El lado esperanzador de los altos precios de los productos básicos

Cambridge – El fuerte aumento que en la actualidad experimentan los productos básicos, o commodities, pone en evidencia una verdad fundamental de la vida moderna que muchos políticos, particularmente en Occidente, no quieren que escuchemos: los recursos naturales del mundo son finitos y, a medida que miles de millones de personas en Asia y otras regiones salgan de la pobreza, los consumidores occidentales tendrán que compartirlos. Aquí hay otra verdad: el mecanismo de precios es una manera mucho mejor para asignar recursos naturales que ir a la guerra, como las potencias occidentales solían hacerlo en el siglo pasado.

El desprestigiado programa de Estados Unidos de subsidios a los biocombustibles demuestra cómo no reaccionar. En lugar de reconocer que los altos precios de los combustibles son la mejor manera de estimular la conservación y la innovación en materia de energía, la administración Bush ha instituido enormes subsidios para los agricultores estadounidenses con el fin de que cultiven cereales para la producción de biocombustibles. No importa que sea inmensamente ineficiente en términos de uso del agua y de las tierras.

Más aún, incluso en el escenario más optimista, Estados Unidos y el mundo todavía dependerán principalmente de los combustibles fósiles convencionales hasta que la era de los hidrocarburos llegue a su fin (algo que pocos de nosotros viviremos para ver). Por último, pero no menos importante, destinar grandes extensiones de tierras agrícolas a la producción de combustibles ha contribuido a que se dupliquen los precios del trigo y otros cereales. En momentos que ocurren disturbios civiles en decenas de países, ¿no es el momento de admitir que la idea completa fue un gigantesco error, aunque bien intencionado?

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