Obama's Hard Choices on Biofuels
A Time Magazine article [ark] late last year highlighted well our objections to industrial agrofuels [search], indicating there are some hard choices to be made on ethanol by President Obama and his Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Both have been strong supporters of biofuels. Yet there is strong scientific evidence that using cropland to grow fuel instead of food is highly environmentally and economically damaging. Doing so both raises food prices around the world, while intensifying the conversion of forests and wetlands into croplands.
Because Vilsack and Obama both have a deep interest in climate change, it is hoped they will join other devoted biofuels advocates in changing their mind, after recognizing biofuels are making climate change worse [search], and that they contribute to food insecurity worldwide. Sadly, it appears they are going to increase ethanol requirements in gasoline [ark]. Yet, Vilsack is clearly aware of the new research suggesting that biofuels in general, and corn ethanol in particular, create more carbon emissions by accelerating deforestation than they save by replacing fossil fuels. Vilsack goes on to falsely suggest that second-generation biofuels like cellulosic ethanol production will be more ecologically sound and not displace food crops.
In the end it all comes down to land, and whether it will be covered with natural carbon and biodiversity rich ecosystems, or toxic single species monocultures. We recognize that industrial agriculture and the growth of agrofuels will always intensify pressures upon natural rainforests, as has been the case for millennia.
Blog entry with Rainforest Rescue