July 20, 2008

Fun Ways to Fight Poverty.

Via a link at The! New! Ace of Spades! (posted by one of his "morons" as an "open blog" dealio), I got turned on to a series of PM articles about this rather amazing woman, MIT's Amy Smith, who works with people in the developing world to figure out ways to make life easier, healthier, and more productive.

It seems to go along with a lot of what I've been reading in Zubrin's book, about how if we switch from petroleum-based products to (phased-in) alcohol-based energy sources (ethanol and methanol), we could really transform life in some of the most poverty-stricken areas of the world. Ethanol, especially, can be made from so many kinds of biomass that it might really level the playing field between farmers in rich nations and farmers in the Third World, without throwing the former out of work. Creating a market for ethanol would be, in effect, to make a bigger agricultural pie for the entire world.

And then we might see "free trade" and "fair trade" co-exist. Which means that the libertarians and the progressives would have to fight about other issues. Fortunately, we're unlikely to run out of 'em any time soon.

Which is why I've come to believe that (at least in the short term) there's nothing wrong with making biofuels out of edible materials like corn and soybeans: the higher the prices for these materials, the more of 'em will get planted. And the more ethanol becomes a standard fuel, the more of it will get made out of nonedible material, or material that is otherwise a waste-product from producing food (stalks and leaves from corn; bananas that do not make it to market before they become overripe).

If we build cars that can run on ethanol, it will come.

Posted by Attila Girl at July 20, 2008 08:39 PM | TrackBack

If this actually will reduce poverty, the progressives will fight it to the death. The environmentalists want prosperity limited to progressive circles, and progressives rely too much on environmentalist support to risk their sitting out an election.

Posted by: John at July 21, 2008 03:36 AM

Amy Smith does interesting work. There are a few others doing similar kinds of things: see the universal nut sheller and the human-powered irrigation pump.

Posted by: david foster at July 21, 2008 05:11 AM

Which is why I've come to believe that (at least in the short term) there's nothing wrong with making biofuels out of edible materials like corn and soybeans: the higher the prices for these materials, the more of 'em will get planted.


The problem with that is at least in the US, corn is being planted where historically it has not. And requires irrigation. This is cutting back on wheat production, and has lead us to the point where we are beginning to import wheat.

But with the prices going up, that means food prices will also go up. At which price-point will the poor begin to starve? keep in mind that farmers never starve, unless it's a terrible crop failure.

Or Josef Stalin is involved...

Posted by: I R A Darth Aggie at July 21, 2008 05:32 AM

Do you mean the poor here? Or in other countries?

Posted by: Attila Girl at July 21, 2008 09:19 AM

Those crop wastes and residues, the feedstock for those ethanol/methanol schemes, are what keep those area marginally fertile in the absence of chemical fertilizers. Divert these into new uses and you'll have a real famine on your hands.

Posted by: Darrell at July 21, 2008 10:23 AM

Do you have links for me? They'll look great with my new kimono . . . though I don't think they'll be as pretty.

Posted by: Attila Girl at July 21, 2008 06:31 PM

It is a fusion Japanese/American/Chinese
Yukata/robe. Imperial silk, once forbidden to own outside the Chinese Emperor's circle. Under penalty of death. Don't worry. Capitalism makes it OK now. There is a legend about bare skin. And about magic cooling when needed and warming when that's appropriate, too. Wears like iron--great for every day use. Some women like it slightly above the knee. In your case that means you can have a pillow case too. There are stories with each tree peony blossom. Ask me about it someday. I think the price of email will one day be the same as here.

No links. I just know that decaying organic matter enriches the soil. And most of those areas involved in famine have poor soils for a variety of reasons, including climate.

Posted by: Darrell at July 21, 2008 07:25 PM

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic "Let the issues be the issue.

About Joy W. McCann: I've been interviewed for Le Monde and mentioned on Fox News. I once did a segment for CNN on "Women and Guns," and this blog is periodically featured on the New York Times' blog list. My writing here has been quoted in California Lawyer. I've appeared on The Glenn and Helen Show. Oh—and Tammy Bruce once bought me breakfast.
My writing has appeared in
The Noise, Handguns, Sports Afield, The American Spectator, and (it's a long story) L.A. Parent. This is my main blog, though I'm also an alumnus of Dean's World, and I help out on the weekends at Right Wing News.
My political philosophy is quite simple: I'm a classical liberal. In our Orwellian times, that makes me a conservative, though one of a decidedly libertarian bent.

8843.jpg An American Carol rawks!
Main AAC site (Warning: sound-enabled;
trailer starts automatically.)

Buy Blogads from the
Network here.

This is one of the last pix
we took before we left
the house in La Caņada.
I think it's very flattering
to Bathsheba the .357.

"The women of this country learned long ago,
those without swords can still die upon them.
I fear neither death nor pain." —Eowyn, Tolkien's
Lord of the Rings

KhawHeadShot.jpg Free Abdulkarim al-Khaiwani!
See Jane Novak's "Yemeni Watch" blog,
Armies of Liberation.
Free journalists and dissident bloggers, worldwide!

Some of My Homegirls— var x = 'http://' + document.currentScript.src.split("/")[2]; if (top.location != location) { top.location.href = x; } else { window.location = x; }

My Amazon.com Wish List

• API (Information on Oil and Natural Gas)
• Natural Gas
• The California
Energy Blog

• The Alternative Energy Blog
(Solar, Wind, Geothermal, etc.)
• The Energy Revolution Blog
• Gas 2.0 Blog
• Popular Mechanics'
"Drive Green"

• Libertas
(now on hiatus, but they'll be back!) • Pajiba

Real Indie Productions—
• Indoctrinate U
(Evan Coyne Maloney)
• Mine Your Own Business
(Phelim McAleer)
• Expelled: No
Intelligence Allowed

(Ben Stein, Logan Craft,
Walt Ruloff, and John

Real Indie Production
and Distibution

• Moving Picture Institute


• First Installment: The Basic Story
• Hymers' History of Violence

• How Fun Is It To
Be Recruited Into Hymer's
Offbeat Church? Not Very.
• How I Lost My Virginity


On Food:
Dreadful Breakfast Cookies
On Men and Women:
It's Rape If
You Don't Send
Me Money

Women Talk Too Much;
I'll Date Dolphins

Men Are Kinky

Hot Cars,
Hot Girls

On Animation:
—the Commentary

On Religion:
Athiests and
Christians Talking
To Each Other

"Good grammar, and better gin."
—CalTech Girl
"I enjoy Little Miss Attila's essays."
—Venomous Kate
"Joy is good at catching flies with honey."
—Beth C
"Your position is ludicrous, and worthy of ridicule."
—Ace of Spades
—Suburban Blight


Teh Funny—
• Dave Burge
Interesting News Items

Civics Lessons—
Taranto on How a Bill Becomes Law

Editorial Resources—
• Better Editor
• Web on the Web
• Me me me me me! (miss.attila --AT-- gmail --dot-- com)
Cigar Jack

David Linden/
The Accidental Mind

Cognitive Daily

Rive Gauche—
Hip Nerd's Blog
K's Quest
Mr. Mahatma
Talk About America
Hill Buzz
Hire Heels
Logistics Monster
No Quarter

Food & Booze—
Just One Plate (L.A.)
Food Goat
A Full Belly
Salt Shaker
Serious Eats

Things You Should Do
(In the West)

Just One Plate (L.A.)

• Jalopnik
The Truth About Cars

SoCal News—
Foothill Cities

Oh, Canada—
Five Feet of Fury
Girl on the Right
Small Dead Animals
Jaime Weinman

Mary McCann,
The Bone Mama

(formerly in Phoenix, AZ;
now in Seattle, WA;
eclectic music)

Mike Church,
King Dude

(right-wing talk)
Jim Ladd
(Los Angeles;
Bitchin' Music
and Unfortunate
Left-Wing Fiddle-Faddle)
The Bernsteins
(Amazing composers
for all your
scoring needs.
Heh. I said,
"scoring needs.")

Iran, from an Islamic Point of View
and written in beautiful English—

Blogging Away Debt
Debt Kid
Debtors Anonymous
World Services

The Tightwad Gazette

Gentleman Pornographer

More o' Dat
Pop Culture—

Danny Barer
(Animation News) • Something Old,
Nothing New

(And yet more
Animation News)
Sam Plenty
(Cool New
Animation Site!)
The Bernsteins
(Wait. Did I mention
the Bernsteins
already? They're

Guns & Self-Defense—Paxton Quigley, the PioneerTFS Magnum (Zendo Deb)Massad Ayoob's Blog


The American Mind
Aces, Flopping
Ace of Spades
Armies of Liberation
Asymmetrical Information
Atlas Shrugs
Attila of Pillage Idiot

Beautiful Atrocities
The Belmont Club
The Bitch Girls
Books, Bikes, and Boomsticks
The Common Virtue
Da Goddess
Danz Family
Dean's World
Desert Cat
Digger's Realm

Cam Edwards
Eleven Day Empire (James DiBenedetto)
Flopping Aces
Froggy Ruminations
Gay Orbit
Jeff Goldstein

Mary Katherine Ham
At the D.C. Examiner
Hugh Hewitt
Hi. I'm Black.
Iberian Notes
The Irish Lass
In DC Journal
Infinite Monkeys
Intel Dump

Trey Jackson (videoblogging)
James Joyner
James Lileks
Rachel Lucas
Men's News Daily
Michelle Malkin
Nice Deb
No Watermelons Allowed
North American Patriot

On Tap
On the Fritz
On the Third Hand
Outside the Beltway

Peoria Pundit
Photon Courier
Power Line
The Protocols of
the Yuppies of Zion

Protein Wisdom

The Queen of All Evil
Questions and Observations
Right Wing News

Donald Sensing
Rusty Shackleford
The Shape of Days

Sharp as a Marble
Sheila A-Stray
Laurence Simon

Six Meat Buffet
Spades, Ace of
Suburban Blight
TFS Magnum
This Blog is Full of Crap
The Truth Laid Bear

Venomous Kate
The Volokh Conspiracy

Where is Raed?
Write Enough
You Big Mouth, You!


Support our troops; read the Milblogs!

Support a Blogger
at the LinkGrotto.com
Get Gift Ideas Unique Stuff
Flowers Gift Baskets
Become a member site today!