agenda.
First, higher biofuel production does NOT “necessarily” mean greater diversion of crops/cropland from food to fuel. The vast majority of crop used for biofuel production is not food crops. And the USDA data shows that corn is not crowding out other food crops – at least in the US, as I clearly showed (and sourced – look it up yourself at USDA site under crop reports) showed in the last ethanol thread, other food crops are not seeing greatly reduced acres planted.
Additionally, we have seen significant increases in yields on corn in recent years due to improved farming methods, and to generally good weather.
Corn used for biofuel production is almost entirely NOT FOOD corn – but rather FEED corn. Crops grown specifically for animal feed. And ethanol from corn production produces an important byproduct – distillers dried grain solids – a high quality animal feed that replaces a very large part of the “feed” content of the corn used for ethanol.
Second is the disclaimer “Based on current technologies” … which give license to ignore that corn use as a feed stock for biofuel production WILL level as the new cellulosic and other processes come online. The author notes that the study is based on the claim that biofuel production would continue to increase – ignoring, by use of the carefully selected “Based on current technologies” disclaimer that an increasing use of alternative feed stocks and cellulosic and other processes will cap and eventually reduce corns use for biofuels.
The author makes yet another broad brush claim unsupported by fact or proof:
“The iron law of supply and demand dictates that this would almost unavoidably increase global food prices over what they would otherwise be.
Indeed, this is confirmed by studies of the impact of biofuel production on global food prices, although the magnitude of the effect varies from study to study”
Not real proof – just the authors claim there is some immutable law that “unavoidably” will cause an increase in food prices.
He notes 2 studies – De Hoyos and Medvedev and Cororaton et al – that “provide estimates” of “potential increases in poverty induced by greater biofuel production” … note that they do NOT allege to correlate increase in poverty to increased deaths.
He goes on to state that while these two studies “indicate higher biofuel production increases global poverty” those increases, if they do exist, he admits are “small in relative terms.”
Yet again, a more detailed read would show some very interesting numbers.
The first study estimated the poverty headcount in 2005 to be 1,208 million vs a world population of appx 6.5 billion – the study alleged poverty head count would increase 32 million due to biofuel production increase from 2004 to 2010.
The 2nd study shows estimated poverty headcount in 2010 to be approx. 798 million vs estimated world population of appx 6.909 billion – a substantial decrease from 2005 to 2010. The author admits this is due to increased economic development during this time.
Remember those numbers ….


It hasn’t been fun for the orangutans either……………..


Caption title misspelled.
Biofeul life cycle Image:


@Alan the Brit: You forgot to mention the result of banning freon. The price skyrocketed and if you were unfortunate and depended on an old hand-me-down refrigerator, you were out of luck when it needed freon. No fridge = spoiled food = illness and death. But who cares about the poor? They are never part of the equations (dare I say models?) of the greenies.

jack morrow

Grey Lensman says
I think perhaps you are smoking some type of hemp.


I’ve considered picketing my local purveyor with a sign that says ‘Buy a gallon of Ethanol, Starve a dozen Children.’ Plus, the windmill over the gas station, er, ‘den of iniquity’, keeps me up at night moaning of the agony of Gaia.


Now we can look at the actual claims of the paper. How many deaths can be attributed to the alleged increase in poverty headcounts and what is the proof to support that claim?
The whole section about poverty related health risk factors – the exercise in defining “poverty related” deaths – uses admittedly “arbitrarily” reached conclusions on what health risks are poverty related. The author decides that, in order of highest to lowest risk of death; global warming, underweight, zinc and Vitamin A deficiency, unsafe sex and unsafe water, sanitation, hygiene are the “poverty related” risk factors for death and disease for this report.
Remember the top poverty related risk of death from above.
The paper begins this discussion by trying to tie increase in poverty to increase in deaths by comparing 2004 estimate of poverty headcount with the 2005 estimated poverty headcount.
The paper notes the 2004 estimate of poverty headcount was, according to a 2007 study, estimated at 969 million people. The very first thing they do however, is adjust that number – you guessed it – upwards – by 1.5 times, claiming “new” poverty estimates using “new data and methods” shows 1.48 to 1.5 times higher counts.
The paper claims the World Bank and De Hoyos and Medvedev study uses this new poverty data and methodsremember that too ….
So right up front they adjust the 2004 poverty headcount number to 1,464 million.
The author notes the De Hoyos and Medvedev study is allegedly the more accurate one. That study, which he also notes (see above) uses the latest and greatest most accurate data and methods, found the estimated poverty headcount for 2005 was 1,208 million.
Remember as well from above that the author noted the World Bank also used the new latest and greatest data and methods. That earnest group found the estimated poverty headcount for 2005 was 1,374 million.
So how does the good Doctor reconcile the difference between two organizations, considering both as he claims are using the latest and greatest new data? He notes the World Bank number is higher by 14% and that is the perfect excuse to increase the De Hoyos and Medvedev 2005 number by a commensurate amount.
The authors reasoning?
“The difference between the two estimates is mainly that the World Bank analysis covered more countries”
…. but wait, what was it said about the De Hoyos and Medvedev and Cororaton et al studies earlier?
Hmmm: “… both analyses covered 90% of the developing world’s population”
Not a shred of evidence to show the author did any analysis at all on the actual numerical differences between World Bank and De Hoyos and Medvedev – nothing more than a tenuous and unsupported claim – yet that was more than good enough to increase the numbers 14%
So ….. the 2004 estimated poverty headcount number was increased 150% over the actual number from a 2007 study, based on the latest and greatest new data and methods – so that it compares to the De Hoyos and Medvedev numbers – which also use that same latest and greatest new data.
And then the author gives the De Hoyos and Medvedev numbers another 14% boost – despite again, that they are supposedly based on same new data and methods – with apparently no substantiation, documentation or support for the change.
Which leaves us with a 2004 poverty headcount estimate, originally 968 million, inflated to 1,454 million.
And the 2005 estimated poverty headcount from De Hoyos and Medvedev originally 1,208 million – increased to an estimated poverty headcount of 1,377 million.
The De Hoyos and Medvedev estimated poverty headcount – despite allegedly being based on the same new data and estimating methods – was increased by 169 million ….
But wait … they did not increase the De Hoyos and Medvedev estimated poverty headcount by 14% at all – in fact they ignored the poverty headcount entirely. Instead the author increased the alleged 32 million INCREASE in the poverty headcount due to the increase in biofuel production over the 2004 level by 14%
Now that’s what I call new math.
Lets review the authors own numbers:
2004 estimated poverty headcount adjusted to match new data and methods used by De Hoyos and Medvedev and World Bank: 1,454 million
2005 estimated poverty headcount by De Hoyos and Medvedev, which uses same new data and methods as above 2004 number, but arbitrarily adjusted upward 14% (169 million) to match World Bank number: 1,377 million
So 2004 to 2005 estimated poverty headcount actually DECREASED 77 million despite being artificially and arbitrarily increased by 169 million.
2010 estimated poverty headcount per De Hoyos and Medvedev: 798 million … a further decrease of 579 million (despite arbitrary increase of 169 million above) from 2005 to 2010.
Hold on – we ain’t done yet either …

Douglas DC

Pointman says:
April 19, 2011 at 4:28 am
“Future historians, especially black African ones, will categorise the effects of the environmental movement as genocidal and they will be correct.”
This is something I have said for years-the biggest fear of Greenies :
Healthy, happy, prosperous, dark skinned people….
Developemnt to first world standards is not a bad thing but economies
mean personal freedom. Kleptocrats hate that. Including the UN…


Unleaded gasoline was a good idea, bio fuel bad idea.
The liberal catastrophic elite who caused the problem also have the solution and that is redistribution of wealth and control of the world food supply, among other things to normalize poverty and eliminate private transportation because it kills the poor around the world.
The elite will always present us with a disaster from which they will save us.


It’s not all doom and gloom in biofuels. This guy – Vinod Khosla has an excellent perspective on the way things are going, especially on the near-, mid- and long-term transitioning into the use of cellulosic technologies:
This is a really great article that acknowledges the issue under discussion here, and quantifies potential solutions that are actually currently in progress. For example, cellulosic sugars at 8 cents/pound will be a huge step forward.
Also, it’s my understanding that this is not about “greenhouse gases” anymore, but rather about energy security (reference 1 – Barack Obama; State of the Union Address).
It’s turning out to be quite amazing for biosynthetic specialty chemical development too.
Not all doom and gloom.

Barry Sheridan

I would have thought this is what the Green Community wants, after all they are amongst the most misanthropic of people as their policies repeatedly show. A comment all the more depressing because of the influence these groups wield via the media and throughout western politics.


OK – set aside all of the above for a minute – lets take a blind leap of faith the author is perfectly accurate – that the 32 million increase in estimated poverty headcount from 2005 to 2010 is correct, and that there is some relevant reason supported by fact that justified jacking that number up by 14% to 36.4 million estimated poverty headcount …
And lets take the authors next claim at face value as well … that the 36.4 million biofuel induced increase from 2005 to 2010 in estimated poverty headcount is directly related somehow to 192,000 deaths caused by biofuel induced increase in poverty …
First – lets look at that number 192,000 additional deaths due to increased biofuel production from 2005 to 2010. World population increased from appx 6.5 to 6.9 billion during that time – lets loosely average that to 6.7 billion. An alleged 192,000 additional deaths vs average appx 6.7 billion world population … if I did math right those deaths would be 0.0029% of world population.
What do you suppose is the margin of error on this number? As shown above its probably very high. Simply put – this 192,000 claim – even IF correct – is by all appearances within any reasonable margin of error.
Now please go back to that other thing I asked you to remember … the top poverty related risk of death from above. Yep, that’s right – global warming.
The authors claim of 192,000 poverty related deaths caused by biofuel production increases specifically INCLUDES deaths caused by global warming – in fact they represent the largest portion of these 192,000 deaths according to the authors own chart and claims.
The author further notes the World Health Organization estimates 141,000 global warming induced deaths.
Whoops …Houston we seem to have another problem here ….
…. if 141,000 deaths are allegedly caused by global warming, AND if global warming deaths are included in the authors 192,000 estimate of biofuel induced deaths then the real number caused by biofuel production increase would be 51,000
Not sure my calculator works on numbers that small … 😉
I may well be totally off base here – I quoted directly from the paper, but am more than willing to be corrected.
But if a complete layman can pick apart the allegations and claims with so little time and effort – then this paper sure doesn’t seem to be able to be taken seriously.
Unfortunately – it is only the headline assertion that gets remembered and or reported. Which is all too likely the intent. All too familiar when the IPCC is involved it seems.
I don’t know the author – and purposely did not research him in any way. Might be a perfectly nice person. But at absolute best light, this paper seems to be seriously lacking factual support and appears it contains numerous errors, large and small.


And last a serious comment …
I’m waiting for the similar study to this one, and/or outcry from the tree-hugger types, that shows how many deaths are due to (just to pick 3 at random):
1) Bovine flatulence – ie: Cow Farts
2) Food price increases from world consumption of corn fed beef
3) Food price increases due to cotton crop displacement of food crops
Where are the same type attacks and studies on any of these?
Interestingly corn based ethanol production helps address the first two … with the corn ethanol byproduct, distillers dried grain solids, a high quality more digestable replacement of highly inefficient corn as cattle feed …

Grey lensman

Smoking some kind of hemp, is just the sort of facile comment that leads to conflict and dissent rather than sensible discussion.
in every area we need to sort the wheat from the chaff. Corporate windmills, planted for profit and subsidy do not work. But a private well designed windmill will work wonders for the owner user, in the right place.
Similarly with biofuels. You cant grow crops where palm oil grows. Jungle on the whole does not thrive there either. Get some basic common sense. In the USA only a small percentage of land is suitable for farming. Same in a tropical rain forest, Areas are not suitable for jungle.
As i pointed out, using low value poor quality land can provide both fuel and jobs and economic benefits, its policies, subsidies and corporate demands that is the problem.
Coconuts grown with fertilizers increase yields but the farmer loses money as the increase in yield does not cover the costs of fertilizer. Many high level studies confirm this. Many careers and grants were supported on the studies.
Nobody told the subsistence farmers, nobody cared about them.
All we need to do is grow whatever we can were it grows best with a little support, its called diversity and thats a major reason why humanity has survived many crises in the past.


Alexander K
April 19, 2011 at 3:42 am
I am glad that some people are starting to wake up to the awful truth. Socialism by any name is evil.

Richard S Courtney

I was interested that the press release concluded with this:
“Thus, the biofuel remedy for global warming may be worse than the disease it purports to alleviate.”
In December 2008 I published a paper titled;
“Biofuels: a solution worse than the problem they try to address?”
I can be read at
Its synopsis says:
“This paper reviews effects of large use of biofuels that I predicted in a paper published in August 2006 prior to the USA legislating to enforce displacement of crude oil products by biofuels. The review indicates that policies (such as that in the EU), subsidies and legislation (such as that in the USA) to promote use of biofuels should be reconsidered. The use of biofuels is causing significant problems but providing no benefits except to farmers. Biofuel usage is a hidden subsidy to farmers, and if this subsidy is the intended purpose of biofuel usage then more direct subsidies would be more efficient. But the problems of biofuel usage are serious. Biofuel usage is
• damaging energy security,
• reducing biodiversity,
• inducing excessively high food prices, and
• inducing excessively high fuel prices, while
• providing negligible reduction to greenhouse gas emissions.
All these effects were predicted in my paper on the use of biofuels that was published in August 2006 and can be seen at
My 2006 paper also predicted objections from environmentalists if large use of biofuels were adopted although this then seemed implausible because many environmentalists were campaigning for biofuels to displace fossil fuels. But this prediction has also proved to be correct.”
The similarity of the concluding statement of the press release to the title of my paper interests me because the conclusions of the two papers are so similar. Sometimes a title suggests itself.