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UW researchers, others warn of expanding biofuels in tropics

Source:  Copyright 2008, Capital Times
Date:  July 10, 2008
Original URL: Status ONLINE

Biofuels, by recycling atmospheric carbon, are a potential boon to the world's ailing climate. But efforts in the tropics to significantly expand biofuel production by replacing tropical forests with oil palm, sugarcane and other agricultural biofuels could speed climate change, a new study warns.

In Wednesday's issue of the journal Environmental Research Letters, a team of researchers from the UW-Madison and other universities cautions that expanding biofuel crop production in natural tropical ecosystems will lead to a significant increase in carbon emissions for decades and possibly hundreds of years.

"Cutting down rainforests to grow biofuel crops will likely never be a winning proposition for climate change or the environment, even considering projected improvements in agricultural and energy technology," said Holly Gibbs, a University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate student who is the lead author of the study.

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