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Saving us with or from bio-fuels?

2008-04-15

The situation on the global oil markets is quite unclear at the moment. On the one hand we see ever increasing prices, although general consensus is that there is no shortage nor any other reason for it, apart maybe from the declining dollar and the voraciousness of the “driving” parties.
At the same time we see reduction in growth expectation for the emerging economies after a long time of hyped-up expectation (and partly condemnation), due to regulation, growing efficiency and many other factors.

One of these factors is the growing use of “bio”-fuels, called this way because they are made directly from renewable natural resources, not because they are “friendly to nature”.
We are now all confronted with the results of the policies that promote the usage of bio-fuels, as we have all read about the food-riots and increasing poverty and hunger as a result of them. Even the non-food made bio-fuels have been pushing food-crops from the lands of the farmers, now resulting in shortage and, with the help of again many “price-driving” parties, unrealistic price-rises.

But there is another aspect to bio-fuels that is putting yet another light on the questionable wisdom of their relentless expansion. For the production of the crops that are being used for those bio-fuels, vast amounts of water, fertiliser, and weed- and insect- (and many other animal- and often people-) killers are being used to maximize the harvest. But the difficulty is that water in most countries in the world is already in short supply, fertilisers are made with the help of vast quantities of natural gas, and weed- and insect-killers are made of oil-products.

Added to this comes that because of the usage of vast amounts of fertiliser, very high concentrates of Nitrogen (NOx) are being released into the atmosphere, and nitrogen being 268 times a more potent “greenhouse gas” than CO2, it can be stated that growing biofuels is really not helping the atmosphere to be cleaned up.

To this can also be added that, due to the over-usage of the fertilisers and weed- and insect-killers, vast amounts of residues are being washed away, together with the once fertile top-soil, into rivers and the seas, where ever larger “dead-zones” are more and more threatening the livelihood of marine life and those who live from it.

As this starts to be discovered we see another trend appearing, as old as the trade itself: export the problem. And so we see suddenly substantial ventures for bio-fuels turning up in rural parts of Africa, where bio-fuels are now being presented as an opportunity for the poor, whereas the results of their work will be exported to make sure others make a good appearance with being “enviro-conscious” whereas the people there will live for decades to come with the results of these policies, as the basis of their livelihood will be poisoned and destroyed to give others a clean face.

In what kind of world are we living?

Alexander

Responses are always welcome at Alexander@gas-oil-power.com

Alexander's Commentary

Change of face - change of phase

In the period of July 20 till August 3, 2015, Alexander will be out of the office and the site will not or only irreg

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