Running the long-term numbers on biofuels

It's pretty easy to think that our transportation problems will be solved if we just switch to a hybrid or commute in a biodiesel Hummer. But the Partnership for a Sustainable Methow and Energy Bulletin published an article yesterday that has a dour prediction of our future, even if biofuels do become ubiquitous in the years ahead.

The article, by Dana Visalli, puts the world's daily energy use and production into context, and it's a fairly frightening context. For example, each gallon of fossil fuel takes 98 tons of "prehistoric, buried fossilized plant material". Each day, we burn as much hydrocarbon as the amount of carbon plants sequester in a year. Ethanol's energy return is somewhere between 1:1 and 1.3:1 (although some Brazilian sugarcane gets 8:1). Plus, humans already use about 40 percent of the annual photosynthetic productivity and the best cropland is already being used to grow food. Oh, and the population is growing. Visalli recommends consuming and driving less. Obvious solutions to an obvious problem.

[Source: Energy Bulletin]

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