RESPONSE TO STUDENT A:
Certainly, there are viable alternatives to petroleum, including those mentioned (algae bio-fuel and ‘fracking’). However, some of these solutions come with such devastating consequences, they do more harm than good. ‘Fracking’ (short for fracturing) is the process of breaking up shale, deep within the earth, to release the natural gas contained within. Although there has been a recent movement to increase natural gas use – claiming it is a ‘clean’ source of energy – the process for retrieving it is unimaginably destructive.
Recently, the EPA investigated numerous drinking water contamination claims in states such as Ohio, Texas, and Colorado as a result of fracking. At first, these investigations were promising: residents whose water could literally be “lit on fire” from the faucet were being vindicated in their claims, and there was increasing potential for resolution. Sadly, though, these residents were denied relief, when the EPA inexplicably revised their findings, concluding the water was ‘safe to drink’. [Documentary film “Gasland II”, 2013, by Josh Fox]
RESPONSE TO STUDENT B:
The idea that we will go through great oil shortages and be forced to resort to alternative sources of transportation is certainly believable. As you mentioned, the promotion of these alternative forms of transportation (such as bikes and public transportation) has greatly increased in the past decade. Another form of alternative transportation is that of hybrid vehicles. Although these vehicles were ridiculed when they were introduced to the market, in the past decade, consumer interest in them has nearly doubled.
With the combined benefits of significant savings at the gas pump, and the fact hybrid vehicles have much lower emissions, they are certainly a viable alternative to the destructive traditional, gas-guzzling combustion engine. As chapter 11 notes, there is already a pressing need for viable energy alternatives, and hybrid vehicles are definitely one of these alternatives.