Wednesday, January 23, 2008

More on the Cost of Biofuels

My friend and colleague, Dr. Bill Hamilton from Washington and Lee sent me this article from last week's NYTimes.

13 comments:

Adam Flora said...

The search for a new economic environmentally safe form of energy is interesting. While the debate over energy conservation and greenhouse gas emissions continues, I don't believe that cutting down the rain forest at an even faster rate is the answer for producing oil for biofuels. I feel that any energy producing substance removed from the earth is going to cause a hardship for people some where due to the drastic changes in world markets and attempted aquisition of land that will occur.
In regards for local issues, is the it local governments responsiblity to determine which kind of oils the food industry cooks with? I don't think people who are consuming these foods care about the nutritional value of them. By passing these laws we are adding to increased demand and rising cost of these oils.

Catherine Long said...

I believe that the detrimental effects of deforestation caused by making way for palm tree plantations outweighs the benefits of switching to biofuels by a long shot. Not only does it cause negative environmental externalities, but negative social and political effects as well. As far as the biofuels issue goes, my personal suggestion to protect the environment as well as the welfare of developing countries' populations is to create an economic incentive to develop more environmentally friendly mass transportation systems to cut down on pollution and allow crops to be used for what they were intended for.

john ferraro said...

I think that research into alternative bio fuels should consentrate on the development of cellulosic ethanol. It is by far the cleanest and most effecient form of bio fuel. It also would not have such adverse effects on the worlds food market.

Jonathan Forte said...

With the new introduction of the idea of growing energy for cars it will take a minute for the world's farm acres supply of oils and food to catch up to the sudden increase in demand. Biofuels are not the overall answer to our energy problem especially with current climatic changes. Surplus and waste products of our food industry should become part of our energy solution, but we should not come to depend on growing our energy as it has too many negative and strenuous impacts on our remaining forests and current farmland acres. With this high demand of grown energy it will also increase the use of pesticides, which are never good.

Ian Cronogue said...

Bio-fuels sound more and more like the sun block of 70's it's suppose to save you from skin cancer but it actually causes it. I just don't see these fuels coming to save the day, especially when these days almost everything you hear about them is negative. This may seem like a far fetched notion but I think money should be poured into solar and wind research, and use these technologies to power a hydrogen or electric transportation system. 100% clean energy.

Steven Olszanowski said...

I agree with Ian; biofuels are the “cheap” solution to our problem (if you can even call them a solution). It seems that biofuels create a negative externality to try and mitigate another negative externality. I second 100% clean energy.

umpaloompa07 said...

I agree that bio-fuels are not the solution to the world's energy crisis. Food prices have and will continue to increase from the development of bio-fuels and the process as a whole is pretty inefficient. Only the fruit (i.e. corn, soybeans, oil palm fruit) are used to make bio-fuel and the rest of the plant is not used. If bio-fuels are a prime alternative to fossil fuels, the process should be made more efficient than it is currently.

Geoff Czaplijski said...

umpaloompa is Geoff Czaplijski...trying to figure this out..

MGraham said...

A world-wide decision is going to have to take place to keep the balance of food stable world wide, as the population grows and becomes more "Western" such as China and India, the demand for more goods is going to increase. The planet just has a certain amount of fertile land. Instead of unbalansing the food supply they should be using all the trash we are generating worldwide to create sources of energy.

Jonathan Ziemba said...

I would be interested to know more about the biofuel production and the agriculture from palm oils. i wrote a paper last semester on palm oil plantations in Borneo and found that it is a very harmful to the environment. It does cause deforestation and requires cropping techniques such as slash and burn and rotating. This is a huge problem with coffee and co-co bean plantations and may potentially be a setback if used for biofuel.

Lynnise said...

The rising cost of biofuels make them less atractive as a viable energy source. Biofuels may cut carbon emissions, but at the cost of people lossing their homes and animals lossing their habitat. Biofuels like fossil fuels have negative externalities that must be examined to determine which has the least negative and lasting effects on the planet and all that depend on it for their survival.

chris mobley said...

Deforestation has been a problem that we have noticed ever since it began. Isn't the point to conserve wildlife and natural habitats. Even though it's making way for other resources such as palm plantations, think of all the co2 that these forests are absorbing and converting to oxygen. not to mention the destruction of habitats for all creatures in these areas. I think the cost outweighs the benefit. This would be hard to pull off anyhow due to social and political problems/environmental groups.

lauren fields said...

i think the very last thing we need is food wars erupting in third world countries in response to the demand of a halfway energy educated public in America going crazy for inefficient biofuels.it makes very little sense to me to try to be greener here in the states by utilizing a form of energy whose production is causing the complete destruction of the greenest spots we have left on the planet (rainforest.) there has to be something else.