Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A Win-Win-Win Solution for Biofuel, Climate, and Biodiversity

26.06.2014

Fossil fuel emissions release billions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year, which is changing the climate and threatening the sustainability of life on planet Earth. 


Sugarcane

In Brazil, the demand for alternative energy sources has led to an increase in biofuel crops.  A new “News and Views” paper in Nature Climate Change, co-authored by Woods Hole Research Center scientists Marcia Macedo and Eric Davidson, reviews new research conducted by Brazilian colleagues demonstrating the high carbon costs of converting intact Brazilian savanna compared to the carbon gains obtained from converting underutilized pastureland for biofuel crops.

Compared to corn, soy and palm oil, the rapid growth rate of sugar cane has put it at the forefront of biofuel crops.  Brazil’s national commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, along with rising gasoline prices, has led to the world’s largest fleet of flex-fuel vehicles, fueled by the over 36 million tonnes of sugar cane currently grown in the country.  This number is expected to climb with new technologies and greater global demand.  The challenge for Brazil lies in identifying optimal lands for expanding sugarcane while still meeting demands for food crops and conserving native forests and savannas.

The Cerrado, Brazil’s 2 million km2 savanna region, is the most biologically rich savanna on Earth.  Unlike the Amazon, which remains over 80% forested, over half of the Cerrado has been cleared for agriculture, including sugar cane biofuel crops.  As Drs. Macedo and Davidson note, the new research shows that it would take 17 years of sugar cane production to make up for the carbon losses caused by clearing the Cerrado.  In contrast, converting already cleared pastures to sugar cane production provides a nearly immediate carbon payback when ethanol is burned in lieu of gas and oil. 

With over 2.5 million square kilometers of existing cleared lands in Brazil, much of which is degraded pasture lands, there is already a large potential area for biofuel crop expansion.  For Dr. Macedo, “Because Brazil has a large supply of under-used, low productivity pastures that are suitable for sugar cane, there is no reason to clear additional native Cerrado for sugar cane production.”

Dr. Davidson adds “A study commissioned by the World Bank shows that there is likely room for an all-of-the-above future land-use strategy, which includes using degraded pastures for a combination of reforestation, expansion of biofuel and food crops, and intensification of cattle production.”  In agreement with their Brazilian colleagues, Macedo and Davidson conclude that Brazil can meet today’s demands for food, fiber, feed and fuel with no further biodiversity loss, minimal carbon costs, and even a carbon gain, which would help slow climate change.

Contact: Eunice Youmans, Director of External Affairs 508-444-1509
Email Eunice Youmans

Eunice Youmans | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://whrc.org/news/pressroom/PR-2014-06-25-Macedo-Davidson-Brazil-Biofuels.html

Further reports about: Amazon Biodiversity Biofuel Change Climate agriculture crop crops forests greenhouse sugar

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Contaminated water in 2 states linked to faulty shale gas wells
15.09.2014 | Duke University

nachricht Rules of thumb for climate change turned upside down
15.09.2014 | ETH Zurich

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

"Start-ups and spin-offs funding – Public and private policies", 14th October 2014

12.09.2014 | Event News

BALTIC 2014: Baltic Sea Geologists meet in Warnemünde

03.09.2014 | Event News

IT security in the digital society

27.08.2014 | Event News

 
Latest News

Cells simply avoid chromosome confusion

16.09.2014 | Life Sciences

NASA's TRMM Satellite Sees Hurricane Odile Strike Baja California

16.09.2014 | Earth Sciences

Researchers develop improved means of detecting mismatched DNA

16.09.2014 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>