Ava D. Minnesota

We Could Power The World With Algae!

Every single day, the world burns through 94 million barrels of crude oil. This statistic is the equivalent to draining an Olympic sized swimming pool every 15 seconds. While there are benefits to fossil fuels, the negative effects can be catastrophic to human and animal life. So, if fossil fuels are so dangerous, what would our solution be? How would our industrial world change from depending on other countries for fuel and energy, to being able to produce it in our own backyards?

Here's my solution; Algae. Algae works similarly in the ways of taking a plant and breaking the cell walls with either sound waves or solvents. To be able to make the best and most educated decision, it is completely necessary to know both sides; so let me start by shedding a little light onto crude oil. After reading many blog posts, newspaper articles, scientific research papers, and asking around, I've heard many differing opinions.

 While many support the idea of a switch to biofuels, one of the largest drawbacks would be the loss of employment in the coal and oil industries. Whole families depend on fossil fuels for income, and closing these places would bring whole townships with it; a way to stop this would to put these Algae plants in place of the oil and coal plants. Jobs would be needed and necessary to be able to run it. Although this isn't the whole answer, it's a start. 

The negative effects of fossil fuels are not quaint, and frankly, compared to the loss of thousands of jobs, they're huge. The methods of getting fuel out of the sources almost always leave that land completely destroyed. One of these methods is Fracking. Fracking is a way to get natural gas out of the earth. A shocking amount of water and sand is used to remove these gasses. Toxins released with these gases contaminate the ground water, poisoning almost every single organism living in that area (including humans). Oil industries in Canada depend on tar sands for a huge amount of oil. The tar sands are large deposits of oil in the sand and dirt of the land. To begin, the companies will strip the land clean of vegetation to make the deposits more accessible. Eventually, a large pond or lake of toxins will form and kill thousands of birds that will mistakingly land in these chemicals, thinking it is safe. 

Not only is the removal of fossil fuels devastating, the process of turning these oils into gasoline and the gasoline's combustion can be deadly. A huge concern lately has been air pollution, especially after the huge smog that enveloped the city of Beijing in late November and early December of 2015. Every year, pollution kills approximately 5.5 Million people internationally. 80% of lung diseases are causes by air pollution. If we continue on with our dirty, selfish habits, these numbers will only rise. Not only does dirty air effect other countries, but it hurts us here at home. When I was around 11 or 12, I was diagnosed with severe asthma, which the doctor assumed was caused by pollution. Sports have become extremely difficult for me to perform well in, because of the poor condition my lungs are in. I don't pity myself at all, but I don't want future children to go through this. My body is not supposed to be this unhealthy. I am a lean, athletic girl; an obstacle such as air pollution should not hold me back like it does, but there is little I can do. So, how do we reduce, and possibly even stop this? 

Algae. This simple, plural plant uses the infamous Carbon Dioxide, sunlight, and water to grow. By putting these algae farms around our country, we can remove CO2 from our air and lungs, and even eliminate the greenhouse gas Methane. The process is quite simple; grow the algae, strain the water, let it dry, and use sound waves or solvents to remove the cell walls and get the oil from the cell. Algae is a completely renewable resource, and can also be used as feed for livestock or food for humans. One acre of algae can provide 1,000 to 5,000 gallons of fuel, unlike the traditional crude oil, which only produces 10 to 100 gallons of fuel per acre. Two big obstacles to overcome with algae is choosing which strand would be the most beneficial and efficient, and being able to produce fuel like the huge oil companies now do. 

Dear President, 

What I ask for you now is to be the voice of America. Put an end to these deaths. Think of the future, and how the world will be many years from now. We are a global giant in this world, and can lead by example. It's time to bring out the Swiffer Sweeper and clean our mess.