Thursday, February 14, 2008

From toxicology to nuclear energy

This week we went into our energy module: nuclear energy, oil and gas, biofuels, coal, renewable energy and all other alternative sources of energy. Fascinating topic. last week I did a presentation on arsenic. It made me look at toxins in a whole new light. Particularly with regards to what damage they can do to our internal organs, not to mention the adverse impacts on the environment.

I will not go into the chemistry involved but here is a tip. Arsenic occurs naturally in soils and can therefore be taken up by plants in the process of photosynthesis. It is prevalent in our fruits and vegetables, in pesticides and herbicides. In our water, through seepage from the groundwater into our drinking water. It is a pervasive inorganic compound, odourless, colourless, therefore hard to identify (isn't that scary). My classmates presentations had even scarier toxins.

Today, we looked at a paper by a gentleman named Vaclav Smil. He writes very strongly about the economist and geologist ''views'' on how long we will be able to extract oil in particular. A lot of doomsday predictions and projections as to how long these resources can be extracted at manageable cost has been ricocheting back and forth. His book titled ''Energy at the Crossroads'' makes for very interesting and dense reading.

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