Flying. It’s convenient and quick but let’s face it – it’s a big environmental headache. And worldwide ecological conferences aren’t helping in that matter. As argued by my editor, Claudio Ruch, in the above linked article, we have to sometimes look beyond the carbon footprint to see what value we’re getting. After all, if there hadn’t been a global conference, I would still be sitting in Switzerland and Samuel Pickard in the United Kingdom, we would have never met and there would have been no extraordinary story to report.
Several problems are being talked about when it comes to the Internet. We speak about one’s addiction to it, about the isolation it provokes – all connected, but all alone – about the risks of our data being stolen or the risks of buying online with a credit card. More rarely, we speak about Internet and its environmental impact. Has it ever occurred to you that while you are browsing the World Wide Web, there is a big charge of electricity coursing across the world to bring you the pages and documents you ask for? And I’m not talking only about the power your computer is consuming at the moment – as a fun statistic, a small laptop produces around 8 grams of CO2 per hour.
Biofuels are nowadays very controversial, even if they promise a lot. That is why Adam Wong – who helped me for the preparation of the interview and who filmed it – and I took the chance to talk to a very up-to-date researcher in the fields. At the World Resources Forum 2012 in Beijing, we interviewed Philippa Usher from the University of Leeds. The brilliant Ph.D student from the Energy Research Institute is specialized in low carbon technology and more specifically, in microalgae biofuels. Her research, as she explains in the interview, focuses on Brazil where biofuels are already produced on a large scale.
Biofuels from corn seem to have been in vogue lately. This is especially true in the United States, where the Navy just paid $12 million for a Pacific fleet this summer, reopening at the same time the debate. But are biofuels really a sustainable and practical solution to our energy problem? Is it responsible to continue in that direction, especially with cars, while other possibilities could be and are being developed to avoid using fuel or biofuel? The concept of biofuels is not a new one and it is not just in the last decade that it came to the mind of some car producers to use ethanol to run their machines. In fact, Henry Ford planned to have his Model T running on ethanol, which is a type of biofuel, already back in 1906.
An increasing population, growing needs and rising pollution… there is no doubt that changes need to happen in several part of our lives if we don’t want to empty the resources of our earth. Let’s look at the case of water, for example. The names “San Pellegrino” and “Aquafina” are well known to all of us; most of us have probably even bought a bottle or two without really thinking about it. But today, this is the very discussion on the table, as some politicians propose ideas that challenge our ideas of consumption and question bottled water. Upon reflection, consuming bottled water is illogical.