Category Archives: 317

Rising Sea Levels Will Soon Flood Our Coastal Cities

Our coastal cities and islands are under threat from the rising sea levels caused by climate change. By 2050, it is predicted that New York City will be flooded by six feet of water and some pacific islands, like Nuatambu, were swallowed by the rising sea level. There is no clear way to prevent the impacts a raised sea level will have on these cities or how to prepare for the consequences to come. However, there are some solutions scientists are trying to implement to mitigate the effects of rising sea levels. One of the methods they are hoping will help is the living shoreline. A living shoreline is a shore-protecting technique that utilizes mostly natural materials. There are different types of living shorelines to accommodate different types of coasts and an important quality of the living shoreline is that they are not too disruptive of the existing ecosystem.

The different types of living shorelines can be seen here:

However, issues do arise with this solution. Many large cities will not be able to build these types of shorelines into their existing infrastructure. For example, New York City could build a bulkhead around lower Manhattan, but they run the risk that the waves will either erode the wall and cause it to crumble or the sea level will rise over the wall, rendering it useless. Similarly, Florida already has marshes covering a majority of their northern coasts, but they are still at risk from flooding. Another issue that arises is islands would not benefit from a living shoreline. They simply do not have enough land to implement the living shoreline so another solution would have to be used. Living shorelines are not a long-term solution, but they will be able to protect our coastal cities until we are able to either halt or at least slow down the rise in sea level.

Another way cities and scientists are trying to protect coasts from rising sea level is by building canals throughout the city. This way, water would move throughout the city rather than being pushed up against a solid wall like a bulkhead. In Boston after Hurricane Sandy, a proposal was brought to the city to build canals throughout the city. The canals would move the water into low-lying back alleys and drain them throughout the city instead of letting it impact one place- more like a controlled flood. However, that kind of project comes with many questions like how they would build such a project, how deep the canals would need to be, and how effective this would all be if the canals proved to be too shallow in fifty or so years. A lot of the “solutions” people are coming up with are only going to temporarily fix the issue. While this is not effective for the long-term, it gives scientists more time to try to test out new ideas that could be more lasting.

The final and longstanding solution is artificial islands.

Artificial islands are man-made islands built to withstand waves, currents, high winds and can be built relatively easily. They are the best solution to rising sea levels because they are not affected by rising sea levels after they are finished. It solves the issue of where to put people displaced by hurricanes and flooding. They would include solar panels and wind farms to power them and make them completely self-sustainable. Some risks and issues that come with artificial islands are the risks of hurricanes, whether they can only be built in warmer climates and how they would manage waste. Nevertheless, these floating islands seem to be the best bet in the face of rising sea level.

The rise in sea levels is the effect of three primary causes: thermal expansion, melting of glaciers and polar ice caps, and ice loss from Greenland and West Antarctica. Thermal expansion is direct result of global warming and the only way to combat it would be to lower the emissions we currently put out. The melting of glaciers and polar ice caps are also a direct result of global warming, but there is no way to reverse the effect. We will need to adjust our lives to the rising sea level and lower the temperature of the water to cut risk. The final cause is ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica which means the water from those two poles is streaming into the ocean at a faster rate than normal. Coupled with thermal expansion and the extra water from the glaciers means the sea level has risen substantially in the last decade. Additionally, we really need to think about what we are going to do about the rising sea levels and what would happen if we did not change a thing. Another issue is the many islands that do not have the means of mitigating the effects rising sea level brings.

Are We Prepared for a World Without Oil?

According to the Energy Information Administration, the United States alone consumes about 19.63 million barrels of oil each day. Most of the oil we consume is used to make products such as gasoline, diesel, heating oil for homes, and jet fuel. Our rate of oil consumption continues to rise as if oil is a renewable resource, however, there is only a finite amount of oil left on this earth. A very conservative estimate by BP estimates that the earth only has about 53 years of oil left. One day, the worlds’ oil reserves will be depleted and many industries and economies in the United States and around the world are simply too dependent on oil.

The largest and most obvious industry that is not yet ready to move away from oil is the automobile industry. Although electric cars have become more popular and more reliable in recent years, the automobile market will continue to be dominated by gasoline powered vehicles. Last year, 82% of cars sold were gasoline powered; the Energy Department predicts by 2040, that number will only decrease to 78%. One solution to this problem is electric cars, however they have short driving ranges and they have yet to prove their long term reliability. Another solution is to convert from internal combustion engines to compressed natural gas engines. The main barrier standing in the way of making natural gas engines more popular among consumers is the lack of infrastructure necessary for natural gas powered automobiles. The biggest challenge of owning a natural gas car is finding a place to fill it up. We are  caught in a paradox: automobile manufactures will not produce more natural gas cars until there are more compatible gas stations, on the other hand, natural gas companies will not invest in gas stations until there are more natural gas cars on the road. Although running out of oil is not an imminent threat to the automobile industry, it is easier to make a gradual conversion over time, rather than scrambling to make rapid change at the last minute.

Another issue concerning the world’s diminishing oil supply is how many economies are dependent on oil. Dubai is a perfect case study for an economy that is to dependent on oil. During its peak production in the 1990’s, oil production accounted for half of Dubai’s GDP. Today, Dubai’s oil production still makes up a large percentage of its GDP. Another issue for Dubai is that they consume more oil than they are able to produce, which forces them to import oil to make up that difference. This may not seem very eye-opening or shocking until you realize that Dubai’s oil reserves are projected to be depleted within twenty years. Dubai has very short amount of time lose their oil dependence before their entire economy is reduced to shambles. Oil dependent economies are not exclusively existent oversees. Houston, Texas is another example of how an oil based economy can be very disruptive and risky. Houston’s economy is largely dependent on oil; when oil prices fell last year, the workers in the oil industry felt the brunt of it. About 50,000 people lost their jobs during the oil bust. However during the oil boom, about 100,000 workers were hired in the oil industry. In order for economies such as Houston’s and Dubai’s to stay afloat with diminishing oil reserves, it is important they diversify and move away from a total dependence on oil.

Like any other natural resource, oil is not going to last forever, so it is imperative that industries and economies that are dependent on oil make changes so they will not be hung out to dry once a real oil shortage strikes.

Climate update

Climate change, defined by NASA as the change in usual weather patterns in a certain area, is a very real and looming threat to life as we know it. The first step to resolving any issue, global or domestic, is raising the necessary awareness to make change possible. However, The New York Times reported that while a vast majority of American’s acknowledge that climate change is occurring evidenced by sixty-nine percent of the country agreeing with factory CO2 emission caps, few actually believe they will personally feel the effects of it. Surprisingly, southern states like Texas and Florida who have experienced the brunt of increasingly violent storm surges and rising sea levels in recent years, fall behind the national average of those who believe climate change will affect them. Throughout the course of the semester our team will be covering climate-related events and trends that will directly affect everyone on earth in one way or another. For more on climate change and its consequences, see the video below.

One of the developing stories that we will be following is the growing wildfires in western Greenland. Yes, the same Greenland that is mostly covered in ice is partly on fire. In some areas, the fire is estimated to cover over one thousand acres, making it the largest wildfire in Greenland history. Rising temperature levels in the area, combined with human contributions, clearly played a key role in creating ideal conditions for these fires to occur. To put the magnitude of Greenland’s human contribution into perspective, in 2014 the small island country emitted the third most fossil fuel levels in the world, third only to China and the United States. Effects from climate change seen in Greenland have proven immediate, as rising temperature levels have begun melting the permafrost along Greenland’s west coast. This, combined with a lack of rain, has allowed the soil and grasslands to become dried out by the sun. Professor Sander Veraverbeke, who specializes in weather at a university in Amsterdam, believes that a random lightning strike during a strong storm, which is also a likely product of rising temperatures, caused the massive wildfire to break out. The fires are expected to contribute even further to the local warming crisis as well. The smoke produced by the wildfire will trap heat from leaving the atmosphere, effectively continuing the permafrost melting situation. Additional greenhouse gases will also be admitted as a result of gasses being released from the melting permafrost. The global community needs to pay close attention to situations like Greenland’s, as weather anomalies will likely continue to occur across the planet if steps aren’t taken to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The video featured below describes the causes and effects of Greenland’s wildfire problem, and shows an aerial view of the fire’s smoke to show how large it is.

Implications and consequences stretch far beyond the scope of global weather conditions. Large businesses who emit fossil fuels to operate will likely be impacted as climate change talks continue to gain across-the-board legitimacy. National governments will likely also face pressure to spend heavily on revamped infrastructure that does not emit as much greenhouse gases, such as solar or wind turbine energy production. Stricter laws and tax incentives/penalties could also be put into place that would cause businesses to redesign how they operate their factories and refineries, effectively raising their breakeven point due to the associated costs. Over the next few months, our group will continue to analyze global events such as the wildfires in Greenland, in addition to the global implications such events have on business operations and various prospective laws. Climate change is beginning to greatly affect the fragile world we live on, and we as a global community need to take necessary measures to mitigate its substantial negative impact.

Preparing Our Cities for the Next Flood

There is minimal protection for coastal cities when it comes to combating tropical storms. Tropical storms can cause massive damage due to wind speed, impact from landfall, and remnants of floods. Whether one agrees climate change affects the frequency and power of hurricanes is irrelevant, these storms are occurring, and could hit a city such as New York City. The end of the 2017 hurricane season was devastating to Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, each experiencing record breaking storms. These storms left communities demolished. In the case of Puerto Rico, the entire island may not have power for months. Puerto Rico has the potential to have 3.4 million displaced persons. If New York were hit by a strong enough storm there is a potential of over 8 million displaced persons. Generally, cities have minimal protection from such incidences. “Soft” defenses would be too extensive on their own to protect a city. The “hard” defenses cities do have offer little protection. In addition, it is difficult to know if a “hard” defense will be useful during a storm until the actual storm arrives. While building defenses for coastal cities is important to protect the areas, it is paramount to have systems that can act during the storm rather than invest in defenses that may fail.

Infrastructure from the underground storm drains to sky scrapers must be adapted to combat the strongest storms in order to minimize damage. It is 2017 there are cities, such as New York City, that continue to rely on bayous, rivers, and land to drain water in the event of a flood. One of the main tools used to combat flooding is storm drains, but as apparent in Texas, these storm drains can easily overflow from a strong storm. The frequency of flooding will continue to increase as the sea level continues to rise. If an area with a dense population, such as New York City, were hit by a major storm, waiting for the water to recede would not be an option. With this said, major cities on the coastline could benefit from the flooding system used in Japan to protect Tokyo known as the G-Cans Project. The G-Cans Project is a series of underground tunnels that total 3.7 miles long, and vertical shafts that measure 580 feet long, 59 feet high, and 256 feet wide. This network is capable of channeling 12,500,000 L of water per minute. However, if a city’s major portion of underground real-estate is used by subway stations, such as New York City, the scale of the G-Cans Project may not be possible, but the system may still be useful especially when used in combination with other flood prevention plans. If the water from a storm cannot be stopped it can at least be rerouted before more damage can be caused.

The following gives a brief look inside the G-Cans Project’s tunnels and tanks:

Storms are more than heavy rain fall, they are also extremely powerful winds, and the taller the building the more exposure to stronger winds it has to endure. Winds can make buildings sway. While winds may not always cause huge junks buildings to go flying, the swaying motion may distort the structure. Generally, swaying is not good for buildings. However, instead of fighting against wind, a possible solution is to go with the wind as evident by the architecture of the Sky Tree in Japan. The Sky Tree, the second tallest structure in the world, allows the movement from earthquakes to push it around. The Sky Tree is composed of a core column and an outer flexible region, the two sections are connected by oil dampers. As one part of the tower sways one way, the other sways another way which allows it remain stable. Granted this architecture was designed for earthquakes, but the uses for the design can also be applied for high-speed wind situations. Instead of fighting the wind, buildings could sway with it. If buildings had the flexible design of the Sky Tree getting through heavy storms turns from combating the storm to literally flowing with it until it passes.

The following is an image of the structure of the Sky Tree:

There is insufficient time to create a method that would prevent all damage to cities from storms, as the affects of climate change are a current threat and precautions need to be taken. However, cities need to take prepare themselves now because the weather patterns as exemplified in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico will persist, if not get worse, for thousands of years. Even if carbon emissions were completely stopped, it would take thousands of years for the Earth to recover. Once cities take preliminary action for the coming weather problems, then they can begin to take preventive measures to prevent all damage.

Can We Keep Up With Machine-Learning in Transportation?

Machine learning has already begun to make its mark in the transportation industry. Autonomous vehicles are already popping up across the country. Many cars already feature some autonomous capabilities – like parking, steering, and cruise control. By implementing machine-learning algorithms into the transportation industry, it could ultimately save lives and time. Accidents are caused by human error, but take out the human aspect, and it limits error resulting in less accidents. The system could detect and track moving cars and determine normal traffic flow. It could also detect congestion, accidents or pedestrians on the road. Lots of elaborate technologies and extensive testing goes into machine learning for vehicles; the goal is to drive more efficiently by eliminating human error.

One company that has taken machine learning and embraced it is Tesla. They have a system called Enhanced Autopilot that allows the driver to sit in the driver’s seat and do absolutely nothing while the vehicle operates itself. The system has been released in a few different phases and continues to be updated. The car’s cameras and sensors allow it to see through heavy rain, fog, dust, and even a car in front of it. Eventually Enhanced Autopilot will allow the car to match the speed based on traffic conditions, change lanes without the driver’s input, merge on and off highways, and park itself. Tesla’s system also includes active cruise control, forward collision warning, and the ability to park perpendicularly on its own. Tesla’s ultimate goal is to have a car drive itself across the country from LA to New York. This only shows how capable the transportation industry is when it comes to embracing the inevitable machine learning era.

Another aspect of transportation that is being impacted by machine learning is GPS apps. One in particular is gaining traction – Waze. It collects data from other users and creates your route off traffic, accidents, construction, police officers, etc. Waze can suggest a time to leave in order to beat the rush hour traffic and can predict your next destination. Since Waze is owned by Google, the app is able to use past searches to suggest future destinations or stops along your route. There is another GPS app called INRIX Traffic that takes that idea even further. It uses machine learning to get a better understanding of the driver’s habits, interests, and plan each and every route accordingly. Once you create an account, the system begins to learn about locations you visit frequently. Additionally INRIX Traffic, constructs a log of where you visit and when you leave. This app is designed to learn everything about your traveling routines and gives you all the information needed to get you from point A to point B according to the user’s preference.

Though autonomous vehicles and tailored traveling apps may be more convenient and efficient, there are many issues that come with them. Until autonomous vehicles are perfected, there will be plenty of mistakes along the way. For example, one of Tesla’s cars in Autopilot mode was in a fatal car crash and the driver was killed. There were no defects in the system, however, it is not fully capable of avoiding every single possibility of an accident. It can stop the car from rear-ending the car in front of it with no problem, but the accident was a situation that was beyond the performance capabilities of the system. There is still much room for improvement when it comes to self-driving cars. Consequently, the infrastructures of many cities are not equipped to handle autonomous vehicles because the system requires clear and divided lines as well as a less congested road layout. There is also an ethical issue when tailored apps are in question. The app is required to know your location at all times in order to give you an accurate timeline, suggestions and routes. How much of that information is being shared with third parties? Would you like it if a company knew your whereabouts all of the time? These questions are something to consider as we move toward a less private but convenient life style.

317 – Digital Transformation Update

A few months ago, Amazon acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 Billion, one of the largest amounts paid to acquire a company. This is all apart of Jeff Bezos’ strategy to bring cheaper products to the consumer market. This acquisition may be great for consumers, but Bezos’ purchase will force other companies to digitally transform.

Towards the end of August, Amazon began dropping the prices of Whole Foods products by significant amounts. This acquisition has clearly impacted grocery stocks, which have struggled since the merge. A main reason why Amazon is successful is because they minimize their profits as much as possible and reinvest capital back into the company. By doing this, Amazon will continue dropping prices so that customers will run into their inexpensive services.

At the moment, Amazon/Whole Foods is competing at the same level of competition as other grocery markets, but this is unlikely to last for long. Eventually, Amazon will implement their new Artificial Intelligence that will make shopping simpler and faster. However, there is a huge down side that will come with this new technology. Although this technology will eliminate store lines, and allow the option to pay for items later, the technology will displace millions of cashier jobs across America. Eventually, this AI will be found in every store, and the near future may include different variations of this technology for small businesses (unless you are paying in cash).

Many companies are struggling to compete with Amazon’s advanced technologies and strategic business decisions. Toys R Us, Sears, and Macy’s are just a few companies that are being affected by Amazon’s success, and they are running out of ideas to save themselves. The reason why these companies fail to compete with Amazon is because they do not offer the wide range of services that Amazon does. Amazon competes in almost every market, and none of these companies can make the expansion into multiple markets like Amazon already has.

Additionally, Amazon has outperformed these companies digitally. Amazon has disrupted many businesses through their innovative technologies and AI. There is a lot of good that has come out of Amazon (such as Amazon Go) which is why I believe the government has not stepped in on their monopoly yet, the government would not want to hinder their incredible progress. On the other hand, what Amazon is doing is arguably illegal. Although the technology Amazon has come up with is considerably brilliant, it cannot mask the fact that it will destroy millions of jobs and hundreds of multi-million dollar companies.

Given the Whole Foods deal has been approved, there are no signs of Amazon slowing down. Something needs to be done in order to prevent companies like Amazon from expanding too large. The outcomes will impact the economy more negatively than positively. In the near future, Amazon’s innovative ideas like Amazon Go will be embraced, but not unless it is shared among other businesses. If Amazon grows too large, there will be no room for other companies to grow, no competition, and fewer jobs. For now, companies need to focus on keeping up with Amazon so they do not fall behind. I believe Amazon will be stalled eventually, but until then, the market MUST adapt to technological advancements.

Understanding Quantum Computing as the Future Technology

Quantum Computing is the study of theoretical computation systems that make direct use of quantum mechanical phenomena, such as superposition and entanglement, to perform operations on data. Quantum computers are different from binary digital electronic computers based on transistors. Quantum computing is on the rise to conquer a new method of how we do systematic computations and mathematical problems. The idea of quantum computers is to produce a faster rate of solutions to problems that would take conventional computers years to solve. Currently IBM has a quantum computer called the IBM-Q, which was released March 17, 2017 set to be the future of technology. The IBM-Q is designed to help with medicine, supply-chain, logistics, financial services, and artificial intelligence, leading us into a new world of technology and innovation.

As you can probably tell from the video the exact mechanics behind quantum computing are still foreign to the average individual. This goes without say that we are some ways away from commercially sized quantum computers being present in every household, but with the increasing research and experimentation with quantum mechanics we could see them for sale in the next few years. This year IBM plans to allow the public to test the IBM-Q over the internet for a fee under the name of Quantum Experience. If you can’t wait for either of those and happen to have 15 million to spare you could go ahead and buy your very own D-Wave, the first official commercial quantum computer. This version of the quantum computer came to be when former D-Wave CEO Geordie Rose teamed up with Nasa’s Eric Ladizinsky. Because Ladizinsky was already an expert at superconducting quantum interference devices, also known as Squids, his teaming with Rose was a match made in heaven.

With Rose’s research and ambition to not only build, but sell, the world’s first quantum computer, and Ladizinsky’s expertise in the field they were able to come up with the design of the D-Wave. Rather than approach it with the same Gate Model being attempted by scientists researching quantum computing at the time, Rose and his team at D-Wave used another method known as annealing. Instead of linking together ions and photons together in logic gates, like the gate model, Ladizinsky found a way to make magnetic fields travel in opposite directions around niobium loops, placing the electrons in what we know as superposition. He achieved this by supercooling the niobium loops near absolute zero while quantum tunneling charges from one loop to another allowing the loops to act as functional qubits, with the magnetic fields representing the 0s and 1s of conventional machines.

Quantum Computing, as we know is the future and is surpassing many other computing systems in the running. Artificial Intelligence and machine learning have adapted to learning new things and being able to solve problems. However, Quantum computing is definitely processing at a much faster rate than any computer now. Making it the next jump in society being the brains behind the operation. Quantum computing also does have many correlations within different sectors, such as; energy, education and machine learning. Knowing how much power it takes to generate a quantum computer, how much energy would it take to produce multiple quantum computers help with businesses and science. The implications it can have on education, which can be teaching students at a more efficient rate, or enhancing institutions with more current and updated systems. How fast can a quantum computer learn without being programmed to be taught a problem and the methods it takes to enhance its capabilities?

317-Energy Project Progress Brief Update

A major part of understanding the future is understanding the present. When researching the topic of energy through an infrastructure lens, it is no secret that our energy grids, both as a country and world are outdated. Among other major issues our society has faced in the past two weeks, the United States has been directing much attention to the Hurricane relief efforts in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. In a tweet this past Monday, President Trump addressed that the electrical grid had essentially been wiped out for good in Puerto Rico. Whether or not the president’s twitter is a credible source is speculative, but, it does show that these outdated grids have turned into an issue acknowledged by the highest levels of the U.S. government. The Puerto Rican Power Authority has had it’s fair share of issues before the storm, of course the storm has amplified these issues tremendously. The damage has been called “apocalyptic” — power could be out for months. Our response and restructuring (if any) of power/energy to the places affected by these hurricanes will serve as a very interesting case study to the future of energy, electricity, and power generation. Our group is closely monitoring the country’s response to these pressing issues, and it is likely that we will see some sort of decisions made before the end of our semester of disruption– as there are millions without power!

 

 

To read more about the concerns of Puerto Rico’s infrastructure, see this article.

Finding the Most Efficient Energy Supply For The Future

Today, we face many issues in the world when it comes to energy efficiency, climate change, and the environment. Each of these things are interconnected; our sources of energy, such as fossil fuels and coal, directly affect the climate with regards to global warming, carbon emissions, and ocean acidification. This model we have implemented in the United States simply is not sustainable. With a rapidly growing population, and a climate that is in total decline, we need to make a change. Our sources of renewable energy, do provide quality energy to us. The problem is, the energy it provides comes at a major price. Wind, solar, hydroelectric, and geothermal sources of energy, all have major effects on the environment; effects that can lead to many devastating disasters. It is no coincidence that there has been a string of devastating hurricanes in the past month. These are a direct result of our negligence of the environment and the world’s climate. I am proposing that we need to find a more efficient energy supply; one that protects the environment, reduces emissions, allows for mass supply, and works efficiently. Under this framework, through research, I believe I have scratched the surface, of what could be a great solution for the problem. Using, nuclear molten salt reactors, as one of our primary energy sources. They can be powered by liquid thorium, and emissions are mitigated exponentially. It is an efficient method that would allow for clean energy, that fulfills the other requirements stated above. In this proposal, I will outline what these reactors are, and how they could be the future. It is definitely not the only answer, but based on the most important factors when choosing a source of energy, it clearly fulfills those the best. Here is a good video, that briefly explains what nuclear energy is and how it works:

Now, I would like to examine thorium fuel cycles, the primary source energy for these molten salt reactors. Thorium is abundant in nature, it is much more abundant than uranium. It can be found inside minerals, and in the earth’s crust. Thorium is not fissile, in its normal state, meaning it cannot be used as nuclear energy in its current form. That’s why you would need a molten salt reactor. Researchers in the Netherlands are conducting experiments, in which they have built several small scale reactors, in order to test nuclear energy production on a small scale. They have reported that it is most definitely possible to scale this operation, and use this method for mass energy production. The end goal of this experiment is to prove that liquid thorium combined with sodium fluoride, will create a reaction that produces nuclear energy, that is safe, and leaves no toxic waste. Uranium in nuclear reactors produces tons of toxic waste, but thorium does not. The researches also believe that this method would become self regulating, meaning it could work without human control.  Scientists, who developed a version of this model during the cold war, calculated that if we harvested most of the thorium from the earth’s crust, we could power the world for billions of years. Below, i will share a video, in which physicist, James Pedersen, goes through in great detail how this process works, and the effects it will have. He truly brings to light a framework for how this can work. Powering the world isn’t as far away as we think.

Now that the technology has been explained, and it is clear that this method would provide a great source of almost limitless energy, its time to look at the overall benefits it would have. Ity would eliminate green house emissions, carbon emissions, inefficient fossil fuels, as well as a few others. Overall, this would help the climate trmendously. Global warming and ocean acidification would be drastically reduced, all because of more efficinet energy. It would lower the risk of future wars due to energy stability and resource distriubtion. overall happiness would certainly boost economic relations among countries. Finally, it would allow third world countries with incredible potential to actually develop and grow their economy.

It is asinine to think that countries don’t even have stable energy sources in the 21st century. Here, i believe I have outlined a solution that can most certainly be applied to modern society. Not just the UNited States but everywhere in the world. Sourcing energy is more important than just modernizing it. We are past the point of return. The energy industry needs drastic disruption, this model provides that. Revolutionizing the nuclear sector in this manner would provide long term, sustainable energy, that reduces emissions, and improves the climate and environment. Throughout this project, I hope to identify how to improve this system, provide updates on modern research, and figuring out a strategy to implement it.

Regulating CRISPR: How the US and the Rest of the World Compare

The gene therapies that are currently within clinical and observational studies today in the United States encompass treatments for various diseases and genetic disorders. However, the FDA had only announced at the end of last month that it approved Kymriah as the nation’s first gene therapy to be placed on the market as a treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. This should come as a surprise considering how long scientists and researchers have been working within the genetic field of medicine but have only just been given the green light to put these treatments. It is the restraint of the FDA to approve genetic therapies that begs the questions: what are they afraid of and, is their fear going to put us behind the rest of the world?

The FDA has been known to be strict when it comes to their federal guidelines of accepting clinical trials of gene therapies before releasing them to the drug markets but it is significant that they be so tedious in their accepting of therapies that are the first of their kind. The United States is a country where litigation is man’s best friend and as a result, even corporations who fund gene therapies take steps to ensure that there are no serious repercussions can occur because of their negligence. One of the biggest fears facing the genetics community is the effects of creating or modifying human embryos, done to prevent future generations from getting genetic diseases or disorders from previous generations. An army of perfectly born humans can definitely been seen as something as a threat to the world but there are still a few countries who do not see perfecting humans and their genetics as something to be feared, but something to be researched, tested and even implemented. As can be seen, scientists have already been able to edit dangerous mutations in DNA and genes and in doing so, open up a can of worms that can never be closed again.

Currently, the United States is in its own boat when it comes to its stance on genetically modifying CRISPR embryos and this boat is one where the government does not completely ban the practice as other countries such as those in Europe and South America have. However, the regulation of the research being done and tested in monitored by private, independently based organizations. It is significant in noting that the most lenient countries of the world that do not ban the testing of CRISPR embryos are China, India, Japan and Russia. These four countries have already been known to conduct clinical trials in using CRISPR to genetically modify embryos and other types of cells within the human body, without much publicity. Since there are countries that are in the world right now who do not have to go through the FDA policies and guidelines before being accepted to conduct clinical trials or have the luxury of being monitored by private entities, there is no doubt a fear that these countries can endanger the lives of those around the world.

Especially with isolated countries such as North Korea, it is difficult to know how exactly the country has progressed in its biotechnological warfare, including gene therapy, and what the affects can be on the rest of the world when a country, although small compared to the US, can utilize science to become a super-powered population. It is to avoid scenarios such as the one posed by North Korea that the FDA was put in place. In order to ensure that the medicinal and agricultural sectors of the nation were being regulated and monitored, there needs to be an organization that oversees research that secure public health and safety. But, just having one country, out of hundreds with the capability to genetically alter genes and embryos with this agency in place, is not enough to guarantee that gene therapy will only be used for good.

To know that there are four major countries in the world right now who have little to no oversight can be unsettling to say the least and begins the debate on whether there should be global law or committee to oversee genetic manipulation so that it does not get out of hand. Being that it would be difficult to oversee global research into gene therapy, having at least a discussion about the global point of view, repercussions and growing opinions about this new generation of gene therapy and healthcare is best step forward in protecting the future generations that will be the ones to deal with the aftermath of gene therapy.