Tuesday, 15 April 2008

April Bio-fools Day

From today, all UK petrol stations are required by law to sell only fuel which is blended with 2.5% biofuel. As almost all biofuel currently takes land from agricultural production or from valuable ecosystems, this will have devastating consequences on climate, carbon sinks, food prices and human rights, with people being violently evicted from their land.

*The grain required to fill a 25-gallon SUV gas tank with ethanol could feed one person for a year* - Lester Brown, Earth Policy Institute

What's wrong with Agrofuels (biofuels)?

*Deforestation, peatland destruction and the use of nitrogen fertilisers mean that agrofuels are worse for the climate than fossil fuel. Paul Crutzen (Nobel prize-winner) suggests that rapeseed biodiesel is up to 70% worse for climate change than ordinary fossil diesel (even though it's grown in the UK and involves no deforestation or peatland destruction) due to nitrogen fertiliser giving off nitrous oxide - a 300x more damaging greenhouse gas than CO2. Across the global South people are being evicted, often violently, from their land to make way for agrofuel plantations. According to Jean Ziegler (until recently the UN special rapporteur on the right to food) 12 million more people are going hungry now than a year ago due to rising food prices, something that agrofuels make a large contribution to.

Instead we should:
dramatically reduce fossil fuel use,
live more locally
improve public transport and
investigate environmentally friendly bio-fuels made from waste oils.

Information from Friends of the Earth Scotland
For more info on biofuels visit: www.biofuelwatch.org.uk
Also read the feature on Biofuels in The Ecologist magazine here.

11 comments:

poetwithadayjob said...

You know what I am always MOST amazed at? The great, difficult, and expensive lengths we'll go to just so we don't have to change.

Jan Doble said...

thank you so much for your kind comment about my poem. i appreciate it!

Crafty Green Poet said...

Poet with a Day Job - I agree so much, in fact I've been talking about that with my partner a lot recently.... Worth a post in itself!

Jan - you're welcome. Thanks for visiting.

Janice Thomson said...

I believe if more was spent on 'improving public transportation' some of these issues would disappear - but along with that has to be a change in our whole behavior system - such as a simple thing like walking to the corner store - not driving. The world is caught up in all the gadgets (including cars) that make life easier without realizing the long term affects of their actions. Today's youth is the heaviest of any generations previous due to laziness and the belief that all these gadgets are necessary to maintain a 'normal' lifestyle but in fact the very opposite is happening. As long as it is taught that money is the reward of hard work and/or your lifestyle then so long will a nation and the world suffer the consequences.

Crafty Green Poet said...

You're so right Janice, a lot of people are addicted to their cars to a huge extent.

Marcia (MeeAugraphie) said...

I hate, so hate, to admit this, but I had no idea. I do now, though!

We spent just over 10 years without a car in our family in the US. We did walk to the neighborhood stores, but they were too expensive and didn't carry most things we needed. We rode the city bus to all else, even work. The grocery store was over an hour away, because there were no routes to the ones closer. In climates other than FL with all the thunderstorms and intense heat so much of the year, it would have been fine - and it was on the few great weather days; it only required more time and coordination of schedules. But in the long summer it was horrible. I now depend on my car, but would love to live in an area that I could walk to most things. Someday.

Brian said...

Crafty, I agree that biofuel is a scam. Maybe that's the wrong word, but when being 'Green' means that fossil fuels are better for the environment, there needs to be a serious adjustment in values. Reputable scientists have been sounding the alarm for several years now that biofuels of all kinds are less efficient, cost more and are more harmful to the environment that fossil fuels.

Growing fuel for our cars instead of food is insanity on a global scale.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Brian - scam is the right word. We're all so intent on finding a technofix that allows us to carry on living our unsustainable lives that we've become blinded. But I think that the word against agrofuels is getting out there.

Marcia - its easier in most parts of the UK, our distances are just so much shorter and public transport is just so much more part of normal infrastructure.

Catherine said...

In New Zealand the only sustainable biofuel is produced from whey - a by product of the dairy industry. There is legislation on the books to make biofuel mandatory, but it hasn't been passed yet and the Environment Commission has declared it to be environmentally damaging. Most of the sustainable biofuel being produced is already being sold overseas so isn't available to meet biofuel targets.

There are huge tracts of rainforest being cut down to produce biofuels, which is just crazy.

As a family our car use has gone down because my husband is now working from home (our income has halved too - it was not a choice we made, it was forced on us). As an individual it is hard for me to reduce car use because I'd spend at least an hour a day more, maybe up to two, if I commuted by bus. But my adult children use buses all the time as we have good bus routes here generally. None of them drive, but they are very unusual among their peers.

Selma said...

PWADJ is spot on. Why do we keep going about things the wrong way? I am becoming increasingly frustrated. There was a saying in the 60s:'Stop the world, I wanna get off.' I feel like that right now. Good grief!

Crafty Green Poet said...

Catherine - biofuel from whey sounds like a good idea. Hadn't heard of that one.

Selma - yes I agree entirely.