Are Biofuels a Viable Alternative to Fossil Fuels?
With food-related riots erupting in many poor countries the debate surrounding biofuels have heated up again. How viable are they, considering numerous other options easily available to developed as well as developing and under-developed countries?
Biofuels like ethanol, butanol and biodiesel are made from agricultural crops. The global biodiesel industry is touted as among the fastest-growing markets in the chemical industry with the European Union setting up a target of getting 5.75% of transport fuel from biological resources by 2010. Somewhat similar trends are manifest in America and other developed and developing countries.
The greatest motivator for producing biofuels is the global warming caused by the constant burning of fossil fuels. On the other hand, the biofuels are supposed to cause less pollution, and they are also biodegradable.
Of course this means food that could have been used to feed millions of starving people is being used to produce fuel. According to World Bank around 100 million people face starvation in the wake of the current food-shortage crisis. Although many claim that the food shortage has been triggered by a sudden shift in the eating habits of people in China and India, the impact of biofuel production on food-security cannot be ignored. You can also add to this the accelerated rate of deforestation once every kind of plant can be used as fuel, and once more and more land is needed to grow crops needed to produce oil.
So what’s the alternative? Although biofuels are far better than fossil fuels, they shouldn’t be produced by starving people and destroying the already-depleting forests. Better alternatives like wind energy, solar energy, energy produced by tidal waves and nuclear energy can completely revolutionize the energy scenario in the world. All we need is the political will, and the will to put humanity above economy.