Time Magazine’s current issue on newstands features an cover story on an issue that most places are afraid to tackle: the danger of biodiesel fuel. I have to admit that before reading this story, I didn’t know much more than the very basics on ethanol, so reading about how it actually worsens global warming was a real eye opener. The problem with ethanol is that growing the products we’re using to turn into fuel is destroying forests that reduce carbon emissions. Additionally, the amount of corn needed to fill a single S.U.V. gas tank could feed a single person for an entire year. So by pursuing ethanol as a means of biodiesel, we’re actually making global warming and global hunger worse.
Deforestation accounts for 20% of all current carbon emissions. So unless the world can eliminate emissions from all other sources–cars, power plants, factories, even flatulent cows–it needs to reduce deforestation or risk an environmental catastrophe. That means limiting the expansion of agriculture, a daunting task as the world’s population keeps expanding. And saving forests is probably an impossibility so long as vast expanses of cropland are used to grow modest amounts of fuel. The biofuels boom, in short, is one that could haunt the planet for generations–and it’s only getting started.
It’s a long and in-depth story that covers the issue from a variety of angles, and it’s definitely worth 30 minutes of your life. You’ll come away with a greater understanding of what may be one of the biggest environmental blunders we’ve been enthusiastically committing for years. This is definitely a must read.
The Clean Energy Scam – [Time]