The military is one of our biggest users of fossil fuels and they want to reduce costs and make units in the field less vulnerable to attacks on supply lines necessary to transport petroleum-based fuels. To do this, they have invented solar cells that soldiers can roll up like a mat, transport, and unroll in a new location to start generating electricity on the spot. It’s a matter of life or death: A recent study using data from 2007 found that the US military loses one person–killed or wounded–for every 24 fuel envoys it runs in Afghanistan. Engineer Dennis Helder says, "The bottom line is, we want to save some lives. If we can help those guys out in the field to do their jobs better, then more of them will be coming home."
If fossil fuels burn completely, the end products are carbon dioxide and water. Today, the carbon dioxide is a waste product, one that goes into the air–adding to global warming–or the oceans, acidifying them–or underground, with as yet unknown consequences. But it’s not impossible to drive things the other way, turning carbon dioxide into fuels such as methanol or hydrocarbons. Until now, reversing combustion hasn’t worked because making carbon dioxide into a fuel uses up more energy than combustion releases and produces more carbon dioxide than it reclaims. But Chemist Liviu M. Mirica thinks catalysts might change everything. “If we’re going to keep using these carbon-containing fuels that make CO2, we should be trying to make combustion carbon-neutral by using catalysts and the sun’s energy to convert CO2 back into fuel," he says.
Meanwhile, our relentless search for fossil fuel caused the disastrous BP oil spill along the Gulf Coast last summer, and people who live nearby are coming down with mysterious health problems. (NOTE: Subscribers can listen to this report). BP admits it used at least 1.9 million gallons of widely banned toxic dispersants to clean up the mess, which create an even more toxic substance when mixed with crude oil. And dispersed, weathered oil continues to flow ashore daily. The military is being cautious–they have rerouted training flights over the Gulf region in order to avoid oil spill locations. These dispersants enter people’s bodies through inhalation, ingestion of seafood, skin pores and eye contact. Symptoms include headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pains, chest pains, respiratory system damage, skin sensitization, hypertension, genetic mutations, cardiac arrhythmia, and cardiovascular damage. It’s hard to believe that some people are still denying that climate change exists–and it’s certainly sad for the rest of us. Don’t forget where you heard about climate change FIRST, while everyone else was denying it!
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