6 Dec 2005
New Discovery at Risk from ‘Eco-Fuel’.
A new species, discovered recently in Borneo, could be under threat by the growing European biodiesel industry. The cat-like animal, which actually when I first saw the picture I thought was a minature brontosaurus until I noticed that its ‘neck’ was actually its tail, is thought to be a kind of cat. The BBC reported on it this morning in an article called ‘New mammal’ seen in Borneo. It turns out however that the creature is already at risk due to deforestation of Borneo’s indigienous forests in order for the planting of palm oil to feed Europe’s rapidly expanding demand for biofuels to replace diminishing oil imports.
**George Monbiot** in an article in the Guardian called Worse than Fossil Fuel has once again hit the nail on the head, exposing the fallacy of the argument that we can switch our car economy over to biodiesel. Biodiesel is, he argues, worse than fossil fuel, in the amount of carbon released in clearing the forest in order to grow palms to make palm oil, not to mention the damage to biodiversity and habitat, and also the creation of another energy dependence. Over the last few weeks it has become clear that Monbiot is becoming increasingly worried about energy, and the conclusion of this week’s article is that we have to urgently start to restrain consumption.
He quotes the DTI who now say “It is essential that we balance the increasing demand for travel, with our goals for protecting the environment”. It comes back to the central argument for localisation, that with 95% of our transport dependent on fossil fuels, and our economy being so dependent on transport, we have to start to reduce our need for it as a matter of urgency. Localisation is about import substitution, if it can be grown locally then grow it locally rather than ship it half way around the world. Monbiot has always been very outspoken against the localisation argument, I wonder whether his recent deep explorations into the realities of energy and peak oil mean he has reconsidered his views?
We must learn to live without cars, and to redesign our settlements and economies accordingly. I would contend, as David Fleming has written, that “localisation stands, at best, at the limits of practical possibility, but it has the decisive argument in its favour that there will be no alternative