The science has finally confirmed what many people had already guessed: clearing land to produce biofuels will increase greenhouse emissions. In fact, it will take many years for the beneficial effects of using biofuels to compensate for the harmful effect of clearing the land.
This is the most damning statistic, cited by the Wall Street Journal:
“Draining and clearing peatlands in Malaysia and Indonesia to grow palm oil emits so much CO2 that palm biodiesel from those fields would have to be burned for more than 420 years to counteract it.”
It’s all a far cry from the hype that first greeted the expansion into biofuels by the big Malaysian oil palm plantation firms not so long ago.
Biofuels May Hinder Antiglobal-Warming EffortsCarbon Emissions Could Increase As Land-Use Shifts
By GAUTAM NAIK
February 8, 2008; Page A4
While the U.S. and others race to expand the use and production of biofuels, two new studies suggest these gasoline alternatives actually will increase carbon-dioxide levels.
A study published in the latest issue of Science finds that corn-based ethanol, a type of biofuel pushed heavily in the U.S., will nearly double the output of greenhouse-gas emissions instead of reducing them by about one-fifth by some estimates. A separate paper in Science concludes that clearing native habitats to grow crops for biofuel generally will lead to more carbon emissions.
The findings are the latest to take aim at biofuels, which have already been blamed for pushing up prices of corn and other food crops, as well as straining water supplies. Read more