The Biofuel Delusion
The Fallacy of Large Scale Agro-Biofuels Production
Foreword by Vaclav Smil, Jerome Ravetz
Routledge – 2009 – 336 pages
Faced with the twin threats of peak oil and climate change, many governments have turned for an answer to the apparent panacea of biofuels. Yet, increasingly, the progressive implementation of this solution demonstrates that the promise of biofuels as a replacement to fossil fuels is in fact a mirage that, if followed, risks leaving us short of power, short of food and doing as much damage to the climate as ever -- let alone the consequent impact on biodiversity due to additional loss of habitat for agricultural production and on rural development due to the additional stress on traditional farming systems. Worse still, these risks are being ignored. In this definitive expos?, Mario Giampietro and Kozo Mayumi present a theoretical framework and exhaustive evidence for the case against large scale biofuel production from agricultural crops. This book will be vital, sobering reading for anyone concerned with energy or agricultural policy, or bioenergy as a complex system.
'In our rush to 'do something' about energy and climate, we are tinkering with complex systems that we do not fully understand. This leads to consequences that are unintended and undesirable. Giampietro and Mayumi show that using biofuels effectively requires calculating how that usage integrates into a society's overall metabolism. Beyond biofuels, the book has a broad and enduring lesson: We will achieve better results if knowledge precedes policy.' Joseph A. Tainter, author of The Collapse of Complex Societies 'Thanks to Mario Giampietro and Kozo Mayumi for a cogent analysis of why large scale biofuels are one more false panacea put forward by the growth addicts.' Herman E. Daly, University of Maryland, USA 'Giampietro and Mayumi are world authorities on the use of energy in the economy. This book is the product of many years of scholarly work. It gives well-argued reasons against the misguided agrofuel policies of the European Union and the United States. Agrofuels have a low EROI, increase the HANPP (human appropriation of biomass) to the detriment of other species, and increase the water footprint of our economies.' Joan Martinez-Alier, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona and Past-President, International Society for Ecological Economics 'A powerful critique' Renew Magazine 'Timely for professionals working in a variety of fields…foresters should also find the book insightful.' The Forestry Chronicle 'They (the authors)…provide a global perspective….Recommended.' CHOICE Magazine 'This book will be vital, sobering reading for anyone concerned with energy or agricultural policy, or bioenergy as a complex system.' Management of Environmental Quality Journal.
Foreword by Vaclav Smil Foreword by Jerome Ravetz 1. Can We Solve the Agro-Biofuel Riddle? 2. Learning from the Past 3. Not Everything that Burns is a Fuel 4. Pattern of Societal Metabolism across Levels: A Crash Course in Bioeconomics 5. Assessment of the Quality of Alternative Energy Sources 6. Neglect of Available Wisdom 7. Reality Check on the Feasibility and Desirability of Agro-Biofuels 8. Agro-Biofuel Production is No Good for Rural Development 9. Living in Denial 10. Where Do We Go From Here? Appendix 1 - Basic Theoretical Concepts behind the Analysis of Societal Metabolism Appendix 2 - Examples of Grammars and Applications of Bioeconomics
Mario Giampietro is an ICREAn Research Professor at the Universitat Autonoma Barcelona, Spain. Kozo Mayumi is a Professor at the University of Tokushima, Japan.