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A comment by Ottilia Saxl, Founder, the Institute of Nanotechnology; MD, NANO Magazine.
Reading today an article titled 'Can nanotechnology help with the oil spill in the Gulf?' (1) (this so called 'spill' is in fact a blow-out from a drilling well) I wondered if Governor Schwarzeneggar would now be confident enough to rescind his moratorium on drilling offshore California, in the hope that nanotechnology might offer some potential to clean it up?
I think not.
It is time not to only address locking the stable door after the horse has bolted, but how to keep the horse firmly locked in, in the first place.
With oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico, and with no end in sight, this unprecedented disaster gets worse hour-by-hour. The world is witnessing the slow death of a way of life in the Gulf, and a unique environment will be lost to many future generations.
How an accident could be allowed to occur which results in an almost unstoppable oil leak from a well drilled in a mind-blowing 5000 feet of water leaves many questions unanswered; but it has demonstrated once and for all that we must end our dependence on fossil fuels, and not only oil. The extraction of Athabasca tar sands is a similar catastrophe, but because of its slow burning nature it does not impinge so powerfully on our consciousness, but its consequences are just as frightful.
Successive governments have dragged their heels for the last 30 years, putting derisory sums of money into alternative, mainly useless, energy schemes, while out there in the blue sky sits this wonderful generator of limitless energy called the sun.
Investment in technology, particularly nanotechnology, to capture, use and store solar energy has been derisory, especially when we consider that enough energy from the sun falls on the earth in one hour to power the needs of the planet for a year.
It is absolutely essential now for major funding to be committed to harnessing energy from the sun, on the scale of defence budgets, to the benefit of all. The great thing about solar energy is that is is inclusive, and the poor and disadvantaged will also be beneficiaries in a solar powered world
To read more about how nanotechnology is leading to higher efficiency solar collectors, visit bit.ly/9kMRGw
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