NY Times Article Biofuels Deemed a Greenhouse Threat
by Elisabeth Rosenthal
Published February 8, 2008
This recent article asserts:
"Almost all biofuels used today cause more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels if the full emissions costs of producing these “green” fuels are taken into account, two studies being published Thursday have concluded.
Almost all biofuels used today cause more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels if the full emissions costs of producing these “green” fuels are taken into account, two studies being published Thursday have concluded.
The destruction of natural ecosystems — whether rain forest in the tropics or grasslands in South America — not only releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere when they are burned and plowed, but also deprives the planet of natural sponges to absorb carbon emissions. Cropland also absorbs far less carbon than the rain forests or even scrub land that it replaces."
[BI Editor: The argument presented seems to go as follows: In order to grow crops for biofuels total cropland has to be increased either for the biofuel crops or for food production. In either case the consequent destruction of natural ecosystems releases large amounts of greenhouse gases. It is often argued that biofuels are carbon neutral because the carbon dioxide release will be offset by the carbon dioxide in growing the biofuel crops. The greenhouse gasses released from the destruction of the ecosystem should also be considered in planning for biofuel. To compound the injury, the newly created cropland is able to absorb less carbon dioxide than the displaced forest or grassland.
If the new cropland is obtained by burring forests then the consequences of the particulate pollution associated with the burning should also be included in the biofuel costs.]