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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 bllion is on land), much of which is in remote, fragile terrestrial ecosystems or off-shore oil fields 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 ecosystems services while minimizing negative effects, which requires information about potential impacts on critical resources.  Energy conservation and identifying and effectively protecting habitats with high-concervation value are critical first steps toward protecting biodiversity under any fuel production scenario.

Author(s)
Virginia H. Dale , Esther S. Parish , Keith L. Kline
Contact Person
Virginia Dale
Contact Organization
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Contact Phone
Contact Email
Bioenergy Category
Publication Year
DOI
10.1002/bbb.1528
Usage Policy
This manuscript has been authored by UT-Battelle, LLC under Contract No. DE-AC05-00OR22725 with the US Department of Energy.  The United States Government retains and the publisher, by accepting the article for publication, acknowledges that the United St