Posted by: r.m. | November 13, 2008

Obama the green president? I think not

Obama supports subsidies on corn-based ethanol. Why? Because Illinois is a corn-producer. So he says.

He also says he’s interested in contributing to climate change mitigation and adapation.

hmm…

Dr Timothy Searchinger and colleagues (“Use of U.S. Croplands for Biofuels Increases Greenhouse Gases Through Emissions from Land-Use Change”, Science 29 February 2008, Vol. 319. no. 5867, pp. 1238 – 1240: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/1151861 ): “Most prior studies have found that substituting biofuels for gasoline will reduce greenhouse gases because biofuels sequester carbon through the growth of the feedstock. These analyses have failed to count the carbon emissions that occur as farmers worldwide respond to higher prices and convert forest and grassland to new cropland to replace the grain (or cropland) diverted to biofuels. By using a worldwide agricultural model to estimate emissions from land-use change, we found that corn-based ethanol, instead of producing a 20% savings, nearly doubles greenhouse emissions over 30 years and increases greenhouse gases for 167 years.


Responses

  1. I liked the study! It prooves that we must not get fascinated by a “positive” thing unless we take into consideration all the hidden consequences. The use of corn-based ethanol is “positive”, but cutting forests and grasslands to plant corn isn’t!

  2. It’s good to see that humans (like Dr Searchinger) are thinking ahead before making such drastic changes in fuel. Over the past few decades, we have been making decisions without considering long-term effects.
    Also, I don’t think Obama would be encouraging the substitution once aware of its effects, but then again, we will wait and see… Meanwhile, the best idea would be to guide Obama and others towards making ecologically safe choices.

  3. The idea here is that we have got a president, and not any president, who seems to be sincerely concerned about ecological issues. Whether biofuels are a good alternative or not, is simply not the point, there is a much brighter side of the story.


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