food vs. fuel Part III

7 04 2008

Right now, there is so much confusion about biofuels. Are they good? Are they bad? With food riots occurring around the world – including here, here, and here – the media has latched onto the food vs fuel debate that surrounds most biofuels. I admit – there are some very bad biofuels out there. BUT there is more than one way to skin a cat (YUCK!) so I am cautiously-but-still-very excited about this.


food vs. fuel Part II

13 03 2008

Forgive me, in my overzealous typing this morning, I wrote that oil derived from algae has 1000 times the production yield of corn- and soy-based ethanol. That number is certainly debatable – a more realistic figure would be 50 -100. And 50 – 100 times the yield is still huge, but I should have been more careful with my number-tossing.

Since that post, this post appeared on the WiredBlog Network, further emphasizing that corn-based ethanol is not the way to go. As many have pointed out, to get rid of the food vs. fuel debate, you have to remove food from the equation, and look at crops such as algae, jatropha, switchgrass and poplar.

Tomorrow – that’s Friday – you can listen to CBC’s Ontario Today to hear about how Ontario farmers are looking to corn-based ethanol as a cash crop. For anyone who can, I recommend you call in and ask the hard questions.

food vs. fuel

13 03 2008

My friend Chris wrote, “Why is it when someone is painting their picket fence and they run out of paint 3/4 of the way through, their only solution to the dilemma is to buy more paint — even if it has to be a different type of paint?”

It’s a question worth asking, as we dig our way out of the climate change mess we’re in. Rather than finding new sources of oil for transportation, shouldn’t we be questioning our reliance upon it in in the first place? Forgive us, maybe that’s crazy talk there.

Barring a revolution though, it’s important to look at our “new colour of paint.” Right now, that’s biofuels. Producing biofuels from food plants (e.g. corn, soybeans) threatens local and global food security. And yes, there are alternatives. My personal favourite is oil derived from algae. It currently has the potential to deliver 1000x the oil yield per acre than sources like corn and soybeans. I think if we’re going to grow corn and soybeans, it should be to feed the billion undernourished people in the world, not to fuel our damn cars.

This weekend, the G20 group of countries (the 20 largest economies who are responsible for more than 75% of the world’s carbon emissions) will meet in China and Japan to begin climate change talks that will lead up to the G8 summit this summer. Before the summit, is creating a global cry for sustainable biofuels. You can send your leader a message to adopt global sustainability standards for biofuels.

If you support this stance on biofuels, please go to the website and add your name. I do think it makes a difference.