Bubble in the desert

A blog I started whilst on a GE "Bubble" assignment in Nevada. I'm back in Cambridge (UK) now but still miss the desert and my friends out there.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Biodiesel is bullshit

I was watching some TV interview the other day where Sporty Spice, of the Spice Girls, was explaining how their new tour is going to be green and "carbon neutral". I think the only genuine way to make it carbon neutral is for them to stay at home to be honest. She explained that her tour bus is going to run off biodiesel. What concerns me is that, when we hear biodiesel we start to think, 'oh, that's great, how awesome are those Spice Girls?'.

Actually, biodiesel is scandalous. It is not going to solve any climate change problems at all. In fact, it is going to make things worse. I'm increasingly finding George Monbiot to be a very sensible and scientific environmentalist. He has explained, convincingly, that biodiesel economics just do not work. We are starting to grow crops for our vehicles which directly compete with crops grown for food. It doesn't make any sense. We don't have, on this planet, enough viable agricultural land to feed our vehicles and ourselves. The numbers do not work.

"...we know that biofuel is worse for the planet than petroleum. The UN has just published a report suggesting that 98% of the natural rainforest in Indonesia will be degraded or gone by 2022. Just five years ago, the same agencies predicted that this wouldn't happen until 2032. But they reckoned without the planting of palm oil to turn into biodiesel for the European market. This is now the main cause of deforestation there and it is likely soon to become responsible for the extinction of the orang-utan in the wild.

But it gets worse. As the forests are burned, both the trees and the peat they sit on are turned into carbon dioxide. A report by the Dutch consultancy Delft Hydraulics shows that every tonne of palm oil results in 33 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, or 10 times as much as petroleum produces. I feel I need to say that again. Biodiesel from palm oil causes 10 times as much climate change as ordinary diesel." George Monbiot, 'If we want to save the planet, we need a five-year freeze on biofuels', The Guardian, March 27, 2007

When you hear the word Biodiesel don't be mislead, this is not a step in the right direction at all.


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