I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know much about the science behind jet fuel. All I know is that it’s not a renewable energy, and it contributes to increasingly higher carbon emissions, which, in an era of concern over climate change is… not good. Unlike carbon emissions on land, the impact of aviation on climate change is further exacerbated by high-altitude emissions. The long streaks of exhaust left in the sky can actually spread for up to two kilometres, trapping in heat that would otherwise escape the atmosphere.
Recently, however, Dr. David Bressler of the University of Alberta finally got federal funding to continue his project of turning bio waste into jet fuel. No, he’s not converting poop into jet fuel. The idea is that lipids, such as beef tallow and low-grade crop oils, will be converted into jet fuels and other chemicals. By using biowaste, the carbon footprint of the aviation industry can be substantially reduced.
Although it’s not a perfect solution, it feels like a step in the right direction. There should have been funding for projects that focus on renewable energy starting decades ago. Bressler started his biofuel research back in 2003, but is only getting substantial funding for it just now, in 2019. With so much anxiety-inducing news about how humans are ruining the planet, it’s exciting to see more effort put into reducing our carbon footprint at the industry level.
The bottom line is, more funding for renewable energy is a great idea. It’s difficult to talk about switching to renewable energy in a place like Alberta, which has relied on the oil and gas industry since, well, forever. But who knows? Maybe when there’s actually money, time, and thought put into these endeavors, new jobs and possibilities will open up for those who feel they can only thrive in an oil and gas focused industry.
This hasn’t been the usual lighthearted, upbeat, and sometimes sassy opinion piece that I instinctively gravitate towards. However, the conversation around climate change seems to have become more depressing as time goes on. It’s important that we all take advantage of our voice to put a spotlight on the things that matter, even if at first it sounds like we’re praising poop fuel.