Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Win-win-win solution for biofuel, climate, and biodiversity

Date:
June 25, 2014
Source:
Woods Hole Research Center
Summary:
In Brazil, the demand for alternative energy sources has led to an increase in biofuel crops. A new paper reviews new research conducted by Brazilian colleagues demonstrating the high carbon gains of converting underutilized pastureland for biofuel crops. With over 2.5 million square kilometers of existing cleared lands in Brazil, much of which is degraded pasture lands, there is already a large potential area for biofuel crop expansion.

Fossil fuel emissions release billions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year, which is changing the climate and threatening the sustainability of life on planet Earth. In Brazil, the demand for alternative energy sources has led to an increase in biofuel crops. A new "News and Views" paper in Nature Climate Change, co-authored by Woods Hole Research Center scientists Marcia Macedo and Eric Davidson, reviews new research conducted by Brazilian colleagues demonstrating the high carbon costs of converting intact Brazilian savanna compared to the carbon gains obtained from converting underutilized pastureland for biofuel crops.

Compared to corn, soy and palm oil, the rapid growth rate of sugar cane has put it at the forefront of biofuel crops. Brazil's national commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, along with rising gasoline prices, has led to the world's largest fleet of flex-fuel vehicles, fueled by the over 36 million tonnes of sugar cane currently grown in the country. This number is expected to climb with new technologies and greater global demand. The challenge for Brazil lies in identifying optimal lands for expanding sugarcane while still meeting demands for food crops and conserving native forests and savannas.

The Cerrado, Brazil's 2 million km2 savanna region, is the most biologically rich savanna on Earth. Unlike the Amazon, which remains over 80% forested, over half of the Cerrado has been cleared for agriculture, including sugar cane biofuel crops. As Drs. Macedo and Davidson note, the new research shows that it would take 17 years of sugar cane production to make up for the carbon losses caused by clearing the Cerrado. In contrast, converting already cleared pastures to sugar cane production provides a nearly immediate carbon payback when ethanol is burned in lieu of gas and oil.

With over 2.5 million square kilometers of existing cleared lands in Brazil, much of which is degraded pasture lands, there is already a large potential area for biofuel crop expansion. For Dr. Macedo, "Because Brazil has a large supply of under-used, low productivity pastures that are suitable for sugar cane, there is no reason to clear additional native Cerrado for sugar cane production."

Dr. Davidson adds "A study commissioned by the World Bank shows that there is likely room for an all-of-the-above future land-use strategy, which includes using degraded pastures for a combination of reforestation, expansion of biofuel and food crops, and intensification of cattle production." In agreement with their Brazilian colleagues, Macedo and Davidson conclude that Brazil can meet today's demands for food, fiber, feed and fuel with no further biodiversity loss, minimal carbon costs, and even a carbon gain, which would help slow climate change.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Woods Hole Research Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Marcia N. Macedo, Eric A. Davidson. Climate and land use: Forgive us our carbon debts. Nature Climate Change, 2014; 4 (7): 538 DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2279

Cite This Page:

Woods Hole Research Center. "Win-win-win solution for biofuel, climate, and biodiversity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140625184903.htm>.
Woods Hole Research Center. (2014, June 25). Win-win-win solution for biofuel, climate, and biodiversity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140625184903.htm
Woods Hole Research Center. "Win-win-win solution for biofuel, climate, and biodiversity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140625184903.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Washington Wildlife Center Goes Nuts Over Baby Squirrels

Washington Wildlife Center Goes Nuts Over Baby Squirrels

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 30, 2014) An animal rescue in Washington state receives an influx of orphaned squirrels, keeping workers busy as they nurse them back to health. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease

Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) In a new study, a promising experimental treatment for Ebola managed to cure a group of infected macaque monkeys. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins