I caught an interesting letter to the editor at the New York Times. We really need to think about which alternative energy sources we use and this letter highlights the fact.
Re “Bring On the Right Biofuels,” by Roger Cohen (column, The New York Times on the Web, April 24):
Biofuels contribute to deforestation and global warming regardless of which plant matter is used to make the fuel.
Even if ethanol is made from sugar cane and that sugar cane is grown miles away from the Amazon rain forest, the resulting shifts in where other crops are grown will lead to deforestation.
Furthermore, when previously uncultivated land, including tropical forests, is brought into cultivation, large amounts of carbon are released from the soil, worsening the carbon dioxide balance.
Municipal solid waste is about the only biofuel source that does not exhibit this problem. Other than municipal waste, biofuels are an environmental disaster.
John K. Horowitz
College Park, Md., April 24, 2008
The writer is an associate professor of agricultural and resource economics at the University of Maryland.