for good information on energy issues, including biofuels, go to
and enter 'biofuels' in their search function. For more information
on biodiesel in particular, you can go to www.biodiesel.org or
www.biofuels.coop (look at the FAQ on that site).
The fundamental problem with biofuels is that we cannot grow
sufficient feedstock to displace the current consumption of petroleum
fuel. Not for this country which consumes 25 percent of all the
oil that is produced even though the US constitutes just about 5 percent
of the world population. If the rest of the world would like to
consume as much oil per capita as the US then there is not suffcient
agricultural land to produce biodiesel for even a fraction of that
That leads us to the conclusion that the question of 'sustainability' is
not about sustaining our current standard of living and consumptive
behavior, but the question has to be 'what is sustainable' and the
answer is: about 15 percent of our current consumption of electricity
That has to be the premise from which we design homes, infrastructure,
transportation patterns (bike, bus, train, rather than car or truck).
We have to build integrated 'ecosystems' where any agricultural or
industrial process that consumes a lot of water has to be redesigned
to reduce consumption and integrated with another process that uses
the wastewater as input.
It cannot be that our coal plants use up as millions of gallons of
water a day, equivalent to some the water consumption of some 30,000
homes because we are too lazy to turn off our electic appliances.
It cannot be that Pepsi or Coke go over to India, build a big plant,
use the water for free, and consume for the bottling and production
process of coke so much water that the water table in the area drops
and more farmers lose their jobs than jobs were created by the plant.
We have to adopt what nature tells us and create 'netzero' production
processes. Otherwise, we will be just another society that has
reached a level that is no longer sustainable and HAS TO collapse,
as Jared Diamond dicusses in his book "Collapse: How Societies Choose to
Fail or Succeed"
> To anyone willing to address my question:
> I was wondering if someone would mind directing me to some
> information regarding the pros and cons of biofuel vs. petroleum
> in terms of land use and water consumption.
> While I fully agree that there is a dire need to reduce reliance
> on petroleum and other non-renewable resources, I am concerned as
> to how it balances out on the other end of the spectrum.
> Currently over 1 billion people do not have access to safe
> drinking water, resulting in millions deaths every year due to
> unsafe and unsanitary water conditions. The main problem is the
> agricultural techniques used to produce crops such as corn, wheat,
> soybeans, etc. The largest problem is the net loss of water and
> the destruction of land due to irrigation. From what I?ve been
> reading, it appears that the main alternatives to petroleum lie in
> the use of these organic materials as potential fuels. So my main
> point is this, even if biofuels replace petroleum and reduce green
> house gases and air pollution, won?t the result be an even bigger
> problem due to water scarcity? I understand that no one can know
> if this will even be a problem, but I can?t help but wondering if
> biofuels are the answer, or if they are a catch 22.
> I also have a slight problem with the burning of natural and human
> wastes. While this does eliminate the growing problem of
> landfills and the release of methane gas into the atmosphere,
> isn?t it still slightly retroactive because combustion of any
> material releases carbon dioxide?
> I'm terribly sorry if these questions seem ridiculous or
> completely off base, but I'm having trouble finding answers.
> Incase anyone was wondering where I got my information on water
> There is also a very informative article available at:
> Click running.pdf
> MARTIN,ELIZABETH J