Chocolate-powered vehicle on the road to Timbuktu

We've all heard about cars powered by wacky biofuels, including switchgrass and leftover French fry oil. Now, two British men who love the environment are trekking from Britain to Timbuktu in a truck whose fuel comes from cocoa butter extracted from waste chocolate (as in, like, misshapen Easter bunnies).

The vehicle is a Ford Iveco cargo truck, and as it travels 4,500 miles to Timbuktu, it will burn 2,000 liters of biodiesel originating from 4,000 kg (8,800 lbs.) of misshapen chocolate. That's enough of the sweet stuff to make 80,000 chocolate bars.

On Friday, the chocomobile crossed the English Channel by ferry, and after a sweet ride through France and Spain, it will hop onto another ferry to Morocco. Once it vrooms through Mauritania, it will plow through Mali's deserts until it arrives at Timbuktu, the city once regarded in the West as being at the ends of the Earth and which today is in a region that is being buried under sand.

The two Brits behind this stunt are, of course, trying to bring attention to biodiesel, a renewable resource that generates lower carbon emissions than fossil fuels. It seems unlikely that fueling vehicles with cocoa butter could be achieved at a large scale—that would require a tremendous amount of chocolate or, perhaps, tanning oil—but if the men's journey makes more people aware of the benefits of biofuels in general, that would be a sweet success.


Zimbabwe's inflation is anybody's guess


Back in June, the Zimbabwean dollar topped our list of the World's Worst Currencies with a staggering 3,714 percent inflation rate, which was a moving target at the time. Since then, the situation has not exactly improved. Now, the chief statistician of Robert Mugabe's government says that he can no longer even calculate the country's inflation rate because there are too few goods available on store shelves. The official rate was 8,000 percent back in September; the IMF estimates that it could hit 10,000 percent by the end of the year. 

The BBC's straightforward, if somewhat unnecessary, explanation for the shortages only highlights the absurdity of Zimbabwe's economic predicament:

Maize meal, bread, meat, cooking oil, sugar and other basic goods used to measure inflation largely disappeared from shops after Robert Mugabe's government ordered prices to be slashed.

Manufacturers have said they cannot afford to sell goods at below the cost of producing them.

 I guess that sorta makes sense.