Plant-derived ethanol has long been touted as a green alternative to regular gasoline for cars. Since the 1970s, Brazil has embraced ethanol derived from sugar cane and lavished the sugar industry with government subsidies, making the biofuel cheap and plentiful. Today, 90% of new cars sold in Brazil can run on ethanol, and the country has avoided emitting hundreds of millions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere. But the explosion of sugar cane production for ethanol threatens the rainforest and could end up exacerbating global warming. We’ll talk to writer Nikolas Kozloff
for today’s Underreported
segment. He’s written about this issue for Foreign Policy Magazine
and is also the author of No Rain in the Amazon.