Food and bio-fuel crisis
Posted by jingoisticbuthornydesperado on August 3, 2008
A good friend of mine asked me to blog about bio-fuel and food price and so here I am complying to her demand. 😉
I personally am not a firm believer of the popular view on bio-fuel. One of the reasons for the rise in alternative fuel has been attributed to increasingly larger allocation of agricultural land from food to fuel. Because bio-fuel based agricultural commodity is increasing in its value, there have been also been increasing in allocation of fertile land to produce bio-fuel crops. This causes food-based agriculture to be pushed into less fertile land hence lower productivity. The introduction of bio-fuel economy in agriculture has not been exactly a fair quid pro quo.
The only way to reduce food price is to open up more agricultural land. This would mean more deforestation and more destruction of wild-life. Forest, especially a rain forest is a large carbon sequester (removing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in the form of cellulose fibre, starch and glucose). So whether or not bio-fuel can actually reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide remains to be seen. Brazil is the largest ethanol producer from sugar cane, ironically it is also to the home to one of the largest if not the largest rainforest in the world. Studies have shown that large-scale destruction of Amazon rainforest can be disastrous to carbon dioxide concentration as it is removing one of the world largest carbon sequester.
To solve fuel problem, bio-fuel has effectively created two more problems. That is to say, I am not against bio-fuel completely. Bio-fuel from waste oil is a good source since most waste oil are wastefully discarded. Using waste oil for bio-fuel does not influence the way in which agricultural land is allocated for food. That is which I support, but of course it is not without its problem. Collection of waste oil can still be problematic as there is not enough infrastructure to collect waste oil.
Land fill sites are known to be a large emitter of methane gas. This can be harvested if the design of the land-fill is correct. There have been a few innovative designs to collect methane gas from land fill sites. But whether or not it solves problem more than it creates or vice versa is not something I am adequately educated about to comment on it yet.