Skip to content
Subscriber Only

Are biofuels doing more harm than good?

Finding substitutes for fossil fuels is a central strategy for most nations trying to slow global warming. Yet in a stunning setback for the burgeoning biofuels industry, a pair of studies released Thursday suggest that almost all forms of ethanol and biodiesel being made today give off more greenhouse gas emissions than do conventional fossil fuels.

Published in Science, a peer-reviewed journal, the studies are a fresh cause for worry for today’s biofuel makers. Though still in its infancy, the industry faces growing criticism for the damage biofuel production does to food prices, water tables, and the environment. The new studies suggest practically all biofuels produce no net short-term reduction in green house gas (GHG) emissions.