The Dirt on Biodiesel
Daniel Duart’s article [“Liquid Solar,” Summer 2002] on the use of biodiesel crops raises a question about fuel cycles, or chains. Because soil loss has been a major problem in North America for over 100 years, the real prospects for practical large-scale bio-fuels cycles will be limited. Take, for example, the cycle of soil, water, corn, yeast, methanol, vehicle fuel, carbon dioxide in North America and Brazil. It still requires large amounts of fossil fuel inputs and does not sustain soil health and reduce soil loss rates. In fact, since there are no indications that soil health is improving worldwide, establishing any larger-scale man-made bio-fuel cycles will just accelerate soil loss rates.
On soil life, read Peter Farb’s The Living Earth (1959); on fuel cycles, Howard T. Odum’s Environment, Power and Society (1971).
<i>Carter Rose<br>Wolf Creek, Oregon</i>
I got the Summer issue, read through it, and was once again struck by what a superb magazine you have put together. Intelligent, informative, rousing. My sincerest admiration. I know first-hand what it takes to put a magazine together: great articles and a coherent vision do not just fall out of the sky and land in your lap. Congratulations, and thanks.
<i>Malcolm Margolin<br>Publisher, Heyday Books</i>