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CHANGING THE BLACK INTO THE GREEN by: Jorge Laine Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Cientficas (Venezuelan Institute

for Scientific Research)

Nowadays, the proliferation of nuclear-fission energy developments is being activated by the increasing human population and by the exhaustion of the natural reserves of the favorite fossil fuel: petroleum. However, latest nuclear incident at Fukushima, and other risks associated such as the disposal of radioactive by-products, as well as the possible use of artisan atomic explosives by terrorists; support the necessity of converging in developments of other energy alternatives. As an example, if Sahara desert (~ 1 Gha) could be greening with sugar cane or oil palm, it could be produced enough bioenergy to replace world petroleum production (~ 30 Gbbl/year); as long as these crops can capture atmospheric carbon transforming it into ~ 30 bbl/ha of biofuels. Alternatively, within the same context of the bioenergy as a renewable energy, is the integral processing of wood forests to feed biorefineries producing power plus biofuels. As a cause of concern, if fossil fuels consumption continues at present rate (~ 7 Gton C/year), atmospheric carbon (actually: 750 Gton C) could duplicate within this century, implying fateful predictions of climate change. Intensifying photosynthesis by desert greening would contribute to offset the increase of atmospheric carbon concentration. It should be remarked that including the Sahara, total arid areas accounts for about 1/3 of total non-permafrost terrestrial area. Desert greening, also referred to as afforestation, could be reality if: 1) desert soils organic carbon is increased; for example with the application of agrichar derived from fossil hydrocarbon processing, as considered as a perspective recently [1], and 2) if irrigation sources are insured. This later could be achieved in arid zones by sea water desalinization using concentrated solar power technology. CSP panels covering 1 ha can manage the irrigation of 100 ha [2]. In addition, the decrease of terrestrial albedo caused by greening would also affect the change of water cycle favoring rainfall frequency over the changed land (see Fig.1). The decay of the black economy due to petroleum reserves exhaustion would be offset by most developed countries thanks to the incorporation of transport vehicles using rechargeable batteries and fuel cells, and to smart grids connecting a variety of electric power sources: thermoelectric using coal or hydrogen produced from coal, hydroelectric, solar energy (panels cells and wind turbines), and geothermal. In the case of last generation thermoelectric, clean energy is insured by the underground injection of greenhouse gas exhaust. However, in less developed countries the adoption of new technologies is difficult and slow respect to their population increase, implying the continuation of increasing demands of conventional fuels, converting the scenario of scarce petroleum supply into another

scenario of land used for cropping raw materials for the emergent fuels: ethanol and biodiesel. Less developed third world countries are mainly located within Cancer and Capricornia tropics, where theoretically agricultural productivity can be larger than on temperate latitudes; consequently, and taking into account its easy know-how, bioenergy would be the most suitable alternative for sustainable development of third world. Remarkable, biofuels use implies CO2 recycling between atmosphere and biosphere, diminishing greenhouse effect. Certainly, land use change for producing biofuels would not affect human food supply if modern agricultural methods are employed (see Energeia, 18(6) 2007.). Nevertheless, great scale bioenergy production must be managed in harmony with environment integrating perennial forests and crops, maintaining enough areas for preserving biodiversity. Such green economy scenario debated at the Stockholm first summit of human development about 40 years ago, which continue in two other meetings at Rio de Janeiro during the last 20 years, must be the appropriate way for the transition of the actual fossil fuel era to the desired clean energy era, when paradoxically another type of -benignnuclear energy could be functioning on Earth: the same hydrogen fusion employed by sun.

[1] [2] _CSP_for_Desalination-MENAREC4.pdf

FIGURE 1: Albedo Rainfall correlation (from Climatic Change 54: 181204, 2002.)