Archive for January, 2007

Jan 24 2007

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Biofuel and the Controversies

There have been many efforts to generate unlimited and renewable source of fuel. This is where biofuel production comes in. It has been believed to be the sole answer for the world’s global warming and energy crisis. In contrast to other renewable energy resources, biomass – an organic material, can be converted directly into burnable fuels, termed as “biofuels,” to assist in meeting transportation fuel demands.

In the contemporary years, the biofuel industry is gaining impetus to promote a cleaner environment, improve new economic prospect for the agriculture industry and eventually reduce reliance on crude oil as a feedstock for gasoline. However there are a lot of controversies that arises from biofuel production and use.

Issue # 1: Is it really environmental friendly?It is known that biofuel chief benefit is the reduction of harmful greenhouse gas emission because of the fact that these biofuel is primarily derived from crops which can absorb carbon dioxide. Thus, the balance of carbon dioxide is sustained and maintained in the atmosphere. However, looking at the entire process, from clearing the field to its consumption, the considerable reduced emission from the utilization of biofuel is overshadowed by far greater emissions that result from burning, deforestation, etc.

Issue # 2: Does it not really affect food supply?One of the prime criticisms is usually directed against large-scale biofuel production. It is believed to redirect agricultural production away from food crops. It is especially not good in developing countries.

The central dispute is that biofuel production will compete with food supply in numerous ways. Consequently, this fight over rural investment, agricultural, infrastructure, water, fertilizers, human resource, etc. will cause food shortages and price increase.

Issue # 3: Does it not affect a considerable amount of land and water?It is a fact that biofuel production necessitates growing biomass such as crops which in turn require a massive amount of land and water. It is particularly alarming in regions known to have scarcity of water. Manufacturing biofuel would only worsen water problem.

We can’t deny the fact that in other parts of the world, water limits are becoming more severe. The presence of large-scale biofuels would greatly need enormous amount of water. This would only result to further reduction of water availability.

Issue # 4: does it not involve destruction of wild habitats?As stated above, manufacturing biofuel would necessitate growing biomass which requires large agricultural lands. Consequently, in some countries, the incidence of deforestation is alarmingly increasing as croplands are being created. It does not only destroy wild habitats but also increase carbon dioxide that is emitted when forests are burnt. The home occupied by indigenous people, subsistence farmers and endangered species is in reality affected by this land clearing for growing biomass.

The issues presented above are indeed hot topics that need to be clarified and answered. These controversies would result to a much continual and thorough studies and research that would greatly benefit not only the government but the public itself.

But despite of these uncertainties, biofuel is now widely used in different countries including United States, Brazil and some countries in Europe because it poses a very good potential as an alternative fuel.

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