Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Enviromental Legend says Biofuels will Destroy Environment

I have been predicting this for quite a while that the environmental movement at some point would not be happy about biofuels. Consider that for decades environmentalists and farmers have generally been at odds on many subjects concerning modern farming practices. The last couple of years have seen many traditional foes on the same page for biofuels. But yesterday esse Ausubel, Director, Program for the Human Environment for the Rockefeller University in New York, wrote an essay sharply criticizing biofuels.

He's as green as it gets. And he says the focus on renewable energy is all wrong.

Renewable does not mean green, he states, and goes on to explain that building enough wind farms, damming enough rivers, and growing enough biomass to meet global energy demands will wreck the environment.

Ausubel has analyzed the amount of energy that each so-called renewable source can produce in terms of Watts of power output per square meter of land disturbed. He also compares the destruction of nature by renewables with the demand for space of nuclear power. "Nuclear energy is green," he claims, "Considered in Watts per square meter, nuclear has astronomical advantages over its competitors."
I am not sure what would please this guy, but renewable fuels won't:

Biomass energy is also horribly inefficient and destructive of nature. To power a large proportion of the USA, vast areas would need to be shaved or harvested annually. To obtain the same electricity from biomass as from a single nuclear power plant would require 2500 square kilometres of prime Iowa land. "Increased use of biomass fuel in any form is criminal," remarks Ausubel. "Humans must spare land for nature. Every automobile would require a pasture of 1-2 hectares."

He doesn't like wind either:

Turning to wind Ausubel points out that while wind farms are between three to ten times more compact than a biomass farm, a 770 square kilometre area is needed to produce as much energy as one 1000 Megawatt electric (MWe) nuclear plant. To meet 2005 US electricity demand and assuming round-the-clock wind at the right speed, an area the size of Texas, approximately 780,000 square kilometres, would need to be covered with structures to extract, store, and transport the energy.

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