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Study: Ethanol Worse for Climate Than Gasoline

Ethanol is under fire again:

At first blush, biofuels such as corn ethanol and soybean diesel seem like they would be great from the standpoint of global warming. The crops soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow, and that balances out the carbon dioxide they produce when they're burned. But until now, nobody has fully analyzed all the ripple effects of this industry. And Tim Searchinger, a visiting scholar at Princeton University, says those effects turn out to be huge. "The simplest explanation is that when we divert our corn or soybeans to fuel, if people around the world are going to continue to eat the same amount that they're already eating, you have to replace that food somewhere else," Searchinger says.

Searchinger and his colleagues looked globally to figure out where the new cropland is coming from, as American farmers produce fuel crops where they used to grow food. The answer is that biofuel production here is driving agriculture to expand in other parts of the world.

"That's done in a significant part by burning down forests, plowing up grasslands. That releases a great deal of carbon dioxide," Searchinger says.

In fact, Searchinger's group's study, published online by Science magazine, shows those actions end up releasing huge amounts of carbon dioxide. The study finds that over a 30-year span, biofuels end up contributing twice as much carbon dioxide to the air as that amount of gasoline would, when you add in the global effects.

The rest of the article (and radio broadcast) is here

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Brennn109 years ago
Let's ditch cars and revert back to walking and horse and buggy. Hey, not only is it better for our environment, it is better for our health! Then again, there are the multiple down falls to that reversion.
and the farts which, according to AL Gore, are bad as well. better start saving up your Carbon Credits!
Actually methane is bad for the ozone layer, supposedly. Also because there are so many cows than would survive in the wild, we increased the methane output massively.
yeah, the farts have methane and, supposedly, are bad.
Goodhart (author)  Dr.Paj9 years ago
Save the world, eat more cows and lower the surface population ! :-)
Didn't we go over this before? The process of getting the food from the fields to in our mouths to converting it into energy to walk a few miles is worse than driving!
Bran Brennn109 years ago
Yeah, like horse manure.... ;-P
Kiteman9 years ago
Biofuels can be fermented from all sorts of organic materials, including waste - fuel crops reduce food crops, but using the waste of the food crops, or the waste of the food animals, or own own sewage are all viable, proven sources of "green" energy.

Biomass doesn't have to be a direct replacement for transport fuel - using it directly for heat, or to generate electricty are also ways of saving fossil fuels.

Our local landfill site already has one system installed to recover methane from the rotting garbage in one section, and that has proven successful enough that they are installing two more sets to harvest the rest of the filled area.
Goodhart (author)  Kiteman9 years ago
Still the CO2 situation is not being addressed by those involved. At least, not directly.
Waste biomass will release CO2 and heat as it rots. Using it as fuel doesn't increase the amount released, it just releases it doing something more useful to humans.
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