Transition Topic III: Alternative Vitality Alternatives
Beyond the apparent want for a mighty army, nothing is more essential to defending our lengthy-term nationwide security interests than a wholesome setting and considerable clean energy. Dependence on foreign oil from hostile regions is a continuing reminder of our vulnerability within the vitality sector. We pay to protect our access to oil with the blood of our youth. We endanger the financial safety of our sons and daughters by borrowing against their future to pay for the wars by which they now fight. We’re fossil fuel junkies, always craving the subsequent oil repair. And like a junkie, we’re prepared to pay any price for that candy drug, sacrificing our lengthy-time period health for rapid relief.
If oil had been nothing however sticky black waste, we would not be anyplace near the recent wastelands of the Middle East, besides as necessary to protect Israel. No matter what is alleged, we are there for oil, and would not be if we had no appetite for crude. With a restricted army presence, we might current a a lot smaller and less engaging target for terrorist propaganda. With no navy bases in Saudi Arabia, Osama bin Laden would have been denied his twisted campaign in opposition to occupying infidels.
Barack Obama’s transition workforce must tackle our addiction to fossil fuels as a high precedence. We have now lost eight critical years, and we’d like to maneuver quickly. We must remedy this downside to survive as a viable superpower. The United States consumes 25% of the world’s oil supply however boasts only 5% of global reserves. That disparity is a grave risk to our future. Energy independence is the essential key to true nationwide security. As a substitute of dumping hundreds of billions of dollars petroleum products marketingmpany registration into the treasuries of our worst enemies, we would be spending money at home. As an alternative of combating wars, we can be building our inexperienced economy, creating new jobs and exporting our experience to the remainder of the world. As an alternative of contributing to climate change, could be fixing the problem.
Energy independence is so critically essential to our future economic, environmental and navy safety that we in truth need to invest in alternate options to different vitality. I’ve previously written (http://tinyurl.com/Transition-II) how we must transfer strategically to a hydrogen economic system by way of a transition of wind and solar power. Obama has articulated an power plan that is according to putting America on that path. However, we will need to have in place contingency plans should mainstream various energies not live up to expectations. Failure will not be an possibility here; one way or the other we must become self-reliant for all of our energy needs.
Fortunately, with native ingenuity, international cooperation, and prescient support for primary research from previous administrations, promising leads already exist beneath the broad category of biofuels. The perfect recognized biofuel is of course ethanol. But corn-based ethanol drives up the cost of meals, consumes treasured agricultural acreage, and requires nearly as much energy from fossil fuels as is stored in the alcohol after taking into account driving tractors, making fertilizer and working ethanol production plants. Ethanol saves little oil, and contributes even much less to minimizing carbon dioxide petroleum products marketingmpany registration emissions. But different “different alternatives” show nice promise using newly-engineered micro organism and algae.
Scientists are actually petroleum products marketingmpany registration manipulating micro organism to supply molecules practically an identical to fossil fuels by growing on the sugars present in agricultural waste relatively than by fermenting meals crops. Business success with this strategy would solve all the major issues associated with ethanol. We would don’t have any have to occupy scarce agricultural lands to generate the uncooked materials, and the gasoline wouldn’t compete with meals production or pricing.
Algae signify one other promising strategy, one fully unbiased of traditional agriculture. Microalgae, pond scum to you and me, can double in mass a number of instances per day and may produce more than 15 instances as much oil per acre as rapeseed, palms or soybeans. Not like normal agricultural crops, algae manufacturing is steady. Mature algae are skimmed to be used on daily basis, another benefit over crops with one or two annual harvests. With present technology, algal oil is mixed with glycerol or ethanol to produce biodiesel. That doesn’t solve our drawback. But scientists are working to engineer algae to produce hydrocarbons instantly with no want for publish-production mixing. Waste algae could be offered as a excessive-protein animal feed.
Intriguingly, algae can be used to supply hydrogen. The fact that pond scum can split water into hydrogen and oxygen has been known for 60 years, however latest breakthroughs have allowed scientists to manage the algae’s hydrogen yield. Apparently, depriving algae of sulphur at strategic intervals tricks the plant into creating hydrogen for prolonged durations quite than making oxygen.
In the long run, cellulosic and traditional ethanol and algae-primarily based fuels are all forms of photo voltaic vitality. All require the solar for development. These present a strong diversity in trapping the solar’s energy, and represent a approach to use the solar to create fuels appropriate to be used in the transportation sector. Photovoltaic technology continues to advance, but the sun is simply too vital to leave to 1 method of harvesting.
Obama’s staff would be sensible to pursue these alternatives to alternative power with nice vigor. Our nationwide security might well rely on pond scum. None of those technologies is but prepared for prime time, but all have nice promise. We can not afford to let any affordable pathway to power independence go unexplored. With Obama’s open mind and keen intellect, there’s hope that his administration will fund these efforts like our lives depended on it – because they might.
Observe Jeff Schweitzer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JeffSchweitzer
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