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30 Fairmont Park Lane S
Lethbridge, AB
T1K 7H7
Phone: (403) 328-1804
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
The Editor
The Lethbridge Herald
P.O. Box 670
Lethbridge, AB, T1J 3Z7 

Biofuels or biofools? 

Dear Editor, 

I’ve often wondered if people have actually been convinced that engines using biofuels reduce CO2 emissions in their exhaust. They don’t. Biofuels contain carbon as do fossil fuels, and when either is burned in an engine the carbon content is combined with oxygen to make CO2. 

The Associated Press article titled “Virgin flight for biofuel” in the Herald of 08/02/25 states: “Paul Charles predicted this biofuel would produce much less CO2 than regular jet fuel, but said it will take weeks to analyze the data from Sunday’s flight.” Poppycock! No more analysis is needed.  It has been done years ago and the answer is that CO2 emissions will not be reduced relative to normal jet fuel. Mr. Charles, public relations chief for Virgin Atlantic, shows he either doesn’t understand this routine engineering fact of life or is just trying to befog us. 

Slyer and more sophisticated advocates of biofuels would claim their technology is CO2 neutral since the CO2 in the exhaust of engines would be absorbed by growing plants. That claim is dubious too. Plants do absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. They don’t distinguish whether it comes from fossil or biofuels. Whether plants can actually absorb the CO2 from burning biofuels is a very difficult to assess in the big picture.  Current methods of producing crops have depended on clearing land and burning off vast stores of carbon in soils and forests. The current rush to biofuels suggests acceleration of this, negating the claim biofuel is carbon neutral.  Much more thought and analysis needs to be brought to bear on the interaction of our fuel use with our soils, forests and the climate before we rush to implement such solutions in the name of managing climate change. 

Paul Charles may think he has fooled us once.  Don’t let him and other climate change opportunists fool us twice. 

Yours truly,


Duane Pendergast


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