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Sunday, December 24, 2006

The New Brazilian

Americans can learn much from Brazil, as demonstrated by Britney Spear's recent wild nights. Jokes aside, Brazil has a lot to teach the United States when it comes to successful biofuel production and implementation.

What can the United States learn from Brazil's use of biofuel?

Most importantly, the United States can learn that there is life after oil. Brazil has proven that innovations in the area of alternative fuel can work wonders for a national economy and the environment. Through increased production of sugar cane biofuel, Brazil has lessened their dependance on foreign oil, while strenghtening their own national economy. Not only has Brazil been able to lessen the hold of foreign oil proucers, but also the country has been placed at "...the forefront of a "biofuels" movement in which many countries view sugar cane, corn, soybeans, beets, cornstalks and native grasses as cleaner, money-saving substitutes for oil produced in politically unstable countries."

-quotes taken directly from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/17/AR2005061701440.html

Brazil is currently the largest producer and exporter of ethanol, and the country sends half a billion gallons a year to a dozen countries, including the United States. Brazil's President, Luiz InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva, has vowed that the country will one day become the world's leader in renewable energy. Realizing the many benefits of biofuel, Agriculture Minister Roberto Rodrigues says, "we don't want to sell liters of ethanol, we want to sell rivers."

Does Brazil serve as an adequate model for comparison on the biofuel issue?

I want to give credit to those who argue that the needs of the United States vary greatly from those of Brazil. As I have said, the energy issue does not have a one size fits all solution. Many will argue that Brazil's sole purpose for implementing the use of biofuel differs from the United States' motives. Many claim that the country began using the fuel alternative not as an economic or environmental safeguard, but rather, as a measure to increase patriotism. While the United States would only benefit by increasing nationalism, the decision to mass produce biofuel in our country would not be in response to this need. Rather, the production of biofuel would refelct our country's desire to sever our ties with foriegn oil dependency. Some agricultural economists also argue that "biofuels also could be alternatives for U.S. farmers facing cuts in large federal farm subsidies on traditional crops," as well.

-quotes taken directly from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/17/AR2005061701440_2.html

It is important to keep in mind that although biofuel alleviates some problems, it brings with it new concerns. For example, NOx emmissions are increased with the use of biodiesel. The widespread use of biofuel could also increase the cost of the fuel alternative's ingredients. Brazil has learned first hand that once the price of sugar cane increased, the many benefits of biofuel were questioned. You see, while emptied wallets are immediately recognized, it is much harder to place a dollar sign next to the many environmental rewards. These rewards can take years to manifest themselves, and their benefits are often masked by this time table.

What other countries use biofuel?

Biofuel is quickly becoming a popular fuel substitute in many developing nations. Like Brazil, many countries realize that the implementation of biofuel technology can strengthen national economies, lower gas pump prices, lessen dependency on foreign oil, and help to ameliorate envirnmental stressors. "Many countries are looking for new energy sources that can replace the role of oil, and biofuel has what they want. So far America, Canada, Australia, China, India, Thailand and most European Countries all use biofuel, biodiesel and bioethanol." Portugal is another country that has realized the positive effects of biofuel, and New Zealand has also taken interest.

-quotes taken directlyfrom http://scienceclassgreely.tripod.com/id1.html

"Anonymous" has not only opened my eyes to Brazil's successful work regarding biofuel production, but the post also echos my sentiments. "... more people need to be thinking of the future of biofuel!"

I could not agree more that biofuel offers endless possibilities, and it would be a terrible mistake not to investigate these options further. Biofuel can be made from a variety of materials, and its use is not the least bit limited.

Biofuel can be derived from a variety of sources including (but not limited to) corn, sugar cane, soybean, waste vegetable oil, and wheat. The ease with which the fuel alternative can be made demands that citizens of the world, not just the United States, become much more familiar with its many benefits.


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