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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Biofuels may speed up, not slow global warming

Biofuels have become increasingly controversial as the answer to oil. The detrimental impact on food prices and the amount of energy it takes to produce them. According to a recent study they could also be responsible for pumping far more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than they could possibly save as a replacement for fossil fuels. Satellite photos of the tropics from 1980 to 2000 found that half of new cropland came from intact rainforests and another 30 percent from disturbed forests. When trees are cut down to make room for new farmland, they are usually burned, sending their stored carbon to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Global ethanol production four times increment have caused alarm with biodiesel by 10 times between 2000 and 2007.

Estimates are made from a third to two thirds of recent deforestation could be as a result of the increased demand for biofuels, but said an increased demand for food and feed also play a major role. Agricultural subsidies in Indonesia and in the United States are providing added incentives to increase production of these crops. There are much expansion of cropland in response to growing demand and rising prices is occurring in the tropics where there is an abundance of arable land and climates ideal for growing biofuel crops like sugar cane, soy and oil palm. Recent legislation mandating increased use of ethanol has already prompted US farmers to switch from soy to corn production. But since soy demand remains high, farmers in Brazil have responded by cutting down forests to expand soy production.

Whether biofuels can or cannot be an important part of energy policy is to be decided by policy makers on a case-by-case basis. Growing biofuel crops on marginal lands can have an overall positive environmental impact and there are enormous tracks of degraded land in the tropics. Fertilizers costs more than cutting down forests, farmers must be offered economic incentives to do so. Or if the climate would be better served by returning degraded land to its natural forested state. VIA

Biofuel articles:-
Commercial Jet Uses Biofuel
Thai police using cooking oil for their patrol cars
Turning animal/Human waste into energy
Are there any disadvantages of using biodiesel?

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