Print 49 comment(s) - last by Tacoloft.. on Feb 13 at 5:19 PM

Recent studies point out that the cost to grow and produce biofuels is worse for the planet than gasoline

Two studies published in the journal Science shed some light into the overall cost of biofuels. Taken into account is not only the greenhouse emissions generated by burning biofuels but all of the emissions generated when producing biofuels.

According to one article the estimated impact of using corn based ethanol is double the amount of greenhouse emissions currently being produced by gasoline over a 30 year time span. An alternative method of ethanol production using switchgrass is estimated to increase emissions by a whopping 50 percent.

With governments around the world pushing to establish hard mandates on the use of biofuels and other renewable methods of energy production, we could be setting ourselves up to cause more harm than good. The U.S. Congress has set a target to raise the use of biofuels from 7.5 billion gallons to 36 billion gallons by 2022. That’s a 480 percent increase. That would push greenhouse gas production in the U.S. up by an order of magnitude.

At the same time, in order to produce these biofuels, farmland is cleared for the growth of ethanol-reliant crops. Clearing land for farming has a cost in greenhouse emissions, as does growing and harvesting these crops. Add that in to the cost of refining and burning these crops and we are generating far more emissions than simply using gasoline and oil.

Scientists in the U.S. and Europe have written letters to their respective governments warning them that biofuels in their current form will only exacerbate the production of greenhouse emissions and push the world further towards climate change.

The United Nations stated it wants to continue with the production of biofuels and reap any potential benefits. The organization admitted however that biofuels are not the silver bullet they were led to believe.

Dr. Searchinger is advocating a switch in gears for the production of biofuels. The use of organic waste in the production of biofuels would get around the problem of clearing and farming previously unused lands which cause so much of the greenhouse emissions that hold back any potential benefits of using biofuels. Using organic waste could also be well on it’s way to becoming a reality thanks to recent breakthroughs in this field.

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The rush is political if anything.
By gochichi on 2/13/2008 12:32:05 AM , Rating: 2
All energy is solar energy. "Biofuels" just happens to be one more form of sequestering solar energy.

Pure gasoline, (minus the 10% ethanol) is some of the cleanest burning fuel you can find. Petroleum products, are also collected solar energy... collected and concentrated over many many years.

Politics aside, it makes sense to continue to depend on petroleum while heavily researching alternatives. Better yet, working on efficiency of the appliances that use the fuel (the cars, etc.). I think the US for sure needs to just plain cut waste. Not hybrid, not biofuels, just plain and simple personal transportation that weighs less is really what we should be focusing on.

Doing things "correctly" costs more money, and this is the only way we can keep the huge economy without sinking the planet. By "correctly" I mean paying people their due for their best work rather than globalizing the work to a cheaper labor market. Cheap fuel, and wasting much of it, makes for a huge economy as well... but it's quite simply not sustainable and really not very rewarding either.

We need a bigger economy but less things. That's going to be a tricky thing to accomplish. A good example that comes to mind is a Honda Civic... those cars are nicely built, cost quite a bit more than cars their size, last a long time and so on. They are built "correctly".

To this day, horse power, size outweigh fuel economy as features on a car. It doesn't help that America has a huge innumeracy problem. Changing the landscape of what cars look like and what they're for (aknowledging that it's transportation rather than status/entertaintment)would cause a huge economic upswing here. That would be particularly true if said cars were built right here.

To the "small government" crowd, if the government doesn't fix the problem, nobody will b/c nobody else can. The government needs to use their engineers to inform their politics though, it's extremely important that changes be thought through if there's going to be any hope of positive change.

What solution do I propose? Government should increase taxes on fuel, this would force the price of the barrel down. I'm talking about taxing a gallon of gas such that the price goes up to $5-$6 dollars a gallon. Suddenly and permanently. This new tax rate would force us to either A)get a sensible car (motorcycle even?) or B)force the price of the barrel back to reality and give us the end result of $3.00/gal gas while keeping the money here C)both.

Some democrats had suggested a huge tax on gas before, and most people thought that it was crazy. Instead, we put oil people in office (which is truly beyond me) and we now pay that same high price but it goes to companies that definetely don't have your best interest in mind.

Tax is a great solution, it allows for the free market to decide how it's going to get around it. It's a negative reinforcement in the technical sense, and that is known to work very well. Successfully hand-picking who gets this or that is far more complex, and will never work as well.

By Tacoloft on 2/13/2008 5:19:49 PM , Rating: 2
Tax is never a great solution...unless you are Dictator. And you are insane if you want to increase tax on fuel to drive it to $5-6 a gallon to force people into a supposedly "green" machine when all you are really doing is empowering those companies that are making all of the supposedly "green" hardware in the first place. It is in fact GE's and other companies best interest to get you the "carbon sinner" to buy new green products-- because they MAKE and SELL those products! Follow the money and you will see the truth.

I just wish that these companies would come clean and say" We want to biuld and sell more efficient products - not because of being green (which is BS) but because there is better technology that will do the same thing- plain and simple.
My solution to this would be to let investors and inventors go crazy and that if a company has patented something there is a time limit to in fact prove and put into production that patent-- if the company cannot within the specified time frame then it goes to the next in line who can claim to use the patent to the benifit of mankind. The ideas are out there but the damn lawyers and PC community have most hands tied...

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
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