An Attitude of Gratitude

November 26, 2020 |

By Douglas L. Faulkner, President, Leatherstocking LLC and “The Cleantech Conservative”

Special to The Digest

As I pondered recently the meaning of our American Thanksgiving, I realized that there was much unsaid in a similar vein about the bioeconomy.  In this time of mistrust, misunderstandings, cynicism and defeatism, we all should say out loud unabashedly and without hesitation all the blessings biofuels and biobased products have wrought.  The world would certainly be a much different – – and much worse – – place if these industries had never existed.  It’s a compelling saga, a rich tapestry weaving together successes as well as failures, of colorful characters and those that have toiled in obscurity.

Someone should someday calculate just how much petroleum these industries have displaced in the last few decades:  it would surely be in the billions of barrels.  And, no matter how many critiques are voiced about using plants, trees, residues and wastes instead of oil to make a vast number of products touching our everyday lives, the fact remains there would without any doubt be a much greater negative impact on the environment, our livelihoods and our security if we had not done so.

This bio-revolution is at its heart a very broad movement over time and space.  Sure, it has seen its ups-and-downs over the last several decades, but it has steadily grown from the early days of the American chemurgy movement in the 1920s and ‘30s, from the bounties of American farms and forests to lands and their produce today in Brazil, Europe, Africa and Asia.

Despite the many and unrelenting attacks on these products from the soil, a great bow wave of voter interest and consumer demand has only grown.  By whatever measure one chooses, liquid biofuels, biochemicals, biobased products and materials all stand tall on solid science as decidedly more sustainable than their alternatives.  This will drive the innovation and growth of the future much more so than government diktat.

I give thanks too for the vast cloud of pioneers in this field, because this is essentially an intensely human story.  Yes, there have been so many luminaries and visionaries who led the fight, like Henry Ford and George Washington Carver in the early days, but even more so count the many millions who toiled over the years without much notice but with great result:  the scientists, the academics, the civil servants, and especially the farmers, foresters and the workers who sweat and shape with their own hands in the fields, factories and the long supply chains.

But, above all, I am grateful for the strong foundation already laid for even greater progress and prosperity in the decades ahead.   The unstoppable currents of change in the global bio-economy gives hope for better days ahead in so many ways for so many millions.  I am confident that our past successes will only pale next to those of the future.  I give thanks for having lived long enough to have witnessed the birth of the modern bioeconomy and for the glimpse of its coming maturity

I just hope the world’s leaders can see that promising vista on the horizon and not listen to the discordant voices of doom and gloom, but instead applaud and accelerate the Golden Age of Bioenergy fast coming into focus.  Wouldn’t that be a great holiday gift to humankind?

 

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