Ethanol: Good or Bad?
In the pursuit of a cleaner renewable resource to fossil fuels, many scientist have found alternatives. Examples include solar, wind, biogas, geothermal, biomass energy and cellulosic ethanol. In the last twenty years, efforts have been made to reduce our dependency on foreign oil and ethanol has been an option. Ethanol is nothing new; in fact, it was first used in a motor built by Samuel Morey in 1826 (Ethanol History). Since the 1980s, the government started having oil companies add ethanol into gasoline to replace the previous lead additives to cut the carbon footprint it was creating. However, ethanol has brought on several debates regarding whether or not it is affecting our environment and economy negatively. One topic that has been discussed is the idea that the use of ethanol in America is causing deforestation in South American countries such as Brazil. Pressure on the world’s forests from the renewable energy sector also continues to grow. Forests are being replaced with biofuel crops such as sugarcane and other ethanol feedstocks to meet growing global renewable energy demand. Dr. Daniel Nepstad of the Woods Hole Research Center insists that. The growing demand for corn ethanol means that more corn and less soy is being planted in the United States. Brazil, the world's largest producer of soybeans, is more than making up for shortfall, by clearing new land for soy cultivation. While only a fraction of this cultivation currently occurs in the Amazon rainforest, production in neighboring areas like the cerrado grassland helps drive deforestation by displacing small farmers and cattle producers, who then clear rainforest land for subsistence agriculture and pasture.
On the other hand, there is no scientific proof that deforestation is a result of the cultivation of ethanol. Researchers from Brazil have stated that deforestation due to ethanol is minimal and that a majority of it is caused by illegal lumber trade. According to...
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