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New Internationalist

Fuel for thought

The global impact of using food supplies to fuel cars...

As world leaders prepare to fly into Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, for the next round of United Nations climate change talks, we’re wondering - realistically - what these talks are going to achieve. They’re supposed to strengthen global action on climate change, but just how we’re going to achieve those all-important reductions in greenhouse gases and the cooling of the environment are no where in sight. Far from focussing on how to stop the very activities that we now know lead to higher carbon emissions, governments are hitching up to the big business bandwagon that biofuels (more accurately called agrofuels) offer an important plank in combating climate change. From the Rich World, it sounds promising - replacing oil with fuels that can be naturally grown. But what do the people of the Poor World where the crops are being grown think? Today’s program asks them.  

  • The current talks in Bangkok are framing a successor to the Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2012. Fiu Elisara from the O le Siosiomaga Society in Samoa assesses how effective the Kyoto protocol been so far in combating the effects of climate change in the Pacific.
  • Rachel Smolker - author of a report called The Real Cost of Agrofuels: Food, Forest and the Climate - gives a global assessment of the impacts of pouring the world’s grain supplies into our cars.
  • Lucia Ortiz - a Brazilian geologist - reports about how agrocrops are dispossessing her people of land and resources.
  • We are being told that economic growth in developing countries like China and India will surely kill us all. But how often are these countries being asked for their side of the story? Soumitra Ghosh - who works with  the North Eastern Society for Preservation of Nature and Wild Life in West Bengal, India gives his assessment of agrofuels.
  • British-based Danny Chivers performs one of his action poems, offering a straightforward but supremely effective solution to reducing our carbon footprint.

Today’s CD is called Songs of the Volcano performed Bob Brozman and the Rabaul community’s local string-bands in Papua New Guinea.  Two volcanic eruptions have destroyed Rabaul twice in a century so the energy in this CD reflects an unfailing optimism in the face of adversity - something that we’re going to need as we tackle climate change.

Listen directly online (flash 128kbps stream)

Download the program toyour computer or music player (Right click on the link and choose whereyou would like to save the program to - 128kbps mp3 55.7MB)

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