Winner Essay Contest V


I started this essay contest with the idea that I would address numerous pollution issues through minimal government regulation. In the process I stumbled across a method for reducing pollution produced by vehicles AND increasing the productivity of farm crops. Just add water.    
In 2004 (the latest information I could find) the United States emitted 314 million metric tons of CO2 from vehicles alone. That accounts for about 45% of the world’s total output of vehicle emitted CO2.  
One gallon of gas contains about 5.5 pounds of Carbon. Once burned, that carbon combines with Oxygen to produce about 20 pounds of Carbon Dioxide. Interestingly, Carbon Dioxide combines with Water very easily to form Carbonic Acid (soda pop). When sprayed over crops, the carbon and water are absorbed by the root system, leaving only oxygen to be released.    
A method for collecting Carbon Dioxide in vehicle exhaust has not been invented as of yet. However, I think we will find that it will be relatively simple. A second water tank will be added to the car. Exhaust will be routed through the bottom of the tank and vented out the top. By pushing the exhaust into the water from the bottom of the tank (using a one way valve), the exhaust’s pressure will force the CO2 to combine with the H2O and the remainder of the exhaust will be vented out the top of the water tank.    
With the correct size tank, water can be released and replaced when the vehicle is refueled. The resulting Carbonic Acid can be collected and then sold to local farmers that can spray the solution onto their crops as a safe, cheap and environmentally friendly fertilizer.    
In the end, while this method for collecting and disposing of CO2 will not completely eliminate the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere, it will significantly reduce CO2 emissions. In the process, we will help farmers to grow better crops.    
However, vehicle emissions are only a small part of a very large puzzle. The US produces approximately 50,000 million tons of CO2 through industrial emissions. A large portion of the emissions come from power production. Power production is an industry that needs to grow to meet the demands of the US’s growing population and economy. As we increase our capacity to produce electricity, we must search for alternatives that do not produce air pollutants.  
Wind farms, solar panels and tide/wave generators are all clean forms of producing electricity; but as of yet they can only account for about 1% of our electrical needs. While these forms of power generation may be useful in the future, today we must address the problems we face with solutions that already exist.  
Nuclear power does not affect the atmosphere to the extent that burning coal does. In fact, with the exception of a small volume of spent fuel, nuclear power is exceptionally clean. The biggest issue faced with nuclear power is radiation. This issue is easily solved through proper placement of plants and stringent safety guidelines that have successfully allowed nuclear power plants to operate accident free for decades. According to Bernard L Cohen at the University of Pittsburgh, nuclear waste will cause 1 death per 50 years of operation. Compare that to coal that will cause thousands of deaths over the same time period.  
As our power needs grow, we should build new nuclear power plants to increase our electrical grids capacity and replace the aging coal powered plants that will soon be retired. Doing so will dramatically decrease our CO2 emissions. Should we completely replace all coal burning power plants, we would immediately reduce our CO2 emissions by 40%.  
As our society grows and our economy continues to expand, finding clean and inexpensive methods of producing energy is a goal set by every individual regardless of their political leanings. In an age of partisan politics and a widening gap between the two ideologies, the common goal is lost for the bickering over the method. As we continue to debate the how’s and why’s, do not lose sight of the goal. Cleaner burning vehicles, cheap and clean electricity, and advancement of our society and our economy are goals that each and every one of us can support.  
Sources: 4C1A9639C946596D6CF&oref=slogin Ainsecondposition.html

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