Peak Oil arriving; biofuel to the rescue?

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    Martin W

      Having read of Peak Oil lately, I was piqued by cover of August Discover – as had article on biofuel. Read this, and learned of improvements in obtaining ethanol from crops including maize (corn). Hmm, maybe biofuels hold out hope for the future – even for gas guzzling motor vehicles…. But, there are problems too. UK journalist George Monbiot has berated biofuels,

      in an article: Worse Than Fossil Fuel Biodiesel enthusiasts have accidentally invented the most carbon-intensive fuel on earth Includes:

      In 2003, the biologist Jeffrey Dukes calculated that the fossil fuels we burn in one year were made from organic matter “containing 44×10 to the 18 grams of carbon, which is more than 400 times the net primary productivity of the planet’s current biota.”(1) In plain English, this means that every year we use four centuries’ worth of plants and animals. …

      “The demand for biodiesel,” the Malaysian Star reports, “will come from the European Community … This fresh demand … would, at the very least, take up most of Malaysia’s crude palm oil inventories”(7). Why? Because it’s cheaper than biodiesel made from any other crop. In September, Friends of the Earth published a report about the impacts of palm oil production.

      “Between 1985 and 2000,” it found, “the development of oil-palm plantations was responsible for an estimated 87 per cent of deforestation in Malaysia”(8). In Sumatra and Borneo, some 4 million hectares of forest has been converted to palm farms. Now a further 6 million hectares is scheduled for clearance in Malaysia, and 16.5m in Indonesia. Almost all the remaining forest is at risk….

      – yikes! Reduce oil demand by increasing deforestation?! Not good, and especially not good to read as I plan a trip to Borneo re forest conservation.


      Martin W

        Birdlife International has expressed some hopes biofuels can indeed help the environment; but is also highly concerned that growing crops for energy could lead to major negative impacts on biodiversity. For instance, farmland birds in Europe are under pressure; and plans to increase oil palmcultivation in se Asia threaten rainforest wildlife.
        Brief info, and links to a Birdlife article and some info on a conference:
        Unsustainable biofuels threaten the environment

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