Egypt needs industrious plants?


"Biofuel producer idles two plants", proclaimed the recent headline.

My addled brain leapt to a cartoon image: A pair of


bushes slouch in deck chairs while their plantation brethren, hybrids between Tolkein's

and Disney's seven dwarves, busy themselves with picks and shovels.

A glance at the lead paragraph revealed that actually another two biodiesel distilleries had closed in the US Midwest. The root cause of that was the the expiry of a biofuel tax credit at the end of last year.


, the US industry's trade group, says production of the transportation fuel by the world's biggest energy consumer has


to extend it retroactively, but is taking time to work its way through the system.

Meanwhile, environmental experts told a UN water conference in Alexandria, Egypt, last week that Arab states were not doing enough to promote renewable energy, even though they could be among the worst hit by climate change.

MENA region carbon dioxide emissions nearly doubled between 1990 and 2003, according to the



, in a

last year on the impact of climate change on Arab countries, found that a three metre rise in sea level would submerge nearly 8 per cent of the land mass of Qatar. It would also cut 12 percentage points off Egypt's GDP, mostly by reducing the country's agricultural production by a quarter.

Perhaps those idle biofuel plants should be shipped to Alexandria, along with a good supply of shovels. The Nile Delta may soon be in need of solid dykes, and new crops suited to "marginal" conditions.

More ramblings of a fevered brain:

The Day of The Triffids,

the apocolyptic 1951 sci-fi novel by the British author John Wyndham, was about a possibly genetically engineered biofuel crop that took over the world. Coincidence?

Pic: Jatropha, not triffid; courtesy of Wikimedia.