The Scoop December 2015 - Page 11

Germany’s Sunfire, are exploring how to use carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to make fuel. Personally, I think it’s time we depend less on other countries for oil and get on this bandwagon.

SUPERGRIDS

At the moment, “grids” – the networks of cables and substations that bring electricity from where it’s produced to where it’s needed – are usually fairly local, which means that power has to be produced within a (comparatively) short distance of where it’s going to be used. But that may change: Soon, as high-voltage direct current cables become widely available, and grid management technology improves, it should be possible to transmit electricity efficiently over hundreds of miles. “A European grid drawing from solar farms in the south, floating wind turbines in the north, tidal and wave arrays in the west, and Iceland’s geothermal reserves has long been regarded as an environmentalist pipe dream,” says Murray. “But there is growing evidence that such a grid is technically feasible, particularly as energy storage and grid-balancing smart-grid technologies mature.”

GEOENGINEERING

The big-ticket item that everyone looks to to save the world is, of course, geo-engineering. Seeding the oceans with iron to promote algae growth and dimming the sun with enormous solar mirrors or aerosols have been put forward as ways to slow the increase in global temperatures without any of that difficult lifestyle-change stuff. But the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) says it would be “irrational and irresponsible” to try any of this stuff yet.

It may, however, become necessary, if warming can’t be slowed by other means. The NAS says we should be investing more in exploring whether some forms of geo-engineering may be viable because the threat from climate change is so pronounced. Murray: “Basically, if it comes to this, we’re already in a world of trouble.”

WATER FROM POO

This is pretty self-explanatory. “Yes, Bill Gates is working on a project to turn poo into drinkable water,” says Murray. “It works, and he has drunk the results to prove it.”

by Kayla Lebo