In the End, Ethanol is Worse than Gasoline

A study recently released in Science Magazine outlines one of the reasons why ethanol and other crop-based biofuels actually contribute more greenhouse gases than traditional fossil fuels.

The 9 scientists who prepared the study work for several distinguished organizations, including the Georgetown Environmental Law & Policy Institute, the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton and the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University.

In their study, these scientists explain that a myth exists with regard to the emissions of biofuels, like ethanol, versus traditional fossil fuels. Many believe growth of the feedstock results in carbon sequestration that reduces the greenhouse gas emissions when these fuels are burned.

Unfortunately, this belief underestimates the emissions that arise when farmers go through the process of changing from traditional crops to biofuel crops in order to benefit from the rise in profits from growing this newly in-demand fuel source.

Taking this factor into consideration, the scientists stated..."Using a worldwide agricultural model to estimate emissions from land use change, we found that corn-based ethanol, instead of producing a 20% savings, nearly doubles greenhouse emissions over 30 years and increases greenhouse gases for 167 years."

Some who see switchgrass as a viable alternative source for biofuels will be disappointed to learn that it causes an increase of 50% in greenhouse gas emissions when used for this purpose.

The lesson to be gleaned from this report is that the best possible option if for the U.S. to develop real renewable energy sources like solar and wind that can power our homes and our vehicles.

See the summary of the study HERE

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