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August 19, 2007
Ethanol Follies: Go Green by Burning Gas and Planting a Tree
This actually makes a lot of sense:
It sounds counterintuitive, but burning oil and planting forests to compensate is more environmentally friendly than burning biofuel. Trees, of course, gobble up CO2 so the idea of saving the planet from the bio-fuel enthusiasts by going on a tree planting binge makes perfect sense if you wish to cut atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases.
So say scientists who have calculated the difference in net emissions between using land to produce biofuel and the alternative: fuelling cars with gasoline and replanting forests on the land instead. They recommend governments steer away from biofuel and focus on reforestation and maximising the efficiency of fossil fuels instead.
The reason is that producing biofuel is not a "green process". It requires tractors and fertilisers and land, all of which means burning fossil fuels to make "green" fuel. In the case of bioethanol produced from corn – an alternative to oil – "it's essentially a zero-sums game," says Ghislaine Kieffer, programme manager for Latin America at the International Energy Agency in Paris, France.
The article also points up the growing concerns of environmentalists that the politics of ethanol will enable the cutting down of forests to make room for bio-fuel crops like corn and sugar cane. That would make the discrepancy even worse.
So do your part to save the earth; eat some corn on the cob and plant a tree today.
Hat Tips: Instapundit , David Semmel, and Ed Lasky.