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June 03, 2006


Biodiesel is not a solution. It is politics, it is spin, it is agribusiness profits, it is a hobby.

Soy and canola and oil palm are food, they are not fuel. Do you really want humans to be competing with cars for their food source?

A human consumes on average 20 liters of edible oil a year. 20 liters - around five and a quarter gallons. Per year. How long does it take your car to consume five gallons of fuel? Half a day?

Worldwide, we are consuming around 85 million barrels of petroleum every day - that's 13.5 billion liters per day. The entire human population only eats around 328 million liters of food oil a day. So, let's compare: 13,500 million liters of fuel oil consumed every day vs. 328 million liters of food oil consumed every day. That's 41 times more fuel oil than food oil consumed.

What makes biodiesel proponents think that biodiesel is an alternative to petroleum? How could we possibly increase food oil production by 41 times? Cut down the rest of the mangrove swamps for oil palm plantations? Raze the rest of the rain forest for soy bean fields? Just to run the world on B10 (10% biodiesel, 90% petroleum diesel - hardly an end to petroleum dependency) we'd have to increase plant oil production by a factor of four. That alone would require destroying the rest of our suffering ecosystem, and that type of food oil consumption would likely raise food prices to the point where the majority of the world's population living on just a few dollars a day would starve to death - the world's poor simply can't compete with our cars.

So, the world running on 10% biodiesel = ecological disaster and mass starvation. Not an optimal solution. We're still dependent on petroleum, but manage to bury the ecosystem and starve billions of people.

No, biodiesel is not a solution. It's something for a small group of hobbyists. It is something for politicians to make hay off of. It is something for fools and people who can't do simple math to fall for.

What is the solution - solar? Wind? Nukes? I can't say, but it is certainly not dreaming that we can farm our way out of this, and the solution is certainly not in wasting our time and resources pursuing this dead end.

Dear Mike,
Biodiesel is definetely not the solution to all the problems of the world. It is quite clear to everybody even to me, working in the biodiesel area.
But what is the solution? You also do not know it as you point out.
There are people who are acting and there are people who are just talking and questioning. You are certainly not a member of the first group.
Is it better to burn the not renewable mineral fuel and therfore burn the future of our children? You may be asked by your children about this one day.
The solution ist definetely not either or, it is a mix of serveral possibilities: biodiesel, bioethanol, solar, wind, maybe nukes, and so on.
Biodiesel is only one part of a whole solution.
Not less and not more. So your calculation about acres and starving is just a calculation with no influence of the reality.
Maybe you have once the ulitmate solution for mankinds energy consumption. In this case I will stop my biodiesel activities. But until this happens it is better to act....
best regards

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