Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Oh, What a Tangled Web We Weave

In a paper published today in Environment Magazine  two University of Nebraska professors (industrial ecologist Adam J. Liska and agricultural economist Richard K. Perrin) contend that military activity associated with protecting and acquiring Middle East oil contributes to greenhouse gas emissions to an extent not typically considered.  Liska and Perrin write that fuel burned in military planes and ships, as well as the carbon dioxide released during the manufacture of those planes and ships, should be accounted for in gasoline’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emission total (increasing gasoline's potential for impacting the climate much more than previously believed).

The authors conclude that their analysis "suggests that GHG emissions from military activities should be included in the GHG intensity of gasoline, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency implements emissions requirements for biofuels relative to petroleum fuels."

Such an analysis might place biofuels, such as corn-based ethanol, in a more favorable light compared to gasoline from a GHG emission perspective.   Some have argued that ethanol production results in more net GHG emission than gasoline, since ethanol's production is linked to the destruction of forests to make way for farmland (releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and removing trees that could otherwise absorb carbon dioxide).

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