Biofuel is good, except when it’s bad!

So we’ve been hearing about how wonderful bio-fuel is.  Per this article from Telegraph.co.uk this is not always true.  Based on the title “Biofuels cause four times more carbon emissions” it sounds to me like this is falling into the same category as AGW and we need to step back some and start looking before we’re leaping.

The European Union, including the UK, has set a goal of obtaining 10 per cent of its road fuels from renewable sources by 2020.

But a new report commissioned in Brussels found some biofuels can lead to four times more carbon dioxide polluting the atmosphere than equivalent fossil fuels.

Four more times CO2.  Well, I can’t say that really matters, but based on everyone’s mis-directed belief that CO2 is causing global warming I find it rather interesting that everyone’s been jumping on the biofuel bandwagon and now there are problems with it.  Seems we didn’t look before we leapt.

A more realistic problem is the cause and effect that biofuels can have on food prices and shortages.

Biofuels have already been criticised for causing food shortages in countries where land for rice or wheat has been displaced by fields of soy beans or sugarcane for fuel.

Let’s not forget good old corn and milo, that are used in many mid-west ethanol plants (I’ve actually been on a private tour of one and my brother-in-law is a Kansas farmer, so I know from whence I speak).  Both are used for cattle feed, so guess what happens when they start using it for ethanol? The feed prices go up, then your beef prices go up. So does the price of soybeans and corn.

Sounds like some people are getting on the bandwagon about this problem. Even if you don’t believe the CO2 issue is a problem the other issues are.

The worse example is soy beans in America. Because the land that used to grow soy beans for animal feed is now being used for biofuels, it means that more soy beans must be grown in the rainforests of Brazil to make up for the loss in the domestic market.

Soybeans grown in America therefore have an indirect carbon footprint of 340kg of CO2 per gigajoule, compared to just 85kg for conventional diesel or gasoline

My brother-in-law also grows soybeans.  I do wonder if they take into account the effects of things such as “no-till” farming?  A technique he uses that helps keep the dirt from blowing away ala Oklahoma in the 1930’s and also has the effect of reducing CO2 because you’re not disturbing the dirt as much?  I also wonder if this data takes into account emissions from bio-fuel plants?  Regardless, it’s obvious that it causes less CO2 when we use petroleum products. Sometimes being green isn’t always the hot setup.

There are also other issues with biofuels as per this.

By contrast, imports of bioethanol from Latin American sugar cane and palm oil from southeast Asia have relatively low indirect emissions at 82kg and 73kg per gigajoule respectively. But these biofuels have high direct emissions because although no land for food is being displaced, rainforest it being cut down to grow the crops in the first place.

OK, so we’re cutting down rainforest to grow crops.  There is a whole big issue over what’s going on with palm oil and the problems it’s causing with deforestation world-wide. Here’s an article titled “The Problem with Palm Oil” you can read.  While I’m not too worried about Polar Bears, I am concerned about what is going on with Orangutan habitat being mowed down.

The European Commission insisted that biofuels is a complex issue and further studies need to be done.

But Kenneth Richter, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said the report proves that biofuels are not the answer to tackling climate change.

“Most of the crops used for biofuels at the moment produce more emissions than fossil fuels therefore biofuel targets in Europe make no sense and are doing opposite of what they are supposed to be doing,” he said.

See, this is actually a case where what sounds good on the face of it, really isn’t. Even Friends of the Earth thinks this is bad.  While I normally don’t pay much attention to what they say, in this case it really is a good indication of what a large issue this is and what major problems it can cause.  The “greens” are even against a lot of it.

I always have felt that a lot of the green movement is more about being stylish than being green.  You see things like the Toyota Prius that I don’ t feel is such a great deal when you consider the carbon footprint of making one and the battery disposal issues when they finally die (not to mention the cost of replacement).  I see people touting pure electric vehicles, but they really aren’t zero emissions vehicles like people like to think, because every time you plug one in the power is probably coming from a coal power plant beyond the horizon.  Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.  Just because it sounds green, doesn’t mean it really is either.

I hope this will prompt some people to really dig into the cause and effect of what they’re doing and really start researching things before they go off thinking they’re saving the Earth when they’re actually causing more problems.  This includes the CO2 Insanity we’ve been seeing.  The science isn’t “settled” on that either because much of the “science” is fraudulent.

How about some real science for a change?

Source:  Telegraph.co.uk

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