Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Clean Energy Scam

I just read this very interesting article on the TIME website. The article focusses on the major effect that our sudden addiction to biofeuls is promoting global warming. The Amazon rain forest in South America is a large source of stored CO2 and a has been a hub for biodiversity for many generations. The increase in deforestation to promote planting of corn and soybean in Brazil has wiped out a major part of the forest which is estimated to be almost as big as Rhode Island. This has released soo much CO2 that it has had a worse effect that using present fuel sources. Deforestation reportedly accounts for 20% of the worlds CO2 emissions. Indonesia has followed Brazil's heed with respect to growing soybeans on land that was previously occupied by Palm trees. As the worlds population increases, we are definitely going to need more food-stock and the fuel consumption is drastically going to increase. The article emphasizes the point we made in class that compromising food for fuel is not the way to go. We are actually adding to the globlal warming problem by persisting with increased production of biofuels. The solution would be to spread our energy requirements between the different sources rather than focus on a specific one.

1 comment:

ashlynn said...

I was intrigued by this article as well, thanks to the long checkout lines at HEB.

The clear message here is the dramatic impact of the market on human activities.

The price of corn is high, so let's plant corn.

But now soybeans are high, so let's plant soybeans.

What's that, government? You'd like to pay us extra for growing corn to make ethanol? OK, great!

Wait, what's for dinner?

It's our nature to act in a manner that maximizes our personal revenues. But where and when does conscious come into play in the market?

Among the supporting evidence in the article text was some food for thought (pardon the pun): "The grain is takes to fill an SUV tank with ethanol could feed a person for a year." Wow. Talk about conscious - it's like seeing the starving kids from TV every time you start up your ethanol-powered vehicle!

The quote that struck me most was this: "Until someone invents a protein chip [to create protein without growing crops], it's going to mean the worst of everything: higher food prices, more deforestation and more emissions."

I'm not sure it's that simple, but it does illuminate the tradeoff between food and fuel. Hopefully our energy policy will understand this tradeoff - though Americans like to drive, we like to eat too.