In participating in Blog Action Day, I was having some problems coming up with a topic to blog about. I knew there would be many posts on recycling, waste reduction, and so forth so I thought I would go a different route and discuss 5 things outside of the norm. However strange, all of these solutions have been proposed by actual scientists and I didn’t make any of them up. Some will never likely be feasible, but at least you’ll think about it.
1. Cool down the earth by moving the entire planet farther away from the sun – This idea was published in the professional journal Astrophysics and Space Science by Don Korycansky, Greg Laughlin, and Fred Adams. Essentially they propose to find an asteroid say around 60 miles long (the size of Long Island or so). Once said asteroid has been located they plan on using it as a “gravitational sling shot” of sorts by strapping a big rocket to it and putting the asteroid in an orbit wider than the radius of the solar system. By having the asteroid pass close enough to the Earth (every 6000 years or so), it will slowly tug the planet farther and farther away from the sun. Drawback #1: If the asteroid were to accidentally collide with the Earth it would eliminate all life on the planet (Global Warming would no longer be an issue). Drawback #2: It would take 6,000,000,000 years to finish. Drawback #3: Every time the asteroid would pass it would cause giant tsunamis and title waves and bad stuff like that. End Result: Global Warming Averted 6 billion years from now!
2. Use Aerogel to clean up pollution – You remember Aerogel right? It’s that fun stuff they used to collect space dust, hold up bricks and save your Crayons from dragons. Aside from fun stuff like that, they recently published in Science magazine that Aerogel could be used to create a sponge-like substance that could clean up heavy metals like mercury making it ideal to clean up polluted water. Seals everywhere rejoice! There is also research in progress to create purification filters for fuel cells and desalinization plants to make the world a cleaner place. Drawback #1: They are made from platinum, so our taxes are going to go up. A lot. End Result: Water Pollution Eliminated!
3. Grow genetically modified crops – For around ten years farmers in Australia have been growing genetically modified cotton that has a built in resistance to insects. This has led to a massive reduction in pesticide spraying. By using the same technology on food we could decrease the use of pesticides on crop supplies to an almost negligible level. It also reduces the amount of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere. When pesticides are sprayed, they not only kill the insects the but also organisms in the soil that keep carbon trapped. Once they are toasted the Carbon is released into the atmosphere as Carbon Dioxide. Everyone knows that’s bad. Except President Bush maybe. Biotechnology and food supplies have always been a controversial topic and this isn’t really an opinion piece so you can choose for yourself if you like eating ant killer. Drawback #1: Something could go wrong and you might be attached by a giant tomato. Drawback #2: Genetically altered crops generally offer no cost benefit to the farmers so getting them to adopt it would be difficult. End Result: Less pesticide and possible vegetable attacks.
4. Go back in time and fix stuff – No, I said I didn’t make this stuff up. First let’s quote the great Carl Sagan:
“If we could travel into the past, it’s mind-boggling what would be possible. For one thing, history would become an experimental science, which it certainly isn’t today. The possible insights into our own past and nature and origins would be dazzling. For another, we would be facing the deep paradoxes of interfering with the scheme of causality that has led to our own time and ourselves. I have no idea whether it’s possible, but it’s certainly worth exploring.”
A physicist named John Cramer is attempting to explore this very thing. His first step is figuring out if anything can indeed move faster than light. If so, he claims, through some long quantum physics thing I can’t even figure out, traveling backwards in time would be possible. This would allow us to do things like beat up George Bush and elect Al Gore and present nuclear fuel cells to the people of the 1800′s. Drawback #1: The space-time continuum would be disrupted and the entire universe would collapse. Ouch. Drawback #2: We’d probably make it worse. Giving nuclear energy to people in the 1800′s would probably be a bad idea. Drawback #3: Alien invaders from the future could find the technology and come back to eat us now. Drawback #4: Al Gore would invent the interweb. End Result: I don’t know but I bet I’d win the lottery.
5. Reduce your carbon footprint – Okay, so this one isn’t weird but I had to have a serious one. Some people think that just because they drive a hybrid electric car they’re doing more for the environment that me since I’m driving a giant SUV. What they don’t understand is the concept of Carbon Footprints. I do because my brother happens to be a Geologist. Let me give you an example. I drive a 1997 Ford Expedition 4×4 and a 2001 Ford Mustang GT (Those aren’t mine but they’re close enough). Let’s also say my environmentally focused friend drives a 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid. Who is more environmentally friendly? Well, I live 5 miles from work but my friend doesn’t like the pollution of the city so he lives 25 miles away out in the suburbs. By this calculation I release approximately 1.6 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere per year while his little hybrid releases 2.55 tons of CO2 per year. Now obviously I could reduce my carbon footprint by driving a more sensible car, but there is more to consider than what you drive. Want to know how much your carbon footprint is? You can calculate yours at Climate Crisis. So, try and eliminate some of your carbon footprint and shut your pesky little tree hugger friend up with your advanced knowledge of the atmosphere. Drawbacks: None. End Results: Less Global Warming!
Thanks again to the Blog Action Day group. It was a cool idea and I’m excited to see the final tally. Hopefully someone will think about it next time they buy a 300 horsepower mustang