It’s become impossible to pause over a newspaper or news program these days without stumbling into the new century’s lexicon. Whether your interest is ecological or economic, guided by personal security concerns or planetary altruism, the vocabulary of the 21st century is biomass and switchgrass, “peak” oil and fuel cells.
The defining mission of our most innovative researchers in this and decades to come is the replacement of our petroleum dependence with new, less damaging sources of energy. This is not just because oil is becoming more difficult or costly to find – that it is running out – but that our past hundred years of coal-, gas- and oil-based advancement has dumped enormous quantities of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere, helping to shift weather patterns of our earth in potentially catastrophic ways. It has acidified our oceans while other combustion pollutants have spawned generations of asthmatics.
The future fuels, for the sake of our personal, community and global survival, must be green. They must be built upon resources that won’t run dry. They must not pollute or alter the natural cycles of the earth. They must come soon.
Whether you’re an investor or an activist, farmer or educator, you’ve heard of ethanol by now. You’ve also heard of wind, solar and maybe even biomass. But what about Bush’s lauded hydrogen economy? How soon before we will be asking ourselves if we want B20 or B90 in our tanks?
Though political and private investment in green engineering has misfired in the U.S. these past thirty years, Europe and Japan have launched themselves to the fore, leading to breakthroughs in solar and wind technologies that are bringing their costs into competitive range with our more traditional fuels. The shame is that while here in Texas we lead the nation in the amount of power we reap from the wind, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any “Made in the U.S.A.” tags on those turbines. Thank Holland, Denmark, Germany. Houston companies, however, are now moving.
There is wonderful research being done from The Woodlands to Galveston with Big Oil increasingly in the mix, joining our universities and private research centers.
EarthHouston is where we keep up with that research.
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