Tricky - working out the unintended consequences of action:AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - Only a few years ago, oil from palm trees was viewed as an ideal biofuel: a cheap, renewable alternative to petroleum that would fight global warming. Energy companies began converting generators and production soared.Now, it's increasingly seen as an example of how well-meaning efforts to limit climate-changing carbon emissions may backfire.Marcel Silvius, a climate expert at Wetlands International in the Netherlands, led a team that compared the benefits of palm oil to the ecological harm from destroying virgin Asian rain forests to develop lucrative new plantations.His conclusion: "As a biofuel, it's a failure."...The report issued late last year by Wetlands International, Delft Hydraulics and the Alterra Research Center of Wageningen University in Holland studied the carbon released from peat swamps in Indonesia and Malaysia that had been drained and burned to plant palm oil trees. About 85 percent of the world's palm oil comes from the two countries, and about one-quarter of Indonesia's plantations are on drained peat bogs, the report said.The four-year study found that 600 million tons of carbon dioxide seep into the air each year from the drained swamps. Another 1.4 billion tons go up in smoke from fires lit to clear rain forest for plantations — smoke that often shrouds Singapore and Malaysia in an impenetrable haze for weeks at a time.Together, those 2 billion tons of CO2 account for 8 percent of the world's fossil fuel emissions, the report said.8 PERCENT!Holy moly, and that's from trying to *help*.Sebb
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