Biofuels and Carbon Credits: Wrong Approaches
The more I learn about biodiesel, the less convinced I am that it is anything more than a temporary feel-good “solution” with problems of its own.
Keep in mind that oil and coal are biofuels: when we burn them, we are burning fossilized plant matter from ages long past.
I don’t have a problem with biodiesel that uses waste oil from fast food restaurants, etc. But when crops are grown to be converted to energy–and that’s what will happen if there’s large-scale conversion to biodiesel–there are a number of issues. To name a few:
As for carbon credits, I never liked them, any more than I liked the pollution credits of 20 years ago. They are nothing more than a license to pollute. While buying carbon offsets is certainly better than not buying them, bringing down the level of pollution and greenhouse emissions and global warming impact are better strategies to me than polluting and paying.
I do think massive tree planning is a good thing, and if the offset programs enable that, it’s a start. But think of the environmental impact of buying a tiny and fuel efficient car instead of a Hummer–or better yet, walking or biking or taking public transit.
So what are the truly Green approaches? Conservation and solar, for sure. Wind, geothermal, and small-scale hydro (especially approaches that don’t actually dam the stream), if done correctly. And little lifestyle changes that minimize resource use.