Are biofuels a solution or a (huge) problem ?

I have been willing to write an article on biofuels for now more than a year, and the so-called panacea they represent to some people.

Today the famous company Nestlé provided me a great occasion to do so as according to its CEO, biofuels are planting the seeds of famine.

This is quite shocking as not so long ago they were regarded as a great idea for both climate change mitigation and providing us fuel after peak oil.

But since last year many studies from various renowned organizations highlighted the problems posed by such solutions, such as rising prices of cereals, and thus of food.

The International Herald Tribune already provided us with a very interesting article on this very point of view which states that according to two studies recently released :

“Almost all biofuels used today cause more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels if the pollution caused by producing these “green” fuels is taken into account”

This is worrying as these same fuels made of plants were to decrease our greenhouse gases emissions.

And now, the situation is even more worrying as Mr. Brabeck, the CEO of Nestlé, stated that “(granting) enormous subsidies for biofuel production is morally unacceptable and irresponsible”

To him : “If as predicted we look to use biofuels to satisfy 20 percent of the growing demand for oil products, there will be nothing left to eat.”

There are alternatives to driving your car. You can let it in its garage or parking spot and go by cycling, by foot or by mass transportation system. However, alternatives to eating have yet to be found.

There are already 850 million people who aren’t eating as much as they should on this planet, and it is difficult to have new agriculture lands as this would require cutting forests.

Cutting forests is not a sustainable solution to say the least. (remember : trees save !) I talked quite extensively about the role forests have in climate change mitigation and the environment.

Biofuels in Indonesia required the cutting of thousands of hectares of beautiful forests, and this country as I related earlier is a major greenhouse gases emitter because of its forest destructions.

So if biofuels aren’t a solution, do we have something that might be better ? Yes, there are plenty of different solutions :

First, here again efficiency should be paramount to our goals. In my previous articles on Controlled Auto Ignition, I was mentioning that cutting by 15 percent the consumption of cars could be easily achieved.

Furthermore, the mileage of both cars and trucks can be improved by wide margin in the US and elsewhere.

Second, hybrid car models which will become more and more seen as an increasing amount of carmakers are working on them and plug-in models.

They will be an even more ecological alternative when world electricity generation will rely less on coal and more on nuclear and renewables.

Third and final, you can also use less your car altogether by biking, walking, going by bus and the likes, using the train for long distances…

You can also carpool like it was strongly advocated during WWII in the United States (see image left).

It is not as if there were no alternative to your good ol’ car.

And you, what do you think about biofuels ? Be sure that I will keep you posted on this topic.

So, for this and for much more, stay tuned and don’t hesitate to leave your opinion on this topic and write a comment as I would gladly read you.

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2 thoughts on “Are biofuels a solution or a (huge) problem ?”

  1. Pingback: Sustainable development and much more… » All cars hybrid by 2020 ?

  2. Pingback: Biofuels aren’t a sustainable solution :: Sustainable development and much more

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