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Providing Insight
Into Climate Change
Climate Policy
106 Articles

Killing Biofuels

Biofuels make no sense in terms of energy policy, neither environmentally nor economically. In the US 25% of the corn crop is turned into ethanol to fuel automobiles due to generous subsidies, despite the negative impact on food production and land use. Biofuels pollute more than the fossil fuels they are supposed to replace. Congress has capped corn ethanol at 15 billion gallons by 2015 in order to promote development of "cellulosic" ethanol from farm and forest wastes. However, the cellulosic program faces technological difficulties, and its product costs the equivalent of $120/barrel, which is much greater than the cost of oil.

The Hidden Fuel Costs of Wind Generated Electricity

Wind generated electricity requires 100% backup capacity of conventional power stations due to varying wind conditions. In Germany from 2000 to 2007, wind power delivered only 17% of its rated capacity. Ramping up and down of fossil fueled power stations to compensate for changing wind power significantly reduces their efficiency. An efficiency change from 55% to 45% results in wind power increasing fossil fuel use and produces extra CO2. This is in addition to fuel used to build and erect the wind turbines.

Three Political Events

The three most important political events of the decade related to climate have recently happened: 1. The Copenhagen climate conference. 2. The EPA rules that carbon dioxide is a pollutant and an endangerment to health and the environment. 3. Cap and trade legislation was defeated in the Australian Senate.

EPA Suppresses Dissent on Climate Change

US Environmental Protection Agency suppressed an internal report which challenged the agency's position on climate change. Internal EPA emails show that the report was suppressed for political reasons, which taint the Endangerment Proceedings, and suggest that the EPA has prejudged the outcome of the proceedings.

BioFuels Summary from CO2 Science

The use of food crops to produce biofuels causes the price of food to increase substantially. A 25-gallon (100 litre) fuel tank of ethanol requires the equivalent amount of food to feed a person for one year. Substituting only 10% of fossil fuels with ethanol in the United States would require the use of 43% of the US cropland area. Large areas of forest and grassland are being cleared to enable the production of energy crops. Forestation of an equivalent area of land would sequester two to nine times more CO2 over a 30-year period than the emissions avoided by the use of the biofuel.

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