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The Problem with Biofuels

1051890954_b1ab552921_m.jpgWe should have known that any product endorsed by the U.S. auto industry and the agribusiness lobby couldn’t really be sustainable. Agribusiness loves ethanol biofuels because they can get higher prices for corporate corn; the auto industry loves ethanol because it doesn’t have to retool their gas-guzzling cars. In October, the United Nations called for a moratorium on the use of biofuels, because they are exploiting land used to produce food and causing food prices to rise.

“It’s a crime against humanity to convert agriculturally productive soil into soil which is producing food stuff which will be burned into biofuel.”–Jean Ziegler, United Nations

In Brazil, carbon-neutralizing rainforest is being replaced with soybean fields to produce soy-based ethanol.  Zaproot’s Jessica shares the quick and easy scoop on the problem with biofuels in her “Biofuels Suck” video.

Biofuels produced from residual waste products do show promise, however, and some cry that we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water by discounting biofuels entirely. What is clear is that, if reducing carbon emissions is our goal, the biofuels strategy needs to be examined carefully.


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Written By

Carol Gulyas is a leader in the renewable energy community in Illinois, where she serves as VP of the Board of the Illinois Solar Energy Association. Recently she co-founded EcoAchievers -- a provider of online education for the renewable energy and sustainable living community. She spent 18 years in the direct marketing industry in New York and Chicago, and is currently a teaching librarian at Columbia College Chicago. Carol grew up in a small town in central Indiana, then lived in the Pacific Northwest, Lima, Peru, and New York City. She is inspired by reducing energy consumption through the use of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and green building technology.


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