Biofuel as an Alternative Energy Source: How much to give up?

Veronica Betancur, Aditi Bhattacharjee, Natalia Gisbert, Mariluz Restrepo, Praveen Sharma


Increasing oil prices have raised some serious global concerns. However, the fact remains that most solutions to tackle the increasing trend in the price of oil are controversial in one way or another. Some of the popular solutions often reduce greenhouse gases at the expense of pushing the poorest deeper into poverty. It is therefore self-evident that the world needs to find a middle path, a harmonious balance between feeding the millions and filling the gas tanks in order to ensure stability for everyone. To achieve this, green fuel alternatives such as biofuels are broadly considered an exciting prospect, which, in turn, has resulted in the market demand for ethanol to increase faster than expected. Th e existing supply of grain is however unable to meet the challenge of feeding and fuelling the world at the same time. The price of grain is therefore increasing more rapidly than ever especially after America’s ethanol expansion program in 2005; recklessly subsidizing the production of ethanol is costing a year’s supply of food grains for a person in exchange for filling the fuel tank in one SUV (Buntrock 2007). Such surging food prices are even mo re likely to affect the underdeveloped and developing countries an d thus solution must be found to avoid pushing the poor in these countries to the brink of starvation.

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