In Pat’s latest article, she warns us to ‘Beware of Biofuels’.
In his book There is no Planet B Mike Berners-Lee looks in some detail at the state of the world under various headings, one of which is food supply. Here he considers many factors one of which is the growth in the planting of biofuels. This is because of the amount of land and energy they take.
Mike warns that, in the effort to cut carbon emissions by leaving fossil fuels in the ground, there could be more profit from wheat directed to biofuel than to feeding human beings. There is of course a justice issue here when growing biofuel for the cars of the rich becomes more profitable than growing food for the poor. Already in the USA food crops to the value of 4000 calories per person per day are used for biofuels.
There are implications for biodiversity too as biofuels are grown as monocultures and can have harmful impacts on soil health. Using waste food and crop residues for biofuel may seem a good way to go, but there are negative implications here too, as food waste and residues are sources of organic material best returned to the soil.
Mike Berners-Lee’s conclusion is that “biofuels in moderation are not entirely bonkers but do need treating with a great deal of caution lest they become so”.