- most biofuels, by their oxygen content, would cause more water vapour-related warming in planes than the equivalent hydrocarbon fuel, as the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution has observed. (http://www.rcep.org.uk/reports/sr-2002-aircraft/documents/aviation-report.pdf, example of ethanol given).
- Article 2. on The Independent's coverage of the biofuel link to 1 billion now going hungry. You could also query the remark: "climate change priorities call for biofuels and more trees to decarbonise the warming atmosphere."
The Independent's coverage of the Boeing story cited in article 1. doesn't appear to be on-line.
The Independent Letters
22 June 2009
Now we can beat climate change
With your report "Biofuel is as good as petrol, say Boeing tests" (19 June), the last piece of the technology jigsaw is in place to combat climate change and wean humanity off its addiction to oil. Biofuels are not CO2-neutral, but go a long way towards it. They should be reserved for flying, because the alternatives are unlikely to be acceptable.
The research and development stage of technologies to reducing global warming is now complete and we need to get on to the demonstration and implementation phases. We can reduce energy use by 30 per cent through increased efficiency; we can use carbon capture and storage to make the production of electricity with coal carbon-neutral; and we can apply renewables, with nuclear as a back-up, for the remainder.
As an example, demonstrations have shown that the use of 1.5 per cent of the world's desert regions for solar power can produce the equivalent of the world's current electricity production. What Al Gore proposed in his film An Inconvenient Truth we can do. We should get on with it.
The political problem is contained in the oil paradox. When oil prices are low, there is no incentive to tackle climate change; when oil prices are high we cannot afford to do it. Only a political initiative will address this problem; all the technology tools are now there.
Dr David Pollard
A billion to go hungry with food prices back on rise
Saturday, 20 June 2009
The number of people going hungry is set to top one billion a day for the first time as green shoots in the world's biggest economies spell disaster for their poorer cousins.
After more than a decade of steady declines, world food prices rose sharply in early 2008 as the ballooning oil price pushed up transport and fertiliser costs, biofuels were grown on land previously used for crops, and bad weather affected harvests. The result was rioting in Haiti, Egypt and the Philippines.
After July, prices did come down. Oil collapsed from $147 per barrel to nearer $35, and global slowdown slammed the brakes on demand for everything from iron ore to television sets. But even dented, food prices remained at 2007 levels, and by March were back on the rise, as oil bounced back to the $70 mark and demand resurfaced in big economies such as China.
The problem is not only how much food costs, but also local earning capacity. The credit crunch and subsequent global recession has pummelled low-income countries even harder than their rich counterparts. Export markets dwindled. The availability of cheap capital collapsed from $890bn in 2007 to $141bn this year, according to Institute of International Finance predictions.
The world will need 50 per cent more food by 2030, putting massive pressure on land for food just as climate change priorities call for biofuels and more trees to decarbonise the warming atmosphere. Water is also in short supply.
Alex Evans, of the Centre for International Co-operation think-tank, said: "Ultimately the world needs to answer the question about fair share. We have made globalisation very efficient in economic terms but we haven't yet made it sustainable, and food is one of the front lines."