(393a) Study of the Impact of Biofuels On the Sustainability An Integrated Ecosystem Model

Authors: 
Kotecha, P., Vishwamitra Research Institute, Center for Uncertain Systems: Tools for Optimization and Management
Diwekar, U., Vishwamitra Research Institute, Center for Uncertain Systems: Tools for Optimization and Management
Cabezas, H., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


In recent years, there has been a tremendous interest in the study of sustainability across all sections of the society. This is primarily due to the realization that the continuous sustenance of the current ecological harmony would be severely endangered if appropriate remedial actions are not taken. However, it should be noted that sustainability is not to be considered as a goal that has to be achieved over a period of time but more of a path or corridor that needs to be maintained throughout time. In order to enable a formal study of sustainability, a systematic study of the ecosystem is necessary which could qualitatively help us understand the short and long time implications of the policies that are being currently practiced and also help in formulating policies that need to be implemented for ensuring the sustainability of the ecosystem. Such understanding could be derived by simulating a model of the ecosystem which is simple enough for mathematical analysis but detailed enough to give qualitative predictions of the real world. To this effect, an integrated socio-economic model has been gradually built over the past few years. In this work, we enhance this model to study the implication of biofuels on the overall sustainability of the ecosystem. The first generation biofuels have been believed to be a ?perfect? alternative for the fossil fuels. However, there have been some recent studies which have been critical of these first generation biofuels both in terms of their ability to reduce the ?total? GHG emissions and also its capacity to endanger the sustainability of the ecosystem. In this work, we propose to study the implications of the biofuels in the integrated model. In particular, we have modified the integrated socio-economic model such that the energy requirement by the system could be met by first generation biofuels as well as fossil energy. This helps in the study of the long term effects on sustainability arising due to the use of primary producers as biofuels. In addition, we have also considered the two frequently predicted scenarios of population explosion and consumption increase. Both these scenarios demand a larger quantity of primary producers for the various components of the ecosystem and hence the use of primary producers also as biofuels could lead to some very important insights.