(Note: this is a reprint of an post from a previous blog – just wanted to move it to this site)
We are all acutely aware today that each one of us havs a carbon count and that carbon emissions are responsible for global warming, habitat loss, changing weather patterns and a dozen other ailments. I have no doubt that carbon emissions are a contributing factor to global warming and habitat loss but… Habitat loss due to population expansion and conversion to bio fuels is an even greater threat to the earths biodiversity.
A simple example is the recent decision by the EU to end set aside and encourage farmers to grow bio fuels.
Biofuels – saviour or another disaster
The need to reduce our consumption of oil is evident, if for no other reason that this is an extremely poor use of an otherwise very valuable resource that is used in thousands of everyday items that we take for granted. I do question whether biofuels are the answer for a number of reasons.
To maintain biodiversoity, we need to be reducing our land use not increasing it.
- Converting food production to fuel production is morally questionable when there is a significant portion of the world starving.
- The entire process from seed to fuel in your car is extremely inefficient in terms of net energy. Depending on on the crop used, 1 unit of energy might only produce 1.34 units of biofuel equivalent energy (generating carbon emissions in the process!)
- At the end of the day, we are still burning carbon, but in some parts of the world, we are clearing rainforests to do this , or to grow food that would otherwise have been producted instead of biofuels.
We need to look for alternatives that are radically different from what we are doing today. Electric cars re-charged by the national grid are very limited and, especially in Ireland, have a large carbon footprint due to the use of coal & oil in the generating stations here – maybe the new Honda Clarity (hydrogen fuel cell) is the future!