Today in Biofuels Opinion: "Are the stakes really that high?"

March 18, 2010 |

Biofuels Digest Asia editor Joelle Brink: “Why the US biofuels industry needs an emergency. It’s no accident that biofuels have reached scale in other countries because of national emergencies. India could no longer afford enough imported diesel to run its national railways and Pakistan had its missile sights trained on India’s oil refineries.

China’s population had far outpaced its energy resources and rebellion threatened unless it could improve living standards for farmers and generate new manufacturing jobs in the cities.

Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention.

But here in the US, biofuels invention is still looking for necessity. The military, which always knows disaster is just around the corner, is the signal exception. It was among the earliest adopters of biodiesel and is seeking ever larger supplies.

In just about any other country this would be the launch pad for an entire national biodiesel industry, but in this country we seem to have missed the boat. I use the word “boat” advisedly because while the US Navy is seeking ever larger biodiesel supplies, US biodiesel producers are going out of business.

Why? Because we seem to have a research grant and investment industry rather than a biodiesel industry. As a citizen and biodiesel user, I say, guys, get off the pot and start making biodiesel, lots of it.  I don’t care about your latest feedstock and your process for converting air into fuel, though they may come in handy once we have a thriving industry.

Our first task is to create that thriving industry by doing what it takes–organize, talk with your potential customers, get representation in Washington, seek military contracts, whatever it takes. The emerging military demand is your killer app. Consider it a national emergency.

Bjorn Lomborg, in the Lebanon DailyStar: For the better part of a decade, I have upset many climate activists by pointing out that there are far better ways to stop global warming than trying to persuade governments to force or bribe their citizens into slashing their reliance on fuels that emit carbon dioxide…If we actually face, as Al Gore recently put it, “an unimaginable calamity requiring large-scale, preventative measures to protect human civilization as we know it,” then no price would be too high to pay to stop global warming in its tracks. But are the stakes really that high? The answer is no…According to the best global-warming economic models, every ton of carbon dioxide that we put into the atmosphere now will do about $7 worth of damage to the environment. What this means is that we should be prepared to pay an awful lot to stop global warming, but anything more than $7 a ton would be economically indefensible.”

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