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Food:

Organic farmers, the heroes of today’s food movement,


often can’t make ends meet—even those at the farmers’
market who sell eggs for a staggering $14 a dozen. In the
US today small farms must rely on off-farm sources for
85-95 percent of their income.

From its inception in 2002 through 2008 the US Depart-


ment of Agriculture’s National Organic Program had an
annual operating budget of about $2 million. Over those
same years, industrial agriculture received hundreds of
billions of dollars in taxpayer support.

As organic goes mainstream—think General Mills, Kraft,


and Wal-Mart—some organic growers are deforesting to
establish new cropland to meet booming demand. Green Vehicles:
U.S. car companies sell vehicles in Europe that get almost
Of all Fair Trade registered producers globally, just 20 triple the fuel efficiency of their American models. Ford
percent sell their crops at the premium price. They must UK’s 2009 Fiesta ECOnetic, a five-seater, hits a staggering
offload the rest at the low conventional price or leave it 88 mpg while the U.S. version gets in the low 30s.
to rot in the field.
High-tech plug-in gas-electric hybrids—the cars of the
Green Architecture: future—such as GM’s much-touted Chevy Volt promise a
40 percent of all CO2 emissions in the US come from way out of global warming with 200+ mpg. But in reality the
buildings, but we can’t fix this because of a technology Volt can easily clock a measly 38 mpg.
lag—right? Wrong. Buildings that generate more power
than they use (via solar panels) have been up and running CO2 Offsets:
for years in towns like Freiburg, Germany. One highly regarded carbon offset project in southern
India, a renewable energy plant, has created a market for
Today’s green buildings use cutting-edge but simple tech- wood so impoverished villagers now fell trees to sell as fuel
nologies like interior walls embedded with microscopic to the facility.
spheres of paraffin wax that absorb summer heat in the
daytime and release it at night. Alarmingly, the offset market creates a disincentive for
governments to clean up their act. If leaders in, say, India
Biofuels: implement a comprehensive wind and solar program, the
The rainforest on Indonesian Borneo is being clear-cut for country would no longer qualify for the billions of dollars in
cropland to make biodiesel, destroying the last viable habi- offset money it currently gets.
tat of the orangutan and resulting in Indonesia becoming
the world’s third largest CO2 emitter, trailing only the Carbon offset projects can’t neutralize today’s CO2 emis-
U.S. and China. sions today. Trees planted to counteract emissions from a
coal fired power plant will require thirty, fifty, one hundred
Growing, producing and running our vehicles on ethanol years or longer—the lifetime of a tree—to absorb that CO2.
and biodiesel can release twice the CO2 into the atmo-
sphere than if we filled our tanks with fossil fuels.

Two out of every three U.S. taxpayer dollars spent on


renewable energy in 2007 went toward ethanol—double For more information, visit Demos.org
what was invested in wind, solar and geothermal combined.
Contact:
Tim Rusch
If Obama carries out his current plans to support biofuels, Communications Director
US taxpayers will have doled out over $1 trillion by 2030 trusch@dēmos.org
for transportation fuels that aren’t truly green. 212.389.1407