Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on March 2, 2008
As temperatures continue to tiptoe higher, buzzes of sustainable but efficient shifts in building and transportation are becoming increasingly important. Though nihilism periodically dominates some of these explorations, there’s much positive work and research being done in an effort to preserve life as we’ve come to know it.
A little known fact is that air travel contributes about 2% of the world’s total carbon output. In a pioneering effort to find a sustainable way to fly, Virgin Atlantic has created the first (partially) biofuel-powered jet. The Boeing 747 – which gets about 20% of its power from fuel made from the oil of coconut and babassu nuts – successfully flew a passenger-less test run from London to Amsterdam. So says Sir Richard Branson, President of Virgin Atlantic: “biofuel can work at 30,000 feet without freezing.”
Though passengers won’t be boarding these aircrafts for at least another 5 or 6 years (the concept must first undergo serious testing by the Civil Aviation Authority), Branson is optimistic about what this could mean for the industry. Like many of us, he’s hoping that it’ll be encouraging for other companies to at least consider the switch. He intends for all 6 of Virgin’s fleet globally to rely on clean fuel in the next decade.
However, these advancements have some groups like Friends of the Earth concerned. What if growing crops for biofuel impinges on farmlands for food? Could we end up with a shortage? Some people seem to think so. In the research Virgin Airlines has done so far, algae is proving to be a viable source of clean energy.
Plus, with information telling us that growing some crops for biofuel leaves a larger carbon footprint than using traditional petroleum, how do we decide which way we go? And whose voice do we follow?