Get Your Tractor Running

Is it strange to be blogging about a Time cover story? Or is it stranger that you might not have seen it? In any case, last week Henry Luce’s publication went long on biofuels: The reporter is Michael Grunwald, who’s excellent—his book on the Everglades is highly recommended—and the story is lengthy, kaleidoscopic, satisfyingly complex, and ultimately indignant.

It’s the best single and multisided account of what Time labels “the clean energy scam,” ranging from the “savannization” of the Amazon to palm oil plantations to Iowa farms to Board of Trade commodity prices. Grunwald also talks to a few scientists whose fundamental work on biofuels turned out to be staggeringly wrong, since it overlooked the economic domino effect that’s ended in deforestation. A Berkeley professor who’d written on emissions reductions of different ethanols says dryly, “The situation is a lot more challenging than a lot of us thought.”

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