Friday, March 9, 2012

Money Doesn't Grow on Trees



By Micah J. Glasser

The other day I was walking around in one of the beautiful hardwood forest of northern Ohio and it occurred to me that the trees were a perfect example of molecular manufacturing at its finest. Of course it is often pointed out that biological organisms are essentially molecularly constructed beings but the point really hit home for me while thinking about the trees. I think this is because of the large mass and simple efficiency of trees. The molecular mechanisms for constructing a tree are powered directly by sunlight (no need for exotic fuels like us humans), and the building blocks for constructing the trees come straight out of the atmosphere via carbon dioxide.

So this got me thinking: all that carbon dioxide we keep dumping into the atmosphere via combustion could be a global fortune rather than a disaster. Just imagine molecular manufacturing on a global scale that produced almost every economic good out of carbon directly from the atmosphere while using sunlight as the power.

Form this perspective economic efficiency and reducing carbon from the atmosphere would be the same project. It takes energy to separate carbon from oxygen. At this time we are accustomed to combing oxygen and carbon to get energy. But this is an archaic way of getting energy seeing as how it is throwing our ecosystem out of whack and seeing as how the earth already receives more energy from the sun than we could possibly put to use. We must imitate the trees. We must use the sun's energy to separate the carbon from the atmosphere and use that carbon for all of our production needs.

Just a thought...