Saturday, August 9, 2008


So, we are in the midst of an energy crisis. The whole fossil fuel thing is not as permanent as some people would like. And we are in the midst of a global warming thing because CO2 is accumulating and making the planet hotter. And we're having some food crisis because food prices are going up partly because the cost to transport the food is going up quickly (the fossil fuel thing) and partly because we've decided it would be a good idea to use our food to fuel our cars. And then there's the economy. I'm not going to touch that because I'm far from an expert (notice that not being an expert has never stopped me before... this may be the beginning of something new, although I doubt it).

I had this incredible idea today. I was thinking of the crisis that we're facing and wanted to find a solution (as if I'm the one with the answers). So what are the fundamental problems. Too much CO2, not enough energy and not enough food. The solution that I came up with was to find a way to use CO2 as a means of producing energy and food. That would kill all three problems with a single solution.

As I thought about it, my mind drifted back to chemistry classes. CO2 has carbon in it (that's the C). Fossil fuels are long carbon chains that burn. Food is made up of fats and carbohydrates, both of which are long chains of carbons with some hydrogens and oxygens stuck to them. The problem is that we have to come up with the energy to make the carbons stick together, that doesn't just happen.

I figured that solar power is the only way to go for an energy source. The wind just isn't reliable enough, so we're going to use solar. Then we get into all the really difficult stuff. How do you get the fuel and food to the people? I'm thinking they will each need a little production plant of their own so we don't have to transport stuff and thus deplete the energy that we are producing.

I hereby patent the plant. You know, those green things that are all around that use solar energy to convert CO2 into starches (can plants make fats? I'm guessing they can based on the avocado, but I'm not positive).

Here's how it works. You find seeds for plants that grow things that you like to eat. You put the seeds in the ground and provide water and dead plants as fertilizer. The plant grows and provides you food which will also provide you the energy you need to accomplish your tasks. If you have extra food you can give it to friends. You may also want to grow larger plants like trees so that you can use that stored energy to heat your house. You won't need fuel for your car, that's why you have legs (the food you grow acts as the fuel for your legs). Any extra money earned from food grown you can go ahead and send to me. I did just patent the idea so I do deserve a little kickback.

Isn't it interesting how we have taken a principle that has been so simple from the very beginning of life and we've complicated it. We've made it this complex mess of politics, pollution and money, yet the solution is at our fingertips. We've had the solution since the beginning of our existence. Why is it so difficult to go back to the solution? Why do we seek to further complicate things?

I realize that if we were to truly simplify I wouldn't have this computer. And my schooling would be a total waste (I study obesity management and weight issues, which would be nonexistent if people actually had to work for their food). Still, I think I'm ready to take a progressive step toward the solution. I'm ready to take a step toward the past.


Vertigo said...

plants make plenty o' fats...many of them of the better kind.

Olive oil, canola oil, palm oil, sesame oil to name a few.

sans auto said...

Do you know if the fats come from CO2 or from nutrients from the soil? I would guess the CO2, but am curious.

Nate said...

Plants get mostly water and essential minerals (like phosphorous and nitrogen) from the ground. I'm pretty sure that most, if not all, the carbon a plant gets is from the air.

You've mentioned that plants make carbohydrates from CO2 and you're correct in identifying CO2 as the carbon source for plant-made fats, but guess what? plants also use the same gaseous substrate to manufacture proteins (you already know this; I'm being dramatic for the readers' sakes).

So encapsulated within the host of plant varieties is the ability to manufacture and fix all of the major macro- and micronutrients (carbs, fat, protein, vitamins, minerals, and water) except vitamin B12, but brewers' yeast or supplemented soy milk or supplemented cereals can take care of that one for you.

A strict vegan also needs to take care to obtain sufficient amounts of calcium, iron, zinc, and, I believe, vitamin D. But eating a wide variety of plant-based foods and spending some time in the sun each day can take care of any of those specific nutrient concerns.

Enough of my rambling! Bring on the plants.

Emily A. W. said...

What if you live in a place where you can't grow enough food to feed your family unless you have a greenhouse? I agree that truly simplifying is the ideal, but its hard for me to imagine it being realistic for the whole population.

What do you propose we do for places that don't get sunshine or rain or are too hot to grow plants?

Maybe I am missing the point, but I think what you really want is to live on a farm in the middle of a preplanned community that is earth friendly. Then you want all of society to be earth friendly too...
It will happen someday. But maybe we will be very old before then.

In the meantime, keep writing and throwing your voice as loud as it will go... keep it up! :)