Global Effects of Biofuel Expansion

by Chieh-Hsin Chen

According to various economic and environmental estimations, it is highly possible that future global energy demand will increase up to 250% by 2050, which will be impossible to achieve using current available natural fuel sources. Biofuels have been proposed as a potential low-carbon energy source that may help assist in meeting energy demands; as well as improving greenhouse gas emission problem from fossil fuel combustion. Hallgren et al. (2013) used various assessment models that link an economic model with climate, biogeochemistry, and biogeophysics models to examine the effects of possible land use changes from an expanded biofuel program over the first half of 21st century. Surprisingly, the results of this modeling effort show that overall, the biogeochemical and biogeophysical impacts are negligible from a global perspective; the models do show regional patterns of climate change in certain areas such as Amazon Basin and parts of Congo Basin. Considering the amount of land conversion that will be needed there will no doubt follow considerable debate about the accuracy of this conclusion. We would welcome your comments below, but more explanation follows. Continue reading