Friday, April 11, 2008
The Clean Energy Scam?
In Time Magazines article, "The Clean Energy Scam," Michael Grunwald (far right in picture of The Time Staff) makes the case that the drive for "biofuels," (yes, all of them), has had the unintended effect of accelerating the destruction of the rainforest, removing precious carbon storing land, while simultaneously driving up the prices of food. "By diverting grain and oilseed crops from dinner plates to fuel tanks, biofuels are jacking up world food prices and endangering the hungry." According to reports from the New York Times, congress most recent energy bill would work to double the current level of ethanol production. But its important to note the existence of clean energy options which don't effect food prices: hydroelectric, wind, and solar energy which are not counter-intuitive like the current corn-based ethanol. If government policies are favoring conventional ethanol over cellulosic ethanol (they are) then those incentives should be removed. The Time article asserts: "Even cellulosic ethanol made from switchgrass, looks less green than oil-derived gasoline." Yet, in an Minnesota Public Radio interview, U of MN researcher David Tilman commented : "We find we actually get more net useable energy coming from an acre of prairie on this land than we do from an acre of corn that is used to make ethanol, and that really surprised us because corn's a very productive plant." Additionally, "..(the) biomass removes from the atmosphere the same amount of CO2 that is returned upon conversion and utilization." (Lynd, Dartmouth College). "Less green than oil-derived gasoline"?