Climate Change – Some Things That Might Help

Protecting the environment is one of the greatest challenges we face as a society. While efforts are underway to develop renewable energy sources and promote sustainable practices, there are several often overlooked strategies that could make a significant positive impact if properly implemented.

Telecommuting and Remote Work
One relatively simple way to reduce our environmental footprint is to embrace telecommuting and remote work wherever possible. When employees can work from home, it eliminates their need to commute, reducing vehicle emissions and road congestion. Tech companies have been leaders in this area, but the Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated that telecommuting is feasible for many types of jobs. Governments could incentivize this practice through tax breaks for companies that allow remote work and grants to upgrade residential internet infrastructure.

Exploring Thorium Nuclear Power
Nuclear power is a controversial topic, but an often overlooked alternative is thorium-based nuclear reactors. Thorium is far more abundant in nature than uranium and theoretically produces less hazardous waste. Thorium reactors are also designed to be meltdown-proof with automatic shutdown mechanisms. While still nuclear, thorium could provide large-scale baseload power with a superior safety profile compared to conventional uranium reactors. More research and development of thorium reactors could be encouraged through public and private investment.


Not Putting All Our Eggs in One Basket
As we develop cutting-edge renewable energy solutions like solar, wind, and fusion power, we must be careful not to put all our eggs in one basket. Technologies like improving the electricity grid, capturing emissions from fossil fuel plants, and new nuclear technologies shouldn’t be considered static. We should continue advancing these established technologies in parallel rather than abandoning them entirely. An “all of the above” strategy diversifies our energy sources and puts us in the best position to dramatically reduce emissions as soon as possible without overcommitting to solutions that may encounter unexpected roadblocks.

Pursuing Multiple Fuel Technologies
Part of a diversified strategy involves pursuing multiple fuel technologies beyond just petroleum and natural gas. Ethanol and other alcohol-based fuels allow existing vehicles to use plant-based sources through flex-fuel systems. Capturing methane from landfills, agricultural waste, and other sources allows us to use excess greenhouse gases as an energy source rather than letting them dissipate into the atmosphere. We should encourage investment in flex-fuel vehicles while also building out infrastructure to produce and distribute alternative fuel sources.



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Mining Landfills and Waste-to-Energy
Our existing landfills represent huge untapped resources that we should take advantage of. By using modern mining practices on current landfill sites, we can extract and recycle metals, plastics, and other reusable materials that were previously discarded. This reduces the need for resource extraction elsewhere. Additionally, the non-recyclable waste from landfills can be burned for waste-to-energy electricity generation, providing power while reducing landfill volume and hazards. Extending the lifetimes of landfills through mining and energy recapture allows us to get more value out of existing sites.

In summary, promoting telecommuting through incentives can reduce emissions from transportation. Developing meltdown-proof thorium nuclear reactors could provide safe baseload power. Continuing to improve existing technologies like the grid, emissions capture, and nuclear gives us a diversified strategy. Pursuing alternative fuel sources like ethanol and methane allows us to leverage current infrastructure. And mining landfills for resources to recycle or burn for energy maximizes our existing waste deposits. With creativity and commitment to a variety of solutions, we can make major strides in environmental protection.

Submitted by Michael Travler
Short story science fiction writer