August 13, 2010

Land use change theory continues to slide

Ethanol production is up so that means deforestation of the Amazon must be up too, right? After all, that's what we've been led to believe by the anti-ethanol crowd....that using corn to produce ethanol means we're burning and plowing the Amazon to grow "food."

Ever since the highly reported "land use change" theory came up it's been debunked by what's going on in the real world. Including in the last week with the headline "Brazil: Amazon deforestation down sharply in June."

The article reports that satellite imagery shows that while nearly 95 square miles (244 square kilometers) of the Amazon were destroyed in June, the amount of forest lost was down 58 percent from the same month in 2009. For the 11 months through June, deforestation was 49 percent below the losses during the same period a year earlier.

What's changed? How can this be when ethanol production continues to rise and may surpass 13.0 billion gallons produced this year?

Well, the government credits better enforcement of environmental laws for slowing deforestation – but environmental groups believe it's about money: there's less of a demand for goods such as wood and cattle.

For more background on this issue, be sure to check out these previous posts, the second one, in particular, has a nice collection of links:

On a separate subject, there was a good post this week over at CattleNetwork. It has to do with food, the world's poor and biofuels: Farmers & Ranchers Don’t Deserve Blame For World Hunger.

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