- Aug 18, 2007
Are biofuels using too much water?
According to Sunita Narain, the head of the Centre for Science and Environment in India, biofuels are "good as an idea, bad in practice." She insists that instead of making more biofuels, we should be concerning ourselves with how to use less fuel in general. The problem that she cites is one not often heard: water. "If you want to use water for it (biofuel production), you must cut down on the consumption of biofuels," she said. The problem is that to make the biofuels, water is required to irrigate the crops. That water usually goes towards the irrigation of crops that people consume, and both cannot increase without running out of fresh water. It's easy to see that point, considering that in many parts of the world, fresh water for drinking is already in short supply. Indeed, even in some parts of the United States, where fresh drinking water is usually a given, water is diverted from other parts of the country. There are some strains of algae being tested which could be used for biofuels that grow well in the sun-drenched southwestern U.S. This algae can and does grow in saltwater, of which there is plenty. There are also some groups using seaweed for biofuels. This would alleviate the problem of biofuels stealing water away from crops for public consumption.