Thursday, December 06, 2007


(UNDERTOW - The Philippine Chronicle, May 19, 2007)

Biofuel technology seems to be gaining momentum here in the Philippines. Congressman Juan Miguel Zubiri (possibly senator), who fancies himself as the 'green candidate' is pushing biofuels as an environmentally friendly solution to the Philippines' perennial oil supply and price problems. Zubiri claims that biofuels are the answer to persistent energy and environmental problems, and that their development and production will lead to countryside development and decongestion of our cities and municipalities, and would eventually eliminate the need for Filipino engineers and scientists to seek employment overseas as OFWs "since they can work on biofuel plants right here in Batangas." All these because the 'Biofuels Act of 2006' provides for a mandatory blend of at least 5% Bio-Ethanol into vehicle fuel by 2008 and 10% by 2010? Well, before we start planting sugarcane in our own backyards and before we jump into the biofuels bandwagon, let's first take a little reality check here. The total land area of the Philippines is approximately 300,000 square kilometers, 19% of it being 'arable land,' or 60,000 square kilometers. In a sense, this already represents the maximum biofuels potential of the country for a specific thing like Ethanol from sugarcane. So, if one plants every square inch of land to sugarcane, one can actally calculate how much Ethanol can be produced, assuming of course we are willing to give up growing our own rice, corn and other important crops for our food. Researchers at the Polytechnic University of New York claim that "considering projected population growth in the world, the humanitarian policy is to maintain croplands for growing food, and not fuel. Everyday, more than 16,000 kids die from hunger-related causes. One child every five seconds. The situation will only get worse. Thus, it would be morally wrong to divert cropland needed for human food supply to powering automobiles instead. It would also deplete soil fertility and the long-term capability to maintain food production. We would destroy the farmlands that our children and grandchildren will need to live and survive." Well, this is another clear example of how some 'environmental ideologists' ignore simple science and bring about unforseeable consequences! The illusion that we can maintain our present levels of consumption with biofuels may very well be plain and simple hogwash. So now, we have a new snake oil being peddled by Zubiri in biofuels. You're full of biogas Migz!

Before and during election day, I sent several text messages (9 to be exact) to the Comelec hotline, as they have been advertising on TV if one needs a quick info on his/her exact precinct location. As expected, after texting 'comelectxt precinct' my full name and birthdate to 2898, I got this repeated reply: 'Comelec servers are currently updating its files. Please try again later. This is a free msg." So, if the Comelec can't even fix a small problem lke this one, what's the whole point in adverstising a free service when all it gives you is proof of its incompetence? And should they still continue to exist for the 2010 presidential elections and beyond? You be the judge.

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