Every sector of the economy depends on energy for production and other day-to-day activities. Arguably, transport sector is one of the sectors that highly depend on energy.
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Each vessel of transportation uses one source of energy or the other. However, oil which is mostly used as a source of energy in the transport sector is non-renewable. In this regard, the campaign by environmentalists about the need to use renewable sources of energy which are environmentally friendly has led to the introduction of biofuel as a source of energy. Unfortunately, biofuel uses food crops in its production thus reducing the amount of food available for human consumption.
Moreover, food prices have increased drastically in recent years thereby becoming unaffordable especially for the poor people. Part of this increase has been attributed to use of biofuels. Consequently, there have been arguments as to whether measures should be taken to ensure that people do not die of hunger while food crops are used to produce biofuel.
With the trend of current use of energy, it is quite crucial that alternative sources of energy are found. Fossil fuels which are majorly used in energy production are not only non-renewable, but also a source of environmental pollution. Consequently, it is quite crucial that other sources of energy which are environmentally friendly should be explored to reduce the effects of environmental degradation (Gasparators & Stromberg, 2012).
In Addition, a source of energy that will support future generations should be found or else we leave the future generation at the mercy of fate. Biofuels are thus very crucial because despite the fact that they are renewable and will therefore be sustainable in the long run, they do not pollute the environment.
It is important to note that production of biofuel does not only have advantages as its activists may want us to believe. Increase in use of biofuels has increased competition in food production. The amount of corn used in the production of ethanol has increased sharply in recent years.
On the same note, soybeans are also increasingly being used in production of biodiesel while their consumption as food is reducing. Unfortunately, increase in production of food is not proportionate to the increase in the quantity of food demanded. Consequently, prices have had to increase due to high demand (Scragg, 2009). This has reduced the ability of people especially the poor to afford food thus exposing them to danger of starvation.
Moreover, due to increased demand of corn and soybeans coupled with the good prices that these crops fetch, more and more farmers are dedicating their land to production of these crops. This has encouraged monocropping which has proved to be dangerous in the past.
It is important to note that planting one type of crop repeatedly in a place reduces fertility of the soil while at the same time it leads to resistant pests (Westhoff, 2010). Consequently, this reduces quantity of production in the long run. Though, these effects may take time to be felt, they will definitely affect future production.
Similarly, increased demand for production of ethanol and biodiesel has made farmers to look for farming ways through which they can increase their production.
As a result, farmers are using more aggressive methods of farming (Westhoff, 2010). These include; too much mechanization and increased use of fertilizers as well as pesticides. The result is soil depletion, increased soil erosion and environmental pollution. Therefore, contrary to the main aim of using biofuels which is to conserve the environment, biofuels contribute to environmental degradation.
Notably, biofuel accounts for a very minimal percentage of energy consumed in the world currently. Nevertheless, the amount of energy used in its production is far much higher than the amount of energy produced from biofuels.
However, biofuels are responsible for a very significant increase in the quantity of food consumed. Similarly, biofuels have affected biodiversity by encouraging people to rely on one crop farming. All these will affect the low income earners not only due to increased food prices, but also due to reduced choices (Scragg, 2009).
We all agree that renewable and eco-friendly sources of energy should be explored to ensure sustainability of energy in the future. However, increase in world population means that food production especially for human consumption should be increased, not decreased.
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Much as biofuels have to be produced, steps should be taken to ensure that food security is achieved. It is very inhuman to produce food which is used for energy production while people are dying of hunger. Research should be done to increase the number of crops that can be used to produce biofuel (Gasparators & Stromberg, 2012).
Moreover, mixed farming should be encouraged so that the quantity of crops produced will be increased thus ensuring that food is always available. In addition, there is need to educate farmers that food can be produced for profits. This will ensure that people do not stop producing food because biofuel crops pay well. In a nutshell, the cost of biofuel should be balanced with the sacrifices made. If stakeholders do not take care, production of biofuel will jeopardize food security.
Gasparators, A. & Stromberg P. (2012). Socioeconomic and Environmental Impacts of Biofuels: Evidence from Developing Nations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Scragg, A. H. (2009). Biofuels: Production, Application and Development. Wallingford: CABI.
Westhoff, P. (2010). The Economics of Food: How Feeding and Fueling the Planet Affects Food Prices. Upper Saddle River: FT Press.