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Wednesday, April 05, 2006
 

Since Bush gave the green light to bio-fuels in the SOTU it has become increasingly common to hear looney commentary and bizarre pitches from opportunistic politicians. In The Forest Killers Peter Huber imagines a future where such things are practiced rather than just talked about. [via A&L Daily]

Now the green-energy crowd is touting cellulosic ethanol. This is a blunder, one they will regret more than any of their previous blunders. It will level forests, destroy wetlands and disrupt ecosystems all around the globe.

Or at least it will if the enabling technology ever becomes economical. And it might. . .

History has already taught us what a carbohydrate energy economy does to a rich, green landscape--it levels it. The carbon balance goes sharply negative, too, when stove or cow is fueled with anything but waste or crops from existing farmland. It's pleasant to imagine that humanity might get all its liquid fuels from stable, legacy farms or from debris that would otherwise end up as fungus food. But that just isn't how humans have historically fed whatever they could feed with cellulose.

From the perspective of all things green, cellulose-splitting enzymes are much the same as fire or cow, only worse. Fire and cow consume cellulose, but the process is generally messy and inconvenient, which is a big advantage, from the plant's perspective. To improve on wood-burning fires, or grass-eating cows, perfect the cellulose-splitting enzyme. Then watch what 7 billion people will do to your forests and your grasslands.

posted by back40 | 4/05/2006 10:24:00 PM

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