Biofuels as an Economic Development Tool
By EV World
Johanna Mendelson Forman is an expert in Latin American economic development and in this address to the Set America Free conference in Chicago she discusses how the encouragement of biofuel development in the Caribbean and impoverished regions of Central and South America could help alleviate rural poverty and all the ills that go with it, from lack of lights to read by at night to lack of refrigeration for much needed vaccines.
As a Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, she understands the security implications of a prosperous Caribbean basin for the United States and is actively working to encourage biofuel production in nations like Haiti.
She notes in her opening that one-in-four people on the planet have no access to electricity from a grid, and that no one talks about the linkage between "energy poverty" and all of the attendant problems typically associated with the developing world from childhood infectious diseases to illiteracy.
"If you have no power, you can't use a water pump," she notes. "If you have no power, you can't refrigerate drugs, you can't refrigerate food. People get sick. If you have not power, you can't preserve vaccines.
"If you have no lights, children can't go to school... You can't sit up at night [to study]."
She said that it costs about ten to twenty thousand dollars to build a transmission line.
"What is the solution outside of urban areas?' she asks. In the remainder of this 15-minute video she discusses some of our options, starting with the creation of distributed energy systems, based on local biofuel production like Jatropha curcas, an oil-rich, subtropical shrub that is being widely grown now in India, Africa and increasingly in Central America and the Caribbean.
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