Effects of Bio fuels on the Environment
Effects of Bio fuels on the Environment
Bio fuel is a type of fuel that is made out of both living or lifeless biological material and specifically, the plants as per the definition given by Shepardson, (2009). According to Shepardson, most bio fuels are in the form of esters, alcohols among others and a good example of this type of fuel is bio ethanol and bio diesel. This fuel is mostly used in vehicles and for it to be considered as a bio fuel according to Connor Steve (2008), it must consist of about 80% of renewable materials.
The production of this kind of fuel has been said to be impacting negatively on the environment however though this is the case, the benefits of bio fuels cannot be dismissed altogether. As a result of this disagreement, a lot of discussions have been held over this issue something that has polarized the society between those who argue that it does not impact negatively on the environment and those that maintain that it does. This becomes the basis of this essay where the paper will take a stand and support the claims that indeed bio fuels impact negatively on the environment.
According to Mongobay. com (2008), there are various types of bio fuels and one of these is E10 which over time has been greatly improved in terms of quality in that initially it contained about 90 percent of petroleum and 10 percent of ethanol but of late it is called E100 because it is almost made up of ethanol alone and about 4 percent of water. The invention of this type of fuel according to Shepardson (2009) is something that has greatly revolutionised the transport industry.
These fuels have particularly been cited as one of the best ways to reduce green house gas emissions unlike it is the case with other types of fuel especially fossil fuels. Even though they are praised for this, the negative environmental consequences they have are innumerable. One of these effects according to a scientific study that was conducted in 2008 contradicts the alleged potential of this fuel to reduce greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide among others; this is as per the Mongobay. com (2008). As per this study, Mongobay.
com (2008) argues that growing crops with an aim of producing bio fuel leads to an increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This claim according to the Green Website. co. uk is given weight by reports that were published in a science journal known as Journal Science that showed that plants that are specifically grown for the production of this fuel produce more carbon dioxide than what these plants can naturally absorb. According to these scientists Mongobay (2008), it would take decades to reverse the trend or to balance what they termed as ‘carbon debt’.
Or in other words the amount of oxygen released to the atmosphere in the course of growing these crops and is yet to be absorbed. The US and the European Union have particularly been on the forefront in propagating the idea for the production of biomass as the surest way of controlling global warming (Shepardson, 2009). According to Shepardson this has forced researchers from all over the world who aims at protecting the environment to conduct researches in their bid to understand better how this would impact on the environment.
One of the researches that were conducted as per the report compiled by Connor, (2008) shown that clearing Amazon’s forested land to grow soybeans would create a carbon debt that would take 319 years to be restored not mentioning the magnitude in which forests and bushes would be destroyed to grow these crops Production of biomass is labour intensive and requires a big land according to Sawahei (2009), what this means is that a lot of bushes and forests are cleared to produce raw materials for bio fuel thereby leaving the ground with no cover thereby increasing the possibility of soil erosion taking place.
To Sawahei, the world requires large tracts of land for it to feed its population now amounting over six billions. By growing biomass as an alternative source of fuel would require more land that what is needed for growing crops as per the Action for Global Health (2008) and eventually there will be no natural vegetations as all land will either have been cultivated for crop production or biomass production or both. According to the Action for Global Health (2008), this greatly destroys the environment considering that vegetation cover protects soil erosion and again it is a habitat to millions of animal species (Sawahei, 2009).
Apart from this, the risk of polluting water sources with phosphates and nitrates from fertilizers that are applied to boost crop production are very high (Biofuel, 2003). Water is also polluted by chemicals that are used in the production of biomass such as pesticides sprayed to get rid of pests that attack and destroy these plants. These chemicals not only pollute water but they also kill micro organisms present in the soil that in one way or the other keep the eco system working (Action for Global Health.
2008). Rogercopenh (2008) contends that by the United States embarking on campaigns to push for the use of bio fuels might mislead many third world countries into substituting land meant for growing food crops for biomass production because of the money this business would bring. According to Rogercopenh (2008) this might in turn lead to the encroachment of forests and other natural habitats which are home to millions of wild animals.
It should also not be forgotten that when this green matter is harvested, there are chances that some will rot thereby producing a very bad smell and apart from rotting, some of these plants produce bad odour naturally and thus they are an environmental hazard in that they pollute the air. As per the evidence given by Franke and Reinherdt (1998), Bio fuel also kills biodiversity in terms of the variety of plants growing in a field. For biomass to be produced in large quantity, enough to keep the world going, then its production must be professionally done.
What this means according to Franke and Reinherdt (1998) is that a whole field is filled with only one type of plants leading to what is known as monoculture and by doing this, other types of plants are not given a chance to grow something that indirectly leads to their extinction (Franke and Reinherdt, 1998). In doing this according to Randooke (2009), animal are also not spared in that deforestation must take place, grasslands must be cleared and wetlands are destroyed.
The truth is that these areas are habitat to many species of animals and thus what this means is that these species will be killed while others are displaced. Trees naturally preserve water catchments areas and thus when land is prepared for the cultivation these reserves are destroyed (Randooke, 2009). According to the Action for Global Health, (2008) the whole bio fuel production process requires a lot of energy and basically the type of energy that is used is fossil fuel.
The argument raised by the Action for Global Health (2008) is that the amount of carbon that is emitted by burning bio fuels is absorbed by crops that are grown purposely for bio fuels production but the problem is that the amount of carbon that is emitted during their production considering that carbon emitted during planting, spraying, treating and harvesting season where machines that uses fossil fuels is not cleared from the air.
This claim is supported by Sawahei, (2009) who argues that even after these crops are harvested, more carbon is emitted to the atmosphere in that coal or other forms of fossil fuels such as gas are used to heat the raw materials that are used in the production of bio fuels. Though bio fuels are heavily criticised in that they cause serious negative environmental ramifications according to Connor (2008), there are other various researches that have been done which prove otherwise.
Researches show that production of other forms of fuel such as fossil fuel leads to the release of more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than it is the case with bio fuels (Science for environmental policy, 2008). One research that strongly supports this claim is the one that was done in the United Kingdom. According to the same source, what they call first generation process Life Cycle Analysis, carbon dioxide emissions are reduced by over sixty percent unlike other forms. As per Biofuels (2003), the second generation process carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced by over 80 percent.
Generally according to this report, carbon dioxide emissions can be saved by an average of about 50 to 60 percent. Another advantage of using this kind of fuel according to the Greencar website (2009) is that bio fuel does not contain sulphur which is one of the main components that causes acid rains. Also considering that it is made by bio degradable materials, its chances of destroying the soil are low unlike other fuels such as fossil fuels which contaminate water sources and destroy soil when they leak into them (Science for environmental policy, 2008).
In consideration of the massive evidence that is provided here above, one is justified to say that biofuels are an environmental hazard. There are a lot of researches that have been done by different researchers and most of them point to the fact that the production of bio fuels produces many effects that in one way or the other destroys the eco system for example, fertilizers that are applied on crops meant to produce biomass releases phosphates and nitrates thereby destroying soil and water.
Another way through which biofuels destroys the environment is that despite the fact that a lot of forests and bushes have already been cleared for crop production, more land is snow needed for biomass production something that leads to soil erosion due clearance of bushes and the destruction of habitats that are home to many species. This indirectly leads to the extinction of these species whether plant or animals.
Bibliography: Action for Global Health. 2008. New study demonstrates bio fuels negative impact on poverty, hunger and environment.
Available at http://docs. google. com/gview? a=v&q=cache:elry2KJk0UgJ:ec. europa. eu/environ ment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/1si4. pdf+biofuels+,+negative+impacts+,e nvironment&hl=en&gl=ke Biofuel, 2003. Bio diesel Impacts on the environment. http://www. biofuelus. com/biofuel/biodiesel/biodiesel-impact-on-the- environment. php Connor Steve, 2008. Biofuels make climate change worse, Scientific Study concludes. Available at http://www. independent. co. uk/environment/climate-change/biofuels- make-climate-change-worse-scientific-study-concludes-779811. html
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 24 December 2016
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