The world's economy is acquiring a new energy addiction: biofuels.
Crop-based fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel are quietly becoming a crucial
component of the global energy supply, despite growing concerns about their
impact on the environment and world food prices.
Biofuels production is rising rapidly, while other fuel sources are failing to
keep pace with demand. As a result, biofuels are making up a larger portion of
the world's energy-supply gap than many analysts expected. That means the debate
over biofuels probably will shift from whether they are good or bad to the more
difficult question of how to make sure their production keeps growing -- without
wreaking economic and environmental havoc.
Global production of biofuels is rising annually by the equivalent of about
300,000 barrels of oil a day. That goes a long way toward meeting the growing
demand for oil, which last year rose by about 900,000 barrels a ...