Tuesday, August 21, 2007


(To hear the interview with F. William Engdahl in Blogger, click title above)

When President Bush says he's taking action for energy independence, and to curb carbon, you know he's going to pick the wrong way to the wrong target.

Sure enough, that's what Bush announced in his last State of the Union Address, and Congress has moved on it since: the "20/10" program for biofuels in America. The taxpayers are doling out huge sums to achieve the stated goal of providing 20% of all U.S. transportation fuels from biological sources (instead of oil wells) - by 2010. That's less than 3 years from now.

The corn farmers are leaping on it. This year's planting is the largest ever - to fill those SUV tanks. Never mind the big boost of fertilizers and pesticides heading down the Mississippi to the growing Gulf dead zone. And don't worry about those 800 million people who go to bed hungry for lack of food. We've got big V8's to power obese people down the faltering highway system.

The oil industry won't build any new refineries, but biofuel refineries are going up like mushrooms after a rain. Why not, they get over 50 cents for every gallon they produce, from the government! Free enterprise at work....

Of course, even if you planted every field in America with fuel crops, you still wouldn't hit the 20% goal of the world's top gas guzzling nation. So, Bush has been in negotiations with Brazil's President Lula, to get plant fuel from that country of impoverished millions. They can hack down the rainforest, and plant more soy for American gas tanks.

Greenpeace has just released a report saying President Lula is doing just that. In the guise of providing land for the hundreds of thousands of homeless Brazilian families, he has opened up whole new tracts of rainforests for settlement, like the American West back in the 1800's. Of course these hapless peasants sell the trees immediately to big loggers, who strip it bare.

Get all the details of that scam at the Greenpeace site.

The saddest part: Brazil's soils are mineral poor. Once the rainforest is stripped, the land can only be farmed for a few seasons, then it gives out, leaving scrub. The "settlers" have to move on, selling out to the cattle farmers, who browse it until it becomes either grasslands, or desert. Where the mighty rainforest, the lungs of the planet, once stood.

Add it up: and billions of tons of carbon will be released from the Amazon Rainforest, in part to "save" carbon in America, by using "green" biofuels.

But you can't fool Mother Nature. We'll just get hotter, with worse storms.

Bush wants to set up a whole new "free trade zone" of the Americas just for biofuels. It's a zip crazy scheme, where America uses up the green power of another continent, in some bizarre fantasy that it is saving the environment, or getting energy security.

F. William Engdahl is an economist and long-standing world watcher, currently living in Germany. He published his scathing report on Bush and Biofuels in Asia Times. It was republished in Counterpunch on August 13th.

I interviewed him in a call from Germany.

Just two days later, a report in the Journal Science backed up his views entirely. New research shows that biofuels cost more to create than they provide. When you add up all the fertilizers, farm machinery, shipping, etc., etc., - it would be more efficient just to burn the oil. Biofuels for America's wasteful energy system does nothing to stop global warming. In fact, Engdahl argues, it makes it worse.

Look for lots of wrong turns as humans thrash about in an overheated world. And if George Bush Jr. recommends it - watch out!

Alex Smith
Radio Ecoshock

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Escape from Suburbia - Director interview

To hear the audio interview with Gregory Greene, Director of "Escape from Suburbia" click the title above.

This 27 minute interview was selected for replay on the Indymedia show of KPFK Los Angeles, on the Pacifica Network, after it's original broadcast on CFRO FM radio in Vancouver, and other college and community stations.

Gregory Greene became known for his underground hit DVD "End of Suburbia" - which went over a million dollars in sales. The premise of the first film essentially followed James Howard Kunstler's dim predictions of a re-direction of society due to Peak Oil.

The suburbs, we were told, were entirely build on the premise of cheap oil. Now oil is far from cheap, and Wall Street future traders are betting big time that oil will top $100 a barrel.

Meanwhile, everyone in China and India either owns a car, is saving to buy a car, or dreams of having one. Their Yuan or Rupee is as good as your dollar, pound or Euro - maybe better. So what makes us think we'll continue to get most of the oil?

If pump prices double, what happens to the people commuting 50 or a hundred miles a day, just to get to work? The kids who need to be driven to school, or bused long distances? People in the suburbs need a vehicle just to get food.

"End of Suburbia" left many viewers feeling like doomed Dinosaurs. But Green's new film takes a more positive role. "Escape from Suburbia," the second in his trilogy, follows three different approaches to getting out of the high energy fix. A high-powered business woman drops out, to go green where she is. A gay couple in New York explore their options, and their emotions, as they confront a society with a limited future. Of course the former hippies in Oregon decide to leave America altogether, for an eco-commune in Canada.

Three very different approaches - and the beauty of this film is: none of them are the "right" choice for you. We see people working through the bleak facts about oil depletion, and the coming natural gas crash. At first they feel isolated, then meet others going through the same doubts and frustrations, and then work on what they can really do, personally, in the real world as they find it.

Gregory Greene mixes this reality film with more experts who drive home the reality that oil won't last forever. We hear from energy experts who have worked deep in the industry. Thought provoking quotes pepper the film, and your brain.

It's all in the interview. You can download the full one hour radio program from Ecoshock, with about 20 minutes of quotes from the film, plus the interview, here.

Or, get more info on the film, including the video trailer at

You can order the film DVD right there at the site.

I recommend it. If you've got a nagging feeling the high pump prices are just going to get worse, and wonder what to do, this film is for you.

By the way, Greene doesn't shrink from examining the links between the Peak Oil crowd and the climate change movement. So far, this has been almost the great divide, and in the interview, we discuss their differences - even though both seek a dramatic reduction in oil dependency. Greene has a good interview with the leader of the Green Party of Canada, Elizabeth May, plus famous broadcast/environmentalist David Suzuki on Peak Oil.


Alex Smith
Radio Ecoshock