Washington, Feb.15 (ANI): A post-doctoral researcher at Stanford's Woods Institute for the Environment has warned that excessive use of bio-fuels can destroy earth's rainforests.
"If we run our cars on bio-fuels produced in the tropics, chances will be good that we are effectively burning rainforests in our gas tanks," Holly Gibbs warns.
Policies favoring biofuel crop production may inadvertently contribute to, not slow, the process of climate change, Gibbs said.
Such an environmental disaster could be "just around the corner without more thoughtful energy policies that consider potential ripple effects on tropical forests," she added.
Gibbs' predictions are based on her new study, in which she analyzed detailed satellite images collected between 1980 and 2000.
The study is the first to do such a detailed characterization of the pathways of agricultural expansion throughout the entire tropical region.
Gibbs hopes that this new knowledge will contribute to making prudent decisions about future biofuel policies and subsidies.
Gibbs presented her findings in Chicago at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
The symposium is titled "Bio-fuels, Tropical Deforestation, and Climate Policy: Key Challenges and Opportunities."
Before Gibbs' study, few had focused on the question of the origin of new croplands-a question that has been a source of heated debate among scientists and policymakers alike over the past few years.
Gibbs was one of the first to approach the question by quantifying the types of land-pristine forest, disturbed forest, woody savannas, grasslands, plantations or agricultural land-that are being cleared to make space for the new cropland.
Tropical forests are the world's most efficient storehouses for carbon, harboring more than 340 billion tons, according to Gibbs' research. This is equivalent to more than 40 years worth of global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels. (ANI)