Good Company

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Africa troubles=$6 gas

Speaker at the Naval Academy says they might here:
If the U.S. loses its oil supply from Africa, gas prices would hit $6 a gallon, midshipmen were told yesterday during a national conference on the future of the continent.

America is competing with China and Europe for resources on a war-torn, poverty-ridden continent that is a fertile breeding ground for terrorists, retired Marine Corps Gen. Carlton Fulford, director of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies said yesterday in Annapolis.

Each of Africa's 48 sub-Saharan countries has unique problems, Gen. Fulford said, but Nigeria is a chief concern. It has what is widely regarded as one of the world's most corrupt governments.

"If Nigeria goes up in smoke, you will be paying $5 or $6 a gallon," Gen. Fulford said.

This loss of a valuable resource could be just one of the problems the U.S. faces, Gen. Fulford said.

Years of fighting has turned Somalia, for example, into a desolate place of warring factions, where pirates and potential terrorists roam.

"9-11 taught us that threats can come from anywhere; they clearly can come out of the African continent if we don't pay attention," he said.
Well, he is assuming, I guess, a short term increase in gas prices until alternative fuel programs kick in...

You know, those alternative programs Congress has been helping businesses set up with tax incentives and the like?

UPDATE: Thomas Barnett has an example of - well- necessity being the mother of invention here:
Oil is all about transportation and little else. You remove the transportation requirement and your Age of Oil ends.

Sound impossible?

Not to Brazil, which goes energy self-sufficient this year on sugar-cane-derived ethanol. The energy yield is now 8.3 to 1, meaning Brazil burns 1 unit of energy to create the ethanol, which in turns yields 8.3 units of power. Our corn-fed version is maxing out still at 1.3 to one. Brazilian scientists believe 10.0-to-one is well within their grasp.

Yes, yes. The New Core sets the new rules.

And somehow the Brazilian car market adapts massively at no extra sticker cost. More than 70 percent of cars sold in Brazil this year can burn the ethanol.

And Brazil has done this without FDI from the U.S., which apparently has let our ag producers wage their usual protectionism. But the biggies are getting their heads turned by Brazil. Now, ADM, Bunge and Born, Cargill and Louis Dreyfuss, the Big Four of international ag corps, are becoming incredibly interested in this apparently out-of-the-blue new rule set that took Brazil only three decades to manage--right under our noses.

Brazil’s goal? Certainly not to become the “Saudia Arabia of ethanol.” Surely, Brazil cannot aspire to that as both a big producer AND big consumer. Instead, as one local analyst put it, Brazil simply wants to prime the global pump enough to make ethanol a viable global energy commodity.

What is Brazil’s bet? Only that global oil prices don’t drop below $30 a barrel. Hmm. Think China covers that bet all by itself.

The best part? Brazilian scientists say they think the world is just beginning to scratch the surface of sugar cane’s potential. I mean, the genetic effort to make drought and pest-resistant versions is just beginning.

Still want to stop GMOs as the next big threat to human progress?

Or do you prefer a world in which Nigerian rebel geeks roil global energy markets with scam emails?

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