January 19, 2010
One popular solution to global warming is to turn trees and grass into transport fuel, thus reducing our reliance on fossil fuels such as gasoline. But a study published in the October issue of Science finds that advanced "cellulosic" biofuels could emit more greenhouse gas during the next few decades than burning gasoline will, says Reason.
- Running a computer model that links global economic and huge biogeochemistry data, Marine Biological Laboratory Researcher Jerry Melillo and his colleagues projected that growing energy crops will require cutting down a lot of forest, which releases extra carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
- In addition, energy crops will need to be doused with nitrogen fertilizer; which gives off an even more potent greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide.
- By the end of the 21st century, the amount of land devoted to biofuels may be greater than the total area currently used to grow food crops.
"In the near term, I think, irrespective of how you go about the cellulosic biofuels program, you are going to have greenhouse gas emissions exacerbating the climate change problem," says Melillo.
Source: Ronald Bailey, "Biofuel Bust," Reason Magazine, February 2010 Issue.
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