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Biofuel Or Fossil Fuel? For Argentina, It's A False Choice

As the world moves to reduce the role of hydrocarbons, Argentina must exploit the biofuels potential of its vast farming sector, not entertain dreams of becoming a regional oil power like Venezuela.

Fossil fuel subsidies must be removed. It is not a question of if, but when.
Fossil fuel subsidies must be removed. It is not a question of if, but when.
Eduardo Trigo

BUENOS AIRES — Debate over biofuels has been heating up in Argentina, one of the world's biggest agriculture producers, amid the closure of the U.S. market and volatile price levels.

This is happening after the United Nations announced that last year was the worst ever in terms CO2 emissions — and if we continue with the same energy policy, the UN has warned, world temperatures could rise by as much as 8 °C by the end of the century. Biofuels alone will not solve the problem, but without a doubt, whichever strategy is chosen, it will include them as an important component. If Argentina changes the rules of the game now, it will send the world a signal at odds with our commitments and our stated intention to fully reinsert ourselves in the global community and reduce global warming.

The road ahead requires us to rethink our strategy.

In 2016, the Rockefeller Family Fund concluded there were no longer economic nor ethical reasons for investing to extract oil, while even Saudi Arabia has begun contemplating a future where oil will not have the same dominant role it plays today in its economy.

Other studies on oil's potential in Argentina indicate it has far less of the value to our economy than is being attributed to it, with overblown promises of the Vaca Muerta deposits turning us into a Saudi Arabia of the Southern Cone. At the very least one would have to properly analyze what has been done so far, because even if Vaca Muerta has potential, we have arrived late. The big players of the hydrocarbon market are already changing their strategic visions and thinking of a future without oil. There will be problems of demand as societies seek more sustainable living and consumption patterns, unrelated to how much reserves are left.

That does not mean we should not exploit Vaca Muerta. We must, and quickly, but only to generate resources to transform our economy and not to enhance oil's role in our energy ecosystem. Here, curbing incentives for biofuels is a delay like U.S. tariffs are a harsh blow.

Again, the road ahead requires us to rethink our strategy, which has shut in a vicious circle of poverty.

It is not a question of if, but when.

Biofuels are furthermore a key element in developing a sustainable economy where development does not necessarily entail environmental degradation, but lays the basis for strategies to balance people's economic expectations with management of shared goods like air, soil and water. Biofuels policies should become a market standard meant to promote the eventual substitution of fossil fuels in all areas, including such innovative and dynamic markets like jet fuel. Fossil fuel subsidies must be removed. It is not a question of if, but when, so we should anticipate the scenario and build an energy grid to fit that reality.

That would also be a first step toward exploiting our proven competitive advantage as a producer of biomass or agricultural products. This is crucial to any moves to restore dynamism to regional economic development, and the ability of these economies to generate revenues and quality jobs.

Recent events — like slow progress made at the WTO, the lack of a pact between the EU and Mercosur, and U.S. tariffs — must become incentives for change, not reasons to keep the status quo. It is a serious error to see biofuels as an isolated sector instead of a component of wider economic and territorial development. In a world that is challenged and concerned with the decline of resources and climate change, these are opportunities that cannot be spurned. Our response and strategy now must be: more bioenergy, food and biomaterials, and using our energy crisis and foreign market restrictions to become more competitive. That is our leverage for the future.

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Look At This Crap! The "Enshittification" Theory Of Why The Internet Is Broken

The term was coined by journalist Cory Doctorow to explain the fatal drift of major Internet platforms: if they were ever useful and user-friendly, they will inevitably end up being odious.

A photo of hands holding onto a smartphone

A person holding their smartphone

Gilles Lambert/ZUMA
Manuel Ligero


The universe tends toward chaos. Ultimately, everything degenerates. These immutable laws are even more true of the Internet.

In the case of media platforms, everything you once thought was a good service will, sooner or later, disgust you. This trend has been given a name: enshittification. The term was coined by Canadian blogger and journalist Cory Doctorow to explain the inevitable drift of technological giants toward... well.

The explanation is in line with the most basic tenets of Marxism. All digital companies have investors (essentially the bourgeoisie, people who don't perform any work and take the lion's share of the profits), and these investors want to see the percentage of their gains grow year after year. This pushes companies to make decisions that affect the service they provide to their customers. Although they don't do it unwillingly, quite the opposite.

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Annoying customers is just another part of the business plan. Look at Netflix, for example. The streaming giant has long been riddling how to monetize shared Netflix accounts. Option 1: adding a premium option to its regular price. Next, it asked for verification through text messages. After that, it considered raising the total subscription price. It also mulled adding advertising to the mix, and so on. These endless maneuvers irritated its audience, even as the company has been unable to decide which way it wants to go. So, slowly but surely, we see it drifting toward enshittification.

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