Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Blue Green Algae, the Need for Energy, and Other Facts of Life

When you get George W. Bush and the National Geographic conceding that we might have to do something about global warming and our dependence on oil, you’ve got the beginning of momentum that might actually get things done.

This month's Geographic has an interesting article by Bill McKibben about the kind of changes that will be needed to bring down carbon emissions. It covers the same material that Elizabeth Kolbert did in her New Yorker series two years ago, but, hey, thousands more will read the McKibben story than read the Kolbert one, which is probably all to the good.

The National Geographic also does some analysis of the energy and emission equivalents of petroleum and other kinds of fuel—biodiesel, ethanol. cellulose and algae The most surprising one is the based on the most simple organism—blue green algae, or “pond scum.” That’s the same stuff that is poisoning a lot of lakes and water ways in Quebec and elsewhere. Of course, as the story says, there’s a long way to go before a commercially viable product is available, and there’s no way the blooms that blight our water can be successfully switched to fuel-making. Nevertheless, the idea that it might be harnessed to make fuel made me smile.

And keeping one's spirits up is the only way to keep up the battle to make things, if not better, then at least no worse than they are now.


Neil McKenty said...

Mary, just stumbled on your blog. It's chock-a-block with good stuff.

Mary Soderstrom said...

Thanks, Neil

Hope all is well with you.