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The Independent

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The winner from the previous edition of the Saab Question Everything Series: Triumph Through Diversity is the user known as 'adversity'. You can still read the debate on our forum.

The second phase of the Saab Question Everything competition is now on. Enjoy the debate on Biofuels and you will have a chance to win a fantastic Saab Arctic adventure holiday and a Saab Everywhere bike.

Of course not .. keep options open

Of course not .. keep options open

Postby HansV on Sat Sep 06, 2008 5:35 pm

We need to keep open all options to overcome Global Warming. The extent to which each will eventually contribute will depend on economics/effectiveness and ethics.

The impressive 16 pages in the Independent last month gave a balanced overview of all aspects of biofuels as a contributer to the solution.

My short summary would be: today, sugar cane ethanol from Brasil imported into Europe and North-America has the best economics provided that import barriers are withdrawn. At first glance there would seem to be an ethics issue though, in the risk to biodiversity if virgin forest is sacrificed, either direct (unlikely) or indirectly (if food is displaced by biofuel and food producers move into forests). The fact as such of food vs biofuels is something that economics of open markets will resolve. The loss of virgin forest needs to be tackled by putting a price on that. Rather than introducing a measure of 'cost of biodiversity' it may be sufficient to charge for releasing CO2 by converting virgin forest into farm land. While it is small poor farmers who destroy forests, this cost may have to be paid by the governments where the forests are located. Large farms can be charged direct. Trouble is that the Kyoto mechanisms are not yet able to capture these costs. This leads to the conclusion that all governemnst need to work on improving the Kyoto mechanisms, rather than try to solve anything particularly directed at biofuels.
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Re: Of course not .. keep options open

Postby jonyee on Thu Sep 11, 2008 9:35 pm

I found the Independent article very informative too. It's very easy to take one side or another on this 'big debate'. The very fact that the issue is being debated is good however, it also suggests that the technology always remain slightly devisive.

If you think about it, bio-fuels in the purest sense have been around since the beginings of fire. Wood from trees form fuel. However, we've moved from wood due to negative side-effects. Most modern day bio-fuels may be the same. I would advocate a concentration of resources and research to find the most optimum biofuel and then focus research in making one technology the most efficient.
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