Who would have known? Biofules hurting the rainforest
I was so romanticized by the concept of cars running on vegetable oil. I still am, but this article definitely acknowledges that things aren't as clear cut as they seem.
Forests paying the price for biofuels (New Scientist)
The drive for "green energy" in the developed world is having the perverse effect of encouraging the destruction of tropical rainforests. From the orang-utan reserves of Borneo to the Brazilian Amazon, virgin forest is being razed to grow palm oil and soybeans to fuel cars and power stations in Europe and North America. And surging prices are likely to accelerate the destruction...
Rising demand for green energy has led to a surge in the international price of palm oil, with potentially damaging consequences. "The expansion of palm oil production is one of the leading causes of rainforest destruction in south-east Asia. It is one of the most environmentally damaging commodities on the planet," says Simon Counsell, director of the UK-based Rainforest Foundation. "Once again it appears we are trying to solve our environmental problems by dumping them in developing countries, where they have devastating effects on local people."
I heard a scientist on NPR mention that it would take the planting of soybeans over an area the size of Iowa to fuel every car in the United States on vegetable oil. While this sounds like a lot of land, it seems the Earth would be much better off loosing Iowa than the rainforest is south-east Asia.