Biofuel laws around the world actually encourage harming the environment, prominent scientists argue in the latest issue of Science. Under the Kyoto Treaty, in laws throughout Europe, and in the bill that passed the US House, biofuels count as carbon-neutral, on the theory that the plants the fuel is made from originally took carbon out of the air. It’s nonsense, scientists say, and ignores the land cleared to grow crops.
The laws encourage cutting down trees to plant biofuel crops, because cutting down trees isn’t treated as an emission. “If you were to cut down the world’s forests and turn them into a parking lot, and take the wood and put it in a boiler—that is treated as a pure way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” says one researcher. “Forests are worth more dead than alive.”