25 Reasons To Have Hope In An Ecological Future

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Hydrogen fuel cells provided electricity to the APollo lunar lander in 1969 & their water byproduct is still used to hydrate astronauts
  • Nasa archive photo by Neil Armstrong
  • Hydrogen fuel cells provided electricity to the APollo lunar lander in 1969 & their water byproduct is still used to hydrate astronauts
1. Hydrogen Power The hope: Long touted as the best pollution-free alternative to fossil fuels., hydrogen fuel cells may be used to power everything from the very small (i.e. your laptop) to the very large  (homes, factories and transportation). The hurdle: extracting pure hydrogen fuel from other molecules.  BMW & Toyota have hot cars ready once this problem is solved. A few inventors who claim to have solved that problem say their inventions have been suppressed.  

2. Algae Biofuels The Hope: A renewable source of biodiesel that can be grown in massive amounts. Common pond scum algae's composition is over 50% lipid oil that can be converted to biodiesel fuel. The hurdle: The energy expended to extract the oil & convert to biodiesel is greater than the yield

3.  Thermal-Depolymerization The hope: This "anything to oil" technology mimics the way nature works to produce oil from waste material that would normally wind up in dumps. The hurdle: The odor thermal-depolymerization facilities emit make them difficult to locate and the technology has to be refined to produce a competitively priced fuel.

4. L.E.D. Lighting 
This isn't a hope, but essentially a done deal: LED bulbs offer an approximately a 50% overall improvement over fluorescents without the toxic mercury. Removing the fluorescent bulbs the government just insisted you install & replacing them with LED's could in effect, cut the national light bill in half. The hurdle: None really, other than the fact that LED's are currently more expensive, but prices are dropping dramatically as supply and demand increase.

5. Ocean thermal energy conversion
The hope: The ocean is the largest solar collector on earth. The oceans absorb enough solar heat daily to equal the thermal energy of 250 billion barrels of oil (U.S. Department of Energy statistic). OTEC technologies convert oceanic thermal energy into electricity using temperature differentials between the water's surface and cold water below. The temperature differential can drive turbines. The hurdle:  Still not efficient enough to be used as a major mechanism for generating power. 

6. Solar -
The hope: If enough photons reach earth every hour to meet all the world's electrical power demands for a year then harnessing even a fraction of that energy could solve our most pressing environmental, economic and political quagmires. The hurdle:  Silicon photovoltaic solar cell panels are still too inefficient, fragile & expensive be massively deployed. Some say current solar technology is up to the task & that the real problem is lack of government & industry will to deploy. Scores of individuals & companies are making profitable use of the current technology.

7. Electric cars
The hope: If everyone drove a car like the currently available Chevy Volt then, the National gasoline bill could be cut by 40 to 80%. The hurdle(s): Initial expense, public anxiety about the technology, lack of public infrastructure to recharge, amount of time it takes to recharge. 

8. Tide & wave power
-  The hope: Wave energy could be directed to turbines to turn this mechanical power into electrical.The hurdle: Technology to harness wave energy under variable oceanic conditions (Sometimes waves are too small to generate sufficient power, sometimes too large to wrangle). The other trick is storing the energy when enough mechanical power is generated. New York City's East River is becoming the test bed for six tide-powered turbines. 

9. Net zero homes
-  The Hope: Living & work spaces designed for ultra-efficiency and with integrated renewable energy systems so that they don't consume more energy than they produce.  The hurdle: The technology already exists and net zero dwellings are a reality, but initial price is often far higher than conventional homes because their are fewer architects, builders & contractors to implement these technologies.

How mushrooms & Hemp Save The Planet! ;) 

Six ways mushrooms (mycelium) can save the world. 
The hopes: Mushrooms can create the means to 10. naturally feed the world,  11. cure cancer, 12. stop influenza, 13. be the best antibiotics and pesticides, 14. put a victory garden in every home and 15. generate ethanol.  The hurdle: Whenever mycologist Paul Stamets introduces the subject peoples' eyes glaze over & they think about portobellos & the "magic" kind. However,  Stamets has spent his life  doing the research, winning the contracts and building the businesses  to back these statements. His recent TED talk details these six ways mushrooms can save the world. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XI5frPV58tY

16 - 21. How industrial hemp already saved Us:

Jack Herer's 1985 book "The Emperor Wears No Clothes" spelled out the multitude of ways industrial Hemp could save the planet all by itself. The Hurdle: Laws that equate the several varieties of industrial hemp with those that were bred to contain THC (the psychoactive component of marijuana). Industrial hemp contains no THC and has historically proven to be a profitable renewable resource.16. Hemp Fuel: How does 20 barrels of oil per acre of industrial hemp sound? (How about putting it in a hemp paneled car like Lotus Eco Elise)? 17. Hemp Food: A quickly growing, soil aerating, pesticide free source of healthy oils — including omega-3 fatty acids — hemp provides superior nutrition. Hemp protein is high in globulins, types of proteins that enhance the immune system.  http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/12/12/healthy-hemp-super-food/  18. Hemp Shelter: "Hempcrete" walls make strong, thermal neutral, zero point energy homes more economical.19. Hemp Textiles:  Hemp is an extremely efficient fiber source for all types of textiles and industrial products. The 1942 U.S. government film "Hemp For Victory" details how hemp textiles helped win World War Two.20. Hemp Medicine -  Medicinal uses are multifold buttony are controversial. The film "Run From The Cure" documents its use in curing skin cancer. 21. Hemp Paper - Until 1883, 75-90% of all paper in the world was made from hemp fiber including ancient documents, bibles, maps, money, newspapers, and etc.  I'd still like to pick up a paper copy of Creative Loafing on my wanderings without worrying about the environmental cost. Hemp paper does not require the toxic chemical process used to turn tree wood pulp to paper nor does it require the chopping down of said trees.

22 - 25   suppressed power technologies

Stories of suppressed renewable energy inventions are as old a Nikola Tesla but the Internet has become rife with so many suppressed energy device rumors that it's hard to sort reasonable conspiracy theorizing from the completely baseless. Here's some with evidence that lead down WWW rabbit holes you can dig into to see if something of great value is being unjustly withheld or if they are just genius cons. You might waste some time on such Internet quests or you'll discover a hidden free energy device that you can tweak to perfection & change the world. What better do you have to do with your time online?

Cold Fusion:
One of the most spurned fields of science; does cold fusion deserve the negative wrap it continues to receive in academia? New work suggests a fresh look at this electrochemical nuclear technology. New cold fusion processes & products like  "The Cold Fusion Hot Tube" industrial water heating device are being developed abroad so it may be time for our government to refund cold fusion research.  "The Phenomenon Files" feature documentary: "The War On Cold Fusion" provides a concise history of this science & its alleged suppression  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNDPgQG6jkc

23. The water fueled  car
"It Runs On Water" a feature documentary film details inventor Stanley Meyer's "fractured water" hydrogen powered (water fueled) car as well as a history of technology deemed impossible by ruling scientific  paradigms that later proved to be scientifically sound. Other inventors like Tesla & "Hydrosonic Pump" James L. Griggs are in this feature documentary film on the subject of suppressed technology.  

24. "The hydrosonic Pump"
James Griggs claimed his over-unity industrial water heating machine: was an accidental discovery while observing a vibrating pipe in a plumbing system. Griggs also noticed that the pipe got hot & set about trying to understand why to recreate and harness that heat. He produced water heating pumps that many claim to operate at 100% efficiency & even output more energy that is input to the system (over-unity). This defies the basic scientific principle of the conservation of energy and no major university, government or industry has acknowledged Griggs' technology although his systems are in small scale deployment and users claim they perform with at least 100% efficiency.

25. The vapor fuel system:
Tom Ogle claimed his invention could turn any car into a 100 mpg reality. Ogle's patent application was denied by the patent office. Part of their explanation was that GM had already patented the technology. If so, why was it never used and why did Ogle die under mysterious circumstances? Covered in the following "How Stuff Works" short film:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40xvaXTi8c4 

Several other zero-point & free energy rabbit holes are out there but before you judge remember that The Wright  brothers were two ridiculed bicycle makers who did what the entire scientific community said was impossible, Carl Benz made his first cars in his shed, what became core elements of our personal computers were hacked together by a few guys in California garages & no part of our day in modern America seems unaffected by the initially suppressed inventions of Nikola Tesla. So, although you probably shouldn't believe the hype about anything, don't  jump on ridicule bandwagons before doing your own homework.

There are many more reasons to have hope in an ecological future; I didn't mention the widespread use of geothermal, wind or the ways nanotechnology is improving several renewable energy systems. I suggest that the killer app is not any one technology. The killer app could be the plan that calculates the correct mix & deployment of proven ecological technologies… Now there's a science fair project for you. Do your best kids; our biological clock is ticking. ;)So, there you have it, everything from the conventional to the underground & outlandish all in one article for one great weekly that has a knack for covering the same. Celebrate 25 years of Tampa Bay's best local weekly April 17 through 21st.

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