Taking the Road Less Travelled
The world’s eyes are set upon France where leaders of 190 countries will attend the annual Climate Change conference from the 30th of November to 11th December. At such a powerful platform for meaningful dialogue on climate change, there is a dire need to identify and implement feasible alternatives to traditional fossil fuel power generation systems that remain major contributors to greenhouse gases. The monumental climate change agreement that will be agreed upon and later signed by world leaders towards the end of the conference may signify and detail a transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources, but in reality, could the whole world implement such a plan after all? While the major players in world affairs from the first world countries may gradually transition away from conventional fuel sources to generate power (as many have), they are few in number. What about the rest of the world? How will third world countries or ones that haven’t been naturally imbued with renewable energy sources be asked to implement such measures? The answer is anti-matter, a mysteriously volatile substance we know surprisingly little about, but one that has the potential to be a viable solution to all of our massive and ever increasing energy production needs.
Everything in the universe is made up of atoms; they are the building blocks of matter. Each atom possesses electrons, neutrons and protons in a certain quantity. Antimatter are atoms that have negatively charged electrons which otherwise have a positive charge. Having read that, you wouldn’t necessarily have reason to believe that Antimatter is ‘mysteriously volatile’ as I said earlier, but consider this, Antimatter, because of its atomic composition, explodes with great energy when exposed to any form of matter, including the very air around us. As crazy as this sound, it is this indispensable quality that makes it a worthy candidate to replace traditional fossil fuel power generation systems.
According to a report by the Environmental Protection agency, power plants are the main global warming culprits, in 2012 alone, they contributed to 72% to greenhouse emissions, and this share is growing rapidly annually. Around 82% of all energy worldwide is produced by fossil fuels, you see where this is going right? Fossil fuels, have sizeable carbon content, when they are used for energy, the release of that carbon content into the atmosphere is inevitable. In contrast, when Anti-matter explodes, emits no greenhouse gases, none at all. Anti-matter also packs massive amounts of energy in insignificant amounts; a mere gram of it can power New York City for a whole week. With world population increasing incessantly, the demand for electricity and power is on the rise, meaning that in the future conventional power plants will generate even more emissions than they have ever done at any point in history. In a world where power plants produce 3 times as many emissions as all of the world’s transport does, we rightfully need a zero-emission fuel that can succeed fossil fuels.
The world’s fossil fuel resources, although plentiful, are finite. Experts predict a bleak future, unless fresh reserves of fossil fuels are discovered, our current oil reserves are expected to run out towards early 2100s, coal and then natural gas reserves will follow suit and are expected to diminish completely 50 years after oil. Corporations and governments who make hundreds of billions of dollars from the sale and export of these commodities are in denial. They refuse to acknowledge that our treasured reserves come with an expiration date. Once again ever increasing world population plays a huge role in catalyzing this impending cataclysm, the UN predicts that by 2050 Earth will house a grand total of 9 billion people. An enormous population translates into the tighter squeezing of meager fossil fuel resources. Also, a myth that the Arctic housed massive oil reserves was debunked when last month the oil giant Royal Dutch Shell failed to find sizeable oil resources in a colossal expedition that cost it $7 billion.
Anti-matter, which scientists up until recently believed could only be manufactured in large high energy particle accelerators, was discovered to occur naturally in storm clouds above the sky, and in cosmic rays that rain upon the Earth from space. This means that the supply of anti-matter is infinite. The invention of technology that can capture anti-matter from such sources, as well as create it is more or less a matter of funding than a matter of possibility. Governments and corporations globally are profiting from the sale of these fossil fuels will not jump ship no matter how many warning signs cross their paths, concerned scientific institutions and individuals no matter how resolute in wanting to fund research into anti-matter, will always be limited by funds that are otherwise at the disposal of massive corporations and governments.
I persist with this mysterious substance ‘Antimatter’, and name it our one and only candidate to replace conventional fossil fuel power generation systems, but I am being optimistic. In actuality, little is known about Antimatter, other than the fact that it explodes when coming into contact with matter, that it is plentiful, and that it leaves no greenhouse gas emissions. There is a lot more to know before we can even begin to utilize it, and it may take sizeable amount of time, years or even decades to find out but there is indeed a startling need to direct funds and expertise towards the research of this elusive commodity right now.
Other more viable alternatives to our regular power generation methods generate only a fraction of power that fossil fuel energy systems produce. Renewable energy generation methods include wind-energy, solar power and hydro-electric power. Wind-energy, Solar-energy and Hydro-electric power will be unable to provide consistent power as Wind and Solar energy are not completely reliable sources of power, some of them cannot even be applied in particular countries to geographical hindrances. When our fossil fuel reserves run out in the near future, these sources of energy will be unable to shoulder the gigantic demand for energy.
Greenhouse gas emissions are spiraling out of control, yet we refuse to ward off of the path that leads us only to our own destruction. Corporations and governments must take off their blindfolds and acknowledge that our beloved earthly reserves come with an expiration date. If we do not maneuver ourselves off our path, we will most certainly crash. If we do acknowledge the dire repercussions of our actions and right our wrongs, the house of cards that is human civilization will collapse, and we will have fallen so far into the grave that we have dug for ourselves, that there will be no climbing out. Just beginning to fund extensive research into Anti-matter will not alone save us, but it would be a step in the right direction, baby steps.
Muhammad Hasan Khan