Subsidize research and education not biofuels ~ Abaster

07 April 2008

Subsidize research and education not biofuels

The IHT has a useful piece on the need to get beyond caps on green house emissions and to enable technology, and specifically energy related technology and innovation, to flourish and substantially contribute to alleviating global warming. Now clearly technology and innovation alone won't be enough - major changes in the way we source and consume energy, and manage our energy dependencies are needed - but creating an innovation drive in the area of energy tech is the right thing to do.

Innovation in this space is already underway but not nearly to the degree that is necessary, which of course will require funds. Governments are spending vast amounts to find alternatives to oil, but the value of that investment is questionable: subsidizing biofuels only diverts crops from food production to energy production, and causes significant increases in food raw materials costs. Instead, we should be using these subsidies to encourage academic research into extracting better energy efficiencies from oil, coal, etc., AND, more importantly, better ways of harnessing energy resources that have gone untapped so far - solar, wind, bio-mass, etc. The benefits would be many fold: monies for additional research and researchers, a renewed focus on the sciences in basic curricula, and the further strengthening of the education infrastructure of the nation.

A no-brainer right? Particularly as many innovations in this field are coming from universities! So how come policies so far are merely further disadvantaging the individual by increasing costs of food on top of already exorbitant prices for fuel? Where's the logic in that? Lets make a real investment in our energy future by building our educational institutions and getting more kids into college studying the sciences!