The current focus on ethanol from corn illustrates the risks of exploiting a single source of biomass for biofuel production, says ESA.
Continuously-grown corn leads to heavy use of fertilizers, early return of land in conservation programs to production, and the conversion of marginal lands to high-intensity cropping. All of these bring with them well-known environmental problems associated with intensive farming: persistent pest insects and weeds, pollution of groundwater, greater irrigation demands, less wildlife diversity, and the release of more carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that contributes to global climate change. Ironically, one of the touted benefits of biofuels is to help alleviate global climate change, a benefit that is considerably diluted under a high-intensity agriculture scenario.
The Ecological Society of America will contribute more to this timely issue in a few months when it convenes a conference devoted to the ecological dimensions of biofuels. The conference, which will be held on March 10, 2008 in Washington, DC, will bring together a wide variety of experts in the biofuels arena. The conference will cover the various sources of biofuelsagriculture and grasslands, rangelands, and forestsand will encompass the private sector and socioeconomic perspectives. Jose Goldemberg, Global Energy Assessment Council & Universidade de Sao Paulo, Brazil, will give the keynote address.
Like other organizations, ESA is also concerned about the hardship on the nations poor communities as higher crop prices drive up the cost of food.
It has been said that biofuels have achieved cult-like status and in the rush it is only too easy to overlook the big picture of environmental implications. Iowa alon
|Contact: Nadine Lymn|
Ecological Society of America