6 Myths (Or Excuses) Why Algae Biofuels Will Never Work
In any business, profession, or hobby, you’ll always have nay-sayers pointing to some old, usually untrue, chestnuts about the reasons why you shouldn’t do something. Algae biofuels is no exception. In fact, if anything, the tripe trotted out by the “Armchair Generals” in algae biofuels is pretty much epic.
- The “Forum Board Crowd” who never try anything if it involves more than getting up from behind their keyboards. This particular species is especially vocal in opposition to just about anything and everything. They for the most part, have never met a negative they couldn’t wholeheartedly embrace. Not that they have ever tried, or have any experience in, what they are degrading. 99% are perfectly happy putting down the legitimate sweat and efforts of others without expending any energy themselves. The very fact that they have an opinion seems to be all that is required for them to start chirping.
- Academics who know all there is know about anything and everything. Ah yes…Academus Americanus. These birds are easy to spot. Usually they have capital letters after their names and like to strut them. They make it a point to use important sounding vocabulary (Latin is always a favorite) and dense technical jargon, most often to confuse the issue. Many are most at home in the environment of “Baffle them with BS.” Another all time favorite feeding tactic is to use outdated research papers to back up their claims. Many also regurgitate vague, impossible to substantiate claims, i.e. “that would NEVER work,” with no explanation as to what they are specifically talking about, or why. One is left with the impression that all should hang onto every word they say as the gospel truth, simply because they are uttering it. Challenging their word usually results in primitive “fight or flight” behavior. This isn’t to say I dislike academics, (I don’t…I used to be one) or that all academics are like this. But I bet if you ask most teaching professionals they’ll tell you they know a colleague or two like the ones described above. It seems to be an occupational hazard.
- People who tried once, failed, therefore it is impossible for the human race to ever advance beyond that point. These guys I can least sympathize with. They took the plunge. More often than not, they dived into the pool before checking the depth at the shallow end. (I’m not knocking it…I did it too, and have the lumps of my head to prove it.) This is a subject where preparation and self-education (not necessarily formal education) matters. My advice to you guys? Get up and try again. Wallowing in self-pity doesn’t get you any further towards the goal either. Like Wayne Gretsky said “I miss 100% of the shots I didn’t take.” Please understand, “failure” isn’t a bad thing. It’s a LEARNING thing. You will never succeed at anything until you’ve failed at something. Very few of the pros hit home runs the first time at the plate.
Anyhoo…onto the the 6 all time favorite myths and excuses usually from the crowd above.
1.) Only “Big Oil” has the ability to make algae bio fuels work. Wrong. This flies in the face of the fact that most research into algae biofuels are, or were started, by small research grants or entrepreneurs on a boot strap budget. After the pioneers PROVED IT, then “Big Oil” got involved. Of course, Big Oil is perfectly happy if you believe their propaganda. It’s why they put it out there to begin with. If you stay tied to their gas pumps, paying through the nose every week for the rest of your life, they consider it a job well done. If only Big Oil or the government can do it, then why haven’t they done it yet? Commercial scale algae biodiesel is still in the fantasy stage. Only small scale, is reality so far. Also, localized production of fuel scares the crap out them. The last thing they want to do is compete with 1000’s of small, localized producers who can produce fuel cheaper than they can suck it out of the ground. Something like that might introduce REAL competition into the marketplace, and they certainly wouldn’t want that.
2.) It’s too difficult to grow algae. They are absolutely right. In fact, it is so difficult to grow algae that most people have to buy industrial grade chemicals to kill it in their swimming pools and bird baths. The products on the market to “rid yourself of algae” far out number the products to promote growth. If it is so hard to grow algae why are there so many products out there to control the growth of it? Most people can’t kill it if they want to.
The fact is that algae is one of the most prolific life forms in the history of the earth, responsible not only for the vast oceans of oil under the surface, but also allowed every other life form to evolve. It is one of the basic building blocks of life. Without algae, there would be no life as we know it. It exists in every climate, even on the polar caps. The truth is, the opposite is true, most people have a hard time getting rid of it, or controlling it, …not growing it.
3.) You need high-tech equipment to get started. If you mean the kind of high-tech equipment you can find at your local pet and/or fish aquarium store, yes. In fact, you might even have to spend upwards of $30 or so for this high-tech equipment to start experimenting. So if your idea of “high-tech” is maintaining a gold fish bowl, then this is certainly a reason to stop right there.
4.) It’s impossible and/or algae oil doesn’t really exist. Yes, algae oil is a complete myth. Lucky for us, scores of these people are on hand to point this out and save us from embarrassing ourselves. It is now so impossible that every oil company, all the major airlines, NASA, the Army, the Navy, the Air force, the Dept. of Energy, President Obama, over 100 schools and colleges, 1000’s of companies, not to mention 100,000’s of ordinary people all over the world, have all decided to join in the madness, mayhem, and mass hysteria.
5.) You can’t hope to compete. Especially if you don’t try. They are 100% correct on that one too. It’s amazing that if you never do anything, never take a chance, or never try, how true those words of wisdom always seem to be.
6.) If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Now this is a tricky one. The ones perpetuating this myth are usually the algae entrepreneurs themselves. THEY don’t want the competition. So if you’re lucky enough to meet someone in the biz don’t expect them to say “why this is the easiest money I ever made!” They will tell you about the long, grueling, hours. The long days of trial and error. Ideas lost or stolen. The problems involved in scale up. Technology that never works as planned, etc. And it’s probably somewhat true too.
Psst….I got a secret a I want to share…this is true in any business, or any start-up. Ask any entrepreneur. It’s NEVER as easy as they thought it was going to be going in. The difference? They didn’t give up. So SOMETHING must be going right and making it worthwhile. Like my father used to say “Listen to a person’s actions first, his words second.”
The moral of the story? There has never been any shortage of negative people. They are not an endangered species. They want you to believe you can’t succeed because THEY couldn’t. You can believe the nay-sayers if you want, or you can try it yourself. Spend a few bucks and possibly change the entire course of your life.
There is no time like the present to get started. Try it yourself and see how easy it is.
The “Algae Revolution” has begun.
graphics courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net