Sound Policy Needs Sound Science

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 26, 2008 | Go to article overview

Sound Policy Needs Sound Science


Byline: Bruce Dale, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

As the Environmental Protection Agency fulfills its requirement to determine how direct and indirect land use change is impacted by crops produced to make biofuels, it needs to assure that good science is used to create good policy.

It would be easy - and wrong - to rely on a much-publicized study that connects U.S. corn ethanol production to greenhouse gas release via indirect land use change. Indirect land use change refers to bringing new lands into agricultural production, and thereby creating a carbon debt, because of market forces.

This study, first publicized in ScienceExpress online in February 2008 and widely quoted in a Time magazine cover story in March, cast a pall over all biofuels and has chilled investment in advanced non-grain-based biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol. My evaluation is that the study meets neither the standards for scientific significance nor life cycle analysis as required in the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007.

No actual data exist that connect U.S. domestic ethanol production with, to cite a widely quoted example, the clearing of the Amazon rain forest. Instead, the paper's conclusions depend entirely on economic modeling and assumptions. The validity of these assumptions and the reliability of the models are now being explored by other scientists.

Thus far, the paper is not holding up well to scrutiny. For example, other analyses predict that hypothetical land use change will occur primarily in U.S. grasslands and commercial forests, not in tropical forests. The carbon debt resulting from grassland conversion is much less than what would result from tropical forest conversion.

The study considers only the worst case for land management following land use change. My own research group has shown appropriate land management strategies following land use change can eliminate or greatly reduce the carbon debt. Until its conclusions are supported by independent analyses using a variety of tools and assumptions, the paper is not scientifically significant.

The International Standards Organization (ISO) established parameters for life cycle analysis. These include: (1) using the most recent data, (2) making appropriate comparisons, (3) determining the sensitivity of results to changes in major assumptions and data, and (4) allocating environmental impacts among all system products. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Sound Policy Needs Sound Science
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.