Delegates at the recent Royal Aeronautical Society's Aviation and Climate Change conference in London were startled out of their reveries on whether or not contrails contribute to the formation of cirrus cloud by the claim made by one speaker that he had the answer to the challenge of peaking oil production.
In his presentation Dennis Bushnell, chief scientist at NASA's Langley Research Centre argued that soaring fuel prices, oil depletion, security and geopolitical issues were a strong incentive to find a credible alternative to fossil fuels.
Of the two alternatives one, hydrogen, is too much of a long-term prospect, the other is biofuel. During his presentation Bushnell revealed himself to be passionately anti-fossil fuels, with any discussion of the merits of coal versus oil brushed aside by his messianic zeal for biomass.
This, he explained, could be cultivated on the world's "wastelands" such as the Sahara desert, western Australia and other barren areas, irrigated with seawater - a technique already adopted with some success by Chinese growers, among others - and treated in bioreactors to produce sustainable fuel supplies.
These bioreactors are infinitely scaleable, he added, removing the need for transportation, so households could untimately have their own personal bioreactor in their back garden, making them self-sufficient in biofuels for their personal needs. This could perfectly feasibly be achieved in five years, he insisted.