Palm oil plantations used to make biodiesel fuel make the carbon dioxide emissions problem worse, not better. The greenies who support biodiesel from palm oil help wipe out species and melt polar ice. Efficiently killing two birds with one stone.
April 14, 2009 – A new study finds that it will take more than 75 years for the carbon emissions saved through the use of biofuels to compensate for the carbon lost when biofuel plantations are established on forestlands. If the original habitat was peatland, carbon balance would take more than 600 years. The study appears in Conservation Biology.
The oil palm, increasingly used as a source for biofuel, has replaced soybean as the world’s most traded oilseed crop. Global production of palm oil has increased exponentially over the past 40 years. In 2006, 85 percent of the global palm-oil crop was produced in Indonesia and Malaysia, countries whose combined annual tropical forest loss is around 20,000 square kilometers.
Conversion of forest to oil palm also results in significant impoverishment of both plant and animal communities. Other tropical crops suitable for biofuel use, like soybean, sugar cane and jatropha, are all likely to have similar impacts on climate and biodiversity.
“Biofuels are a bad deal for forests, wildlife and the climate if they replace tropical rain forests,” says research scientist Finn Danielsen, lead author of the study. “In fact, they hasten climate change by removing one of the world’s most efficient carbon storage tools, intact tropical rain forests.”
The European Union should ban the import of biodiesel made from palm oil. Hello, anyone home?
This isn't hard to figure out.
Tropical forests contain more than half of the Earth’s terrestrial species. They also store around 46 percent of the world’s living terrestrial carbon, and 25 percent of total net global carbon emissions may stem from deforestation. There is therefore an inherent contradiction in any strategy to clear tropical forest to grow crops for so-called carbon-neutral fuels.
Old growth forests contain far more biomass than whatever grows up in their place after they are destroyed.
We already have a huge problem with habitat loss due to population growth and industrialization. Why make it even worse with biomass fuels?
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2009 April 14 10:10 PM Energy Biomass|