There is a great commentary in the Wall Street Journal today that should be of interest to Walden students but probably won't ever be brought to their attention by their teachers. It is entitled Sins of Emission and I will paraphrase the commentary.
A new peer reviewed study published in Science takes a look at the way that "carbon emmissions from biofuels are measured in climate-change programs world-wide" and has found a "critical accounting error."
"The cap-and-trade programs run by the United Nations and European Union - and maybe soon the U.S. - treat biofuels as carbon neutral" ... because, "Since plants absorb and store carbon that is already in the atmosphere, burning them would create no new emissions, whereas fossil fuels release CO2 that has been buried for millions of years."
The "critical accounting error" occurs because these programs do not account for changes in land use. So, for example, if mature forests are cleared to make way for biofuel farms, the carbon that otherwise would have accumulated in the forests ought to be counted on the balance sheet. It isn't. So if Malaysia burns down a rainforest to produce biodiesel to be used in Germany, "Malaysia doesn't count the land use emissions and Germany doesn't count the tail-pipe emissions."
The politically created accounting errors create incentives that might, according to the study, "displace 59% of the world's natural forest cover" by the year 2050. "The reason: When bioenergy from any biomass is counted as carbon neutral, economics favor large-scale land conversion for bioenergy regardless of the actual net emissions." ... "In other words, not only is cap and trade self-defeating on its own terms but it also risks creating a genuine ecological disaster."
Be careful what you wish for kids!
You can read the Wall Street Journal commentary here.