It’s really easy to despair at the state of the environment. Global climate change becomes increasingly impossible to deny with each passing day. But our government seems to be doing everything in its power to maintain our outmoded culture of fossil fuelishness.
And yet, even in this sea of pervasive ignorance and selfishness and greed, there are little islands of hope. We have made scientific inroads, and this progress seems to be exponential. We are discovering better ways to live in the world.
Just getting rid of our old fashioned light bulbs, for example, has made an undeniable impact. And a zero emissions trolley just rolled past my window. We are learning more effective ways to recycle. We are even coming up with methods of getting energy from our landfills. (You don’t often hear of anything positive coming from a landfill.) Our solar cells and batteries are becoming much more efficient, and wind power is gaining a foothold. We are starting to actually grasp how dangerous pipelines and fracking are.
Just the other day, I stumbled upon this intriguing article from the University of Queensland. A researcher there is coming up with a way to mass produce limonene, the chemical that gives citrus its smell, with the end goal of using that to produce a clean, renewable jet fuel. Now how cool is that?
Dr. Claudia Vickers maintains that it would be impossible to produce enough limonene from lemon peels, but she’s working with yeast that may create a synthetic form of it in larger quantities. I find this fascinating. And it gives me hope for the future.
Discoveries such as this are why we need to encourage our youth to embrace science. We need researchers and physicists and biologists and chemists and mathematicians if we are ever to pull ourselves out of this downward spiral that we have brought upon ourselves. Science doesn’t have to be hard or boring or geeky. It can be amazing and rewarding and heroic.
The bottom line is that science is our only hope. And we should never give up hope.
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