Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Let’s face it. We live in a society that values above all else, on-going technological development. Varying in breadth and scale, the consequences of rapid technological change have become firmly entrenched in our lives. But at what cost to our fragile planet? Has our drive through Silicon Valley implanted in us a tendency to dodge our duty to the environment?

            It seems like a case of Pandora and curiosity. We are all unaware that ‘Pandora’s box’, has yet to be shut. Biodiesel is equivalent to the lock and key. Yet to an extent, significant destruction has already been inflicted upon our earth, from burning fossil fuels. We can however, discontinue further human and environmental devastation. Suppose we put a stop to that devastation. What would happen? I don’t mean what process we would go through to end this devastation. I mean what it would be like when the job was done. How would it feel to live in a world where greenhouse gas emissions were a thing of the past? Or even a glimpse of a renewable sustainable world, where technology is used for the benefit of all human kind.  
We have a selective penchant for technologies that provide instant gratification, whilst avoiding life-saving innovations like biodiesel. C’mon! I thought we were the smart species. Instead of investing in alterative fuels, countless billions are squandered reassuring the next generation of technophiles. Collective ego 1, environment 0, has become the reality. Perhaps environmentalist David Bellamy can help us better understand; ‘‘Scientists know how to solve all the major environmental problems of the world, but too many people are still making too much money from doing things the wrong way’’. Statements like Bellamy’s show there is still hope.

            The devastation that has eventuated from the box can be ‘undone’, by realising that there’s hope at the very bottom. We can extricate ourselves. Biodiesel has the capability to regenerate our perception on the universe as a whole. Biodiesel can be produced from vegetable oil, recycled cooking grease, animal fats and countless others. I doubt there is much dispute that biodiesel can offer more benefits than fossil fuels. But what I’m keen to hear from consumers today is whether you really care anymore? Have you become so detached from using environmentally friendly alternatives, that the difference between pollution and clean - green is negligible? If not, would you be prepared to spend less money by purchasing biodiesel for a greener approach to your planet earth?

Many are sadly unaware of biodiesel’s advantages. Biodiesel can satisfactorily replace burning fossil fuels by being able to run in any diesel engine, with no mechanical changes needed. The highly efficient diesel engine was designed by engineer Rudolf Christian Karl Diesel. His inspiration was to liberate the farmers of the day, by manufacturing an engine that would run on a readily available fuel crop. The fuel would have been grown and produced locally on farmer’s land. Karl Diesel’s original engine ran purely on peanut oil. You’re most likely thinking, ‘well then why don’t they today’?

Mysteriously, on the evening of 29th of September 1913, the engine developed for environmental purposes was all to float ashore, along with Rudolf Christian Karl Diesel’s lifeless floating body. But hold on there! Where did this come from? Although some were skeptical, the way Diesel died has never been verified. Suspiciously, he may have been the target of an assassination, aimed at destroying his plan for cheap, efficient and accessible fuel. Low and behold the world would have to wait another hundred years before the use of biodiesel was considered again.

            Fast-forwarding to today and it appears that the average farm in the US consumes gasoline at 82 litres per hectare. It would seem strange not to ask the question; why aren’t we cultivating the constituent crops of biodiesel? The attractive energy yield of biodiesel emits up to 78% less carbon dioxide whilst reducing carcinogenic hydrocarbon emissions by up to 75%. We really should be asking the question, ‘why aren’t we beginning to cultivate crops for worldwide biodiesel production?’

            Biodiesel can be locally produced. This eliminates our dependency on oil mainly derived from politically unstable areas, such as the Middle East. With ever-increasing oil prices, biodiesel is currently a highly feasible option. It has the potential to increase the value of the agricultural products from which it is derived. This improves the income of the rural sector and raises its standard of living. The demand for biodiesel will have farmers not only planting crops that have the option of being converted into biodiesel, but these crops can also be sold for their original purpose, for human and animal nutrition. These crops can also be planted together with other crops. How brilliant is this? No food shortages, whilst sustaining biodiesel production.  

            As Karl Diesel put it, ‘‘The use of plant oils as fuel may seem insignificant today. But these oils may, over time, become as important as petroleum or coals are now.’’ It seems his words are promptly becoming a reality. Change is a process that I know will take its time, but there’s no point of denial. The evidence is in front of you, and there’s no two ways about it. Biodiesel would not only fuel your car and your local factories, your plane rides and your boat trips. The main by-product of biodiesel is in fact glycerine, in which you and I happily use every time we clean ourselves, with soaps or use of cosmetics. Yes that’s correct. Even biodiesel’s by-products have a functional purpose. Glycerine can be sold to be used in various industrial processes. Biodiesel offers a safe alternative to handling and transporting, as its biodegradable. It’s reached a point were burning fossil fuels have created so much pollution in the air, that if it weren’t for our lungs there’d be no place to put it all. 

              The environmental and human costs of fossil fuel’s by-products cause health problems for humans and devastation for nature. Nitrogen oxides, for instance, irritate the lungs. So before you ‘huff and puff’ at the thought of such effort needed to make a difference in the world, just think about this; ‘‘everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing them self’’.

            How about aiming your curiosity a little further in life? Spark the desire to live in an environmentally friendly sustainable civilisation. After all, who really wants to be inside a box all their life that endeavours to bring all the plagues and sorrows known to humanity? ‘‘One person can make a difference and every person should try.’’


                                                                                                Krystal Baron

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