Mr. Weissberger's letter in the Cape Cod Times of June 13 (see letter below) is correct in one concept. Burning things produces CO2.
The problem of increasing CO2 levels in our atmosphere is the result of burning carbon containing substances such as oil, coal, and gas, whose carbon has been sequestered in the bowels of the earth for millions of years.
When we are burning bio fuels we are burning the carbon that solar energy has photosynthesized from atmospheric CO2 in the previous growing season. Just do the logic and you will find that this process is carbon neutral as far as our atmosphere is concerned. The carbon turn-around for switchgrass is similarly brief. When we burn wood, the carbon cycle takes a little longer, but unless we destroy the forests, they will absorb all the CO2 the wood generates. If we elect to use fossil fuel energy to produce ethanol then the CO2 from that fossil fuel is generated at our choice, not of necessity.
Bio fuels have the advantage that they can be used by our present combustion based heat energy machinery with a minimum of change i.e. investment. This is very important to an economy that has not done its homework during the past 25 years in developing carbon neutral energy converters.
That is why it is important for us to catch up with the rest of the developed world and to act on all aspects of atmosphere friendly energy conversion such as wind, nuclear, tidal, and photoelectric. And that is why it is important for us to drive smaller more efficient vehicles, ride trains and buses and re-invest in our railroads.
Hansjoerg Stern, PE
167 Bog Pond Road, Brewster, MA 02631
CC Times Leter, 6/13/06
Biofuels contribute to global warming
We are participants in two intimately related energy debates, reduction of oil use and global warming. Carbon dioxide emission is central to the latter.To curtail oil use, we've turned to biofuels, especially ethanol. Our gasoline contains 10 percent ethanol. As a ''renewable'' fuel, ethanol is touted as being good for us.
But is it ''good for us''? Consider the consequences of ethanol use.
Ethanol is produced by fermentation, which also produces carbon dioxide. One hundred tons of ethanol is accompanied by 95.7 tons of carbon dioxide, which is frozen and sold as dry ice. Then it's released into our atmosphere. Producing ethanol for gasoline dramatically increases release of the primary greenhouse gas.
What will be the consequences? Eventually we'll have to reduce fuel consumption by even more than we would have had we avoided biofuels.
Biofuels address one component of a multifaceted problem while making the overall problem worse. Biofuel production uses significant quantities of fossil fuel and significant amounts of energy and produces significant amounts of carbon dioxide. Biofuels do significant damage when one considers the full energy problem.
Use of biofuels is a bad idea. Reduced oil consumption can and must be accomplished by other means.