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Tutorial 3

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Biological Sciences
Rudy Boonstra

TUTORIAL 3 October 11, 2007 Today will be short, about 1 hour and then the professor will be in the answer questions to help prepare you for your exam. Next week will have a slightly easier reading and it will also be shorter because of the mid-term coming up. Last Week We looked at 3 papers regarding bio-fuels and the energy it takes to produce them. One of the main goals of last week was to emphasize how critical it is to read critically. The publishing in peer journals can make errors and produce work that is unreliable and can raise questions about their scientific objectivity. We ran out of time at the end of last session to talk about the second purpose of the papers which was to evaluate the usefulness of bio-fuels as alternative energy sources. Even taking into account the short-comings the papers that we read, I think there are serious questions of the viability of bio-fuels as the alternative to liquid fuels. There are a number of challenges. One is the serious ethical concerns as using food crops as an energy source. In particular when you see we live in a globalized world the consumption of food crops for bio-fuels can have very serious consequences in developing nations in particular. If wealthy nations decide they want to use corn, soy, etc., then the demand from the wealthy nations will drive up the price of the crops and that will cause farmers in other parts of the world to grow and provide crops to the wealthy nations. The people in the poorer nations wont be able to consume these crops. So there are serious ethical problems with inequities. If there is high demand for bio-fuels that means there will be high demand for that crop and this year for example, corn prices are very high, wheat prices are very high, and although it benefits farmers, the reason for the increase in price is the demand for ethanol production. The sellers of corn, wheat, and soybeans dont differentiate for the purpose that they crops are being used for. So wealthy people can afford to pay more to get the corn, wheat, and soy to produce the fuels that means people who are poorer are saddled with higher prices both for food and fuels. In a wealthy nation the higher food prices are not as critical as they are in more economically distressed nations. S: So the crops in the 3 world countries will be just as high as they are to us? BGYC58H3F.October,11,2007 TUTORIAL 3 1
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