Ethan A. Huff
Nov 28, 2010
Biofuels have become all the rage among many environmental and sustainably-minded advocacy groups as a way to end dependence on foreign oil, limit greenhouse gas emissions, and create a “greener” tomorrow. But Andreas Spath, PhD, an expert in the field of geochemistry, says that biofuels are actually worse for the environment than conventional fossil fuels are.
It is widely believed that fossil fuel reserves will eventually be depleted, and that a viable, renewable alternative is urgently needed in order to avoid the worldwide collapse of a transportation and commerce infrastructure that depends on oil to function. And since biofuels are renewable, largely plant-based and work right now in existing vehicles, proponents say they are an excellent alternative.
But in reality, biofuel production requires massive amounts of land to produce additional fuel crops, and the entire growing, harvesting and refining process ends up ruining the environment and causing more greenhouse gas production than if the world simply continued on with fossil fuels. And biofuel production has also increased food prices across the board.
Corn ethanol, for instance, has shifted much of the U.S. corn production away from food crops and towards fuel crops. The result has been increased food prices, as the monetary incentive to grow biofuel corn is higher than it is to grow food corn. The same is true for sugar, soy, and other crops used around the world for biofuels.
A 2007 study comparing fossil fuels to biofuels found that, because of the chemical fertilizers used, biofuel production end up releasing twice as much greenhouse gas as fossil fuels do. The study actually found that continuing with conventional diesel production is better for the environment.
Another study conducted by the Institute for European Environmental Policy found that in order for the European Union (EU) to meet its biofuel goals, it will have to convert roughly 7 million hectares (more than 17 million acres) of land into biofuel cropland, which will destroy many natural ecosystems in the process.
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This article was posted: Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 6:19 am