The cover story in the current issue of Time Magazine calls biofuels a “clean energy scam.” The article uses information from several new studies that show how grown fuels, like ethanol and biodiesel, are actually accelerating global warming—mostly through deforestation—and otherwise reeking havoc with the environment and world food markets.
Time points to a number of new studies which reveal these facts:
1. The grain it takes to fill an SUV tank with ethanol could feed a person for a year.
2. Deforestation accounts for 20 percent of all current carbon emissions.
3. Brazil now ranks fourth in the world in carbon emissions, and most of its emissions come from deforestation
4. Indonesia has bulldozed and burned so much wilderness to grow palm oil trees for biodiesel that it now ranks third among the world’s top carbon emitters, according to Wetlands International.
5. The U.S. quintupled its production of ethanol in the past decade, and Washington has just mandated another fivefold increase in renewable fuels over the next decade.
6. Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute says that biofuels pit the 800 million people with cars against the 800 million people with hunger problems. The U.N.’s World Food Program calls the rising costs for food nothing less than a global emergency.
7. A study in Science concluded that when this deforestation effect is taken into account, corn ethanol and soy biodiesel produce about twice the emissions of gasoline.
8. Last year fewer than 2 percent of U.S. gas stations offered ethanol, and the country produced 7 billion gallons of biofuel, which cost taxpayers at least $8 billion in subsidies.
9. University of Minnesota ecologist David Tilman concluded that it will take more than 400 years of biodiesel use to “pay back” the carbon emitted by directly clearing peat lands to grow palm oil; clearing grasslands to grow corn for ethanol has a payback period of 93 years.
10. Even next-generation cellulosic ethanol “looks less green than oil-derived gasoline.”