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Spaceship Earth: Aerosols and saltwater crops

Dennis Bushnell expounds research on global climage change at the UNF Adam W. Herbert University Center.Photo by Michael Herrera
Dennis Bushnell expounds research on global climage change at the UNF Adam W. Herbert University Center.
Photo by Michael Herrera

“We, the crew of spaceship Earth, are plundering the ship’s supplies.”

Dennis Bushnell, chief scientist at NASA’s Langley Research Center, voiced his concerns regarding climate change when he spoke on May 29 at the UNF Adam W. Herbert University Center.

Bushnell’s presentation included an overview on climate change, global warming and potential renewable energy sources. The key theme focused on the effort to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emission via renewable energy sources.

His passionate opening point was on statistics by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Seven years ago, the panel made predictions claiming that ice-free summers in the Arctic would occur by the year 2100. However, Bushnell’s presentation showed that, due to the rapid melting of ice, an ice-free summer in the Arctic could happen as soon as 2018 to 2040.

Moving through the audience as he spoke, Bushnell delved further into his research and jumped from one subtopic to another.

Bushnell went on to clarify that our use of aerosols has prevented temperatures from rising faster.

“The greatest known unknown, with respect to climate change, is aerosols,” Bushnell said. “The aerosols’ effects are equal in magnitude but opposite in direction than [carbon dioxide]. Humans have doubled the population of aerosols in the atmosphere.”

Bushnell also discussed various methods of renewable resources and practices. These included a variety of practices such as cultivating saltwater crops in wastelands, developing new batteries, capturing thermal energy from the oceans and lakes, and low-energy nuclear reactions (known as cold fusion).

Approximately 55 people attended Bushnell's lecture.Photo by Michael Herrera
Approximately 55 people attended Bushnell’s lecture.
Photo by Michael Herrera

Bushnell passionately expanded on “going off the grid,” or the increased independence of individuals from utility companies.

“We have taken renewable energy and made it small and made it cheap, and made it efficient, and we are still doing that.  And therefore individuals can buy this stuff…and install this stuff, and say ‘Power companies to go away! Get out of my life.’ And the power companies are panicking.”

Overall, Bushnell’s message to the room was clear: the human race needs to start pursuing new paths for renewable energy, and cleaning up the current environmental mess.

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