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Biofuel worse for climate than fossil fuel

Scientific American: Biofuel worse for climate than fossil fuel


Do you think the President is listening?

The impact of biodiesel use on tropical rainforests is particularly bad. One EU researcher termed the massive deforestation to plant oil palm a ‘crime against humanity’.

Do you think the President is listening?

In the US it is more important that Congress is listening. It is not likely the President will have any luck with something like the world’s climate.

I wonder how much CO2 Eyjafjallaj?kull spewed into the atmosphere a couple months back. Seems to me that the Earth is doing a find job of heating itself up by itself.

Using farm land to grow corn, sugar beets, etc. for ethanol creates as many problems as it solves. It uses many more gallons of water than it produces in fuel. The third-world starves while we drives SUVs. A better alternative is closed-loop algae based bio-diesel. It works best in the desert where no crops can grow. Uses very little water and does not take away from farm land.


I think you need to distinguish biofuels created from “waste” stock and biofuels created from food grown specifically for biofuel synthesis: the former is, in effect, “found” energy.

It seems surprising that the EU, having sat back and taken stock of US ethanol policy, would turn around and employ a similar strategy for biofuel use.

I also dispute the assumption that 1 acre of land used for biofuel us equates to 1 acre of rainforest “slashed+burned.”

You’re right, waste conversion is fine, it’s just limited in volume until economic (not technically possible) cellulosic ethanol production is developed.

And I wasn’t stating that "1 acre of land used for biofuel us equates to 1 acre of rainforest “slashed+burned.” I am stating that the EU’s push for biodiesel had the unintended consequence of creating lots of new oil palm plantations in Indonesia, created by cutting down rainforests.

Fuel from algae will be great, we’re not there yet.

Oh, I wasn’t saying YOU said the thing about the rainforest…I was referring to the article referenced, which (in calculating the environmental cost of biofuels) seemed to suggest this.

Also, my understanding is the only thing required for cellulosic ethanol is a proprietary yeast strain that can digest cellulose that already exists…but simply can’t compete economically with subsidized corn.