Better Ways to Measure Impact
More important than any piece of equipment or physical process, we need an innovation in thinking--a standard way to measure carbon emissions and land-use impact of biofuels (and other energy sources), said Daniel Kammen, professor at the University of California, Berkeley. “It doesn’t sound like hardware, but it actually is the ultimate way to talk about... the return we get on a given unit of land area from solar, from nuclear, or biofuels or this or that,” he said. He urged we “begin a conversation on how we build those metrics. We will not get full agreement but we will get to a place where there are at least reasonable standards.” He notes that the U.S. Clean Air Act never said what the final “numbers” would be, but an agreement for a process for controlling pollution based on the best science.
Korin added that it was important to subject entrenched fossil fuels to the same kind of scrutiny we give the new alternatives. “It’s not fair that for petroleum or gasoline, nobody’s calauclating indirect emissions, but for biofuels and even for electricity--plug-in hybrid and electric cars--we’re looking upstream. We’re not looking upstream for petroleum. Either we look upstream for everything, or we don’t look upstream for anything, but make it fair.”