Little man, watch out! Biofuel is on the way; and if you don’t move, you’ll probably get squashed. This biodegradable fuel source is supported by successful corporations and affluent persons who welcome a much needed alternative fuel source. But who will benefit from this evocative source of fuel? Will countries with already minimal amounts of food and water suffer the most from this “wonder” fuel? One thing is for sure, America and other power-hungry nation’s have a lust for oil and their governments favor the push toward biofuel production.
Fuel and food are posed contradictory when you discuss the need for biofuel. Any discussion about the increased production of maize and the clearing of thousands of acres of forestry will most likely create some kind of stir. Water usage is not even considered at first thought when you speak of biofuel, till you look a little closer. The “Comprehensive Assessment on Water Management in Agriculture” assessed that the world has good standing on water and food production for a half a century to come. But this estimate was published before the push towards biofuel was enacted.
Biofuel needs a considerable amount of acres of land and forest area to produce corn, soybeans, flaxseed, rapeseed, sugar cane, palm oil and jatropha. These agricultural based biofuel products are grown on cleared tropical rainforest and indigenous peoples’ lands. Mass deforestation has actually already taken effect. This clearing of land has lead to forest fires, extinction of rare animals, acceleration of climate change, and a decrease in biodiversity. In accordance, production facilities needed to create the fuel are not actually environmentally safe considering you need coal or natural gas to run these operations. Other effects of biofuel are massive topsoil erosion, pollution of surface and groundwater with pesticides, and fertilizer runoff. These after-effects generate a depletion of oxygen available to the surrounding region.
Proponents of biofuel are prevalent and are supported by governments such as the United States of America and those abroad. President George W. Bush has publicly shown his support of the substitute fuel source after he made a trip to Brazil and met with President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The two presidents hope to de-pollute their land and resolve their energy plans. Many believe biofuel will reduce the United State’s reliance on foreign oil and cut greenhouse-gas emissions to combat global warming. Biofuel deserves its attention since it was considered a major fuel source before petroleum popularity boomed. The biomass-based fuel can amazingly be created by recycling food-grease waste by many of our favorite fast food restaurant chains. Many conservation programs press toward biofuel because it reduces hydrocarbons by 95% and carbon monoxide by 43% which both create smog.
All this talk of fuel has proved to the many citizens of the world that we overuse petroleum. Our dependence on technology and partiality toward egocentric comfort has made Americans and other countries lazy and wasteful in regard to conserving our most dearly beloved natural resources.
Some comfort, though, could have redirected our attention away from fuel altogether. This makes us ask ourselves…What happened to electric cars? There were supposed to be our energy-efficient cars of the future. These were the automobiles that would have enhanced national security for many countries by limiting the need to trade for oil. And mostly, these gems had “zero” emissions but were fully functional vehicles powered by a battery that had no need for gasoline.
Reality is…this is just another issue of the government knowing the right thing to do but not feeling it is what is important “right now”. Should government be the ones to decide which fuels we should develop and commercialize? The answer to this question all depends on whether we care about our future or not. Based on the ramifications of the effects of biofuel, the government shouldn’t be the ones to make this decision. Biofuel as an energy source greatly affects the environment and therefore greatly affects the people who live their lives in that environment.
Ramesh Suri, “Factory Farmed Biofuel.” EcoWorld. URL: (http://www.ecoworld.com/energy/ecoworld_energy_biofuel.cfm)
Dana Childs, “Bush on Biofuel in Brazil.” Inside Greentech. URL: (http://www.insidegreentech.com/node/860)
Craig Mackintosh, “Biofuels – from the Frying Pan into the Fire?” Celsias. URL: (http://www.celsias.com/blog/2006/12/29/biofuels-from-the-frying-pan-into-the-fire/)
www.biofuels.org, “Benefits: Health and Environment.” Yokayo Biofuels. URL: (http://www.ybiofuels.org/bio_fuels/benefitsHealthEnviro.html)
Philip Reed, “Review: Who Killed the Electric Car?” Edmunds.com. URL: (http://www.edmunds.com/advice/fueleconomy/articles/116157/article.html)
Peter G. McCornick, “Linkages between Energy and Water Management for Agriculture in Developing Countries.” IWREC. URL: (http://rds.yahoo.com/_ylt=A0geu9j0jmxG5WkAqIRXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTE5NGc3Y2VsBHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDNQRjb2xvA2UEdnRpZANNQVAwMDZfMTEyBGwDV1Mx/SIG=12jdungbb/EXP=1181606004/**http%3a//www.iwmi.cgiar.org/EWMA/files/Biofuels%2520abstract3.pdf)
Justin Bergman, “Biofuel crops threaten Indigenous people.” The Associated Press. URL: (http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D8P4PH5O0.htm)