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back to article Brussels ploughs ahead with biofuel plans

In a move which has surprised analysts and environmentalists, the European Union will leave plans for strong takeup of biofuels sourced from food crops unchanged. A plan has been agreed in Brussels which will see biofuels dominating Europe's "renewable" transport quotas in coming years. EU Observer reports that the member states …

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really?

"Biofuels only reduce the amount of carbon emitted compared to fossil fuels - they can't eliminate it."

Well now, if I were to process the crops into biofuel using energy derived from that (or similar) crops, which were also processed using energy derived from that or similar crops (and hence recursively)... biofuels would not emit any net carbon.

Just to establish the simple principle that clearly escapes you, consider any human society prior to use of fossil fuels. When they (eg) burnt trees for energy, ... how much carbon (as CO2) was emitted that hadn't previously been absorbed from the ecosystem in the recent past? Hmm?

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Anonymous Coward

Other options?

I wonder why they never mention jerusalem artichokes(topinambours) as a possible biofuel crop. They grow like frickin weeds, need no fertilizer and the stalks can be used instead of the tubers, which means no harvesting problems and no need to replant the field every year.

I made some booze from them last year....it makes a mean bloody mary!!

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Flame

Business as usual

In the corrupt EU, brown envelopes have presumably been passed to the policy jockeys, meaning that the heavily subsidised farm lobby can keep getting payments generous enough to put all their livestock through college (Daisy the Cow with a BA (Hons.) from Loughborough, maybe), all while taking a huge dump on the developing world.

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Thumb Up

Re: Business as usual

How do you reckon that? Up to this point, I was convinced the oil industry had been busy lobbying their "ethanol kills" message, where the ridiculous claim is that the recent change in food prices is somehow linked to bio-fuel...

It is good that the EU saw through that, and that we can now look into reducing farm subsidies and start farming land that was put to waste in the 80s.

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Stop

Re: really

"Well now, if I were to process the crops into biofuel using energy derived from that (or similar) crops, which were also processed using energy derived from that or similar crops (and hence recursively)... biofuels would not emit any net carbon."

Yes, but...

When you begin to factor in all the energy losses in your recursive system, you will need progressively more crops to produce the resultant biofuel energy source, a curve which will, eventually (read "quickly"), turn exponential.

And as for your following statement;

"Just to establish the simple principle that clearly escapes you, consider any human society prior to use of fossil fuels. When they (eg) burnt trees for energy, ... how much carbon (as CO2) was emitted that hadn't previously been absorbed from the ecosystem in the recent past? Hmm?"

Wakey wakey. This is the 21st century, and the majority of (the rest of) mankind has progressed beyond the hunter-gatherer society you describe here. If you wish to return to that sort of existence, that's fine. But I do believe you'll find that the vast majority of the rest of us have NO intention of joining you. And please, don't bother trailing out the tired old line of "If you don't change your wicked, fossil-fuel-burning ways you'll have no choice in the matter" cliche either. That's the trouble with all you eco-mentalists, its all "back to the horse and cart" and "Save Mother Earth". If you want to be taken seriously, propose a serious solution, ie one that won't result in the choice 'grow food or grow fuel'.

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Re: Business as usual

"How do you reckon that? Up to this point, I was convinced the oil industry had been busy lobbying their "ethanol kills" message, where the ridiculous claim is that the recent change in food prices is somehow linked to bio-fuel..."

Well, I seem to recall social unrest in Mexico and other places around rising corn prices amidst biofuel-related demand for that crop and others.

"It is good that the EU saw through that, and that we can now look into reducing farm subsidies and start farming land that was put to waste in the 80s."

Sure, the EU could get European agriculture to produce biofuels and import produce from the developing world, for example, but the crops involved wouldn't be the most efficient ones to grow, and to send such a radically different message to all the countries whose agricultural sectors they've managed to suppress over the years, they'd still have to catch the flying pigs necessary to act as couriers.

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@dervheid

I was making a point about a specific (wrong) statement, not a claim as to the efficacy of a biofuel-powered 21C economy.

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