The Great Biofuel Hoax of 2008 – Energy Policy and Climate Change

The Great Biofuel Hoax of 2008 – Energy Policy and Climate Change

Biofuels. What a great name! It just sounds green. Looking around I see a proliferation of Biodiesel bumper stickers everywhere I look. In my home state of Oregon all filling stations will be required to add at the minimum 10 % ethanol to all gasoline by next year. Environmentalists are cheering as politicians and the media are jumping onto the Biofuel bandwagon. Sounds like a big win for the ecosystem and society – think again, in reality Biofuels are much more brown than they are green.

Here are five reasons why Biofuels may truly be unhealthy for the ecosystem:

  • 1. Biofuels are so profitable that rain forest, the most efficient absorber of greenhouse gases, is being cut or burned to grow grains and sugarcane to make ethanol or Biodiesel.
  • 2. Farmers growing highly profitable Biofuel crops are looking for the fastest growth and biggest yields and use heavy amounts of chemical fertilizer; which strips meaningful micronutrients out of our increasingly scarce topsoil, and the nitrogen-high runoff causes enormous algae growth that destroys our flows, rivers and lakes.
  • 3. Because Biofuels are more profitable than food crops large amounts of chief farmland is being concentrated on Biofuel production creating grain shortages and increasing the price of grain products, especially in third world countries.
  • 4. Although Biofuels release less greenhouse gases per gallon than petroleum fuels they nevertheless release meaningful amounts. Biofuels are also less fuel-efficient. In my means mileage drops significantly when I use a fuel containing ethanol. So, overall Biofuels do not reduce greenhouse emissions nearly as much as claimed.
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  • 5. This is perhaps the most important reason. To permanently solve both the energy crisis and eliminate greenhouse gas emissions we will have to move away from consumable fuels to toward energy supplies that do not consume fuel, release heat or produce pollutants. At the moment electricity is the cleanest energy source obtainable and companies are beginning to develop and produce powerful electric cars that can go a few hundred miles on a charge. For these vehicles to be functional we will need to establish charging stations in every town and alongside every highway. This requires a enormous change from filling stations to charging stations. The use of Biofuels will perpetuate the existing infrastructure of filling stations and delay the change to charging stations. The longer we delay this change the more greenhouse gases will be released into our air.

At this point some of you might be wondering why our political leadership and big business is so supportive of Biofuels – however they never already mention electric vehicles. It might be worth your time to see the movie “Who Killed the Electric Car”, which is obtainable on DVD. Click Here to go to their website.

To begin with most big grain producers are large corporate farms with a strong lobbying presence in Washington and a history of making campaign contributions to politicians that sustain their agendas. Biofuels are big business for these companies.

The auto industry also is heavily involved in politics, lobbying efforts, and campaign contributions. These companies have a big investment in continuing to make internal combustion engines that burn fuels. Moving to electric motors will require major retrofitting for these companies. Biofuels allow them to avoid making this investment.

The petroleum industry has perhaps the most to gain from the implementation of Biofuels. They know that the public will ultimately need a move away from petroleum. All the other solutions will take business away from them. However, they will be refining and distributing Biofuels just like they do with petroleum – and crude Biofuels are cheaper too. So, the petroleum industry stands to make a great deal of money from the dispensing of Biofuels.

The petroleum industry makes huge campaign contributions to certain politicians. They have been successful at having many of their supporters and former executives elected and appointed to the highest levels of strength in our current administration. It is not surprising that our political leaders are embracing Biofuels.

The solution to both the energy crisis and pollution is to change to non-consumable fuels. This method solar, geothermal, wind and tidal energy production of electricity. already nuclear energy could be a viable different if spent fuel can be safely transported out of the Earth’s air using the low-cost rocket technologies recently developed. All of these kinds of energy production are already in use and are becoming cheaper and more efficient every day. We have not however begun to see the economies of extent and innovation that will make this kind of energy production much cheaper the more that it is developed and used.

At this very moment several companies are planning enormous solar energy installations in Arizona, which is beginning to be called the Silicon Valley or Middle East of Solar energy production. Huge wind farms are being planned for the Plains states. We could be only years away from a enormous change to electric vehicles. For this to be successful we need to get big business and our political leadership to focus on this change. This will take a lot longer if we allow them to keep focused on Biofuels instead.

When comparing non-consumable energy supplies to fuel based energy production remember that all fuels must be transported to where they are sold. The transportation of fuels burns more fuel – so these transportation costs must be figured into the numbers used for greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency. dispensing of electricity does include some energy loss, but it is fractional compared to how much energy is used to transport fuel and does not release greenhouse gases.

Some of you might be wondering why I have not mentioned hydrogen fuel cells. There are three reasons why: 1. Hydrogen combustion nevertheless produces heat, 2. Our engineers nevertheless have not figured out how to produce hydrogen without using large amounts of energy to do it, and 3. The other renewal energy supplies mentioned earlier have already moved beyond the experimental stage and are in real-world use.

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