well that was the initial plan, but apparently this become a scattered space of my inconsistent ramble and incoherent mumble. I write my heart out, I throw my anger and frustation, I jotted my hopes and dreams, I record my random thoughts here

March 23, 2007

bio-diesel; solution or big joke?

If we heard the word biodiesel, what comes to our mind is environmentally-friendly fuel, clear burning, domestically produced, renewable sources. In other word; briliant invention.

Do we know how they made biodiesel? biodiesel made from plant, such as soybeans and palm oil. These oil gone through chemical process called transesterification whereby the glycerin is separated from fat or vegetable oil, the process create two different product, methyl-esther (which become biodiesel) and glycerin. Biodiesel company claim that biodiesel is environmentally-friendly because it have lower emission compared to petroleum fuel, plus its less toxic and biodegradable. Sounds too good to be true? now is the bitter fact.

The source for soybeans and oil palm that being processed for biodiesel production comes from developing country. poor country, who ready to exploit their natural resources for money. Blame the corrupt goverment or the weak enforcement, but i am not talking about politic here.

Brazil, as we know brazil hold the biggest part of one of the world greatest jungle; The amazon, And the consequences of soybean farm, heavy deforestation taken place in Amazon, forest become patches of forest, clear cutting and burning become popular way to clear the land. Why this become important issues? i guess in today's world we start to have awareness about the importance of the forest and the reason why we have to keep them. They stabilize the system; from hidrology circulation, soil protection, biodiversity richness, carbon sink, etc. Forest regulate water through evaporespiration process, they cover the soil and protect its nutrient cycle, roots of the trees holding the soil to prevent erosion, the leaves prevent direct exposure of rainfall and sunlight that can caused infertile soil, forest is home to so many organism, and Amazon is one of the richess tropical forest filled with endemic species that only exist on that very place, nowhere else. Forest also act as carbon sink, and cutting down (or burning) the trees mean we release carbon into the atmosphere. Carbon is one of the most active greenhouse gases, the popular gasses that causing global warming.

Who is to blame? The highest demand for brazil soy products come from European Union, and the biggest brazil timber importer is United States followed by European Union. What is the bullshit about sustainable agriculture that these people trying to force? In fact, the reason why brazilian keep turning a piece of forest into farm is because there's high demand for the farming product. I cant blame the brazilian, but i cant blame the consumer either.

Malaysia is the world biggest palm oil exporter, followed by Indonesia at second place. Both Malaysia and Indonesia own world oldest jungle, forest that survived thousands year, and both goverment cut it down for the timber product and promised to turn them into palm plantation, for the sake of local cummunity. Its just sad, because it doesnt happen as it promised. Newly-opened palm oil plantation area in borneo encounter a lot of problem, and the soil actually does not suitable for palm oil plantation. Why they keep on going?

You might have in mind, what is the difference if we keep the forest or turn them into plantation? its still green anyway. Well, diversity increase stability, and agriculture plantation is actually very poor in diversity, all the trees share the same genetic code and if one tree get attacked by certain kind of virus or bacteria, the whole population will get affected.

And now, do you still think biodiesel is environmentally-friendly product? sometimes its more that just the output, the process have to be taken into account too.

1 comment:

orang orange said...

Who's the blame for what's going on?
Palm oil and soy products are not the only consumer products ruining our world. Think of overfishing, coffee plantations in South America, George Bush visiting South America to create better contacts for more production(destruction). Rubber plantations in Sumatra
Who's to blame? i think a few people really responsible: the people (and their greed) getting rediculously rich from these bussiness. And that brings us to the magic word of our world: money. Money is causing all the poblems but might be a solution also. The farmer doenst care about his land why? because he and his family want to eat. In his world there's no space thinking further than that. The big company's only care about money also. That brings us the consumers. When the consumers (Europeans, US citizens and the rest of the world off course) are not buying products which are obtained unsustaineble the companys have to change their production methods. So that brings us to the goverments they have to educate their people about whats happening in the world. Too bad that most politicians are busy with other things. So who's to blame? all ingorant people! what to do: getting to the peoples(childrens) head and educate them.
This will definetly help!
But off course will that nopt so all problem but it will be a step in the good direction