The Dark (Dunkel?) Side of Biofuels

Ach mein Gott!

Just as the price of oil approaches the milestone $100-per-barrel mark, the beer industry in Germany is bracing for a 10 percent to 15 percent price increase early next year and as much as 40 percent over the next five years.

The reason for the price boost at beer taps: biofuels.

This isn’t just hitting poor Germans in the barstool… my local homebrewing store has been telegraphing rising grain prices for the last few months, and has finally stated that prices will jump in January and may double over the course of the next year. More news on the subject here.

Rising beer prices won’t make everyone sad, of course, but I think it’s one of those ‘canary in the coal mine’ kind of things… acting as a harbinger of general food price increases to come.

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2 Responses to The Dark (Dunkel?) Side of Biofuels

  1. Rob says:

    I think you are dead on with the canary in the coal mine analogy. I just wish that the canary didn’t sacrifice itself as the harbinger of death for the miners. Ethanol might put the nail into the coffin of the whole “world hunger is just a distribution problem” argument. In a few years there will be incontrovertible proof that there isn’t enough food. Just rather we would have solved the argument by actually feeding people rather than making Shell richer.

    In the coming year some friends and I are planning to experiment with various home brew energy systems. We are 90% done with a wood chip gasifier for an old tractor. Next will be an ethanol still (from Sunchokes or brewers mash,not grain) to power modified BCS hand tractors and old chevy pickups, and then we will be finishing a home built methane digester that one of them started 2 years ago to heat and power a greenhouse system. Cob ovens may also be in the works so that I can bake bread in July again.
    -Rob

  2. Bart says:

    If I ever get around to putting a patio area in the rear of our house, I would love nothing better than to put a cob pizza/bread oven in. I understand your yearning for that completely. 🙂

    I would prefer to solve the problem via feeding people as well, but those who run the global show (or many of them at least) take the Kissingerian view that there are plenty of ‘useless eaters’ out there. Exploit them as long as it remains profitable and then abandon them. World hunger will continue to be pitched as a distribution problem, I think… it’ll just be one where there’s not enough to distribute.

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