Energy bill mandating 36 billion
But most of the damage created by biofuels will be less direct and less obvious.In Brazil, for instance, only a tiny portion of the Amazon is being torn down to grow the sugarcane that fuels most Brazilian cars.Even cellulosic ethanol made from switchgrass, which has been promoted by eco-activists and eco-investors as well as by President Bush as the fuel of the future, looks less green than oil-derived gasoline.Meanwhile, by diverting grain and oilseed crops from dinner plates to fuel tanks, biofuels are jacking up world food prices and endangering the hungry.
It's the remorseless economics of commodities markets."It gives me goose bumps," says Carter, who founded a nonprofit to promote sustainable ranching on the Amazon frontier."It's like witnessing a rape." The Amazon was the chic eco-cause of the 1990s, revered as an incomparable storehouse of biodiversity.Some scientists believe fires are now altering the local microclimate and could eventually reduce the Amazon to a savanna or even a desert."It's approaching a tipping point," says ecologist Daniel Nepstad of the Woods Hole Research Center.
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Worldwide investment in biofuels rose from $5 billion in 1995 to $38 billion in 2005 and is expected to top $100 billion by 2010, thanks to investors like Richard Branson and George Soros, GE and BP, Ford and Shell, Cargill and the Carlyle Group.