Project # 17
The pictures chosen for this project represent an idea of change regarding the oil industry. Beginning with the damage oil has on the environment today, the visuals demonstrate a possible future transition towards alternate fuel sources, like methanol.
The first image represents the hold the oil industry has on the market, and the way they control the ideas about fuel sources that are presented to the public. As explained in the PUMP documentary, there are many different, cleaner-burning fuels that we could be using instead of gasoline and diesel, such as ethanol and methanol. Most of our modern vehicles are already capable of running on these fuels, and all they need is a simple upgrade in software, but most people are unaware of this. The oil industry has a monopoly on the fuel market, controlling the fuels offered in the market and the software being installed in newly manufactured cars. They want us to continue using oil fuels so that they can make money, even if it destroys the earth.
The second picture represents the damage that oil and gasoline have on the environment. The production of oil pollutes the surrounding area by contaminating the water supply and the soil. In fact, oil has been proven to be “acutely lethal” to fish, meaning that it kills fish off quickly. But oil is not only toxic to wildlife, its toxic to humans too. One chemical found in gasoline, Benzene, has been known to cause Leukemia. Besides its toxicity, exhaust from vehicles releases carbon monoxide into the air because petroleum doesn’t completely burn. It also releases large amounts of carbon dioxide, which is a large factor in global warming. Another point to mention is that we still don’t fully understand the effects fracking has on the environment. The third picture shows how dirty internal combustion engines are, and how dirty using oil is.
The next few pictures represent a transition from oil to biofuels that ideally will come in the future. As previously mentioned, most modern vehicles are already able to run on biofuels, and all they need is a simple software update. Ethanol is an example of these biofuels. Brazil already uses ethanol instead of regular gasoline, made from the sugarcane they’ve been producing in the region for hundreds of years. In fact, they haven’t used pure gasoline since 1976. Ethanol is produced by fermenting sugars with yeasts, and can be made from a large variety of organic materials such as corn, wheat, sugarcane, beets, and even prickly pear cactus and cattails. Ethanol made from corn would be an ideal fuel source in the United States and Canada because it’s already produced during the manufacturing of animal feed. When the animal feed is produced, the corn goes through a distillation process separating it into the feed, and ethanol. Because the alcohol is already being made during the production of feed, we could easily make use of it as fuel instead of letting it go to waste. Another alcohol that could be used as a biofuel is methanol, made from just water and carbon dioxide. It burns much cleaner than gasoline and is already the choice of fuel for racecars and space crafts. Methanol can be made from biomass, which is organic materials including wood clippings, yard waste, agricultural waste, animal fats and greases, and most things that end up in landfills. If we converted 160 million tons of this waste material into methanol, we could have 15-16 billion gallons of it. These two examples of alternative fuel sources are more renewable and sustainable than gasoline, and are better for the environment.
The pictures in this collection represent an idea of change in the fuel we use. Starting with the effects of oil, the series shows a transition from the fuel we use now towards better options, like ethanol. By moving away from gasoline and oil, we could improve the current state of the environment and we could prevent it from getting worse. Biofuels could be the fuels of the future.