Clean Power Plan

Announced by President Obama on Monday, the Clean Power Plan aims to lower carbon emissions for the first time ever.

Power plants are responsible for one third of the United States’ carbon dioxide emissions. Power plants will be required to cut emissions by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030. States have until 2018 to devise a plan, which must be implemented in 2022 (although they get incentives to start earlier). The plan is part of the Clean Air Act which was implemented in 1963.

The plan was not released solely as a way to slow global warming, but also as a public health initiative. Asthma has more than doubled in the past thirty years, and other health risks and natural disasters can be linked to high carbon emissions. The plan will cost about $8.4 billion, but the plan will save much more. It is estimated that the average annual family electric bill will have decreased $85 by 2030.

While politicians such as Hillary Clinton approve of the plan, many do not. A group of attorney generals are preparing to file a lawsuit against the plan they feel will hurt the economy. The public face of the lawsuit is Patrick Morrisey, attorney general of West Virginia. Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, and Jeb Bush are all against the Clean Power Plan. Half a dozen states, including Texas and Oklahoma, are refusing to follow the plan.

However, other states are preparing to put plans in place. Many view this as a good measure to reduce our carbon footprint and to stand as a role model to other countries in our global fight against pollution and climate change.


Artificial Photosynthesis

We all know about photosynthesis. Plants take water, carbon dioxide, and sunlight to create energy. What if we could harness energy in the same fashion?

artificial photo

Artificial photosynthesis is still being researched. Scientists are attempting to create a system that can harvest sunlight and split water molecules. Hydrogen would be released, and could be used as fuel or used in a fuel cell. Some systems also produce methanol, a fuel used already in heating, cars, etc.

There are many problems facing scientists now. First of all, they need a catalyst to spur the reaction. Manganese, the catalyst in plants, is unstable and doesn’t last long in man-made set-ups. They are experimenting with cobalt oxide and titanium dioxide, but these aren’t very abundant, and more natural catalysts either degrade or set off chain reactions.

There is still a lot of research to be done, but wouldn’t it be amazing if we could power our world as cleanly and efficiently as vegetation?