Chapter

Biofuels, Solar and Wind as Renewable Energy Systems

pp 19-55

Can the Earth Deliver the Biomass-for-Fuel we Demand?

  • Tad W. PatzekAffiliated withDepartment of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The University of California

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Abstract

In this work I outline the rational, science-based arguments that question current wisdom of replacing fossil plant fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) with fresh plant agrofuels. This 1:1 replacement is absolutely impossible for more than a few years, because of the ways the planet Earth works and maintains life. After these few years, the denuded Earth will be a different planet, hostile to human life. I argue that with the current set of objective constraints a continuous stable solution to human life cannot exist in the near-future, unless we all rapidly implement much more limited ways of using the Earth’s resources, while reducing the global populations of cars, trucks, livestock and, eventually, also humans.

Keywords

Agriculture agrofuel biomass biorefinery boundary crop ecology energy ethanol fuel production model mass balance net energy value plantation population sustainability thermodynamics tropics yield