Thursday, December 6, 2007

Biofuels aren't a silver bullet

I've been reading a great blog called Low-Input, High-Diversity Biofuels and today there was a link to an article by a New Zealander about the imperative of understand what biofuels will and won't do at national, regional, and world-wide levels. Ecologists should really be paying attention to this. Check it out and make some noise. I'd rather put more money into energy efficient technology and wind and solar power than subsidize agribusiness and oil companies.


Julian said...

Actually, Simon Upton is a New Zealander, not an Australian. He was a National Party Member of Parliament (the equivalent of your republican party), and Minister for the Environment and for Research, Science and Technology in the 1990s.

The right wing privatisation policies of that government saw the set up of a fully competitive research system which has over the last 15 years steadily eroded environmental science research in biosystematics and ecology.

If you look at his current focus he's taking a strongly agricultural subsidies oriented view. Moreover he says things like "best estimates suggest an upper limit for biofuel production of about 20 per cent of liquid fuel demand" without citing any sources.

I agree with his sentiment, that we need to be very careful of using natural resources (productive land, water) and economic subsidies to encourage solutions (e.g. food crop based biofuels) that might do more harm than good in the long term.

I am skeptical however about opinion pieces like this that make statistical and scientific claims, but don't cite any sources.

Karina said...

Oops! Thanks for pointing that out, Julian. I'll change that right away!

Alexandra said...

I totally agree Karina. The amount of fresh water needed to make biofuels, like ethanol, is just insane. It really calls into question the claim of "environmentally friendly" fuels.