A fourth challenge that I found the papers not well in discussing is the ecological aspect. In the
U.S. there has been a good deal of farm land that has been taken out of production and is now
forests and wildlife habitat. Some of us would find that ecological. As far as agricultural crops
supply the bio-fuels will we see more land being put into agricultural production? How will that
affect ducks and other species? How will some of these species find other habitat’s when we
develop more land for agricultural production?
S:In S. America they have wiped out forests and made unified crops i.e. bananas. This isn’t
TA:Yes like the sugar cane in Brazil. You all had the pdf version of National Geographic,
you see the massive field of sugar cane and you just think of what used to be there. It was
probably a very productive area for bio-diversity and if you think of the tropics that are
productive areas and if there is an increase in agricultural production worldwide we will
probably sees increases there. You are taking away really rich tropical habitats and that is an
awful lot of ecological change for the benefit of bio-fuels.
The papers were really touching on current production of bio-fuels but as demand increases and
prices go up then the farmers try to benefit more from the prices and they start to turn marginal
land into farm land and then you have to look at what the land was when it was forest, meadow,
or pasture and what the carbon cycle looked like. Was carbon being caught and sequestered in
the soil and now what happens with the same? Will the land now be fertilized with nitrogen?
What does that mean for microbial reaction? Now the equation becomes much more
Despite the problems associated with the papers I think the message comes through that bio-fuels
have a role to play but it will depend on the other solutions there are. They will not be the only
replacement for fossil fuels. We know that we will have to replace the fossil fuels eventually.
This leads into the next papers we will look at in the tutorials, other forms of renewable energy,
how they fit into the strategy, what are the pros and cons, etc. The paper that we have today is
“Green Power for Sustainable?” which is a good summary. How the new sources can help us and
how much potential they have.
Today I would like to go through the class by way of volunteers and I would like you pick a
source of renewable energy that you are interested in. By the end of the class let’s pick 2 sources
of renewable energy that we want to look at further in the next session (next week). After we
pick the 2 sources I will go and find 2 papers that address the issues around that energy source
and they will be the papers we will read for next week.
BGYC58H3F.October,11,2007 TUTORIAL 3 3