On 10 March 2008, the Ecological Society of America held a special conference to consider the ecological dimensions of biofuels. The symposium was held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC. Dr. William Parton — an AIBS member, Professor Emeritus and Senior Research Scientist with the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory at Colorado State University – opened the meeting with a brief overview of some of the ecological issues associated with biofuels. Dr. G. Phillip Robertson, also an AIBS member and scientist at the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, spoke on the “Biogeochemistry of Bioenergy Landscapes: Clean Water, Clean Air, and Climate Mitigation vs. Business as Usual.” Dr. Robertson indicated that while corn will not produce enough biomass to fuel the country’s growing demands; biofuels, if done correctly, could be part of the solution. Echoing the sentiment of many bioenergy scientists, Dr. Robertson stated that grain-based biofuels are not an effective climate mitigation strategy from a biogeochemical perspective.

Of note, in fall 2007 the Association of Ecosystem Research Centers (AERC) also briefed national policy makers about the importance of considering ecosystem dynamics when developing bioenergy policy. Information about the 2007 AERC Capitol Hill briefing, Ecosystem Science: Informing a Sound Bioenergy Policy, is available at http://www.ecosystemresearch.org/2007%20Meeting/index.htm

 


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