VICTORY! California Leads in Saying No to Deforestation Biofuels

Corn is food, not fuel, and comes at great energy and ecosystem expenseCalifornia is setting the precedent of regulating greenhouse gas emissions from transport fuels [ark]. The regulation requires producers, refiners and importers of gasoline and diesel to reduce the carbon footprint of their fuel by 10% over the next decade. And it launches the state on an ambitious path toward cutting its overall heat-trapping emissions by 80% by mid-century.
Critically, as our recent alert demanded, biofuel's indirect land use impacts [search], starting with corn ethanol, are to be considered when determining a fuel's net impact upon emissions. Looking at the full inputs to corn ethanol — including energy used in planting and transport, land pressures leading to increased deforestation, and coal for distillation — shows it clearly has a sum negative impact upon climate. Careful examination of the inputs and indirect land impacts of other biomass based fuels such as cellulosic biofuels will clearly show the same thing.
Earth has no spare biomass to power our vehicles. Progress is being made on the global campaign to stop fuel production from biomass, particularly at the expense of food and ecosystems. The Earth's terrestrial ecosystems are past their carrying capacity, and rather than increasing pressures upon primary productivity, the human enterprise must power down and enter an era of ecological restoration. Rainforest Rescue and EcoInternet's alert objectives were met and, along with many others, we helped counter the energy industry's extreme pressure. These regulations must now go global and continue to be strengthened.

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7 Responses

  1. Mikearama says:

    “Earth has no spare biomass to power our vehicles” wow, so I guess there isn't any more space to grow Algae in the desert? or on wastewater treatment plants? And,
    “coal for distillation”, is true if you USE coal for distillation. You could also use corn cobs or even Ethanol itself for distillation.
    And this is all assuming corn as the biomass source for Ethanol, of course corn is one of the LEAST efficient Ethanol sources.
    Overall, this article is trying to make huge generalizations by selecting a vary narrow set of conditions to base the theory on. It is not supported by the current technology.
    And what else would you use to produce energy? And where would you store it? In batteries made from cobalt and lithium mined from Bolivia and Congo?
    The fact is that there is no way to be GREEN and not use the planet to some degree. Even elephants impact their environments.
    @mikearama

  2. jan nelson says:

    i am told there is a Chinese proverb something like this. Despite all man's intelligence and clever tricks; despite his arrogance; all life on earth depends on a few inches of soil and rain.
    Many of us farmers and forestland owners know the benefit of replenishing the soil with the plant matter that created the soil. We see large land holders who either don't know this or don't care. These people mine our common soil by removing the vegetation nutrients, be it trees or grasses, for short term profit, some of which they spend to buy political influence to gain even more favors.
    I own a farm and forestland next to a Seneca Timber plantation. they are planning to build a wood burning electric generating plant north of eugene and calling that renewable energy. I can only think that the Dept. of Energy, and the many so-called renewable energy advocates are out-of there-minds to want to remove the scraps of slash left after logging for production of electricity or fuel.
    I do understand what timber companies want; especially since lumber is not selling too well right now. I can even imagine they will begin logging trees to burn if that is more profitable.
    Sen. Wyden has proposed a bill, S536 to amend the CLEAN AIR ACT to allow biomass to be removed from Federal Lands.
    Healthy forest ecosystems contain naturally varied sizes of biological material. People need to learn that all life, including us, returns to and becomes the soil for future life.

  3. Dave Moore says:

    Its a little more complicated than we initially think.Much of the tree carbon decomposes to CO2, limbs, leaves,etc. Much of the larger log mass (especially down or standing snag conifers) lasts hundreds of years if conditions are moist and cool helping to build soil.
    If conditions turn hot, such as in the arid non coastal west and some of the surprisingly arid boreal forests of Canada, Alaska, and Siberia, fire and decomposition will return most down tree mass to gasses anyway the same is if they were burned for firewood or electricity.
    there are great books on the forest fire cycle by Stephen Pyne. Its seems that conditions are turning hotter so our challenge is keep some forests cool enough to keep storing carbon.

  4. Dave Moore says:

    Addendum to above.Much of the downed wood from moist warm forests is quickly consumed by termites producing methane, much more potent than CO2. Good case in point is the huge number of SE US trees downed by hurricanes. Probably holds for much downed tropical wood as well. Reason many homes in Mexico are built of concrete blocks.

  5. We must protect our Mother Earth!
    It's the place where we live!

  6. drew says:

    that's great! in the meantime, we should all make greener choices. For example switch to a: reel mower, energy efficient light bulb, hybrid, etc.

  7. Ani L Schwartz says:

    We need our biomass in and on our soils to make and keep them fertile, not burned up and circulating in the air we breath, Climate Disruption or not.

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