Scientists have warned us time and time again that the increasing pollution and harmful emissions from the burning of fossil fuels are playing a huge role in climate change. And as the effects of climate change become more and more evident, people are looking for ways to decrease their reliance on fossil fuels. According to Darren Dohme, one way to do this is to use biofuels.
Darren Dohme Explains Biofuels and How Their Use May Increase Food Prices
Biofuels are made from organic matter, such as plants or algae. And while they do release carbon dioxide when burned, they release far less than fossil fuels like coal or oil.
The use of biofuels has been increasing in recent years as countries look for ways to meet their renewable energy goals. In the United States, the Renewable Fuel Standard requires that a certain percentage of transportation fuel must come from renewable sources like biofuels.
This increased demand for biofuels has led to some unintended consequences, one of which is higher food prices.
Increased Demand for Land
One of the main ingredients in many biofuels is crops like corn or soybeans. And as the demand for these crops increases, so does the price, mainly because there’s only a finite amount of land available to grow them on. This increased demand for land to grow biofuel crops can lead to what’s known as “land grabbing.” This is when large companies or even governments buy up large tracts of land in order to grow crops for biofuels. This can have a devastating effect on local communities, as they are often forced off their land with little to no compensation. And it can also lead to deforestation, as trees are cleared to make way for crops. All of this can have a ripple effect on food prices, as the loss of land available for food production leads to less food being available on the market, driving prices up.
Increased Demand for Water
Another key ingredient in many biofuels is water. And as the demand for biofuels increases, so makes the demand for water, as more and more is needed to irrigate crops. This can lead to water shortages in areas where biofuel crops are grown, as well as increased competition for water from other users, like municipalities or industries. This can lead to higher water prices, which can, in turn, lead to higher food prices, as water is a key input in food production.
Higher Prices for Agricultural Input
In addition to land and water, Darren Dohme emphasizes that there are other inputs that are needed for biofuel production, like a fertilizer as well as pesticides and herbicides. And as the demand for biofuels increases, so makes the demand for these inputs. This can lead to higher prices for these inputs, which can be passed on to farmers in the form of higher seed prices, for example. And these higher input prices can, in turn, lead to higher food prices.
Lower Crop Yield
One of the side effects of using crops for biofuels is that it can lower crop yields. This is because crops grown for biofuels are often different from food crops and are often not as productive. This can lead to less food being produced, which in turn can lead to higher food prices.
Darren Dohme believes that, like most resources, biofuels have their pros and cons. While they offer a renewable and sustainable source of energy, they can also lead to higher food prices. Knowing the bigger picture helps one make more informed decisions about the use of biofuels.