Today, we’ve been reading an interesting article about biofuels and whether they’re really the environmental panacea airlines (and jetsetters) hope.

Biofuels for airlines? Don’t get too excited just yet. Everyone wants to believe aviation could one day be guilt-free, but it’s still a way off according to one man, says Wired. Jeff Gazzard of the Aviation Environment Federation, who’s written a report about cruising at altitude on biofuel, says for now, it’s still in the realm of dreams. Says Wired, he’s:

…underwhelmed by the high-profile alt-fuel tests we’ve seen to far. Like others, he dismisses as a publicity stunt Virgin’s much-ballyhooed test flight of a Boeing 747 that flew from London to Amsterdam with one of its four fuel tanks carrying a 20 percent mix of biofuel. The plane, which used a mixture of coconut and babassu oils, would have needed some 3 million coconuts had it made the flight entirely on biofuel, he says.

More worrying are the safety issues that come from pumping biofuels (or alternatives) through an infrastructure that was “designed for petroleum … unlike petroleum, untreated biofuels can freeze at low temperatures and damage seals in aircraft fuel systems.” The International Air Transport Association has argued that the second generation of biofuels almost identically replicate jet fuel and have eliminated many of the contamination issues previously associated with the replacement fuel.

Elsewhere in environmental news:

Can Nitrogen Be Used to Combat Climate Change? Findings from one of the National Science Foundation’s longest-running studies show that adding nitrogen to soil prompts northern hardwood forests to absorb more heat-trapping carbon dioxide. — Scientific American

Taxpayers still paying for Garnaut Report. Taxpayers have been forced to pay almost $65,000 to allow the Department of Climate Change to buy copies of the Garnaut report, which was completed withmore than $2.3 million of public money. — Christian Kerr, The Australian

Hobbits really did exist, says study. An analysis of an 18,000-year-old fossil, described as the remains of a diminutive humanlike creature, proves that genuine cave-dwelling “hobbits” once flourished in southeast Asia, according to a US anthropologist who conducted X-ray studies of a skull. — The Guardian

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