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Biofuels

Are Biofuels a Biofoolish Proposition? New Research Says Yes

Thursday, February 28, 2008 by: Adam Miller
Tags: biofuels, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) Biofuels may be doing more harm than good, according to two new studies published in the journal Science. According to the researchers, production of most biofuels may actually cause more pollution than they offset when the production cycle is examined comprehensively.

Biofuels are any fuel made from renewable biological resources. In most cases, this is biomass from farm-raised crops such as corn. The rationale behind plant-based fuel is that the carbon released by the burning of the fuel will always be offset by the carbon stored by the next crop of plants. Plants certainly have the ability to store and release carbon, but it seems that the reality of the situation is too complex to fit into this simplistic equation.

The theory behind the development of biofuels and subsequent analysis have failed to take into account the environmental impact created by the destruction of native ecosystems to make way for farmland needed to raise the necessary crops. Much like the farms that replace them, these ecosystems act as a "carbon sponge," collecting and storing carbon and preventing it from entering the atmosphere. The kicker, though, is that these natural ecosystems tend to absorb much greater amounts of carbon than agricultural crops.

According to Joseph Fargione, lead author of one of the studies, the destruction of native habitat results in 93 times more carbon being released into the atmosphere than is saved by burning the resultant fuel. "So for the next 93 years," Fargione said of his findings, "you're making climate change worse, just at the time when we need to be bringing down carbon emissions."

Even if ecosystem destruction is not allowed for, the simplistic original equation still fails to account for the fact that carbon emissions are created in the industrial process of turning plants into fuel. From cultivation to transport, it takes a lot of energy to create fuel from plants using current technology. This energy expenditure is simply not justifiable using the conventional "carbon in, carbon out" model.

Biofuel has also been blamed for rising food prices, and many environmentalists who initially toted the "green" alternative as a way to offset carbon emissions while reducing energy dependence on fossil fuels are beginning to sing a different tune.

The European Union, whose Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has stated that increases in carbon emissions need to be reversed by 2020 in order to avoid environmental catastrophe, has taken notice of the controversy and is taking steps to ban some of the more harmful forms of biofuel.

About the author

Adam Miller is a student of life who has dedicated literally thousands of hours of personal research on top of formal institutional training in Dietetics to learn the secrets of achieving vibrant health and extended lifespan. His passion and dedication is in bringing the best ideas for self-empowerment through nutrition and nutraceuticals as well as alternative therapies, technology, and information to the public through various means.


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