such as "Introduction", "Conclusion"..etc
Biofuels are widely considered one of the most promising sources of
renewable energy by policy makers and environmentalists alike. However,
unless principles and standards for production are developed and
implemented, certain biofuels will cause severe environmental impacts
and reduce biodiversity – the very opposite of what is desired.
Corn-based ethanol is currently the most widely used biofuel in the
United States, but it is also the most environmentally damaging among
crop-based energy sources. A new article qualitatively contrasts major
potential sources of biofuels, including corn, grasses, fast-growing
trees and oil crops. The study highlights their relative impacts on the
environment in terms of water and fertilizer use and other criteria to
calculate the environmental footprint of each crop.
“The central goals of any biofuel policy must minimize risks to
biodiversity and to our climate,” says lead author Martha Groom of the
University of Washington. She recommends the further use of algae and
fast-growing trees as biofuel sources because they yield more fuel per
acre than any feedstocks currently being pursued.
As well as comparing potential biofuel feedstocks, the study also
recommends a number of major principles for governing the development
of environmentally friendly biofuels. Feedstocks should be grown
according to sustainable and environmentally safe agricultural
practices with minimal ecological footprints (the area of land required
to grow and support sufficient amounts of the crop). In particular,
emphasis should be placed on biofuels that can sequester carbon or have
a negative or zero carbon balance.
“While some biofuels may be an improvement over traditional fuels,
we believe we should focus much more on the biofuels of the future that
can be developed in small spaces, rather than extensively on crop
lands,” explains Groom. “We also must shun biofuels that are grown by
clearing biologically-rich habitats, such as tropical rainforests, as
has occurred with oil palm and some other biofuels.” The study was
co-authored by Elizabeth Gray, the director of science for The Nature
Conservancy’s Washington state program, and Patricia Townsend, a Ph.D.
candidate in the Department of Biology at UW.
This study is published in Conservation Biology.
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