Biofuel And Aquaculture Essay

2122 words - 9 pages

Biofuel and aquaculture are two of many industries that extract resources from ecological systems. For either corn-based biodiesel or finfish farming, the production process acquires feedstock from energy-fixing ecological systems such as farm fields and oceans. In cases such as intensified salmon farming, large amount of supplement is applied including fish meal and fish oil obtained from other ecological systems such as wild ocean (Naylor et al, 2000). For residue-derived biofuel and shellfish agriculture, energy input from external ecosystems, although relatively small, is still necessary to meet the energy needs. These intricately linked ties of interaction determine that impacts of ...view middle of the document...

Benefits and Costs Occurring at Different Scales
In practical terms neither of these resource extraction systems can exist independent of other systems such as regional natural environment, local community, society or even economies. Rather they are so intertwined that particular benefits or costs may appear at different times, space or complexities.
Case studies have shown that not all outcomes occurring from biofuel or aquaculture productions may be fully presented concurrently (the Sierra Club and the Worldwatch Institute, 2009). Benefits and costs can emerge at different temporal scales. In the corn-based biofuel production as an example, intensified land use and fertilizer utilization may quickly accrue monetary benefits to local community during first few years of business. Yet if the land is not carefully attended to, after several cycles of growing the productivity of land shall be diminished and the ecological integrity may be greatly harmed. Harvesting techniques of aquaculture industry, especially the shellfish farming, can inflict disturbances on the physical structures of farming sites but the impacts may be undone by natural forces in a relatively frequent manner. Both examples illustrate that the equation between benefits and costs may shift depending on the time scale we are looking at.
Even at the same time scale, benefits and costs can take different forms at different spatial scales. When some environmentalists and politicians earnestly advocated biofuel several years ago, they were referring to the potency of biofuel to reduce our dependence on carbon-rich fossil fuels and ultimately retard carbon emission. Admittedly in sheer biological sense, expanded biofuel can contribute to our endeavor to cut reliance on fossil fuels over a global scale. Yet recent studies have revealed the negative impacts of biofuel production on regional ecological systems such as strained water supply, pollution and ecological degradation (The National Academics, 2007; Fargione et al, 2008). As for aquaculture, in spite of the alleged benefits to diversify diet and ameliorate global food problem, the ensuing environmental degradation through eutrophication, ecological structure interruption and fecal pollution is threatening the production enterprise itself and local community (Feigon, 2000). Some industrial incumbents advertise shellfish farming as environmentally benign by saying that on the whole this production process does not utilize additional energy as some other aquaculture industries do. What they fail to mention, however, is the concentrated nutrient richness created by directed water current around the production facility. Machineries pump in water with algae from adjacent water bodies and form an artificially nutrient rich zone. Changed water circulation may produce similar negative impacts on local ecology.
If we widen our scrutiny to include economic and social scales, the complexity of benefit and cost analysis escalates....

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