Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Trouble With Biofuels Time Magazine (Feb 14 Article)

But according to a pair of studies published in the journal Science recently, biofuels may not fulfill that promise — and in fact, may be worse for the climate than the fossil fuels they're meant to supplement.

According to researchers at Princeton University and the Nature Conservancy, almost all the biofuels used today cause more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels, if the full environmental cost of producing them is factored in.

As virgin land is converted for growing biofuels, carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere; at the same time, biofuel crops themselves are much less effective at absorbing carbon than the natural forests or grasslands they may be replacing. "When land is converted from natural ecosystems it releases carbon," says Joseph Fargione, a lead author of one of the papers and a scientist at the Nature Conservancy. "Any climate change policy that doesn't take this fact into account doesn't work."

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