Wednesday, February 22, 2006

burn after reading

Worse Than Fossil Fuel by George Monbiot
In September, Friends of the Earth published a report about the impacts of palm oil production. "Between 1985 and 2000," it found, "the development of oil-palm plantations was responsible for an estimated 87 per cent of deforestation in Malaysia"(8). In Sumatra and Borneo, some 4 million hectares of forest has been converted to palm farms. Now a further 6 million hectares is scheduled for clearance in Malaysia, and 16.5m in Indonesia.
Before oil palms, which are small and scrubby, are planted, vast forest trees, containing a much greater store of carbon, must be felled and burnt. Having used up the drier lands, the plantations are now moving into the swamp forests, which grow on peat. When they've cut the trees, the planters drain the ground. As the peat dries it oxidises, releasing even more carbon dioxide than the trees. In terms of its impact on both the local and global environments, palm biodiesel is more destructive than crude oil from Nigeria.

This blog has not been kind to Bio-Fuels of any stripe. Bio-Diesel boasts a few squidges of extra energy (positive EROEI) in optimal conditions, if you can ignore the damage done to soil in the process. And the technology has no scalability to the worlds overarching energy dilemna.

Facts never stand in the way of progress.

George Monbiot reminds us of a blind spot in our culture. There is a tendancy to mentally "greenwash" anything involving living plants, even if they are to be harvested and burned as fuel, in the process using indigenous peoples and their land as a consumable commodity.

Malayasia might as well be a big wad of toilet paper for Westerners. Use once, call it "green" and throw away a functioning forest ecosystem for 100,000 years.

Delusion is not acceptable. Bio-Fuels are not acceptable. They will persist only as long as abundant energy allows.

It is called "the peak" for a reason.


At 2:21 PM, February 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maylasia palm oil production is really a worst case scenario for bio-fuels (I suppose applying slash and burn farming techniques to the Amazon for bio-fuel would be production would be actual worst case).
The point's not being done to create "green energy" it's being done to create fuel and profits. The problem isn't that "green energy" doesn't exist the problem is the energy consumption market (consumerism) has made it acceptable and profitable to pursue such destructive practices.

At 9:35 PM, February 24, 2006, Blogger monkeygrinder said...

I also think the damage done is completely ignored because it isn't in our backyard.

makes it easy to greenwash.

people get tired hearing about the destruction of the rainforests also, so "rainforest destruction fatigue" kicks in, even as the actual forests are disappearing.

At 9:38 PM, February 25, 2006, Blogger WHT said...

"The biodiesel missionaries, I discovered, are as vociferous in their denial as the executives of Exxon."

Another classic line from Monbiot.

I find at least one of these gems in every one of his articles.


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