Biofuels Produce More Greenhouse Gases Than Oil and Gasoline

September 23rd, 2007 12:14 PM

Here's an inconvenient truth our global warming obsessed media seem certain to withhold from the public: biofuels produce more greenhouse gases than oil and gasoline.

Fortunately, as has been noted by NewsBusters before, foreign press outlets are more willing than ours to present the facets of this issue that go counter to the prevailing climate change agenda.

As such, Britain's Times reported Saturday (emphasis added throughout, h/t's Don Surber and Glenn Reynolds):

Rapeseed and maize biodiesels were calculated to produce up to 70 per cent and 50 per cent more greenhouse gases respectively than fossil fuels. The concerns were raised over the levels of emissions of nitrous oxide, which is 296 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Scientists found that the use of biofuels released twice as much as nitrous oxide as previously realised. The research team found that 3 to 5 per cent of the nitrogen in fertiliser was converted and emitted. In contrast, the figure used by the International Panel on Climate Change, which assesses the extent and impact of man-made global warming, was 2 per cent. The findings illustrated the importance, the researchers said, of ensuring that measures designed to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions are assessed thoroughly before being hailed as a solution.

Amen. In fact, that last sentence is exactly what global warming alarmists around the world are continuing to ignore.

After all, the solution to the "nuclear problem" decades ago was coal. Hypocritically, those who fear-mongered this issue enough to prevent the construction of nuclear facilities back then are pointing fingers at coal powered ones today.

Doesn't this suggest quite strongly that grass on the other side of the fence may not be as green as it appears, and that this time we shouldn't make the same mistake of assuming that change is good for change's sake before we have examined all of the costs and the benefits?

Fortunately, unlike American media which typically only quote alarmists in such reports -- much as the Associated Press disgracefully did Saturday -- the Times cited people who were actually concerned about biofuels:

"One wants rational decisions rather than simply jumping on the bandwagon because superficially something appears to reduce emissions," said Keith Smith, a professor at the University of Edinburgh and one of the researchers.

Maize for ethanol is the prime crop for biofuel in the US where production for the industry has recently overtaken the use of the plant as a food. In Europe the main crop is rapeseed, which accounts for 80 per cent of biofuel production.

Professor Smith told Chemistry World: "The significance of it is that the supposed benefits of biofuels are even more disputable than had been thought hitherto."

It was accepted by the scientists that other factors, such as the use of fossil fuels to produce fertiliser, have yet to be fully analysed for their impact on overall figures. But they concluded that the biofuels "can contribute as much or more to global warming by N2 O emissions than cooling by fossil-fuel savings".


Dr Franz Conen, of the University of Basel in Switzerland, described the study as an "astounding insight".

"It is to be hoped that those taking decisions on subsidies and regulations will in future take N2O emissions into account and promote some forms of 'biofuel' production while quickly abandoning others," he told the journal's discussion board.

Dr Dave Reay, of the University of Edinburgh, used the findings to calculate that with the US Senate aiming to increase maize ethanol production sevenfold by 2022, greenhouse gas emissions from transport will rise by 6 per cent.

Think this study will be covered by the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, or any of the television news outlets in the States?

Or how about by Seth Borenstein over at the Associated Press? 

No, I don't either.