Thursday, November 11, 2010

Biodiesel or Biohazard?

Biodiesel is said to be a new revolutionary source of alternative energy that should cut down greenhouse gas emissions by a significant amount. The use of biodiesel is praised in a recent article written by Justin Novack. The article covers the many benefits of biodiesel to the environment such as a net decrease in greenhouse gas emissions by up to 54% (Novack, 2010) and the fact that it is biodegradable and a renewable source of energy. The main argument for biodiesel stated by Novack was that since the biodiesel was derived from plants, biodiesel combustion does not increase net levels of carbon emission (Novack, 2010). This was said to in turn, create safer and cleaner air than what we would get from using regular diesel.


This article does a good job of stating all the benefits related to using biodiesel and even goes over a few possible arguments against biodiesel such as performance in cooler climates. To this Novack (2010) responds that with refining, biodiesel can be used anywhere diesel power is common. However, this article lacks providing strong evidence to support the claims it makes. Nowhere in the article does it state why biodiesel produces fewer emissions than regular diesel, it just states that it does. In order to increase the strength of the claims made in the article, a little background on biodiesel or the main differences between biodiesel and regular diesel would be very beneficial. Doing so would greatly increase the credibility of the statements being made in the article.
Although the article does go over a few arguments against biodiesel, the biggest arguments against biodiesel are not even mentioned. These arguments are the fact that production of biodiesel could possibly create more greenhouse gas emissions than just using regular diesel. This is a major argument that many people against biofuels make and one that needs to be addressed when trying to argue for biofuels. The author should have tried to explain that the use of biofuels such as biodiesel are only said to produce more emissions that it prevents through the use of vehicles used to collect the crops. The large quantity of crops needed in order to create biodiesel creates the added problem of using fuels in order to make fuels. The author could have argued that there are eco friendly ways to harvest crops followed by evidence to support that statement. Without the evidence to support a statement or claim, it holds no weight in an argument.
Another possible argument against biodiesel that was not addressed in the article was the fact that the amount of crops needed to provide biofuels is quite high which means that the amount of water required in order to grow these plants is staggering. The author of the article should have addressed this possible problem with biofuels with a response that would discredit this claim. Such a response could be that there are many ways that water can be recycled for further use in watering crops. This statement would also have to be followed by evidence to support this statement such as the journal article written by Carr et al., (2010) titled: Water reuse for irrigated agriculture in Jordan: challenges of soil sustainability and the role of management strategies which discusses both the benefits and costs of the reuse of water. Such evidence would provide a large amount of credibility towards the claim Novack is trying to make.
Furthermore, there is the question of costs. This is the major argument that would apply to the general public. This topic is not even discussed in the article and defiantly should be because biofuels do generally cost more than regular fuels. This is an argument that someone against biodiesel would defiantly raise but had the author anticipated this argument, he could have easily came up with a rebuttal that would neutralize this claim against biodiesel. Biodiesel may be more expensive, however the mileage you get from bio fuels is substantially larger than that of regular fuels (Cuebert, 2010) therefore, the argument that biodiesel is more expensive holds no weight at all. This claim would once again need to be supported by evidence such as the article written by Mike Cubert (2010) comparing the cost of the two types of fuels and how much mileage you would get from each.
In conclusion, the article written by Novack does present many good points that support the use of biodiesel, however the lack of evidence to support the claims he makes as well as the lack of controlling the arguments that would be made against biodiesel makes the article and claims made weaker. Providing solutions to problems such as water needed and costs of biofuels supported by evidence found from other sources, would greatly increase the credibility and strength of the claims made in this article. It isn’t enough to state that something is good, you have to provide evidence to support that claim and evidence to discredit claims against it. Overall this article did a good job of stating why biodiesel is beneficial and with the addition of evidence to support it and evidence to discredit claims against it, the article could prove to be a powerful tool in proving the benefits of biodiesel to others as well.
Carr, G., Nortcliff, S. and Potter, R. 2010. Water reuse for irrigated agriculture in Jordan: challenges of soil sustainability and the role of management strategies. The Royal Society. 368: 5315-5321.
Retrieved from:
Cubert, M. 2010. Really, How Much Does Biodiesel Cost?.
Retrieved from:,_How_Much_Does_Biodiesel_Cost_.html
Novack, J. 2010. Biodiesel as Alternative Green Energy. Economic & Environmental Benefits of Biofuel.
Retrieved from:

No comments:

Post a Comment