The Bioeconomy – the fruits of this economy will move us away from synthetic goods whose production and disposal continue to pose risks for us, and will also decrease our need for fossil fuels. This realm encompasses the production of renewable biological resources and their conversion into food (obviously), bio-based products and bioenergy. This goes far beyond the now ridiculous seeming idea of growing food crops to power our vehicles.
Last week’s mention of Yulex, the new natural rubber, is a perfect example of this unseen world of research and development that is beginning to blossom. Here is potential for a model for 21st century manufacturing – resource efficient, bio-based and circular in its nature.
Surfers are certainly passionate about the ocean environment, and riding the waves is pretty darn clean fun. But what do they ride? Generally boards made of oil derived chemicals – foam cores, fiberglass and resins – polluting and toxic in their manufacture. And what do they wear? Neoprene wetsuits, also a synthetic petro product, which can be bought from China for a buck a yard. One wonders about the conditions at those factories, like so many others.
The main maker of the boards’ foam cores for decades – Clark Foam – was shut down by the EPA in 2005, being unable to comply with various regulations, including its use of a carcinogenic chemical. Time magazine called it “Surfing’s Sudden Wipeout“, and it began a shift in the production of surfboards, including to more eco-friendly types.
The Middle East – MENA (Middle East North Africa) is a unique region in the world’s energy and water nexus. It is loaded with fossil fuel, holding nearly 60% of the world’s oil reserves, and nearly 45% of its natural gas reserves. Fuel rich and water poor, it is home to 6.3% of the world’s population and has access to only 1.4% of the globe’s fresh water supply. 14 of the world’s 20 most water scarce countries are in this region.
Weekly column by Barbara Hirsch (Bill Heller photo)
Our International Film Festival always brings gems from so many realms, literal and figurative.
On one day this past week I was lucky to attend two that were each mind blowing, one from its sheer astonishing beauty, and the other, from the power of its information delivery.
Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Secret Ocean in 3D uses technology that allow us to see the tiniest and most beautiful forms of marine life and to feel as if we are there under the surface with him. These visceral, multi dimensional images, a wonderful narrative and a compelling soundtrack all coalesced to give us an awe inspiring hour, making me grateful to be alive in this wondrous world. Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society, whose purpose this film expresses with such magnificence, is based in Santa Barbara.
In the Austrian film ENERGIZED, the depths and breadth of global forces of the business of energy production are plumbed to powerful effect. The film is packed with personal stories of people in the crux of these matters, images that speak volumes, and information gushing like oil. I found myself wishing I could see this film again, long before it ended!
From my own perspective I can only wish that others could see these. It seems as if the world would then be a better place. What could be better for our hearts and minds than the awesome beauty of nature and a better understanding of it? It would then follow, of ourselves.
A poll just out shows that the great majority of Americans support government action to curb global warming. 83%, including 61% of Republicans, agree that global warming will be a serious problem in the future if nothing is done to reduce emissions. Nearly half of Republicans are more likely to support a candidate who will work towards this, also half of Republicans believe that these actions would hurt the economy. Those are the same people who don’t seem to care about all of the jobs alternative energy is creating.
A nuclear plant coming online at the end of the year in Tennessee will have cost up to $4.5 billion to build for 1150mw, a solar farm going up in Nevada will cost $1 Billion for 250 mw. Do the math and consider: nuclear waste vs. none.