As an environmental activist, I sometimes question the problems behind our inability to grasp sustainability. Sustainable Development has over one hundred definitions. A quick look into a few of them helps me understand why people have a hard time adhering to it, and accepting it as the only available form of development if we are looking to not destroy the planet, and ourselves. The fault is actually all ours, the environmentalists, scientists, architects, academics- by not giving sustainable development one true definition, we have done nothing but confuse, scatter, and make everyone lose interest in what is needed to put a plan into place.
In this weeks reading on biofuels, sustainability is put to the ultimate test. How can we fix one problem, without creating another? That is the ultimate challenge that we are faced with today as scientists. For the record, I am only interested in studying algae-based biofuels that take up zero crop-land and require no fertilizers. I was initially fooled by biofuels, almost a decade ago when I first started studying alternate energy sources, I thought biofuels would save us from ourselves. I was obviously wrong. Economy has once again played a deciding hand in ruining the solution that was biofuels. Sustainability speaking, when developing countries see a cash making opportunity, they stop feeding their people and plans mono crops of an extremely unsustainable crop such as canola.
In terms of investments, it is all or nothing when it comes to environmental solutions. We need, as scientists, to find solutions- not band aids to our grave problems. Biofuels were a flop because people got greedy, and the technology wasn’t developed to the point that we found a clear cut solution to the problems of sustainability. The promising technology of algae-based biofuels that use wastewater as nutrients is by far the best solution for biofuels.