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Risks to global biodiversity from fossil-fuel production exceed those from biofuel production

Potential global biodiversity impacts from near-term gasoline production are compared to
biofuel, a renewable liquid transportation fuel expected to substitute for gasoline in the near term
(i.e., from now until c. 2030). Petroleum exploration activities are projected to extend across more
than 5.8 billion ha of land and ocean worldwide (of which 3.1 billion is on land), much of which is in
remote, fragile terrestrial ecosystems or off-shore oil fi elds that would remain relatively undisturbed
if not for interest in fossil fuel production. Future biomass production for biofuels is projected to fall
within 2.0 billion ha of land, most of which is located in areas already impacted by human activities. A
comparison of likely fuel-source areas to the geospatial distribution of species reveals that both energy
sources overlap with areas with high species richness and large numbers of threatened species. At the
global scale, future petroleum production areas intersect more than double the area and a higher total
number of threatened species than future biofuel production. Energy options should be developed to
optimize provisioning of ecosystem services while minimizing negative effects, which requires information
about potential impacts on critical resources. Energy conservation and identifying and effectively
protecting habitats with high-conservation value are critical fi rst steps toward protecting biodiversity
under any fuel production scenario. Published in 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd

Dale VH , Parish ES , Kline KL
Contact Person
Virginia H. Dale
Contact Organization
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
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Contact Email
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1002/bbb.1528
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